July 25th, 2006

Pastor Niemoller

On My Childhood Experiences With Racism And How They Formed My Activism

"When you hate, the only person who suffers is you, because most of the people you hate don't know it and the others don't care."

- Medgar Evers
Assassinated Civil Rights Leader

This post is very important to me in that I'm hoping it'll glean a bit more insight into who I am and why I use my voice in this blog the way I do on occaision. I get a good bit of positive feedback from a wide spectrum of people, and in many ways that encourages me to continue writing on subjects and issues important to me in the hope of bringing awareness. It comes out in various ways, often in the form of anger and sarcasm - but that's only methodology and not what's driving me from within. What drives me in my activism against racism, sexual & domestic abuse, homophobia, inequality, fundamentalism, all kinds of things is a wealth of life experience in things I've seen, been a victim or survivor of, or taken part in - in one respect or another. The story you're about to read is a first hand account of how politics and racism came to have a huge impact on my worldview. It will infuriate you if you have a conscience and it will break your heart if you have one to break. I tell it now because I want people to know that the fire in me to use my voice is NOT just mindless idealistic bitching, it is meant to grab people and shake them by the shoulders until they stop being innocent bystanders and start paying attention.

At the end of the 1970's, just as I was coming of age, two very significant things happened that gave birth to my future as an activist. In one chaotic evening I lost two precious things - a huge chunk of my innocence; and the other, one of my best friends and playmates.
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This Speaks Volumes

"Why not just use stem cells from still-warm Iraqi babies?"
-- some poster on fark.com

"How can Bush so ardently proclaim his "pro-life" beliefs and at the same time act so nonchalant describing the "30,000, more or less," dead Iraqis during the war, presumably including several thousand innocents among them."
-- Jon Stewart, more courage than anyone in congress


I quoted from Medgar Evers, one of my heroes, in my earlier post on racism, and the I run across this story. Not only did I use that quote, but this afternoon I watched Ghosts Of Mississippi with Cole and explained what had happened as a result of unbound racism in Mississippi. This story made my blood run cold.

Video shows Ghraib-like torture by sheriffs lead to man's death, say groups, family

On Feb. 6, 2006, Jessie Lee Williams, Jr., a 40-year-old black man in a Southern Mississippi jail, was allegedly hooded and hog-tied by police, beaten about the head and testicles and ultimately died from blunt injuries to the head.

The coroner determinedthe death was a homicide. The local sheriff indicated law enforcement agencies were investigating and that the individual targeted by the investigation is “no longer employed by the Harrison County Sheriff’sDepartment.”

Despite the fact that the beating was videotaped, no arrests have been made.

Williams’ family has filed a $150 million civil suit for damages. Last Friday, the sheriff’s attorney in the Williams case asked the court to halt the civil proceedings until the criminal investigation is complete in order to avoid self-incrimination.

The complaintdocuments numerous previous incidents of abuse in the Harrison County jail booking room where Williams died, including beatings, hooding, use of a restraint chair – called “the torture chair” or “the devil’s chair” by inmates – and a technique similar to water-boarding where a sheet was wrapped tightly around the head of a man in the restraint chair and water was poured into the breathing hole.

In April, US Attorney Dunn Lampton told reporters,“We’re moving at a good speed.” Lampton told Harrison County Sheriff George Payne not to discuss the investigation with anyone and Payne has not returned RAW STORY’s calls.

Source here.

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