First Black Speaker of the House

For the first time in American history we potentially may have an African-American speaker of the House. In 230 years total, there haven’t been any that have even come close in the runnings for the position. Current speaker, also known as a minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, said that she will run again, but many lawmakers and Democratic candidates want someone new in after 16 years. The most likely to succeed Nancy Pelosi consist of five candidates: Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina (currently the No. 3 House Democrat); Hakeem Jeffries of New York; Cedric Richmond of Louisiana (current chairman of the CBC); Elijah Cummings of Maryland; and Marcia Fudge of Ohio.

Marcia Fudge said that she believes that is it more than likely that the speaker of the House will be black, saying that “it’s a probability” rather than a possibility. She strongly backs Jim Clyburn for the position. Any of these candidates would mark as an important milestone in history, as no African-American has held a position higher than majority whip (No. 3 position) within the House. Giving a black lawmaker the top job of the House, would also be an important milestone in that it would put an African-American democrat in line to presidency succession with only the vice president in between.

This accomplishment would also give benefits to Democrats in that having a Democratic speaker of the House during current times, would give the speaker a position to take on President Donald Trump. Trump, has openly stoked racial divides within the country.

Rare Police Murder Conviction

In Minnesota, for the first time, a police officer was convicted of murder from an on-duty killing. The jury found Mohamed Noor, a Somali and Muslim police officer, guilty of the murder of Justine Ruszczyk, a white woman. This is controversial in that police officers tend to get away with murder, causing the national debate around policing and race. In Minnesota more specifically, local activists fought for a change due to the high amount of police officers not being held accountable for the murder of black civilians. This raised controversy within the community, many believed that yes, Officer Noor should be held accountable for the murder he committed, which he was. While on the other hand, many wonder if he would have been convicted of this if the race between officer and victim were swapped.

Civil Rights lawyer and activist, Nekima Levy Armstrong said, “The system treats African-Americans and white people differently, whether they are the victim in a police-involved shooting case or whether they are the police officer. This is absolutely outrageous.” This case was different than the cases where white officers murder black civilians in that, the system was quick to sympathize and embrace Ms. Ruszczyk, while Officer Noor seemed to not receive the same vocal support of the policing force as other officers did in the other police-relating shootings. Legal action against fatal police shootings is extraordinarily rare, with only 101 non federal officers being charged with murder/manslaughter since 2005.

With the trial of Noor, he and his partner were responding to a call made by Ms. Ruszczyk herself. Her call was made late at night to report what sounded like a woman in distress in an alley behind her home. During the trial, Noor testified that upon arrival to the scene, as they were investigating from within their squad car Noor said that he heard a bang and fired one shot from the passenger seat of the squad car as Ms. Ruszczyk approached the driver’s side of the squad car. His explanation didn’t convince the jury, which is interesting considering how much less of an explanation other officers have used while still getting off free. A member of the jury had addressed the racial issue with, “What Justine has received, we want for everyone. If Justine is the only one to be treated this way, this is not justice, but another racist wound inflicted on our community.”

Lastly, one thing about this case that really interests me is something that the prosecutors had said to Noor during the trial. Amy Sweasy, an assistant county attorney had addressed Noor, “Her whole blonde hair, pink T-shirt and all, was a threat to you?” What is she trying to imply? What should a threat or a criminal look like? Can someone who is a threat not have blonde hair and wear pink T-shirts?

Politics of Sass

I recently read an article for my Biblical Interpretations class on the “politics of sass”, written by Mitzi J. Smith. The article discussed instances when the police treated black women differently because of the tone the women took when the police were interacting with them. This reminded of the Danville Virginia. When the black citizens of the town expected to be spoken to with respect after slavery had ended. The example given in the article was a black woman who had been pulled over by police. The police officer asked what was wrong, he claimed she had an attitude. And she responded by saying that she did not understand why she was pulled over but was respectful of the fact that the police officer was doing his job. The situation escalated and the woman was arrested.


This situation is one of many examples of times when black women were mistreated because of their tone. There were many examples also given in Danville, Virginia. The instances however happened around 100 years apart from each other. This is an issue that is not going away and needs to be addressed because it provides different standards for the tone of black women versus white women. It is clinging onto the idea that black women need to address people in a tone different from white women.

Joe Biden’s conflictive and problematic history with African Americans


As a younger voter in the 1990s, I was initially interested in Joe Biden. He was charismatic, spoke well, and seemed quite reasonable.

Of course, at this time, I didn’t know about his controversial role in the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas case in 1991. While I understood the basics, I had not delved into the nuances of the case and certainly not the role of Biden.

Biden’s history with African Americans runs quite deep and even precedes the Hill/Thomas case. Biden was also against busing in the 1970s. It is likely that many African Americans will support him because they believe he can win but he’s certainly not the best candidate for the interests of the majority of black people.

Kyle Korver’s Player Tribune Article as a Response to Stokely Carmichael

In 1966 Stokely Carmichael wrote that the “white activist” had “failed miserably to develop the movement inside of his own community.” For Carmichael, the ability of African American’s to obtain equality was dependent upon the willingness of white liberal allies to commit themselves towards a different type of activism, one that was not easy–one that challenged the status quo in meaningful ways and in their own communities.

Below are two of the quotes from Korver’s piece, titled Privileged:

“I know that, as a white man, I have to hold my fellow white men accountable. We all have to hold each other accountable. And we all have to be accountable —period. Not just for our own actions, but also for the ways that our inaction can create a “safe” space for toxic behavior.”

“The fact that inequality is built so deeply into so many of our most trusted institutions is wrong. And I believe it’s the responsibility of anyone on the privileged end of those inequalities to help make things right. So if you don’t want to know anything about me, outside of basketball, then listen — I get it. But if you do want to know something? Know I believe that. Know that about me. If you’re wearing my jersey at a game? Know that about me. If you’re planning to buy my jersey for someone else…… know that about me. If you’re following me on social media….. know that about me. If you’re coming to Jazz games and rooting for me….. know that about me. And if you’re claiming my name, or likeness, for your own cause, in any way….. know that about me. Know that I believe this matters.”

Korver’s comments presented in this piece were, in some ways, a direct response to Carmichael’s criticisms of white liberals in the mid-1960s. Korver was not suggesting that white liberals are the only hope for the equality of African Americans. However, he was stating that they hold a responsibility to “opt-in” and choose to combat racism when they encounter it. He is re-framing the importance of white allies who need to continue to focus on monitoring themselves and others (while also listening!), a challenge that must be met by choosing to confront those closest to them within their own communities. I think Korver’s article does a good job of rising to Carmichael’s challenge.

Here is the link if you are interested:




Breakthrough for black women in pageantry

This year Miss USA, Miss America, and Miss teen USA were all African American women. This is considered a breakthrough because this is the first time in history that all three titles have been held by black women. I believe that this is such an important accomplishment because growing up as a person of color most of the time the only models or beauty icons that we see in the media are white. One of the winners, Cheslie Kryst, wore her natural hair in the competition as a way to send a message to women of color to accept their natural beauty and to break away from the common stereotypes that have been put on women of color.

As well as being the winner of Miss USA, Kryst is also a certified lawyer who went to Wake Forest for her law degree. She uses her degree to do pro bono work for those who have been unjustly sentenced. Kryst is making her own way in the world and defying social ideologies that have placed on women of color for so long. There has been a history of black culture not being accepted in America, and as we grow as a country so do our views and I believe that this a step in the right direction for America.


Seeking the Black Vote

With the growing number of Democrats joining the 2020 Presidential race, there is one candidate that truly stands out: Former Vice-President Joe Biden. This will be the third time that Joe Biden has run for presidency, but this time he is on a mission. Biden has been trying to rack up as much support from Black Caucus lawmakers, who he hopes will further assist him in getting the African American vote. So far, the former vice-president has gained support from three Black lawmakers, one in particular is Representative Donald McEachin from Virginia. McEachin stated that Joe Biden would need to do more than try to seek support from Congressional Black Caucus members , he also must “ …be out there with people, meeting folks and reminding them who he is. If he does that, which I know he will do, I’m absolutely confident he will be the next president.” But this isn’t the first time that we have seen a White politician seek the support of minorities.

In class, we learned about how politicians like John F. Kennedy, who created policies to help people of color (ex: affirmative action). Yet as Thomas Surge pointed out in Affirmative Action from Below , those holding the power in society knew that the policies were “weak”, difficult to enforce and lead to forms of resistance such as reverse discrimination. As the presidential race continues, it will be interesting to see the types of promises that Biden will make for minorities and people of color during his campaign and how he plans to tackle current issues within today’s society once he becomes president. Or will he straddle the fence and make legislation that appears to help minorities, but only work for those in power?

Kendrick Lamar: An Inspiring and Enlightening Story

In this blog post, I just wanted to express my thoughts and revelations from listening to, reading, and analyzing Kendrick Lamar’s music. For anyone who doesn’t listen to hip-hop/rap, Kendrick is a Compton, CA-born famous rapper who is known for his incredible lyricism, flow, well produced tracks and powerful messages. Listening to his music is not an easy task, packed full of complex word play and metaphors, so I usually have to look up his lyrics and interpret (with Internet help usually) their meaning.

Anyways, what I wanted to express is the amount of current black issues and black history I have learned from listening to his music (in combination with the History of Black America class) But even before the class, I was able to learn about a perspective completely different from mine, with being able to hear emotional and articulate expressions that had me reflect on issues regarding America and blacks. You could say that I became more socially aware through the help of Kendrick Lamar’s music, and along with the help of this class. I wish I could do some in depth discussion of his songs, but I believe it would be too long a post.

In conclusion, I just think it is cool how powerfully music can influence social, political, economic and cultural views and thoughts in respect to black history and issues, and am curious if anyone has had a similar experience with a black artist?

Note: I am not saying other rappers/artists don’t express similar ideas as Kendrick, he is just one in particular who has influenced me more than others (due to his sound, flow, etc.)


Here is an article link analyzing one of his albums for those curious about his music.


Black Politicians and the Run for Presidency

“Whenever the occupant in the White House fails to respond to the just demands of human need, the independent army will bring their concerns to the Black House to their President-in-Exile”- Dick Gregory. With our recent discussions on Black politics, it’s important to note Black pioneers that ran for the presidential candidacy. Before Obama, there have been many other Black individuals that have tried run for president of the United States. Such individuals are Black Panther leader Elderidge Cleaver, former leader of the all-Black freedom Now Party Paul Boutelle, and Black feminist and labor organizer Charlene Mitchell. With the shift in the Black voting patterns during the 1968 elections from Republican to Democrat it become more apparent Blacks needed representation and wanted Black politicians that represented their needs. At the Democratic Convention 1968, Channing E. Phillips, a Black minister and civil rights leader, became the first African American to be nominated for president of the United States.

Even though there were Black politicians that stated they were for the Black community within the Democratic Party, many within the Black community were unhappy with the progress made by the two-party system. Many noticed that Black elected officials had limited ways in which they could alter the political atmosphere. On March 1969, comedian Dick Gregory took a stand to tackle issues such as ending the Vietnam War, bad housing, education and discrimination within the Black community. Gregory toured the country, focusing on college campuses and local events within the Black communities to promote his campaign of becoming the first black president.

Avoiding the limited conditions set by the two-party system, Gregory, Mitchell, Cleaver and Boulle instead became part of minority party presidential campaigns that catered to the needs and wants within the Black community. The campaigns of these four individuals led the trail for what they believed a Black presidency and Black freedom may look like.

Descendants of Slaves and Immigrants: Refining the definition of ‘black’

I had previously written on the subject of the tensions between non-immigrant African Americans and African Americans with immigrant descent. However, I had only previously written about African immigrant interactions within Ohio. This recent article uncovers the broader problem between immigrant and non-immigrant African American cohesion.

A movement going by the American Descendants of Slavery, or ADOS, is attempting to highlight the voices of native-born African American families that have endured American oppression long before African Americans were accepted in American culture. Fartun Weli, executive director of a nonprofit that helps women of Somali heritage (Isuroon) stated that, “It’s important that African-American identity is honored”.

This is not just a minor problem in a fringe group. A Minnesotan population survey revealed that  134,000 immigrants were from African decent in 2017. This is a massive amount out of the total 361,000 Americans who identify with African lineage. The demographic change is so impactful that the Council of Black Minnesotans had changed its name to Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage in 2015.

As both communities begin cooperating together, competition unfolds. Immigrant families are often cramped and in need of expanding living space as well as desperate to avoid any legal problems that could send them back to their country of origin. This social pressure to succeed and develop economic independence has lead to the immigrant population seeking employment more aggressively than native born African Americans.

Although there may not be a clear solution to these problems today, there certainly seems to be clear and present tension between the two groups. Me’Lea Connelly, founder of the Village Financial Cooperative credit union, attempted to explain why first and second generation Africans have this tension, “The oppression that black folks face because of anti-blackness is still an experience that immigrants and refugees share in this country.” Hopefully, this issue will lessen in importance and can be solved before it becomes more prominent in other communities.

(Pictured above is Me’Lea Connelly)