#Justise4All No. 3


⟦On the Pro-Life initiative⟧

If you are someone who supports the defunding or closing of Planned Parenthood, you are not Pro-Life, simply because you inadvertently support the violent terrorist actions taken against Planned Parenthood facilities and Pro-Choice medical professionals. Social media activists and Pro-Choice advocates have been compiling over 40 years of violence, vandalism, petit crime, bombings, and homicides associated with so-called Pro-life supporters. You can read some of them: Click Here. The bottom line is this: Unless you yourself are taking measures to stop these acts of domestic terrorism on American soil, all you are doing is posturing your demonizing view on reproductive rights, allowing for these criminals to literally get away with murder. While my views on this particular issue are mixed, I will never stand with public hypocrites or moral bigots who choose to use their respectability politics to stifle the rights of any human being and permit the most extreme believers of their agenda to carry out such heinous and unconscionable crimes against humanity. Finally, as I've always said, if you identify as a so-called "Pro-Lifer," but support American warfare, nevermind being a hypocrite. You're just a liar.

⟦On Patriotism⟧

With the series of events that have taken place over the last several years involving social justice, law enforcement reform, international military campaigns, and systemic discrimination, it has become clear that those who do not agree with my convictions have chosen to see me as Un-American, indeed, unpatriotic. They choose to believe that my views and expressive manner in which I rail against the problems of the world have now rendered me some sort of dissident, hellbent on destroying the very fabric of this country’s identity. They have chosen to see me as [what some would call] a traitor, a rebel, a radical.

While some of that may be true (wink), most of it is not.

I have said before, and still believe, that this nation does have the opportunity to truly live up to the standards it has set through its legislature and some of its history. But that is the optimist in my optimistic realism. Reality insists that the future is far more bleak with far less options for salvaging what a basic socioeconomic overview of the US indicates is a collision course with a full implosion of its infrastructure, marked by violence, homegrown terrorism, and a vast dissolution of the ties that have bound the Union up for nearly two-and-a-half-centuries since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. If there is any hope to deter us from this path, it is in understanding that loving one’s country is about cultivating that love through hard work, a commitment to blind justice, and reparative task-based solutions to address the ongoing plight of its most marginalized, oppressed peoples. The love that folks I know who do not see my perspective speak of is not love, but blind, dangerous Patriotism.

It’s the kind of reckless, nationalistic zeal that has led many of our countrymen to place their hope in a crony capitalist bigot whose interests in becoming the next Commander-In-Chief are about as laughable as they are destructive. The kind of unexamined, sycophantic devotion to a sovereign nation that history proves has borne untold misery against its own people. It is the type of ignorant expectancy that allows the insanity of believing we can make major changes to our insidious systems of governance & justice by repeating the problematic routines that have brought us to this precipice in the first place.

This is Patriotism at its worst, and, without reservation, most harmful.

In my mind, a true Patriot, one who truly wants the best for his country, is not afraid to call out when it has done wrong by its citizens. A Patriot understands that it is the people, and not the products, of any country that allow it to survive and thrive. A true Patriot realizes that in order to manifest a place of origin that exercises noble standards like full, unhindered human rights for his fellow man, he must, as Baldwin notes, “insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” What’s more, a Patriot must be ready, willing, and able to put in the actual work that goes along with that critique, because while words are world-changing, they simply aren’t enough.

It must be understood by anyone who wishes to critique me on these topics that in addition to being able to hold intelligent debate with citable sources for your perspective, I am stressing very much the aspect of how people are the backbone of this movement. We have invested uncountable amounts of time, money, and sacrifice to uphold fleeting concepts like national ideals, systems, and positions of power. This is the very reason why we aren’t solving the problems I speak of so strongly. We aren’t focusing on the fact that said systems & ideals are bereft of compassion or empathy for the human experience, hence the highly volatile state in which these United States find themselves.

We have to realize that were this whole structure to collapse tomorrow in some catastrophic turn of events, no law, no title, and no concept would help with the immediate reaction or rebuilding. It would have to be the people who would decide how to move forward.

In this spirit, I challenge anyone who challenges me on my opinions to step outside of their comfort zone and ask themselves why I feel so strongly, and what it would mean for themselves and the people around them if, instead of shutting down a defensible argument, allowing the possibility that there is merit to that argument through a more comprehensive, compassionate assessment of some of the worst of what our country has to offer. I challenge all of us to see the people we have been told to hate through a lens of objectivity, instead of the filter of patriotic phobias. It is, quite literally, the only way we can find methods by which to pull ourselves out of this complex set of problems and create long-term answers.

We have run out of time to keep believing that American Patriotism, as we have been taught to understand it, is going to save America. It was never meant to be saved in such a way, since its success hinges on the violent, exploitative subjugation of others. True American patriotism must be cultivated by seeing everyone for what they are: humans, who are capable of doing both wonderful & terrible things. If we count out those who our zealous preconceptions suggest are not human, or less worthy of our compassion, we will be left with nothing. Then, and only then, will the most stubborn and hateful amongst us see that when all else fails, the worst kind of excuses for that failure are the ones coming from the mind of fanatics who have placed their false hopes in a false concept of Patriotism.


#Justise4All No. 2

[This e-mail was sent on August, 11, 2015, in response to the "Peek-a-Boo, We See You!" initiative ushered in by the NY Sergeant's Benevolent Association, a tactical political answer to the outcry for more accountability on the part of the NYPD and its Unions as it serves the people of New York City.]

cc: Ed Mullins

To Whom It May Concern:

As a resident New Yorker for the majority of my life, and the adopted son of a working class Irish-American family which includes several proud active & retired members of the FDNY, NYPD, and DOE, I am writing to express my extreme disgust and exasperation at the recently reported "Peek-A-Boo" photo initiative put forth by President Ed Mullins.

For as long as the City of New York has existed as one of the most prominent economic and social centers of this country, the problems associated with poverty - homelessness, drug addiction, alcoholism, petty crime - have been a regular component of its growth. Without digressing, it should be understood that so long as such a metropolis engages itself in the Capitalist expansion of its prosperity, one can only expect that poverty and its social ills will persist, regardless of how much assistance it provides to the poor. That said, we who wish to advocate and help those who are clear victims of poverty & class discrimination are at a complete loss as to what purpose is served by having off-duty officers, their friends/family, and members of the public be complicit in the citywide request by your organization to take pictures of a problem that is as old as modern civilization itself.

Keeping in mind the many upstanding NYPD members I know, it is my understanding that the work they do to combat homelessness, going above & beyond the call of duty to help the poor & disenfranchised on a regular basis, is neither hindered nor helped by this public request. Conversely, the fact that usage of quality of life offenses to assist in the kind of broken windows policing that has long been a pervasive issue between officers and civilians in NYC could be seen as a detriment to public outreach is something that organizations such as yours seemingly refuse to address or rectify. Yet, you have now decided that in addition to penalizing and incarcerating the destitute for circumstances that are clearly beyond their immediate control, having "allies" to your cause take photos of their plight is somehow going to raise awareness and magically shift the paradigm of a public which continually proves that it is all too complicit in ignoring the oppressed poor. I have never, not once, had a conversation with a cop in this city who themselves didn't want to use their authority to do more to help rectify these problems, but arguably agreed that the politics behind that notion prohibited them from doing so.

The kind of politics that your organization has now brought to the forefront of this narrative with this unconscionably disingenuous initiative.

At present, I am loosely affiliated with GEMS, an NYS outreach organization "designed to serve girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking." Alongside the brave work they have done on their own for nearly 15 years, GEMS is proud to have had major affiliations with high-ranking NYPD Officers, cultivating important relationships within the Department to achieve the expressed goal of removing the stigmatization that is oftentimes associated with young girls involved in commercial sex exploitation. If we are to follow the logic behind the "Peek-A-Boo" proposal, by asking the public to now be vigilant in gathering footage of the homeless and the QOL offenses they represent, you are opening a window into further exploiting, through this kind of footage, the very real dangers faced by young girls (many of whom are also without homes) involved in commercial sex exploitation, since the work that GEMS does for them is usually predicated upon the confidentiality & identity protection of those girls while they undergo the process of reintegrating themselves into society as healthy & productive citizens.

By asserting your political influence into the "Peek-A-Boo" initiative, you are, quite literally, poised to reverse the noble efforts being carried out by countless individuals, groups, organizations, and social projects aimed at helping victims of poverty & homelessness, whose very mission is to be an agent of change without further victimizing their circumstance.

While I understand that I am highlighting the worst possible scenario with President Mullins' request, it does not change the fact that, at the least, this notion is the height of politically motivated futility. And while it is fairly obvious that relations between your organization and the Mayor's Office remain tersely unsettled, this display of institutional bravado seems wholly out of sync with a Union that not six months ago was able to negotiate a contract with said office for its members.

It's not my place to speak on behalf of anyone, but I don't think I would be overstepping my boundaries in saying that when it comes to the disenfranchised members of New York City, many residents would like to see an improvement to their desperate conditions. I don't think that many New Yorkers, officers or civilians, actually enjoy the ongoing problem of homelessness & poverty in their hometown. But, speaking for myself, I truly fail to see how this recent concept does any real good in fighting these conditions. For a department which is seen by many as one of the best in the country, this is a sore mark against a reputation that, despite the aforementioned scrutiny, is still held in high regard by the majority.

I will close this letter by saying that if the Sergeant's Benevolent Association wishes to be an honest ally in the fight against homelessness and poverty, it should continue to reach out to the people and groups who are also involved in that work. A collaborative, determined effort from all walks of life to uplift and advocate for the poor is the only way we can truly overcome its destructive effects. Divisive surface measures like "Peek-A-Boo" cannot do this. As a concerned citizen, I highly advise that President Mullins rethink his strategy in trying to properly represent his law enforcement constituency and assist those in need. Doing the right thing for the poor doesn't require photo footage; it requires critical thinking and compassion.

Joseph P. Murray


#Justise4All No. 1

⟦On the anti-refugee movement⟧

via a comment thread:

...I will be quite blunt, but contrary to the idea that this country has a balanced, humanitarian outlook...the American thing to do would be to absolutely refuse to harbor innocent people seeking asylum, choosing instead to bolster the defense of our national interests, thereby securing our economy. Are we all blind? The American way, if we haven’t noticed, seems to be racked with religious exceptionalism, racial superiority, Western Supremacy, sexual suppression, a not-so-broken political system run by crony capitalist oligarchs, a criminal justice system rife with the intent of keeping uppity Black & Brown people in their place, a practically unbreakable, perfectly tiered caste system, and - in recent years - a wildly idiotic, acutely ignorant form of Islamophobia. We destabilize whole regions of the world for our social, economic, and political benefit, then turn around and cry “terrorism” when people from those regions finally decide that the only way to push back against the oppressive powers of the First World & the dilapidated state of their own sovereign nations is to ascribe to an admittedly violent form of religious extremism, the likes of which the world has apparently decided it’s never seen before, or if it has, is now claiming shock & awe at these so-called animals.

We were OK with having people come into this country when we knew we had the power and influence to subjugate them to our monolithic, blindly patriotic way of life. We were OK with immigrants we could kick around while we forced them to work for a grossly unsatisfactory living wage, when we could summarily police & pressure them to do the bidding of the White privileged classes under pain of incarceration or death, all the while continuing to violently persecute and subjugate People of Color to the delight & satisfaction of their oppressors. We were OK with granting these constant waves of new workers some rights, but never really allowing them full assimilation into the long-established hierarchies of the industrialized world (and, again, still keeping the Black & Native American strongly under foot). That we have half the country now starting to show its true colors in regards to these individuals who do need our help - that nature being that said half is really not as kind, or Christian, or generous, or understanding as they pretend to be - is merely a reflection of a distinctly American sentiment that is as traditional an institution as the Declaration itself. This anti-immigrant movement is an old tale being told with new people to hate, and it very much satisfies our country’s history, if looked at with a cold eye (mine, if you haven’t noticed, is getting colder by the day).

...we have plenty of homegrown terrorists; last time I checked, White Supremacist & serial murderer Dylan Roof had a body count far higher than the Tsarnaev brothers. But one must wonder if the “monsters” we say are “sneaking in” to our country aren’t the culmination of decades, indeed, centuries, of a way of life that has produced its own monstrous collateral damage and led to the creation of organizations like the Islamic State.

Please note that our military involvement in Africa and the Middle East has racked up a innocent casualty count that far exceeds any terrorist acts on our soil within the past several years...

⟦On recent op-ed's regarding reactions to terrorism⟧

via a comment thread:

...To say that people are wrong for suggesting that Western imperialism is the root of all evil may be accurate, but the wraparound dialogue that basically bolsters the efficacy and convenience of a crony capitalist structure that thrives on the continued symbiotic, murderous oppression of others to the benefit of an oligarchic ruling class is completely wrong and smacks of caste-based ignorance. It is specifically because of the racist, classist, and capitalist gleanings of World powers like France, England, Israel, and the United States, that the Near & Middle East, Africa, and Asia, are wracked with countries that continue to experience horrific terrorism in the midst of their perpetual destabilized status as 3rd world entities. There is no way for [New York Times op-ed writer] Mr. Krugman to ever be able to understand what it’s like to live as a violently subjugated class of human being such as a persecuted non-Muslim in the Middle East, or a Person of Color in the US, which makes it easier for editors like him to utter what are clearly ill-informed, plutocratic statements about the wonders of what is essentially a doomed Dystopia. To impart that we, as a superpower, SHOULDN’T stop meddling in foreign affairs the way we have, is a logical fallacy. White Western Supremacy is an incontrovertible, irrefutable primary reason as to WHY we are dealing with issues concerning extremist terrorism from these regions in the first place.

⟦On Kirk Franklin's comments about the Black American Church's persecution of the LGBT/SGL community⟧

LGBT = Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgeder
SGL = Same Gender Loving

Anti-LGBT/SGL rhetoric from the Black Church is transference of oppression and discrimination experienced by Black American Christians at the hands of White Supremacy. Specifically, the economic component of LGBT/SGL creative people contributing to the Black Gospel idiom and simultaneously being harshly criticized for their identity is a textbook example of Supremacist capitalism at work. The Newsflash is that the White Jesus many so called Black Christians worship every Sunday isn't going to save your Gay son or Transgender cousin. Put simply, THEY have a better chance of this hyper-aggrandized concept of salvation than the people judging them, since they choose to walk in their truth and speak honest love and self acceptance. I'm so tired of this tired story. Everybody please, wake UP. Whatever faith you follow, without works, good works, honest works, it is DEAD. Walk the walk or sit the hell down.

#Justise4All #PeopleFixTheSystem #BlackLivesMatter


Weekly Social Justice Postings Here: #Justise4All

 Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen in my collection of lists a specific group entitled #‎JusticeForAll. I created this list to follow the ever-expanding number of Twitter users who have made the socially conscious decision to use their accounts to highlight issues involving racism, social justice, progressive politics, and community outreach. With this in mind, I have decided to streamline my more expansive postings by grouping them together and doing a weekly redux on this page.

The idea behind this is to keep my other social media a little more centered on my work, and still have a concrete location for folks to read about my opinions on these important topics, if they so choose. For folks who follow my Instagram account, don’t worry, those posts aren’t changing, though I may save the diatribes for this weekly thing. We’ll see. This will also allow me to reprint some of my more consistent postings from my old personal Facebook account.

I’ve decided to call this initiative [and am renaming my Twitter list] #‎Justise4All. For my fellow word-nerds, Justise is a etymological mashup of the Old and Modern English spelling of the term. The blog posts should happen every Friday, God willing and schedule permitting. If you like what I’ll be posting, feel free to share with your friends with that tag; I certainly appreciate it. Let’s continue to keep these highly important conversations going - silence is compliance, and the time for being quiet is over. Thank you, as always, for your continued support.



Numbers Matter? Examining the Quantification Narrative

As I sit and try to figure out how to round out the rest of my Labor Day Weekend, I made a point of catching up on the news & world events, particularly as they pertain to social justice and civil rights.  Oh, and hey, if you are reading this on Labor Day, I got a show tomorrow night - Click Here.  Anywho, going through the headlines as well as my finely tailored Twitter feed entitled #JusticeForAll, a theme presented itself that I’ve actually been wanting to kind of tackle for awhile now.  When folks talk about civil rights, often times you will see detractors from the movement use statistics to fence the importance of advocating for marginalized and oppressed people.  I’m sure everyone has seen the multiple memes and screen captions denoting the mythicized issue of so-called “Black on Black crime.”  I call it mythicized for lots of reasons, the largest being that crime will, in many cases, happen within the direct vicinity of the criminal, and since the United States remains a country with strongly segregated neighborhoods, most violent crime will occur between two or more people with similar ethnic backgrounds.  I could delve deeper into that, but so much has already been written.  If you want an easy breakdown of why so-called “Black on Black” crime is a myth, you can start with some hard insight by Tim Wise - Click Here.

But the other meme I see alot - the one which actually prompted me to write about the numbers associated with social justice - is the one about this country’s double standard with quantification as it pertains to time, body count, and percentages.  Some of you may have had something like this gem shared on your social media timelines in recent years:

If you can’t tell, the objective of this meme is to illustrate the double standard by which the American public, as well as mainstream media, strongly suggests we keep certain tragic events near & dear to our hearts, while “letting go” or “forgetting” others.  In the US, this “letting go” is often tied to struggles experienced by marginalized groups of people, as opposed to the majority, and yes, it is often levied at the struggles or hardships experienced by the victims of the Middle Passage, the African Diaspora, and the American slave trade.  While I could take another ten paragraphs to explain why the moral implications behind this duplicity have lent themselves to our nation’s current state of affairs, again, the point of this piece is to deal with the numbers tied to this dichotomous status quo.  Specifically, how quantification has not only served as justification for institutionalized racism, but how our shrewd understanding of numeric data-collection continues to aid in the social stigmas associated with the assessment of People of Color here and across the world.

As I view it now, it’s evident, though subjective, that since we live in a society where numbers matter, we have been indoctrinated with the concept of using the number of things to determine how to process any and all events associated with those things, whatever they may be.  More pointedly, we are a society that assigns intrinsic value to an event based on whether or not there are “more” or “less” of the things/people involved.  The easiest example of this comes in the form of our capitalist economy; obviously, in most cases, we assign more value or worth to things/people/organizations/institutions that are worth more money, and that have more wealth to spend or share than others.  Education is also a product of this phenomenon: we determine that a student who gets a higher score on a standardized test is more worthy of continuing their education, or, in the case of specific fields of study, more qualified to advance in said fields than those who score lower.  Many of you are reading this and probably saying to yourselves, “Well, duh.  Is this new?  And why is that a bad thing?”

In a sense, you’re right.  On the surface, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  With the many complex social, economic, and political aspects of a developed nation, it is understood that in order for it to run, we need guidelines, benchmarks, and assessments to be able to balance out and filter those aspects so that they function to the best of their ability.  Numerical value can be an easy, no-nonsense way to do this.  But as I’ve said, the problematic, and, indeed, more insidious nature of this number-based system, presents itself within the internal layers of this societal standard.  Why?  Because, IMHO, not only do we adhere to the accolades or punishments rendered by the results of numeric assessment with an almost blind complacency, we now also assign value or worth to practically everything about our lives using numbers, how they add up, and how they’re taken away.

Everything.  Including things that should never be tied to that kind of value system.
I call it the ‘Quantification Narrative.’
Sidebar, going forward, I’ll be using QN to make this a bit more streamlined.

Now, after reading this, you’re probably asking how this concept, this Quantification Narrative, comes into play when we talk about social justice, civil rights, or human rights advocacy?  The answer, I think, is very simple, and you can use the meme above as a guide.  Part of the reason why so many social justice denialists take issue with the bringing up of US slavery as part of the argument for advocacy on the part of People of Color is the time differential.  I’m sure you’ve heard people constantly say this: “Slavery was over 150 years ago!  Get over it already!”  

And guess what?  They’re right - about the timing, anyway.  History points out that the Emancipation Proclamation, the end of the US Civil War, and the ratifying of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution all happened roughly a century and a half ago.  But this is where the Quantification Narrative becomes destructive.  The prejudiced view about chattel slavery by the majority is tied directly to the number of years between the end of its institution and the present day.  The thought process that goes into people comfortably saying, “Get over it,” in response to the discussions about slavery and its generational effects spring from the decades, indeed, centuries of time that separate us from the horrors of the slave trade.  One could argue that the bigotry associated with denialism as it pertains to the time differential here has more to do with the fact that because so much time as passed, and the memories associated with slavery are not fresh in the narratives of the general public, that it lends itself to people feeling comfortable speaking about this tragic era with bold ignorance and condemnation of those who would speak of its bloody components.

This may be true, but the fact remains that deniers of the effects of slavery are very much prone to using that ‘150 years’ defense as a specific rebuttal to those who would try to bridge the gap between slavery and modern day institutionalized racism.  They make a point of using the QN to downplay the unconscionable practice of forcing displaced human beings to work without pay under pain of torture, persecution, and death, as if time, as a numerical assessment, should somehow justify the damage & genocide associated with slavery.

Kind of sucks when you look at it that way, right?

The QN also rears its ugly head when tallying the body count associated with acts of genocide and systemic oppression.  In my view, it is bad enough that people continue to compare the plight of People of Color in the US to the grisly account of the Holocaust in Europe, my reason being that it automatically forces people to decide which atrocities were more severe, or more worthy of our sympathy, while completely disrespecting the individual hardships associated with either event.  Put simply, it is a logical fallacy.  But the QN adds to this terrible comparison because we are continually presented with the well-documented ‘6 Million’ Jewish Europeans who were systematically murdered as part of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution.”  Our society, our thought process, forces us to assign that number to this heartbreaking series of events, as if that number alone will bring the correct weight & depth of these nightmarish crimes against humanity.

Lastly, in light of recent social justice issues, the Quantification Narrative has served as the perfect defense for US citizens to rail against specific movements like #BlackLivesMatter.  As I previously stated, denialists are all too happy to trot out statistics about issues such as crime occurring in Communities of Color, citing body count, murder rate, frequency, and overall tallies to bolster the idea that advocacy for marginalized people like Black & Brown Americans is something that does not deserve national attention, but should instead be relegated to the Community itself.  I could go into the myriad of memes, stat posts, and numbers-sharing that go along with this idea, but I’ll leave you to that, with the promise that all you’d need to do is type in “Black on Black Crime” in a Google Image search to see what I mean.  Fat story thin here, the numbers used to denounce civil rights for People of Color in the US in the 21st century are proof positive that the QN can be - and oftentimes is - a dangerous, detrimental method of sidelining and altogether putting down efforts to hold this country responsible to all of its citizens, and not just those who it deems to be deserving of the freedoms and justice outlined in its Constitution.

So!  With all of this said, and all of the feels I know are going through your mind right now, your next question may be something along the lines of, “Now what?”

My very honest answer to that?  I’m really not sure.
(It’s OK to click the ‘X’ button if you read that sentence and just got mad ;-) ).

But it’s the truth.  I’m not sure how we as a society can collectively counter something like the Quantification Narrative, because we’re talking about a global, pervasive, ever-present, and ever-useful way to make some sense of our lives.  We’re talking about a kind of thought process and discourse that makes it far too easy to compartmentalize and categorize just about anything, instead of actually unpacking those mental boxes and figuring out what to do with the contents inside.  We have become way too complicit in looking at those contents maybe one or two times, throwing them in said box, and shelving them, using their numeric value to determine whether or not we’ll come back to them.  And most times, we don’t.

THAT’S how deeply-rooted the QN is.  THAT’S what a movement like #BlackLivesMatter is fighting on a daily basis.  Numbers, their value, and how it all adds up - or doesn’t.

Having admitted to this, I offer you, faithful reader, some hope in this seemingly hopeless status quo, in that while society may take ages to disconnect its general consciousness from the negative components of the Quantification Narrative, you yourself can start the process right now.  It begins with making the conscious choice to think about why you care about…well, anything.  In this moment, my concern is about how we can move forward in advocating for the rights of People of Color in the US without constantly relying on numbers or the QN as a go-to defense of our position.  We know, for example, that in instances like the deaths of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sam Dubose, and Walter Scott, the behavior presented by the law enforcement officers involved in their killings is also representative of a larger, historically problematic way in which institutions like law enforcement view & assess the value of Black lives.  The QN insists that there be a mass number of those lives lost to that misconstrued assessment - namely, that Black lives present a threat to a civil society, thereby rendering a summary execution by law enforcement as justified - before national attention is paid to the underlying problems that far too often lead to tragic deaths such as these.  

But if “All Lives Matter,” as denialists have continued to state in their ignorance of this particular problem, then we should, in essence, refrain from the QN unless it produces constructive results, since the taking of even one life as the result of institutionalized racism should be a call to action by our society to a.) cultivate + solidify policies to ensure that it does not happen again b.) offer compassion and support to those already affected by this problem.  If we truly believe that every single person matters, then in this society, where too many people become a numerical statistic, we should focus on those persons who are most at risk, and not allow our skewed view of numeric value to deter from that focus.

In closing, dear reader, I don’t want my observations to somehow be misinterpreted as a call to destroy our numbers system or rally against mathematics (could you imagine? “Hey hey, ho ho, these calculators have got to go!” Yikes).  It should go without saying - but I don’t mind saying it - that in spite of the dangers that total adherence to the Quantification Narrative can present, being able to assign order & value to things is a crucial component to our survival and, dare I say it, prosperity.  But it should also be said that we really need to reexamine where & how we do this, and realize that some things - like people’s lives & livelihood - should neither be identified, nor determined, nor prohibited, by just a number.  And yes, even though we know that major social justice movements are the result of the subjugation, vilifying, and murder of millions of marginalized humans like Persons of Color, Indigenous Peoples, LGBT citizens, Women, Muslims, the Refugee, the Immigrant, the Poor, and the Prisoner, we must never forget that every single one of their experiences is important, that we shouldn’t devalue their individual importance in favor of their collective struggle, and that understanding this while showing solidarity for their causes is absolutely the right way to go about doing so.

You can count on that.


*NSFW* When It Needs To Be Said: The Declaration of Erika Kendall

NOTE: The views or opinions presented in the embed of this post are those of the author. In respect of such communication, any commentary regarding her work should be directed accordingly.

Ms. Erika Kendall is a friend of my high school colleague, Genie Lauren. You may remember Ms. Lauren from a few years back, when she successfully orchestrated a social media campaign to stop the publishing deal being negotiated for Juror B37 in the trial of George Zimmerman; for more on that, Click Here. With this being said, I think that Ms. Kendall has provided a raw, honest, and well-written diatribe addressing the issues surrounding the events concerning Baltimore and the death of Freddie Gray. Please note that the language in this piece may offend some readers, so if that isn't your cup of tea, feel free to close out this window. But if you want to see where many people stand on this topics right now, take a few moments to check this out.

You called the hood “sketchy” and made sure you rolled up your windows and locked your doors when you absolutely HAD to drive through it. You even created and make copious use of apps that HELP YOU AVOID THE “SKETCHY” NEIGHBORHOODS.

Now, when you see people destroying it, you want to talk that good sh-t about “savage” behavior, “destroying property,” “earned disrespect,” “delinquency,” “why should a criminal get justice?” and “black unemployment.”

And, of course, all this and you want your cookies for not being racist, all because you didn’t say “n-gger.” You want us to throw a celebration for your petulant ass for not hanging a human being from the poplar tree in your front yard.

Okay, I’ve got your cookies. I’ve got your little party, too.

Congratulations for finding a thousand different ways to say “n-gger.”
Congratulations for, instead of spittin’ that dog whistle nonsense about “lazy black people,” you now want to crow on about how all the burned businesses only add to “black unemployment,” while some cornball friend of yours snarks about how that’s “probably what they wanted.” Neither one of you realized that the hood doesn’t own those businesses, rarely ever is employed BY those businesses, and when they are…they’re paid literal pennies on the dollar of what they’re worth. None of you read that the unemployment rate for that particular part of Baltimore is hovering around 25%. But you’re worried about businesses there NOW.

Besides — it’s not “n-gger” anymore – it’s “thug.”

Congratulations for, instead of repeating that petty ridiculousness about “makers” and “takers,” you’re now focused on “looting.” The “looters.” The “looters.” The “looters.” Guess what? That population is so economically depressed – no jobs, no banks to help them get loans so they can create their OWN economic opportunity, no ability to actually build the generational wealth necessary to pass money down to their kids so THEY can create their own economic opportunity – that they feel like they have next to nothing. Why are you surprised that people with nothing to lose will take what someone else has…ESPECIALLY when they value those THINGS more than they value human life?

You expect people who have purposefully had their property stripped from them through eminent domain, through corruption of federal policy, through manipulation, through burning down entire avenue blocks full of their businesses….after you’ve taken everything from them, you expect them give a damn about what YOU have? You’ve already taught them these things mean nothing and can be stolen at the drop of a hat – including their lives.

Congratulations for not hanging any black people anymore. Except, oh wait, you are. Not only are black Americans still being hung in the US, but you’ve evooooolved! You’ve found new and creative ways to punish and penalize and torture black and brown people OUTSIDE THE CONFINES OF OUR LEGAL SYSTEM. So, instead of that whole trial, jury, hire lawyer, innocent until proven guilty thing we’ve created to protect the individual livelihoods and freedoms of our great nation, we’re OKAAAAAAYYYY with *certain* people being murdered extrajudicially because they “shouldn’t have been breaking the law.” Except, what’s the deal with that criminal scumbag police officer who lied and claimed HIS victim stole his taser and therefore earned the death sentence HE received… and we would’ve believed that, too, if it weren’t for someone determined to ensure that the truth was heard.

Somehow, the Oklahoma bomber, the Boston bomber, the Colorado theater shooter, and countless other criminals manage to be taken alive… but a man standing on the street allegedly carrying a knife is grounds for brutal treatment. A man who takes off running for reasons unknown is justification for a criminal scumbag officer to square up and shoot him to death.

Congratulations for helping us understand how to be upstanding citizens of the US, and teaching us – in true passive-aggressively paternalistic form – the proper terms under which it is acceptable to devalue private property. So, let me make sure I have this right – it’s okay to destroy public property when a university is finally held accountable for giving a pedophile carte blanche to abuse minors with impunity… it’s okay to destroy private property when my favorite hockey team wins their game… it’s okay to destroy private property when my favorite hockey team LOSES their game… it’s okay to burn some shit down when Pumpkinfest runs out of pumpkins… and it’s okay to destroy some shit when there’s an important sale going on.

It is NOT okay, however, to destroy some shit when you’re rallying against the fact that people are consistently denied access to the justice system because cops are acting like judge, jury, and executioner by shooting people just because they have black skin. I got it, yeah?

Congratulations for not saying “n-gger,” and for not being photographed eating any ice cream cones at any lynchings in the US. I’m proud of you! That’s big progress!

Here’s your cookie. And a book. Focus more on the book part, though – maybe that’ll teach some of you some damn empathy for perpetually and purposefully disenfranchised people. Maybe you’ll give a damn about them before they have to burn a tenth of your city down to get media attention. Maybe you’ll learn that they, too, are human, and deserve access to all the same rights as the rest of us, no matter how much money they have.


The Crucible of Nona Gaye: How Corporate Music Just Destroyed Copyright Law


Form The Guardian:
"A jury awarded Marvin Gaye’s children nearly $7.4m on Tuesday after determining singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied their father’s music to create Blurred Lines, the biggest hit song of 2013. Marvin Gaye’s daughter Nona Gaye wept as the verdict was being read and was hugged by her attorney, Richard Busch. “Right now, I feel free,” Nona Gaye said after the verdict. “Free from ... Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told.”"

I'll tell you what: if I was a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, I would rally support for Nona Gaye and Richard Busch to win the award for Best Documentary: Short Subject. The acting and dramatics surrounding this three-ringed circus of legal proceedings deserve a standing ovation, at the very least. However, if I was a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, I would rally support to file charges against Nona and her family for fraud and circumvention of long-standing statues that protect the rights of creators in the American Music Industry. Were I vindictive enough, I'd probably also hire a P.I. to see just how much money & influence this woman, and by that extension, all of the Gaye family, have invested into this fight for artistic "justice." I'd guarantee that it wouldn't take too long to realize just how much of a sham this entire process has been. What we'll never know is what the long-term negative effects will be as a result of that sham. That said, I'll expand upon what I do know, and what I think about it.

First, if you want a more comprehensive understanding of the whole story & court proceedings behind it, Click Here.

I suppose I have to preface my thoughts by saying first that like so many artists and creatives, I have the utmost respect and admiration for the music & legacy of Marvin Gaye. He was an incomparable musician and performer. In addition, his dedication later in his life to creating art that talked about issues like social justice, discrimination, and the plight of his people solidifies his place in history as someone who, in my opinion, represents the true essence of an artist. This is why I take such issue with these recent proceedings, and why I have a serious ethical problem with the machinations of Nona Gaye and the rest of her vengeful brood.

By allowing the Gaye family to profit from the success of a current Pop music collaboration, simply because the song they created SOUNDS like the groove of a Marvin Gaye record, without there being conclusive evidence to indicate the individuals involved actually plagiarized direct lyrics, melodic lines, or audio samples from “Got To Give It Up,” the courts have now set a very real precedent, with financial incentive, to not only hear ridiculous cases like this, but to rule them in favor of the plaintiff. This would, in effect, strip a newer writer, performer, or producer, from allowing prior musical influence to be a part of a creative venture, unless they were willing to seek out any & all possible sonic references and negotiate a deal with their originators - which is, by all standards and practices, impossible.

This pisses me off to no end because it proves what I’ve been saying for a long time now; namely, that the Capitalism behind this music industry is far more of a detriment to the concepts of art commerce than even the most magnanimous producer will admit. I am all for creative individuals being properly compensated for their work, it should go without saying. However, I am NOT a fan of artists’ families using the gifts of that artist to unfairly profit from their work. The same can be said of the Jacksons. If we are to be blunt about Marvin’s life, by the end of it, he was little more than a strung-out, bipolar drug addict with a psychological propensity towards violence and a wavering grasp on reality. Further, it should not fall to people like Robin Thicke or Pharrell Williams to compensate for the fact that Nona, Frankie, and Marvin Jr. had a father who never negotiated the means for the residual profit from his work to be redirected to them, or that he never created a proper living will & trust for his estate. Why should the music industry be responsible for his problems, his mistakes, or his poor legal prowess? And that’s with the knowledge that said industry is certainly responsible for pulling some dirty, underhanded BS concerning him during his lifetime. For more on that, as well as some insight into his personal problems, Click Here.

I watched Nona Gaye’s reaction to the ruling, and I almost cringed. Crocodile tears and black sunglasses to hide her inner glee for pulling a fast one on this business. OUR business. Making it seem as if she had no money of her own, or was clueless as to how she could be a successful & happy woman outside of this kind of outrageous litigation. What she should be is ashamed at her and her family’s behavior for tainting the legacy of the music of a man whose message was about fighting the very things she chose to represent with these allegations. And I’m sure there are folks out there who will try to tie this “victory” into things like the “Black Lives Matter” movement (I wouldn’t be surprised if Nona did, too); for all our sakes, I hope that after this, she takes her checks and sits down somewhere. The irrevocable damage this case has wrought upon the future of the music industry is something we’ll all have to live with for the rest of our artistic lives, while she gets to laugh, sorry, cry tears of joy all the way to the bank.

Oh, and Nona, darling, in case you were looking for a place to sit down after you make your deposits, I've found several. "Here, My Dear:"


Be Free #Fight4Love - Lyrics

Be Free (P. Murray Remix)

Music & Lyrics: Jermaine Cole
Additional Music & Lyrics: Joseph P. Murray


And I'm in denial,
And it don't take no x-ray to see thru my smile....
I know, I be on the go,
And it ain't no drink out there that can numb my soul...
No, no...


All we want to do is take the chains off,
All we want to do is break the chains off,
All we want to do is be free,
All we want to do is be free,
All we want to do is take the chains off,
All I want to do is pull the reins off,
All we want to do is be free,
All we want to do is be free,


Can you tell me why
every time I step outside,
I see people die?
Ooh, I'm letting you know
That it ain't no gun they make that can kill my soul...
Oh, no…


All we want to do is take the chains off,
All we want to do is break the chains off,
All we want to do is be free,
All we want to do is be free,
All we want to do is take the chains off,
All I want to do is pull the reins off,
All we want to do is be free,
All we want to do is be free,



I’m losing my friends over this,
I’m at my wit’s end over this.
What is this fight for justice?
Is it history, or is it just us?

I’m taking up time over this,
I’m losing my mind over this.
Am I doing too much, or not enough?
Or am I too weak to fight 4 love?

They don’t understand what I’m trying to say,
They tell me relax, it’ll be OK.
But how can you go on back to sleep,
When you’ve seen all the things I’ve seen?

When you’ve learned all the things I know?
When the ones with the guns serve the ones with the gold?
When so many who never had a chance
Got cut down before they had a chance to grow?

Don’t tell me I’m wrong when this ain’t right.
Don’t tell me fall back if I’m ready to fight.
Oh, can’t you see we’ve run out of time?
I just gotta hold on to the light...

Just look around, look at what we’ve done.
Do we now tell our daughters and sons,
“This is the world we’re passing on,
Wish you the best, good luck, have fun?”

Well I refuse to wait & die;
I won’t let this moment pass me by.
Either I stand for something now,
Or all that I’ve said & done was just a lie...


Are we all alone?
Fighting on our own?
Please give me a chance.
I don't wanna dance.
Something's got me down
I will stand my ground,
Don't just stand around
The time to move is now...


All we want to do is take the chains off,
All we want to do is break the chains off,
All we want to do is be free,
All we want to do is be free,
All we want to do is take the chains off,
All I want to do is pull the reins off,
All we want to do is be free,
All we want to do is be free,
All we want to do is take the chains off,
All we want to do is break the chains off,
All we want to do is be free,
All we want to do is be free,
All we want to do is be free,
Be free,
Be free,
Be free...