Boggs Center – Living For Change News – May 11th, 2021

May 11th, 2021

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Thinking for Ourselves

Under Scrutiny 
Shea Howell

Detroit Police Chief James Craig is expected to announce this week his retirement and to launch his campaign for governor on the republican ticket. Such news is not surprising. Craig has consistently supported the most extreme right wing, destructive politics in the country.

He  took over the Detroit Police Department as part of the corporate effort to control the city under emergency management. While most progressive leadership persistently resisted the drive toward a state takeover and the declaration of bankruptcy,  Craig become the police arm to protect policies that destroyed the capacity of local self- government. Overseeing the cutting of police, he encouraged citizens to arm themselves as a means of protection. He encouraged teachers to take guns to classrooms. These views got him on the cover of the NRA magazine. He testifies for right wing republicans on federal legislation designed to increase the technological and military control of communities. He consistently provides excuses for the use of force. It has taken a court order to make him to stop aggressive, violent practices directed at people engaged in public protest of the violence he endorses.

These actions are surrounded by an ideology of white supremacy. In spite of consistently falling crime statistics, Craig has fostered the narrative of Detroit as a violent city, on the verge of explosion, agitated and provoked by radical Marxists. He refers to the young people his officers have killed as “suspects,”  rendering their deaths justifiable. He intensifies the fears of people in the community, using these fears to push for more money for police budgets. Most recently he has taken to attacking elected officials, especially women, calling their arguments for defunding police, “disgusting.”

In a preview of how skewed Craig’s view of reality is, he told reporters that since his experience with COVID 19 he has gained a new perspective. “Leave the small stuff alone and really focus on what you are personally called to do,” Craig said in a Free Press interview. “You have so much clarity when you’re fighting a deadly disease that you start thinking about your calling. ‘What am I here to do? It becomes so clear.” Craig said, “I want to help people.”

So, he is running for governor as a republican. How does he think that will help people?

As destructive as Craig has been to progressive ideas around community safety, the notion that putting authority in the hands of republicans is a good idea for the people of Detroit, the people of Michigan, or of this country, is laughable.

At this moment it is the Republican Party in Michigan and around the country that is attempting to make sure the majority of people do not have a voice in the election process. It is the party that overruled the vote of the majority of the people in the state to eliminate emergency manager legislation. It is the party that has removed local government to enable the whitening of the city.  It is the party that ignored the people of Flint, allowing the entire city to drink poisoned water. It is the party that supports water shut offs and evictions, even in the midst of a pandemic. It is the party that fosters obedience over criticism and welcomes law and order over justice.

The Free Press says if Craig goes through with his campaign, his tenure as a police chief will come “under scrutiny.”  Nothing could be better for our city than taking a hard look at Craig and at ourselves as we think about the future.


WKAR

A useful tool for consumers and law enforcement alike, facial recognition technology can help police officers identify—and ultimately charge—criminals caught on camera. But its critics argue that it’s discriminatory: Research shows that facial recognition software often misidentifies people of color at a much higher rate than white individuals. Now, Detroit, Michigan is facing lawsuits for the false arrests of two Black men misidentified by facial recognition technology. Why is it more difficult for this technology to recognize people of color? And do legal, privacy, and human rights concerns outweigh the benefits of its use? KEEP WATCHING

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On  Sunday, May 9, 2021, there was special book celebration to commemorate the birth of Daniel Berrigan. If you do not know his name and his work, check out the Guardian Newspaper obituary.

It was organized as a book party and reading of Detroiter Bill Wylie Kellerman who was both a personal friend and author of his recent book celebrating Daniel’s life Celebrant’s Flame: Daniel Berrigan in Memory and Reflection.

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To feel the tone, spirit and significance of his life.  Check out the words to the Dar Williams song:

God of the poor man this is how the day began
Eight co defendants, I, Daniel Berrigan
Oh and only a layman’s batch of napalm
We pulled the draft files out
We burned them in the parking lot
Better the files than the bodies of children
I had no right but for the love of you
I had no right but for the love of you
Many roads led here, walked with the suffering
Tom in Guatemala, Phillip in New Orleans
Oh it’s a long road from law to justice
I went to Vietnam, I went for peace
They dropped their bombs
Right where my government knew I would be
I had no right but for the love of you
I had no right but for the love of you
And all my country saw
Were priests who broke the law
First it was question, then it was a mission
How to be American, how to be a 
Christian 

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Boggscenter – Living For Change News – May 3rd 2021

May 3rd, 2021

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Thinking for Ourselves

Public Leadership
Shea Howell

Chief Craig and Mayor Duggan are moving the city in the wrong direction. They are resisting the depth of changes required to create peaceful, just communities. Instead, they are committed to protecting power and supporting the use of deadly force against people.

At a time when many people around the country are rethinking the role of policing, Craig and Duggan are increasing police budgets, expanding technological controls, and attempting to intimidate those who dare criticize any police abuse of power.

During the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, Detroit police shot and killed two people, both of whom were experiencing emotional and psychological distress.

Saying the use of deadly force is never easy to think about, Chief Craig praised officers for bravery and quickly moved to attack “anti-police rhetoric” which he said is fueling escalating anger against police. What could have been a moment to acknowledge the critical need for support and compassion as people throughout our community deal with trauma, became yet another opportunity for the Chief to grandstand his attacks on Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib.

Such tactics mirror the most regressive politics in our country. They depend on stoking the fears of people to justify expanding police powers. They invoke division and promote a culture willing to accept brutality and death.

That is why the recent findings of the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States are so important.  Issued at the end of April, the report has received almost no mainstream coverage in Detroit. Its findings, however, bear directly on our city and on the kind of rethinking we must do to radically alter the practices of protecting one another.

Twelve Commissioners from around the world spent 18 days listening to testimony from family members, activists, attorneys, and criminal justice experts. The commission examined in-depth the shooting  of 44 African Americans, 43 were killed and one person was paralyzed. All of the victims were unarmed. None of the victims posed any threat to police. The Commissioners concluded that the systematic police killings of Black people in the U.S. constitutes a prima facie case of crimes against humanity and they asked the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to initiate an investigation of responsible police officials. Chief Craig and the City of Detroit should be among them.

The report details findings that included  a “pattern of destruction and manipulation of evidence,” medical examiners colluding with police, prosecutorial misconduct, grand jury abuse, systemic impunity and lack of oversight.

The report took on the notion that death and abuse are the product of just a few “bad apples.” Rather it highlighted the “real problem” of “structural racism that is embedded in the U.S. legal and policing systems. “

At the press conference releasing the report, Collette Flanagan, founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality said, “We are into orchards of bad apples with trees that have diseased roots tainted with racism and white supremacy, and they are bearing rotten fruit.”

The recommendations of the Commission are clear and include the passage of the BREATHE Act. Such reforms are essential to protect life, but most of us know that none of the reforms of the last 40 years have made a difference in police violence.

Rather community efforts to develop peaceful, imaginative and compassionate responses to trauma are pointing the way to not only defunding police, but creating systems of real support and security.

In the face of mounting evidence and concern, Chief Craig and Mayor Duggan continue to ignore evidence, defend abuse, and attack those who are pushing us toward peaceful community life. They do not deserve to be in positions of public leadership.

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Art Should Be Inclusive to All: The Progressive Art Studio Collective

Tameka Citchen-Spruce

Art is a beautiful expression of oneself and the things around them.  Many times, people are born creative and simply need an outlet like drawing, singing, dancing, and writing to let their feelings go.  To be a successful artist, sometimes people take   takes classes, attend art school, or enter their artwork into art fairs or arts festivals. But for a second, just imagine if that person has a disability.  What if as a result of their disability they cannot speak, or they have a mental illness and have trouble concentrating or is overstimulated by sounds and lights?  Would that make them any less of an artist? As a person, with a physical disability, I would say a resounding no.  We should have creative classes and programs that are considerate and inclusive to disabled person’s needs so they can grow as artists.

This is why I am I’m so glad the Progressive Art Studio model exists and works.  A Progressive Art Studio is a specialized program that focuses on people with developmental disabilities and mental illness. It is not an art class with a teacher as instructor. It is an art class that allows the student’s emotions and personal experience to be their teacher a trained staff member is only there to guide the person through their process. This model has been launched 40 years ago in California and has been used across the country including in Oakland County.  But, as of the beginning of this year, The Progressive Art Studio Collective (PASC), has successfully launched the first studio in Wayne County, and particularly in the city of Detroit.

PASC is a program of Services To Enhance Potential, a non-profit organization founded in 1972, to provide supports and services to persons with disabilities and mental health needs in Wayne County. STEP launched the PASC in-person studio in Detroit in January as well as a virtual art studio for participants unable to attend in-person programming, and they are launching a studio in Westland in February.  Due to the unprecedented nature of this moment, STEP’s embrace of the PASC program, in the midst of the pandemic, stands out as a success story.

In a little over a month’s time, PASC has become extremely popular with the person’s STEP serves, and a growing inspirational success to the Detroit public. Within only four noticeably short weeks, the STEP consumers participating in PASC are already making incredible artworks, and interest in attending the program is quickly growing. All of the artists in the program are amazing, and many are already making professional quality artworks.

PASC is always looking for participants and partnerships. If you know of someone with a developmental disability and/or mental illness, and you think they might find inspiration as an artist, please call 313-278-3040 to learn how to sign up.  For more information or if you would like to support disabled artists through the PASC program, please visit www.stepcentral.org/pasc .

Tameka Citchen-Spruce, a Detroit native and a graduate of Oakland University, is a disability justice activist for people with disabilities, particularly those of color, and a proud member of Warrior on Wheels.
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Access Intimacy in the Arts: A Conversation with Ezra Benus, Taraneh Fazeli, and Owólabi Aboyade

MAY 27 – MAY 27, 2021 @ 5 PM ET

Join MC and organizer Owólabi Aboyade, artist and curator Ezra Benus, and curator Taraneh Fazeli for a conversation on art, music, curatorial practices, and accessibility in the arts. Co-presented with Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College

RSVP

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King County government must turn its back on facial recognition technology

Robert Julian-Borchak Williams went to jail for 30 hours after Detroit police arrested him in front of his wife and children. Nijeer Parks was jailed in New Jersey for 10 days and spent more than $5,000 in legal fees to defend himself. Michael Oliver lost his job and car while being held in a Detroit jail for three days on a felony larceny charge.

These three Black men were wrongfully arrested because facial recognition software matched them to crimes they did not commit.

Their experiences make clear that — whatever other concerns we might have about facial recognition technology — it poses a serious threat to our privacy and particularly to that of marginalized populations and communities. KEEP READING

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Bogg Center Detroit – Living For Change News -April 27th, 2021

April 27th, 2021

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CPTA Stateement

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Thinking for Ourselves

No More Trials
Shea Howell

On a warm June day, almost 50 years ago, a jury found Angela Davis not guilty of murder, kidnapping, and criminal conspiracy. The all-white jury deliberated for three days before returning its verdict.

Then, as today, the power structure was quick to claim the verdict as vindication, not of Davis, but of the “justice system” that had hunted her. When pressed by reporters to affirm that the verdict showed how fairly the system worked, Angela Davis simply said, “A fair trial would have been no trial at all.”

In the long decades since, the tactic of using the exception to deflect systemic change has been refined. We continue to see the exceptions lifted up to validate a racist, destructive, deadly, and brutal system. Let us be clear. This system cannot be reformed.

Since the beginning of this year to the middle of last week, police have killed 319 people. Mapping Police Violence documents that since 2013 police have killed more than 8000 people. That is nearly three people a day. Over the course of the Chauvin trial, police killed at least 64 people, including two children. In all of this death, fewer than 2% have led to charges. An infinitesimal amount have resulted in  convictions.

The problem, however, is not the lack of convictions. The problem is the police. They kill people who should be alive today. They harass and intimidate people. They turn normal encounters into deadly situations. They do not make us safe.

Now, enabled by right wing legislators across the country, they are supporting efforts to outlaw the very demonstrations against this violence that are necessary to bring about real, transformative change. They know it was massive demonstrations that freed Angela. They know it was massive demonstrations that convicted Derek Chauvin. They know it was massive demonstrations that brought some measure of solace to the family of Aiyana Stanley-Jones to Malice Green.

That is why white supremist republicans are moving to attack demonstrations. The New York Times reports that “G.O.P. lawmakers in 34 states have introduced 81 anti-protest bills during the 2021 legislative session — more than twice as many proposals as in any other year.” The right wing is doing everything to silence criticism, through both legal maneuvering and outright bullying.

U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib simply told the truth after the killing of Daunte Wright,  saying, “Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist. Daunte Wright was met with aggression & violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder. No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.” Yet she was met with tremendous backlash.

Detroit’s own police chief couldn’t wait to attack her. Chief Craig, whose officers killed two more people between the verdict and the remark by the congresswoman, declared her comments, a “disgusting knee-jerk response.” He took to his favorite news station, Fox, to call for her resignation. “I’d love to see her resign, I’d throw her a goodbye party,” he said.

The Chief would do better to save his “disgust” for those who use force and violence against the community. He would do well to spend less time on TV.

Over this half century, we have developed a rich, imaginative, and thoughtful understanding of community safety and mutual care. The abolition movement is gaining visible strength. Consider the responses in Minnesota in the wake of the killing of George Floyd:

“[It] galvanized organizing in communities of color. Immigrant business owners, frustrated by a lack of police protection, started their own community patrols. Students of color demanded their schools cut ties with police—and often won. This week, Minnesota students joined an almost unprecedented statewide walkout Asian Minnesotans organized their own communities to understand anti-Black racism. Young Somalis, embracing their Black identity, stepped forward in solidarity with African Americans. Immigrants from East African backgrounds cited their experience joining the George Floyd protests to lead demonstrations for Oromo rights…Pushes for reform continue at the state and local levels, including a grassroots campaign to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety.”

This is a moment of real possibility, demanding courage and imagination. For the first time in half a century, deep, structural change is not only possible, but ever more urgent
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Chauvin verdict is the exception, not the norm, in ‘justice’ system 
by Amanda Alexander

“…This guilty verdict is an anomaly within a legal system that rarely punishes police officers in the same way it punishes other people. The focus shouldn’t be on whether or not this anomaly signifies some sort of sea change in policing or the criminal punishment system. It does not. We cannot change the system with piecemeal reforms or on a trial-by-trial basis, not when depraved indifference to human life is at its very core. Instead, we must focus on creating conditions where Mr. Floyd’s murder would not happen in the first place…” KEEP READING

 


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SEMIS Virtual Community Forum Week: Past, Present, and Future

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Boggs Center – Living For Change News – April 19th, 2021

April 19th, 2021


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Thinking for Ourselves

Gaining Momentum
Shea Howell

The movement to defund the police is gaining momentum. After decades of holding local officials’ hostage by stoking fears of crime, police departments are beginning to see their  budgets cut. Over the last 40 years, in the face of increasing demands for public services and shrinking city resources, police spending has tripled. None of this massive spending has made us safer. Study after study shows that there is no correlation between increased spending and reduced crime. The US leads the world in the killing of citizens by police.

But this is beginning to change. The massive outpouring of outrage at the brutal killing of George Floyd has given a new moral urgency to calls to abolish the police. Over this past year, public demonstrations and conversations have enabled people to understand what it means to face problems that are institutional, not individual. People have learned of the history of policing itself, rooted in genocide, slavery, and white supremacy. We have witnessed the limitations of reforms from diversifying hiring, to better training, and body cameras. We have seen the ineffectiveness of civilian review boards and prosecutors who favor police over citizens.  Reforms have not reduced police brutality.

As a result, in 25 cities this budget year, $840 million was cut directly from police departments. At least $160 million was invested in community services. Andrea Ritchie of the Barnard Center for Research on Women  told the Guardian,  “Folks might look at $840m as a drop in the bucket of the $100bn we spend on police each year, but it definitely reverses the trend of constantly increasing police budgets over the past many decades and it did so in a way that also secured the transfer of funds from policing to community-based safety strategies.”

Now  the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd, is the most watched in decades, creating a shared understanding of the common use of deadly force by police. Since this trial began, another person has been killed by the police every day. Every. Single. Day. Most were men under 30 years old. Four were teenagers. People with lives yet to unfold. People with families, friends, and communities. Killed, often in seconds, after encountering police for some minor or imagined issue.

The loss of life in our communities is in stark contrast to the penalties experienced by those who do the killing. Only about 1.1% of the officers who kill civilians are charged with murder or manslaughter.

In response to this growing momentum, forces in Detroit are escalating their defense of police departments. The Sunday News/Free Press pushed a column by Mitch Albom, attacking those who advocate defunding the police. Disguised as a “rational” response to overly emotional and naïve women, especially U. S Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, Albom says, “The idea that such deadly encounters happen every day and every hour with cops — and therefore leaves no conclusion but to throw out the whole system — may be a media-driven impression, but not a factual one.”

Such reasoning is racist, sexist, and denies the reality of daily experience. Albom tries to brush off reality by juxtaposing the millions of encounters people have with police with the number of people killed every year. He notes that about 1,000 people a year are killed by police.  He distorts the point of the research tracking these numbers to downplay that this means every day, 3 people somewhere in this country are killed by police.

Albom is following on the heels of Chief Craig, who continues to take to Fox News to justify police killings. After the killing of Daunte Wright, just a few miles from the trial of Derek Chauvin, Craig managed to say that Wright’s death was tragic, but he quickly shifted away from the issue of police use of force, to claim the real issue is officers don’t feel supported. He cautioned people to not “broad brush the profession.”

Detroit once led the way in rethinking policing, community safety, and peaceful practices. Beginning with Coleman Young’s election, championed by a strong, often visionary City Council and vibrant community organizations, Detroit enacted reforms on a massive scale.  We among all the cities know these reforms have failed, putting power in the hands of politicians and a police chief who sound and act like Donald Trump. They are a disgrace to our legacy. But they are not our future.

 


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Support for Asian Americans Must Go Beyond Performative Statements
by Emily Lawsin and Scott Kurashige

In the aftermath of the Atlanta-area spa shootings and a continued upsurge in anti-Asian violence, leaders of colleges and universities across the country have issued statements denouncing anti-Asian racism and extending support to members of the Asian American community. Anyone who has been around academe for even a moderate amount of time has come to expect such statements in the wake of national tragedies, such as the death of George Floyd in police custody, the white supremacist mob violence in Charlottesville, Va., and the mass murders at Charleston, S.C.’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue.

KEEP READING IN THE MICHIGAN DAILY

AirGo is excited to present The Mentorship Suite, a series of episodes exploring the joys, contradictions, and radical possibilities of this often fraught term. On this episode, we have the honor and privilege to talk with the person who most directly shaped our commitment to movement, humanity, and liberation: the inimitable Kesho Scott. A former Black Panther and longtime professor of Sociology and American Studies at Grinnell College, Kesho breaks down the stages of mentorship, the foundations of a humanizing mentorship relationship, her own experience being mentored by Grace Lee Boggs and Jimmy Boggs, and so much more. The conversation was too good to cut, so we’re dropping the first half this week and will have the second half next week.

 Levitate with us!

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Reparations Can Be Won — and Must Be Taught
Lessons from the Chicago Public Schools’ Reparations Won Curriculum
By Jen Johnson

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Boggs Center – News Letter Living For Change – April 14th, 2021

April 14th, 2021

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Thinking for Ourselves

More Questions
Shea Howell

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has refused to press charges in the shooting death of Hakim Littleton. In an unusual, lengthily press conference to justify her decision, Worthy presented a powerpoint, referring to testimony from witnesses  and video clips  from body cameras to support her conclusion that the officers “acted in lawful self-defense.” Acknowledging that the case is controversial, Worthy said “we cannot let that deter us from making the right decisions in cases where some people would like to see charges.”

Both Prosecutor Worthy and Chief Craig ,in a separate press conference stressed the decision was based on “facts.” Both blamed the controversy on social media spreading misinformation. Thanking Worth for her decision, Chief Craig said he hoped the “misinformation will stop” and the “false narratives” will cease.

Two key points in this “false narrative” were highlighted. First, that that Police shot an unarmed black man 15 times, and second, that they continued to shoot him even after kicking the gun out of his hand. Both have proven untrue, according to the Chief.

Not exactly.

The decision to back away from an open, public inquiry or an impartial investigation leaves far too many questions unanswered.  Worthy claimed that her career has reflected a willingness to prosecute police misconduct. She seems to be hoping that this will make people accept a very questionable decision.

The thrust of Worthy’s presentation seemed to be to establish that Hakim Littleton pulled a gun and shot at police officers. No one calling for an independent investigation disputes this fact. Yes, Hakim Littleton pulled a gun and fired it.

The question, however, is once he turned to run away, once police had shot him in the thigh three times, once an officer was sitting on top of him, once he was pinned to the ground on his stomach, once several officers with guns were converging on him, was a single  close range shot to his head justified?

In this set of questions, Chief Craig and Kym Worthy offer differing accounts. Worthy says plainly that “the video footage and statements from four civilian witnesses showed Littleton fired five shots at police before an officer kicked his gun away from him — in contrast to claims from protesters that the 20-year-old was unarmed when he was shot.”
The idea that Mr. Little was unarmed when he was shot did not come from protestors. It came from Chief Craig. In in his press conference held on the day of Mr. Littleton’s death attempting to quell outrage, Chief Craig introduced the moment when the gun is kicked away. As Craig showed the video footage for the last time to reporters, his only comment is to note that gun is kicked way.  He explains that as Littleton is shot, he begins to fall. As he is falling, he shoots two more times, away from the police, and is then tackled by an officer. There are a total of 4 shots, he says, not five as Worthy identifies.

Craig explains that the footwork we see as the officer advances on top of Mr. Littleton is the” kicking away” of  the gun from the left side of his body. Worthy claims the gun was kicked away from the right side of his body, which would have meant he was completed twisted under the officer, as the gun was in his left hand.

Worthy’s account is contradicted by the Chief’s early portrayal of the case. Further, in the original video release by the Chief, we see one officer rush around a prone and immobile Mr. Littleton. The officer moves  quickly to his head, extends his arm and shoots . At least three other officers, with guns out, did not feel threatened enough to shoot as they converged from closer range on the victim. The officer who tackled Mr. Littleton and sat on top of him never pulled out his gun.

So, we are left with the question, why was Hakim Littleton killed? Why did one officer race up to his head, take aim and shoot? What is the history of this officer? Why was Mr. Littleton not arrested, taken to a hospital for treatment and charged? Why did Hakim Littleton die that day?

The people of Detroit and the family and Friends of Hakim Littleton deserve more than slide shows. We have lost a young man who walked out of house one summer morning, never to return. None of us are safe until every death, especially those at the hands of police are fully and openly and independently investigated.

 


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Enough is Enough
Rich Feldman

On a recent weekend in suburban Detroit, The voices of Asian Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders were joined by other suburban folks to say “enough is enough” to racism, racial capitalism, anti-hate, and violence against Asian-Americans and to also uplift the continued struggle and challenge to state loudly that Black Lives. The murders of the Asian Women in Atlanta have again challenged all of America to look in the mirror.

On Saturday, there was a vigil in Huntington Woods, MI.  The gathering was multi-generational and had the privilege of uplifting the voices of Laura Misumi who is  fourth generation Japanese American and the current executive director of Rising Voices of Asian American Families.  Laura provided significant historical framing and the importance of speaking out, learning history, and creating community with each other.  Being silent must end.

Laura was followed by Brandon Mar who is a senior at Berkley High School.

His speech is below. The pictures were also taken by Brandon.  Brandon is a member of the recently formed Huntington Woods for Black Lives Matter. We also read from the proclamation passed by the Huntington Woods City Commission.

First, I want to say thank you to all of you for coming out to show your support against racist violence and being a part of breaking the silence in this community.

I wanted to share a little bit about how the recent attacks on the Asian American community have impacted me and my family. The other day, my mom Alice and I went to the Asian market in Madison heights.

As I watched fellow shoppers, all I could think about were the countless number of our elders who have been attacked doing the same simple routine: picking up groceries to feed themselves and their families.

While seeing these headlines I cannot help but also think about my own grandparents. It pains me to understand that they and the rest of my community are vulnerable to racially motivated attacks when stepping foot outside of their homes, to go about their lives. This feeling has left many in the Asian American community, myself included, in a state of constant worry and caught up in a string of text messages and phone calls checking in to make sure our loved ones are safe.

The murders in Atlanta and the anti-Asian violence across the country are no coincidence. The recent rise in acts of physical and verbal violence against my community has been fueled by white supremacy and systemic racism. While these acts are shocking and disturbing, they are nothing new.

Asian Americans were labeled as the “yellow peril” throughout the first half of the 20th century by the west. The phrase “Chinese virus” is merely a modern iteration of anti-Asian sentiment in this country.

When we are not under physical attack or being made the object of widespread fear, America frames Asians as the “model minority,” a superficially flattering phrase that masks a divisive and deeply problematic function. The “model minority” trope is weaponized to push anti-blackness and act as a wedge further dividing black, indigenous, and people of color: communities that should be supporting each other. This is done by creating the false narrative that if Asian Americans can overcome oppression and hardship so should other minority groups without regard to the true factors that continue the oppressive systems instilled in this country.

For decades, stereotypes have painted Asian American women as submissive and hypersexualized to the point where they have been robbed of their humanity. The murderer in Atlanta saw those women as just that: sex objects that he could destroy, instead of human beings. Instead of someone mother, sister, or child.

In response to the violence in Atlanta, there have been calls for further police militarization, but this action will never end racist violence. As for many situations, police only react once attacks have taken place. Additional police spending will never heal our communities. Rather I would like to see a greater investment in anti-racism initiatives that reach the root of this violence. Anti-racism initiatives that must be implemented by the city of Huntington woods which deserve more than the mere 2000 dollars proposed by our city commission.

However, ending racist violence does not just require additional policy protections for our grandparents, brothers, sisters, partners, and children.

Creating change cannot solely be left to faces behind closed doors or our government officials on the local, state, and federal levels. Change must also start within ourselves. It requires a cultural inflection to unlearn socialized and normalized, racism that we may not realize we uphold. Things that play out right here in Huntington Woods. It requires us to speak up and act out against injustice, even if said injustice is perpetuated by our friends and family.

It requires us to strengthen our communities. We must build connections with and listen to the voices of our neighbors of all races, gender identities, and sexual orientations, religious affiliations, abilities, and ages.

It requires intersectionality of our movements because liberation cannot be achieved by checking off boxes; it must account for the many different identities we are comprised of.

Most importantly it requires humanity.

It is in building these connections that will allow us to more frequently recognize biases where they appear, and to challenge them.
Hopefully, through this increased understanding of our shared humanity, we will build a world in which no one needs to feel unsafe when simply buying groceries for their family.

Ultimately, this change starts everywhere from the dinner table, walking in the park, or waiting in line at the store. We must be the ones to notice our own biases, speak out against injustice, and make a change.
On Sunday, there was also a rally and march in Troy, Michigan.

“We are asking individuals to join us, to raise our voices and speak out,” said organizers in a statement by two local Asian American groups: Whenever We’re Needed Detroit  and Asian Pacific & Islander American Vote – Michigan.
The Sunday rally and march of 40-50 people took place outside Troy City Hall. Troy is Oakland County’s largest city and 26% Asian American, according to the 2019 census.

As we continue to organize, listen, educate and uplift suburban voices, I cannot ask the question enough?
What will people who display Black Lives Matter signs and ant-hate messages on their lawns do beyond “cheer” for change?
What will people do who are studying the history of racism, learning about their/our own internalized “whiteness” do beyond study and discuss?

Both are valuable for public discussion and education.  My question is “what next?”  How will Oakland County change?  What does a revolution in values look like?   Is there a relationship between racism, materialism, and militarism?  Is there a relationship to the whiteness of our suburbs, the “love of Somerset Mall to the consumerism and destruction of our planet?
On Saturday, the banners read:

Suburban Silence is Racist Violence 

and

From Growing our Economy to Growing our Souls 
hw vigil 2

 

Brandon Marr’s Speech

First, I want to say thank you to all of you for coming out to show your support against racist violence and being a part of breaking the silence in this community.

I wanted to share a little bit about how the recent attacks on the Asian American community have impacted me and my family. The other day, my mom Alice and I went to the Asian market in Madison heights.

As I watched fellow shoppers, all I could think about were the countless number of our elders who have been attacked doing the same simple routine: picking up groceries to feed themselves and their families.

While seeing these headlines I cannot help but also think about my own grandparents. It pains me to understand that they and the rest of my community are vulnerable to racially motivated attacks when stepping foot outside of their homes, to go about their lives. This feeling has left many in the Asian American community, myself included, in a state of constant worry and caught up in a string of

text messages and phone calls checking in to make sure our loved ones are safe.

The murders in Atlanta and the anti-Asian violence across the country are no coincidence. The recent rise in acts of physical and verbal violence against my community has been fueled by white supremacy and systemic racism. While these acts are shocking and disturbing, they are nothing new.

Asian Americans were labeled as the “yellow peril” throughout the first half of the 20th century by the west. The phrase “Chinese virus” is merely a modern iteration of anti-Asian sentiment in this country.

When we are not under physical attack or being made the object of widespread fear, America frames Asians as the “model minority,” a superficially flattering phrase that masks a divisive and deeply problematic function. The “model minority” trope is weaponized to push anti-blackness and act as a wedge further dividing black,

indigenous, and people of color: communities that should be supporting each other. This is done by creating the false narrative that if Asian Americans can overcome oppression and hardship so should other minority groups without regard to the true factors that continue the oppressive systems instilled in this country.

For decades, stereotypes have painted Asian American women as submissive and hypersexualized to the point where they have been robbed of their humanity. The murderer in Atlanta saw those women as just that: sex objects that he could destroy, instead of human beings. Instead of someones mother, sister, or child.

In response to the violence in Atlanta, there have been calls for further police militarization, but this action will never end racist violence. As for many situations, police only react once attacks have taken place. Additional police spending will never heal our communities. Rather I would like to see a greater investment in anti-racism initiatives that reach the root of this violence. Anti-racism initiatives

that must be implemented by the city of Huntington woods which deserve more than the mere 2000 dollars proposed by our city commission.

However, Ending racist violence does not just require additional policy protections for our grandparents, brothers, sisters, partners, and children.

Creating change cannot solely be left to faces behind closed doors or our government officials on the local, state, and federal levels. Change must also start within ourselves.

It requires a cultural inflection to unlearn socialized and normalized, racism that we may not realize we uphold. Things that play out right here in Huntington Woods.

It requires us to speak up and act out against injustice, even if said injustice is perpetuated by our friends and family.

It requires us to strengthen our communities. We must build connections with and listen to the voices of our neighbors of all races, gender identities, and sexual orientations, religious affiliations, abilities, and ages.

It requires intersectionality of our movements because liberation can not be achieved by checking off boxes; it must account for the many different identities we are comprised of.

Most importantly it requires humanity

It’s in building these connections that will allow us to more frequently recognize biases where they appear, and to challenge them.

Hopefully, through this increased understanding of our shared humanity, we will build a world in which no one needs to feel unsafe when simply buying groceries for their family.

Ultimately, this change starts everywhere from the dinner table, walking in the park, or waiting in line at the store. We must be the ones to notice our own biases, speak out against injustice, and make a change.

 

Brandon will be graduating from Berkley High School this spring, and plans attend Purdue University in the fall. Over the summer, Brandon was very active with the Black Lives Matter movement, and marched at countless protest, as well as he sold hand embroidered shirts to raise funds for organizations fighting for equity in out communities.

Most recently, Brandon has continued his work alongside HW4BL.

Dakari

“I really want to use our platform to highlight that it’s not just crime and gangbanging here. Our neighborhood is beautiful, and it’s full of children and like, dudes sitting on the porch.” KEEP READING IN MODEL D


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