A Few Bad Teachers …

Is anybody convinced by the rhetoric from Trump and the NRA that teachers carrying guns in the classroom is a good idea?  Three stories in the news this week should convince us all that to arm teachers in schools is possibly the worst idea since the paper dress in the 1960s.

Poor Judgement???

Both of these stories took place in Florida, the first is David Swinyar, a math teacher at Kernan Middle School in Jacksonville, Florida.  Mr. Swinyar likes to use the ‘N-word’ in his class.  In October, he finally went too far …

“If your boyfriend says bad things to you and/or treats you wrong, that means he’s acting like a n—–. You all should not be dating all these different African American boys because they are not worth it.”

It was not just one or two students who reported Swinyar’s words, but a majority of the class.  An investigation was opened on October 6, 2017, after numerous student complaints were received.  Most of the accusations were deemed credible and substantiated:

“SUBSTANTIATED: There is credible evidence to support that Mr. Swinyar engaged in inappropriate communication in the presence of, and/or toward students, by using the “n” word in a conversation with students and/or when he referred to a student. He also made other inappropriate comments such as, calling students “dumb”. “You are in my class because you failed the FSA [Florida Standards Assessment].”  Additionally, he made comments like, “You all should not be dating all these different African American boys because they are not worth it.””

The school has 1,148 students — 22.6% of whom are African American.

One young man was so horrified by Swinyar’s racist remarks that he left the classroom to use the phone in the school office to call his mother.  “Mr. Swinyar yelled at the student and called the student a liar,” an office assistant told investigators. “He also snatched the phone away from the student.”

So what, you ask, has happened to Mr. Swinyar since the investigation concluded?  He received a 10-day suspension without pay.  Yes, 10 days.  Since Swinyar has filed an appeal, the school district was unable to provide much information, but they said it was found that Swinyar used ‘poor judgement’.  It was also indicated that at the end of Mr. Swinyar’s suspension, he will be re-assigned to a position where he has no contact with students for the remainder of the school year.


Dayanna Volitich is a middle school teacher in Citrus County School District, about 80 miles north of Tampa, Florida.  She teaches Social Studies. Last week, school district officials were made aware by the Huffington Post that Ms. Volitich is closely affiliated with a podcast and a Twitter account — which Ms. Volitich operated under the pseudonym “Tiana Dalichov” — that perpetuates racism and white supremacism.  On the podcast, called “Unapologetic”, she bragged of preaching white nationalism in her classroom — and hiding it from administrators.

In tweets, she makes reference to the “horrors of #Islam,” attacks the concept of white privilege, and says that it isn’t “hateful or supremacist to prefer your own people over others.”

In a recent podcast …

“This is — so many researchers have already looked into this, and that’s just the way it is. There are races that have higher IQs than others.”

On the same podcast, Volitich and her guest Lana Lokteff spent time bashing feminism, calling the concept a “devious plot to undermine white families”.  And when asked if she was able to promote her ideas in the classroom, Volitich/Dalichov replied that she plays by the rules when her supervisors are watching, but lets the children know that it’s all an act — a “dog-and-pony show,” as she called it — and asks them to “play along.”

In other episodes, she has said …

“Honestly, I wouldn’t be adverse [sic] to just annihilating the entire country of North Korea. Just get rid of it.”

“Islam does not belong here. It is an ideology built upon the premise of violence. A religion whose followers are taught in the Qu’ran itself to kill nonbelievers and follow the example of a hedonistic cult leader desperate for power and blood,” she wrote. “It clashes with everything this country stands for and puts Western civilization at risk. Speaking the truth about Islam is not bigotry. Being critical of Islam is not racist or Islamophobic.”

And she may just be related to Alex Jones, for she has determined that the shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14th where 17 were killed was some sort of a conspiracy. She also exchanged messages with students at Dalton High School, criticizing their views:

“If you’re traumatized, why are you even on Twitter right now?”

 “Just because you are afraid doesn’t mean it wasn’t staged.”

 “That doesn’t negate the fact that it was probably a political stunt designed to advance an anti-gun agenda.”

Ms. Volitich has been removed from the classroom pending an investigation, but her employment has not been terminated at this time.  Ms. Volitich is arguing that her podcast was merely satire, despite the fact that she has praised such white supremacists as Arthur Jones, Patrick Casey and former KKK grand wizard David Duke.

All for the Love of a Mouse?

And finally, in Leesville, Louisiana, a high school math teacher, Randolph Perez, is under investigation for displaying the following message on the whiteboard in his classroom after a computer mouse went amiss:

“Welcome to Room 312. To the moronic, self obsessed ethnic who stole the mouse from the back computer: the fact that you do not know both your parents, and that the so called adults that are caring for you can not afford a five dollar part because they are too busy buying drugs and coring cigars at the Shop-Rite does not change the fact that you are nothing more than a two bit thief and a waste of carbon and oxygen.”

An investigation was opened last week, but no word on Perez’ fate.

This post made me physically ill to write.  As a parent, as a former school board advocate, as a human being, it is inconceivable to me that anybody would hold the narrow-minded, bigoted views of these individuals.  I have many, many friends who are in the teaching profession, many are special education teachers.  Teachers are not highly paid, and I typically believe that they do what they do out of love for children, out of a desire to help young people grow into well-rounded, compassionate adults, out of a desire to be a part of making our world a little bit better.  We must be careful not to judge the entire profession by the acts of these abominable creatures.  However, I cannot help wondering if this is the new ‘wave of the future’? If, as the dredges of society are coming out from under the rocks since Donald Trump declared that there is no more ‘political correctness’ (another term for civil discourse), they are infiltrating even our schools?  And I know that with people like these leading classrooms, it is insanity to consider arming teachers with loaded guns!

Black History In Ontario – The 19th Century – A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

Today is 28 February … the last day of February and the final day of Black History Month in both the U.S. and Canada.  I have let the ball drop this month, for reasons at least partly beyond my control, but our friend John Fioravanti has helped by sharing with us so much of Canada’s black history!  Last week, I published Part I of John’s guest post, and we thought it fitting to save Part II for the final day of February, to wrap up the month.  I would like to thank John for all the hard work he put into these wonderfully informative posts!  Hey John … what say we do it again next year?

Text dividersPrologue

Upper Canada did not flourish, and Loyalist settlements remained scattered and isolated. Simcoe’s vision of a prosperous, English-speaking province was not shared in London. Britain viewed the fledgling colony as a mere appendage of Lower Canada (Quebec). Simcoe was succeeded by several ineffective British governors in the ensuing years who did little to foster growth in Upper Canada.

In 1812, America declared war on Britain while she was embroiled in a life and death struggle against Napoleon in Europe. For President Madison, Canada looked like easy pickings. Most of the settlers of Upper Canada were former American citizens, and the French in Lower Canada had no great love for their British rulers. America underestimated the determination of the Loyalists and Indigenous Loyalists led by Joseph Brant, and most of the French decided to remain neutral.

The War of 1812-1814 featured many cross-border skirmishes between U.S. Regulars & Militia and British Regulars and Loyalist militia. It eventually ended in a stalemate punctuated by the burning of the government buildings in Toronto by American invaders and the retaliatory burning of the White House in Washington by the British.

Black Volunteers Fight For Britain

In the summer of 1812, Black Loyalist Richard Pierpoint petitioned the government of Upper Canada to raise a company of Black troops to help protect the Niagara frontier. After some debate, the government agreed. A company of Blacks was formed under the command of a White officer, Captain Robert Runchey Sr.

Thousands of Black volunteers fought for the British during the War of 1812. Fearing American conquest (and the return to slavery), many Blacks in Upper Canada served heroically in colored and regular regiments. The British promise of freedom and land united many escaped slaves under the British flag. (See the story of Richard Pierpoint)

In 1813, British Vice-Admiral Alexander Cochrane’s offer of transportation for anyone wanting to leave the United States was widely circulated among the Black population. Four thousand former slaves deserted to the British side and were transported to the British colonies. About 2000 refugees set sail for Nova Scotia from September 1813- August 1816. Canada’s reputation as a haven for Blacks grew substantially during and after the War of 1812. 

Post-War Upper Canada

Between 1815 and 1865, tens of thousands of Blacks in America sought safety and freedom in Upper Canada by way of the Underground Railway. It isn’t easy to find documentation about the Underground Railway because out of necessity it operated under strict secrecy in America – and even in Canada where they wished to avoid border incidents. One notable exception to this in Canada was a contemporary newspaper, the Voice of the Fugitive, which was the first black-owned and -operated newspaper in Upper Canada. It was founded and published in Sandwich / Windsor by Henry Bibb, who escaped, first to Detroit and then to Canada after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. The newspaper first appeared on January 1, 1851, and ceased publication in 1854.

Underground RailroadThis excerpt from Daniel Hill’s publication, The Freedom Seekers, outlines the main areas of settlement of Black refugees in Upper Canada (renamed Canada West in 1841).

Daniel Hill, in the “Freedom Seekers,” wrote:

“Before the middle of 19th Century small Black communities were firmly rooted in six areas of Canada West: along the Detroit frontier, that is at Windsor, Sandwich, Amherstburg and their environs; in Chatham and its surrounding area, where the all- Black settlements of Dawn and Elgin were established; in what was then the central section of the province particularly London, the Queen’s Bush, Brantford, and the Black settlement of Wilberforce (now Lucan); along the Niagara Peninsula at St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Newark (Niagara on the Lake)and Fort Erie; in the larger urban centres on Lake Ontario, that is Hamilton and Toronto; at the northern perimeter of Simcoe and Grey Counties, especially in Oro, Collingwood and Owen Sound. Besides these centres of Black population, small clusters of Blacks, as well as individual Black Families, were settled throughout Canada West.”

Underground RR MapIn Upper Canada, the Underground Railroad fugitives tended to concentrate in settlements, not because of government policy but for the sake of mutual support and protection against white Canadian prejudice and discrimination and American kidnappers – looking for rewards for returning fugitive slaves to their American owners. The fugitive blacks who had arrived in Upper Canada via the Underground Railroad typically arrived destitute, and without government land grants were usually forced to become laborers on the lands of others, although some farmed their own land successfully, and some worked for the Great Western Railway.

In their concentrated settlements, the early Blacks had the opportunity to retain cultural characteristics and create a distinct community. Styles of worship, music and speech, family structures and group traditions developed in response to the conditions of life in Canada. The chief institutional support was the separate church, usually Baptist or Methodist, created when white congregations refused to admit blacks as equal members.

The churches’ spiritual influence pervaded daily life and affected the vocabulary, routines, and ambitions of their members. Inevitably, they assumed a major social and political role and the clergy became the natural community leaders. The many fraternal organizations, mutual-assistance bands, temperance societies and antislavery groups formed by 19th-century Blacks were almost always associated with one of the churches. In the 20th century, the churches led the movement for greater educational opportunity and civil rights.

In slavery, Black women were forced to work to support themselves, and economic circumstances perpetuated this tradition in Canada. Black women have always played an important economic role in family life and have experienced considerable independence as a result. Raised in a communal fashion, frequently by their grandparents or older neighbors, Black children developed family-like relationships throughout the local community. A strong sense of group identity and mutual reliance, combined with the unique identity provided by the churches, produced an intimate community life and a refuge against white discrimination.

Buxton School.jpg

Buxton School

During the 19th century, British and American societies established schools for blacks throughout Ontario. In addition, the governments of both Nova Scotia and Ontario created legally segregated public schools. Although almost every black community had access to either a charity or a public school, funding was inadequate, and education tended to be inferior. When combined with residential isolation and economic deprivation, poor schooling helped to perpetuate a situation of limited opportunity and restricted mobility. In 1965 the last segregated school in Ontario closed.

My hope is that this overview of Black history in Upper Canada during the late 18th and early 19th Centuries will serve to illustrate that this has been a story of desperate circumstances punctuated by great accomplishments by heroes who bravely struggled to survive and thrive in an often, less than hospitable environment. I’ve heard it said by a Black Canadian who has lived both in Canada and the United States that Black Canadians and Black Americans are quite different. They live in their respective countries for different reasons. As well, American Blacks are approximately 13% of their country’s population, but Canadian Blacks are just 4% of Canada’s population – a visible minority and an almost invisible minority.

The plight of Black Canadians was aided by urbanization – which led to desegregated opportunities – and the influx of thousands of immigrants from the Caribbean. I wish I could report that racism and discrimination aimed at Black Canadians is a thing of the past but that is simply not true. Happily, segregation of the races was not entrenched in Canadian law as it was in America. Tragically, many Caucasian Canadians suffer from the same cultural White supremacy tendencies that presently exist in other predominantly White countries.

A  million thanks, John, for these guest posts, and for the ones you have so generously allowed me to share throughout the month!  


The Face Of Ugly …

Jared Taylor.  Name ring any bells?  No, it didn’t with me either, though perhaps it should have.  I am conflicted on this story, and will be asking your opinion at the end.


Jared Taylor – 2008

Jared Taylor is a racist.  He calls himself a “white nationalist”, which is just a glossed way of saying ‘white supremacist’, which is merely a varnished way of saying racist, bigot.  Taylor is the founder and editor of American Renaissance, a white supremacist online magazine. Taylor is also an author and the president of American Renaissance’s parent organization, New Century Foundation, through which many of his books have been published. He is also the former director of the National Policy Institute, the same organization that Richard Spencer is now President and Director over.  In other words, this is one nasty specimen of the human species.

Taylor claims he is not a racist, but instead is a ‘racialist’ and claims his views are “consistent with the views of most of the great statesmen and presidents of America’s past”. He calls himself a “proponent of scientific racism” and “believes that there are racial differences in intelligence among the various ethno-racial groups across the world.”

Just researching for this piece has made me ill.  This is not a man, this is a monster. Taylor argues that Blacks are generally less intelligent than Hispanics, while Hispanics are generally less intelligent than whites. To be fair, he also believes that Asians are intellectually superior to whites, saying …

“I think Asians are objectively superior to Whites by just about any measure that you can come up with in terms of what are the ingredients for a successful society. This doesn’t mean that I want America to become Asian.”

About African-Americans, he says …

“Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears.”

Okay, so now you have a pretty good idea of how this monster thinks, right.  Well, what brought him onto my radar today is the fact that he has filed a lawsuit against Twitter, for Twitter shuttered his accounts for ‘abusive content’.  The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Feb. 20, argues that Twitter suspended the accounts because it didn’t like the nature of Taylor’s and American Renaissance’s tweets, not because they violated its rules.

Twitters latest updated policy includes a ban on promoting violence and hate in usernames or bios, possible permanent suspension of accounts that threaten violence or death and a ban on accounts that feature hate symbols and images. Twitter said the suspensions are in line with its “terms of service” and that the accounts are “affiliated with a violent extremist group.”

Now this is where I am conflicted.  I have no love, no use for people like Mr. Taylor and his organization of racists and bigots.  I would spit in his face if I ever came that close to him.  But … there is the 1st Amendment which protects freedom of speech, and I have always been in support of those protections.  As I have said before on this blog, once we try to narrow the definition of precisely what speech is protected, once we try to exclude one type of speech, we run onto a slippery slope where … well, where does it stop?  If, for example, we wish to ban hate speech such as Mr. Taylor’s or Mr. Spencer’s, then do we ban my posts ranting about Donald Trump?

Frankly, I am to the point that I could easily support a re-writing of both the 1st and 2nd Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  But, there is no one person, no one body of lawmakers that I would trust to do those re-writes, so I suppose they are better left alone.

But back to the point.  I do not support people like Mr. Taylor or any other promoter of racism or any form of bigotry.  I do not wish to see them on Twitter or Facebook, or in my corner supermarket.  But … does that mean that anybody has a right to ban them or put fences around their freedom of speech?  I. Don’t. Know.  I do know that in most of the EU there is free speech, but there are limitations, particularly in areas of Nazi symbols and speech, for the Europeans still have fresh memories of Hitler and his Third Reich.  Here in the U.S., the average citizen was largely unaffected and even today, neo-Nazi’s are widely tolerated in certain parts of the country, brushed off as if they are nothing but children playing at war.

I think that hate speech is wrong.  I think that bigotry in any form is wrong.  No one person is better than another based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identification, or any other superficial criteria.  I think that any form of hatred against a group of people has no place on social media, for its only goal is to stir people up and potentially lead to violence.  Thus, I support the ban, but not without some reservations.

Help me out here.  Weigh in on this topic and let me know your thoughts.

Thank you for your input!


Black History Month In Canada… Richard Pierpoint – by John Fioravanti

I have fallen behind in my goal to share as many of John Fioravanti’s Black History in Canada series as possible this month.  In part that is because I was hoping for a return of the missing ‘re-blog’ button, and in part it is simply because it is my nature to fall behind.  It isn’t that I am inept or inefficient, simply that I sometimes bite off more than I can chew.  But a look at the calendar shows me that Black History Month is winding down and will soon be over, so I want to share at least one of John’s fascinating posts today.  This one highlights Richard Pierpoint, a former African slave who fought in the Revolutionary War and later, at age 68, fought in the War of 1812.  His story is one of courage in the face of the evils of slavery and bigotry, of hard work and storytelling.  Please read about this persona from Canada’s Black History archives.  Thank you, John, for this post and permission to share with my friends.Text dividers

Richard Pierpoint – Former Slave, Loyalist, Soldier, Community Leader, and Storyteller

Richard Pierpoint (also Pawpine, Parepoint; Captain Pierpoint, Captain Dick; Black Dick), loyalist, soldier, community leader, storyteller (born c. 1744 in Bondu [now Senegal]; died c. 1838, near present-day Fergus, ON). Pierpoint was an early leader in Canada’s Black community. Taken from West Africa as a teenager and sold into slavery, Pierpoint regained his freedom during the American Revolution. He settled in Niagara, Upper Canada, and attempted to live communally with other Black Canadians. In the War of 1812, he petitioned for an all-Black unit to fight for the British and fought with the Coloured Corps.

Finish reading the story …

Black History Month In Canada… Mary Ann Shadd Cary – by John Fioravanti

Alright, who made off with the re-blog button? 


This is how it’s supposed to look!

I have fallen behind on sharing John’s wonderful, enlightening posts about Black History Month in Canada, and I was planning to share two of his today.  But there was no re-blog button to be found.  Yes, I know I’m half blind and not seeing quite right, but I checked several other fellow bloggers posts, and … no button.  Checked my own … still no button.  So, sigh, I am forced to use “Press This” to share John’s post.  The main reason I prefer ‘re-blog’ is that it shows the first part of the author’s post, enough to grab the reader’s interest and  makes them want more. Other reasons I prefer ‘re-blog’ include that it is quicker, and it also notifies the original author.  In the interest of doing that, I will take the liberty of providing a brief snippet here, and ask you to please click the link to read the rest, for this lady in the annals of history is truly remarkable!

Text dividersMary Ann Shadd Cary – Educator, Publisher, and Abolitionist


Mary Ann Camberton Shadd Cary, educator, publisher, abolitionist (born 9 October 1823 in Wilmington, Delaware; died 5 June 1893 in Washington, DC). The first Black female newspaper publisher in Canada, Shadd founded and edited The Provincial Freeman. She also established a racially integrated school for Black refugees in Windsor, Canada West. In 1994, Shadd was designated a Person of National Historic Significance in Canada.

via Black History Month In Canada… Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Sunday Morning Musings From The Mind Of Filosofa

I wonder why the phrase ‘den of iniquity’ keeps coming to mind when I think of the White House these days?  Could it be because it seems that everyone who works or resides there has some form of sexual perversion in their past, and maybe even in their present?    And yet, those evangelical Christians, the very same ones who are dead set against a woman’s right to choose whether to have a child or not, the ones who would smite those who love a person of their own gender … those very same people are applauding the perverts who have taken over the White House and are turning it into a cesspool.  Think about that one for a few minutes.

seperator 2Thinking that surely Trump’s approval rating must have dipped after this week, his defense of his aides who were found to have abused their wives, his rants and tirades, not to mention the instability of the stock market, I headed over to FiveThirtyEight to check the aggregation of polls.   Imagine my shock when I see that his average approval rating is actually up from about 38% a week ago to 40.8% this weened.  Somebody needs to find that big stash of Kool-Aid and destroy it!  So much for my good humour.seperator 2The pseudo-drama of a government shutdown every month is getting old, people.  It has become a tool of manipulation between Trump, the republicans in Congress, and the democrats in Congress.  It is a game for them, and we are quickly becoming immune to the drama, shrugging our shoulders and saying, “whatever”.  The last one lasted five hours and those were while we were sleeping, so nobody really noticed.  If most of us did our jobs as poorly as members of Congress and the ‘man’ in the Oval Office do, we would be fired. A government shut-down is not a toy to play with.  We truly must be the laughingstock of the world.seperator 2Trump got part of his wish, an additional $500 billion in military spending, about which he tweeted …

“Just signed Bill. Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!” – 8:39 AM – Feb 9, 2018

With unemployment at only 4.1%, and some portion of those being people who either cannot work, or have retired, and with the plan to deport a portion of the work force soon, I’m not sure who will take all those “JOBS”.  And, I have no idea why we needed to increase military spending while allowing people in this country to go without affordable healthcare.  Perhaps some republican can explain this to me?seperator 2Why does it have to be ‘them’ vs ‘us’?  Is not the purpose of every government to see to the best interests of the nation as a whole, and its people?  Why is compromise so very difficult for those we hired to do this job?  Perhaps it is because we are not holding them accountable for doing their job, but instead are cheering and applauding their grandstanding, their showmanship.  The ‘Great Divide’ is only worsening, and as I predicted two years ago, the chasm is so wide now that the people of this country may never again be unified.  The name of this nation, the United States of America, is truly a misnomer these days, for there is nothing united about us.seperator 2Does anybody in the U.S. know or care about the water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa?  As of February 1st,  new water restrictions limit households to 13 gallons of water per person per day, and even at that, they are likely to be further reduced.  In fact, people in Cape Town are anticipating ‘Day Zero’, when the government will turn off the taps to homes and businesses to ensure that hospitals have water.  Residents will then be issued 6.6 gallons at communal water distribution points.  I can and likely will write a post about this grim situation, but for this morning, suffice it to say that I am disturbed that there is little, if any, concern among the people of the U.S. over the water crisis in Cape Town.  First of all, the people affected are our brothers and sisters, a part of the human race, so how can we not care?  And second, as a result of climate change, this situation is going to spread and even the U.S. at some point will begin to face water shortages.  Take the blinders off and stop drinking the Kool-Aid, folks … climate change is real, is being exacerbated by humans, and has very real-world consequences.seperator 2The 2018 Olympic Winter Games have begun in  Pyeongchang.  Typically, the winter Olympics excite me, though I am not a sports enthusiast, but this year I am decidedly ‘meh’ and have not even tuned in yet.  Why?  Partly because I am a glum person these days, but also because the U.S. has succeeded in putting politics over teamwork, over sportsmanship.  The U.S. is not capable of setting aside differences for a few days in order to support young athletes from all over the world who have worked so hard to get to the Olympics, to realize their dreams.  On Friday, at the opening ceremonies, Mike Pence refused to stand for any country except the U.S.  In a historic moment, North and South Korea joined together, putting differences aside for this moment, and marched under a common flag in the opening ceremonies.  The moment was emotional and was greeted with great enthusiasm and a standing ovation.  By all except Mike Pence and his wife.  They alone remained stony-faced and seated. What a message we are sending the world, eh?

seperator 2Clive Bundy and his sons are out of prison and back on the streets, and nothing has changed.  They are planning more mayhem in the near future, and ol’ Clive is already encouraging his fellow ranchers and other followers to disregard any laws they don’t agree with.  Stay tuned for more on the Bundy clan who are apparently stuck in the days of the old West and haven’t yet entered the 21st century, nor even the 20th.seperator 2And finally, here’s something to make you shake your head and say, wtf???  I was Googling for a website that a friend had asked me to check out, and I accidentally happened on this pen …penThe price?  Hold on to your jaw .. $17,800.00!  GULP.   And they don’t even offer free shipping!

Black History Month In Canada… Rosemary Brown

Meet Rosemary Brown, a trailblazer who changed the world in her fight against racism and sexism. The story of Rosemary Brown is the latest installment in John Fioravanti’s series on Canadian Black History Month and she is a worthy addition indeed! I was inspired by this noble lady, as I know you will be too. Thank you, John, for telling us of this wonderful woman!

Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti

Rosemary Brown – Social Worker and Political Trailblazer

“To be black and female in a society which is both racist and sexist is to be in the unique position of having nowhere to go but up,” said Rosemary Brown.

A staunch feminist and a socialist, and Canada’s first Black female member of a provincial legislature, Rosemary Brown battled for equality and human rights in her lifetime. Black women have endured discrimination in Canada and much worse — over the course of history.

Rosemary Brown has the distinction of being Canada’s first Black female member of a provincial legislature and the first woman to run for leadership of a federal political party. Brown was born in Jamaica to a politically minded family. She immigrated to Canada in 1951 to pursue post-secondary studies in social work at McGill University (BA) and the University of British Columbia (Masters of Social Work). As a…

View original post 488 more words

The Man Who Likes To Lose …

Arthur Jones is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Illinois’ 3rd congressional district  Arthur Jones has run for a variety of political offices dating back to 1976 when he ran for mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and lost.  He has run for Congress no less than five times … and lost every time.  And now he is running for Congress in a largely democratic district on the south side of Chicago.  Why is Arthur Jones such a loser?  Let’s take a look at Arthur.

  • On his website Jones describes the Confederate flag as “a symbol of White pride and White resistance. It is the flag of a White counter revolution.”

  • In 2008, Jones was listed as the leader of an Illinois chapter of the neo-Nazi American National Socialist Worker’s Party.

  • He now leads a group called America First Committee, whose membership is open only to “white American citizens of European, non-Jewish descent.”

  • He denies that the Holocaust ever happened, calling it “the biggest, blackest lie in history … nothing more than an international extortion racket by the Jews.”

Already you can see why Mr. Jones cannot win an election, right?  So how did he get on the ballot for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives?  Simple, no other republican wants to run in that district, for it is seen as that of a sacrificial lamb, so heavily democrat is the district. On Thursday morning he did a six-minute interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota:

Jones tried to enter the race in 2016, but the GOP challenged signatures on Jones’ petitions and successfully got him booted from the ballot. Not so this year, as the petitions passed muster, thus it is a certainty that Jones will win the March 20th primary.

In addition to his hatred of Jews, Jones hates every other group that is not white, Christian and straight.  Jones does not support interracial marriage or integration in public schools. He is against immigration and wants to pass laws to make English the official language, saying, “… any two-legged vagabond from any Third-world, non-white, or non-Christian country is given preference whether they arrived legally or illegally. Either, learn America’s language, our culture, and respect our laws or get out of our country!”

Can you guess his stand on LGBT rights?

“The Homosexual/Lesbian/Bi-sexual/Transgender movement is a blatant assault on the Christian based foundation of this country. They seek to uproot, and overthrow all the moral teachings of the Christian religion on which all of our laws are based. THEY MUST BE STOPPED NOW.”

A visit to his website left me feeling ill, with images like these …

art jones poster 3art jones poster 1aft jones poster 2

His ‘platform’ also includes what he refers to as “The Neighborhood Amendment”, which claims liberals want ““Racial, Religious, and Sexual Diversity” in every neighborhood and school in America.”  His proposal would enable people to vote on whether or not to allow “others” to move in to the neighborhood.  Perhaps he never heard of the Fair Housing Act?

It is understandable that no other republican candidate wishes to waste the time and money to run a campaign for a sure-to-lose seat.  But now, the party is left with Jones, another pimple on their butt.  The good news is that there is no way this man will be going to the Capitol unless it is as a visitor with a tour group.  The bad news, however, is that anybody with his mentality can even exist in this, the 21st century.  It makes me both angry and sad to think that somebody so bigoted, so narrow-minded, can garner even a handful of supporters.

Even the GOP doesn’t support Jones …

  • Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, also a Republican, said: “There is no room for neo-Nazis in American politics. I condemn this man in the strongest possible terms.”

  • Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider said, “The Illinois Republican Party and our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones. We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the Third Congressional District.”

And yet … there is no doubt that he will get some votes.  He will not win, but there are some who will applaud his ideas, his bigotry, his racial hatred, and they will vote for him.

A Case of “Mistaken” Identity

I would like to introduce you to this man, Demetrius Smith of Baltimore, Maryland.

demetrius smithLast month, Demetrius Smith had the opportunity to face a judge and have his 2010 murder conviction thrown out by Judge Barry Williams.  Smith spent five years in prison for a murder that he did not commit, and has spent nearly five more years trying to have the conviction removed from his record. Why?  Because he is black.

On March 24th, 2008, a man named Robert Long, who was a cooperating witness in a police investigation, was shot twice in the head, execution-style.  Two witnesses, a man and a female prostitute, claimed to have seen the murder and identified Smith as the murderer.  Smith was promptly arrested, but at his bail hearing, Judge Nathan Braverman released Smith on $350,000 bond, saying the evidence against him was ‘skeletal’. “It was probably the thinnest case I’d ever seen,” now-retired Judge Braverman said earlier this year.

The detective, Charles Bealefeld, who had focused on Smith in the killing of Robert Long, soon went after Smith again, this time arresting him for allegedly shooting a man in the leg during a late-night robbery. His evidence?  “Word on the street” was enough to send Smith back to jail. Smith lived near the victim and knew his parents … that was all Detective Bealefeld needed to know, apparently. To justify the arrest, Bealefeld found another prostitute on the street who would identify Smith from a photo array.  Interestingly, Bealefeld, along with two other Baltimore officers, left the department the following year amid accusations of racial bias.

(Remember, if you will, that Baltimore is also where in April 2015, another black man, Freddie Gray, was beaten to death in an arrest over possession of a switchblade knife.  None of the officers involved were convicted of his murder.)

Smith’s trial would not take place until January, 2010, during which time Smith remained in jail, continuing to claim he was innocent in both cases. In each case, the prosecution relied almost exclusively on eyewitness testimony — and in each case a key witness was a prostitute.  According to The Innocence Project …

Eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions proven by DNA testing, playing a role in more than 70% of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide.”

The male witness in the first shooting elaborated on his testimony, saying that he knew Smith to be a drug king in the neighborhood and that Smith had shot Long to send a message to any who might try to undercut him.  Only problem was that the witness was a paid informant who himself had been arrested for an unrelated crime, and was set free in exchange for his testimony. And there was video camera evidence that the witness was not where he said he was at the time of the shooting. This, however, was not brought up during the trial and the information was not made available to Smith’s attorney.

The prosecutor, Rich Gibson, relied almost entirely on the eyewitness testimony of the man and the two prostitutes. A jury found Smith guilty and sentenced him to life in prison plus 18 years.

A year later, Gibson came to Mr. Smith with a deal known as an Alford plea, which allows a defendant to say for the record that he’s innocent of the crime but believes the state has enough evidence to convict him. The deal Gibson offered Smith was 10 years in exchange for a plea of guilty.  Smith was hesitant, knowing he was innocent and believing that at some point his innocence would be proven and he would be exonerated.  But, ten years beats life, and eventually Smith signed the agreement. Smith asked that a clause be added, an ‘escape hatch’, stating that if evidence were produced proving his innocence before the ten years, he would be released from prison.  Both prosecutor Gibson and Judge Barry Williams agreed, and the deal was done.

Just a few months later, the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland had turned up Long’s real killer and informed Baltimore prosecutors that they had the wrong man. There is a long and interesting story about Long’s murder, but in the interest of time and space, suffice it to say that Long was killed because he was working with police, and it was the police who had put him in jeopardy by failing to use precautions to protect his identity.  So, Smith is not guilty and all is well, right?  Not quite.

Police had been advised of death threats to Long in the days leading up to his shooting, but they failed to act and they also failed to provide that information to Mr. Smith’s defense attorney – a clear violation of Smith’s constitutional rights. It was also discovered that the prostitute who testified had been six miles away at the time of the shooting.  She later said that she had been bullied, coerced and threatened into her testimony by Bealefeld who kept pointing to Smith’s picture and saying, “that’s him, isn’t it?”.

Rod Rosenstein, the top federal prosecutor in Maryland at the time and now U.S. deputy attorney general, announced that the federal case had “resulted in the exoneration of an innocent man and the conviction of the real killer.” But still, Smith remained in prison because, the city of Baltimore was not willing to admit they made a mistake.  The state had dropped the charges in August 2012, yet Smith sat in prison.

Smith was finally released in 2013, but the conviction remained on his record, making it impossible for him to get a job, lease an apartment, or return to a normal life.  With the help of new lawyers, he went back to court to try to have the conviction removed from his record, but his old nemesis, prosecutor Gibson objected.

Again, skipping through the lengthy detail, Smith’s motion was at that time denied based on Gibson’s unexplained objection.

Last month, January 2018, Smith once again faced both Gibson and Judge Williams, and this time, finally, after nearly ten years, he was successful.  Gibson, who is running for state’s attorney in another county, once again argued against removing the conviction, which he said wasn’t in the best interest of the community.  This time, the judge caught Gibson in a blatant lie and called him to task.  Judge Williams gave Smith a chance to tell Gibson his feelings …

“I sat in prison for five years. He [Gibson] couldn’t even look me in the face. Tell me ‘I’m sorry.’”

A happy ending for Smith?  Well, it depends on one’s perspective, for yes, he is now a free and clear man, but … he lost ten years of his life for no reason except … he is black.

Smith’s case is not an isolated one.  A study released in March 2017 by the National Registry of Exonerations found that black people convicted of murder or sexual assault are significantly more likely than their white counterparts to be later found innocent of the crimes, and also had to wait disproportionately longer for their names to be cleared than innocent whites.

The year is 2018.  Slavery ended in 1865, more than 150 years ago.  The Civil Righgs movement peaked in the 1960s, more than 50 years ago.  And yet even today, African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities are discriminated against by the criminal justice system and by society as a whole. This is not something we can be proud of as a nation, and I have no confidence that the situation will improve any time soon.

Black History Month In Canada… Thornton and Lucy Blackburn

John Fioravanti has shared yet another inspiring story of Black History Month in Canada. The story actually begins in Kentucky and … well, you’ll have to read the rest for yourselves, but it is a wonderful story of two heroic black people who overcame the odds by escaping slavery. Thank you, John, for this wonderful post!

Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti

Thornton and Lucy Blackburn – Former Slaves & Toronto Entrepreneurs

The Blackburns escaped from slavery in Kentucky and fled to Detroit where they lived until they were discovered and arrested in 1833. Lucy was spirited out of jail the night before she was to be sent back to Kentucky. The next morning, her husband was rescued at the jailhouse door by a huge crowd of both blacks and whites, and together the Blackburns fled across the river to Windsor, Ontario. Again they were put in jail, this time to await extradition. However, Lt. Governor John Colbourne refused to send them back, and they moved to Toronto.

While working as a waiter at Osgoode Hall [law school], Blackburn noted that Toronto lacked public transportation. Using the design of vehicles in use in Montreal and London, England, he ordered the construction of a horse-drawn cab with space to carry four passengers. It…

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