Thoughts On “Karen” and … Another DAMMIT

Sometime last year, I noticed I was seeing more and more news stories about women named ‘Karen’.  Now, I’ve known a few people named Karen in my live, and in fact even have a niece who is so-named, a former co-worker, and one of my daughter’s bandmates.  But suddenly there is a surge of women with this name.  I wondered if it were a generational thing, or what.  But then one day I read an article that ‘splained it to me.

Apparently ‘Karen’ is the name given to women who act like grade-A jerks, being racist and intolerant in this, the 21st century.  It rather makes me feel sorry for women who were given the name ‘Karen’ at birth and are stuck with it in this, the era of having to name every behaviour.  I have written about a few ‘Karens’ before , but today I have another one for you …

Last June, a woman named Debra Hunter was shopping at a Pier 1 store in Jacksonville, Florida where she was loudly verbally abusing the store’s staff.  Another customer, Heather Sprague, began recording the altercation because …

“I wanted her to know she was being held accountable for her actions. It only took her to decide she was done and to leave the store, which really was the goal.”

But, once Hunter turned and saw that she was being recorded, she flipped Ms. Sprague off and then walked over to her and coughed directly into her face.  This at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.  What Hunter could not have known is that Heather Sprague is a cancer patient, currently undergoing treatment for a brain tumour, but I somehow don’t think it would have made a difference even if she had known.

On Friday, a judge in Jacksonville sentenced Hunter to 30 days in jail and also ordered her to pay a $500 fine, serve six months’ probation and participate in a mental health evaluation along with anger management.  Hunter’s husband pleaded in her defense that they had faced numerous hardships leading up to the incident, including losing everything they had in a house fire …

“It was like air being inflated into a balloon, and it finally got to the point where she couldn’t handle any more air. And then she finally rubbed up against something and just popped.”

Hunter told the judge her family has paid the price for her mistakes, adding that her children continue to lose friends, and that they don’t go out in their community anymore.  It is sad that Mr. Hunter and the children are paying the price, but it doesn’t negate what Ms. Hunter did, and frankly from all I’ve read, there has been no sign or remorse or apology.

Okay, so there are lots of ‘Karens’ in the U.S. today, but … what do we call a guy who acts like a jerk?  Shouldn’t there be some equivalent for males?  Hmmmm … how about a ‘Mitch’ … or a ‘Tucker’ … or a ‘Matt’?

And now I must turn from the topic of Karens to … yep, you got it … another tragedy, another Black man killed by a white cop.


On Sunday there was another tragic shooting death of an unarmed Black man by a white police officer, this time just about ten miles from Minneapolis, where the trial of Derek Chauvin is entering its third week.

The victim’s name was Daunte Wright.  Say his name … SAY HIS NAME!

Duante Wright

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz says he and his wife are ‘praying’ for Duante Wright’s family.  Sorry, guv, but that does not help … it does not help his family and it damn sure does not bring him back to life!  Keep your goddamn prayers and do something useful, like initiate some police reforms in your damn state!  First George Floyd and now Duante Wright.  How can you even sleep at night???

It started as a traffic stop.  Mr. Wright called his mother and told her he expected they had stopped him for the air fresheners he had dangling from his rear-view mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota.  But, when police checked his license they discovered that he had an outstanding warrant or warrants, so they attempted to take him into custody.  Mr. Wright jumped back into his vehicle and as he was attempting to drive off, Officer Kim Potter, a 25-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, shot him through the window of his vehicle.

Mr. Wright managed to drive for several blocks before striking another vehicle.  Mr. Wright was pronounced dead at the scene.  He was 20 years old.

Officer Kim Potter

Yesterday it was reported that Officer Potter shot Mr. Wright “by accident”, that she thought she had fired her taser rather than her gun.  She’s been on the police force for 25 years, she’s president of the Brooklyn Center Police Officer’s Association, and she didn’t know the difference between a gun and a taser???  Oh please, don’t take me for a damn fool!

This community is already stressed, with the trial for Derek Chauvin, the officer who brutally murdered George Floyd, taking place just down the road a piece.  Naturally, protesters gathered ‘round the police department on Sunday night after Mr. Wright’s murder.

Police ordered the protesters to disperse, and when they refused, they were hit with tear gas, some were arrested, and shots were fired, though in honesty I do not know whether the shots were by protesters or police, as details remain sketchy.  Today, the schools are closed in this suburb of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Twins (a Major League baseball team) postponed their game against the Boston Red Sox.

I also do not know what the warrant or warrants against Mr. Wright were, but given the fact he was only 20 years old, I’m guessing they weren’t serious enough to end his life over.

This country has many, many causes for shame, but this … racism in police, the very people we hire and PAY to protect us … is among the biggest reasons that we should all hang our heads.  R.I.P. Mr. Duante Wright … you deserved better.

Dirty Racist Cops … Again

Caron Nazario is a lieutenant in the U.S. Army medical corp, serving in Norfolk, Virginia.  Lieutenant Nazario also happens to be Black and Hispanic.  In December, Lt. Nazario purchased a new SUV and on December 5th, he was driving home from work in said SUV when he saw flashing lights behind him.  Lt. Nazario drove to the nearest well-lighted place, a service station, before pulling over.  He did not speed up or in any way attempt to evade the police car behind him, but rather he slowed down, activated his turn signals, and drove for less than a mile before reaching the service station.  He merely wanted, understandably, to get to a well-lighted area.

Upon stopping, Officer Daniel Crocker, with his gun pointed at Lt. Nazario, ordered him out of the vehicle, by which time a second police officer, Joe Gutierrez, had arrived and also had a gun pointed at him.  Lt. Nazario put his empty hands outside the window, as ordered, to show that officers that he was unarmed, and asked them why they stopped him.  A perfectly valid question, under the circumstances.  The officer repeated the order to exit the vehicle, and Lt. Nazario replied that he was “honestly afraid to get out” his vehicle.  Who wouldn’t be, with two officers holding guns on him?  One officer replied, “Yeah, you should be.”  Just a minute later, Officer Gutierrez told Lt. Nazario that he was “fixin’ to ride the lightning,” a slang expression referring to an execution by electric chair.

After some back and forth, with the officers yelling at him to get out of the vehicle, but also to keep his hands outside the window (ever try opening the car door from inside, with your hands outside the window?), and Lt. Nazario asking why he was being stopped, why he was being treated in such a manner, one of the officers sprayed pepper spray into his face through the open window, jerked his door open, sprayed more pepper spray, kicked him in the knees, and slammed him to the ground.

The officer’s given reason for initiating the traffic stop was that he could not see Lt. Nazario’s license plate, which was clearly visible in the back window, as 30-day plates for new vehicles are typically displayed.  The Lieutenant was released without charges, but this week he filed a lawsuit accusing the two Windsor, Virginia police officers of violating his constitutional rights by holding him at gunpoint, suggesting he was facing execution, assaulting him, and illegally detaining him.  The lawsuit states …

“These cameras captured footage of behavior consistent with a disgusting nationwide trend of law enforcement officers, who, believing they can operate with complete impunity, engage in unprofessional, discourteous, racially biased, dangerous and sometimes deadly abuses of authority.”

The lawsuit also claims police threatened to end Nazario’s military career if he spoke out about the incident.  The body cam video clearly shows that the temporary license plate was visible through the window of the vehicle.  The body cam video stopped shortly after Lt. Nazario was slammed to the ground.  Gutierrez wrote in his report that his camera stopped recording after it got “compressed” between him and Nazario during a struggle. Nazario also recorded part of the incident from his cellphone.

I watched the video and found it both chilling and sickening.  The beginning is footage from Nazario’s cellphone that he activated when he realized he had guns pointed at him.

I won’t even bother to ask the question, “If Lt. Nazario had been a white man, would the cops have acted similarly?” for we all know the answer to that.  The better question is, “How do we reform policing?  How do we stop these incidents, often leading to murder, from ever happening?”  I wish I knew the answer, but I DO know what’s going to happen if there are many more incidents like this, if there are many more murders of unarmed black men by police, or if Derek Chauvin is let off with naught but a slap on the wrist … there is going to be blood shed in the streets of America.

We the People are sick and tired of having to fear the very group of people whose duty it is to “protect and defend” us.  We the People have made our voices clear … at least those of us who give a damn have … and if our voices alone aren’t enough, then in the words of the great civil rights leader John Lewis …

The Week’s Best Cartoons 4/3

Once again, TokyoSand has found the best selection of political cartoons from the hundreds out there.  This week’s biggest topics have been Matt Gaetz (who, in my book, deserves to be consigned to the annals of idiocy and forgotten), the trial of Derek Chauvin, the man who murdered George Floyd, and the horrendous voter suppression bill signed into law in Georgia by Governor Kemp.  Thank you, TS, for all your hard work putting these weekly cartoon posts together!

See All The ‘Toons!

A Day Late

On October 26th, 1966, the UN General Assembly passed resolution 2142 (XXI), proclaiming March 21st as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid “pass laws”. Proclaiming the Day in 1966 which signifies the struggle to end the policy of apartheid in South Africa, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

unesco-1I am late with this post, for yesterday was March 21st, but it doesn’t really matter if it’s a day late, for every day should be a day for eliminating racial discrimination.  Recent events here in the U.S. – the brutal murder of George Floyd and countless others by police, and more recently the hate crimes against Asian-Americans – have shown us that we have much to do to end racism.

While it is crucial to end racial prejudice in public agencies such as police, social services, and even at the highest levels of government, the problem starts on a more basic level – with us.  We haven’t been listening for the past 50, 100 years.  Oh sure … we protested in Civil Rights marches in the 1960s, and that led to laws such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and more, but then we clapped our hands, dusted off our knees, went home and said, “Well done!” and moved on without a backward glance.  And now look … 43 states are busily writing laws that would invalidate the Voting Rights Act.

I cannot speak for other countries, but I do know that racism is alive and well today around the globe, more than it was, say, two decades ago.  In part, this is as a result of a surge in migration due to the Arab Spring, nations were unprepared, and it has led to a new level of racial discrimination around the globe.  But more specifically here in the U.S., I have not seen this much blatant racism in the past 50 years.  But it’s been there all along.  Our Black friends knew it, for they lived it.  They tried to tell us, but we weren’t listening.  And now, the racism has spread to Asian-Americans, largely as a result of public figures blaming China for the coronavirus, calling it “China flu” and worse.  Since 11 September 2001, there has been an expansion of racism here against people from Middle Eastern countries … even though the attacks on that day were carried out by only 19 people and directed by one man, not the entire Muslim world.

I don’t have answers to the question of how we end this, but I do know that each one of us has got to look inside ourselves and understand that we are not superior in any way to anybody else … not Blacks, not Muslims, not Asians, not LGBT people … NOBODY!

Here is the text of President Joe Biden’s statement released yesterday (I may be a day late, but Joe was on time!):

One of the core values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans is standing against hate and racism, even as we acknowledge that systemic racism and white supremacy are ugly poisons that have long plagued the United States. We must change the laws that enable discrimination in our country, and we must change our hearts.

Racism, xenophobia, nativism, and other forms of intolerance are not problems unique to the United States. They are global problems. They are human problems that we all need to recognize, name, and dismantle. Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, all nations and people should recommit to the fundamental truth that every human being has inherent dignity and deserves to be treated with fairness. We must recognize the ways that racism, gender discrimination, and other forms of marginalization intersect with and compound one another. And, we must all strive to eliminate inequities in our policies, remove barriers to full participation in our societies, and push for open and inclusive processes that respect all people everywhere.

Under my Administration, the United States will lead the conversation on these painful issues—at home, in international institutions, and around the world. That is why, on my first day in office, I signed an Order establishing a whole of government approach to equity and racial justice. We will not shy away from engaging in the hard work to take on the damaging legacy of slavery and our treatment of Native Americans, or from doing the daily work of addressing systemic racism and violence against Black, Native, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and other communities of color. Neither will we fail to speak out against the horrific mistreatment of the Rohingya in Burma, the Uyghurs in China, or any racial discrimination we see in the world.

Hate can have no safe harbor in America. It should have no safe harbor anywhere in the world. We must join together to make it stop.

Some Not-Too-Snarky Snippets

It’s been a few days at least since there was a Snarky Snippets post … long overdue, I think!  The difference between the Biden administration and the former one is … I can’t even describe it.  It is a breath of fresh air, it is like finding a TGI Fridays in the middle of the desert.  It is most noticeable in the news.  Oh sure, there are many things to snark over … always will be as long as we have politics, I suppose.  But today, two of my ‘snarky’ snippets bring good news … something that hasn’t happened a single time between 2017 and January 20th, 2021.


A promotion for Vindman!

I’ll start with the good news!  You remember when Alexander Vindman testified against the former guy in the first impeachment hearing last year?    Shortly thereafter, in a move that can only be dubbed revenge, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was fired, as was his brother, Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny Vindman.   Both men, twins by the way, were employed by the National Security Council (NSC).

alexander-yevgeny-vindmanWell, despite the former guy’s attempts to derail their careers, at least one of the Vindman brothers has the last laugh.  Though fired from the NSC, Yevgeny Vindman remained in the military, while Alexander retired.  Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny Vindman, however, is soon to be promoted to a full Colonel!  Yep, Yevgeny Vindman is now on a list of colonel promotions that has been approved by the White House and is going to the Senate for formal confirmation!  Score one for good triumphing over evil!

In case you’re wondering what Yevgeny’s brother Alexander Vindman has been doing since his retirement, he is writing a memoir and also working toward a doctoral degree!  His memoir is a book I’ll definitely read!


Change of venue???

I wrote just two days ago about the upcoming trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who murdered George Floyd last May.  Well, the latest today is that his attorney, Eric Nelson, has asked the judge in the case for a postponement and … wait for it … a change of venue!

Now, a change of venue is typically requested when an attorney believes his client cannot get a fair trial in his own area due to excessive publicity.  But … in this case?  The George Floyd murder set off a domino effect that publicized it not only all across this nation, but around the globe! I think that if Mr. Nelson is seeking a venue where people perhaps haven’t seen the heart-wrenching video of Chauvin keeping his knee on the neck of a defenseless George Floyd, where they haven’t seen the protests that took place not only all over the U.S., but also in Europe, then I think perhaps the Arctic is about the only place for the trial.  Do they have courts in the Arctic?  Or perhaps Siberia, which would be a great place for Derek Chauvin … he would fit right in!

Nelson asked the judge to, at the very least, recall the seven jurors that were selected last week to ask them if they had heard of the settlement approved by the City of Minneapolis to the family of George Floyd in the amount of $27 million … basically an admission that their police officer is guilty.  Now, once again this is ridiculous, for of course they have all heard of it … hell, the entire nation has heard of it!  Judge Cahill did agree to call back the jurors for additional questions but said he would do so closer to the date of opening arguments, currently scheduled for March 29th.

Keep your eye on this one, folks … the future of holding police accountable for their actions rides on the outcome of this case.


Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior

Yesterday, Deb Haaland became the first Native American to serve in a cabinet position!  President Biden nominated her to serve as Secretary of the Interior, and yesterday she won Senate confirmation in a 51-40 vote!  (Where were the other nine senators?  Did they forget to come back to work on Monday?)

deb-haalandThus far, the president has met with little resistance to his cabinet nominees, with the exception of Neera Tanden whose nomination was withdrawn due to wide opposition as a result of certain tweets she had made in the past.  But Deb Haaland’s nomination was contentious, especially among republicans, for she has long taken a “keep it in the ground” approach to the fossil fuel industry – not a particularly popular stance among Republicans, many of whom are in the pockets of the coal, gas and oil industries.

In the final vote, only four Republicans joined all Senate Democrats present in the 51-40 tally that will install her as Interior secretary. Those votes came from Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who said she “struggled” with her support, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said …

“Given the long and troubled relationship between the federal government and tribal nations, the ascension of Rep. Haaland to the top of the Interior Department is a profoundly important moment for America. For too long tribal nations have been denied a seat at the table where decisions were made that affected their lives and their land.”

Three cheers to Deb Haaland and those senators who voted to confirm her.

Why “Defund the Police” will fail

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the murder of Breonna Taylor by police in a horrific case of mistaken identity and police brutality. Our friend Brosephus talks of what must be done to stop these murders by police and that ‘defunding’ police departments alone is not the answer. Thank you, Brosephus, for your timely and wise words.

The Mind of Brosephus

Today marks the one year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death at the hands of the government. Some call it murder, but the legal definition in Kentucky, according to Section 507.020, includes intent in the definition. It will be hard to impossible to improve the officers involved in the homicide of Breonna Taylor went to her apartment with the intent to kill her. That’s why I don’t think any of the officers will ultimately be convicted on any type of murder charge. That’s a different post for a different day though.

In 2020, we had to deal with the deaths of the three people above. All three killings involved active duty or retired law enforcement officers. In light of these and other killings by police, there has been a movement started to defund the police. The idea behind this is to take funding for police and move it towards other…

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Say His Name: George Floyd

Seven jurors were selected this week for the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who, on May 25th, 2020 brutally murdered a Black man, George Floyd, by throwing Floyd facedown on the ground, handcuffed, and then keeping his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes.  With only two more jurors to be chosen, I would expect the trial to begin next week.

Keep your eye on this one, folks, for there is so much evidence I don’t see how Chauvin can possibly escape conviction.  But he is white, Mr. Floyd was Black, and this is the United States of Bigotry.

My understanding is that Chauvin’s lawyers plan to try to make the claim that it was not Chauvin’s knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck that killed him, but rather that drugs were found in his system that led to his death.  ‘Scuse me, but that is the biggest load of crap I’ve heard in a long time.  The video plainly shows the truth, that Mr. Floyd was gasping, saying, “I can’t breathe,” while Chauvin kept putting his weight on Floyd’s neck and the other three officers stood by doing not one damn thing.

The coroner’s report indicates that Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death but not that the drugs were the cause of death.  Both the coroner’s report and an independent autopsy report have ruled Mr. Floyd’s death a homicide.  Can’t get much clearer than that.

On Friday, the city of Minneapolis approved a $27 million payment to the family of George Floyd to settle the wrongful death lawsuit brought against the city.  No, it can’t bring him back into his children’s lives, but it will at least ensure those children will have their needs met since their dad can’t be there to take care of them.  Said Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender …

“No amount of money can ever address the intense pain or trauma caused by this death to George Floyd’s family or to the people of our city. Minneapolis has been fundamentally changed by this time of racial reckoning and this city council is united in working together with our community, and the Floyd family to equitably reshape our city of Minneapolis.”

A twist, though.  Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, sought to block any mention of the payout by the city to the Floyd’s family, arguing it would be prejudicial.  Yes, perhaps it would be, but in the most honest way … the city is admitting that it was their officer(s) who murdered Mr. Floyd.  Well, it was … it’s all right there on video for the world to see!  What, is Nelson next going to request that the video not be played in court?  Or, what happens when Nelson realizes that every person on the jury is already aware of the city’s payout, as surely they must be, since it has been widely publicized in the press.  Will Nelson then move to declare a mistrial?

Time after time after time, police officers have gotten by with murdering Black people in this country and not been held accountable.  This time damn well better be different!  Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.  The evidence is plain for all to see.  If he does not go to prison … then there is no justice left in this country.

On a related note …

On March 3rd, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.  Once again, the bill passed along partisan lines with two democrats voting against, and one republican voting for, but he later said it was a mistake, that he meant to vote ‘nay’ but accidentally hit the wrong button.  When the bill reaches the Senate, it will no doubt be subjected to a ridiculous filibuster by the republicans and will fail.  Let’s take a look at what these damn fools will be voting against …

The bill would ban chokeholds, end racial and religious profiling, establish a national database to track police misconduct and prohibit certain no-knock warrants. It also contains several provisions that would make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct in civil and criminal court. One proposal long sought by civil rights advocates would change “qualified immunity,” the legal doctrine that shields officers from lawsuits, by lowering the bar for plaintiffs to sue officers for alleged civil rights violations.

Do you see anything … one single thing objectionable in that?  I don’t.  It means that even someone the police are arresting has the right not to be murdered, and it means that police will be held accountable for their actions, just as they should be.  A person in a position of trust must be trustworthy.

Derek Chauvin had 18 complaints on his official record, two of which ended in discipline, including official letters of reprimand. He had been involved in three police shootings, one of which was fatal.  And yet, he was still on the police force and was still allowed to carry a gun … and use his knee to murder a man!  This is why we need the bill to pass in the Senate … Derek Chauvin is the poster boy for bad cops, and he is not alone.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act must pass, for if it doesn’t, it will be a thumbs up to every police officer that it’s okay to be a racist, that it’s okay to use excessive force, and that there will be no consequences.  Do your job, Senators!  By the same token, Derek Chauvin must be prosecuted and found guilty, else it will open doors that nobody in their right mind wants to walk through.  Do your job, jury!

Remember the Black Lives Matter protests last summer?  Almost all were peaceful until outside influences intervened, but I’m not sure the same will be true this summer if justice is not done, if Derek Chauvin is found to be above the law because his skin is white.

Good People Doing Good Things — Random Acts of Kindness Day … And More!

Do you know what today is?  It’s February 17th!  And do you know what February 17th is?  It’s National Random Acts of Kindness Day!  Now, we should all be kind to everyone we encounter every day, but National Random Acts of Kindness Day is intended to make us more aware of the little things we can do to help someone out, or maybe just bring a smile to their face.  In this, the era of the pandemic, many more people are struggling than ever before, financially, emotionally, and in other ways.

National-Random-Acts-of-Kindness-DayIn the U.S., Random Acts of Kindness day is celebrated on this day, but in other countries, such as New Zealand, the date is different, but the meaning is still the same. The goal, according to the National Kindness website, is to help make kindness the norm by spreading it in the simplest ways.  So, what are some simple ways we can do a random act of kindness?  You tell me.  My favourite is usually to help someone I see struggling, perhaps to reach an item on a high grocery shelf, or a person in a wheelchair trying to get their groceries onto the conveyor belt, then out to their vehicle.  Or, paying it ahead at the drive through line is always a good one, one that tends to spread.

kindness-1As I always tell you guys at the end of each week’s Jolly Monday post, share those smiles.  Sometimes, just a kind smile can bring joy to someone who’s a bit down.  Thank someone … the mail carrier or trash man.  Help a neighbor carry their parcels in.  Or, if you’re feeling really energetic, get out that shovel and shovel a neighbor’s driveway and sidewalk!  It’ll help them, and you’ll get some much-needed exercise, too!

Anyway, let’s all try to do one random act of kindness today …

kindness-2


I usually get some flak when I highlight professional athletes or other celebrities who are making a difference, being good people, but when I think it’s deserved, I will shine a light on them. Not all of them are selfish jerks. This week, I have several that I think deserving of kudos.


I’m sure you all remember last May, when a Black man, George Floyd, was brutally murdered by a white police officer – an event that triggered many of the Black Lives Matter protests during the summer.  The most important thing Mr. Floyd left behind was his 7-year-old daughter, Gianna.  The Floyd family, like so many of us, lived payday to payday, and without his income, times were harder than ever.  Enter a bunch of good people …

Kyrie-IrvingNBA professional basketball star Kyrie Irving learned what the family needed most and stepped up to provide it. Kyrie Irving, the point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, bought them a house.  Irving, who felt he was just doing the right thing, tried to downplay his generosity.

“I just want to keep continuing to fulfill our purpose in serving a lot of the underserved communities. Those don’t necessarily get the same attention. So just trying to do my part with service, that’s all.”

Irving is not the only celebrity to reach out to Gianna and her family. Lil Wayne’s manager bought them a Mercedes-Benz. Barbra Streisand gave them stock in Disney.

In addition, Kanye West (whom I cannot stand personally, but I give credit where credit is due) donated $2 million to help Gianna and the families of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old victim of a racially motivated murder in Georgia, and 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, who was killed during a botched drug raid by police who showed up at the wrong apartment.

And ordinary citizens are reaching out, as well.  A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $2.3 million, providing a fund when she’s ready to attend college—if she doesn’t want to take advantage of a full scholarship already offered by Texas Southern University.


Then there’s Stephen Curry, considered by some to be the greatest shooter in NBA history and treated as basketball royalty.  But there’s another side to this man.  Last summer, as the COVID-19 pandemic stalled the economy leaving many out of work, he and his wife Ayesha launched Eat. Learn. Play., a foundation that helps families struggling to put food on the table, through donations to the Alameda County Community Food Bank and the Oakland, California school system.

“We know the world is changing before our eyes in terms of dealing with the spread of coronavirus and we just found out that the Oakland Unified School District is closing the doors for the foreseeable future, so we want to intercede on behalf of the kids that rely on the daily services and try to help any way we can.”

stephen-currySince then, the initiative has expanded exponentially. After joining forces with the world-renowned, Chef José Andrés, founder of the nonprofit disaster-relief group World Central Kitchen, Stephen and Ayesha’s foundation has gone from serving 4,000 meals a week to 300,000.

In total, more than 15 million meals—and counting—have found their way to those in need.

But more than just serving up meals, Eat. Learn. Play. is also giving the local economy a much-needed financial shot in the arm—about $20 million that has “led to the rehiring of more than 900 Oakland restaurant workers.”

“It’s all about impact. The things my wife and I try to do, separately and together, are to raise awareness, to find impactful partnerships, to be human and understand the urgency of the moment.”


My thanks to all the good people who are doing what they can to help people, and let’s see if we can do just a little something today to bring a smile to someone’s face, okay?

The Bright Spots in 2020: Yes, There Were Some

The year 2020 will likely go down as one of the worst in the history of the United States, however … there were bright spots!  Our friend TokyoSand has spent hours and hours digging for the best stories from the past year, and she has done one fantastic job of it!  Please take a few minutes to read her wonderful post, reminding us that all was not lost in this year of the pandemic.


year-in-review

We are very close to putting 2020 behind us, but before we do, let’s take one last look back. Now if you’re thinking this is going to be a dreary look at everything that went wrong, you would be wrong. This list is all about the bright spots of light that appeared throughout the year, including some entries I received from my Twitter friends, plus a handful of editorial cartoons I liked. Let’s take a look:

January

The Supreme Court affirmed that cities may not criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of experiencing homelessness.

When Trump authorized the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani (which he may not have had the legal authority to do), anti-war protests were held in over 70 cities and calls from activists poured into Congress. Politicians from both parties, notably in the Senate, pushed back against the administration and passed a resolution to limit Trump’s war powers.

Read TokyoSand’s entire post!

Harry Belafonte Speaks — On The Election

I found it interesting that just yesterday, my music post was The Banana Boat Song, arguably the song that Harry Belafonte is best known for, and then shortly thereafter I came across the following OpEd in the New York Times written by none other than the man himself.

Belafonte, now 93 years of age, is a Jamaican-American singer/songwriter/actor is also known for his activism. He was an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s and was a confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout his career, he has been an advocate for political and humanitarian causes, such as the Anti-Apartheid Movement and USA for Africa.Belafonte-King

Belafonte has won three Grammy Awards (including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award), an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award. In 1989, he received the Kennedy Center Honors. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994. In 2014, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy’s 6th Annual Governors Awards.

I was moved by his OpEd and wanted to share it with you.


Harry Belafonte: Trump Is Standing in Our Way

If the president wins again, we have so much more to lose.

Belafonte-1By Harry Belafonte

Four years ago, when Donald Trump first ran for president, he urged Black people to support him, asking us, “What have you got to lose?”

Four years later, we know exactly what we had to lose. Our lives, as we died in disproportionate numbers from the pandemic he has let flourish among us. Our wealth, as we have suffered disproportionately from the worst economic drop America has seen in 90 years. Our safety, as this president has stood behind those police who kill us in the streets and by the armies of white supremacy who march by night and scheme in the light of day.

We have learned other things from this president, too. We have learned the names that we say now, over and over again, at each protest, so that no one will forget them. The names Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and Atatiana Jefferson and Stephon Clark and so many more. Such killings did not start with Mr. Trump, of course. But he wants us to forget them.

If we do, he has offered us a “Platinum Plan” for “Black Economic Empowerment.” The name is appropriate because Mr. Trump is a man who thinks always in terms of financial transactions and deals. A “Platinum Plan,” as if he is offering to upgrade our credit card status. The plan, which at two pages is derisively brief, offers us a hodgepodge of things that he thinks we would like. He will prosecute the Ku Klux Klan — and antifa activists — as terrorists. He will make Juneteenth a national holiday and lynching a national hate crime. He will create “peaceful” urban, Black neighborhoods, replete with school choice, increased homeownership and the “highest standards” of policing. He will begin “a national clemency project” designed to “right wrongful prosecutions” and “pardon individuals who have reformed.”

In his ignorance or his indifference, or perhaps in his contempt, Mr. Trump does not seem to understand the difference between promises made and promises kept. Another Republican president, Ulysses S. Grant, first suppressed the Klan 150 years ago (and notable by its absence is any Trump promise to suppress the right-wing “militias” of Michigan, the Proud Boys or any of the others). The United States — finally, belatedly — made lynching a federal crime in the civil rights era, almost 60 years ago. Peaceful neighborhoods with affordable homes, good schools, a police force interested in protecting its citizens instead of treating them as an occupied people; safety from domestic terrorists and mob violence, economic opportunity, the celebration of our heritage, and impartial and merciful treatment under the law — these are the rights that most white people in America have long taken for granted, not some sort of concession to be offered as if we were indeed another nation.

Too often, the victories we have won have proved to be ephemeral or incomplete, and our full acceptance as Americans has once again been denied. We have learned to trust only those who will stand with us against the worst storms, who have proved themselves to be our friends not out of electoral expediency but through our shared belief in the best principles of this country and our common humanity.

The polls suggest, we are told, that Mr. Trump has made some small inroads in our vote, that a higher percentage of young Black men will vote for him in 2020 than did in 2016. I have difficulty crediting this. But if it is so, I would urge my brothers to listen better. Not just to the false promises Mr. Trump makes to us, but also at what he says when he is “alone in the room” with his white supporters, promising them at his rallies that if he is re-elected, people of color will not invade their “beautiful suburbs” from our “disgusting cities.”

Mr. Trump is too late. We are everywhere in America. We are in the bone and the blood and the root of the country. We are not going anywhere, certainly not to some fantasy of a new “separate but equal” segregation, we in “our” cities, white people in “their” suburbs.

Perhaps the president is confused by how the Rev. Dr. King Martin Luther King Jr., in his greatest speech, referred to the words of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as a “promissory note to which every American is to fall heir.” Perhaps that gave Mr. Trump the idea that this was all about money. Surely, money — the household stake, the money with which to buy a home, secure a good education, start a family — was a vital goal of the movement then, just as the need for Black people to be made whole, after all the years of slavery and Jim Crow, is still a pressing need today.

But I was there with Dr. King that day, over a half-century ago, in the shadow of Lincoln’s statue, and what he spoke of was “the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” He quoted the most fundamental promise of the Declaration, that all of us have “certain unalienable Rights” — among them “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It seems strange that we must still agitate for these basic rights, or that Mr. Trump thinks he is being magnanimous when he offers them to us again as last-minute campaign promises — so long as we stay in our place. In the past, we have turned the wheel in great bursts of energy and faith, and in between, when we stood exhausted and bloodied, there was some sliding back. That is always how it is in a democracy and a people’s movement, but now is the time to move forward again.

Four years ago, faced with the prospect of a Trump presidency, I wrote that what old men know is how quickly things can change. Well, I am still old but I am also still here, at 93, and for all the bitter lessons we have learned from Mr. Trump’s term in office, I can tell you that the wheel is turning again. That we have never had so many white allies, willing to stand together for freedom, for honor, for a justice that will free us all in the end, even those who are now most fearful and seething with denial.

We have learned exactly how much we had to lose — a lesson that has been inflicted upon Black people again and again in our history — and we will not be bought off by the empty promises of the flimflam man.