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Across Black America Week of Sept. 21, 2017.



A San Diego State University professor has said that he developed a Black Lives Matter-inspired graduate education course because “nearly all educators are racist,” reports the J. Luke Wood told student paper the Daily Aztec, “[Educators] are not overtly White supremacists, but they harbor perceptions of Black males that are informed by what they have seen in wider society through the media, news, in books and in film. They engage Black males from a point of stereotypes, microaggressions and bias.” His course, Black Minds Matter: A Focus on Black Boys and Men in Education, will tell future educators to use the classroom as a place of “civil resistance against racism” and to develop new pedagogical practices inspired by the “intentional application of Black Lives Matter principles of loving engagement, restorative justice and collective value.” Wood told the Daily Aztec that Black men and boys are either perceived as academically inferior or “criminalized” in the classroom. The course will feature speakers such as Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors and Ilyasah Shabazz, the activist daughter of Malcolm X. It will be taught in person to approximately 30 students and available via livestream for some 10,000 participants.


At first glance, nothing differentiates Vernetta Robinzine from passers-by in the Beverly neighborhood on Chicago’s Far South Side, reports the Chicago Tribune. On a recent evening, like most people on a workday, she donned business casual attire with a loose, bright blouse. But her daily wardrobe includes something unseen that gives her confidence. Robinzine, 51, is a gun owner with a concealed carry license. Since she received her permit in late spring, she carries her firearm wherever she goes. “It’s like a part of me now,” Robinzine said. Data show Robinzine is part of a burgeoning group in Cook County: Black women obtaining concealed carry permits. Since Illinois began issuing licenses in 2014, the number of African-American women receiving a permit in Cook County has grown every year. About 800 Black women got a license in 2014, according to Illinois State Police. So far in 2017, nearly 1,400 Black women have received a concealed carry permit – already more than all of 2016. In all, more than 4,000 Black women have received a concealed carry license in Cook County. African-American women interviewed for the Tribune article said they were spurred by a growing concern for their safety, particularly in neighborhoods where crime has surged in recent years.



A Black sixth-grader says he was assaulted by his homeroom teacher all because he was exercising his rights and declined to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, reports the Root. Stone Chaney, who attends East Middle School in Farmington Hills, told ClickOnDetroit that his teacher “violently” dragged him out of his chair and attempted to force him to stand for the pledge, leaving the young man confused and unwilling to return to that school. “The teacher consultant comes up behind me and snatches me out of my chair violently,” Stone told the news site. “I was so confused. I didn’t know what was going on.” Note that Stone referred to the individual in question as the “teacher consultant.” That means that the person who allegedly thought it was all right to snatch a child out of his seat trains other teachers. Stone’s parents are still looking for answers as to how the incident, which occurred Sept. 7, could have unfolded the way it did. His father addressed the district directly at its last board meeting, defending his son’s right to do what he wishes when the pledge is being spoken. The superintendent of Farmington Public Schools released a statement detailing that the district does support the right of students to opt out of the pledge, announcing that it was conducting an investigation and that the teacher involved has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome.


After 1,800 students were placed on lockdown and 55 police officers, a state patrol helicopter and four K-9 units were brought in to scour the area around a Minnesota college Sept. 12, a security guard finally admitted he hadn’t been assaulted by an imaginary Black man in a hooded sweatshirt, reports the New York Daily News. Instead, Brent Ahlers allegedly told police last week that he accidentally shot himself in the shoulder on the campus of St. Catherine University in St. Paul, the Star Tribune reports, with a gun he wasn’t even allowed to have. While they still needed to take a report of a shooting seriously, St. Paul police were so skeptical of the White 25-year-old’s initial claim about an assailant who was armed and dangerous with a “short Afro” that they didn’t even release a description of the made-up minority. Nonetheless, the lockdown brought about by Ahlers’ false story made locals fear for their safety. Said a police spokesman, “It had residents of the Mac-Groveland and Highland Park communities fearful that a suspect was on the loose and they could be victimized at any moment.” Ahlers has been charged with falsely reporting a crime, a misdemeanor, and was released from Ramsey County jail. St. Catherine University President ReBecca Roloff released a statement later that day announcing he had been fired while saying the school “strongly condemns racial discrimination, racial stereotyping, and racial profiling of any kind.”



Protests turned violent for a third straight night near St. Louis following the acquittal of a White former police officer in the fatal shooting of a Black man, as a small group of demonstrators refused to disperse, breaking windows at dozens of businesses and throwing objects at police, who moved in with hundreds of officers in riot gear to make arrests, reports the Chicago Tribune. The confrontation took place last weekend in the Delmar Loop area of University City, a suburb about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of St. Louis near Washington University. The area is known for concert venues, restaurants, shops and bars and includes the Blueberry Hill club where rock legend Chuck Berry played for many years. University City had been the scene of a tense but calm march earlier to protest a judge’s ruling clearing ex-officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. That march ended with organizers calling for people to leave and reconvene Sunday afternoon. But a few dozen protesters refused to go. Police ordered them to disperse, saying the protest was unlawful. Hundreds of police in riot gear eventually moved in with armored vehicles. The demonstrators retreated down a street, breaking windows with trash cans and throwing objects at police. As a result of the unrest, U@ and Ed Sheeran have both cancelled concerts.

After five years of pursuing a host of minor charges against Fred Watson, whose case was held up as an example of systematically hostile treatment of Black residents in Ferguson, the city abruptly dropped its prosecution last week without explanation, reports the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Watson, who had been approached by a police officer while sitting in his parked car, was charged with failure to wear a seatbelt and six more offenses. His story was detailed in a Department of Justice report on Ferguson’s criminal justice system that followed the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown. Though the case generated public outrage, the city continued to pursue the charges, despite the arresting officer’s problematic disciplinary record and what Watson’s lawyers called flawed evidence. On Sept. 11, the prosecutor, Lee Clayton Goodman, filed a single sheet of paper with the Circuit Court of St. Louis County that brought the case to a close. He declined to discuss the matter. In 2012, Watson was sitting in his car, cooling off after a basketball game in a Ferguson park. He was approached by a police officer, Eddie Boyd III, who drew his weapon. Boyd arrested him, searched his car, and charged him with seven offenses: not having insurance, failing to register the vehicle, not wearing a seatbelt, having an expired driver’s license, not having a driver’s license, lacking a vehicle inspection sticker, and having illegally tinted windows. After Watson complained about his treatment, he was hit with two additional charges. Watson, a cybersecurity expert, lost his job when his top-secret clearance was taken away after his arrest. He is in debt and his house is in foreclosure. He said he will continue to look for cybersecurity work, though there is no guarantee that he will receive a high-level security clearance again. He has sued Ferguson for what he says was a violation of his civil rights. “There’s a lot more people than me this has happened to,” he said.


An Ohio fire department has suspended one of its volunteer firefighters for a racist Facebook post suggesting he’d prefer to save a dog in an emergency than a Black person reports the Huffington Post. Tyler Roysdon, a volunteer for Franklin Township, wrote that if he had to choose between saving a dog or a Black man from a burning building, the dog would get priority, because “one dog is more important than a million nrs.” Roysdon has since removed the post from his Facebook page. Once township officials discovered the post, Roysdon was suspended indefinitely, according to local station WHIO-TV. The township will hold a disciplinary hearing for him on Sept. 27, the station reported. Because he is a volunteer, Roysdon is only paid when he is called to duty. Authorities said he will not be called while the suspension is in effect. Township officials released an official statement about Roysdon on Sept. 14, confirming that he was suspended until the township’s board of trustees can meet to determine his fate.


Workers in Dallas removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park on Sept. 14, with police on hand to provide protection after the mayor said the monument was a symbol of injustice and the city council voted to bring it down. The removal came a month after a rally where White nationalists angered at the planned removal of a Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va., clashed with counter-protesters. One woman was killed during the Aug. 12 protest, when a suspected White nationalist crashed a car into anti-racism demonstrators. The 14-foot (4.3 meter) tall statue in Dallas of Lee on horseback riding with an unnamed soldier has been at a city park since 1936, with then President Franklin D. Roosevelt on hand for its dedication. Workers in yellow vests took down the Lee statue and hauled it away on a trailer pulled by a pickup truck, during an operation lasting about four hours, according to a Reuters witness. Dozens of bystanders watched while police, including some officers armed with rifles, stood guard.


A group of people covered up a statue of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville. The Daily Progress reported that the shrouding occurred Sept. 12 on the campus of the University of Virginia. The group of about 100 people included students, faculty and community members. The protesters gathered at the Rotunda, the same place that drew chanting White nationalists with tiki torches one month ago. The group covered Jefferson’s statue in black. The act mimicked the city’s decision to shroud the statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson after the violent events in the city on Aug. 12. The Jefferson statue may have been targeted since history shows that while he signed the Constitution saying that “all men are created equal,” he actually owned about 100 slaves.



Peyton-Caire organized Black Women’s Wellness Day to encourage Black women to take ownership of their health and work on solutions to health disparities they face, reports The ninth annual event at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison brought some 500 Black women together to address the individual and communal challenges. In Wisconsin, Blacks have higher rates of cancer, infant mortality, sexually transmitted diseases, obesity and smoking than Whites, according to the state Department of Health Services. They also have worse outcomes for chronic diseases such as stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol and asthma. Life expectancy in the state is 82 years for White women, 87 years for Asian women and 89 for Hispanic women. For Black women, it’s 76 years. Peyton-Caire’s Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, which runs the annual wellness day, also has smaller events throughout the year, including some targeting Black teens and girls. The keynote speaker for last Saturday’s sold-out event was Susan Taylor, former chief editor of Essence magazine and founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement.


Since 2001, the number of kids in detention has dropped by more than half across the country—a seemingly decisive victory for juvenile-justice reformers. But digging into the numbers reveals a much bleaker picture, reports Mother Jones. Recently released data from the Justice Department shows that Black juveniles are five times likelier than White juveniles to be locked up. The gap between Black and White juvenile detention grew more than 20 percent from 2001 to 2015, according to the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice advocacy group that crunched the new data in a report out last week. As of 2015, about 44 percent of all kids in custody were Black, even though African Americans make up just 16 percent of the total youth population in the United States. Black youths are more likely to be locked up in 49 states—all but Hawaii—though the racial gap is worse in some states than it is in others: In New Jersey, Wisconsin, Montana, Delaware, Connecticut and Massachusetts, Black kids are at least 10 times as likely to be held in custody as White youth. “The disparity exists because of differences in how young people of color are treated at every point of contact with the justice system, but the growth of the incarceration disparity is likely due to growing disparities in arrests, which feeds the rest of the system,” Joshua Rovner, who studies juvenile justice at the Sentencing Project, told Mother Jones.