Monday, April 27, 2009

What Of The Other Pandemic?

While we fear a pandemic of a deadly virus coming out of Mexico. There is a pandemic within our nation that continues to take the lives of young African-American men. A pandemic of violence. I sat with two young men today, both accused of killing another black man.

One is a sixteen year-old –who is in the 6th grade- and accused of killing a 15 year-old neighbor. Police allege that he stood in a breezeway along with his cousin and gunned down the young man to settle a beef. Police further allege that the young man’s cousin was shooting a “chopper” or AK-47. My client is accused of shooting an automatic weapon. Bullets struck the victim in the buttocks and hand. He died on the scene.

The other young man shot two teenagers wearing ski masks, who had come to his front door to kill him. Again over some beef. One of the victims was seriously wounded and is not expected to live.

I feel numb. "Makes you wanna holler and throw up both your hands. This ain’t living, nah, this ain’t living."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What Is Good For The Goose, Is Good For The Gander

District Attorney: Your Honor, I would like to call the matter of State vs. Pookie Johnson that is on for a Motion To Reconsider his sentence. He is present with his Counsel Larry English.

The Court: Good Morning Mr. English, according to the record I sentenced Mr. Johnson to fifteen years for distributing Schedule II, Cocaine. Please tell me why I should reconsider his sentence:

Mr. English: Well your honor it appears that our beloved President has passed a new law that we are not looking back and that for the good of the country. We don’t prosecute crimes anymore.

The Court: Mr. English that is ridiculous and I am thinking about holding you in contempt for wasting the court time.

Mr. English: With all due respect your Honor, all my client did was sell a little cocaine:

District Attorney: Excuse me your Honor, Pookie Johnson was a major drug dealer in the city, and he distributed hundreds of kilos of cocaine.

Mr. English: None of that was ever proven, and before I was so rudely interrupted, the President has said that even if you violate International law and the Constitution by torturing people, that it is best for the country if we just move on. Your Honor, Mr. Johnson may have done some bad thing, but he has been taking bible classes and leading his fellow inmates in prayer service. And we believe the court should reduce his sentence. It is time to move on your honor.

The Court: That’s it Mr. English I am fining you $100.00

Mr. English: Your Honor, please hear me out. Mr. Johnson was just following orders. He started selling drugs when he was 14 years old. Ray-Ray, who he worked for told him that selling cocaine was legal. And he is only 18 years old and he never knew that selling drugs was illegal, he was just following orders. The President of the United States has taken the position that ever though CIA operatives were grown men, and they had to know that water boarding was torture. They just followed orders and they should not be prosecuted. I agree with the President and Pookie Johnson does also.

The Court: That is the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard a lawyer make in my court room.

Mr. English: But your Honor you would agree with me that no one should be above the law. And if the law is willing to look away, when the CIA breaks the law, should it not afford Pookie Johnson the same treatment and look away when he sells a little cocaine.

The Court: Mr. English not only am I not going to look away, I am going to send you away with a $500.00 fine for contempt of court. Motion To Reconsider denied. And Mr. English.

Mr. English: Yes your honor

The Court: Take it up with the President. Next Case.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Arizona State And Archie Bunker

I know that white folks believe that black people are paranoid when it comes to race. I admit that we are. All too often we will take a normal human interaction and internalize it into a racial slight. Sometimes - okay most of the time - it is not about race, the person is just a jerk. You cannot be subjected to 400 years of constant mental and physical abuse in a society and heal in a few decades. And it does not matter if the President of the United States is black. To be black in America is to be emotionally fractured.

However, call me paranoid, but there is some racist shit that has been going on with our President. First, Arizona State University snubbed President Obama, announcing that it would not be granting him a Honorary Degree. Their reasoning: his body of work has not warranted such an award. There are some things that are so ignorant that you don’t even try to defend or analyze. It speaks for itself. The University has since recanted and I have no doubt that someone will be forced to fall on his or her sword behind this.

Then, there is the furor over the President speaking at Notre Dame because his views on abortion and stem cell research are condemned by the Catholic Church. The biggest screamer is my favorite right-winger, Pat Buchannan. For some reason, I just like the guy. Maybe it’s because he insults me and then lets out that big Irish laugh. Anyway, when President George Bush came to speak at Notre Dame, he had a record of putting so many inmates to death in Texas Penitentiaries, that they should be renamed Slaughterhouse Number 5. The Catholic Church has historically condemned capital punishment. However, not a voice in dissent was raised by Buchannan or Catholic Bishops.

But ASU's comments that the President's "body of work did not warrant a Honorary Degree" was a stab in the heart of every African-American in the country. We have all been there before. No matter how many fancy degrees we get, no matter how hard we work on the assembly line, when it comes time to be rewarded for our work, all too often we are told we are not quite good enough.

I have a law school classmate that worked at a Fortune 500 as a tax lawyer. He is a fellow graduate of Tulane Law, except he graduated in the top ten percent. He went on to get his LLM in Tax Law at NYU, the best program in the country. When it came time for his promotion, his boss told him that they wanted to give him the pay raise, but not the title. Seems he was moving up too fast and some of his co-workers who had been there longer would resent it. Stunned, he told his boss "if the title does not come with money, I will not be happy." They immediately gave him the title and the money. He is no longer working for that company and they are no longer in business.

It's like running the hundred yard dash and breaking the world record and the judges say you had on improper shoes. So you run it again and break the record again, and the judge says, the wind was at your back.

Some white people feel they need to put us in our place. They need to always remind us that they are better than us, even if you are the President of the United States.

One of my favorite episodes of All in the Family occurred when Sammy Davis Jr. was a surprise guest at the Bunkers. Archie pleaded with Sammy to explain to his meathead son-in-law that he was not a racist. Sammy said "Archie for you be a racist, that would have to mean that you believe you are better than me. And, after spending the last 30 minutes with you, I am here to tell you, you ain’t better than nobody." Archie turned to Meathead with this big smile on his face. Some white folks will never get it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Finally, Some Good News Coming Out Of New York

Rush Limbaugh announced yesterday that he is leaving New York because the State is raising taxes on the rich. Don't let the door hit you on your fat ass on the way out

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