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Police Brutality And “Karens” Weapon Of Black Destruction

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

It shakes me to my core when I see these videos. The one of Amy Cooper in New York’s Ramble Park blatantly lying with faux hysteria on the phone with police about being threatened by a black man who simply asked her to leash her dog, and the one of George Floyd being cruelly murdered by a gutless police officer who thought so less of the handcuffed man under his knee, face mushed on asphalt, that he kept his hands in his pocket while crushing his windpipe. When Colin Kaepernick knelt in defense of black people and to stop this type of police brutality he was demonized by many, including the president, and even lost his NFL career for it. And to add more injury to his cause, Jay-Z partnered with the NFL, taking the side of gluttonous greed and wealth over his own people’s fight to end racism and discrimination. He should never be forgiven for making light of the real impact of police brutality. In many ways, he’s a co-signer of Floyd’s murder by abandoning Kaepernick when enough NFL money was put on his table. This is the same reason why Africa lost its attempt to unify as a black continent back in the late 60s and early 70s. Because there’s always a Jay-Z to turn against all for self. Jay-Z wants his money to last multiple lifetimes. Karma will ensure his legacy of greed and following the footsteps of Judas will last longer.

I have to consistently remind myself to avoid the three temptations W.E.B. Du Bois talks about in his book, The Souls of Black Folk. And those three temptations are: 1. the temptation to hate, because hating racist people and white supremacists won’t solve the deadly grip of American racism despite how tempting and easy it can be to answer hate with hate. 2. The temptation to despair, especially when we continue to see black people suffer like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd did. We’ve come too far to not continue our trajectory toward the ideals of America, albeit an arrogant and hypocritical country still reassured by its delusions of grandeur and superiority, despite all the evidence to the contrary. 3. The temptation to doubt. As black people we can’t doubt the dreams of our ancestors. Even though we never got our 40 acres and a mule, doubt is simply not worth entertaining despite how we’re still treated in a country built on the backs of our people. We have too much to lose even though we continue to pay the highest price for the myths of America.

And it’s incredibly hard not to indulge in these 3 temptations as we continue to bear witness to the black Holocaust at our feet. Our brutality hasn’t stopped, despite the many camera angles of it the world witnesses over and over again. It’s easy to become desensitized to it all. Since the founding of American law enforcement, it’s been an endless loop of police brutality inflicted on black people. Day after day, we see black people die by the hands of police, protected by a justice system that backs the violence they inflict on our bodies. Time after time, we’re reminded of the fear black people instill in white society, despite being the victims of their white rage and racism. Season after season we are burdened by the likes of Amy Cooper who use our race as a weapon of black destruction. Cooper is no different than Carolyn Bryant who confessed on her death bed that she lied about Emmett Till accosting her. She’s no different than Susan Smith who callously murdered her own children and blamed it on two black men. Cooper comes from a long line of “Karens” who have weaponized their being. To be a certain white woman in American society, is to cry wolf in sheep clothing, play the victim, blame black people for all their problems, stereotype black men as the boogie man, all while being Rosy the Riveter. Schizophrenic doesn’t even begin to describe the state of America’s Karens. And, unlike black women, they’re protected, allowing them to continue to be…well, Karens.

Although it’s right for Cooper’s victim, Christian Cooper, to speak out against the death threats Cooper is receiving, his opinion that he doesn’t know if she’s racist is a clear example of a man who has lost his black mind. Malcom X spoke of this, too. Christian Cooper may soon be asking Amy Cooper for a hug and forgiveness for exposing her on social media. He clearly knows his place in American society. Despite the stance he took to have her follow the park rules, he’s now coming to her defense. Falling into the long line to protect white women, no matter what. This is how our society functions. Karens can throw stones and then cry that it hurt her arm to do it, making her the victim in the trouble she started. If the world, including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, can call racism, racism … why can’t Christian Cooper? Unfortunately, we can’t count on this bird watcher to address racism honestly.

Perhaps change needs to happen internally, first, in the African American community for the change we desperately need to see in American society. To end racism is to face it head on. Calling it exactly what it is, unapologetically. We can’t wish it away. We can’t hide behind or take academic positions and pretend that it’s not real, or that it’s similar to flatulence; you smell it but don’t know who passed it. We all know what the Amy Cooper’s and her ilk consistently do. And, we can’t be polite about it. Racism is an ugly American truth and legacy. Recognizing this does not signal the end of our American story. And addressing it justly behind the blue wall can only lead to positive change among police and communities. Our delusion of racism is what poses a mortal threat. Acknowledgement of racism and inequality will open our door, fully, to allow real and lasting change to breeze through. Tackling racism honestly is the master key to understanding the American state craft, as even great powers have limitations.

 

It’s Time To End The Black Holocaust In America

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

The systematic killings of black people in America has turned into a Holocaust. Just count the bodies. All of them. From the start of the African Diaspora, through Emancipation, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights movement. Millions of black people have met brutal ends for no other reason than for being born black. Today, our killings are carried out by racist white supremacists and law enforcement backed by our government. There’s just no other way to describe the ongoing lynching’s and brutality inflicted upon African Americans. Just because we’re not being openly marched to gas chambers or kept in concentration camps doesn’t mean we’re not dying in mass numbers by the hands of police officers emboldened by a government who refuses to recognize our humanity and rightful place in the world, let alone America, which owes its black citizens so much of its glory and might.

Lynchings in America

And Donald Trump and his posse are steadily paving the way for more unjust killings and atrocities only black people seem to know intimately. The “oops, we did it again, wrong house” is played out and starting to look more like a covert strategy to exterminate black people. One by one. Steadily and strategically. I have no more tears  to cry, as I live with pain and grief for the family of the latest victim of police brutality: Breonna Taylor. We are at war with deputized individuals, trained to battle us as if we’re in Fallujah. Taylor was in bed. Never suspecting her brutal demise would be carried out by government officials who took oaths to protect and serve all Americans. Evidently, the three-fifths compromise, the solution to count three out of every five slaves as one person for legislative representation, is still in play when it comes to the number of black people who are killed by the police or vile racists. Today, it could be that killing 3 black people out of 5 that have been victimized amounts to 1 death. Our lives are not valued. This is evident everywhere you look. From small town America to big cities like New York and Las Angeles. While the NYPD is handing out masks to white sunbathers in Central Park during COVID-19, gently warning them to exercise social distancing rules, they’re beating the hell out of black people for the same offense. There truly is no justice. Not yet, at least.

Ahmaud Arbery

Comedian Dave Chappelle discussed the brutal killing of Emmett Till during his show recently. He made some important points about how the tragic event of Till’s death led to the world seeing the brutality inflicted on blacks by whites in America. He said it led to many changes and liberties we as Americans enjoy now, hence his celebrity and packed shows with diverse audiences. He’s right. Times and circumstances have changed. We no longer drink from different water fountains, ride in the back of buses, or hang from poplar trees for no reason other than being black. But Emmett Till had to die a horrible death for some of these changes to happen. Many, many others did too. And, the killings of black people haven’t stopped. Ahmaud Arbery is the latest example of a good ol’ fashion American lynching by some inbred, backwoods hillbillies who hate black people for being…you guessed it, black.

Breonna Taylor

And Breonna Taylor is yet another awful example of our over-militarized law enforcement who kill us like battlefield combatants. If our disproportionate killings are not an active Holocaust, I don’t know what is. According to some historians, the African Diaspora and the subsequent slave trade ended in the deaths of over 30 million black people. Now add all the other bodies onto that pile from Emancipation to today. That’s a lot of black people who have unjustly met tragic ends. The killing methods has changed but not the body count. I understand the point Chappelle was making. But how many more of us need to die to finally bring about lasting change? How many more black bodies does America need to satisfy its thirst for our blood? And racism still shows its ugly head in every sector of our society. Case in point, Senator Mitch McConnell can blatantly lie about the first black president not leaving his successor a pandemic guide and telling him to “shut up” when he’s asked to give his opinion on the Trump administrations’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic without any repercussion or rebuke from his “dear colleagues.”

Lynchings in America

Trayvon Martin

Taylor’s brutal death happened in his state; Kentucky. And McConnell has yet to humanize Taylor because he’s too busy trying to call Barack Obama an “uppity nigg*r” with a dog whistle we all know and understand very well. And yet, despite taking arms to fight countless wars for America, here and abroad, most white people remain idle. Watching. Seeing black people come home from wars to face racist brutality for a country many of them died for, they remain still. Accepting this shameful display of hate and calling themselves Christians. The German people watched and sat idle, too. Today, many just feign shock that in modern society racism still exists. Some take to social media to vent and share their outrage but quickly get back to Netflix and the life they enjoy despite the inequality we all know exists. That police still kill us disproportionately. That we’re still denied jobs, access to adequate healthcare, equal educational standards, curriculum and schools, or even healthy foods and an environment. We continue to bear the brunt of the cost of industrialization when rich corporations are given passage by our government to pollute the areas we live in, allowing companies to burying their toxic and cancer-causing waste in our backyards and pollute our water. Some whites certainly grieve, fight and even die with us for justice and change but clearly, not enough to make a real difference of our unequal American lives. So I have no more tears left to cry for my people, as I continue to bear witness to our systematic killings of which I can only call by its dirty name: a Holocaust.

Emmett Till

George Stinney, Jr.

Rodney King

Lynching in America

Isaac Woodard

Lynchings in America

Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, interviewed Marcus Rediker, author of, The Slave Ship: A Human History, where he discussed, “floating concentration camps and why the black community should never forget.” It’s worth a read. Included in the report was this discussion: “Before he won the Best Picture Academy Award for “12 Years a Slave,” director Steve McQueen accused Hollywood of ignoring the subject of slavery. “The Second World War lasted five years, and there are hundreds of films about that and the Holocaust. Slavery lasted 400 years and yet there are less than 20 films about slavery in North America,” McQueen said, in an interview with the British paper The Voice. “We have to open our eyes and look at it and other people have to acknowledge it.” The black community, he added, must remember slavery in the same way the Jews remember the Holocaust. “They believe in the saying ‘Never forget’ when it comes to the Holocaust, and I think we should be the same when it comes to slavery.”

Rediker was also asked if, “Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day could act as a model for remembering slavery in the United States. And he answered, “I think it would be absolutely impossible in this country, because the majority of the white population is utterly opposed to reparations and would not like to remember slavery in any way that might lead to economic and political conclusions. The difference is that the people who want to remember in Israel are in charge in the government. John Conyers has for many years proposed, at the beginning of each Congress, a bill to study the effects of slavery in American history. And every year, it’s voted down.”

Reuben Stacy lynching

Medgar Evers

American lynchings

KKK lynchings

1925 lynching

Comedians Key and Peele joked about Negrotown, once. I laughed and thought nothing else of the “utopia for black people.” Looking back, perhaps that’s the only solution left for us. Maybe we do need a Negrotown, where the duo joyfully sang, “you won’t get followed when you shop, you can wear your hoodie and not get shot, no white folks across the street in fear, no trigger happy cops or scared cashiers. And loan applications can’t get turned down, [because] you’re always approved in Negrotown.” Art imitates life. But the brutality and killings we experience are real. Perhaps to save our lives and finally stop the Holocaust of African Americans, is to find our way to Negrotown. McQueen’s suggestion to adopt the Jews saying, “Never forget” when it comes to slavery is ideal, but we must first break out of our bondage and finally stop the black Holocaust in America.

Northern Yellow Bat Joins Wildlife Venturing Out In DC During Covid-19

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

Don’t worry, it’s not a bat out of hell. It’s just a bat on the hill. Wild animals are coming out of the woods and into our cities and towns as we hunker down for the dreadful Coronavirus to pass us by. Wildlife is making a comeback, no doubt thinking all the pesky critters who call themselves humans have left their beautiful planet. Sike! We’re still here suckers and hopefully staying for a long, long time. All kidding aside, the planet belongs to all of us, including those who don’t take the Metro to work.

As you carefully make your way outside, adhering to Coronavirus safety guidelines, take the time to look around you because you may just run into an unfamiliar visitor who normally inhabits places where they don’t have run-ins with people. Folks in the DMV area have been reporting numerous sightings of all sorts of animals. Foxes, coyotes, otters, beavers, and even bobcats and eagles have been spotted throughout the C & O Canal National Historic Park and other areas.

Making my usual trek around the National Mall, I ran into a strange looking critter napping in broad daylight on Capitol Hill. It was the most beautiful bat I’ve ever seen. As I turned into an irritating paparazzi, the little fellow barely took notice of me or my camera. So, I snapped away from different angles doing my best not to wake it up. I did a little research on bat species in the Washington, DC area and learned that my little sleepy buddy, whom I named Little North Yellow, is a Northern Yellow Bat. Although I’m not a Chiropterologist, it matched the description of this particular bat species.

Additional information on Wikipedia states they are, “primarily found along the coastal regions of the southeastern United States and eastern Texas, Cuba, coastal Mexico, and Central American countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This is the most abundant bat species in some regions of Florida. This species has a few occurrence records from Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.”

Is it the first sighting of this particular bat species in DC? Who knows? Either way, I’m pretty sure he’s not to blame for spreading Coronavirus, despite the nasty rumors. Besides, he’s really cute and a welcome site for lonely eyes stuck in solitude during quarantine.

Feral Rapper Tekashi6ix9ine Is Leading The Coup d’état Of Hip-Hop Culture

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

The spectacle that is Tekashi 6ix9ine can only be described as disturbing. And, like the manifestation of Donald Trump, we have no one else to blame but our American worship culture. Similar to Rock and Roll, Jazz and many other musical inventions, Hip-Hop and rap was birthed by African American culture. The days when we saw black artists express themselves by rapping to tell stories of their experience in a country hostile to their humanity are long gone. From Vanilla Ice, Eminem, Iggy Azalea, Cardi B, Machine Gun Kelly to the grotesque Tekashi69, it’s evident Hip-Hop is forever changed. Today, any knucklehead from the richest neighborhoods, or a strip club dance pole can spray paint themselves with tattoos, don the typical rap gear and spit rhymes about the mean streets they called home, how tough and strong they are, how quickly they’ll shoot you in the face with an AK or Glock, and of course, how many “bitches” or “nigga’s” they got. Oh, and they’re all so incredibly rich that they use stacks of bills to make phone calls nowadays. Even if none of it is true.

What started out as a movement to talk about the struggles of black lives in America following the assassinations of black leaders like Malcolm X and MLK, has turned into what the rainbow pendejo exposed on Instagram Live. The Hip-Hop and rap movement has been derailed and the message hijacked by get rich quick schemes and soft porn stars that even corrupted the ones at the head of it all. Because enough money, sex and notoriety will make you give up just about anything.

As detested as Tekashi is for snitching on his fellow gang members, it didn’t stop millions of people from tuning in to his clown show to brag about his riches, and grossly flaunting the white privilege he’s loaning from the feds for his cooperation. All while boosting about getting away with murder, similar to the Klan in their hay day when they were systematically acquitted for lynching black people, burning their homes and terrorizing them from sea to shiny sea. Time and circumstance are the only difference between the two. Listen closely to the words Tekashi spews while using easy women and cheap sex tricks to gloat about getting away with behaviors no black artist or regular black folks could ever get away with.

Entering his stage with a classic Bob Marley song that turned into the theme song for the TV show Cops, featuring the arrests of mostly black people, Tekashi, flashing his expensive watches and gnashing his horse teeth bedazzled with diamonds and gold yells, “You can never do this! You can neva!” And, he’s absolutely right. Black people in similar positions can never do that. Just ask Meek Mills who learned real quick that his punishment for violating his parole would not only be swift and extreme, but it would be served piping hot by a black judge, the Honorable Genece Brinkley, who clearly had an ax to grind and to prove her loyalty like Stephen in Django Unchained. And, Mills is only one example of a long list of disproportionate punishment doled out by law enforcement.

We, The People, share very different experiences in America. And despite how cringe-worthy that reality is, that’s the harsh truth of the matter when it comes to black people. The callous killing of Ahmaud Arbery—considered a “justifiable homicide” by the local DA—is a prime example of the different lives we still live in a country that owes its glory and might to the black enslaved bodies that planted and picked crops, that help build a nation, including the White House, to amass incredible wealth and privilege only few enjoy.

“You’re a little boy. I’ll kiss you on your forehead. Sit down,” he goes on, waking up the dead with words long gone slaves and oppressed Jim Crow era black people had to bitterly swallow as they watched their country take pride in enacting the 13th amendment, all while leaving them empty-handed, and demanding they compete in an unequal game of life and the pursuit of liberty. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, boy! Sure, but you stole my boots and put thorns on the road you want me to walk on.

Inhumane doesn’t even scratch the surface of this long-standing injustice. And, the term “boy” is a hideous racist stain for black Americans, as its roots are deeply embedded in the unrepentant diminishments of our humanity. Nonetheless, millions, including Hip-Hop celebrities, tuned in to witness Tekashi behave badly. And, he’s worshiped for it, especially by our younger generation, many of whom seemingly only interested in the culture of debauchery. He’s used as a tool to sell our Hip-Hop in a market that devalues our culture and detests our existence. And, we take front row seats in support of it all. Snitches get stitches, they say. Sure, only if you’re black. Tekashi is being protected by the feds like the pope, despite his criminal behavior. And, as a gift for helping ensnare more black men who were being criminals right alongside him. Justice is not blind, it’s stupid and hateful.

That’s the only reason Tekashi can proudly disrespect black music and culture. He’s babysat by a legal system that will pay any price to keep us cemented in our societal place as second-class citizens. If you didn’t feel the sting of Tekashi, you’re not paying attention to the unwavering trajectory of our American culture. A culture that refuses to recognize how our painful history has shaped us, how it continues to inhibit our growth, hear our cries for real freedom, and call to equally benefit from our country’s prosperity.

Let me be clear. I love my country and the ideals good people from all walks of life are steadily working towards. All I’m crowing about is recognition of the ugly truths of our black lives and circumstances, and to demand change. And, that my country love me back. Not through lip service but by way of sincere actions that will ultimately bring about the equality some white people are so deathly afraid of. Paving the way with diamonds and gold for the likes of Tekashi6ix9ine and his middle finger is painfully symbolic of the unwavering disdain for us, our Hip-Hop culture and rightful claim to America.

Nevertheless, and despite all the disrespect we still endure, we must maintain a firm grip to the mighty spirit and words Maya Angelou left us with: “Out of the huts of history’s shame, I rise. Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise. I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear, I rise. Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear, I rise. Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise, I rise, I rise.” Marching on, black people will continue to rise, guided by the lessons of W.E.B. Du Bois to avoid the temptation to hate, despair and doubt, we shall overcome.

An Open Letter To White Jesus And A Call For Amen-Ra’s Return

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

Dear white Jesus,

As a young girl my mother and father baptized me in a Roman Catholic church. My mom always talked about you, consistently reminding all her children of your grace, tolerance and love for the world and all its people. There were many days I called on you for help and mercy. Sometimes for selfish reasons and other times for understanding or on behalf of my fellow man. I never questioned your presence or wisdom. The bible guided my family through many tough times in life. It didn’t take away the severe poverty I grew up with in Suriname but somehow, we made it with help from others. We had land to grow food, chickens to raise, family and community. And, you reaped all the praise for every bit of good that fell on us. “Thank God,” was a common phrase we all used. We accepted our unequal place in the world as our cross to bear. I never questioned it. I simply accepted it like my mother and grandmother did. We are black people. And not just any type of black people. We are tribal black people from the Ashanti and Akan tribes in Africa that have come around to accept our field negro way of life despite our royal beginnings. We thanked you, nonetheless. We praised you in spite of it all.

Hathor, Goddess of Love

The love of two vastly different people led to my being. I was essentially plucked from the fate bestowed on my tribal people by being born to a black Pamaka mother and a white Okie father. I didn’t just look different; I was given a different life than the one many of my people live. I became a house negro. Not by choice, but rather by unjust and brutal circumstances all black people in the world know. Slavery shaped us. Not just culturally but in every human way possible. We fought each other, and we fought hard to right all the wrongs committed against us by Europeans. We struggled and died brutal deaths in mass numbers around the world just to gain a small foothold in the common ideals of humanity. From Africa, the West Indies, South America, to the Caribbean islands and America, we fought hard for our salvation and bits of freedom. And, again, you were given all the glory for the strength to defeat our enemies.

Anubis, God of Death

After 246 years of slave labor in America, that built the most powerful country and democracy the world has ever known, we find ourselves still fighting the same ol’ fight we’ve fought for centuries. I’m exhausted. Having to carry the weight of our ancestors’ struggle, we’re all undoubtedly exhausted. And yet, there’s still no rest for the weary. So, how much longer “God”? How many more of us have to be brutally struck down by hateful racist white people? How many more must be sacrificed to finally bring about the justice and equality any human being deserves? We love our children and want to see them grow. But they can’t because of the indiscriminate hate that comes with the birth of brown babies. We love our mothers but can’t experience their complete love and support as they too are met with violence inflicted on their aging bodies from being mercilessly thrown to the ground by white police officers in Baltimore. We love our fathers, but they can’t protect us from the early graves they meet after being shot in the back when they run from the police in North Carolina. We love our black teachers but can’t gain the wisdom of their teachings or the sweetness of their gentle souls as they are met with hails of bullets while peacefully sitting in their car in Minnesota. We love our black doctors but can’t get their healing as they are brutally detained and mistreated for wanting to help the homeless in Florida. We love our friends but can’t play with them in parks when they meet an officer’s callous bullet for playing with a toy gun in Ohio. We can’t talk on the phone with our young teenagers after their deadly confrontation in their own neighborhood with cowardly bullies aiming guns in Florida. And it’s clear, we can’t run for exercise in Georgia without being lynched by a racist mob who simply traded in their Klan sheets for police uniforms.

Ra, God of the Sun

So, I want to know, dear white Jesus and your father God, how much longer must we fight? How much longer will you allow us to suffer in this world? You see, you can’t be the same God for us, and for those who hate and brutalize us. There’s no way we’re all praying to you. And so, there must be another God that sees us all. I refuse to believe a God that is supposedly all knowing and good, would allow his brown skinned people to suffer so much.

“God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:11). All are equal before Him. Ephesians 6:9 says, “There is no favoritism with him.” And Colossians 3:25 teaches God’s fairness in judgment, “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”

I need to know that your teachings are worthy of my following because of the heavy cross black people have had to bear. So, I’m calling your true name. I’m calling you to reveal yourself to the world. Because I demand justice, once and for all. Because enough is enough. I will not take another step blinded by the bible’s myth of your love, mercy and glory. I will not be lulled to remain stupid with songs, dances or hymns calling and praising you. I reject all that you stand for and allow to happen to black people on earth.

And so, in my hour of bitter anger and deep sorrow over the brutal killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia by a racist mob that are being protected by the local police and politicians, I am reaching all the way back to the first God. The King of All Gods, Amen-Ra.

Amen-Ra, King of all Gods

I am reaching back to all the ancestors, from Africa to Suriname and everywhere black people have roamed, fought and suffered, to beg for strength, justice and healing in this hour of my pain. It is incredibly hard to watch Ahmaud Arbery’s brutal and senseless killing. But like me, we must all bear witness of his death because it tells the never-ending and tragic story of black lives in America. Arbery’s callous killing must be met with swift justice, not just here on earth but throughout the universal holy spaces where our ancestors rest and watch over us. We need healing King of all Gods. But most importantly, we need justice and finally, peace. Once and for all. In Amen-Ra I pray.

When A Harvard Professor Pulls The Homeschool Fire Alarm

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

There’s a firestorm brewing and this time it’s not the usual suspect causing the uproar. It’s a highly acclaimed Harvard professor who ruffled the feathers of the homeschooling community by suggesting an all out ban on the practice if stricter regulations and measures aren’t put in place to protect homeschooled children.

Elizabeth Bartholet, Wasserstein public interest professor of law and faculty director of the Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, says although the risks for homeschooled children are real, her position is misunderstood. “I do not propose a ban. I propose that those who want to homeschool satisfy a burden of demonstrating they have good reason to homeschool and are capable of providing their children with an adequate education. I also make clear in the article that there are many parents homeschooling today who have very good reason to do so, including problems their local schools may present, and that many of them are providing educations superior to what their children would receive in the public schools,” she said in a statement to ePa.

Bartholet goes on to say, “I think if you take another look at my article it will clarify that various critics have not been giving an accurate picture of my position. There are dozens of articles and books on homeschooling that make many of the same descriptive and critical points I do and that make a wide range of regulatory proposals. Many of these call for regulation to address the child maltreatment issue. Many call for regulation to try to ensure adequate education. Some go far beyond me in the restrictive direction to propose an absolute ban.” Nonetheless, the damage has been done as many homeschoolers say they feel picked on and attacked by Bartholet and her anecdotes. Those who took particular offense are the religious homeschoolers.

Below is a Q & A with self-described religious homeschoolers Matt and Jenn Kallman from Michigan.

ePa: What are your thoughts on the report authored by Prof. Bartholet on the risks of homeschooling? 

As I read the abstract, I couldn’t help but picture the overweight, middle-aged man criticizing the performance of the professional athletes on the television in his living room.  With that metaphor stuck in my brain, I charged into digesting the 80 pages. The central thesis seems to me summed up in the statement “Anecdotal evidence is alarming.”  (pg 17).   On pg 56 she cites as one of these anecdotes, “A bill was introduced in Michigan in 2015 in response to the death of two children found in a freezer. They had been withdrawn from school for alleged homeschooling despite the mother’s prior CPS involvement.”

As life-long Michiganders, we remember this horrible story from the news. These stories are clearly awful and it is a tragedy that any children live (and die) with such horrors. But, it seems an enormous stretch to suggest situations like this are “homeschooling”. By no definition was that place a “home” and it is likely no “schooling” was attempted.

Should Professor Bartholet protest that it is lax regulation like in Michigan that enables such things so we ought to consider them part of the “homeschool community”, I would wonder whether societies like Germany which outright prohibit homeschooling are totally free of anecdotes of awful parents who escape the system designed to protect children. Should Professor Bartholet demonstrate that there are no anecdotes of such behavior, then I would begrudgingly put such anecdotes back into the homeschool circle. But, I doubt she could point to a society that is “anecdote free”.

Other than anecdotal information, I can’t find any supporting data for statements like “Many homeschooling parents are simply not interested in educating their children. Some remove their children from school specifically because they have been accused of truancy. Some do so specifically to avoid child protection laws.” (pg 11)

The article is filled with assertions like “A very large proportion of homeschooling parents are …” (pg 5-6) and “These parents are committed to homeschooling largely because they reject …”.  If from my house I wrote an article about the educational system in Russia, I could very well gather information and make assertions about the educational system there. If I don’t know the language nor have ever visited Russian educational facilities and talked with those in the system it’s doubtful I’d have a very good perspective. Professor Bartholet clearly knows neither the language of the homeschooling community nor has ever made a significant effort to assess things “on the ground” to get an informed perspective.

The author clearly lives in the political perspective of academia. An innocent example is how she naively assumes we will read a statement like “HSLDA’s influence is illustrated by the fact that the current U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos met with HSLDA leaders early in her tenure” as a clear negative.

Here in Betsy DeVos’ hometown we’re quite happy that she would meet with a pro-educational-freedom organization like HSLDA. A not-so-innocent example is this statement: The U.S. Constitution with its negative rights structure is an anomaly, outdated and inadequate by the standards of the rest of the world.

To seriously believe the U.S. Constitution is an outdated anomaly is not mainstream political thought in the U.S. and re-enforces one of the reasons we homeschool. The combination of bureaucrats and academics being in charge of education is a recipe for failure in the long run. Families who homeschool are doing it for many different reasons that boil down to a genuine desire to do the best for their children. There are awful anecdotes of situations in the real homeschool community where depravity of adults destroys the lives of children. Homeschoolers care about those children and want to ensure society can protect those instances without infringing on general freedoms of families to choose the best option for their children. Professor Bartholet unknowingly makes the case that the anecdote is not the reality. Or would she have us believe that a large group of lazy, under-educated, unintelligent child abusers has one of the most effective political lobbies in the United States?

ePa: Why did your family decide to homeschool?

Homeschooling can be hard. There are days we wonder if it is worth the effort. However, we decided to homeschool and continue to decide that because we believe it is best for our family and children. It forces us to be together and work together as a family. We have the opportunity to give our children our perspective on religion, science, art, music, et cetera. This perspective includes giving them a broader perspective than they would receive in a traditional school. We also feel it is most natural to continue educating our children within our family just like the early years of their childhood. Similarly, we take care of our children’s health on a daily basis and reach out to experts for information, help and diagnosis. We see education similarly.

We love the flexibility homeschooling provides us to capitalize on unique opportunities. For example, last month we spent time in the English countryside, London and Copenhagen. The socialization opportunities are so much better than a traditional school organized by age group. And we believe educational needs are changing (when I was in high school Google was barely a thing) and it’s easier to evolve educational approach outside of the large system.  Additionally, we have found homeschooling really helps us tailor the educational pace and content to each particular child.

ePa: Bartholet states that studies show that 90-percent of parents choose to homeschool for religious reasons, specifically conservative Christian beliefs. Since your family falls in this category, (on being religious only, as I don’t know your political standing) what are your thoughts on her assertion that some of these parents are extreme religious ideologues who question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy? You’re welcome to share your political views in your response. 

We don’t personally know anyone in our homeschool community that is a white supremacist. Bartholet would think we question science and promote female subservience. We don’t, but she would think that of us. Our Christian perspective does influence our thinking around origins and we believe the Bible gives equal value to all humans but equips each of us in a family with different roles and responsibilities. We do hold traditional Christian views based on many thousands of years of tradition and perspective.

Are there homeschoolers who we think have an incorrect ideology? Of course. Just like we think Bartholet has an incorrect ideology. However, that is the essence of a free society. We live, we discuss, we learn from each other and we shouldn’t attempt to impose Bartholet’s ideas on homeschoolers any more than we should impose our ideas on other families.

ePa: Have you experienced any form of racism in your homeschooling community and are you part of a diverse community of religious homeschoolers?

No, we have not experienced racism. Yes, we are part of a diverse community of religious homeschoolers. We are a multi-ethnic family with two sons who were born in China and we are welcomed and loved in our homeschool community.

ePa: Would you recommend homeschooling for others as a permanent option, as most parents are having to homeschool their own children due to the global health crisis? 

Each family should consider what is best for them. We think it is right for us at this time and place, and we recognize it is not right for some families. Each area may have different levels of homeschooling support. We leverage a lot of online curriculum and content. Additionally, our area has an enormous homeschool community, even a Homeschool Building.

ePa: Is there anything in her report that you agree with? 

The page numbers all appear to be accurate. Just kidding. I think philosophically we have extremely different perspectives, but I would think we share an understanding that a deep discussion of what is best for children is a worthy endeavor!

ePa: What would you like Bartholet, and others, to know about homeschoolers that you think she missed in formulating her opinion? 

Homeschoolers are people. Some highly educated and quirky, others more down to earth, conservative, liberal, free-wheeling, by-the-book, big families, small families, religious, and atheists. You should connect with some personally to expand you perspective. Maybe you would still reach the same conclusions, but with a better educated perspective.

ePa: Is there anything else you would like to add that I didn’t ask but is worthy of mention? 

After answering all the questions above I went and watched the video of the interview of Professor Bartholet talking about international adoption. I was genuinely surprised as it seemed she was on the opposite side of logic in the debate surrounding international adoption compared to the arguments around homeschooling. As Professor Bartholet responded to criticism of ancecdotes of adoption failures, “overall it’s an amazingly rosy picture.”

Presuming Bartholet’s intentions were pure and meant to advocate positive change in the homeschooling community makes no difference unfortunately, because the blaring sound of the fire alarm she pulled is echoing across the land and causing brows to furrow. Nonetheless, with more parents having to take on the challenge of homeschooling their children during a nationwide lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is a worthwhile subject to approach. Preferably without insulting those who take deep pride in teaching and molding their children as they see fit. After all, teaching starts in the home.

Homeschoolers and ePa’s Jeanette Lenoir discuss Professor Bartholet’s report via Zoom: https://youtu.be/jJ8Rr0CMzto

Zoom discussion participants are: Ramona Persaud, Isabella Ehrlich, Ken Walling, Kris Shea and Sue Lappan. *Kris Shea follows American homeschooling regulations while in UAE.

 

Michigan State Senator Dale W. Zorn Exposed His Klan Sheet And Must Resign Now

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Dale. W. Zorn

Dale W. Zorn is a Klansman who traded in his white sheet for a more socially acceptable uniform to serve as a Republican in the Michigan Senate. Black people and their supporters in the struggle for basic human and civil rights have been warning about his ilk for decades. Well, he finally showed up as he truly is. A blatant racist cloaked in his favorite symbol of hate; the Confederate flag. His wife, embodying the spirit of ol’ Betsy Ross herself, worked tirelessly through the night supposedly to ensure her brave chubby hubby would shine, like a proud demon showing off its newly sharpened horns, in the state Capitol where he pretends to work on behalf of his fellow Americans. Unfortunately, and despite the lapse of time, the birth of change and enlightenment, Zorn’s only agenda is to strengthen and advance the racist structures of our government. Let’s be clear. This pathetic coward is not working for US, but rather against the ideals of our country, yet to be fully fulfilled. One nation, under God with liberty and justice for all? Absolutely not, because those powerful words that wake up our true American spirit of unity and brotherhood is cheapened and reduced to mere lip service with his continued presence in office. So, Zorn must resign.

Zorn, after receiving scorn for his appalling but honest behavior, backtracked on being a lone-standing brave little confederate soldier in the fight for the preservation of slavery and segregation, the spirit and intent of a flag this country’s been trying to bury since the end of the Civil war. Don’t fall for his insincere apology and blatant lies. His intentions were clear and direct. He hates black people, and everyone else that particular symbol of hate targets in its scorn as a way to preserve lily white lives.

This is a man who voted for cage free chickens but can’t see humanity in black people. This is a man who votes to make life more difficult for the most vulnerable population in his community, poor and disabled people, and yet flaunts his full belly, evidence of his decadent and privileged life. Shame on those who voted for him time and time again. And shame on those who don’t see the value and importance of voting. They say all politics is local. It’s true, more so than ever before, and Zorn holding office for as long as he has is clear evidence of this. I don’t have to live in the 17th District of Michigan represented by this pig man to know that those who do, deserve better. I can only hope and encourage them to see Zorn for exactly what he is: a bona fide racist, and demand his resignation.

Some will undoubtedly and mistakenly reach for the nonsensical excuse of forgiveness with oppressive sayings like, “they know not what they do.” Unless you’re stuck on stupid, you better believe these racists cowards know exactly what they do. As a matter of fact, they’ve perfected the art of racism by merely switching their Klan sheets for robes, uniforms and fancy suits. We’ve certainly made some progress since the days our black leaders marched and boycotted for freedom and civil rights. But, the work to bring about real and lasting change is far from over. And Zorn is a stark reminder of the remnants of segregation, Jim Crow, lynching’s, including the near annihilation of Native Americans. And those who take issue with this strong rebuke of his action and call for his immediate resignation, would be well served to familiarize themselves with American history, the Morrill Act or Land-Grant Universities that to this day, reap billions from the theft of Native American lands. History is a cycle of repeated events. So, when will we learn? I don’t know. But it starts by standing up. It starts by speaking truth to power, fearlessly. And demanding the immediate resignation of those still romanticizing our shameful history of slavery, and the holocaust of Native Americans. Luckily, we can count on their stupidity similar to their hate when they advertise the depths of their depraved souls by wearing or flying the Confederate flag. Perhaps, similar to a sex offenders list, America should keep a racist list. Nonetheless, Zorn, who’s been in office for nearly 30 years, must resign. Can you image the black, brown, poor and disabled life’s he’s negatively impacted in his community with his votes? I can. And as such, this is an appeal to awaken your moral sense, Michigan. Wake up and do better. Demand Zorn resign, now.

 

The Silver Lining Of Covid-19 Is Going Back To Basics

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

The world is in mourning and lockdown. There isn’t a decent human soul not feeling the pain and burden of the Coronavirus pandemic. And, you’re absolutely right. Donald Trump and his minions didn’t make the human decency list. They were too busy injecting bleach into their veins and feverishly working on anti-immigration policies with Steven “Gargamel” Miller to be considered. Unfortunately, this pandemic only represents an opportunity for this administration to force inhumane and un-American values down our throats and feeding into our unraveling as one nation beholden to certain unalienable rights. And it always works when people are living in fear and with a sense of uncertainty.

This collective hurt is monumental and crippling. One can only find a small piece of solace in the shared blow of losing loved ones, jobs and life’s basic rhythm. Most of us would give up all material possessions to reverse this mess we’re stewing in. But, there are silver linings in the dark skies if you look for them. Here are some examples: animals are venturing back into deserted towns, the environment is losing some of its human stain built up from thousands of years of our carbon footprints. Mountains are peaking through clouds to see the cause of the fresh air surrounding them. Recently jellyfish and pink dolphins were seen frolicking in clear boat canals in Venice. Grass is growing between Rome’s historic cobblestone roads again due to the decrease in human activity. Goats are showing off all over Europe, as they take advantage of their new strange world without people unfolding before their eyes. Scientists keeping watchful eyes on our ozone layer are reporting good news for Mother Earth. Pollution is down across the world. Families are rediscovering the value of their tribes and reconnecting in ways unheard of. Many are taking up hobbies and venturing into areas of their lives they only dreamed of exploring after retiring the human rat race. Streets all across the world are empty and people, despite the pandemic that stopped us in our ruthless track on Earth, are experiencing life in ways never imagined.

Although there’s nothing to celebrate about Covid-19, it’s important to focus on the light in the middle of this storm to get us all through it. We’re going back to the basics. And there’s never been more value in the basics now that it’s the only option for most of us. Cheap wine tastes better, cooking skills are improving, and even the way we’re taking in the arts is changing. Musicians and other artists from all walks of life are taking their skills to the internet to continue sharing their gifts with the world. We’re finding our way through this pandemic by embracing each other and the basics as never before. And that’s a beautiful silver lining in the midst of the dark cloud that is Coronavirus.

This pandemic is a test of our determination to improve our human activities, reverse our destructive behaviors and ultimately save the world and her inhabitants. And this load can’t be carried by the poor, middle class, the underserved and powerless alone. The powerful and rich elites among us must find their way back to a sense of humanity, and the basics too, by curbing their greed and instinct to take advantage of a bad situation. There is no planet B and so it behooves us all to take this moment, as tragic and painful as it is, to be better human beings. Not just at home, but everywhere we roam.

 

Anderson Cooper’s Faux Journalistic Push Of Las Vegas Mayor Is A Problem

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

This is not going to be a popular opinion. Most of us have already seen the disastrous interview between CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Las Vegas Mayor, Carolyn Goodman, an independent politician in her seat since 2011. The title of the show down, “Anderson Cooper presses Las Vegas mayor over wish to reopen” gives you an idea of what’s to go down. Unfortunately, what is seen is Cooper using all his journalistic might to antagonize and corner the mayor into sound bite news that have taken on a life of their own. And, making matters worse like a bona fide snitch, Cooper brings his phony assertion of what he desperately tried to get out of the mayor’s mouth to her boss: the Governor on Nevada, Stephen F. Sisolak. He gave Cooper his next big ticket interview to ensure the people of his state that no one will be forced to kiss the Coronavirus like the mayor clearly suggested.

This display of so called journalism is exactly what’s wrong with the media today. You see, Cooper was not interested in informing people about Las Vegas’ plan to reopen after the Covid-19 shutdown, but to create havoc for ratings. Unfortunately, these attempts for high numbers only confuse and hurt the very people he’s pretending to work for. His behavior during the combative interview serves no useful purpose as far as public information is concerned. It’s certainly entertaining similar to YouTube videos that depict animals acting like humans, cats playing pianos or neighborhood brawls caught on camera. At the start of the video Cooper asks, “You assume everyone has the virus and is just asymptomatic. You want casinos open, Vegas back in business, is that a responsible call to make?” The mayor answers, “That wasn’t the call that I was really making. It was to get people back to work. We have so many in our hospitality crew. We’re 2.5 million people down here in Southern Nevada and we have so many out of work because of the casino shutdowns…” Goodman was then interrupted with Cooper’s laser-eyed death stare that showed his clear intent to take this woman to task using her own words against her. Never mind that she answered him clearly when first asked, that she was NOT calling for the city to open the next day, but expressing her desire to open her city sooner rather than later. Let’s not forget these are the same media tactics that have been used to demonize black people and even the continent of Africa, even to this day. “They take one little word out of what you say, ignore all the rest, and then begin to magnify it all over the world to make you look like what you actually aren’t,” Malcolm X said during a speech in Detroit the day after his house was firebombed by the Ku Klux Klan. He was talking about being condemned as a racist when he advocated for black people to fight back against their oppressors and lynchers.

Whether one agrees with her or not, Goodman does not have the authority to act unilaterally to reopen her city. And, frankly, she’s wrong to want to rush reopening during a pandemic, especially against the advice of health officials. But what makes Cooper the bad guy in this interview is his shameful and blatant attempt to bait Goodman into saying what he wants her to say, which can then be used as a weapon to further raise tensions in an already tense world. He brought fire and water to this interview and used each bucket for his needs; inflame, rescue. Cooper is an excellent journalist. I was incredibly proud of his powerful interview with former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich after his release from prison. He held him to account and didn’t let him get away with lying to the public, or even himself. It was epic. Unfortunately, that’s not what he did with his interview with Goodman. He cornered her, chastised and pushed her to perform exactly as he needed her to. And unfortunately, she did. How does this make us a better more informed society?  What did we get out of the interview? Absolutely nothing, other than a dose of reality TV that should have been titled: When Journalists Attack.

Media darlings like Cooper are known for their hard-hitting questions. He’s loved and valued for holding powerful people accountable. But who will hold the Anderson Coopers of the world accountable when they commit a foul? Take this similar circumstance out of the media arena and anyone with common sense would have stepped in to say, “Back off!” It’s important that in this era of Fake News that we take our time to really process the information we’re being served. We can no longer afford to take anyone’s word at face value, or depend on a headline for clues. The title for his combative and nasty exchange with Goodman suggests that he really did something to help The People stay informed, when in actuality, he exposed himself as part of the problem with today’s media business. I listened to the interview. I heard exactly what she said and tried to explain. I understood what she was trying to do; getting people quickly back into the swing of life again. I don’t agree with her. But I understood her position. There’s no fight here. Just Cooper yelling “Fire” in a crowded movie theater, while his camera crew film people’s reactions as they flee for the doors. Anderson Cooper’s interview with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is exactly what media manipulation looks like. And we must call it exactly what it is: Fake News.

Marking Earth Day In The Era Of Mass Industrialization And Global Disease

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Can we love the Earth? That’s the fitting Socratic response to the famous soliloquy, “To be, or not to be” uttered by Hamlet so many moons ago. But yet, here we are playing the role of lover as we celebrate another Earth Day. A day of Man’s professed love and appreciation for the planet they inhabit. What a farce. Our illusion of self and our destruction of the planet knows no bound. And yet, here we are pretending to care about our only source of life while smoke billows behind us from massive machines and factories, inhabiting life next to pits steadily being dug deeper into the Earth’s crest in search of more riches for Richie Rich, while fracking is having a field day smashing through Mother Earth’s platelets. Happy Earth Day, fools!

Since 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War and two years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when certain people started to gain a level of conscientiousness of nature and its value, Earth Day became an annual celebration around the world to demonstrate love and support for the environment. I say certain people because indigenous and tribal peoples have always known and understood the value of nature. That’s why they respect Mother Earth and only take what they need. But not the rest of mankind with their unsatisfied appetite for the riches embedded in her bosoms.

During a webinar on Earth Day, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr. said, “Every day should be affirmed as Earth Day.” Dr. Chavis, Jr., an assistant to Dr. King, Jr. in his youth, coined the term “environmental racism” which is, “racial discrimination in the deliberated targeting of ethnic and minority communities for exposure to toxic and hazardous waste sites and facilities, coupled with the systematic exclusion of minorities in environmental policy making, enforcement, and remediation.” The civil rights movement and the environmental movement intersected during this era to combat the destruction of underserved and poor communities across the country and the world. And that fight is still ongoing as landfills, mine pits and fracking stations litter the places were only the poor call home. Dr. Chavis says this day is a time to be reminded of the oneness of humanity adding, “Earth Day is also liberation day.” He says, “The Earth needs to be liberated from all the climate change deniers and from all the polluters who are damaging and destroying the lives of millions of people.” He also points to Native Americans who have long worked to get their European conquerors to see value and affirm the sacredness of Mother Earth … of little, or no avail.

Human beings must resist the evils of environmental destruction or face extinction. It’s unimaginable witnessing the Coronavirus pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, in turn, clearing the polluted waters of Venice, encouraging wild animals out from hiding to venture into formerly crowded streets and towns. Even jellyfish and dolphins are floating through clear canals in Europe again. It took death by an unknown disease to resuscitate environmental life. Why must it take disease, death and destruction to curb our enthusiasm for pollution? Our carbon footprint is killing the only planet we have and yet we have the audacity to celebrate Earth Day like lunatics. Charles Simmons said, “No man has a right to do what he pleases, except when he please to do right.” It’s time to do right by Mother Earth. And an annual celebration marking our love for her won’t cut it. We must face the reality of the role each and every one of us plays in the destruction of the Earth and change. Or, we can keep the “party” going … while we can.