It’s Day 14 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

Today, we get to listen to recording artist Stevie Wonder from back in 1973.

Album cover of Stevie Wonder's Innervisions, drawn/painted like a surrealist landscape, with a profile of the artist at a window, with a golden beam shooting skyward from his closed eyelids.

Stevie Wonder Innervisions
album cover art

As I’ve immersed myself in this Black History Month project, I’ve had some memories surface from long ago. I now view those experiences through a very different lens than I did at the time.

I was was a young child when Innervisions came out in 1973. As I got a little older and gained a musical awareness, singles from Innervisions were still in occasional rotation on the radio. They weren’t current top 40 hits by any stretch, but still, I knew these songs.

I remember one day finding Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions album in the stacks of my father’s records. I was not allowed to touch them – nor his turntable or tuner – but he was rarely ever around. All I had to do was wait until my mother was scarce, and I could pretty much have at it.

I played that record, both sides, straight through. And played it again. And again. I even dug out daddy’s 100% off-limits headphones so I could listen to it louder and with more clarity, alone inside my own head. Sure I was just a kid, but I got lost in that record. Musically and lyrically, Innervisions transported me to another world, one very different from my own. A Black world.

The music was positively bursting, full of struggle and pain, of power and pride, of musical exuberance and originality, of yearning and hope, of politics and poverty, and of characters and stories unlike anyone or anything I had known. And that was by design, by the way: I knew only a very insular, sheltered, and blindingly white world.

Innervisions gave me my first glimpse into Blackness. Now, looking back, I can see that was where my Black history lessons first began.

Of all the tracks on the album, Living for the City hit me the hardest, touched me the deepest. Here are two versions of it, plus a link to the album in its entirety. It changed me. I think it’s worth honoring and celebrating what is arguably Stevie Wonder’s finest work this Black History Month.

This is the radio edit (3:39):

Full-length version (7:22) from the album:

The whole album (nine tracks) can be played on YouTube here.

Day 1 of Black History Month 2022 (Lori Teresa Yearwood) is here.
Day 2 (Mallence Bart-Williams) is here.
Day 3 (Emmett Till) is here.
Day 4 (A Tale of Two Citizens) is here.
Day 5 (Trayvon Martin) is here.
Day 6 (Franchesca Ramsey) is here.
Day 7 (National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the Black Aids Institute) is here.
Day 8 (extreme racial disparities in marijuana arrests) is here.
Day 9 (Summer of Soul/1969 Harlem Cultural Festival) is here.
Day 10 (current and historic racist domestic terrorism, Steve Phillips/Democracy in Color) is here.
Day 11 (Gee’s Bend Quilters) is here.
Day 12 (egregious anti-Black (& anti LGBTQ+) behavior at a NY State high school is here.
Day 13 (Erin Jackson, 1st Black woman to win Olympic gold medal in speedskating) is here.

It’s Day 13 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

Today, we get to be a part of witnessing and celebrating Black history being made, and I am so here for it! Erin Jackson of the United States has just become the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal in speedskating!

Also, I found so many fierce, beautiful and badass pictures of her in Beijing, I’m just going to intersperse them throughout this news article which contained only one (albeit my favorite of the lot).

Via New York Daily News:

Erin Jackson victorious at Olympics, becomes 1st Black woman to win speedskating gold

Associated Press | Feb 13, 2022


Erin Jackson of the United States competes in the speedskating women's 500-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Beijing.

Erin Jackson of the United States competes in the speedskating women’s 500-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Beijing.
(image: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

BEIJING — Erin Jackson became the first Black woman to win a speedskating medal at the Winter Olympics.

A gold one, at that.

[Read more…]

It’s Day 12 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

[CONTENT NOTE: descriptions of racist taunts and anti-LGBTQ+ vandalism; no anti-Black or anti-LGBTQi+ images]

You know, I never have to look far for content to post for Black History Month. Hell, I don’t even have to look at all: it’s in my news feeds, social media and email inbox every single day. And this is just as true when it’s not Black History Month. Sometimes the content is indescribably beautiful, deeply moving and inspiring (like yesterday), even within the context of the unfathomable Black struggle and pain surrounding it.

This is not one of those posts.

via (bold emphasis mine, except headings and photo captions):

Racist taunts at Pearl River basketball game shock community, bring calls for action

Probe called for by Nyack superintendent into fan behavior Wednesday night. Legislator calls for disciplinary action against involved Pearl River students.

Thumbnail photo of Nancy Cutler, journalist, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

Nancy Cutler
Rockland/Westchester Journal News

Published 2:40pm ET Feb. 11, 2022 / Updated 5:03pm Feb. 11, 2022

Nyack’s varsity basketball team captain Harrison Jordan and teammate Kameron Kukielczak were on the court Wednesday night when they heard noises from the crowd. Fans in the Pearl River gym were making noises – monkey and ape noises – as a Black player readied to take a free-throw shot from the foul line.

“It happened three different times,” said Jordan, a senior. “You hear it but you don’t believe it.”

Kukielczak, a sophomore, said he anticipated a lively home crowd for Pearl River. But not that.

School superintendents in both Pearl River and Nyack have expressed outrage at the fans’ behavior at a varsity basketball Pirates home game.

Kameron Kukielczak and Harrison Jordan in garnet-colored track suits, at Nyack High School, Feb. 11, 2022Kameron Kukielczak [left] and Harrison Jordan at Nyack High School, Feb. 11, 2022
(image: Peter Carr/The Journal News)

Outrage alone, though, is not enough, school leaders in both districts have said.

No, it’s not. It’s a good place to start, though.

[Read more…]

It’s Day 11 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

Today, we’ll listen to the extraordinary history and personal stories of the Black women quilters of Boykin a.k.a. “Gee’s Bend”, Alabama, population 208.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I know next to nothing about quilting. I can just barely sew a button. And I may or may not have used duct tape extensively to “fix” unraveling hems on many items of clothing. Nevertheless, these stories gripped and captivated me. Yes, this is about quilting. But it’s so much more than that. This is about art and artists. About unfathomably painful histories and extraordinary resilience. About women and community. But specifically about Black women, and Black community.

For a very brief (3:27) introduction, watch this segment from Robin Roberts on Good Morning America. Given the time limitation inherent in this type of media platform, Roberts does a good job here of showcasing the Gee’s Bend quilters’ history and culture, and how they come alive in these quilting traditions.

But to say this only scratches the surface is quite the understatement. These stories run deep. [Read more…]

It’s Day 10 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

I’ve been noodling around with an idea for a post about the infamous 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 (and all the other Klan bombings of homes and churches in that city that garnered it the name “Bombingham”), in light of the recent spate of bomb threats against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). No bombs have been found on these campuses (yet). But the history of 1960s Birmingham can teach us something important, and highly relevant today. Because we know what happens after bomb threats: bombs happen.

But then I got this email today from author, political leader and civil rights lawyer Steve Phillips, the founder of Democracy In Color:

Democracy in Color is a political media organization focused on political strategy and analysis at the intersection of race and politics.

We create and elevate content that influences public opinion and steers political behavior towards a more progressive and inclusive country. Using research and data-driven analysis, our multimedia content lifts up the voices and issues of the multiracial, progressive New American Majority and includes a podcast, articles, reports, and social campaigns.

I recommend signing up for their email newsletter, which is always informative and provides links to additional great content. Today’s newsletter is no exception, as you can see for yourself below. I’ve posted it in its entirety not just because it’s exceptional content – though it is that – but because Steve Phillips wrote that post I wanted to write, only far, far much better than I ever could:

Red, white and blue print logo of Democracy in Color.

[Read more…]

It’s Day 9 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

Today we are going to STFU and listen to black voices speaking to us from 1969. Not just any black voices, either: these are some of the most groundbreaking, hit-making, genre-breaking, unfathomably influential musical artists of the time – and for some, perhaps, of all time

Last evening, a film popped up in our streaming suggestions: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised). The blurb said the documentary was about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a multi-weekend concert series that took place in the summer of ’69 in what is now Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. Directed by Ahmir Khalib (“Questlove/?uestlove”) Thompson, perhaps best known as the drummer and co-frontman for the band The Roots, his debut film was put together from reels of raw footage that sat in a basement, virtually untouched, for fifty years.

Summer of Soul premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, where it took both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for a documentary.

Playing the trailer (which you can view below), I first heard then saw Nina Simone (*squeee4EVAH*) sing-saying to an enormous sea of black bodies and faces,

“Are you ready, black people? Are you really ready? Are you ready to listen to all the beautiful black voices, the beautiful black feelings, the beautiful black waves, moving in beautiful air? Are you ready black people? Are you ready?”

The Harlem crowd erupts in response to her callouts with spine-tingling, goose-bumping enthusiasm. Meanwhile, written words are interspersed, appearing in bright, colorful lettering against a black background:

In 1969
the same summer as Woodstock

Another festival took place

It was filmed but never seen

Until now

And with that, we were only 21 seconds into a 2-minute trailer.

The concert lineup promised nothing less than a pantheon of Black musical gods: Nina Simone, 19-year old Stevie Wonder, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The Fifth Dimension and more.

Ms. Simone had me at “Are you ready?” We paid $5.99 for the rental.*

[Read more…]

It’s Day 8 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

Any rational observer (which excludes conservatives, by definition) would conclude that the so-called “War on Drugs” is misleadingly named. Not the “war” part of the construct; that part’s accurate. From the extra-constitutional surveillance, “stop-&-frisk” policing, coercive consent searches and no-knock warrants to the military equipment provided to local law enforcement by the Department of Defense (including tanks… tanks!), the tactics and weapons deployed against U.S. citizens in the drug war are indistinguishable from those deployed by the U.S. on foreign battlefields in actual wars.

Likewise, our rational (non-conservative) observer would be dead-on accurate were he/she/they to rename the entire endeavor the “War on Black (and brown, and other, but mostly Black) People Who Use Drugs.”

That this is so cannot be disputed (in reality). For the facts of the matter, see the ACLU report A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform. In it, you will learn such facts as these:

Analysis conducted by the ACLU shows that due to racial profiling and bias in marijuana enforcement, Black people are 3.6 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite similar usage rates. This disparity has not improved over the last decade, and in fact, disparities have actually worsened in most states.

“3.6 times more likely” is a national average. On a state level, the Black/white racial disparities can get much worse: in Montana it’s 9.6 times more likely, Illinois 7.5, and in no state is it equal or less than even. Hell, it’s 1.5 times in Colorado, where weed has been legalized since 2012. At the county level, the disparities can get much, much worse. And this is before racialized sentencing disparities factor in.

Even so, a marijuana arrest is much more than an arrest. The ACLU report also addresses what it calls the “collateral damage” that often comes along with it, including:

  • Denial of public benefits based on use, arrests, or convictions for marijuana
  • Drug tests for benefit eligibility
  • Separation of families in the child welfare system
  • Loss of driver’s licenses
  • Deportation
  • Loss of federal financial aid
  • Bans on participation in the marijuana industry for those with drug arrests
  • Felony disenfranchisement [i.e. loss of voting rights]

Taken together, the “collateral damage” accrues to the individual, families and entire communities. And we’re not talking about violent traffickers and cartel kingpins here:

Nine out of 10 of marijuana arrests are for possession. While arrests for possession have decreased nationally since 2010, the rate of decline has stagnated and, in recent years, has even reversed upward despite popular reform movements.

For the whys, the hows and the history of the matter, see the The Last Prisoner Project’s extraordinarily comprehensive and beautifully written report Criminal Injustice: Cannabis & The Rise Of The Carceral State. It tracks the intertwined threads of politics, ideology and the perverse incentives that perpetuate the racist injustices of the weed war, and is worth a read for the highlighted quotations alone.

There are many who agree that the “War on Drugs” has been an abysmal failure by virtually every measure. (To hear the ACLU tell it, a majority of Americans agree.) The cost in blood and money lost in waging it is likely incalculable at this point, to say nothing of all that “collateral damage.”

But I disagree. By certain measures, the “War on Black (and brown, and other, but mostly Black) People Who Use Drugs” has been a spectacular success. It’s not exactly a secret that there are powerful factions in the country who are going to great lengths to disenfranchise Black voters. Take a look again at the ACLU’s list of “collateral damage,” and you’ll notice that for those same powerful factions, many of the harms listed are quite openly and enthusiastically touted as features, not bugs.

I’d say this war is working out very well indeed – for conservatives.


It so happens that today, there’s something you can do about this, at least at the federal level. I received an email from RootsAction as I was writing this:

Here’s candidate Joe Biden: “I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period. And I think everyone – anyone who has a record – should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out.”

We couldn’t have said it any better. In fact, it was our public pressure that compelled him to say it.

Here’s what President Joe Biden has done: ______________. Nothing! He has not pardoned a single cannabis conviction.

Join a big coalition petition by signing your name here! Let’s make this happen.

Text of Petition:

While running for President, you committed to the American people that you would expunge marijuana convictions.

Yet more than one year into office, you have not taken a single action to provide relief to those still held back by a criminal conviction.

Millions of Americans have been subjected to a marijuana-related arrest and criminal conviction. Branding these individuals as lifelong criminals serves no legitimate society purpose and results in a litany of lost opportunities including the potential loss of employment, housing, voting rights, professional licensing, and student aid.

Further delay is completely unwarranted. The time for action is now.

In November of 2019, you said “I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period. And I think everyone – anyone who has a record – should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out.”

This action would be a meaningful step in moving our nation beyond the harms of the senseless and cruel policy of marijuana criminalization and prohibition. Furthermore, this would set a tremendous precedent for state and local leaders to follow in your footsteps and facilitate the expungement of millions of cannabis records that were assigned under state and local criminal codes.

Please, honor your promise and take action to pardon marijuana offenses now.


GRAPHIC: Sign here button

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.


Please sign and share if you are able and inclined.

Day 1 of Black History Month 2022 (Lori Teresa Yearwood) is here.
Day 2 of Black History Month 2022 (Mallence Bart-Williams) is here.
Day 3 of Black History Month 2022 (Emmett Till) is here.
Day 4 of Black History Month 2022 (A Tale of Two Citizens) is here.
Day 5 of Black History Month 2022 (Trayvon Martin) is here.
Day 6 of Black History Month 2022 (Franchesca Ramsey) is here.
Day 7 of Black History Month 2022 (National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the Black Aids Institute) is here.

It’s Day 4 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

I had something else lined up for you beautiful people today, but instead decided to post quotes from two stories in my news feed this morning. Note: there is nothing particularly special about these two stories. The contrasts they illustrate are common as dirt.

Let’s call it…A Tale of Two Citizens.

First, meet P. Moses.

Undated photo of Black Lives Matter Memphis founder and former Memphis mayoral candidate Pamela "P." Moses during her campaign (2021).Pamela “P.” Moses
Black Lives Matter Memphis founder and
former Memphis mayoral candidate during her campaign (2021).
(image: via / uncredited)

via The Guardian (bold emphasis mine, except for headline):

The Black woman sentenced to six years in prison over a voting error

Pamela Moses was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to register despite a felony conviction but officials admitted making a series of mistakes

On Monday, Moses, who is Black, was sentenced to six years and one day in prison… Amy Weirich, the local prosecutor, has trumpeted both the conviction and the sentence in press releases.

[I]t is rare to see a prosecutor bring criminal charges against someone for election crimes, and … there has been growing awareness of racial disparities in punishments for election-related crimes. Black people such as Crystal Mason and Hervis Rogers have faced years in prison for making mistakes about their voting eligibility. White voters have received much lighter sentences for election-related crimes.

Behind the scenes, Tennessee officials conceded that they had made a series of mistakes concerning Moses’ voting eligibility.


Moses is currently in custody and an appeal is expected. But the case highlights the byzantine maze that people with felony convictions have to go through to figure out if they can vote. And it shows the harsh consequences prosecutors can bring if people with felony convictions make a mistake.


Next, meet Officer Nicholas Gifford.

Photo of Officer Nicholas Gifford being interviewed by Internal Affairs investigator accompanied by his attorney, Phil Vogelsang. Officer Nicholas Gifford (top)
with his attorney, Phil Vogelsang, during interview with Internal Affairs investigator at Jacksonville, FL Sheriff’s office.
(image: Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office/public domain)

via First Coast News (bold emphasis mine, except for headline):

‘I’m drunk’ | Jacksonville SWAT officer who worked intoxicated will keep his job after city board reverses sheriff decision

The Jacksonville SWAT Officer, whose blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit, admitted working ‘impaired’ on multiple occasions.

A SWAT officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office who admitted drinking a fifth of vodka just hours before driving his police car to a gun range for firearms training will keep his job, despite the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s decision to fire him.

Officer Nicholas Gifford was terminated by JSO in October after he showed up to the city’s gun range with a blood alcohol level four times the legal limit. But two months later, the city’s Civil Service Board ordered JSO to reinstate him, saying the firing was “manifestly unjust.”

Gifford’s intoxicated condition was initially discovered Oct. 13 by fellow officers who saw him “swerving back and forth” while driving his city-issued car to the JSO Firing Range, some 30 miles from his home. Gifford admitted to his inebriated state when the officers confiscated his gun belt.

“I’m drunk,” he told them, according to an Internal Affairs report.

A series of breathalyzer tests taken more than three hours later confirmed it. Gifford blew a .316 — four times the state’s legal limit of .08, and a patent violation of JSO’s policy threshold of .00.

He acknowledged having a serious drinking problem and reporting for work impaired previously, “probably five, 10 times.”

I’ma go out on a limb here and bet five, 10 million internet dollars that those numbers are undercounts by a factor of probably five, 10 times.

The eight-year officer was suspended immediately, and fired Nov. 5.

But on Dec. 16, he appealed his firing to the city’s Civil Service Board – a volunteer body tasked with reviewing discipline decisions challenged by city employees, and whose members are appointed by the mayor, JEA and the school board.

After hearing from both sides, the board concluded the decision to fire Gifford was “manifestly unjust” — a legal term defined as “shocking to the conscience.”

The Board voted to reinstate Gifford following 90-day suspension (retroactive to his dismissal date), with the condition that he undergo three random breathalyzer tests per work cycle for a year.

Manifestly unjust, indeed.

Under credit where credit is due, “the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will be appealing the Civil Service Board’s decision.”

One theory: nearly everyone at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has long thought that Officer Nicholas Gifford is an a$$hole.

Day 1 of Black History Month 2022 (Lori Teresa Yearwood) is here.
Day 2 of Black History Month 2022 (Mallence Bart-Williams) is here.
Day 3 of Black History Month 2022 (Emmett Till) is here.

It’s Day 3 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen. UPDATED.

[CONTENT NOTE: racially motivated kidnapping and lynching of a Black minor. No violent images appear in this post, however such image(s) can be found in at least one of the links contained herein. This post contains an image of the victim’s mother and others mourning at his funeral.]

Today we’re going to STFU and listen to a cousin of Emmett Till, a 14-year old boy who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered 66 years ago. A particular excerpt I wish to highlight is this:

The past has not passed. Lynchings like Ahmaud Arbery’s, Breonna Taylor’s, and George Floyd’s are very much reflective of what happened to our cousin Emmett. There is a clear connection between past injustices and the injustices that continue to this day. We won’t stop fighting. It is our duty to not allow the lives of those stolen by hate to be in vain.

Of all of the images I looked at in learning about Emmett Till, one struck me the most. It is a photo of griefstricken mourners at Emmett Till’s funeral, including his extraordinary mother Mamie Carthan Till-Mobley. I believe the reason it resonated so strongly with me is that I have seen that grief in the faces of friends and relatives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many, many more.

The video for HELL YOU TALMBOUT by Janelle Monáe, Deep Cotton, St. Beauty, Jidenna, Roman GianArthur, and George 2.0 is over six years old, years before the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. It is at least as relevant today as it was then, and it mentions Emmett Till.


The photo taken at Till’s funeral, the HELL YOU TALMBOUT video and the rest of the message from Deborah Watts, Emmett Till’s cousin and co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation below the cut.

[Read more…]