Tag Archives: media

Persecution of black men goes far beyond the badge

13 Aug Policing The Black Man book cover

Policing The Black Man book coverAs white supremacists prepared to outwardly display hatred and prejudice in Charlottesville, Va., a standing-room-only crowd collected inside Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue Research Library on Friday, Aug. 11, to discuss the much more subversive and powerful forces that lead to the persecution of black men.

Angela J. DavisAmerican University law professor Angela J. Davis (no, not that, Angela Davis), editor of the new anthology Policing The Black Man, led the discussion, which was presented by The Baton Foundation.

Davis made clear that while outrage over police officers who kill black men is justified, prosecutors and plea bargains play an equally powerful role in their mistreatment.

The book aims to address all elements of policing, from arrest to sentencing, Davis said. At the same time, it “in no way trivializes” the unequal treatment experienced by black women, Latinos, Native Americans and LGBTs.

The black man’s situation is unique.

Consider:

  • Forty-nine percent of black men can expect to be arrested by age 23.
  • Black men are killed by police at 21 times the rate of their white counterparts.
  • One in three black men will be jailed at least once in their life if trends continue.

Police only have the power to take black men to the court’s front door, Davis said. The book’s significance is in explaining the forces beyond the badge.

Television shows such as “Law & Order” may portray an abundance trials, but the reality is that 90 percent of all criminal cases are resolved by a guilty plea, Davis said.

The combination of prosecutors who decide which charges to levy and people who are “desperate and afraid” of a fickle jury forces compromise when none should be required, Davis said.

For example, a person is caught with five bags of cocaine. The prosecutor can choose any range of charges, from five counts of possession with intent to distribute — a felony that comes with a mandatory minimum sentence — or a misdemeanor charge of possession.

Add “under resourced and overworked” public defenders (at least one person in the balcony agreed, as Davis’ assessment drew applause), and plea deals that expire at the end of a day, leaving defenders no means to properly research a case and effectively fight for their client, and “This is what passes as justice in courts across America,” Davis said.

Ultimately, Davis and her contributors, such as Bryan Stevenson (“A Presumption of Guilt”) and Jin Hee Lee and Sherrilyn A. Ifill (“Do Black Lives Matter to the Courts?”) want to inform and provide solutions.

A few that Davis suggested during the talk and Q&A afterward:

  • Get progressive prosecutors elected. Only four states have attorneys that are not elected. Ask about their policies on plea bargaining and charges.
  • Educate yourself. Watch Ava DuVernay’s 13th and read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, both of which explain the tie between America’s prisons and the profit gained by what some say is modern-day slavery due to the free labor and capital gains provided by the imprisoned.
  • Ask, “Who’s the person in charge of the one messing up?” For example, most police chiefs are appointed by mayors. If the police are acting out, put pressure on the mayor.
  • Understand that no matter the situation, it’s not the victim’s fault. “One of the things that’s so painful,” Davis said, is that black boys’ and men’s “mere existence causes them to be in danger. … It’s not the kids’ fault that they’re being shot.”
  • Demand that officers are fully trained. Studies show that police tend to overestimate the size and age of black boys, and underestimate it when the boys are white. “If they can’t be trained to get rid of that implicit bias, they have to go,” Davis said.

All in, the answer is us. “Everybody can’t do everything, but everybody can do something,” Davis said.

Whether you choose to confront racist movements head on, email a city councilperson, or have a real conversation with someone whose looks and beliefs are different than yours, get moving.

 

Slo Mo Magazine gives a voice to Atlanta’s soul scene

26 Jun

Front cover of Slo Mo, a magazine dedicated to soul music and culture

Launching a print publication is a risk these days. But when you’re as passionate about soul music and culture as co-publishers Carlton Hargro and Larmarrous Shirley, it’s a risk worth taking. And it’s calculated.

Slo Mo is a monthly print publication highlighting “soul. music. culture.” as the cover tagline states.

With the professional experience to back up this new project, the odds are good. Hargro is the former editor of Creative Loafing-Charlotte, and Shirley is an award-winning graphic designer for publications such as Atlanta Magazine.

Hargro serves as the publication’s editor (and author of all the first edition’s articles), and Shirley is its designer. For future editions, they’ll be working with various freelancers to cover Atlanta’s soul music scene, from singers and musicians to DJs and promoters, visual artists, scenesters and more.

SloMo publishers

Add to the mix the sustainability of the magazine’s unconventional format. It’s a poster-sized fold-up that the two can bankroll on their own.

That said, ad spots are available — and priced to suit the small-business budget.

Shirley came up with the Slo Mo idea years ago, and in recent years picked up a similarly sized zine and knew that would be the way to go. It complements the overall concept of the publication, which is to fight against the dumbing down of music and culture by providing worthwhile content built within a dynamic design, Shirley says. It’s like moving things forward by forcing people to slow down and pay attention to what’s real.

Moods Music is the publication’s primary point of distribution for now, says Hargro. With Moods being the go-to retailer for soul music and hard-to-find imports, it makes sense. Hargro said they’re deliberate about the pick-up points because the magazine is meant to be niche. In later months, distribution will max out at 25 spots where lovers of soul music and culture are likely to gather, he says.

Plus, it’s more cost-effective that way.

A crowd of more than 50 people showed their support at Moods on Sunday, June 23, as the duo officially launched and passed out copies of the publication.

A few in attendance — including producer Daz-I-Kue and vocalist Kameron Corvet — are mentioned in the inaugural issue. Others, including Ron Smith of Harmony in Life, Aishah Rashied Hyman of Spread Love (and Mrs. DJ Kemit), and Aalyah Duncan of A-List Events Marketing are sure to have their events and artists mentioned in future editions.

The duo is open to story ideas, and both Hargro and Shirley are big on making sure they stay accessible. Part of the reason the publication was founded, Hargro said, is so that soul music promoters, artists and lovers of the culture won’t have to hurdle the barriers often found when pitching to traditional media outlets. So hit them up at slomomedia@gmail.com.

Not only is this a risk worth taking, should Slo Mo succeed, all of Atlanta’s soul scene will win.

Full disclosure: Yours truly is on tap to write an August 2013 feature on House in the Park. If you have ideas for an angle, leave me a comment!