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These are the thoughts I woke up with this morning following the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia last night. I'd love to post a transcript here but don't have the time to transcribe it. Here's my basic argument
- "beyond a reasonable doubt" is not good enough in applying the death row. we should demand "beyond ANY doubt"
- we have proof that innocent people have been killed on death row and it's a discriminatory institution
- we know that there was massive doubt in troy davis's case
- we have the power to prevent the death of an innocent and when done in our names (by the state) we have the obligation to prevent these murders. unlike other innocent deaths (accidents, single murders by single actors, disease) we really can prevent the collective ones
- there is no justice in accounting for the life of an innocent (police officer machphail) with the life of another innocent
- we have not come as far as we'd like to believe as a civilization when we act out the roman coliseum thousands of years later. when will our moral progress keep pace with our iphone progress?
and other associated thoughts
h/t to the Maynard Institute for bringing this to light.A Chicago television station story about the shooting of two teenagers that used video of a 4-year old boy saying he did not fear violence and wanted his own gun, has raised concerns with journalism educators and others. “We have long been worried about the ways in which the media helps perpetuate negative stereotypes of boys and men of color, but this appears to be overtly criminalizing a preschooler,” said Dori J. Maynard, President of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.
The kid responded to the question of what he was going to do in light of this gun violence by saying he wanted a gun. The station cut the clip there, but moments later the boy explained it was because he wanted to be a cop. I guess that didn't fit the gangbanger-in-training stereotype they were going for. Oops. The station has since apologized.
I wonder how many lives will be endangered because of that clip as aired, with the image of a little black boy planning to add to the cycle of violence with his own gun. And while the idea that he wants to fight gun violence with the badge of law enforcement on his side makes it better, the little kid has still learned the broader lesson from society that you fight guns with guns.
I kind of wish the little dude had a crazier imagination. Instead of wanting a badge and a gun, why couldn't he have wished for the power to turn all guns into donuts? That would have been a disarmingly delicious and creative desire.
It's from an ESPN documentary about Jordan Burnham, a star high school student and athlete who suffered from depression and tried to take his own life.
In 2010 my friend Dr. Greg Feldman took his own life. It was an absolute shock to most of us. Greg was high achieving, high functioning, loving, personable and awesome. He also worked in the high performance, high pressure world of surgery. We missed the signs. He hid the signs. Now he's gone, and we've lost a friend, brother, son. You who've never met him have lost the potential for his goodness to enter your life. But it doesn't have to be an absolute loss. Take the time to watch this video. You may not suffer from depression or suicidal tendencies, but you may know and love someone who has, is or will. Increase your awareness.
With the top 10% of income earners controlling 2/3rds of the nation's wealth, with payroll taxes covering an increasing share of government revenue, with CEO pay off the charts as a multiple of the average worker pay and with half the members of congress being millionaires, it's abundantly clear that if we're experiencing "class warfare," the rich have vanquished everyone else.
"Warfare" requires both sides to be fighting. This is a slaughter.
One year ago, I wrote this story for my email list. I sent it on my birthday which is the 11th of September 1977. This year, cable news organizations remember this day as the 10th anniversary of my 24th birthday, or so I like to tell myself. Someone on Twitter (Julia Smith) asked if I would re-publish the email, and that's what I'm doing below. I had completely forgotten I'd written it, but there's nothing I would change.
Here's an audio version of the story that ABC News Radio published in commemoration of the other September 11.
This is a story.
September of 2001 was an intense month. I was living in Boston and working at a strategy consulting firm. I’d just been put on a project for a cable company that wanted to enter the local phone business, and I was pulling serious hours.
Rather suddenly and somewhat out of nowhere, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. She went through an accelerated diagnosis and treatment near her then-home in Attleboro, Mass. just south of Boston.
I actually remember telling the company librarian the name of the hospital where my mother would be treated, and she warned me, “That’s a terrible hospital,” but I didn’t know what other choice we had and chalked her attitude up to her being a bit crazy and from Rhode Island.
My sister, Belinda, had flown in to be with my mother through the surgery, and we were playing tag team with mom care. I would work during the day then take the commuter rail down to Attleboro to hang out in the hospital with the family in the evenings.
Near my birthday, my sister had to return to her work and life, having burned various levels of vacation and sick days. On the morning of September 11, I was excited to spend my birthday with my mother, not in the hospital (which it turns out, was indeed quite terrible), but in her apartment.
As I’d done scores of times before, I boarded the commuter train at Boston’s South Station. Just as we pulled in to Attleboro Station, around 8:45am, I got a phone call on my cell from my friend Stacy. This was a memorable moment for several reasons.
One, I had a cell phone. It was my first cell phone, and I got it after being stranded in the Philadelphia airport and watching cell phone owners use their magic powers to book all the best flights and hotel rooms, forcing me to take an overnight bus. “Never again,” I told myself.
Two, Stacy was calling me from San Francisco, which meant it was 5:45am there. Upon seeing the Caller ID, I thought, “Yay! Stacy is such a great friend. She’s calling me extra early to wish me a happy birthday!!”
“A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center,” she said, confusing me greatly because that sounded not at all like “Happy Birthday, Baratunde!” She didn’t know what was happening. No one did at that point, but she told me it was on TV.
Normally the walk from the Attleboro train station to my mother’s place is about 20 minutes, but that morning, I made it in just under 15. Even though I covered the distance in record time, I couldn’t move fast enough for how cut off I felt from the world. This was pre-iPhone and pre-Android people! There was no streaming media on wireless devices. Dear God, there was no Twitter!
As I arrived, my mother had the TV turned on just in time for me to see the second tower get hit. We watched the news for perhaps 30 minutes as various announcers fought to fill the time with information when there was no such thing available.
Unable to make sense of what was happening, unable to reach New York friends by phone and unwilling to watch traumatic images on loop without the benefit of new information, we made the best decision of that day: we turned off the television, left the apartment and went to a park. I figured I could engage with the news from my Internet command center back in my Somerville apartment, but I’d spend this day in the sunlight helping my mother heal and enjoying her company.
That’s just what we did.
The way we acted on that day became my model for how to interpret my birthday on every 9/11 since. Other people have always felt some sympathy for me, wondering how I could celebrate life on such a day of death and destruction. I see it the other way around. How could I not celebrate life on such a day?
If ever there were a time to soak in the sun, enjoy the air and commune with humanity, it is on this day which was exploited by a small group initially that morning and then further exploited by many more over the years who have sought to keep us in a place of fear, a place of terror and a place of horror because they had their own ends or because they lacked the imagination to do anything else.
Today, let us be creative. Today, turn off the instant replay of destruction. Go outside. Take deep breaths. Spend time with those you love, and celebrate life.
Besides, from a strictly chronological perspective, my 9/11 came first.
This was a story.
Full details here. And by "full," I mean "a few." The exact topic of my talk is not yet settled.
Will I announce more details about the new #BaconWhiskeyFreedom political party? Maybe. Will I spend the entire hour reading from my book, How To Be Black? Possibly. Might I just sit on stage, project my laptop screen to the audience and force them to watch me place contacts into my Google+ circles? Definitely.
Whatever the content of the talk, I'm genuinely honored and excited by the invitation. SXSW is my "home conference," the one I must attend every year. Here's a blog post and video I made for SXSW 2011 offering advice and explaining more about why I love this conference and always return inspired, newly connected to awesome humans and exhausted.
So thanks SXSW people! Hope I don't bollocks it up!
The paperblack edition of the book comes out October 30, and when we did the round of national shows and parties for the hardcover, San Francisco drew the short stick. We are rectifying that with the biggest and best event yet featuring Bay Area comedian Kevin Camia, dancer and educator Denae Hannah, Black Grouse Whisky, and Baratunde headlining.
Get your tickets now. They are limited!