Monday, September 26, 2011

"And if you cannot work with love..."

We're in the last quarter of 2011 and I can't believe how turbulent it's been. In this 9th month, I'm looking back at months of loss, death, fatigue, mistakes, and worst of all betrayal by people who I thought were compassionate human beings. I feel as though I was born all over again, at 43; as though I just arrived on planet earth; as though I was made to learn some of life lessons from scratch, like a new born.
And most of the turbulence this year has been centered around work - or from people at work, or from the fact that there is so much work, that I can't ever seem to get a break from work, or that people don't want to pay for work, or that people disrespect my work. Rarely a minute to exhale. I do understand why some people seek refuge. Some do it by partying, with addictions, through seclusion. We all need exit routes.
But then Khalil comes to mind. He has been a source of clarity since I was introduced to him by my father in my teenage years. I hope this excerpt from The Prophet helps you as it did me this morning.

...Speak to us of
And he answered, saying:
You work that you may keep pace with
the earth and the soul of the earth.
You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save where there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save where there is work,
And all work is empty save where there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you break bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger...
-- Khalil Gibran
Lebanese Poet, Philosopher, and Artist (1883 - 1931)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

NYPD's Ferocious Appetite for Black and Brown Men

[originally posted September 6, 2011 via Put On BLAST! ®]

Good morning,

This email blast was scheduled days ago, simply to remind my POB! subscribers about the upcoming court date for the Monumental 5 []. But the New York Police Department (NYPD) is at it again and I need to fold in the latest news from Brooklyn.

Yesterday (September 5, 2011) at the annual Caribbean Day Parade, NYPD showed again just how much it lusts for Black and Brown men. NYPD has a ferocious appetite  for arresting, detaining, and often times brutalizing men of color. They have made it clear that your class status, your education level, whether or not you're employed, what kind of people you socialize with, where you're from...none of that will protect you from their unprovoked attacks. In fact, as in the case of these two Black men: Jumanne Williams and Kristen John Foy , you can even be an elected official (Williams) and a public servant like Foy (who is the Director of Community Relations for NYC Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio) and you will still be targeted as a threat by NYPD. Only White men, it appears, escape the loathing of NYPD.

NYC Councilmember Williams and Mr. Foy were arrested yesterday at the parade as they tried to exit. They showed their city credentials to NYPD officers who were trying to block their path, credentials that are issued as proof of the position and stature they hold in the city they serve. None of that mattered. At least one of them was thrown to the ground and both were arrested and detained. The New York Times article includes video.

SIDE NOTE: Most media reports that I saw or read indicated that the men were "briefly detained." Perhaps that's the language given by NYPD, a poor attempt to clean up this ugly situation. It's not working. It's tantamount to saying the men were arrested a little.
So it's timely - as I remind POB! subscribers of the Monumental 5 court date [scroll down for details] - that I also reference the Williams/Foy incident as another case of police misconduct against Black men. It will serve as a teachable moment for some, for those who believe that NYPD only arrests people who "must have been doing something wrong." That is not the truth.

I'm told that Williams is holding a press conference this morning to make a statement about the arrests. Bill DeBlasio (who has shown consistent, pro-active support of the community work that activist, writer Kevin Powell and I have done over the years) is calling for an investigation. All of that, and more, is needed in order for people of color to enjoy the peaceful, safe environment that we deserve, and that we pay for with our tax dollars. There is no way for New York to be safe if only White people are the only group of people that NYPD respects. The police department must be held accountable for their misconduct, for the brutal and deadly force, and for the assumption they have that Black and Brown men are inherently dangerous.

To the beholden: I'm not lost on the fact that White people get arrested in NY and that some Black and Brown men are indeed dangerous, so save those counter-arguments. I'm addressing the fact that our communities are disproportionally under siege in New York City and it has everything to do with race. Consider these facts that community organizer Lumumba Bandele shared during our work for the Monumental 5:
"According to the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union]: In 2010 alone, NYPD officers made over half a million stops, 85 percent of which targeted people of color. The reason given by NYPD for what are called "stop-and-frisk" activities were guns. In all of these cases, however, less than 0.2 percent of "stop-and-frisk" resulted in guns being found. According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund: Blacks and Latinos represent over 90% of all citywide trespass arrests on NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] property although we make up only 54% of the New York City population."

Read the full statement HERE
During a recent community gathering for the Monumental 5, I addressed a common question you may have asked yourself: "Why do the police terrorize our communities?" The sober answer is "Because they can." But it doesn't have to be this way. Organizations such as the People's Justice Coalition and their Cop Watch program give us concrete examples of what we can do, legally, to let NYPD know that they will not always get away with misconduct and brutal behavior. I strongly encourage you to watch the video below from that event (see part 2 featuring Linda Tigani of Cop Watch, below). It gives insights into how we can create a "culture of observation" against the NYPD. Learn more about that coalition and the organizations that are a part of it at

The only thing we know for sure in this life is that we will one day die. In the meantime, I hope we live in peace. We have a right to and must fight for the peaceful living we deserve.

Get in where you fit in!

April R. Silver
Social Entrepreneur, Activist, Writer/Editor
Founder and President, AKILA WORKSONGS, Inc. (est. 1993)
Home of Put On BLAST! ®

The Monumental 5 Still Need Our Support



Join Us in Supporting the Monumental 5
at 9:30 am
NYS Supreme Court
100 Centre Street
Part F, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10013
[click HERE for directions]

How It Works: If you come to court to show your support, please be prepared to stay all day *or* for as little as a few minutes. No matter how long or how brief the court dates, let our support be stronger than the tactics used to break us down!

If you think police brutality is wrong, come to court. FORWARD this to a friend if you can't attend!

If You Missed the Community Gathering
at The House of the Lord Church
Then Watch the Videos Below...
performance artist TULANI KINARD
HOTLC pastor, the esteemed REV. DR. HERBERT DAUGHTRY
event producer CYNICAL SMITH (Bucktown USA)
hip hop artist GENERAL STEELE (Smif N Wessun)
activist LINDA TIGANI (People's Justice) Must See "Cop Watch" Info (2nd video, 21:00)
legendary hip hop producer and DJ PETE ROCK
...and others!

video donated by Earl Christian, III of Urban Wall Street 
Urban Wall Street

Next Week: More Info, more video presentation, donated by
Dynasty Presents in association with The Glassman Film Company

Get the Facts and the Backstory at
Twitter: #Monumental5

Press Contact
Phone: 718.756.8501