Thursday, December 30, 2010

One of my latest articles for London: Education, or lack of, in the United Kingdom

Education lockout for Black Brits?

BY CHARLENE MUHAMMAD -STAFF WRITER- | LAST UPDATED: DEC 30, 2010 - 12:56:12 PMwww.finalcall.comBlack students lag behind in UK—and problem will get worse, says advocates


‘It's (fee hikes) definitely going to make it worse for Black students but Black people in the U.K. are the most deprived community in the poorest areas of the country. Because of the discrimination we face in the workplace, we're likely to be in the more lower paid jobs and face high rates of unemployment.’
—Zita Holbourne, education activist and joint chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts

( - Revelations by a Member of Parliament that Black and other minority students are disproportionately underrepresented at two of London's elite universities is another side of a compounded struggle faced by Black students fighting against tuition increases and for equal access to education, say advocates.

On December 7 in The Guardian newspaper, David Lammy, a former higher education minister and Labour MP for Tottenham, struck a chord when he published the findings of a six-month investigation into undergraduate admissions statistics at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

“Justone British Black Caribbean student was admitted to Oxford last year ... Merton College, Oxford, has not admitted a single Black student for five years. At Robinson College, Cambridge, a White applicant is four times more likely to be successful than a Black applicant. Last year, 292 Black students achieved three A grades at A-level and 475 Black students applied to Oxbridge. Applications are being made but places are not being awarded,” Mr. Lammy wrote in the Guardian.

What his investigation revealed was a system in which getting a place remains a matter of being White, middle class and Southern, he wrote.

Mr. Lammy's study preceded a vote by MP's which allows universities to raise tuition fees from 3,250 pounds to up to 9,000 pounds per year. Their vote did not address how the tuition hikes could widen the race and class admissions gap at the schools, he said.

“The stigma of Oxford and Cambridge and Russell Group universities as culturally exclusive, coupled with the fear of extortionate living costs and fees, as well as the inadequate welfare support once there, are a potent mix that prevents many Black students from considering those leading institutions,” wrote Kanja Sesay, National Union of Students' Black Student Officer in an e-mail to The Final Call.

“Clearly, more needs to be done to attract and enable Black students who hold appropriate academic qualifications to apply to the leading institutions. However, when the majority of Black students come from the poorest socio-economic groups, it begs the question how this government proposes to help remedy this exclusion?”

Mr. Lammy and Mr. Sesay both noted that there are more Black students studying in London Met University than there are in the entire Russell group (the top 20 Universities in the country). Abolishing the cap on tuition fees will inevitably lead to an even more “elitist” system, Mr. Sesay said.

And by charging more for their courses, the universities will create an even greater race and class divide between higher education institutions, he added.

Mr. Lammy said the responsibility for social justice and fairness was erroneously left up to the goodwill of the universities, but it is government's responsibility.

In a phone interview, Julia Paolitto, press officer with Admissions and Educational Policy for the University of Oxford, told The Final Call Mr. Lammy's reports claiming that Oxford has admitted only one Black student last year are incorrect.

In a follow-up email, she further replied, “The ‘only one Black student' figure only refers to British Black students of Caribbean descent—in total Oxford admitted 27 Black British students in 2009 (and this does not include those of mixed race or non-British Black background). There is absolutely no evidence of any kind to suggest that institutional racism is a factor in producing any of the figures Mr. Lammy cites. Oxford's total BME (Black and minority ethnic) population across the whole university is 22 percent, and at undergraduate level this is around 16 percent.”

Trevor Hakim, CEO of Black StarLine, an organization, which promotes unity in areas like education and media, believes the bottom line is economics, but it's not that the universities actually need the money. It's that they have already met their economical needs to a certain extent on the backs of the Black students, and because they don't need them anymore, the tuition hikes and admission gaps are being used to drive them out, he said.

There was no real encouragement or push for the poor working class and so-called ethnic minorities to seek higher education until the late-80s, and that push came in order to boost economics, he argued.

Now, year after year, universities figure out how to privatize and raise fees, he said.

Every political party promises every year to stop the fees but as soon as they get in power, they either maintain the fees or raise them, but the system was never set up for the betterment of particularly the poor working class and ethnic minority students, Mr. Hakim said.

The system was always an economical game plan to fill the coffers but never a doorway or opportunity for the people, he argued.

“There is a two-pronged approach and one has always been in the mold and the tradition, whether it's of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Booker T. Washington, it's always been to build learning institutions for ourselves but it has to be an educational paradigm, as the Minister (Louis Farrakhan) has said, that comes with a practical, social society, civilization building educational paradigm,” Mr. Hakim said.

The second solution is, if one's within the system, he or she should gain from and take from it what fits into their game plan, he continued. Then build and feed that into a choice of study in order to ultimately fulfill your purpose, Mr. Hakim said.

With those approaches, Black students can begin to formulate their own system of economic welfare and social care and begin to escape many of the challenges they face today, he said.

According to Mr. Sesay, Black students incur worse levels of debt when they enter into higher education, as well as lower pay, discrimination, and institutional racism in the workplace—so in the end, Black people are burdened with paying student debts for longer periods of time.

In addition, he told The Final Call, Black graduates are four times more likely to be unemployed than White graduates.

“It's (fee hikes) definitely going to make it worse for Black students but Black people in the U.K. are the most deprived community in the poorest areas of the country. Because of the discrimination we face in the workplace, we're likely to be in the more lower paid jobs and face high rates of unemployment,” said Zita Holbourne, an education activist and joint chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts.

Ms. Holbourne said the solutions are not easy and straightforward because of the social and economic conditions of the country, but the universities and colleges are bound by their public sector duties regarding race, gender, and disability.

“They are supposed to identify if there is any impact on those equality grounds in their policies and if there is, they have to address and mitigate that,” Ms. Holbourne said.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My last interview with Teena Marie

(Soulful songbird Teena Marie and her daughter Alia Rose (photo by Charlene Muhammad)

I have a lot of memories of Teena Marie and like many, I love her music and I really loved the smooth way about her.  I love cleaning up to her music but mostly I used to skate to her songs a lot.  My favorite Teena Marie song is "I'm Gonna Have My Cake (And Eat It Too)."

My mother just called to tell me that she had passed away at age 54 and I thought, it just can’t be true!  I just saw her. I just hugged her.  I just interviewed her!  

On October 11, my daughter, Ra’eesah and I were at Sheryl Lee Ralph’s 20th Annual “Divas Simply Singing!” which she created in 1990 as a memorial tribute to many of her friends in the entertainment industry, which were passing away left and right.  Teena appeared with her beautiful daughter, Alia Rose on the red carpet. They both performed that night.  

Before I interviewed Teena, she gave me the warmest greetings of peace, “As Salaam Alaikum, Sistah!”  But you know Teena’s soulful rhythm.  It actually came out like a song.

As she was just in the middle of answering my first question, her red carpet escort began to rush her into the theatre but she insisted on completing her answer for me.  

I asked Teena specifically what she thought was contributing to the rising infection rates of HIV/AIDS among our women and girls and what she thought could be done to curb them.  We only got halfway through my intended 3 question interview, but I’ll always cherish the audio with her soulful voice on it and I thank Allah for granting me the time.  Teena replied:

“It just makes me so sad because women, mothers are our future and really the strength of all families, whether it’s Black families, White families, whatever, just the awareness on a family level.  I think some people just ignore things and it just really, really can’t be ignored because a lot of people probably don’t know that.  A lot of people probably don’t know that it affects African American women more than anyone else.  You know what I’m saying?  So maybe if they’re not conscious of that, they’re not really thinking about it like, ‘It’s going to hurt me or whatever.’  Our women are our future. As Salaam Alaikum.  Nice to see you.”

Rest In Peace dear sister Teena Marie and May Allah be pleased with you and be with your family now and always!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Georgia Prisoners Stage The December 9 Strike!

I received a tip to one of the stories I'm working on for the Final Call Newspaper by Elaine Brown, former chairman of the Black Panther Party.  She told me that thousands of prisoners across the state of Georgia are set to cause a work stoppage Thursday by staying in their cells for what they are calling a peaceful, one-day protest for their human rights.

According to Elaine, the inmates' action, aka the December 9 Strike, will include men from Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith, and Telfair State Prisons, and that they are targeting the Georgia Department of Corrections because it treats them like slaves.

Some of their demands are living wages for work, educational opportunities beyond a GED (equivalent of a high school diploma), and decent health care.

She added, "The prisoner leaders issued the following call:  'No more slavery.  Injustice in one place is injustice to all ... Lock down for liberty!"  

When she was talking, Michael Jackson's song below came to mind; but look for more on what happened during the strike, the Geogia DOC's response, and the outcome of their action in the Final Call soon!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Black Midwives this Saturday on Some of Us Are Brave

This Saturday, certified midwife Sis. JayVon Muhammad out of Oakland, California will be at Muhammad Mosque #27 at 5350 Crenshaw Blvd (@ 54th) to present a seminar on homebirth and midwifery care, "The Solution to Pregnancy and Childbirth Issues in the Black Community."  The program is from 2-6 pm and admission is just $10.  

But before the event she'll be my guest, along with Shafia Monroe, veteran midwife and president of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing, and Western Region Student Captain Aminah Muhammad.

We will discuss the benefits of home births, and something that's new to me:  the "Baby Mama" epidemic, and how it impacts Black infant mortality.

Thanks for tuning in!  That's from 1-1:30 PM on KPFK, 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara, and streaming live online at

I hope you won't but in case you miss the show, it can be heard along with some of our past shows for the next 90 days on KPFK's website through Audio Archives.

Meanwhile, here are some links to their websites:


Sis Charlene

BAIL DENIED! Oscar Grant's killer headed to prison

(following an earlier court appearance, l-r, Jack Bryson, Wanda Johnson, Student Minister Keith Muhammad, and Cephus Johnson) 

The family of Oscar Grant is making their way now to speak to the press about the bail hearing of Johannes Mehserle, the former BART officer who shot and killed their son on News Years Day, 2009.  A jury convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter, with negligence for using a gun; Judge Robert Perry overruled the jury, threw out the gun enhancement, and sentenced Mehserle to two years, the minimum.  

Today his attorney requested that he be sent home on bail and Grant's uncle, Cephus 'Uncle Bobby' Johnson, just told the Final Call in an interview from court that bail was denied!  

They are making their way to a press conference with supporters but here is his full statement to the Final Call:

Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson:

The biggest thing is that no bail was granted.

We were surprised there was no argument on the issues that he was a threat to society or a flight risk.  After the shooting he fled to Nevada and he has had incidents of excessive force before.

Also it was not brought up in court about his record, that he has been represented for excessive force.  Those two weren’t considered, but the judge (Robert Perry) didn’t grant bail because I actually thought that he knew those were realities, that Mehserle’s a flight risk because he has run before.

It lets me know that he is one of the first police officers that will go into the prison as an inmate, and not as a guard or a policeman.

It doesn’t take away our pain of the fact that he only got about six months, but we understand too that as far as history is concerned, its a small step in the right direction.

Wanda’s (his sister and Oscar’s mother) sentiments are, for a brief, brief moment right now, she’s smiling concerning what happened today but she is still in pain.  We just had Thanksgiving, and Oscar wasn’t with us.

What’s next for the family:

Of course, we are pursuing the Department of Justice and will do whatever we can to bring leverage and push for moving the process forward.

We are also taking a look at some of the judicial issues concerning Judge Perry himself, which include his failure to give the correct jury instructions and the way he handled the case from beginning to the end.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

So Cal Peacemakers action alert: Without a Bang Prayer-a-Thon


Southern California Cease Committee


Without a bang!

24 hours 7 days a week 31 days every 15 minutes


December 1st 2010 thru December 31st 2010


Over 10,000 Prayer Warriors Praying for 310 Communities

and Cities throughout Los Angeles County


CONTACT: MIN BEN "TACO" OWENS @ 310.864.9618

                       REV  JJ  @ 213.925.0974 















Peace       Love          Unity      Reconciliation


If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

II Chronicles 7:14




For more info call or text

Rev. JJ 213-925-0974 or

Min. Ben “Taco” Owens 310-864-9618

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Today on Some of Us Are Brave

Before logging on to at 4 pm to hear the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan's address from Rockford, Illinois, I joined the sisters of Some of Us Are Brave, Thandi, Jan, and Angela to support Thandi's interviews with Eve Lynne, creator of the animated book project, Ella B. Jenkins, a 7-year-old who meets President Barack Obama ( 

Thandi also interviewed Erica Gimpel, widely recognized from her work as Coco on Fame! 

(I just saw her on New York Undercover....told her I was maaaad when she left Eddie for her abusive partner.)

She's performing songs from her first CD project, "Spread Your Wings and Fly" tonight at the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo - admission is $10.    Her performance is to help support the Downtown Women's Center in Los Angeles.  (Find out more at

Erica told me that she's not dancing so much now and mainly focused on her music right now.  

I was excited to see Geri Silva, Executive Director of Families to Amend California's Three Strikes (F.A.C.T.S.).  She's getting ready for her new show prison radio show on KPFK, "Think Outside the Cage."  Please, send a lot of love out her way for the prosperity and longevity of this show everyone!  She deals with the disparities in the Prison Industrial Complex and the movement to end the mass incarceration for life sentences for third strikes on non-violent offenses.  We need this voice.  Thank you Geri!!!

Sis Charlene, Geri Silva (F.A.C.T.S. executive director), and Erica Gimpel. 

Thanks for joining us today Lisa Frazier! 

Jan Robinson Flint and Angela Birdsong handling the calls and Facebook posts.

 Thandisizwe Chimurenga, host, Some of Us Are Brave

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Two of my latest articles in The Final Call Newspaper

These are two of the latest articles I wrote for The Final Call Newspaper.  One's on the sentencing of the former BART officer who killed Oscar Grant, III. (Sis Melanie Muhammad of Mosque #27 and Bro Jamo Muhammad of Mosque #26B did their writing thing in this one with me) and the other is on the impact of the midterm elections; but please!!! go to and check out what Staff Writer Saeed Shabazz wrote about one of our 15-year-old sisters who was raped and sent to jail.


Mother: Dog's life was worth more than my son's death



Demonstrators clash with police during street protests in reaction to the conviction of Bay Area Rapid Transit police offi cer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, Calif., Nov. 5. Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant at a BART station on Jan. 1, 2009. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry sentenced Mehserle to two years in prison. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
OAKLAND ( - The city suffered some violence Nov. 5, hours after Los Angeles Judge Robert Perry sentenced a former transit officer who fatally shot Oscar Grant, III, on New Year's Day 2009 to two years in prison.


The Associated Press reported that police arrested more than 150 people after a crowd reacted violently to the decision. While AP reported a peaceful downtown rally and march turned into smashing of bus and car windows, activists and some protestors accused the police department over reaction. Hip hop journalist Davey D wrote online that at one point, police officers outnumbered the protestors.

New police chief Anthony Batts said the protest was declared an illegal assembly after an officer's gun was taken from him.

“We saw images in the news of many protests and the public should know these were not wild-eyed radicals, but men and women from every walk of life and in every event, there has been misinformation about the conflicts,” said Student Minister Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque 26B in Oakland.

Anger was fueled by minimal prison time given after the involuntary manslaughter conviction of Johannes Mehserle.

“Michael Vick had to serve four years in prison for fighting dogs. Four years,” Wanda Johnson, Mr. Grant's mother, told Judge Perry during her victim impact statement, which she read during the more than three hour long sentencing.

“Anything less than the maximum prison term (14 years with a gun enhancement) is unjust, not just to me, but to all people because it says that officers are above the law,” she said.

Before he ruled, Judge Perry read, some inside the courtroom said interpreted, a few of the thousands of letters and postcards he received urging punishing Mr. Mehserle with the full weight of the law for the shooting.

Judge Perry was offended by use of the word “murder,” and emphasized the word each time he read it, particularly when the communications asked for a fair ruling to send a message of justice for Black and Brown victims of police brutality and murders across the nation.

“We, as a family, still see this as a murder, so you will still see me refer to this over and over as a murder,” said Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, Mr. Grant's uncle.He became upset and told Judge Perry sternly, even hitting his fist on the podium, that his family shouldn't lose the case because of a failure by the judge.

The judge's had apologized, saying he erred when instructing the jury about the gun charge. The form given to the jury could have somehow led to their verdict of involuntary manslaughter and the gun charge should never have been included, the judge said.

Outside the Clara Shortidge Foltz Criminal Courts in Los Angeles, young demonstrators chanted, “Forget about it? No we can't!We want justice for Oscar Grant!”

Judge Perry doubled the 146 days Mr. Mehserle served in custody as credit for good behavior. He could be released from state prison in less than a year.

His attorney, Michael Raines, an ex-policeman, is gunning for a quicker release: He filed an appeal to have the involuntary manslaughter conviction overturned and will soon be in court asking that his client be sent home on bail.

Asked by a reporter if the two years was enough, Mr. Johnson replied, “We're talking about murder.”

Judge Perry granted the defense a new trial on the gun enhancement, and then dismissed the gun charge. Jackie Bryson, Oscar's friend who was with him on the platform, walked out of court at that point.As Judge Perry continued, Oscar Grant's fiancée Sophina Mesa walked out. Her mother followed minutes later, disgusted that Judge Perry was acting as an apologist and sympathizer for Mr. Mehserle, the family said.

Judge Perry said Mr. Mehserle showed great remorse for the accidental shooting. The victim and his friends—as well as a loud, volatile mob on the train and platform—were partly to blame for his death, the judge added.

As he announced the two-year sentence, a frustrated and disappointed, yet composed Wanda Johnson stood up first, declaring, “That's it? That's nothing.He's free.Let's go.”Family members and supporters walked out as Judge Perry continued with sentencing formalities.

“His behavior in court was atrocious.He attempted to answer the race problem by declaring to Black people, ‘Don't bring me the race problem. Just deal with it.President Obama is in position so you should be happy and just go away,' ” Min. Muhammad said.

“He actually declared that he waited on sentencing to give us a chance to calm down but those of our people know that we're angry, not only for Oscar Grant, but because we've witnessed this type of murder and brutality of our people for hundreds of years.”

“That just goes to show you that a dog's life is more valuable in this country than a Black man's life,” Ms. Grant told family members in a quiet setting in the courthouse as next steps were planned. Min. Keith Muhammad said the community wants justice and wants the Justice Dept. to probe the case.

Two years after hopes of Promised Land, Blacks back in the political wilderness


President Barack Obama during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington Nov. 3. Photo: AP/Wide World Photos
( - As the Republican Party revels in its takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives with midterm elections, as the Democratic Party regroups and the Tea Party edges further into mainstream politics, Blacks in America ponder what the downfall of Democratic politicians and a weakened, embattled president means for their own interests and political power.

“This election absolutely confirms the truth, the predictive power in the message of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad that is continuing through the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, and that is Allah will make us separate,” said Nation of Islam Student Minister Dr. Ava Muhammad.

Since the election of President Barack Obama, she said, many Blacks fell under the illusion of a post-racial America, which they now see doesn't exist, because the country was architected by White supremacy and it absolutely cannot survive on any other principle. “That's why there has been such a vehement outcry against the current administration,” she said.

Essentially, said Dr. David Bositis, a voting rights and political expert with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C., those who voted most in this election were older White males who wanted to send a message that they were angry about the economic security they feel.

“This was the election of the manipulated, angry, White male, not just the angry, White male. This was the Glenn Beck, (Sean) Hannity, (Bill) O'Reiley-manipulated White male,” said Dr. David Horne, executive director of the California African American Political & Economic Institute and Professor of African Studies at California State University Northridge, referring to far right wing Fox News TV program hosts.

That anger was supported by multi-millionaire backing that shelled out big money for conservative Tea Party ad campaigns, which amounted to a good, sustained marketing campaign over nothing but lies, misinformation, and maintaining public ignorance, Dr. Horne said.

Even though President Obama and the Democrats provided some very important advantages to Americans, many simply were angry, ill-informed, and ignorant, Dr. Horne said.

That's because the Democratic Party clearly shunned the Black Press, Danny Bakewell, Sr., publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, told The Final Call.

The chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents Black-owned newspapers across the country, said Democrats took a traditional approach of last minute outreach, claimed not to have enough ad dollars to go around, and assumed that Blacks would just come to their aid. But in spite of the fact that Blacks did their part in most of the campaigns, the Democrats still lost, he said.

“I talked with Governor (Tim) Kaine myself. We gave him a $2 million budget to begin advertising in every Black newspaper from the first week in September until the last week prior to the election ... I think the Democratic Party spent less than $150,000 in Black newspapers throughout America ...

“If we're good enough to elect you, if we're good enough for you to be able to rely on then we ought to be good enough for you to spend some money with,” Mr. Bakewell said. Former Gov. Kaine is the head of the Democratic National Committee.

Democratic debacles and Tea Party victories

“It is absolutely astonishing that Blacks have no representation in the Senate, where the real power lies and Black political leaders don't seem to be very proactive in getting the reality out that Blacks never have anyone there,” Dr. Muhammad said. “Blacks never have more than one at a time and decades go by where they have nobody, like now, and that speaks to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's point of taxation without representation,” she said.

She continued that one of the most in your face robberies of Black rights played out in the Florida Senate race of Kendrick Meek, the Black, Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate.

When former Republican Governor Charlie Christ went Independent after realizing he could not beat Republican Marco Rubio one-on-one, he forced a three-way race with Mr. Meek, who has served in the House of Representatives.

“He (Mr. Meek) did not get support from the Democratic National Committee. ... It is clear to me that every time a Black person stands up to get a seat in the Senate they are robbed of getting in or they are run right back out after one term,” Dr. Muhammad said.

While she believes Blacks have no obligation to save any political party, Blacks should be more politically astute and proactive to function inside the current system, such as voting for the president and assisting him in governing by participating in legislative elections, she said.

A major winner in the election was the overwhelmingly White and conservative Tea Party, which supported candidates in a number of races. Several of their candidates, including Rand Paul, who won a Senate seat in Kentucky, hold far right views and aren't talking about making compromises. Many felt there were overt and covert racial messages and agenda this election season.

The public outcry included like “big government” and “tax and spend,” which are actually code phrases for Black people, Dr. Muhammad said. These phrases were the common refrain of Tea Party and GOP candidates—even in states like Illinois, which has traditionally seen moderate Republicans elected. Even Mr. Obama's former Senate seat went Republican this election.

According to Abdul Arif Muhammad, general counsel for the Nation of Islam, other phrases like “cutting government spending” really refer to cutting “entitlements” such as Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits, which would disproportionately affect the poor, largely represented by Black and Brown people.

There was no talk about cutting military and defense spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are still highly funded to the tune of nearly a trillion dollars, and has weakened the economy, Atty. Muhammad said. But there is talk of maintaining the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, which also added billions to the government deficit.

If voters look carefully into it, they would see the Republicans favor the wealthy, rich, and powerful which falls along racial lines as to who would be disproportionately benefited by their policies, said Atty. Arif Muhammad, who is also a former editor of The Final Call newspaper.

The recent elections demonstrated not a post-racial America, but a worse racial America, he added.

“Much of the political dialogue and discourse had undertones of racism in its coded language, such as, ‘We must ‘take our country back,' and ‘We believe in constitutional government,' ” but that refers to what is called the original intention of the framers of the Constitution, meaning it excludes other than Whites because Blacks were still in slavery at the time.

Coming shift to political right

When votes cast Nov. 2 were tallied, the Republican Party had gained 60 seats to take control of the U.S. House of

Representatives, and they gained six seats in the Senate. The Democrats hold a slim majority but the political process is expected to be highly contentious. Pundits say the only way any legislation will move is if the president moves to the right to try to appease forces whose success is tied to his political ruin. The GOP agenda will likely revolve around traditional Republican issues—like tax cuts, war and easing government regulation. That means little or no discussion of the needs of the poor, little sensitivity for Black and Latino concerns and a likely hard line to highlight their differences with the president.

The GOP is also vowing to overturn health reforms won by the president.

In order to gain control of the House, the Republican Party needed half of the 435 seats held by voting members of the House, plus one.The 60 seats gained in the midterms gave them a total of 239 to the Democrat's 196. Prior to the elections, the Democrats controlled the House with 256 seats.

The Republican take over means that Representatives Charles Rangel, Bennie Thompson, John Conyers, and Edolphus Towns, Congressional Black Caucus members, will lose their chairmanships over the Ways and Means, Homeland Security, Judiciary, and Oversight committees, respectively. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus will also lose 18 subcommittee chairs.

The loss of committee chairmanships means the loss of the ability and the ability to easily highlight and discuss issues like Haiti reconstruction, alternatives to mass incarceration, help for Black farmers and issues that are important to Black America.

Some Republican leaders have said stopping the president for getting reelected is their number one priority.

While the losses in congressional midterm elections will impact Blacks, there is also reason to worry about what happened in many statewide races, said analysts.

What's more dangerous to the quest for political power is the Republican's predominant takeover of the legislative and governor's seats throughout the country, Atty. Muhammad argued. The party that controls state legislatures draws district lines that impact how representatives will be seated in Congress and how these districts will be configured. Those voting districts will last for another decade until the lines are drawn after the next Census.

Blacks voted—don't believe the hype

Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, refuted media reports that Black voter turnout was low.

In fact, according to Dr. Bositis, the Black vote was strong in places like California, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

“It is what it is, and we have to continue to focus on the issues that we're concerned about and that's the economy, jobs, unemployment in the African American community, which is now off the charts and moreso for Black youth. We're worried about education, more funding for historically Black colleges and universities, healthcare and financial reform, and those things that actually affect your pocketbook,” Ms. Campbell told The Final Call.

Although President Obama's election did not signal the arrival of the Promised Land, it signaled that some elements were in sight, said author and radio show host Rev. Michael Eric Dyson. This election has quelled those desires and the thirst for progressive, liberal, or centrist engagement with issues of race or Black suffering, he said.

“In the same way that the repeal of don't ask, don't tell was encouraged by gay and lesbian, transgender and bisexual brothers and sisters, and that constituency spoke out and demanded some action; Latinos have been pressuring the president in regard to immigration reform; environmentalists have been lowering the boom; but Black people are the only ones standing in line without any demands and without understanding that the president won't speak to your interests or demands without being asked to, without being forced to, without being cajoled, and in one sense made responsible for those interests as we've done with previous presidents,” Rev. Dyson said.

“Remember who you're dealing with. President Obama, who was already a centrist, middle of the road politician and if he's skillful enough, he could do the same thing that Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan did when faced with the same kind of situation, and that is do a lot of compromising with the opposition,” said Dr. William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University.

How well the Black community will be served by “compromise” remains to be seen, but expectations aren't high and political hope is in short supply.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Raped by the system

Rape victims suffer the first assault of degradation through the pain of being violated mentally, physically, and spiritually, and then they suffer scrutiny and some are even blamed for what happened to them. But what has done to this 15-year-old girl is so extremely outrageous, it takes the phrase 'raped by the system' to a whole new level.  Who will fight for her justice?  I can't wait to pick up my copy and find out what Final Call Staff Writer reveals in this piece.

Friday, November 5, 2010

JUSTICE DENIED! in Oscar Grant Cop Trial

A million things on my mind and heart but justice denied, and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan's lecture/book, Justifiable Homicide, is the sentiment that immediately comes to mind after seeing initial video tapes of the shooting, sitting through days of evidentiary hearings, witnessing the battle over jury instructions and after the jury's verdict, hearing the heart-wrenching victims' impact statements from Oscar Grant's mother, Wanda, his uncle Bobby, his sister Chanteay, his fiance Sophina, and his aunt Charmaine, and then hearing Judge Robert Perry state that he made errors in instruction the jury, that among others, Oscar Grant and his friends were responsible for his death, and then sentencing Johannes Mehserle to two years in prison, with time served.  He doubled Mehserle's 146 days actually served for good behavior, at which point Wanda Johnson and her family and concerned supporters stood up and walked out, robbed, saddened, disgusted, but not surprised, they said.  

Thank Allah I was able to connect with Final Call Staff Writer Bro. Jesse Muhammad who tweeted much of the court proceedings for us because my phone blocked Internet access for each break.  

I can't get into any more right now for a number of reasons but if anyone's interested in what happened ultimately when Judge Robert Perry sentenced Johannes Mehserle for fatally shooting Oscar Grant based on the jury's involuntary manslaughter verdict, pull the defense's case and arguments from day one and you'll have it all.

Here is Student Minister Keith Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque 26B in Oakland, expressing his thoughts away from the press conference.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

5-year-old shot in the back of the head - latest victim of senseless violence

Aaron Shannon, Jr.

Wiping Out Our Own Future

I believe that only God and our total surrender to Him will get us out of this absolute mess.  I can barely post this right now.  

This is somebody's baby. 

 It is so easy to take a life that you didn't give birth to.  

I thank Allah for Sis. Vicky Lindsey and Project Cry No More.  Their work of supporting mothers and families of loved ones lost to violence, which is our work, is cut out for us!  

We will be in court Nov. 5 for the sentencing of the former BART officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant, III. in the back, and the community is rightfully demanding justice.

  Notwithstanding the ins and outs and comparisons of why Blacks kill Blacks and cops kill Blacks, WE have to heed the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakan's call to Stop the Killing!!  

I think we need to bring Bro Dennis Muhammad and the Peacekeepers out here to patrol the streets along with the F.O.I. and the real men in our communities.

The perpetrators shot this baby in the back of the head.  Justice for Oscar Grant and Justice for Aaron Shannon, Jr.

Here is the press release I just received.  My prayers and condolences go out to this family.

COMMUNITY  &  MEDIA  ALERT!                                   
Contact: Vicky @ 310- 764-0165
                 LAPD @  (213) 485-4251                                                                     
Thursday,  Nov  4,  2019                                  
WHEN:        Saturday,  Nov  6,  2010  @  7pm
WHERE:    77th Street Community Police Station
                              7600 S Broadway,
                                 LA,  CA,  90003
WHO:  LAPD, LASD, Loved  Ones  of  Homicide  Victims,  Prevention  &  Intervention  Agencies,  Community  Organizations, Elected  Officials,  Clergy, Students, Educators, and everybody who cares
WHY:  To  Support  the  Family...To  Bring  Attention  &  Awareness  to  Aaron's  MURDER!!!...To  let  the  murderers  know  that  we  DO  NOT  TOLERATE  this  kind  of  violence!!!  Turn  yourselves  in!!!

THE  STORY:  Aaron, who attended elementary school in Compton, was going to a Halloween party in Inglewood, the grandfather said. Shannon said he saw two black males in their 20s walking in the alley behind the home in the Florence neighborhood. He said he nodded to acknowledge them. Shannon said he then heard a popping sound like small explosions or fireworks.When the gunfire stopped, Aaron was down. "My grandson was in a pool of blood in his Spider-Man costume. They shot him in the back of the head," Shannon said.

"Get  Involved  by  Choice  Not  Force"!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sisters Night Out with Adai Lamar and 102.3 Radio Free KJLH

If tonight was duplicated in any measure across the country, then despite some of the poor reviews that critics gave filmmaker Tyler Perry’s adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s award winning play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” opening day will be a big number one hit on Nov. 5.

I needed to unwind after a long day of work and school with my children, so I went to join KJLH morning drive host Adai Lamar and her guests (approximately 200 of them!!) at Berri’s Restaurant in Marina del Rey for her Girls Night Out and Book Club/Movie Night highlighting the film.

The ambiance at Berri’s is nice and the owner, Marlo, is a young Black woman.  The food looked great but I didn’t have any.  And the energy among the sisters was very, very high, yet very smooth and mellow, too. 


They were excited to win the movie passes, book, journals, and beautiful, life-sized posters of our beautiful and talented sisters featured in the film, but I think they enjoyed most being able to tell their own stories.

Adai started the discussion by asking how they felt being referred to as ‘colored girls’ back in the day.  Some had no problems with it.  Others brought it up to today and referenced the ‘N’ word.  Some preferred Black over African American, and vice-versa.

Then Adai struck a chord when she raised the issue of shadism in the Black community and how in our own communities, we cause a lot of hurt and pain with the light skin/dark skin nonsense that we keep up. A lot of it came from loved ones who loved us and really didn’t know any better and that they were causing any damage.  

I had to jump in there because I grew up in the south and remember a classmate that was genetically impaired because her mother married her first cousin to keep the color in the family.  I was a very little girl then but that stuck with me, like, dannnnnnnnnggggg!  Some cold stuff!

Some people I've talked to in anticipation of the film said they are on guard for a lot of Black male bashing but I have to note that Tyler Perry said he actually wrote in a positive male character to balance that out.

I couldn’t stay long but I’m so glad I went.  Adai set it off as she does every morning on KJLH Radio.  The discussion about the film actually began last Saturday during her show “Free Talk,” and it carried over to tonight.

The photos I took above are of Sis. Adai (beautiful inside and out) and Berri's owner Marlo; mother and daughter Ghia and Amber Johnson, who were reading Ntozake Shange’ book on site; and Jean Perry, one of Adai's lucky winners.

I'm looking forward to seeing the film for myself.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sister Charlene Muhammad presents HIV Radio

Ever wonder about the statistics on HIV/AIDS, aside from the Centers for Disease Control's periodic releases that Blacks - men, women, children - are contracting it the most?  What do the numbers really mean?  Are our infections really climbing and what do false positive tests mean for the way the numbers are disseminated?  What funding is tied to all of this, and who really controls where the dollars are spent to curb HIV/AIDS in our community?

I've written about HIV/AIDS for many years, ever since my own beloved big sister, Van, fell victim to it.  I've gone to Africa on a HIV/AIDS humanitarian mission.  I've watched with gratitude as Van's twin daughters were born and reached their 16th birthday, uninfected and empowered.

Yet, even as an investigative reporter, I still have so many unanswered questions
 about HIV/AIDS, but right now, the situation is dire and more education and awareness
 is required.

President Barack Obama commissioned the Office of National AIDS Policy to develop a national HV/AIDS strategy for the U.S.  When that strategy was released in July, Black and other HIV/AIDS experts and community advocates and service providers around the country made it clear:  Blacks were missing from the strategy.  They didn't recognize their own people, the most impacted, in the plan for solving the problem.

I am passionate about HIV/AIDS for more reasons than my sister's ordeal.  So for my part - as these strategists, so in love with their people, hurried to organize their already practiced, well thought out, culturally sensitive and competent and relevant strategies to present to the National Office, in hopes that they even be included in the final product - I decided to lift my voice again, through personal writing, as well as presenting others in this struggle every day.

I've said all that to say that one day, soon, I'll tell my more personal story of my passion for battling HIV/AIDS, but for now, I'm asking you to tune in to Some of Us Are Brave for Sister Charlene Muhammad with HIV Radio on Saturday, November 13, at 1 p.m.  That's either on the dial at 90.7 FM, or online at  

Several years ago, I launched the segment with international HIV/AIDS activist and speaker Hydeia Broadbent.  Remember Hydeia?!  I hope you do.

Whenever I think of her or hear her name, I immediately visualize that beautiful, cocoa brown, plump cheeked little girl with braided hair.  The photo was always the same, a smiling, beautiful, warm-spirited little girl.  Against all odds, she was living and despite having been born with the disease.

She was diagnosed as infected with advancement to AIDS at age 3.  Doctors believed that Hydeia would not live past age 5, but they were wrong.

I bring her up because at the time, we were shocked!  How could it be?  We have to do something about this to prevent more Hydeias.  That's what people said.  And I believe that people have tried but the level of personal as well as collective responsibility and accountability seems to have fallen off and now it's almost as if when we hear about personal infections - if we do - or minimally these statistics are fired off, there's not too much rise out of us.  

I sometimes wonder, have we succumbed?  Then I think about Hydeia and other activists and understand that we haven't.  We can't.  We won't.

God willing, tune in to Some of Us Are Brave on the 13th, and on every Saturday at 1 PM Pacific Time.  Weigh in.  Yes, our show has been stripped of 30 minutes and moved to 1 pm, however, that's 30 minutes we can work with until full time is restored.  That's 30 minutes of information.  Ask questions. Give solutions. Let's strategize.  The program was created by Black women for Black women and our communities and in solidarity with other communities in the struggle.  

Last week, Thandisizwe Chimurenga and her guests laid out the importance of tomorrow's elections, why and what folk should vote for, and she closed her discussion with Breaking the Silence, an event occurring Nov 6, wherein Black and Latino women will deal with issues of domestic violence, sexual violence, intimacy, many things that we suffer, some have solutions to, but we just don't talk about it, so we sit alone and suffer.  But we're not alone.

For Nov. 13, confirmed guest is Tony Wafford, Health and Wellness Director for the National Action Network and invited/awaiting confirmation is Hydeia Broadbent.  And by all means, even though we will be crunched for real!!! the phone lines will be open
 from the top of the hour for you to weigh in, but always, please, as we address the problems, we're moving forward with positive strategies for solutions. Right? :)  Keep statements/questions succinct and tight!


Some of Us Are Brave, a Black woman's radio program
Saturday, Nov 13
1:00 P.M. Pacific Time
90.7 FM

Please spread the word!!!  We can beat HIV/AIDS! (and whatever else we're fighting against)

Thanks, Sis Charlene