ISIS at Home

It just doesn’t stop.

While the media has gone crazy nuts, covering the terrorist attack in Brussels, which was, for sure, horrific, America’s own terrorism against people of color, specifically and especially against black men, continues with hardly a whisper.

I was shocked, then saddened, and then …angry…when I read about New York police officers who handcuffed an African-American mail carrier in Brooklyn because…well, because they could.

According to the article about the incident which appeared in the New York Times, Glen Grays, 27, yelled at a car which came careening around a corner, coming dangerously close to him and his mail truck. He was afraid he was going to be sideswiped.

When Grays yelled, the car was put into reverse and the driver said to Grays, “I have the right of way because I am law enforcement.” Inside the car were three other officers, all plainclothes. They all approached Grays and ended up handcuffing him, telling him to “stop resisting,” although a video taken at the scene doesn’t show him resisting at all, except to say, “I didn’t do anything!” He was handcuffed nonetheless, taken down to the police station, his mail truck left unattended. He was charged with disorderly conduct, and was released. He is going to have to appear in court to answer the charges. (

When will this craziness end? And when will the media take seriously the cry that black lives do  matter, a cry which has come from generations of black lives being denigrated and destroyed by law enforcement? When will law enforcement stop whining about finally being called out on its behavior, a behavior with which it has gotten away with for generations, perhaps more so since the issuance of the Fugitive Slave Laws? When will this nation admit that, based on how its agencies charged with protecting American citizens, it has shown that black lives really do not matter?

The criminalization of black people has destroyed families and communities. It has caused little black children to be at risk..of being kids …kids who do things that all of us as kids have done. This week, a six-year old child was handcuffed in Chicago for taking candy off a teacher’s desk. ( She was six years old. Perhaps being put in a corner would have been a suitable response, or being put in “time out,” but being handcuffed?”

It’s really hard to listen to the outrage expressed over terrorist attacks on cities like Brussels and Paris while equally or worse attacks are carried out in Nigeria and Turkey and Somalia and Palestine with little to no mention. I despise terrorism, but I despise more the selective reporting of terrorism.

But I am also incensed by America’s refusal to own her own brand of “ISIS.” Law enforcement officers in this nation, as well as the courts and entire justice system, have terrorized and demonized and in effect, killed the spirits of literally hundreds of thousands of African-Americans just because they could. The justice system has played with the lives of black people accused and of offenses which they often did not do, by putting them in mock courts with white prosecutors, white judges and all-white juries, basically condemning them and forcing them to second and third rate citizenship in this country which prides itself on having the best justice system in the world.

While the media is bleeding over what happened in San Bernadino, Brussels and in Paris, it has showed little stomach or empathy  for the injustice and damage done on this side of the pond to African-Americans, surely, but also to brown people, and Native Americans. All day long the media has been talking abut Brussels and the ineptitude of law enforcement there. Isn’t there a lot of ineptitude here that the media ought to be lifting up? How in the world can America show horror at what ISIS did in Brussels without coming to terms what our justice system, America’s ISIS, did to Kalief Browder? If you remember, Kalief was a high school student when he was accused of stealing someone’s book bag – which he had not done. He was arrested and was in prison for three years without a trial. When he was finally released, after trying to reconnect with society and get his life back, he gave up  and committed suicide. (

Where is the outrage of the media, of the people running for president? While some white people try to steer the conversation away from the complaint about how black people are treated in this nation, urging the slogan to be “ALL lives matter,” the fact of the matter is that white power treats black lives as though they are nothing, like they are disposable income, so to speak.

Thinking about this young mail carrier, arrested and charged because he yelled at an unmarked police car that scared him, just makes my anger grow deeper and deeper. I need for America to stop talking so much about international terrorism and deal with the terrorism which is right in front of us all, on America’s Main Streets.

A candid observation …




Tears of the Ignored

The coverage of the terror attacks which happened in Paris on November 13 has been exhaustive, to say the least. Even today, reporters from major news operations are still on the ground in the beloved city, talking about what happened, humanizing Parisians who are struggling with their grief, and talking about this phenomenon called ISIS. Reports of France bombing Syria as retaliation are coming in; the apparent slip in security of French and Belgian officials is being examined, and the world is, for all intents and purposes, totally involved in what is going on in France.

But the media is doing a disservice to the narrative of pain experienced by those who have been affected by ISIS, for while the reporters are humanizing Parisian victims, and in fact, all of Parisian society, it has blatantly ignored the attack by ISIS that took place in Beirut the day before Paris was hit.

In a separate story, observers have noted that when a college in Kenya was hit by ISIS in April of this year, the story received hardly a blip of coverage. (  In that attack, 147 people died, and there were serious injuries.

Yet, the media seemed …and seems…not to care.

The question I am wrestling with this morning is why is it that the tears of people of color minimized? Why don’t our tears matter? I read a response of a person to the criticism of the lack of coverage in Beirut where he said, “It doesn’t matter. These things happen in that country every day.” Even if that is true, does it justify the media ignoring the pain and tears of the victims? Do their tears not count?

The lack of compassionate and objective reporting, favoring the pain of white people over that of people of color is striking. Ebola, for instance, has been a problem for years, yet it wasn’t until white people were infected that the story became big news. Drug addiction has been virtually cast aside as an issue that only affects poor, black people, a crime for which the addicts should be put away, but now that evidence shows that more and more white people are succumbing to drug addiction, and specifically, to heroin use, the reports read that drug addiction is an illness which should be treated.

When Trayvon Martin was killed, the tears and anguish of his parents was ignored. The same was true when Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sam Dubose, Freddy Gray, Renisha McBride, Jordan Davis, Jonathan Ferrell …and so many others, were killed by police. None of these people were armed, and yet they were deemed to be threats to white society and were gunned down. No media really gave the parents of these victims the time of day. Their parents wept the tears of grieving parents, tears which come from a place too deep to even describe, and yet the media ignored them…this, while they show the tears of Parisians who were badly affected by the terrorist attacks in their city on November 13.

The media is failing. Media are supposed to be objective, and yet the media continues to push the narrative of the privileged, while leaving the people deemed to be second-class citizens to fend for themselves, and ignoring their pain. These second-class citizens are dehumanized; they are not seen nor are they heard. Black people, brown people, Muslims…are ignored, cast aside as dross. Yes, the lives of the Parisians who died matter …but so do the lives of these black and brown people matter, as do the lives of Muslims and Palestinians …and all others whom the privileged have cast aside.

There is a song I learned when I was a Girl Scout. It was about the sinking of the Titanic. The second verse went something like this:

We were nearing Greenland’s shores, when the water began to pour, and the rich refused to associate with the poor. So we put them down below, where the water was sure to go. It was sad when the great ship went down, down, down.

It was supposed to be fun song; we sang it on the bus on our way to summer camp, but even as a young girl, these words bothered me, so much so that after a while, I stopped singing it. There it was – the privileged taking it upon themselves to regard their pain and safety at the expense of the underprivileged. It was a testimony to how the privileged think.

I have two children. If either were killed, by police or in street violence, I would be devastated. The tears of black and brown people are bitter and salty just like the tears of white people, and come from the same place of pain. A mother’s grief is not less if she is black, brown, Muslim, Palestinian or a member of any other marginalized group.

I no longer expect the media to be objective. It is at the behest of the powers that be who pay their bills. The tears of the underprivileged, the oppressed, the second-class citizens …simply do not matter.

A candid observation ….




American Terrorism, Again

Last week, President Obama created quite a stir in some communities when he said that ISIS is not the only religious group which has done horrible and brutal things in the name of religion. He mentioned the Crusades and the Inquisition and…Jim Crow, here in the United States. He said that America ought not get on its high horse, given the history of violence meted out against black people, much of it justified by religious beliefs.

I listened to the complaints leveled against the president, and was bothered by the fact that much of white America does not and will not “own” this country’s horrible record, its terrorism, which went on for far too long. Some criticized the president for going so far back in history to mention the Crusades …but the violence that came from white supremacy was not – and is not – all that long ago. While everyone is celebrating the movie “Selma,” it is important to note that in Dallas County, Alabama, the county in which Selma sits, there were 19 recorded lynchings between 1892 and 1913. So many African-Americans, still alive and talking, recall stories of having been terrorized by white people, with crosses being burned on their front lawns, their windows blown out in the middle of the night, and worse. And yes, much of this violence was done in the name of Jesus, in the name of Christianity.

I thought about that as the sister of the young Muslim man shot to death this week by an angry white man who professed to be an atheist, did an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN. In a soft and trembling voice, the young woman spoke of her brother and the two young women now gone. “If it had been reversed,” she said, “if it had been a person of Arab descent who had shot three white people, it would have been called terrorism. I haven’t heard that term used,” she said, “but it was terrorism, and you ought to name it for what it is.”

Craig Hicks, 46, shot the three students, Deah Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19, on Tuesday at the Finely Forest condominiums in Chapel Hill. His attorney is saying it was not a hate crime …but it looks like one …and it smells like one, so much so that the FBI is launching an investigation into the murders to determine if they were in fact, hate crimes.

Advocates for Hicks say that the murders happened because of a dispute over a parking space. Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of the slain sisters, told reporters that the three students had run-ins with Hicks in the past, and the sister of the Deah Barakat said that the parking space in question had been deemed by apartment management to be free and open to anyone who wanted to use it. This was, the grieving father said, a hate crime.

The families of the slain students, and Muslim groups, not only here but all over the world are resolute as well in their belief that the crime was one of hate. They believe it was an act of hatred, part of the overall spirit of dislike for Muslims that is spreading all over the world like blue-black ink.

America is so hesitant to admit that it has a problem with terrorizing people who are not white and Protestant, and has always had that problem. America will not admit that too many of her citizens live in hatred and that our own government has been complicit in these acts of terror, with “law enforcement” sometimes …too many times …being right in the mix instead of trying to protect those being targeted because of their race, color, religion, sexual orientation or even, in the past, because of their being infected with the HIV/AIDS virus.

President Obama has weighed in on the murders of the three students, and Arabs from all over the world are demanding an investigation.  Will those investigating have the chutzpah and morality to admit that it was, in fact, an act of terror based on hatred of Muslims?

It’s not a guarantee. America has a track record of supporting or at least ignoring, acts of domestic terrorism.

America’s white supremacy, and the tendency, or worse, need, of so many to make another group, religious, racial or otherwise, the “bad guy” is going to come back to haunt her. Truth, crushed to the ground, will rise, and the truth is that domestic terrorism has been a problem in this country for a long, long time.

When the terror has been levied against black or gay or poor people in this country, nobody has wanted to hear, and people have in fact rejected even the suggestion that what was done was terrorism. Now, though, the act of terror has been committed against three young people who have support – strong support – from all over the world. America is on the hot seat.

Terrorism is terrorism. What was done to those three students was barbaric, just as what has been done to black people and Jewish people and any number of other people in this nation has been barbaric as well. America really cannot point a finger at what is being done by ISIS, horrible as it is, or we should not, because we as a nation have never owned our own terror tactics. Our cry of outrage appears to be hypocritical.

Terrorism is terrorism.

A candid observation…