Home' South Florida Times : SFT 052115 Contents 4A | MAY 21 --- 27, 2015 | SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES | SFLTIMES.COM
Read more Opinion columns online
at SFLTimes.com. Log on today!
South Florida Times welcomes and encourages our readers to comment on
opinions and other content in the newspaper and generally. Letters should
be no more than 300 words and are subject to being edited for grammar,
brevity and clarity. All letters become the property of South Florida Times.
Include your name, address and phone number and send your letter
to News@SFLTimes.com, fax it to 954-356-9395 or mail it to South Florida
Times, 3020 NE 32nd Ave., Suite 200, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308, Attention
"Letters to the Editor."
Please notify us of any
errors that were published by
emailing Robert G. Beatty, Esq.,
South Florida Times' back
issues are $1.00 per copy.
To request a back copy
please call 954.356.9360.
For any delivery issues,
please contact Robert Beatty II
South Florida Times' content is
protected under the federal
No reproduction without written
permission. For permission,
contact the executive editor.
SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
is published every Thursday
by Beatty Media, LLC.
954.356.9360 • 3020 NE 32nd Avenue, Suite 200 • Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308 • www.SFLTimes.com
DIRECTOR OF ADVERTISING
DIRECTOR OF CIRCULATION &
Robert G. Beatty, Esq.
& BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Andrea F. Robinson
Michele T. Green
Robert G. Beatty II
The breach between the po-
lice and black citizens threatens
America. For officers to embrace
universal black criminality is
evil and for black folk to see ev-
ery officer as a threat is danger-
ous. Both positions are untenable
and are the result of American's
historically "peculiar" problem.
At this moment, neither ISIS nor
Al Qaeda is a greater threat to
America than this social schism.
The standoff between the
police and black citizens is dan-
gerous. It has and will cost more
lives. Officers cannot approach
policing the streets as "war." Po-
licing is dangerous but it is not
war. Soldiers and policemen do
not have the same mission. A
soldier's objective is to destroy
the enemy. An officer's is to pro-
tect citizens, including criminals.
These tragic incidents across the
nation reveal that police train-
ing is insufficient. Officers need
training with non-law enforce-
ment professionals -- university
experts in sociology, ethics, cul-
tural awareness and conflict reso-
lution. Poor ethics are at the core
of racism and brutality. Officers
should have the integrity to chal-
lenge peers who break the law
to enforce it. These death cases
involving black males, especially,
are failures of personal and pro-
fessional integrity. Shouldn't one
officer have valued Eric Garner's
or Freddie Gray's life?
On the other hand, black
communities must face reality.
We cannot live without the po-
lice nor collectively vilify them.
We must hold them accountable
but we cannot discredit them all.
We must also take steps to keep
our children out of criminal ac-
tivities. One mother in Baltimore
showed us it is possible -- just in-
tervene. Our community-village
can do better at keeping youths
and young adults out of the jus-
tice system. We are obligated to
guide them. The family-commu-
nity nexus has to respond. Are
we using all our resources -- edu-
cational, familial, religious, and
parental -- to properly direct our
children? They can live honor-
ably within the law.
Finally, Baltimore typifies the
result of collective indifference to
old, unsettled grudges. Rioting is
about grievances. Riots are never
logical. Every day in one city or
another, a black male loses his
life because of a confrontation
with unethical officers but racism
often fuels these tragic encoun-
ters. Jesus said, "By this will all
men know you are my disciples,
that you love one another" (John
13:35). Love grieves the loss of
any life. Love supersedes the col-
ors black and blue. So, what does
Baltimore demonstrate? It shows
we do not love one another. If
sworn men and women of the law
can precipitate a death without
feeling, then there is no love any-
where in society.
No country can survive di-
vided. America will not survive
if the chasm between whites and
blacks becomes as an impass-
able. Police officers and black
communities have an oppor-
tunity but will we seize it? As
chaplain on a university cam-
pus of nearly 1,600 black young
adults, I am concerned that it
takes death to make us reason.
Why should one more life be
sacrificed for officers to under-
stand you can't kill your way out
of past hurts or blacks to realize
we can't riot our way out? Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The
richer we have become materi-
ally, the poorer we have become
morally and spiritually. We have
learned to fly the air like birds,
to swim the sea like fish but we
have yet to learn the simple art
of living together . . . ." I chal-
lenge us to love.
Dr. Jeffrey Swain is the Chap-
lain of the Susie C. Holley Reli-
gious Center at Florida Memorial
University. He is author of Black
and Still Here, A World of Color,
Education in America: A Dilemma
in the 21st Century, The Soul Un-
settled, the Poetry Café for Wom-
en and Ancestor of the African
Diaspora: A Tribute in Prosetry.
He also teaches criminal and con-
A challenge to police
ofﬁcers and black citizens My mother was revolution-
ary. A genius! As far back as I
remember, she told me I was a
beautiful brown baby! She was
talking about my skin color- of-
It was the fifties, when we
were still colored- on the cusp
on being Negroes- and those
two words: beautiful and brown,
and half later, I
learned that I was
black, and should
be proud, be-
cause black was
while it remained
a lively slogan, it was not the
reality for the lives of too many
blacks and browns.
Words have power.
In April, 2015, Toni Morrison,
prize-winning writer issued her
latest novel: God Help the Child,
in which she touches on many
matters: race; gender; love rela-
tionships-between a mother and
daughter, and between a woman
and a man.
The issues are dealt with
the hand that only the remark-
able Toni Morrison possesses.
The principal character has re-
named herself Bride. That word,
and the images attached to it,
is weighted beyond written de-
scription. Some things need to
be left to the imagination. Let me
just say that Bride has jet black
skin that is, all at once, loathed
and loved. Denied and show-
cased. Emboldening and soul-
At one point in the story,Bride
is literally shrink wrapped- her
size and her secondary sexual
characteristics. That's all I'll
The book is a must read,
not only because of its liter-
ary importance, but because it
uses words that are loaded to
bear; commentary to compare
and contrast with the headline
grabbing debates about race
in America and just how much
black lives matter. How much
black women's lives matter.
Recent headlines have been
filled with references to the val-
ue of black lives. On one hand,
the debate demands that blacks
be seen and treated as human
beings: equal and deserving
of all that is good. On the other
hand, the debates have also
pointed out how much we de-
value one another's lives; that
black-on black crime is an indi-
cator of how much we don't love
one another; that we are, there-
fore, unworthy of being treated
as equal or deserving.
Adding to that debate, the re-
peat of the infamous 1950s doll
test continues to highlight the
self-loathing in still another gen-
eration of girls and boys.
What's the truth in those
Thug: Hoodie: Fit the Profile:
Black: Male: Suspect: Welfare mom:
Absentee father: All of the above.
What do we do to keep
feeding fodder to the rhetori-
cal poisonous snakes? Their
feeding frenzy has bred more
pundits who enjoy gnawing on
words that incite.
Caution: Danger ahead: Be-
ware of the bi-racial label, it
has been weaponized; dipped
into the murky well of ambiva-
lence, divisiveness and confu-
sion. We know
what it means. It
has been used
to, once again,
shift the value of
a black life. The
Lest we for-
get, once we re-
cited: "If you're black get back;
brown stick around; white
Biracial is just another arti-
ficial social construct that has
become a destructive label de-
vised to keep us off balance;
another word weapon used to
diminish the opportunity for
And what about self- love?
Where to begin? My mom had
the right words for me. Thanks
I found others to use with my
sons; words to show them love;
words to help them know who
"Mommy, sing Brown Baby,"
my sons requested that I sing
that revolutionary lullaby to
them every night until they
were around five or six years
old. I know it was not for my
ability to carry a tune. I think
they were listening to the
words, written by Oscar Brown
Jr., a popular song writer/styl-
ist: Brown Baby, Brown Baby
As you grow up, I want you to
drink from the plenty cup.
I want you to stand up tall and
proud. And I want you to speak up
clear and loud.
Brown Baby, Brown Baby
As years go by, I want you to
go with your head up high.
I want you to live by the justice
code.And I want you to walk down
freedom's road. Brown Baby
So lie away, lie away sleeping.
Lie away singing.
Lie away sleeping. Lie away
safe in my arms.
Till your daddy and mama
protect you and keep you safe
It makes me glad you gonna
have things I never had,
When out of men's heart all
hate is hurled.
Sweetie you're gonna live in a
What words do you use? For
yourself? For your babies? For
one another? You, who are black,
brown, bi/multi-racial, males, fe-
males, et al.
Antonia Williams-Gary is a
consultant with Miami-based
Savings and Grace Enterprise.
She may be reached at toniwg1@
The color of black
People sometimes ask me
why I work in Africa. My answer is
simple, the problem of white rac-
ism in the United States is not solv-
able until Africa takes its rightful
place in world affairs. Imagine if
Nigeria was viewed with the same
respect given Germany or Japan?
What a difference it would make
for us here. I have been in Nigeria
a number of times in a number of
areas but Nigeria like the United
States is a big complex country
not easily described in generali-
ties. In area it is twice the size of
California and ranked 30th of the
world's countries. In population
it is ranked 7th with an estimated
179 million people. One in ev-
ery 5 African is a Nigerian. It is
the most economically powerful
country in Africa with its Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) ranking
on par with countries like Swe-
den, Poland, Belgium and Norway.
Obviously Nigeria is a country to
be reckoned with and its potential
Nigeria has faced many chal-
lenges. Artificially set up by Euro-
peans as were most other African
countries it has over 250 ethnic
groups with their own language.
It has three large groups Yoru-
ba in the Southwest, Igbo in the
Southeast and Hausa in the north.
Regional conflicts have existed
with the far north being least de-
veloped and the south --south of
the Niger Delta feeling that while
their area produces the oil which
drives the economy instead of
development they have suffered
from environmental damage
with the profits going elsewhere.
There have generally been good
relations between Muslins and
Christians especially in the south-
west where different religions are
found in the same family. However
in the middle belt the impact of
desertification driven in part by
climate change has exacerbat-
ed tensions over scarce grazing
lands between Muslim herders
and Christian farmers. The far
northeast is where Boko Haram
has created havoc particularly in
the northeast. The north gener-
ally is a less developed area.
In its short history since de-
claring independence from Great
Britain in 1960, Nigeria suffered a
civil war when the south-south and
south east sought to be the inde-
pendent nation of Biafra, and it has
had frequent military dictatorships
all pledging to address corruption
and governmental inefficiencies
but with little lasting success. In
1999, Nigeria returned to an elect-
ed civilian government. President
Obasanjo served two terms and his
party elected the next president
who died in office to be succeeded
by Vice President Goodluck Johna-
thon, who later ran on his own and
was re-elected. Thus from 1999
until 2015 one party ruled Nigeria.
Heading into the 2015 election un-
der President Johnathon, an inde-
pendent elections commission was
established to run the elections.
The Commission utilized biomet-
ric voting where fingerprints were
checked and while there were
some problems with the procedure
it is generally believe that much of
the reported lower turnout com-
pared to the previous election is
attributed to eliminating extrane-
ous votes. The opposition parties
coalesced into a true national party
and Muhammadu Buhari was elect-
ed President. The various observer
teams concluded that the election
was basically free and fair. It should
be noted that President Buhari a
Muslim had a Christian running
mate as Vice President while Presi-
dent Johnathon a Christian had a
running mate of the Muslim faith.
President Johnathon held onto his
base in the south-south and south-
east and there was considerable
fear of violence particularly from
those groups that had been essen-
tially in rebellion prior to President
Johnathon taking power. There
was talk of taking to the mangrove
creeks again. However President
Johnathon not only conceded but
urged that the results be accepted
by all and that Nigeria move for-
ward as a country.
President Buhari will have to
demonstrate fairness towards the
oil producing regions but thanks
to the people of Nigeria and the
acceptance of democracy by Pres-
ident Johnathon, he has the oppor-
tunity to put his programs in place.
I am looking forward to being in
the south-south area in October
where I am on the Steering Com-
mittee for a conference on African
River Delta at the University of Port
Harcourt and observing the results
of the new national administration.
This election is a victory for Nige-
rians and for Africa as it adds to
the list of countries such as Ghana
and Senegal where parties have
changed in elections, as well as to
democracy everywhere. But this
step forward for Nigeria and Af-
rica is of particular importance for
the future of the diaspora.
President Buhari faces great
challenges, not the least being
the falling oil prices reducing the
country's main source of revenue.
The US has not always worked as
effectively as it could with Nigeria
because of various political issues.
This election provides an opportu-
nity to change that.The President of
the Constituency for Africa, Melvin
Foote, argues that "last month, Ni-
geria completed its election pro-
cess in a peaceful and transparent
manner. While the U.S. applauded
this positive feat, our involvement
cannot conclude just yet. In fact, in
some ways, it is only just beginning
--- which is why I strongly urge
President Barack Obama to attend
the inauguration of President-Elect
Mohammadu Buhari on May 29."
He stated that "President Obama's
presence at this historic inaugura-
tion would send the right signal at
the right time." Former Assistant
Secretary of State for Africa under
President Obama, Johnnie Carson
has urged the President to send
a high level delegation to the in-
auguration headed by Vice Presi-
dent Biden and to stop over him-
self on his trip to Kenya. He also
gave eight other detailed recom-
mendations for actions this ad-
ministration should take to work
with Nigeria to move it towards
the powerful nation it should be
(see AllAfrica.com for May 15,
2015). Now is the time for the en-
tire Africa Diaspora both recent
and historical to weigh in along
with other supporters of Africa
and let this election in Nigeria be
a turning of the corner in US rela-
tions with Africa. Other countries
benefit greatly by political sup-
port from US citizens but when it
comes to Africa there are usually
only a few voices. Now is the time
to change that urging the Presi-
dent to restart our relations with
Nigeria following their election.
Brad Brown is first vice presi-
dent of the Miami-Dade NAACP.
He is a retired National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration
scientist. He continues to work as
a consultant on African coastal
and marine projects and scien-
tific capacity development. He
may be reached at jabaribrad@
COUNTS The Nigerian election also
a victory for United States
sMay 21, 1833: African -- American students enroll in
classes at Oberlin College, Oberlin,
May 22, 1967: Noted poet Langston
Hughes dies in New
May 23, 1832:
al figure Samuel
Sharpe is hanged.
May 24, 1905:
cator Hilda Davis is
born in Washington, D.C.
May 25, 1963: African Liberation
Day is declared at the conference of the
Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
May 26, 1926: Renowned Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis is
born in Alton, Ill.
May 27, 1942: Dorie Miller, a messman, is awarded the
Navy Cross for heroism at Pearl Harbor.
WE WELCOME YOUR LETTERS
Links Archive SFT 051415 SFT 052815 Navigation Previous Page Next Page