On Behalf of America’s Native Sons

“Feeling the capacity to be,

to live,

to act,

to pour out the spirit of their souls into concrete and objective form with a high fervor born of their racial characteristics,

they glide through our complex civilization like wailing ghosts;

they spin like fiery planets lost from their orbits;

they wither and die like trees ripped from native soil.”

— excerpt from Book Three: Fate of Native Son by Richard Wright, 1940

Renowned Legal Activist Stands By Michael Bennett Civil Rights Lawsuit

The President of the NAACP Legal Defense and essayist Sherrilyn Ifill backs a civil rights lawsuit filed by NFL player Michael Bennett, a Seattle Seahawks Defensive End, against the Las Vegas police department after police targeted and abusively detained him.

According to a letter he posted on his Twitter account, on August 26th after the Mayweather-McGregor boxing match, Bennett was targeted for being a black man, arrested, thrown to the ground, and threatened immediately following a shooting in the area.

Held at the Open Society Foundations headquarters near Columbus Circle, Ifill and legal scholar Angela J. Davis were discussing their new book, “Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment,” before a crowded room and overflow room packed with fans of their work.

“We have a democracy problem. Not a black people problem, you know, and not a race problem,” Ifill stated as the panel began.

The book, a collection of essays edited by Davis, focuses on policing and racial discrimination in the U.S and the impact of the criminal justice system on African American boys and men. Ifill and Davis, delved into why prosecutors, local public officials, and police often create racial disparities in the legal system because they hold all the control with no real transparency.

Bennett announced his intent to file the lawsuit hours prior to the start of the panel. During the Q&A portion, an attendee asked if civil rights lawsuits against police officials affect the progress towards a solution to routine racial discrimination.

Ifill said, “It does matter very, very powerfully. It’s part of the equation.” She expressed a hope that individual claims, new patterns and practices of the justice department, and prosecutors willing to take action would raise consciousness. “I was thrilled. He [Michael Bennett] was willing and he wasn’t just going to suck it up.”

She closed the discussion saying that the civil rights lawsuit is just a small stepping stone in a bunch of processes designed to pressure the criminal justice system into change, but a necessary one.


From left Speaker Sherrilyn Ifill, Moderator Chris Stone, Speaker Angela J. Davis

Unsung Song

The world changed.
Books disappeared, replaced
by glowing screens.
Poems that mattered once
were gently laid to rest.
Once, the summer was
the summer, the fall the fall.
Outside, cars sat quietly at the curb,
puffy like soft sculptures,
or finned like giant fish.
Mornings, afternoons,
a boy on a bicycle delivered
news of the world.
Then suddenly it all ended.
There was only the present
looping continuously on a screen,
but you couldn’t make sense of it.

Outside people still jogged,
walked their dogs, coffee
in one hand, a phone in the other.
Holding bright little gods,
they texted and twittered.
Vainly, you tried to recall
when everything had mattered,
when the summer was the summer,
the fall the fall. When people stood
on the sidewalk in the cool
of the evening quietly talking.
When a rolled newspaper hit
the door, mornings, afternoons,
delivered by a boy on a bicycle.
Whatever had happened,
had happened overnight.

You open your mouth.
You open your mouth.
Although there is nothing
to sing about, you sing.

–by Elizabeth Spires

Books $4 Sale

Books for sale!chicagodefender

Won’t anyone buy black books for sale!

Come on now people, I’m just a homely poet with books for sale. I’m standing on this corner shouting out a dream, won’t you hear me? I’ve been in the bookstores, soon to be absolute. Might as well cut your losses and buy from me. Nothing in here but fancy decorum and inviting Starbucks sweets, coffees, and treats to dampen your palette while you read. But, needs all that extra when soon the sounds of crisp pages flipping will be replaced by e-note books clicking. Yes folks soon the only sounds you’ll hear are the slow screech of a printing press meeting its demise as newspapers and text give way to convenience. Technology will definitely be on the rise but there is still time!

Come on mister, listen, don’t go in. Beyond those doors is nothing but a heated space for people bumming through books, looking for their next fix, perusing the classics section like looking for loose change in couch cushions. Buying books to dangle on their shelves, framed archaic masterpieces.

If it means that much to you go to the library, it’s cheaper for the consumer. A three ring circus of literature attended by masked and costumed book jugglers with a 5 cent cover charge for the customer. Come see the mastery of tricks never performed before! In town a few nights only featuring an all-star lineup of authors and poets, death0-defying leaps into symbolism and motif threaded through sharp waves of similes and metaphor. That’s what you really yearn for. Go quick before it’s no more than a hollowed tent, a scraped out cantaloupe shell, a discarded and disregarded community center left for demolition. Save the libraries!

old-bookLady, lady wait. Hear this! Haven’t you noticed the separation, the nicely parted Negro sections, labeled African American literature or urban fiction? Why the separation?

Come on guys, pay attention, these matters must needs some clarification, verification for that spark of truth gestating in the back of your mind. Decline what they feed you in search for better food.

But… while you searching, my book’s on sale $4 for 2.