Milwaukee Alderman Robert Donovan seems baffled by the lack of outrage as it related to the 12 infant deaths due to co-sleeping in the last 10 months. Well, if he wants outrage he’s got it. But not so much at the tragic deaths of 12 infants, the majority of whom lived in the city’s African American community. Trust us when we say the community IS outraged, and sickened, by the deaths of the most innocent and vulnerable among us. No. The outrage being expressed is with the Southside alderman and his call for jail time to anyone who contributes directly to a co-sleeping death while under the influence of either drugs and/or alcohol. “We don’t need more restorative justice. We don’t need more handholding. We don’t need more parenting classes. We don’t need more free cribs. The answer—what we DO need—is pure and simple: JAIL,” Donovan railed in a press statement in which he challenged Mayor Tom Barrett and his colleagues on the Council to address the problem. And the parents of the infants who die don’t need jail either, Mr. Donovan! What they need is compassion. What they need is someone to hold their hand and comfort them in their bereavement. What they need are classes (more if necessary) that help them become better, more responsible and aware parents who can couple the newfound knowledge they learn with the already present love they have for their children to help them grow and thrive! And while we’re on the subject of parents, Mr. Donovan, you and your colleagues can do you’re part in helping them too! You and your fellow councilmen can do a better job addressing the lack of decent and affordable housing, the extreme unemployment, the prevalence of violence in our neighborhoods, the low graduation rates and high dropout rates, not to mention the lack of health coverage and access. Believe it or not, Mr. Alderman, these factors contribute to infant mortality a lot more than co-sleeping, which occurs when parents are juggling two jobs and child rearing, sometimes with little—if any—support from other family members. Unfortunately,some parents cope with these societal factors in ways that do more harm than good—to themselves and their children. If they had the aforementioned economic and educational resources, they might not resort to substances to deal with the pressures of raising a family on an income at or below the poverty level. What parents of infants who die DON’T need, alderman is to be labeled criminals for making an unfortunate mistake. We agree that parents shouldn’t co-sleep with their children if they are under the influence or extremely tired. The Milwaukee Healthy Beginnings Project, in its pamphlet on co-sleeping warns against it. What infants and their parents DON’T need Ald. Donovan is your brand of extremism that doesn’t address the problems facing poor and low-income families. It’s jobs and understanding that are needed, not attention grabbing bluster! We need to empathize with—not criminalize—the parents who suffer the ultimate loss…their children!
The $27.3 million taken in by the Jackie Robinson bio-movie, “42,” is not only the best first weekend cash grab by a baseball movie in years, it illustrates how powerful the legend and legacy of the first African American to play Major League baseball still is 66 years after he initially set foot on what was an all-white baseball field and made civil rights and sports history.
The movie, which stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson and Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodger boss Branch Rickey, unblinkingly shows the trials and tribulations Robinson had to battle against during that defining season in 1947.
Today, it’s hard to imagine what Robinson had to endure given how far we’ve come as a people and a nation: Being called the “N” word and other racial epithets, opposing players going out of their way to try and injure him, his own “teammates” pretending he didn’t exist or “outraged” they had to share a locker room with a (bleep), unable to sleep in the same hotel as the other Dodger players because of his color, not to mention the vitriol heaped upon him by baseball fans and sports journalists mortified at what “America’s Pastime” had become by his mere presence.
But Robinson persevered despite having a temper and being known as someone who didn’t always turn the other cheek and wasn’t afraid to be confrontational, especially as an Army officer who was court-martialed–and acquitted– for not compromising his dignity as a man. Yet, he turned that cheek and kept his temper in check for his first two seasons in the Major’s at the urging of Rickey.
Those first two hellacious years did little to dampen the brilliance of Robinson’s play on the field.
A National League Rookie-of-the-Year, MVP honoree, six time All-Star and Hall-of-Famer, Robinson finished his career as a .300 hitter and was a feared and daring base runner who, during one game, stole home! Reportedly, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once told another Black baseball pioneer, Dodger Pitcher Don Newcombe that Robinson and other Black baseball players who flooded Major League Baseball after 1947, inspired the modern day Civil Rights Movement.
The courage Robinson showed in not retaliating against the racism he endured–which is unflinchingly dramatized in the movie–showed King and other civil rights warriors that change through non-violence was possible; that “turning the other cheek” was (and still is) a powerful weapon in the fight for equality.
If you haven’t seen the movie and have children, we urge you to take them to see this well-done and inspiring film. It is a celebration of the endurance and determination of the human spirit in the face of bigotry and ignorance.
The film can also serve as a history lesson your children will appreciate and be inspired by. The movie may even spark in them an appreciation and desire to play a game Black Americans once dominated, but now seem uninterested in given the dominance of basketball, video games and other recreational and entertainment diversions.
The movie “42” deserves our support also as a community whose history and historic figures–when portrayed on celluloid–are often reduced to stereotypical charactertures that have no connection to the reality we have–and continue–to endure.
Robinson’s legacy and historic feat deserves nothing less than our support, respect and reverence.
A caller to the newspaper Wednesday asked if it was true that 1290 WMCS AM, the radio station known as “The Talk of The Town” that gave our community a voice and educated us on issues important to Black Milwaukeeans, was no more?
When we told the caller yes, she became upset at the news of its demise, which took place Tuesday, Feb.26, at 10 a.m. on the dot.
The caller preceeded to vent her frustration, urging the community to do something to express its outrage that a radio station our community depended on to counter the perceived lies of the mainstream media was off the air.
The caller hinted 1290 might have been the victim of the “powers-that-be” (or as MCJ Columnist Mike Holt called in a recent column, “The Hand”) that pull the strings on everything going on in the city of Milwaukee politically, economically, as well as the direction of education–even in the Black community (compliments of some of us who have compromised their principles and side with the mainstream agenda over their people’s needs).
She theorized the radio station was targeted for having the audacity to speak the truth on issues those “powers” wanted us to remain ignorant about.
Truth be told, the reason for the jarring end to a Black radio era was business, pure and simple. Despite championing causes such as protests against police brutality, the importance of voting, education issues ranging from the high drop-out rate to the impact of School Choice and Charters, and the so-called political maliase in city and county goverment that has led to attempts by some in local corporate suites to suggest “blowing-up” county government, issues can never trump the almighty dollar.
MCJ Publisher Patricia O. Pattillo said it best when she heard the news: This–whether it be print, television or radio–is still a business; and to run a business, to keep the doors open, you must make money.
Sadly, despite co-owner Willie Davis’ best intentions and personal financial investment, he could no longer justify to his partners (and probably to himself in the end) continuing 1290s operation and much needed voice that countered the negative perceptions of the mainstream.
What happened to WMCS should serve as reminder to our community that we must support our institutions with our dollars through supporting the businesses that advertise in Black media (print and broadcast) or (if you’re a business owner) buying advertising from the various Black media that have accepted the responsibility of speaking truth-to-power on our behalf.
Communications is not free…as freedom is not free. There is a cost. We must–as a community–learn economics is the stablizing force of our community. We must spend with each other within our community to keep its institutions alive.
We encourage all to read the MCJ in print and/or online. Our website is updated daily. We also encourage you to forward your editorial concerns to us as well. We remain committed to sharing your concerns with our readership.
Comedian and activist Dick Gregory said it best: “Money is not power. Education is not power. Information is power.”
1290 WMCS provided us information so that we could empower ourselves and move our community forward. Its silence on the airwaves (if you don’t count Elvis Presley songs) is deafening, will be sorely missed, and hard to replace.
The official retirement announcement Wednesday by Green Bay Packer Wide Receiver Donald Driver brings to an end a brilliant career highlighted by gravity defying catches, the establishment of new Packer receiving records and his eventual enshrinement into the Packer Hall of Fame at Lambeau Field, the same venue where Driver played for 14 seasons and where he told his fans and teammates goodbye.
Driver’s career is the perfect example of the proverbial underdog scenario of beating the odds and rising to the top to become one of the elite receivers in the National Football League.
Not only did Driver beat the odds on the football field, parlaying his lowly draft status (drafted in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL draft) and doubts about his abilities coming out of Alcorn State University (too small and too slow), into the stuff of legend, he beat the odds of life.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Driver knows what it means to be poor and homeless surrounded by an atmosphere of drugs, crime and death, an insidious cocktail that has led too many Black man and woman down the dark road of despair and hopelessness.
But “Quickie” (his childhood nickname) prevailed and overcame.
Driver has and continues to use his childhood experiences to motivate himself and others in the community to overcome adversity.
His story became the centerpiece of Goodwill’s marketing campaign in which Driver’s tenacity and hard work to be the best in his field has become synonymous with the drive that pushes those who utilize the services of the Goodwill to improve their lives.
It’s good to know Driver will remain active in the community of Green Bay and Milwaukee. His involvement in charitable causes is as well known as his exploits on the gridiron. Though he has hung up his cleats, Driver is not hanging up his concern, emphathy and determination to help better the lifes of others.
He is the perfect “Exhibit A” to other professional athletes—regardless of the sport–that there is life after football. May “Double-D” continue to find success in the private sector helping others successfully score in the game of life.
Thanks for the memories Donald!
Wisconsin State Sen. Glenn Grothman has outdone himself this time. The West Bend hard-right Republican legislator with a penchant for saying racially offensive, outrageous and insulting things about people of color and our institutions (he called the Martin Luther King Birthday holiday nothing more than a paid vacation that we don’t seriously celebrate), has decided to attack Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa is an African American holiday created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor and chair of African studies at California State University, Long Beach. First celebrated in 1967, it is a week-long celebration that starts the day after Christmas (Dec. 26) and ends January 1.
Each day of the holdiay celebrates a principle. The principles are called the Nguzo Saba. They are (in order): Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).
In the almost 40 years since its inception, Kwanzaa has grown in popularity in Black America, with celebrations large and public (as what happened here in Milwaukee with several organizations and institutions in our community sponsoring and observing one of the seven Kwanzaa principles–that drew hundreds!) or observed in the privacy of ones home with family and friends.
Grothman recently composed and sent out a press release calling for…get ready now…an end to Kwanzaa.
We kid you not!
Grothman called Kwanzaa a “fake holiday” conjured up by Dr. Karenga, who he called “a racist,” and “hard-core liberals;” and that it was put forth to “separate Americans.”
The senator goes on to say that “almost no Black people care about Kwanzaa–just White left-wingers who try to shove this down Black people’s throats in an effort to divide Americans.”
Grothman…obviously…does not understand–let alone care about–Kwanzaa, a celebration designed to bring Black people together to celebrate principals grounded in African traditions, history and culture that we as a people should celebrate all the other 51 weeks in the year so as to lift us up economically, educationally, collectively, spiritually and culturally.
It would not surprise us if Grothman’s comments received tacit approval from other small minded individuals in our state, especially in West Bend (after all, they keep reelecting him to office).
Simply put, Grothman is an unapologetic racist who feels justified in his ideology given the current climate in our state and the nation in which the saying “take our country back” sounds erriely like a call to non-people of color to take the country back from various non-white groups whose customs and practices don’t jive with the mainstream.
Contrary to Grothman’s claim that Dr. Karenga created Kwanzaa because he “didn’t like the idea that Christ died for all of our sins,” and felt Black Americans should have their own holiday–hence Kwanzaa, the holiday is not religious. Anyone, from Christians to Muslims, Hindus and Buddists, can celebrate the holiday. Its principles are universal and can be applied by anyone.
Well, everyone but Sen. Grothman. What would possess him to make such statements only he can answer! Is the legislator so comfortable with his bigotry and believes his constituents and those in his party and fellow legislators will support him?
We hope not! We hope–and demand–that his fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle will refute and condemn what he has said about this holiday!
We hope Milwaukee’s legislative delegation will speak out and condemn Grothman as well; perhaps going as far as to seek some sort of censure for his gross and offensive comments.
We join with Alderman Milele Coggs, Common Council President and Alderman Willie Hines, and Mayor Tom Barrett in condemning the outrageous decision by the Fire and Police Commission to reinstate Milwaukee Police Officer Richard Schoen after he was fired for hitting a handcuffed woman in the head in the back of a squad car, which was captured by the car’s video cam.
All three city officials are also correct when they say in respective statements the Commission’s decision sends a dangerous message to other MPD officers that they can get away with disrespecting the city’s Black and other minority citizens.
After all, Schoen himself felt the decision vindicated his action towards Jeanine Tracy over one year ago during a traffic stop.
That statement, in and of itself, tells us the attitude of some officers on the MPD might well be racist in nature, which runs counter to what Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said during an exclusive MCJ interview recently (which can be found on the MCJ website).
Asked if he felt there was a culture of racism within the department, the chief said he doesn’t believe racism exists within the department, which he added is more diverse today than at any time in its history.
But he did admit there might be some individuals within the department with racist attitudes. Given Schoen’s actions towards Tracy, one can easily come to the conclusion he might be one of those officers or Flynn would not have fired him in the first place.
Though he has come under fire for recent actions by his officers, most notably the Derrick Williams incident (and his own comments related to the incident), Flynn should be credited for firing Schoen and other officers who have crossed the line in their treatment of Black citizens in their custody.
We believe the mayor must go beyond condemning the Commission’s decision. It might be time for either change within the Commission as it relates to removing certain members, or the complete dismantling and restructuring of that body.
Only then will citizens, especially minority citizens, feel secure in the knowledge that the Commission “has their back” in the meting out of discipline and setting the perimeters that govern the behavior of those sworn to “protect and serve.”
Former Republican Party Chair Michael Steele, the first African American to hold that post within the “Grand Old Party,” dared to say what many Republicans, who saw their presidential nominee Mitt Romney lose to incumbent President Barack Obama, won’t bring themselves to admit: They’re out of step with the times and the changing demographics of the nation.
Seeing his party unable to unseat the president or gain a numerical advantage in the U.S. Senate, Steele noted his party’s “spanking,” as he put it, was well deserved and emblematic of the rejection of extreme right-wing conservative ideas by the nation’s voters.
Steele blasted his party and its leadership for pushing an agenda and ideology that alienated minority voters–especially Black and Latino voters–the middle class, college aged voters and women, all of whom voted in overwhelming numbers for the president–with its push for voter ID laws across the country, rejection of tax increases for the wealthy, attacks on women’s health care, and rejection of immigration reform.
He added the Republican Party is not empathetic to those issues that are relevant to the aforementioned groups and that it “squandered” a perfect opportunity during the course of the elections to show it was an inclusive or “big tent” party.
“The president was elected by a ‘minority of Americans,’” Steele said Tuesday night in a nationally televised interview, adding that history was unveiling itself through the election outcomes. The new movement of non-white groups is passing the Republicans by.
We’ll give Mr. Steele the benefit of the doubt that he’s had a “Chitterlin’ Moment” since being ousted, ironically, two years ago from his party’s chairmanship after shepherding in a Republican tsunami in the 2010 National Midterm Elections that gave his party the majority in the House and handed the Democrats the slimmest of majorities in the Senate.
The Republicans would be wise to listen to their former chairman.
Steele saw the writing on the wall as the election returns came in and the numbers were broken down as to who voted for whom.
Unfortunately (or fortunately for us non-teapartiers) from the rhetoric of Uber-Conservative Talkshow host Rush Limbaugh and a Romney supporter interviewed by BBC America Radio Wednesday that the country “doesn’t get it,” believing it made a mistake retaining the current administration and Democratic control of the Senate.
But we believe the aforementioned conservative hold out is the one who doesn’t get it. The times are changing in America and if the “Grand Old Party wants to remain relevant, it better get in step or be left behind in the political dust.
The massacre at a Brookfield spa last Sunday, where three individuals were killed and four seriously wounded, ironically took place in the month the nation focuses its attention on the prevention of domestic violence.
Since 1989, October has been the month we nationally observe Domestic Violence Awareness. Created by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the intent of the observance is to connect battered women advocates across the nation and educate the public about this intimate form of crime committed against women and children.
We doubt Radcliffe Haughton, the shooter who took the three lives (one of whom was his estranged wife Zina Haughton) at the Azana Salon and Spa before committing suicide, was aware–or even cared if he did–of the significance of the month in which he committed his horrific act.
Most men who committed domestic violence this month and the other 11 months of the year probably didn’t know or care either.
The only thing Haughton and the other abusers cared about was revenge against the ones who they believed spurned them and their peculiar expression of “love,” the type which requires the use of violence, threats, intimidation, psychological control and–unfortunately–death.
Anti-domestic violence advocates are now engaged in an effort to assure women that saying “enough” to their abusers is the right thing to do (Zina Haughton had a restraining order on her husband at the time of her death); encouraging them to take out restraining orders to keep the abusers at bay until they can divorce them and completely break the hold they have over their lives.
The massacre has reportedly prompted state lawmakers to pursue the creation of a law that would prohibit the sale of firearms to people under restraining orders, allow police to remove guns from the scene of a domestic violence incident, as well as let courts and prosecutors know if a batterer has a conceal/carry permit.
State Sen. Lena Taylor is one of two legislators who reportedly vowed to reintroduce a failed 2009-10 bill that would have forced abusers to prove they have complied with a restraining order requiring them to surrender their guns.
Experts have said getting guns out of the reach of batterers is the most important thing lawmakers can do to keep domestic violence situations from escalating to the level it did Sunday. Will these laws stop batterers from getting their hands on guns?
No. But as one judge reportedly said, everything humanly possible must be tried to educate the public and protect the victims.
Only then can we reduce the number of domestic tragedies like the one we witnessed in Brookfield Sunday.
You would think Jason Thompson, son of former Wisconsin Governor now U.S. Senate Candidate Tommy Thompson would know better than to say something racist and insulting during a closely contested election like the one his father is engaged in with the Democratic Senate Candidate, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin.
During a Republican event in Kenosha, sponsored by the Kenosha County Republican Party last Sunday, Jason Thompson, an attorney, told the Thompson supporters they “…have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago…or Kenya!”
The comment by the former governor’s son prompted laughter from the crowd, with one person joking they were “…taking donations for the Kenya trip.”
The U.S. Senate district they’re battling over has a very large Black Democratic constituency, the majority of which is located in Milwaukee.
Though Thompson did well with Black Milwaukee voters during his tenure as governor (probably because of his moderate conservative views, willingness to listen to our concerns, and policies that benefitted Black people), he is hardly recognizable in his reincarnation as a hard-right conservative Republican senate candidate.
If Thompson had even a sliver of a chance winning Black votes, his son Jason soundly closed the door on that hope, in our opinion!
Jason Thompson was probably playing to the crowd, which reflects today’s “Party of Lincoln.”
Once the preferred political party of Black America (Republicans were against slavery and the Democrats were in favor of the “peculiar institution”), the party’s image began to change when former President Lyndon Johnson championed the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act, as well as his “war on poverty” initiative.
Disgruntled southern Democrats (who were also called “Dixicrats”) took their racism to the Republican Party and conservative standard barrier, Arizona U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater and former President Richard Nixon, who was the first to use the “southern strategy,” which had as its centerpiece a return to “state’s rights” (which is another way of saying a return to “Jim Crow,” also known as “American Apartheid”).
Ronald Reagan used the same strategy Nixon devised, as has every other Republican presidential candidate since.
Among the accomplishments of President Obama, one of his most downplayed is how, with his very presence in the office, has exposed the “Grand Old Party” as intolerant of those who are “non-White.”
Since Obama’s election, the number one job of Republicans in Congress has been to guarantee the downfall of the nation’s first Black president in the 2012 election. They have been willing to let the nation go to hell in a hand basket to accomplish their goal.
Sadly, it seems the former governor is willing stoke the fire of racism in order to garner voters who want to “take their country back.”
What Jason Thompson said shouldn’t come as a surprise. It was par for the course during this election year and from conservative Republicans who have disrespected the president and our community with their questionable ideology and policies.
We hope you remember young Thompson’s faux pas when November 6 rolls around and send a message to the former governor, his son and the GOP that such flippant remarks are not appreciated by the community and cast your vote for Thompson’s opponent.
In the midst of the community’s anger over the homicide death of Derrek Williams while in police custody, we were again reminded Tuesday of another outrage committed against the community by the Milwaukee Police Department. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and MPD Chief Edward Flynn announced four Milwaukee police officers have been charged with felonies related to alleged illegal strip and rectal searches of suspects for evidence.
Three of the four officers have been charged with a total of seven felonies for midsconduct in public office, conducting or being a party to an illegal cavity search, and illegal strip search. The fourth officer has been charged with 25 felony counts related to sexual assault.
According to state law and police procedures, officers cannot conduct cavity searches; only medical personnel can conduct these type of searches, but not before police obtain a search warrant.
The two incidences makes one wonder what the heck is going on with the MPD. While there has been past misconduct committed by officers–most notably the Frank Jude beating case–before Flynn took command of the police force, it seems incidences such as the two recent ones have increased under Flynn’s watch, who himself has come under scrutiny as it relates to his personal life.
We noted in a recent editorial the Williams case reminded us of the Ernest Lacy case nearly 30 years ago. That case and the subsequent community protests drove the notorious former chief Harold Brier from office and ushered in a series of then much needed reforms to a department that, under Brier, was a feared organization with little to no regard or respect for the citizenary (especially Black Milwaukeeans and other minorities), and who violated civil and human rights of residents on a daily basis.
Fast forward to 2012 and that same fear by and disregard for Milwaukeeans–regardless of color–is alive and well under the current chief who too often sides with officers whose actions have been shown to be overboard and insensitive to the extreme.
Just as justice is swift with criminals, we expect justice to be just as quick and thorough in the case of the four officers who have greviously violated the public’s trust with their outlaw behavior.
As to whether or not Flynn should resign or be fired as the community and some of its leaders are demanding, the jury–for lack of a better term–is still out on that subject.
Flynn should be credited for immediately launching an internal investigation–with the help of the DA’s office and the FBI–into the allegations brought against the four officers by citizens who filed complaints with the department related to the illegal searches.
Plus, crime has gone down during Flynn’s tenure…though recent revelations regarding faulty crime reporting methods by officers have cast a shadow over that achievement; conjuring questions as to just how safe are our city’s streets?
We trust Mayor Tom Barrett will do the right thing in the end as it relates to the police chief. His unwavering trust in the chief and his abilities will trump any demands for Flynn’s ouster; unless new revelations come to the fore as to police misconduct.
The ball is in the mayor’s court. His next move will be determined by Flynn and his department’s future actions as it protects and serves the public.