North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson has an unconventional proposal to end the reparations debate once and for all. What if instead of Black Americans being compensated for the atrocities of slavery — Black people paid reparations?
Robinson, who is Black, is currently running for North Carolina governor.“If you want to tell the truth about it, it is you who owes,” said Robinson during the 2021 North Carolina Republican Party Convention, seemingly referring to Black Americans. “Why do you owe? Because somebody in those fields took strikes for you. After those fields were ended and slavery was ended, somebody had to walk through Jim Crow for you. Somebody fought wars and died for you. Somebody lived less than because they didn’t have what you have, and they did it for you. There are people in their graves right now, and they are there because they were willing to stand up and fight for you.”
It was AFRICANS who fought wars against AFRICANS and then enslaved the losers. It was victorious AFRICAN warriors who sold defeated AFRICAN warriors to European slave traders in exchange for cloth, guns, and money. It was AFRICANS that facilitated the kidnapping of other AFRICANS to be marched off to the slave forts on the AFRICAN coast. It was AFRICANS who watched as AFRICANS were sailed away in the belly of slave ships toward the brutal system of chattel slavery. It was AFRICANS who increased their power through the enslavement of AFRICANS. And today it is AFRICANS who are still doing this to AFRICANS.
Now I ask you. Why would I want to put the name of the culture that fought to sell black people into slavery, in front of the name of the culture that fought to FREE black people from slavery? As far as I’m concerned, the moment the long lost ancestor that created my bloodline here in AMERICA was sold in AFRICA my ties to that continent were CUT.
Robinson’s other greatest hits include the time he compared slavery to abortion and the time he said that white laborers had it just as bad “if not worse than Black slaves.” In more recent advertisements, Robinson repeatedly claimed that he has freed himself from the Left’s “welfare plantation.”
The North Carolina primary election is only a couple of short weeks away. And despite Robinson’s history of “colorful” commentary, polling still shows him as a strong contender for the Governorship.
In 1920, Black farmers accounted for approximately 14 percent of farmers in the United States. Today, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only 1.3 percent of America’s almost 3.4 million farmers are Black*.
Eggo, maker of frozen waffles, is shining a light on this unfortunate disparity by partnering with the National Black Growers Council (NBGC), a farmer-run organization dedicated to improving the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of Black row crop farmers.
“Eggo is partnering with the National Black Growers Council because we know that being a farmer isn’t a job—it’s a way of life, and it’s where all our food begins. As Eggo is committed to making mornings easier for all families, we are also committed to supporting the wellbeing of the people who contribute to the food value chain generally, including farming communities,” says Joe Beauprez, senior director of marketing for Frozen Foods at Kellanova.
The first-of-its-kind partnership gives more Black farmers access to technical assistance and education.
Fostering Technical Expertise in Black Farmers
Through this partnership, Eggo® is providing grants that aim to nurture the development of member famers while pushing forward NBGC’s mission.
Mini grants for technical assistance, such as supporting farmers who host educational Model Field Days designed to educate visiting farmers on the latest farming and agricultural techniques
Financial support for Black growers who would like to attend Field Days or the NBGC Annual Meeting
Participation in the NBGC Advisory Board
Sponsorship of the NBGC Annual Meeting
Funding for a Model Field Day designed to educate Eggo® and Kellanova employees on the importance of Black growers and how best to fulfill their needs as a partner.
Beauprez adds, “Through programs like this one, Eggo is playing an important part in the Kellanova Better Days Promise mission of creating better days for people and the planet through responsible and sustainable business practices.”
Eggo and NBGC: A Pioneering Partnership
NBGC’s partnership with Eggo® is the first of its kind between the organization and a brand, and it has already made a significant direct impact on its members. In December
2023, Eggo® sponsored the registration fees for 150 Black farmers and growers attending the NBGC Annual Meeting; attendance was up 50 percent compared to the previous year.
“We’re incredibly excited by the potential impact that this partnership with Eggo will have on our organization and members, as well as on the role Black farmers play in the greater industry,” says Elzadia Washington, program director, National Black Growers Council.
“Our organization represents generations of Black farmers. We need engaged partners like Eggo who are willing to not only support existing members, but also to listen and work with us to help ensure that the rich legacy and contribution of Black farmers continues for generations to come.”
The 2023 NBGC Annual Meeting also saw Debra Quade, supplier diversity manager at Kellanova, participate in a panel discussion aimed at educating farmers on collaboration with corporate buyers. Quade, an expert in diverse supply chains, discussed the opportunities available to Black farms to be part of corporate supply chains.
“Kellanova works to conduct business with diverse suppliers who represent our consumers and the communities where we live and work” says Quade. “At the same time, we want to ensure our customers, employees and supplier partners benefit from our partnerships. When our brands, like Eggo, engage with groups like the NBGC, we bring a higher volume of innovation and unique ideas to the table.”
The partnership between Eggo® and NBGC is one of the ways Kellanova and its iconic brands are bringing the Kellanova Better Days Promise to life. Kellanova is committed to advancing sustainable and equitable access to food, creating better days for 4 billion people by the end of 2030.
The measures in the anti-crime bill raise concerns about its adverse effects on Black residents in the District of Columbia.
In a few weeks, the D.C. Council will undertake a final vote on legislation that would establish new laws and policies intended to address the rise of homicides and other violent crimes in the nation’s capital. The Secure D.C. Act, which was unanimously supported by the council in a preliminary vote, seeks to address public safety concerns in Washington, D.C. However, the provisions in the anti-crime bill raise concerns about adverse effects on the sizeable Black population in the district. “The Secure D.C. Act, to a very minor degree, makes some investments and adjustments that make it easier for us locally to meet some of the government’s responsibilities, in terms of public safety,” said Markus Batchelor, national political director at People For the American Way and a candidate for the D.C. Council seat representing Ward 8. He added: “I don’t think overall the Secure D.C. Act is what it’s being billed as.”
The comprehensive public safety omnibus bill contains 100 measures, including provisions that would give the police chief authority to declare “drug-free zones” prohibiting the congregation of two or more people on public property, extend pretrial detention for adults and youth accused of violent crimes, and fine transit passengers who fail to provide their real name and address to issue a notice of infraction. The legislation also would ban the wearing of face masks to commit a crime or threaten another person, enhance sentencing for crimes committed against elderly and other vulnerable adults, plus expand law enforcement’s ability to engage in vehicle pursuits of a suspect who poses an “imminent threat” to safety. “I don’t think it effectively addresses the need to hold the guilty accountable,” Batchelor said of the crime bill. “It’s full of pretty dangerous proposals that threaten our civil liberties that unnecessarily put the innocent at risk.” Washington, D.C., elected leaders, however, have championed the Secure D.C. Act as vital to keeping streets safe. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has taken political hits for the district’s crime, urged the 13-member council to “act swiftly” and hold its needed second vote this month. “We must work with urgency to implement commonsense legislation that will rebalance our public safety ecosystem [and] make our communities safer,”
Bowser said in a statement on X. D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto, who introduced the Secure D.C. Act, said she believes the bill “will help turn the tide on the crime trends that have overwhelmed our communities.” Pinto said the council is scheduled to vote on the Secure D.C. Act on March 5. However, the bill approved during the first vote may not be the final legislation, as the council could still make additional amendments before passing it into law. Advocates are hoping there’s enough time to persuade council members to make needed adjustments to avoid causing greater harm to Black residents, who have historically been over-policed and over-incarcerated. The Council Office of Racial Equity, an office within the D.C. Council, explained in a report last month that several provisions of the crime bill — such as expanding minimum sentencing for organized retail theft and theft of a car key to steal a nearby vehicle — would “exacerbate” racial inequities for Black residents.
The office also said several provisions are “not substantiated by evidence-based research.” “Further, research shows that several of these provisions are especially harmful to Black residents who are involved, or likely to be involved, with the criminal legal system,” the report reads. Batchelor, who expressed concerns about the provision to establish drug-free zones, said, “The danger that it poses is that it does really provide a slippery slope for these abuses that we see in these policies all the time when we talk about issues like stop and frisk, when we talk about issues of over-policing in communities of color and communities that are poor.” The D.C. Council hopeful said the district already has existing laws that allow the police chief and mayor to combat illegal drug activity. “If we want to enforce the drug laws in our city, we have every capability to do that,” Batchelor contended. “But we don’t need to create new laws to do that.” The city’s crime issues, he said, are a result of insufficient investments in communities that are driving “the largest gaps in income and wealth, in health outcomes, in life expectancy [and] in joblessness.” Crime is also a hot-button political issue nationally. As President Joe Biden and national Democrats seek reelection to office this November, they are fighting against accusations from Republicans that their policies are leading to more violence and criminal activity. Last year, Biden signed a bill pushed by Republicans and supported by some Democrats overturning reforms to the district’s criminal code established by the council – like lowering penalties for carjackings – to the ire of district residents and advocates for statehood.
When asked if the White House had a position on the Secure D.C. Act, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told theGrio that while the administration would not comment directly on the proposed legislation, the president “respects D.C.’s right to pass measures that strengthen both public safety and public trust.” “We’re going to let D.C. go through their process … And we’re going to do everything that we can to continue to lower crime here in the U.S.,” Jean-Pierre noted. How certain criminal laws intended to end crime and their potentially harmful impacts on Black and brown communities in Washington and elsewhere has been a growing concern for area advocates and progressive policymakers, who have long argued that data shows increased policing and sentencing do not end the existence of crime. Candice C. Jones, a violence intervention expert who serves as president and CEO of the Public Welfare Foundation, told theGrio that lawmakers should learn from the controversial Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 — best known as the 1994 crime bill — which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. “What we see in research is that we are literally still paying, pun intended, for the choices that we make,” said Jones, “and they didn’t make us safer.”
The legislation, which was passed 30 years ago, was the largest crime bill enacted in U.S. history, authorizing funding for 100,000 new police officers, $9.7 billion in funding for prisons, and mandated life imprisonment for a third violent felony, also known as the three-strikes rule. Ironically, Biden, then a senator from Delaware, drafted the Senate version of the 1994 crime bill. “On the basis of that federal legislation, many state and local jurisdictions replicated the things proposed,” said Jones, who said the wave of laws came with a “tenor of getting tougher on crime, increasing penalties [and] increasing incarceration.” While the criminal measures were intended to end crime, she maintained, “when you look historically, that is not what it has yielded.” In order for lawmakers and policymakers to truly make a difference in public safety, according to Jones, leaders have to “target communities and people at the highest risk” by offering them something “tangible,” like cognitive behavioral therapy, access to jobs, “deep investments” in education, “supportive services” for youth and young adults and access to small business loans. “Something that feels like a real incentive to make different life choices than they had,” she explained. “The kinds of investments that we know we put into affluent communities every day to ensure those communities thrive.” “For a long time,” said Jones, “policymakers haven’t done it in communities of color in a meaningful way.”
In 2015, Sports Illustrated reported that around 80% of retired NFL players go broke in their first three years out of the League. Back then, the income in the NFL was about $750,000, yet many footballers found themselves in dire financial straights, and often seeking refuge in bankruptcy protection filings.
Michael Ledo doesn’t want the current generation of players to face the same fate.
He was inspired to launch his business consulting firm Rise Advisors, after watching his high-powered NFL agent uncle, Eugene Parker, shape the careers of seven Hall of Famers including Deion Sanders, Emmett Smith and Rod Woodson among others.
“I got to see Black excellence in close proximity that me know a career doing what I love the most, helping people build wealth, is possible,” Ledo tells ESSENCE.
Although he didn’t think he’d be doing what he’s doing right now, his uncle gave me an entrepreneurial identity. Now, his firm is managing a client portfolio worth $100M+ that includes the likes of Jessie Bates III, Matt Judon, Jaylon Smith, and Blake Fisher, who is expected to be the 2nd overall pick in the NFL.
Rise Advisors plays the role of a fairy godparent, so to speak, for its clients. Not only does the team identify fitting business opportunities, it brokers, oversees, and manages them alongside its clients. It also provides agents, managers, publicists and a myriad of other pros that the player may need in their quest for financial viability.
“Our success depends on the success of our clients,” Ledo says. He explains that as opposed to his firm taking a commission from every successful project they broker, the firm is paid bottom line of its clients’ net worth, “not off of their pay.”
He gives the example of an agent getting paid 3% of a $100 million contract they helped broker on behalf of a client.
“We get paid on the bottom line of what they’re worth in investments,” he says. “So, how much do you have in real estate? How much do you have in equities and stock and bonds? How much do you have in venture? How much do you have sitting in the bank? We aim to grow that worth because if it grows, our pay grows.”
Ledo says he created this compensation structure for the company because many athletes, particularly Black athletes, aren’t given guidance to properly allocate a new influx of cash. But most importantly, he provides mentorship when it’s needed the most, When asked if he feels like he also takes on a paternal role in addition to consultant he responds in the affirmative.
“I do,” he says. “I take a strong responsibility in protecting them and educating them. I don’t ever desire to control them because I don’t want to be controlled, but that’s very much true. That’s very much true. And it feels good to know I have a part in helping their futures remain bright.”
The Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, also known as Cop City, is an 85-acre police and firefighter training center in Atlanta. The facility was approved for funding in June 2023, but the massive center has sparked a polarizing debate among city officials, activists, and lawmakers. Located in DeKalb County, an area with a large African American population, protestors worry that the training ground will lead to more hostile policing in the area. Anti-Cop City activists say that the project is a waste of money and that construction could cause environmental damage. They believe that funding could be used for other pressing needs to better the lives of residents in the Peach City.
Lawmakers in favor of the facility believe that Cop City will reimagine law enforcement training and equip officers and firefighters will the tools and resources they need to protect and serve Atlanta’s diverse community.
What will Cop City do for the City of Atlanta?
Despite heavy opposition and pushback from city activists, Cop City, a $90 million project, was passed with an 11-4 City Council vote in June. Construction for the training center is currently in progress. It’s expected to be complete by quarter four of 2024, according to the facility’s website.
Situated near Constitution and Key Roads, Cop City holds historical significance as it was the site of the City’s previous law enforcement training center and served as the venue for APD’s tactical training for more than three decades.
The training center will feature an Emergency Vehicle Operations Course for imparting safe driving techniques to firefighters and police officers. It will also include a laboratory dedicated to the development and testing of technological innovations, a training fire station, a simulated streetscape to replicate real-world crisis scenarios faced by law enforcement officers, and a leadership institute where police and firefighters can extend their knowledge of law enforcement management.
Beyond the emphasis on tactical training, the Public Safety Training Center (PSTC) will prioritize cultural awareness and community knowledge training that will teach participants effective tools for policing a diverse city and key ways to build trust with community members.
Activists and lawmakers have been protesting against the facility.
Protests against the 85-acre training center have been going on for more than two years. As previously reported, in November 2023, more than 400 demonstrators marched toward the Cop City construction site to protest. Some demonstrators whore masks, goggles, and chemical suits, anticipating the use of tear gas by police. When they arrived at the site, members of the DeKalb County Police Department and Georgia state troopers were standing guard. Law enforcement used tear gas and flash-bang grenades to stop protesters from reaching the area. Demonstrators pushed back against the violent response, arguing that they had no intention of turning their peaceful demonstration into a violent showdown.
Protestors have gone on to face harsh punishment for voicing their opposition against Cop City. Some are facing racketeering charges. Others have been labeled “extremists” by the DHS for their involvement. In August, members of the ACLU, the NAACP, and various civil rights organizations pled for the DHS to change the way they investigate and classify individuals protesting the controversial training center.
Protestors have also voiced environmental concerns about the facility. In August, South River Watershed Alliance (SRWA), an environmental group, filed a lawsuit against the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Foundation, alleging that both parties “began site clearing for the facility without installing the required sediment detention ponds.” SRWA members believe that the alleged misstep could cause harm to animals living in the area and major health issues for residents.
“Increased suspended sediment and sedimentation has detrimental effects on fish and macroinvertebrates, including avoidance of sedimented areas, reduced physiological function, reproductive impairment, and mortality,” the alliance argued, according to the lawsuit.
Opposers are trying to create a law that would stop Cop City.
On Feb. 5, Atlanta city leaders established a formal procedure for validating signatures on a petition opposing the contentious public safety training facility, Fox 5 Atlantareported. Cop City critics submitted their petitions, containing tens of thousands of signatures in September with the hope of halting construction on the site.
When opposers arrived at the city clerk’s office with more than a dozen signatures, Atlanta officials asserted that they were legally prohibited from initiating the verification process. According to the report, officials cited that the organizers failed to meet an Aug. 21 deadline. While a federal judge had previously extended the deadline to September, an appellate court on Sept. 1 halted the enforcement of that order, plunging the initiative into legal uncertainty. Atlanta City Councilwoman Liliana Bakhtiari is pushing for the city to thoroughly review all of the collected signatures.
Trayvon Martin would have been celebrating his 29th birthday this week and his passing still resonates with so many Black Americans.
Trayvon Martin never asked to be the face of a movement; he never asked to be a martyr. But, his untimely death has had a lasting impact on our discussions about systemic racism and gun violence. Scholarships were created in his name, laws were scrutinized in his honor and documentaries were created to tell his story. Trayvon Martin’s legacy still lives on through the many who work hard to keep his name alive. This starts with his mother, Sybrina Fulton, who also did not ask to become the mother of a movement.
She recently took to social media to keep his name in the minds of all his supporters by posting a birthday message to her late son.
Happy Heavenly Birthday to my Sun/Sonshine just know I do this all for you. You will forever be a part of my heart & even the death of you has not separated my LOVE for you,
It’s not just Trayvon Martin’s family that is working diligently to keep his legacy alive.
Filmmaker, Ava DuVernay, is releasing a new film called Origin, which, according to Business Insider, is based on Isabel Wilkerson’s bestselling 2020 nonfiction book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. The film, which will tackle themes centered around the social hierarchy of racism in America, will open with a scene that begins on the last night of Trayvon Martin’s life in 2012.
DuVernay told Business Insider that she decided to start the film this way to humanize Martin in a way that films hadn’t in the past.
“It opens on him having a very carefree conversation with his homegirl on the phone, and going in to buy candy, and being very deliberate with counting out change for the cashier, and defending himself against the sprinkles happening outside in the rain by putting up his hoodie,” DuVernay told BI. “You don’t see anything that happens to him until another 20 minutes in the film.”
She continued, “By speaking to what was shown, you humanize him. That was the goal, and he deserves that.”
Twelve years after George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, Stand Your Ground laws continue to be a point of contention among Martin’s supporters.
In 2022, the Northwest Florida Daily News published a report about Florida’s Stand Your Ground law’s enduring nature despite ongoing disparities in the application of the defense.
The January 2022 essay by Kami Chavis for the Duke Center for Firearms Law observed that in Florida, in more than half of the state’s Stand Your Ground cases, the shooter could have deescalated but didn’t. Stand Your Ground laws differ from traditional self-defense in part because the shooter does not have to avoid confrontation.
“At the same time, Black defendants accused of crimes do not enjoy the same protections under these laws as similarly situated white defendants,” read the essay. (Read the full essay here).
Trayvon Martin’s birthday is a day to celebrate his life and also a day to remember his name. It’s up to us to make sure his legacy lives on and actual change is made in his honor.
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