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Open Book

Richard Wright’s Unreleased Novel On Race Set To Be Released This Year 

Richard Wright was known as one of the most influential African American writers of the 20th century. His daughter, Julia, recently spoke with the press about how when they were younger it was difficult for her father to talk to her about race, especially because of how heavy and graphic of a topic it was/is. 

“It’s like soldiers who go to war and then come back. They don’t always find the way to share what they did at war with their family. My father didn’t really know how to share the pain of race with me.” 

Julia is 79 now, and told the media that Richard had other ways of educating her on racial issues within this country. “He would leave the doors of his office open so that I could have free range of his books and read everything I wanted to read, and that’s how I picked up some clues on what he was going through as a Black man.”

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Her dedication to her father’s work is what’s led to the release of an unseen Wright novel that was rejected by publishers about 80 years ago. The book is called ‘The Man Who Lived Underground’ and focuses on race and police violence; something that couldn’t be more relevant today with the recent verdict being made for the trial of Derek Chauvin. 

“The novel follows Fred Daniels, an African American man framed by police for a double murder he did not commit. He is beaten and tortured until he confesses but escapes into the city’s sewer system, beginning a journey into a modern underworld,” according to the Guardian.

Wright was known for his famous 1940 novel ‘Native Son,’ but he considered ‘The Man Who Lived Underground’ to be his best work yet, in fact at one point he claimed: “I have never written anything in my life that stemmed more from sheer inspiration. But publishers turned it down. Its uncompromising portrayal of police brutality may have rendered it untouchable.” 

Julia was still in her mother’s womb when Richard was writing this novel, so she jokingly refers to it as her “twin.” 

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“The publishers of the day were discounting black readership and they didn’t want to unsettle white readership. Discomfort is too gentle a word. I think they were afraid of what they read in those pages. It was too close to the truth. So it was a no brainer. This had to come out.” 

“The George Floyd video that little girl, Darnella Frazier, made on her cell phone also is too close to the truth. It has the same symbolic value that those pages on police brutality my father wrote so many years ago still have. People don’t want to see it.” Julia took the novel to the Library of America multiple times, and “then when George Floyd happened, I knocked at their door again and said ‘look here, let’s do it, because if we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it. And they said yes.” 

The novel is being published this week and will include an essay by Wright, and an afterword written by his grandson, Malcolm Wright.

“I am very fulfilled. This has been a 10-year uphill wait for it to come to light and out of the darkness, out of the underground, literally, of those unpublished papers. I think it’s going to change a lot for his reputation. People tend to think of Wright as a bit of a naturalistic disaster or a simple writer of protest novels but he’s so much more complex and people are going to have to reassess him with this book,” explained a joyful Julia. 

“He would have been very bittersweet about it. My father was so much in advance of his times that sometimes what he wrote was not recognized or was denied because it was too far ahead. So he wouldn’t say, ‘I told you so,’ because he was too kind a person to do that, but he would sort of chuckle and take his pipe and smoke placidly and say, ‘Well’. Almost what Malcolm X said: ‘Chickens come home to roost, don’t they?’”

Derek Chauvin Found Guilty For The Murder Of George Floyd 

After three weeks of testimonials, the trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin has come to a close as he was found guilty on all three charges over the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin, 45, could be sent to prison for up to 40 years pending when he’s sentenced in about two months from now. 

The verdict set off a bittersweet reaction for Americans, who were happy a police officer was held accountable for the unjust murder of an innocent Black person, but an understanding that there is still a lot of work to be done, as there are so many other past victims who’s murderer’s will not face the same consequences Chauvin is. 

“Today we are able to breathe again,” said Philonise Floyd, George’s younger brother, who compared the killing of his brother to the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, although this time there was cell phone footage to actually show the world first hand what happened. 

“It appeared a lot easier on Chauvin than when my brother was handcuffed before his death, but it still represents accountability. It makes us happier knowing his life mattered, he didn’t die in vain.” 

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The jury was composed of six white and six Black and multiracial individuals who came back with their verdict after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days. Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. His bail was revoked immediately and he will be sentenced in about two months time. 

President Joe Biden reacted to the historic verdict by discussing how “Floyd’s death was a murder in full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see systemic racism. It’s not enough. We can’t stop here. We’re going to deliver real change and reform. We can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen again.”

A park next to the Minneapolis courthouse held a crowd of about 300 people who went silent as the verdict was being announced. Then, shouts and cheers of celebration could be heard for miles all throughout the nation. 

Janay Henry, who lives nearby, said she felt “grateful and relieved. I feel grounded. I can feel my feet on the concrete. I’m looking forward to the next case with joy and optimism and strength. There’s some form of justice that’s coming.”

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According to the Associated Press, “out of the thousands of deadly police shootings in the U.S. since 2005, fewer than 140 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter. Before Tuesday, only seven were convicted of murder.”

Floyd’s death sparked one of the largest civil rights movements this country has ever seen. Individuals who were around for the original movement in the 1950’s and 60’s said that the Black Lives Matter demonstrations from the past year have been some of the largest they’ve ever seen. Darnella Drazier’s video of the murder is what sparked the movement and call for action against Chauvin and the three other officers at the scene of the murder. 

Frazier said Chauvin gave the bystanders a “cold and “heartless stare. We all felt a sense of helplessness and lingering guilt from witnessing Floyd’s slow-motion death. It’s been nights I stayed up, apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting and not saving his life,” she testified.

BJ Wilder is a 39-year-old Minneapolis resident who told the press that he sees the drive for change that this case has caused, and while it’s infuriating that another innocent Black person had to be killed to get the rest of the country to wake up, there is hope, it’s in the hands of the government now though.

“I’m hopeful that Chauvin’s conviction will be a turning point that leads to an awakening in America and accountability for officer misconduct.”
This is something different. This is new, we’ve been here so many times before and honestly the first thing that I really thought about was the Rodney King situation,” Wilder said referring to the acquittal of four Los Angeles police officers who had beaten King — an event that led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots. “And I thought it could have been something similar to that, just because we all saw that too. And this feels like — just feels like we can breathe. This feels like something new. It’s hopefully a new day in America.”

Derek Chauvin Set To Go On Trial For The Murder Of George Floyd This Week 

The murder trial of Derek Chauvin will begin this week in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged with the second-and-third-degree murder of George Floyd as well as manslaughter after he detained Floyd over suspicion of passing a $20 counterfeit bill last May. 

In a viral 9-minute video of the interaction between Chauvin and Floyd, the former officer can be seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he was already handcuffed and two other officers kept him on the ground. Floyd can be heard multiple times saying that he couldn’t breath and felt like he was about to die. The video then led to some of the biggest protests against racial injustice and police brutality since the 1960s.

In Minneapolis especially, the Black Lives Matter movement began with hundreds of peaceful protests which eventually were turned violent, many times due to police interference. The authorities claim to be planning on increasing the amount of police and national guard presence on the streets ahead of the trial this week. 

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Areva Martin is the Civil rights attorney and commentator who is working with Floyd’s family. Martin recently spoke to the press ahead of the trial this week to discuss how “the family is seeking justice, the public is seeking accountability.”

The world is waiting to see if the US will be courageous enough to stand up to a system that has a history of violating the rights of African Americans and, rather than protecting those lives, has actually destroyed them.”

The prosecution and defence are mainly concerned with the cause of Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s reasoning for why he felt he had to lean into Floyd’s neck for such an extended period time when he was already detained. 

In an autopsy performed by the Hennepin county medical examiner office, it was determined that Floyd’s death was a homicide due to the fact that he suffered from heart failure brought on by “law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” 

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It’s expected that Chauvin’s defence team will focus on the findings that Floyd had heart disease as well, and there was evidence of “fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use,” in his system. Floyd’s team, on the other hand, is expected to focus on the fact that Chauvin had a long history of using excessive force in the past, including multiple incidents of kneeling on people throughout his career. 

After Floyd’s death, Chauvin was fired and arrested, and this marks the beginning of what is likely to be one of the most closely watched court cases in modern history. 

“George Floyd wasn’t the first person to be killed by police on this block, but [in the past] media wasn’t the way that it is and a lot of it got swept under the rug … How do we prevent this from happening? That could be my son. I have two sons,” said Mileesha Smith, a Minneapolis community member who was present at a vigil held this weekend ahead of the trial. 

If Chauvin is charged to the fullest extent, he could face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

US Capitol Building

Black Lives Matter Activists Call Out Double Standard Of Police Response In Capitol Riots

Hundreds of Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol building yesterday after the current president encouraged the crowd to not back down from fighting one of the “most fraudulent elections in US history,” despite the past two months of evidence disputing every single one of Trump’s claims. 

Rioters broke windows, destroyed offices, vandalized government property, and looted, causing social media to blow up with claims of double standards and the obvious white privilege that these individuals carried to be able to simply walk into what was thought to be one of the most secure buildings in the US. 

Beyond that, many began posting images from the past year of peaceful Black Lives Matter protests that turned violent due to police and military presence alone. Hundreds of thousands of videos began recirculating of the national guard and police throughout America tear gassing, shooting, and assaulting peaceful protesters for simply expressing their first amendment rights, yet dozens of white Trump supporters were able to simply walk in and out of the Capitol as they pleased. 

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One of the most impactful images shared showed the Capitol building steps this summer covered with National Guard troops in preparation for a DC Black Lives Matter protest; prompting many to question where the Guard was yesterday, especially since the DC Mayor called on them two days ago in anticipation of these riots. 

The Black Lives Matter Global Network released a powerful statement about the blatant racism and white supremacy that was exemplified with yesterdays act of domestic terrorism. They stated that the riot was just “one more example of the hypocrisy in our country’s law enforcement response to protest,” and unfortunately, no one was surprised. 

“When Black people protest for our lives, we are all too often met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas and battle helmets. Make no mistake, if the protesters were Black, we would have been tear gassed, battered, and perhaps shot.”

Videos online began circulating of the DC National Guard and police armed and wearing camouflage uniforms on the steps of the Lincoln memorial during a peaceful protest following several days of Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the city; rioters made it into the Capitol yesterday and remained there for hours before the National Guard was activated.

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The DC Mayor also implemented a 6 p.m. curfew when the Capitol first was stormed, however footage showed hundreds of Trump supporters still outside the Capitol building long after that curfew had passed. If we remember back to the Black Lives Matter protests this summer, the police would pull people walking home from work off the street and arrest them for being out past curfew. 

There’s also another double standard in the way in which political leaders and media outlets report on these protests and riots. When it was Black Lives Matter protests turning violent due to an aggressive police presence shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at non-threatening protesters, the narrative turned into one where the protesters were the ones inciting violence and leaving the police with no choice but to control the crowd violently. 

When we look at what was going on yesterday, Republican commentators and leaders immediately took to Twitter and told the rioters not to “become like the other side,” immediately shifting the blame from the domestic terrorists who destroyed federal property to individuals on the other side who “would’ve responded the same way.” 

The reality is it was Trump’s supporters who enacted so much violence and made dark history by storming a federal government building to protest a legitimate election. So far four individuals have died and 53 have been arrested. The FBI has opened an investigation and will be reviewing every picture and video posted online of those who were in the building, and time will tell how they will all be charged.

No Justice No Peace Sign

Grand Juror On Breonna Taylor Case Claims Homicide Charges Were Never Offered

A grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case has spoken out against claims made by Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron, stating that the jury was never offered homicide charges to consider against the officers involved in the killing of Taylor. 

The grand juror made the anonymous comments after a Louisville judge allowed the panel’s members to speak publicly about the secretive proceedings. The juror didn’t file suit to speak publicly, however, until Cameron announced that no officers would be directly charged for the shooting death of Taylor during a botched narcotics raid that wasn’t even meant to occur at Taylor’s residency. 

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Instead, the grand jury only charged one officer out of the four with endangerment of Taylor’s neighbors due to the fact that some of the dozens of bullets fired hit her neighbors home; but no charges were made for the bullets that hit Taylor. The grand juror claims that when the jury asked about bringing other charges against the officers, they were told “there would be none because prosecutors didn’t feel they could make them stick,” according to the statement

Cameron has also been quite adamant about not allowing the grand jurors to speak about the proceedings, but didn’t appeal the judges ruling either. This could likely be because on September 23rd when Cameron announced the results of the grand jury investigation that resulted in one endangerment charge, he claimed that prosecutors “walked the grand jury through every homicide offense,” a claim that has now been refuted. 

Cameron also claimed that the “grand jury agreed” that the officers who shot Taylor were justified in their returning fire after Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, shot at the officers who barged into their home without any warning or announcement that they were law enforcement. The gun Walker had was legally owned as well. 

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However, the grand juror also refuted these claims and stated that the “panel didn’t agree that certain actions were justified, and grand jurors did not have homicide charges explained to them. The grand jury never heard anything about those laws. Self defense or justification was never explained either.”

Kevin Glowgower is the grand juror’s attorney, who claims that his client’s biggest discrepancy with the Kentucky attorney general is the way that the results were  “portrayed to the public as to who made what decisions and who agreed with what decisions.”

Beyond the statement posted on Tuesday the grand juror has no intention of speaking out further about the cases proceedings. Cameron has only acknowledged that his prosecutors didn’t present homicide charges due to the fact that the two officers who shot and killed Taylor were justified in returning fire after Walker shot them. 

Cameron said Tuesday that it was his decision “to ask for an indictment that could be proven under Kentucky law. Indictments obtained in the absence of sufficient proof under the law do not stand up and are not fundamentally fair to any one.” 

Breonna Taylor was a Black emergency medical technician who was working on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic when she was shot multiple times in her own home while she was sleeping by white police officers who barged into the home. The officers were raiding the home as a part of an ongoing narcotics investigation, however, the officers didn’t announce their identity upon arrival and didn’t find any drugs in the home either. Her death fueled the already burning fires of racial justice in America, as protests against police brutality in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement have been ongoing since the spring.

Basketball on Court

The Lakers Win 17th NBA Title, LeBron James Earns Fourth Championship

The Los Angeles Lakers became NBA Champions this weekend after defeating the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Black & White Checkered Flag

Michael Jordan Forms Nascar Team With Bubba Wallace As Driver

Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin are teaming up to form a Nascar team with Bubba Wallace as the driver, a decision that’s being regarded by the community as a high-profile pairing of a Black majority team owner and the only Black driver at Nascar’s highest level. 

The two announced their partnership this past Monday night in a coordinated social media post that both Jordan and Hamlin uploaded. Wallace added his own comment to both owners’ posts, which showed a picture of Jordan and Hamlin in a motorhome at a race track, already fitting right into their new “playing field.” Jordan also recently released a statement about the milestone for him and Nascar. 

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“Historically, Nascar has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners, the timing seemed perfect as Nascar is evolving and embracing social change more and more.”

Nascar hasn’t had a Black principal owner of a full-time Cup team since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott drove his own races from 1961 to 1973. Scott’s win at the 1964 Jacksonville 200 is the only time a Black individual has won in cup history. Jordan wants to change that complete lack of representation on the track, and has made running this team a part of his $100 million 10-year pledge to fund initiatives that combat systemic racism and help the country achieve true racial equality. 

“I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing.”

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Besides Jordan there’s only one other Black Nascar team owner who also happens to be a former NBA player, Brad Daugherty, who’s a partner at JTG Daugherty Racing. The two are the only Black owners at Nascar’s elite Cup level. 

Hamlin, on the other hand, is a three-time Daytona 500 winner and a top contender for this year’s cup title. He initially met Jordan 11 years ago at a Charlotte Bobcats game, where the two supposedly “became fast friends.” Hamlin joined the Jordan Brand to be the first Nascar athlete to represent Jordan on the track, and the two have been friends ever since. When it came time to create a new team for Nascar, the two knew there was only one driver they wanted, Bubba Wallace. 

Wallace is currently the only Black driver in the Cup series and this season has used his platform to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement and speak up against racial injustices that Black individuals in America face every day. Recently he was able to get Nascar to ban the display of the Confederate flag at all of its events due to its historically racist representation/use. 

While Wallace has never won at a Cup series, he has six victories in the Truck series, and both Hamlin and Jordan can see that he’s ready to take his career to a higher level. Nascar recently also released a statement expressing their excitement over the creation of this team and Jordan’s specific involvement with racing now, claiming that “his presence at Nascar’s top level will further strengthen the competition, excitement and momentum growing around the sport.”

Jordan and Hamlin recently purchased a charter for their new team that will guarantee Wallace a spot in the 40-car field every week.

Football Player

Colin Kaepernick Calls Out NFL’s Black Lives Matter ‘Propaganda’ On Opening Weekend

Athletes across the US have been protesting against racial inequality for the past month, but many are starting to wonder how genuine these organizations are in their message.

Target Store

Target Announces Diversity Plans To Increase Number Of Black Employees By 20%

Companies all across the country have been put under fire in recent months as the Black Lives Matter movement has been mainstreamed, prompting consumers to call on their favorite brands to step up their inclusion and advocacy for racial justice. 

This Thursday, Target pledged to increase the amount of Black employees across its entire workforce by 20% over the next three years. Target has around 350,000 employees in America, a majority of which are white, especially in their executive and leadership positions. 75% of its leadership team is White and 8% is Black; based on data from 2019. 

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When it comes to the retailer’s overall workforce – including part-time employees – 50% are White, 25% Latino, and 15% are Black; making up the top three groups. Within their pledge, however, Target also mentioned their many previous initiatives to increase representation within their stores and in their corporate offices. They claimed to have doubled their representation of non-White officers in the past five years; equating to about 30%. However, only 5% of that population is Black. 

Target also mentioned how now more than half of their stores are run by women and a third are managed by people of color, however, during a movement that is heavily focused on the injustices Black individuals face on a daily basis, consumers aren’t satisfied with the minimal effort they believe Target has put forward. Chief human resources officer for Target, Melissa Kremer, recently posted a news release regarding Target’s new pledge for inclusivity. 

“Inclusivity is a deeply rooted value at Target and we’ve had an ambitious diversity and inclusion strategy for many years for our guests and team. We know that having a diverse workforce and inclusive environment creates a stronger team.”

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Kremer went on to claim that Target would be emphasizing its recruitment and hiring of Black employees and look for new ways to advance their careers once they join the company. Anti-racist training will be implemented as well as new diversity programs that will focus on things like technology, merchandising and marketing; all aspects of Target’s corporate culture that’s mainly run by White individuals. 

Target is no stranger to publicly advocating for issues of social justice. They’ve made public statements telling customers not to carry guns in stores and welcomed all transgender customers to use their bathrooms and changing rooms whenever they need; which caused conservative groups to boycott the brand. 

After George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Police this year, Target CEO Brian Cornell and other top executives released a statement expressing their pain over Floyd’s death, and made a call for change. He joined a subcommittee of the Business Roundtable to look for new policy recommendations that would directly address the issues with US law enforcement as well as create more opportunities for individuals who were previously incarcerated and looking for work. 

Other retailers joined target in this initiative by donating to civil rights causes and setting new standards when it comes to hiring and recruiting employees in the future. 

Police

Rochester Police Chief And Command Staff Resign Following Death Of Daniel Prude

Chief La’Ron Singletary and the entire Rochester Police command staff resigned this past Tuesday after public outrage over the death of Daniel Prude; a Black man who suffered from mental health issues who was killed after police put him in a “spit hood” and restrained him in March of this year. 

After 20 years on the force the chief announced his resignation with a news release from the department, which described his decision to depart as a retirement, which would allow him access to retirement packages. The other officers who resigned will also be able to draw from their pension and health benefits in the coming months. 

“The members of the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for. The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.”

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Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito and Commander Fabian Rivera also announced their retirements while Deputy Chief Mark Simmons and Commander Henry Favor, announced they would be moving to a lower ranking lieutenant status. The mayor of Rochester, Lovely Warren, suggested that there “may be a number of others that will decide to leave as well” in the coming weeks. 

Tameshay Prude is the sister of Daniel Prude who sued the city of Rochester along with some members of the police department who were present the evening Daniel was killed. Singletary is included in that list of officers being sued, and in the official legal complaint it claims that Prude died as a result of “unlawful force and the deliberate disregard for his medical needs.”

Other members of Prude’s family recently released police footage of the incident that occurred on March 23rd that took Prude’s life. The family claims that the footage clearly depicts officers using excessive and unnecessary force, and the autopsy that the family commissioned revealed the cause of death to be “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The drug PCP was also listed as a contributing factor. 

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Joe Prude, Daniel’s brother, stated to the media that his brother had mental health and drug problems that were getting especially bad in March. On March 22nd, Joe called the police and Daniel was hospitalized for three hours while he received a mental health check. Around 3 in the morning on March 23rd, videos show officers finding Prude naked in the middle of a residential street. 

Prude is then seen complying with officers demands to get on the ground face down with his hands behind his back. While he was handcuffed, Prude is seen speaking to the officers in a “nonsensical manner,” according to reports. It’s at this point that officers put the spit hood on Prude after he supposedly claimed he had Covid-19. He then stopped breathing, prompting paramedics to try to revive him; he was put on life support and died a week later. 

Mayor Warren also announced on Tuesday that seven officers have been suspended in relation to the incident and Attorney General Letitia James has been empowered by a state grand jury to investigate Prude’s death. The protests that have been occuring in Rochester as of late have made headlines due to the public’s outrage after it was discovered that the department delayed releasing information about Prude’s detainment and death for months. The city council will also be reviewing the timeline of incidents that occurred that night, and will be analyzing the chiefs response as well.