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African American Friends Wearing Masks

CDC Report Claims Systemic Racism Has Made Covid-19 Deadlier For Black Americans

According to an internal agency report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black Americans are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus due to issues of fundamental racism.

Harmel-Codi-Childrens-Book-Series

‘All Kids Deserve A Proper Education’: How Combating Educational Inequality Starts At Home | Harmel Codi

In a country where not every child is given the same educational opportunities, Harmel Codi aims to promote reading and learning for at-risk children.

US President

Joe Biden Is The 46th President Of The United States

After nearly a week of close calls, recounts, and some of the most razor thin margins in US history, Joe Biden has been elected as the 46th President of the United States.

Open Book

Yusef Salaam Explores Institutional Racism In New Novel ‘Punching the Air’

Yusef Salaam was just 15-years-old in 1989 when he, along with four other black and brown teenagers, were charged for the rape of a white investment banker who was left for dead in Central Park, New York City.

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Under Fire For Multiple Claims Of Racism And Sexual Abuse

Former Major League Baseball All-star Torii Hunter recently made a public statement claiming to be called the N-word “a hundred times” anytime he played at Fenway Park in Boston. Hunter stated that the city of Boston in general has a major racism problem, but he also received a massive amount of racially charged hate from within the industry as well. 

The Red Sox were quick to release a statement backing up Hunter’s claims and stated that they promised to fight racism from the inside. The Red Sox also added that there have been at least seven incidents cited within the past year alone that involved fans using racial slurs against players or rival fans. 

“Torii Hunter’s experience is real. And it’s not only players. It happens to the dedicated Black employees who work for us on game days. As we identify how we can do better, please know we are listening.”

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However, many individuals were quick to point out that the Boston Red Sox specifically have a long history of hearing claims of misconduct from black people working for them to no avail. The biggest example being the fact that there are more than a dozen black men who have made multiple claims over the past several years that they were sexually abused by former Red Sox clubhouse manager Donald Fitzpatrick. 

Fitzpatrick died back in 2005, but before that pleaded guilty to criminal charges of attempted sexual battery in 2002. During the trial Fitzpatrick admitted to using Red Sox memorabilia to lure young, black clubhouse workers into hidden areas of the training facility where he would then abuse them. Since 2002 a large number of men stepped forward to not only show their support for the victims, but allege that they were abused by Fitzpatrick as well. Many of the claims, however, dated all the way back to the 80’s and 90’s, making it difficult to bring those charges to trial. 

One of the largest controversies that came from that case regarded how many members of the team/working closely with the team knew about the alleged abuse, and how many worked to cover it up. Gerald Armstrong, 65, has been adamant that he believes multiple individuals not only knew about it, but let it happen continuously; “You can’t tell me that you can have 30 or 40 guys traveling around with him and observing his behavior and not know what he was doing,” Armstrong claimed. 

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Now, there’s been a large call-to-action placed on the city of Boston and the Red Sox to not make the same mistakes they made in the early 2000’s, and actually work to make systemic change within the type of individuals allowed to work for/around players and other black employees. 

The Red Sox in general have a fairly racist history as well, being the last team in the MLB to integrate black players back in 1959. Just two years ago the team was finally able to remove Tom Yawkey’s name from the street that runs alongside Fenway Park; Yawkey is the former Sox owner who made the decisions when it came to integrating the team. 

Separating from the racist and abusive past will be difficult for the Red Sox, however, Armstrong and Hunter believe that being so public about this misconduct during a time where America is reckoning itself for its multitude of racist systems, will be inspiring. 

“I think a lot of black men have been molested and for cultural reasons they just don’t come forward to deal with it. And if you don’t deal with it, you’re looking at a lot of emotional problems.”

Armstrong is encouraging all black people, and specifically men who were victims of abuse themselves, to take ownership of their lives and work to overcome that shame and embarrassment that predators like Fitzpatrick instill in them. 

Signing Petition

2 Million People Sign Petition Demanding ‘Justice For Elijah McClain’ A Year After His Death

Nearly 2 million people have now signed a petition demanding that the investigation of the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain be reopened. McClain suffered a heart attack after Aurora police officers forcefully held him on the ground for 15 minutes and paramedics gave him a dosage of ketamine as sedative. 

The petition itself calls on the city of Aurora, Colorado – specifically Adams County- and law enforcement agencies to not only fire the officers who held McClain in a choke-hold, but conduct a much more in-depth investigation that would lead to proper charges being met for the individuals responsible in McClain’s murder. 

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Sheneen McClain, Elijah McClain’s mother, provides photos of Elijah while testifying before a House Finance committee in support of SB-217 regarding police reform at the State Capitol June 10, 2020

On August 24th, 2019, McClain was walking home at night and wearing a ski mask due to his anemia; the ski mask would help him remain warm since anemia can slow down blood flow, especially in cooler night temperatures.  Someone called the police and reported seeing a “suspicious looking man” walking around. Police arrived, told McClain to stop and after he refused the officers resorted to physical means of stopping him; which resulted in a 15 minute choke-hold and the ignoring of McClain’s pleas that he was in pain and couldn’t breathe properly. 

Aurora paramedics arrived at the scene and injected McClain with ketamine, he then went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital where he fell into a coma and later died. According to Mari Newman, McClain’s family’s lawyer, the 23-year-old was vomiting while being restrained by the police and clearly saying that he “couldn’t breathe.” Newman also claims that an officer threatened to call in “a dog to bite” McClain if he continued to struggle; despite his pleas. 

The Aurora Police Department announced that they would be banning cartid pressure holds, and creating a duty for officers to intervene if they believe colleagues are violating department policy. The department has also changed their stance on reports of “suspicious individuals” claiming that officers will not be required to make contact with anyone reported as suspicious, but rather observe them from a distance. 

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Demonstrators gathered to honor the life of Elijah McClain in Aurora, Colorado on June 6, 2020

“The department recognizes that Black people are reported as suspicious at higher rates than other races. No one should ever be considered suspicious based on the color of their skin,” said Aurora Police Department Interim Chief Vanessa Wilson.

Protesters are more than unsatisfied with the Aurora police department’s response to McClain’s murder, claiming that policy changes within the system often don’t do anything to create real systemic change in the way that white police officers treat black individuals. McClain’s autopsy also revealed inconclusive results in regard to his cause of death, leading to all officers present at the scene remaining uncharged. 

McClain’s family launched a fundraiser to help pay for his memorial and legal fees, as they believe that if McClain’s autopsy results were “inconclusive” then that should be even more motivation to investigate the death further. Loved ones have also flooded social media with positive memories and images of McClain, remembering him as a beautiful and quirky young man who used to play violin for stray cats at animal shelters in his spare time. He also worked as a massage therapist in Aurora, where all of his clients regarded him as a positive individual who always made people smile. 

If you want to help contribute to Elijah McClain’s family, legal fund, or petition to reopen his investigation, click here.