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A thought, an idea, a flash of inspiration. Potently Pickaninny but small enough to fit on a scrap of paper. Leave a comment. 



John Lewis—A Beacon for Voting Rights Continues to Shine

Many of us are familiar with “Bloody Sunday,”—a seminal day in the lead-up to President Johnson’s signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On that day, March 7, 1965, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), then the head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was beaten by state troopers as he helped lead a voting rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Alabama.

47 years after his skull was fractured on that bridge in Selma, Rep. Lewis is still on the front line in the fight to protect voting rights. He recently took to the floor of the House of Representatives to slam an amendment that his colleague, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), tried to slip into an appropriations bill. If passed, the amendment would have defunded Justice Department enforcement of the provision of the Voting Rights Act that is intended to prevent racial discrimination. In other words, the federal government would be stripped of its’ ability to block discriminatory voter id laws, such as those currently under challenge in South Carolina and Texas.  

Rep. Lewis’s response to the proposed amendment won’t be remembered as a pivotal moment in our history, but it's the best few minutes of C-Span footage that I’ve seen in a while. 

In the face of Lewis’s righteous indignation, Broun withdrew the amendment



Face Off—George Zimmerman Versus Trayvon Martin

Photographs from AbcNews.go.comWhen I first saw the March 23rd article describing former neighbors’ accounts of George Zimmerman’s strict religious upbringing and details about his employment, I wasn’t surprised. However, when I saw the accompanying photo of a clean-cut, smiling George Zimmerman in a suit and tie—an image much different from the familiar scruffy-faced mug shot shown over the past few weeks—the alarm bells went off. I immediately thought, the games are about to begin.

Within a few days, it was being widely reported that Trayvon Martin was suspended from school for 10-days because a plastic bag with traces of marijuana was found in his bookbag. One of the articles featured an alleged photo of Trayvon staring into the camera with gold fronts on his teeth (they have since replaced that photo with another). If the photo is legitimate, it's not quite the same as the baby-faced smiling young boy that we've grown accustomed to seeing. The story also mentioned a tweet sent to Trayvon’s Twitter account which alludes to a supposed incident that occurred between Trayvon and a bus driver.

The details highlighted in these stories have no bearing on what occurred on February 26, 2012, the day Trayvon Martin was killed; what we’re seeing in the focus on these details is an attempt to sanitize the image of George Zimmerman and sully the image of Trayvon. The Sanford Police Department acknowledged that there may have been information leaked from within the department, and the city manager said there would be an investigation. Releasing information to smear the victim happens time and time again—so, this isn’t much of a shock. Unfortunately, knowing that a smear campaign is bound to happen doesn’t make it any less disturbing.

Trayvon Martin wasn’t required to lead a perfect life in order to have the wheels of justice work properly on his behalf and on behalf of his family, and he shouldn’t have been deemed suspicious and followed by George Zimmerman for “just walking around looking about.” In a news conference held earlier this week in response to the reports about Trayvon’s suspension, his mother simply stated, “The only comment that I have right now is that they've killed my son, now they are trying to kill his reputation.” She’s absolutely right. That’s what they’re trying to do, and it may work. Sadly, justice has often failed to turn a blind eye toward negative depictions of African-American males who were followed, stopped, searched, chased—even killed—simply because they were viewed as suspicious.

Check out what the other Pickaninnies have to say.


A Dangerous Act

Setting: A married couple sits down to eat dinner while in the background, the evening news can be heard on a television.

Wife: Honey, with all the recent news about contraception, it got me thinking, and my gosh, I do believe I’ve discovered a practice that has had far more devastating effects than any pill on the destruction of human life.

Husband: Really?

Wife: Yes. I know of a far more dangerous act, it’s insidious, deadly and occurs more frequently than the number of abortions being performed in a single year!

Husband: My God, what is it?

Wife: Male masturbation. I think it should be considered a criminal act.

Husband (spitting out his beer): Whoa! What an outrageous thing to propose. How can you...

Wife: Wait, hear me out. Male masturbation kills thousands of potential babies every time a man engages in that act. A woman can pleasure herself and never compromise her ovaries even if she reaches an orgasm, while with men, each ejaculation is aborting potential life. At this very second, hundreds, thousands of men are climaxing through masturbation, robbing a woman of the right to get pregnant and create new life. Male masturbation is an epidemic and something must be done about it.

Husband: Ok, ok. Take a deep breath Dear and slow down. Let’s no lose our heads here...

Wife: You’re right, we can’t arrest every single man who masturbates. Perhaps a person can invent a device that could be placed at the base of the penis with some motion detector that can sense when a fisted hand is enclosed and ready to stroke. Oh, maybe when that happens, the devise sends an electric shock, like a taser! This would deter men from masturbating and only climax when it’s for procreating purposes.

Husband: Are you mad, woman? How can you suggest such a thing? A man has a right to privacy with regard to his own body. Electric shock? That is inhumane and quite frankly I’m appalled that you would even suggest that we criminalize what a man does with his body?

Wife: Really, you are appalled? I think the potential life that is wasted when men masturbate should be granted “personhood.” Women need to speak for the voiceless and it is quite clear that men are incapable of abstaining from masturbation, so measures must be put in place for the pro-life cause. Don’t worry, once men understand that this device is pro-life, I am confident they will agree to sacrificing their privacy and forgo having control over their own bodies.



Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. as We Occupy

Photograph by TravelChannel.comOver the years since his death, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy has been distorted. The media, politicians and pundits paint a picture of a one-dimensional figure who, in 1963, dreamed of a world where all God’s children would join hands and sing—neglecting the man who, in 1967, declared that racial justice could not exist without economic justice. In his 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” speech in opposition to the Vietnam War, Dr. King powerfully connected black people’s struggle for civil rights to the need for a complete revolution of the nation’s values.

“We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profit and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

Occupy Wall Street is sparking the revolution of values that Dr. King called for nearly 43 years ago. His words still ring true today, and I draw inspiration from them as I participate in what I hope will become the civil rights movement of our time.


Who Is Grover Norquist?

Mr. Norquist is not a member of Congress.A June 2006 file photo of Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Mr. Norquist does not hold and has never been elected to public office.

But surprisingly, Mr. Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, has one of the most powerful political voices in the nation.

You might be wondering: What is Americans for Tax Reform? It is a conservative tax advocacy group that has successfully acquired the signatures of two hundred and seventy members of the current 112th Congress on a pledge called The Taxypayer Protection Pledge. The pledge commits lawmakers to opposing any form of tax increase for individuals or businesses...forever. Under no circumstances should income taxes be increased. 

All six Republican members on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (also known as the “super-committee”) have signed this pledge. With the exception of John Huntsman, every Republican presidential candidate has signed the pledge. If a Republican congressman, senator, governor, or candidate signs the pledge, Americans for Tax Reform pumps copious amounts of money into their campaigns. If any Republican goes against the pledge after signing it, Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform will use its political clout to push that “rat head” out of office.

Americans for Tax Reform is a nonprofit organization working with a multimillion dollar budget. Who donates to this group? Your guess is as good as mine. The organization is not required under federal law to disclose who its donors are. Why so much secrecy? Who are they protecting?

I believe the oath taken by members of Congress to uphold the Constitution should supersede a pledge constructed by someone who thinks tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy are more important than the welfare of the American people. What do you think?