Black holocaust conference remembers past, charts lessons for future

By Brian E. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Nov 24, 2010 - 8:26:53 AM

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Dr. Umar Abdullah Johnson of Philadelphia delivers his presentation. Photo: Erick Muhammad
ATLANTA ( - There is a saying that the ancestors of Blacks brought to the Western Hemisphere didn't come here on the Nina, the Pinta, or the Santa Maria, the famous ships of explorer Christopher Columbus, but as cargo shackled and chained in the hulls of ships during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Historians have documented the abduction and subsequent devastation of Black life, noting that the past violations still have far reaching impact well into the 21st Century.

On Nov. 19-21 an assortment of scholars and activists convened here for the 19th Black African Holocaust Conference to discuss the Black condition and advance solutions to counter the legacy of abuse.

In recent years, “the issues and the plight of Black people got marginalized and really camouflaged,” said Eric Ture Muhammad, the main conference organizer. He pointed to several significant events, including Hurricane Katrina and the shameful response from the U.S. government to provide emergency aid and help rebuild Black lives as examples of the modern Black holocaust.

A. Akbar Muhammad
Photo: Richard Shabazz
“It became a need to bring the conference back because we needed to convene; we needed to set an agenda. We need some underpinning guidelines to move forward,” said Mr. Muhammad, who is also a Final Call contributing writer.

Conference organizers explained that the purpose of the Black African Holocaust Conference was to bring healers, thinkers, scholars and community folks together in a forum where issues could be discussed and progressive solutions offered.

In workshops and presentations a myriad of views were shared about current methods employed against Blacks and strategies to counter the attacks. Participants and presenters dealt with the prison industrial complex; education; physical, mental and spiritual health, economics, environmental racism and other issues.

Over the course of several sessions presenters agreed that the Black experience in America has largely been about genocide—the systematic attempt to destroy Blacks as a people.

“We are in a period of mass extermination. We are no longer being oppressed, repressed, or suppressed—we are being exterminated,” said Dr. Umar Abdullah Johnson, nationally certified school psychologist. Dr. Johnson conducted a workshop on “Post Traumatic Slave Disorder” and outlined how public mis-education is used as a mental killing field and how some Black independent schools that need public funding have fallen under the influence of the oppressor.

Speakers outlined the critical need for Blacks to tell their own story, come to grips with past violations and recognize that the Black Holocaust continues.

It's nothing for European Jews to keep the sights and images of their holocaust before the eyes of the world and cry “never again,” remarked Ashra Kwesi, an historian and Egyptologist.

However as the Jews speak of a holocaust in the context of a past event, Blacks speak of the holocaust in the present tense, presenters said.

“When Jews talk about the holocaust, they talk about what was and it should never happen again,” observed longtime activist Pam Africa, who is based in Philadelphia. “We are living a holocaust; we are living under terrorism. Their people are not being shot down in the streets every day; they don't have the housing problem, the economic problems.”

Furthermore, Dr. Johnson added, the Black Holocaust has become self-sustaining. “The chief goal of slavery was to make the victim a willing accomplice in their own extermination,” Dr. Johnson said.

A modern day slave system perpetrated in the form of the prison industrial complex is one holocaust method, said participants in a workshop titled “Is Mass Incarceration the New Jim Crow?”

Ashra Kwesi (r) with his wife Merira in the vending area. Photo: Erick Muhammad
The session looked at the re-enslavement of Black people through felon disenfranchisement. National privileges such as the right to vote are revoked for convicted felons, opening the door for widespread discrimination in housing, employment and public assistance, said Atty. Nkechi Taifa, of Legacy Empowerment in Washington, D.C.

In most states ex-offenders, often tied to drug crimes, are not eligible for food stamps and other kinds of benefits, including grants for education, she said.

“Slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration is the same thing,” Ms. Taifa said. Where some kinds of discrimination supposedly ended with Jim Crow, the justice system has become the legal way to continue the same violations of Black life, she argued.

Ms. Taifa said a major part of the solution is tying the international arena into the work of uplifting Black people in the United States.

“We can't keep things within the confines of this country; we must internationalize our struggle,” Ms. Taifa said.

There are stronger legal conventions in international law pertaining to discrimination than domestic laws and these international standards can be used to seek justice for Black people, she said.

Mr. Kwesi agreed current strategy must include a global reach to expand the view beyond the borders of America. It is part of “holistically” looking at who Blacks are because the perpetrators of the Black Holocaust never intended a reconnection to Africa, he said.

“When we leave America we are actually (like) runaway slaves because mentally we are not supposed to even think like that,” said Mr. Kwesi.

Another critical area covered by the conference was a “Health is Wealth” panel where insights were shared on how to counter the assault on Black life through taking charge of one's health.

“We are a part of a legacy of whole people, but we are not coming from a whole place. So what we have to do is address spirit, is address what did our ancestors do? What did our grandmothers do when there were issues, because they went through those holocausts and we are still travelling through that,” advised Dr. Siti Opio.

Author and publisher Supreme Understanding emphasized awareness and education about health and the onslaught Black people face.

“The current crises in health for original people in America and worldwide today are a byproduct of a global system of oppression that stems from White supremacy and with that understanding we can proceed to develop responses,” said Supreme Understanding.

Increasing the Black Economic IQ was the message from twin brothers Dwayne and Daryl Mooney, sons of comedian Paul Mooney. The twins gave a high energy presentation about the necessity of building wealth and knowing the difference between financial literacy and financial IQ. The Mooney's encouraged listeners to become involved in investing and developing “passive” streams of income to free them from economic dependency—another aspect of the Black Holocaust. The brothers also said Black people should trade in international markets just as banks do using what the average person deposits.

The Black African Holocaust conference plans to convene sessions in several cities to build on solutions and ideas coming out of the weekend conference.

A tribute dinner honoring socially conscious comedians Paul Mooney and Dick Gregory and Elizabeth Omilami, the daughter of longtime civil rights activist Hosea Williams, who leads a program that feeds thousands of homeless people each week in Atlanta, was also held.

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Rape case draws outrage, judge rejects plea

By Saeed Shabazz -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Nov 16, 2010 - 12:27:54 PM

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Sexual assault case raises concern about abuse of young girls, say advocates

New York protesters demand harsher penalty for alledged rape of 15-year-old by counselor inside Manhattan court house. Photos: Lem Peterkin
‘I have seen allegations dismissed or ignored, and I know the struggle that young women of color are subjected to in the best of circumstances; and to read that the offender plead guilty to the charges of rape and yet, will possibly only receive probation is unconscionable; and a true miscarriage of justice.’
—Virginia M. Montague

NEW YORK ( - A rape case continues to draw outrage and anger from women's organizations as more is learned about the alleged courthouse assault of a teenage girl and a proposed plea deal that offered the alleged rapist no jail time.

The National Organization for Women, the New York Coalition of One Hundred Black Women, Inc., the National Action Network and the president of Bennett College for women were among those astounded by the alleged crime and proposed plea agreement.

But as controversy about the case grew, a judge killed the plea agreement Nov. 15, saying the defendant had shown no remorse and offered three years imprisonment and three years probation as an alternative. She said her decision was based on statements the accused rapist had made to probation officials. Her decision followed review of a report from the probation department.

Defendant Tony Simmons didn't chose between the option of jail time or a trial so Judge Cassandra Mullen vacated the deal. Mr. Simmons is scheduled to return to court Dec. 15. He will have the opportunity to accept the new punishment or go to trial.

The judge's decision also means there is no admission of guilt.

“I felt relief that the judge was willing to do the right thing,” said Sonia Ossorio, executive director of the New York Chapter of the National Organization for Women. “The courtroom was packed, a lot of people turned out; it shows that sometimes it really pays to step up. We slowed down the train, everyone believes this is a strong case.”

NOW-NY will be monitoring the case but no demonstrations are planned at this time. “Hopefully the wheels of justice are turning in the right way,” Ms. Ossorio said. The atmosphere in the packed courtroom was intense, and when the judge finally had her say, there was a collective sigh of relief, Ms. Ossorio said. The assistant district attorney is new and told the judge prosecutors were ready for trial, she continued. “It's now up to the jurors of New York City,” Ms. Ossorio said.

Days earlier, activists gathered across the street from the courtroom of Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Cassandra Mullen demanding jail time for Mr. Simmons, a former juvenile counselor with the Department of Juvenile Justice. The 45-year-old had entered a guilty plea for raping a Black 15-year-old and sexually assaulting two other teens, ages 15 and 13, that he transported to Manhattan Family Court.

“Hey Judge Mullen, we're here to say serial rape is not okay!” chanted protestors during a Nov. 9 demonstration.

“This outrageous case is just one example of a widespread problem in our criminal justice system: The under prosecution and shockingly lenient sentencing of sexual predators,” Jane Manning, president of NOW-NY told protestors.

“If we cannot deliver justice for these victims who were assaulted on the premises of the Manhattan Family Court building by an employee assigned to protect them, how can we expect justice for any victims of violence?” asked NOW-NY executive director Ossorio.

The voided plea deal had offered 10-years probation and mandatory registration as a sex offender.

Signs from Nov.9 protest near court house in Manhattan.
The judge had to review a report on Mr. Simmons from the Dept. of Probation. She said his comments in part blamed the victims and described one sexual encounter with a minor as consensual.

Since the story broke in October, there had been a blame game between the office of District Attorney Cy Vance and the judge's office.

Mr. Simmons was suspended from his juvenile counseling job the day after pleading guilty to the rapes. A spokesperson for his former employer called any counselor's exploitation of minors, or anyone else, a heinous abuse of the public trust.

Mr. Vance, who is elected, had told local newspapers the judge's decision to give the rapist probation was “outrageously lenient.” The district attorney, who is serving his first term, has since said nothing—and did not return Final Call phone calls asking for a statement.

A spokesperson for the state court system, speaking for Judge Mullen and speaking to only the New York dailies reportedly said: “The blame rests with DA Cy Vance, Jr. who didn't object to the sentencing.”

“We are outraged, a slap on the wrist for someone who is supposed to protect young people—what message does this send?” asked Tamika Mallory, national executive director of the National Action Network, which is led by the Rev. Al Sharpton. Her comments came before the judge rejected the plea agreement.

Mr. Simmons had admitted raping a young woman who has only used her first name, Ashley, out of fear her alleged rapist could still harm her. She was 15-years-old when Mr. Simmons allegedly took her by elevator to the basement of the Family Court building and raped her. He then allegedly returned her to a courtroom to be sentenced for filing a false police report.

Ashley was sentenced to 12 months for lying to police about the identity of persons who assaulted her on the way to school.

At the time of the alleged rape, Ashley was an orphan and lived with foster parents who reportedly left her to the system after her sentencing. She is now 20-years-old and has completed her GED and professional courses at a university.

Ashley, speaking to a news outlet in a rare interview, talked about suffering a “bad time” while incarcerated. Anger over the alleged rape led to problems with behavior while in detention.

Ashley came forward after another 15-year-old accused the same juvenile counselor of sexual assault in 2008.

‘He needs to go to jail'

“Probation is no consequence for this man, he needs to go to jail,” declared Dr. Julianne Malveaux, president of Bennett College in North Carolina and a national leader on women's issues.

“Our children in foster care are treated poorly, they suffer in silence, because they are not taken seriously, not valued—just thrown away,” Dr. Malveaux said.

One can only imagine how youth who come forward have been scarred for life, Dr. Malveaux added.

Speaking of the role Black women and their organizations must play, Dr. Malveaux said, “We need to be big sisters for them, and we need to monitor more closely what is happening throughout all of the systems that deal with these children.”

Virginia M. Montague, president of the N.Y. Coalition of 100 Black Women, agreed with Dr. Malveaux.

“Black women and their organizations must rise up and stand together with other organizations to send a message that we will no longer allow our young Black women to be viewed as disposable individuals who can be dismissed, physically and psychologically damaged by an ineffective and uncaring society,” she told The Final Call.

Ms. Montague said she has first-hand knowledge of issues facing teens in the juvenile system. “As a former probation officer, and a former counselor in a juvenile facility in North Carolina, I saw what happens to young women caught up in the legal system,” she said in an e-mail. “I have seen first-hand the abuse perpetrated on young women who are preyed on by the same persons hired to protect and care for them.”

“I have seen allegations dismissed or ignored, and I know the struggle that young women of color are subjected to in the best of circumstances; and to read that the offender plead guilty to the charges of rape and yet, will possibly only receive probation is unconscionable; and a true miscarriage of justice,” Ms. Montague said.

Rape of youth a national problem

Lovisa Stannow, executive director of Los Angeles-based Just Detention International said juvenile rape is “an enormous nationwide problem.”

And, she said, a Justice Dept. report released in January found one in eight detained youth had been sexually abused within a 12-month period.

Juveniles of color were disproportionately victimized, she added.

The report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “The National Survey of Youth in Custody 2008-2009,” surveyed detention facilities in all 50 states.

Reported sexual victimization by faculty or staff was slightly higher for Black youth at 11.9 percent while such assault rates for White youth were reported at 9.7 percent and for Latino youth the abuse rate was 8.1 percent.

The report added that White youth (4.4 percent) were more likely than Black youth (2.1 percent) and Latino youth (0.9 percent) to report victimization by other youth.

The report stated that the chance of staff victimization of youth who had spent at least 12 months or more in a facility was 14.6 percent, compared to the 8.3 percent for those in custody six months or less.

“A lot of these rapes go unreported, which stems from a belief that staff members have unlimited immunity,” said Ms. Stannow. “We have heard from youth that they are told by perpetrators, ‘don't you even think about revealing this, because nobody is going to believe you.' ”

It has been reported that the assistant district attorney trying the case of Mr. Simmons felt a jury would reject allegations lodged by a prisoner against someone who worked in the criminal justice system.

The stated goal of the youth correction system is rehabilitation, Ms. Stannow noted.

“The very people who are supposed to help you, turn around and destroy your life. Our goal, our focus is to seek an end to sexual abuse of detainees,” she said.

Dr. Malveaux is hoping for more outrage from Black women's organizations, groups such as the National Association of Black Social Workers and political leaders.

“Black legislators need to strengthen penalties—zero tolerance—for this behavior in the criminal justice system and in the foster care system. We must draw the line,” she said.

Ms. Mallory felt the reason for the initial lack of outrage from Black women's organizations in New York was due to the lack of publicity concerning the case.

“I plan to call together the heads of these organizations,” she told The Final Call.

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Minister Farrakhan calls for ending mental slavery and acquiring knowledge

By Richard B. Muhammad and Ashahed M. Muhammad Final Call Staffers | Last updated: Nov 10, 2010 - 10:28:40 AM

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Guests, supporters and Nation of Islam members fi lled Mosque Maryam in Chicago to hear address by Min. Farrakhan. Photo: Richard B. Muhammad
'We want to live in a world free of cons, we want to live in a world free of tricks, free of lies, deceit and treachery and the only way we can live in a world like that is we have to become imbued with knowledge, love knowledge, have an insatiable desire for knowledge and that means we must become readers.'
CHICAGO ( - The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan spoke to a standing room only crowd at Mosque Maryam, the international headquarters of the Nation of Islam Nov. 7, in his first message since his Day of Atonement keynote address in mid-October.

Like a spiritual surgeon, the Minister delivered a clear diagnosis identifying spiritual illnesses plaguing America and the world, in general, and Blacks in particular, and a divine prescription to cure the illnesses.

A major malady imposed on the overwhelming majority of people worldwide and untreated is gross ignorance, Min. Farrakhan explained.

Failing public education and illiteracy leaves the masses vulnerable to exploitation and misuse by a small wickedly wise group, he said. Blacks in America suffer from ignorance and its impact more than anyone else, the Minister added.

“This is not a race thing,” said Min. Farrakhan. “There are Whites, Hispanics and Asians in this condition, but we (Blacks) are the worst off, so the Bible says ‘my people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge.' ”

Donna Farrakhan and daughter Sumayya enjoy lecture with other Muslim women. Photo:
The inability to read or read well, based on inferior education, means the wise control the ignorant masses—whether using the poor as cannon fodder for war, exploiting consumers through seductive advertising and manipulation of natural urges or using “trash TV” to keep viewers preoccupied with gossip and sexual titillation. Meanwhile a powerful minority sucks the economic life blood and talent out of the masses and controls a world doomed for destruction by God, the Minister warned.

Those who should be preparing for world rulership are left groping in darkness, unable to tap into and unlock divine wisdom that leads to proper development, he continued.

If one cannot read well, hearing becomes the vehicle through which information is obtained, the Minister said. In the Bible, scripture continually urges people to listen to the voice of God, he said. But with the Prophet Muhammad of Arabia and the Holy Qur'an, the divine book revealed to the prophet by God, the first commandment is read, a sign that growth into divine power requires the ability to acquire knowledge through the written word, Min. Farrakhan explained. The command given to the holy prophet of Islam 1,400 years ago was also a sign that God would chose an unlearned messenger from an unlearned people in the last days, he said.

Blacks styled as children of Israel of scripture

Referring to his recently completed three-part lecture series “Who Are The Real Children of Israel?” he reminded the audience that the good news is Blacks are God's chosen people today. That divine choice is not to make Blacks arrogant, but to make better servants for fallen humanity and guides to bring a wayward world back to God's straight path, the Minister stressed.

“God doesn't raise you for yourself, he raises you for human beings who are suffering, so to make us wise is not to make us like our former slavemaster, that we would mistreat the people, but to make us wise so that we would share wisdom with those who are deprived and be the cornerstone of a new government, the cornerstone of a new world, the world that all the prophets said would come about at the end of this world's time,” said Min. Farrakhan. “I thank Allah that we are at the end of this world's time. I thank him that he has come to set justice in the Earth and I thank him for this extraordinary human being that he chose to be a Messenger-Messiah to us, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.”

(1)Men express approval of the message. (2) Audience member takes notes. Photo: Richard B. Muhamma
Minister Farrakhan said studying prophetic scripture grants insight and the ability to see future events and headlines as the current world shuts down: “Stock Market Crashes Worse Than 1929,” “Dollar Falls—Hyperinflation,” “Dollar Worthless” will soon be in the news, he said.

In the 1960s, gold was worth $35 per ounce and it is now worth $1,300 per ounce and a future headline could read “Gold at $2,250 an Ounce,” said the Minister.

“What are you going to do when the dollar that you love and will hurt others for has no more value?” he asked. “The value of this paper is steadily going down. What will be the future of America when private bankers buy up U.S. Treasuries?”

Food deserts exist in Black neighborhoods with little access to fresh fruits and vegetables, however, there is an abundance of fast food restaurants offered by merchants of death who sell cheap food that is unhealthy, yet marketed in a desirable way, he said.

“You are living off the garbage that is being fed to you, but it is killing the American people,” Min. Farrakhan said.

Though Blacks moved out of the city to the suburbs, many find themselves in areas that look good, but housing developments were built near areas where toxic waste seeps into water supplies and harmful chemicals are in the air, he said.

“Does the government really care? Does corporate America really care?” Min. Farrakhan asked. “No!” the audience unanimously answered.

“Then the last ones to care must be you, me and us and if we don't care, we go along with our own destruction because we are too cowardly to speak up, to unite and to bring about real meaningful change,” Min. Farrakhan said.

In their misplaced anger, many Americans, especially Whites, blame President Obama for the dying economy and their inability to find jobs, so recent mid-term elections resulted in the president's party suffering huge losses and right wing conservatives gaining power, he said.

But regardless of who leads the government, God has turned his hand against America and her economy will continue to falter, said Min. Farrakhan. Meanwhile the same small group sucks the economic life out of the country, he added.

“The Tea Party is galloping on, and the American people think that Obama has taken their country,” said Min. Farrakhan. “The country has been taken all right, but it's not by Obama. Obama has not offered to buy the U.S. Treasuries. America is so in debt that the Federal Reserve can offer to buy U.S. Treasuries (bonds) and print money and put money into America's sick economic system and the stock market goes up as the wealth of America goes down.”

Mental shackles and poor education

America's education system produces millions of functional illiterates and while Blacks are no longer shackled physically, they remain mentally enslaved, said Min. Farrakhan.

“The worst kind of shackling is when you are supposed to have an education and yet the education does not give you power to make a life for yourself. Those are serious shackles.”

“What are you being taught that you can actually use?” Min. Farrakhan asked. “Almost nothing! That's perpetrating a fraud! To bring you to college and ask your parents to pay this kind of money and then you borrow money from the government. And when you leave college and can't find a job, you have a debt to pay and no money with which to pay it, that's perpetrating a fraud!”

He gave more future headlines, such as “War Is On The Horizon,” “Israel Attacks Iran,” and “America Comes to Israel's Aid.”

The enemy uses a “bait and hook” scheme that entices poor young Blacks and others into the military, looking for jobs and a chance to go to college, Min. Farrakhan said.

But soldiers trained to hate an enemy and trained to kill are serving multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and returning to ghettos with no jobs but trained to destroy, he said.

The soldiers often suffer from physical injuries and mental anguish but the government shamelessly tries to deny veterans needed medical attention and care, the Minister said.

Women are sent to war and leave their children at home, something not done in earlier times, he added. “You can't kill and nurture at the same time. By nature you are a nurturer of human life, but once they take you out of the home and put you in boot camp and send you to Afghanistan—then they had to teach you of an enemy that would take your life and put it in your heart to take that enemy's life. So before war, they have to make you hate the people they are going to send you to fight war against,” said Min. Farrakhan. “Someone who doesn't respect your life is your enemy, but why are you going over there when your enemy is right here?”

Former President George W. Bush, neo-con and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, ex-Vice President Richard Cheney, and then high-ranking Black officials Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell went home at night, but the families who lost loved ones in foreign wars for drugs, oil and U.S. control of the Middle East still suffer the pain of loss, the Minister said.

“But who can tell you the truth? If someone stands up to tell you the truth, we are anti-American, we are haters. When in fact, we are the real patriots freeing the American people from the bondage of ignorance that allows government to misuse their lives.”

Lack of spiritual values in society

Blacks are shaped by a society that upholds material wealth yet places little or no importance on morality or the means by which material wealth is gained, Min. Farrakhan noted. If deception or wickedness is used to get wealth, society says the important thing is that riches were obtained, he said.

Americans are enslaved by depravity and uncontrolled sexual desires displayed on tabloid TV programs, like the “Jerry Springer Show” and the “Maury Povich Show,” he said. These programs don't deal with higher values or upliftment.

Using the Lessons given to the Nation of Islam by founder Master Fard Muhammad through the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Min. Farrakhan explained how Blacks are kept illiterate to be used as tools and slaves. A tool is something “used to accomplish another's purposes,” he noted.

The world's masses are under the rule of those described in Nation of Islam Lessons as the “ten-percent” who know the truth but will not tell or teach it, the Minister said.

This group, the “Bloodsuckers of the Poor,” feed the masses of the people lies, he said.

Blacks must learn to read to escape the grip of those who foster and exploit ignorance, said Min. Farrakhan.

“If you refuse to learn to read then God cannot instruct you in his ways—except through your ability to read his communication that he gave to his Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him,” said Min. Farrakhan. This man who could not read or write and his unlearned people were raised by God to great learning and scholarship, showing one who starts out illiterate can manifest divine greatness, glorify God and fulfill a great destiny.

“When you don't know how to read, you cannot evolve into the great civilized man and woman that you could become. Illiteracy is a blight on the human family,” said Min. Farrakhan. “We love you. What we hate is the ignorance that disallows you from realizing your full potential.”

The book that became the Holy Qur'an came through Prophet Muhammad, however, the book was for a Muhammad that would be in that same condition in the last days of the present world, that man is the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, said Min. Farrakhan.

“The children of Israel would receive an Ummi messenger-prophet Messiah, a man that could neither read nor write, a man from the hills of Georgia, a man that had to sharecrop,” said Min. Farrakhan.

Referring to the recently released Volume Two of “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews,” the Minister addressed his Jewish critics again. He noted ordinary Blacks don't come into contact with Jewish people today, but athletes, entertainers and talented Blacks are approached by Jews offering to manage their careers and the truth of so-called Black-Jewish relations must be known. “The Secret Relationship, Vol. 2” uncovers how Blacks were taken advantage of by Jews and how wise Jews gained control of the Black economy.

“I know you don't like Farrakhan. I understand, but I am not a hater of you. I know how you got where you are, I know how you became who you are,” said Min. Farrakhan. “I was taught it by a man who was taught by God and I cannot go back on that knowledge. I can't act as though I don't know when I do know.”

“We want to live in a world free of cons, we want to live in a world free of tricks, free of lies, deceit and treachery and the only way we can live in a world like that is we have to become imbued with knowledge, love knowledge, have an insatiable desire for knowledge and that means we must become readers,” said Min. Farrakhan. “It's not about hate, it's about removing ignorance that allows others to use you as a tool and also a slave to keep you shackled to ignorance.”

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Activists say it's time for America to respond to rights violations

By Eric Ture Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Nov 3, 2010 - 12:15:26 AM

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U.S. defense on human rights record is historic, but how much impact will review have on justice?

Anti-police brutality supporters and members of the New Black Panther Party march along Jamaica avenue in the Queens borough of New York, on Dec. 2, 2006, during a rally against police brutality. Anti-police brutality supporters gathered to protest the recent shooting of Sean Bell, 23, and two other unarmed men who were attending Bells bachelor party at a Queens strip club. The three men were shot an estimated 50 times by police officers just after leaving on early Saturday, Nov. 25, 2006. Bell was killed hours before he was to have married the mother of his two children, Nicole Paultre.
ATLANTA ( - At The Final Call press time, an American delegation of 33 members—possibly including United States Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice—were en route to Geneva, Switzerland to appear before the United Nations Human Rights Council and for the first time in history to review America's human rights record, her practices and how her human rights practices can be strengthened and brought in line with international standards.

The United States has most often been on the accusatory side of the human rights debates, calling out the shortcomings of others abroad while denying rights violations exist at home.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was created through the UN General Assembly in 2006 by a UN resolution that also established the Human Rights Council.It is a cooperative process which, by 2011, will have reviewed the human rights records of every country.Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The UPR is one of the key tools of Human Rights

D'Anore Teeter, left, who helped organize a police brutality rally, and Jack Heyman, right, a longshoreman and member of the ILWU's executive board, speaks during a rally in Oakland, Calif., Oct. 22, about police brutality. Hundreds of San Francisco Bay Area dock workers said they plan to shut down several ports during a rally Saturday in support of the unarmed black man, Oscar Grant, who was killed by a white transit police officer nearly 22 months ago. Photos: AP/Wide World Photos
Council, which reminds countries of their responsibility to fully respect and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.The ultimate aim of the review is to improve human rights in all countries and address rights violations wherever they occur.

A lottery drawing resulted in the U.S. appearance in Geneva and though human rights groups and nations have repeatedly appeared before the world body and have summoned America, this is the first time she has agreed to participate.
“It's really important—especially here in the United States” for government involvement, State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson told The Final Call. “Because we are the United States of America (and) for a number of countries we set the example. We still hold the standard. It is important that we take a look at ourselves, because we can always improve. We have come a very long way in this country, but there is still far to go and there are always areas for improvement,” she said.

The UPR involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years.The review provides the opportunity for each country to declare what actions they have taken to improve human rights and fulfill international obligations to respect rights. The UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights records are assessed.

“For the first time, the entire human rights record of the U.S. will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council on Nov. 5. So, this gives us the opportunity to raise a number of issues within the U.S.—outside the U.S.,” explained executive director Ajamu Baraka of the Atlanta-based U.S. Human Rights Network, in an exclusive interview with The Final Call from Geneva. “We have been raising them for years but we have not been able to generate the kind of attention that these issues require. So, what we have done is galvanize our forces, submitted reports to the UN; brought delegations here to lobby some of our friends in other governments to raise certain questions to the U.S. and now this week educate other organizations and delegations from other countries for what we believe to be the harsh realities of the U.S.,” he said.

Some harsh realities include the “insane” racially disproportionate U.S. prison population, with high incarceratioan rates for Blacks and Latinos as opposed to Whites. There are thousands of U.S. political prisoners America officially refuses to acknowledge, he said. There is also wanton police brutality and “hundreds of thousands of citizens walking the streets at night in America without a place to rest their heads”—as well as communities poisoned by corporate dumping of toxic waste and chemicals, Mr. Baraka continued.

Huge disparities also exist within the U.S. economy, the health care system and immigration policy. “We are raising very important and serious questions this week in hopes of becoming a part of the historic record with the realities that we all face in the country,” Mr. Baraka said.

Some activists feel taking U.S. misdeeds into the international arena may help with the future payment of reparations—others are not quite sure the appearance in Geneva will bring immediate results.

“The United States has been called to the UN Human Rights Council, but I am not so sure that the American government will officially recognize or acknowledge its role in denying civil and human rights around the world and even domestically,” said Chicago-based political analyst Bob Starks.

Mr. Starks told The Final Call the most glaring human rights violation ever was the enslavement of African people and the very foundation of this country was built on slavery. To admit those things would be a direct violation of why they say the country was built, he said.

“Therefore I don't think it will be of any real consequence toward the correction of human rights on the part of the government. I mean, the government has always denied or simply not commented on any complicity to the violation of human rights,” said Mr. Starks.

“This is a country that was literally founded on slavery and genocide,” said activist Carl Dix of the Worker's Communist Party, speaking by telephone from New York. “These are things that have remained in effect since the formation of this country. It is the wealth of this country and they enforce their position brutally.”

It is especially evident, Mr. Dix said, among the young, Black and Brown in inner cities. “The system tries to turn it around and blame it on the people saying, ‘Look at them. They are into violence, they are into drugs.' But what they are trying to hide is the fact that they have sucked the jobs out of the inner cities of this country. They have wrecked the educational system and put our youth in a situation where there is no legitimate way to survive and raise families. So, whatever choice they make it's going to put them in a bad situation.

“Either they are going to starve or they are going to get involved in some hustle. Then they will unleash their cops to beat them, arrest them or kill them,” said Mr. Dix, who has worked extensively on police brutality.

“Most of the country's drug users are White, most of the people arrested for drug use are White, but by far, most of the people that go to jail for drug use are Black, even though Blacks represent a very small minority of the people arrested. Because the criminal justice system diverts Whites out before they are arrested, charged and tried, while, Black people get the book thrown at them,” he said.

The foundations of slavery and genocide will not allow America—even if she wants to come clean and make any meaningful contribution at the hearing, Mr. Dix argued.

Blacks and other human rights activists say the UN process may not be perfect, but it remains a pressure point for the U.S., which remains concerned about its image abroad. For example, China and Iran, in the past, are among countries that have cited American failures when their rights records were attacked.

International law also points to basic standards that countries are responsible for meeting and those remedies may be race-based or clearly targeted at disadvantaged groups, while affirmative in the U.S. has been eviscerated, they note.

It is going to be very difficult for the United States to paint a pretty picture, added Mr. Baraka.

As part of the UPR process, the U.S. government will have to address some elements contained in a 400-plus page report compiled by prominent U.S. civil and human rights organizations that include the NAACP, Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union.

It gives an overview—unlike the report submitted in August by the U.S. government—of the disparities Blacks, Latinos and the Indigenous populations face within the United States, he said.

The U.S. delegates will appear before the UN body and read various parts of their report, then field questions from the human rights panel and member states. At the close of the session the Human Rights Council will offer written recommendations to improve human rights shortcomings and submit their findings to delegates on Nov. 9.

The U.S. will be given an opportunity to respond, but the recommendations will remain.

In the first part of 2011, the Human Rights Council puts the recommendations to a vote, then the U.S. is officially charged with working on meeting the recommendations.

“There are serious concerns in the U.S. I don't think there is any way around that. The government is going to try to spin certain things, while others they might acknowledge certain issues and talk about what they are doing to address those issues, but I think there are certain issues that are so egregious that I don't see how they are going to spin their way out of this. Especially in the light of critical questions we have raised that will be a part of the UPR process,” Mr. Baraka said.

“Doing this kind of objective, in-depth review, we have the opportunity to maybe unearth or take a look at areas we can improve,” conceded Ms. Thompson, of the State Dept.

“Human rights advocates have not only documented substandard human rights practices which have persisted in the U.S. for years, but also those that reflect the precipitous erosion of human rights protections in the U.S. since 9/11,” charged Sarah Paoletti of U.S. Human Rights Network, which only deals with human rights problems in America. Whether its migrant workers, children denied education, or women denied equal pay, “advocates feel compelled to bring their experiences before international human rights mechanisms because the U.S. legal system has fallen short,” she said.

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