Black Media: Speak Truth To Power

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[Column: I Write What I Like]

One hundred eighty years ago, on March 16, John B. Russwurm and Samuel Cornish would publish the Freedom’s Journal, the first Black newspaper in the United States, in New York City, to counter the attacks being made on Blacks by the New York Enquirer. Slavery in New York would end on July 4, 1827.

The first two sentences of the first editorial are still challenging us today: “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.� One hundred forty-two years after the chains of chattel slavery were broken, we are still unable to engage in political speech and, therefore, political debate. Thus, the annual voting rights celebrations in Selma, AL are premature.

Consider the following sentence: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.� These are the words of George Orwell who, in effect, addressed our plight. The British-based Guardian newspaper says, “Obama doesn’t make white people feel too white, or at least, too bad about being white.�

In other words, if Obama is able to secure the keys to the White House, it will not be a barometer of Blacks enjoying political freedom. Unless Obama behaves like a house Negro, he will be given the political boot. Black faces in high places is not the answer.

When a Black lawyer is able to truthfully accuse a white man, like Steven Pagones, of being involved in the kidnapping and rape of Tawana Brawley without suffering a penalty, Blacks will enjoy political freedom. Similarly, when a white prosecutor is able to prosecute white males for raping a Black female without suffering a penalty, Blacks will enjoy political freedom.

Whites formed the NAACP to counterpoise the Niagara Movement and, afterwards, it would assault the Universal Negro Improvement Association. With Joel E. Spingarn at the helm, the NAACP was off to the races. Whites would think and speak for us or through us.

Today, we not only believe in the use of white, commercial lawyers, unlike the William Kunstlers, but we insist that our story be told through the white media. Consider the Sean Bell et al. case: Apparently, persons close to the family of Sean Bell et al. advised them to tell their stories to the white media. This was a big mistake. It created a grand jury trap.

These friends would become pawns before the grand jury. It was a chess move. The assassins in Sean Bell et al. testified after the pawns. They had constructive access to the grand jury transcripts. Prosecutors could use the pawns’ transcripts to guide the assassins through the legal minefields.

I have developed certain maxims for Black logic. One of them is that Blacks are always knocking on the wrong door, talking to the wrong person and raising the wrong question. In Sean Bell et al., the call is for the resignation of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. To be sure, Kelly is “a� question but he is not “the� question.

Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown has openly and outrageously abused the grand jury process. He put the elements of a public trial into a grand jury proceeding. The grand jury is ill-equipped to ascertain the guilt or innocence of the suspects. The public has been denied rights under the Sixth Amendment.

The key question before the grand jury should not have been whether the assassins identified themselves before they fired on their victims but whether the assassins violated the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments in firing on the victims. Instructions concerning the victims’ constitutional rights will never be given to the grand jury. The state’s no-sock law will rule the roost.

Wrong questions before the grand jury mean wrong grand jury instructions. The assassins and the prosecutor get the last word. The grand jury will adhere to the prosecutor’s instructions which will be tailored for the grand jury to give a favorable impression to the assassins’ testimony.

Soon after I arrived in New York City, I became acutely aware of the political backwardness of Blacks. Political ignorance can be hazardous to your health. It allows history to continue to repeat itself. It has already happened in Amadou Diallo and Blacks are still clueless in Sean Bell et al.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad described Blacks as “deaf, dumb and blind.� Kwame Ture urged Blacks to get a political education. Voter education sustains plantation politics. Dr. Amos Wilson sacrificed his life to write “Blueprint for Black Power.� Black selected officials, leading Blacks and civil rights pacifists have stepped in to fill the void. Our survival will start with critical thinking.

I had to, per force, give up a private practice to become a pro bono, private attorney general to shield Black ignorance and to protect the public interest of Blacks. A people without a “David� will be steamrolled over by a “Goliath.� Blacks have no trained personnel, in New York, to combat white supremacy.

Cong. Charles Rangel helped empower Gov. Eliot Spitzer and, now, Local 1199 is facing a steamroller on health care. Local 1199 turned its head while Spitzer was pouncing on Black advocates. This is a classic example of Blacks financing and endorsing their own oppression.

Blacks were given rights in the 1960’s. These rights would invoke the Peter Principle. Rights expand responsibilities. These newly-created rights are putting us back in bondage because we have solicited whites to perform our responsibilities. This is a replay of post-African colonialism.

U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani convened a grand jury to secure an indictment against me in 1983. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau prosecuted me in 1984. State Attorney General Robert Abrams caused my permanent suspension from the practice of law in 1990, after white members of the New York Legislature demanded my head in 1988.

I am the victim but Blacks are the target. This dichotomy confuses our people. Prosecutors are guardians ad litem of law enforcement officials. I was the only person stepping on the toes of the police. Stated another way, I am the only Black person in New York who is being openly hounded by the courts for defending Black people.

When the criminal justice system hunted down John Gotti, it put his lawyer, Bruce Cutler, under house arrest. Gotti died in prison. When a Black lawyer takes a similar stance for Black people, he is permanently removed from the practice of law. The result in Sean Bell et al. should be obvious. How can the cops go to prison when the prosecutor is competing against the undefended victims?

My story could never be told in a white newspaper. Russwurm and Cornish recognized the need for an organ to counter the defamation and propaganda systematically hurled against persons of African ancestry. History has proven that Blacks have no permanent friends. Thanks for 180 years of Black journalism.

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“Speaking Truth To Empower,� is our motto.

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