Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NAACP complicit in Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racism

NAACP complicit in Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racism

by Rashard Zanders, Twin Cites, MN, April 29, 2014

Note: As I am writing this reports have emerged online that new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has handed down a $2.5 million fine and more importantly, a lifetime ban from the NBA. Kudos Commissioner Silver for acting swiftly and decisively in your first league crisis.

Like most fans of the NBA I too was stunned by the visceral racist rant, first revealed by, made by Donald Sterling, the billionaire owner of the LA Clippers basketball team. Perhaps some form of social amnesia made us forget that this person has a long and prolific history of discrimination and racist behaviors.

However, I was blown away to learn, that not only did the recidivist bigot earn a LifeTime Achievement Award from the LA NAACP back in 2009, he was on the verge, through various charitable donations to the “civil rights” organization's youth programs, of receiving another one at an upcoming banquet.. TWO LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS despite a long track record of denying person's of color housing apartments he owns. As the LA Times reported:

Sterling and his wife, Rochelle, agreed to pay a record settlement of $2.7 million in 2009 regarding allegations that they discriminated against African Americans, Latinos and families with children at scores of apartment buildings they own around Los Angeles.

The settlement was the largest ever obtained by the Justice Department in a housing discrimination case involving apartment rentals, officials said. Under the agreement, the Sterlings' insurers would pay $2.625 million to a fund for people who were allegedly harmed by their discriminatory practices, officials said. Sterling's attorney at the time said his client denied any wrongdoing and didn't discriminate.”
The same article makes mention of NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor's suit discrimination suit against Sterling a few years ago:
A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury rejected NBA great Elgin Baylor's termination lawsuit against the Clippers.
Baylor claimed he was harassed and subjected to age discrimination leading to his 2008 departure after 22 years as a Clippers executive. When Baylor filed the suit in February 2009, he alleged that a racist culture existed at the Clippers. Baylor called it a "plantation mentality" in a deposition and said that Sterling rejected a coaching candidate, Jim Brewer, because he was [B]lack.”
On April 28th I sent the following email to the NAACP's LA chapter:

This is addressed to anyone willing to answer a question for a freelance writer (me) and my blog My question is concerning the LA NAACP's relationship with Mr. Donald Sterling -- he of recent racist comments and the LA Clippers owner --and how, or why, was he going to receive a lifetime achievement award despite a long and well-documented history as a racist? As one of the watchdogs and defenders of civil rights, I assume there is at least some rigor and due diligence in selecting NAACP award members. Can anyone speak on this? An email will suffice.

That is all I want to ask. I hope an answer is forthcoming

Yours in the struggle,”

I waited patiently for a response to come to my inbox. None came. Maybe they were busy preparing their tepid excuses for helping to obscure Sterling's bigotry while greedily gobbling up his donations. How could such a perverse bigot as Sterling, with his record, qualify for not one but TWO Lifetime Achievement Awards? As Luwie wrote on the

If you are not working towards the advancement and freedom of [B]lack people, why would you be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award? Donald definitely wasn’t with us shooting in the freedom gym. If you’re going to give a white man an NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, he better be out on these front lines preaching equality right next to Al and Jesse. He better be taking down the bricks of the house of white supremacy one by one with his bare hands. He better be doing real concrete things that are dismantling the system of racism that his skinfolk work tirelessly to keep in place.”

Earlier that morning while watching CNN I listened as the president of the LA NAACP chapter, Leon Jenkins thronged by other members of his organization address the Donald Sterling controversy and the NAACP's relationship with him. What he blathered encapsulates one of the unfortunate realities of groups like the NAACP – they are beholden to money over principles of justice. Remember, this is the same organization that shrank away from Dr. ML King Jr after his historic Riverside Church address which addressed the criminality of poverty and the Vietnam War, the latter being a topic many civil rights leaders promised the government they wouldn't touch. Their acquiescence to the deep pockets of a racist billionaire points to a crisis of leadership within what was alleged to be the most venerable civil rights organization in the United States. Actually my vote would go to the Southern Poverty Law Center if I had a say.

What the people of LA and the nation needed from that chapter of the NAACP was dynamic leadership. It's one thing to say you won't bestow an award, or will return donated money; but without disclosing how much money they've actually received from him they continue to trade in civil rights advocacy and the cause of social justice to the highest bidder. Kinda like some auctions from the 19th century.

What the people got was a civil rights organization that is a shell of it's former self.

If the NAACP didn’t know of Donald Sterling’s past, then they're proving that they're incredibly out of the loop. In fact, it’ll mean that they’re so out of the loop that they must have ended up in a square by way of Apple Maps. And if they did know about his discriminatory deeds and they chose to honor him anyway just because he dropped some coins in a bucket, then they put a price on our people’s worth.”
Perhaps now that the Commissioner of the NBA has dealt swiftly and decisively against Sterling by instituting a lifetime ban against him, the members who make up the rank and file of LA's NAACP chapter will be motivated to critically reexamine the quality of leadership they elected, and move just as swiftly to change it.

Rashard Zanders is a freelance writer from Chicago currently living in the TCs, MN. He can be reached at 872-228-4179 or via email at

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Disingenuous “allies” plague Blacks' attempts to better their communities

Disingenuous “allies” plague Blacks' attempts to better their communities By Rashard Zanders Twin Cities, MN – April 23, 2014 – On April 18th, last Friday, a “Safety Summit” was held on Minneapolis' northside, attended by Minneapolis' Mayor Betsy Hodges, Police Chief Jan Harteau and Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek among others. It is with some cynicism that I read Minneapolis Star-Tribune writer Matt McKinney's article “Northside safety summit examines ways to fight crime in Minneapolis neighborhoods,” given the sheriff's position opposing many social justice initiatives that would significantly reduce crime. At the summit, held at the former Minneapolis Public Education building on W. Broadway Avenue on the city's northeast side. Stanek, a former republican state legislator, said, “So often you get behind the curve and you don’t get folks like us together until there’s a polarizing incident and it’s, ‘Oh my God. Now what are we going to do?...The idea was to say ‘OK, who’s got what resources and how can we leverage them?’ ” Given the sheriff's past love of the hated “N” word I suppose he should be applauded now for using the pronoun “us” in his quote. But what I find truly insidious, besides the fact that he was elected sheriff with large support from the city's African American leaders. Yet, away from lights, camera's and the feel good communal hug of a summit, words and deeds betray the veracity of sheriff Stanek's allegiances According to McKinney's article, the northside of Minneapolis has seen one-third of the city's violent crime and half of it's shootings over the last 14 years. Unfortunately for the people who have to live in higher crime areas, the sheriff's actions do not match his words of allegiance in the fight against crime. Consider his September 18, 2013 editorial, “Lax marijuana legislation is bad,” (Star-Tribune, Sept. 18, 2013)(federal anti-drug enforcement funds –good!) in the Star-Tribune on legal marijuana in the aftermath of Colorado's and Washington's legalization of the herb this year. Speaking as the sheriff and as the president of the Major Counties Sheriff's Association, Stanek bemoans that the two states' legalizing of marijuana are in opposition to federal laws which still make it illegal. When the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a statement late last summer pledging not to challenge Washington's and Colorado's new legalization laws, Stanek felt compelled to recite what are now known to be lies and half truths about the dangers of marijuana. “As law enforcement officials with decades of experience, we know that keeping neighborhoods safe will become more difficult for our men and women on the front lines because of the DOJ’s decision.This will encourage other states to legalize marijuana,” he gloomily warned.”. One would think that as a law enforcement official with decades of experience, he would be well informed, intuitively, that prior and current “war on drugs” offensives have not been successful, and have worked only to further entrench a cutthroat mentality and a fratricidal gangster culture among our opportunity-challenged youths. He goes on to resurrect the oft-repeated myth that “Marijuana is an addictive gateway drug that harms Minnesota’s children and public safety in every community in our state.,” and for added measure, “”I have seen firsthand in Hennepin County that there is a direct connection between marijuana and violent crime. “ It is here that the eyes roll to the back of the head and my knees buckled. The relationship between violent crime and marijuana is nil to negligible at best. And it is a fallacy that most visibly betrays his posture as an ally in the fight against crime. The fact is, Stanek, like so many other sheriff's departments nationwide, are addicts themselves: addicted to federal drug enforcement monies which enables the police and courts to stuff prisons and jails with non-violent marijuana offenders. He sites that “drug task forces” have made the connection between marijuana and violent crime, and that 54 percent o f violent inmates booked in Hennepin County jail tested positive for marijuana. What we are not given is what other drugs or alcohol could have shown up in test results. Stanek also offers this unsubstantiated claim: “The DOJ announcement sends the wrong message about the dangers of marijuana, especially to youths. Scientists have concluded that it harms adolescent brains and is linked to both lower IQ scores and learning problems. More teenagers are treated for marijuana abuse than for alcohol plus all other drugs combined. I know, it's a proverbial doozey. He goes on to state that “Those in favor of legalizing marijuana argue that it would eliminate the criminal gangs and violence that result from illegal sales. These are false promises. There is no silver bullet that will eliminate the crime associated with marijuana sales. Governments will put restrictions on legal marijuana such as age limits and, potentially, limits on the potency of the drug. The criminal gangs will conduct illegal sales to those who want to avoid the restrictions. Of couse, having never tried legalization, Stanek is uniquely qualified to declare it as no silver bullet against criminal activity. And simply stating that these are “false promises” doesn't make them false. Significant reduction or maybe even the elimination, naively,of violent crime should be the goal of law enforcement, and eliminating the causes should be a part of that. Legalization might also free courageous law enforcement agencies to go out and fight actual violent offenders, those who should be in prison: murderers, rapists, child molesters, etc. It would also free individuals in society to draft legislation going after the white collar criminals who have so destructively ravaged our economy and betrayed the working classes who make it hum. With comments and stances against wise societal policies, and a peon's slavish devotion to a failed and tragic war on drugs, Stanek stands in direct opposition to what crime plagued communities need: Real allies capable of progressive thinking, wisdom, leadership, and a willingness to admit when a philosophy is no longer operational. The Black “leaders” who have embraced this former N word loving beat cop deserve some of the criticism as well, for again trading the needs of the communities they allege to serve for empty political access and social status. The next time we have a crime summit in the Twin Cities, maybe members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) could be invited to provide the needed counterpoint residents and voters may need come next election cycle. Imagine how nice it would be to hear a Hennepin County Sheriff paraphrase something in the “Who We Are” link on the LEAP website: “By continuing to fight the so-called “War on Drugs,” the US government has worsened these problems of society instead of alleviating them. A system of regulation and control of these substances (by the government, replacing the current system of control by the black market) would be a less harmful, less costly, more ethical, and more effective public policy. “ As recently as a few weeks ago Stanek opposed legislation that would save the lives of heroin overdose victims because he feels the priority should be on arresting the dealers over saving the life of the addict. The legislation protecting lives passed over Stanek's objections. We should really hold our allies to a higher standard of social justice. For further reading: Rashard Zanders is a freelance writer currently loitering in TC cafe's. Wishes you were here. He can be reached via email at rashard.zanders or at 872-228-4179.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier goes where Hollywood normally fears to tread

From DISNEY no less?!? Captain America: The Winter Soldier goes where no comic/action film has gone before. Be glad for it. By Rashard Zanders – Twin Cities, MN Like most comic book nerds today I am among those ecstatic with the frequency and quality of the Marvel superhero movies that have dominated the box office since the release of Iron Man I. The success of the films, including films depicting Marvel heroes Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America and the Avengers, validates these nerds' tacit contention that the stories and characters in Marvel's lexicon a rich, layered and textured stories; character driven and action packed escapism. Which is why I found myself even more pleasantly surprised after viewing CA: TWS. What was so surprising about the Winter Soldier is not so much how rousing an action vehicle is is, and it is surely that. What surprised was a central element of its plot and how unDisney, non-escapist, adding this plot twist is. Spoiler here: As any fan of Marvel knows, the superhero cliques are basically managed by a shadowy government agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D, or Shield, a quasi-NSA/CIA type organization vested with defending the United States from threats galactic and terrestrial, and employing the same secrecy as it's real time counterparts. Where the movie goes off the usual formula for a summer blockbuster (lots of action, dumbed down plots, etc) is when it dives into a very little known fact that during the end of WWII, the US, Britain, France, and Russia covertly saved the surviving nazi brain trust. “In her new book “Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program to Bring Nazi Scientists to America” (Little, Brown and Company), author Annie Jacobsen uses newly released documents, court transcripts, and family-held archives to give the fullest accounting yet of this endeavor — one shared by the British, the French, and the Russians, all of whom enlisted and embraced top Nazis. “ from This is a part of American history that will never make it into US students' history books: it doesn't mesh well with the mythology of American heroism. But there was meshing going on..particularly the meshing of the nazi braintrust with high level secret American space and military projects, such as the inception of NASA and the transition of the US intelligence apparatus from the OSS to the CIA. In the Winter Soldier the highest ranking Shield operative is Director Alexander Pierce, played with understated creep by Robert Redford. By the end we discover that he, along with most of Shield, has been infiltrated and coopted by the movies nazi stand-ins, HYDRA, a fictional, scientific wing of the nazi party. In fact, by the end of the film, it is apparent that HYDRA has been inside of Shield since the end of WWII. Hence, most of the military and security operations executed by Shield have in reality, been at the behest of HYDRA for the last 70 plus years. And doesn't it make sense? The majority of US military involvement since WWII has been against nations of color; most of whom began fighting independence struggles against US and Western colonizers shortly after WWII ended. It seems democracy was an ideal to rally around for some, not all. An objective view of US foreign policy mis-adventures, civil rights climate past and present, and an understanding of US covert actions against Third World nations struggling for self-determination, working poor struggling to make a life in the land of the free, it becomes evident that Captain America: The Winter Soldier's plot twist was really taking a page from our own history. A history that continues to forget it's past. By illuminating this cooperative relationship between Shield (CIA) and HYDRA (nazis), the movie educates its viewers in a way most Hollywood productions are afraid to: Ironic, given Walt Disney's own documented history as a nazi sympathizer. See also: