Missing Mississippi Man Found Hanging From Tree

otisbyrd

A missing Mississippi man was found hanging from a tree on Thursday. It has yet to be determined whether he was lynched or if he committed suicide.

From CNN:

The hanging death of an African-American man who had been missing since early this month and was found Thursday by local authorities in Mississippi has drawn the scrutiny of the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

The sheriff’s office in Claiborne County, Mississippi, had organized a search for the man, who had been missing since March 2 and was reported missing March 8. Authorities said the man’s body was found with a bed sheet tied around his neck and a skull cap on his head, hanging from a tree. The man’s hands were not tied up.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jason Pack said that it’s unclear how the man died, and “it is too early to say what happened and speculate.”

“We don’t know what happened out there, if it is a suicide, a homicide, that is why we investigate these types of cases to determine exactly what happened,” he told CNN affiliate WAPT.

Read more at CNN.

 

Photo: Otis Byrd/Undated hand out photo

This Tweet Is the Perfect Response to Respectability Politics

The violent arrest of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson, has set off a wave of conversation about police brutality and respectability politics. It’s clear that no black body is safe from police violence.

 

 

 

 

Photo: Screenshot/Twitter

Students Hold Rally After Violent Arrest Of Martese Johnson

A rally was held Wednesday night to protest the arrest and beating of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson.

From The Root:

On Wednesday evening, University of Virginia students gathered to protest the beating and arrest of third-year student Martese Johnson, 20, who was accosted by Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) officers in what many witnesses call an unprovoked attack after Johnson was denied entry to a bar.

UVA students marched through the streets chanting, “Shut it down” and “Black lives matters,” NBC 12 reports.

According to the news station, protesters used the rally as a cathartic experience for those affected by the event to share their thoughts. Johnson spoke briefly to the crowd, urging those in attendance to be respectful of each other’s opinions.

“I beg for you guys, regardless of your personal opinions and the way you feel about subjects, to please respect everyone up here, we’re all part of one community,” Johnson said, the news station reports. “And we deserve to respect each other, especially in times like this, thank you.”

According to several news reports, Johnson, 20, an honors student at the school was denied entry to Trinity Bar early Wednesday morning for reportedly using a fake ID. After Johnson was denied entry, several witnesses report that he was walking away from the establishment when two ABC officers approached him to arrest him.

Read more at The Root.

Photo: Screenshot/NBC 12

#IAmMarteseJohnson: Myths of Respectability, Safety and Education

Martese Johnson

By Jay Dodd

On a fairly warm November night, my two best boys and I were walking across campus from their apartment to my house, in an attempt to satiate our cabin fever from spending all day inside. It was oddly nice out for the season and we stopped underneath some streetlights to take selfies. Blissfully unaware and slightly less than sober, we didn’t even notice a cop car approaching us. When he called out to us we jumped in panic. He interrogated us on where were coming from, what our plans were, what we were doing on campus. Never asked for campus ID or our names, just a suspicion of our being. Shook up and assuming he wouldn’t do something to all three of us, we continued walking away as we attempted to end the interaction. We all but ran away, constantly looking over our shoulders hoping this would not continue. The officer who didn’t even bother to pull over stayed in the middle of the street and watched us as we made it all the way to my doorstep.

While knowledge is power, there is an insidious myth that education is the key in combatting anti-Black violence. I am a child of this sentiment. My mother’s sacrifices got me in the best schools, sometimes hours from my house, and she supported me when I decided to move to CT for boarding school. So many Black college students, from first generation to legacies, are indoctrinated with the idea that education will legitimate their humanity in a nation (read: world) that continually attempts to prove otherwise. Upon entering my undergrad (a small liberal arts non-Harvard school just outside of Boston), I almost believed I would be protected. I believed, naively, that the suspicion, surveillance and policing that Black folk have combatted for years would miss me. That it missed Black boys like me. While I never felt “better” in terms of superiority, foolishly, I felt “safe”.

 I am Martese Johnson. I was Black boy in White college. I was upstanding and still unsafe.

 

The grotesque images of Johnson’s face urges us to revisit any myths surrounding the danger of being Black in this country. Respectability at its most dangerous. Education is only one tool of respectability politics ravaging the Black community. It manifest in the “if you are ‘educated’ you won’t be a target” mentality, one full of fallacies. Education didn’t protect Aiyana Jones from being killed in living room. The success of high school graduation didn’t protect Mike Brown from summertime execution. Education didn’t protect Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, arrested for trying to get into his own home. Honor student status didn’t protect Martese. Here lies a hole in respectability.

Aspirations of wealth, success, and prosperity (whatever way they manifest) can be central to Black imagination, and we must still remember the terror placed on our bodies. How Black children are stripped of childhood, how Black women are read as impervious to violence, how Black men fear the short walk home. These fears run through us with traumatic memories from the days our bodies first came ashore. Some attempt to distant Blackness from the educated or wealthy, these symbols of hegemonic success do nothing to protect the Black folk who attain them. Black college kids are not protected from these fears or danger. No matter what institution they attend.

While our hood cousins get patrolled by local cops, college campuses are no safer. In the yet unfinished dragging of the American police state, reignited by the highest visibility of anti-Blackness in recent memory, a large focus has been placed on police officers at the local and state level. However, additional interrogation is needed for the police/security officers on college campuses. The tyranny of anti-Black policing stretches into ever crevice of our nation. Campus police are as implicit in state violence against Black Folk as any local department.

Black college kids are not protected from fear or danger.

After four years at an institution, I can still be read as suspicious, out of place, unworthy. Martese was a community leader and model student and his Blackness still proved too much. Using a fake ID or not, Martese didn’t deserve such violence, and as we’ve seen it take even less to endanger Black life. Respectability is a myth that can’t save anyone.

More over, why attempt respect from folks who don’t see you as human?

—–

Jay Dodd is a writer and performance artist based in Boston, originally from Los Angeles. After recently graduating Tufts University, Jay has organized vigils and protests locally for Black Lives Matter: Boston. When not in the streets, Jay has contributed to Huffington Post and is currently a contributing writer for VSNotebook.com, based in London. Jay Dodd is active on social media celebrating Blackness, interrogating masculinity, and complicating queerness. His poetic and performance work speaks to queer Black masculinity and afrofuturism.

 

Photo: Martese Johnson/Facebook

 

Black UVA Student Viciously Beaten By Police

martese johnson

A black University of Virginia junior was viciously beaten by police on Tuesday night. Martese Johnson, a junior from Chicago, was apparently beaten for having a fake ID. According to the Cavalier Daily, Johnson was “arrested on charges of resisting arrest, obstructing justice without threats of force, and profane swearing or intoxication in public”. According to witnesses, Johnson was not resisting arrest.

Johnson is an active student on campus and is a member of UVA’s Honor Committee, Black Student Association and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

A group of concerned black students sent this email to the university’s community:

This morning Martese Johnson emerged with a head injury requiring 10 stitches.

He was brutalized by Virginia ABC law enforcement outside of Trinity Irish Pub. His face was bloodied. His body was bruised.

Outside of the doors of Trinity Irish Pub, a mass of University students bore witness to the officer’s animalistic, insensitive, and brute handling of Martese. He was left with his blood splattered on the pavement of University Avenue.

Today, we are reminded of the gruesome reality that we are not immune to injustice; as University students, we are not impervious to the brutality that has reeled on news cycles around the country. We have marched and shouted that we are Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, but the proximity of this morning’s brutality to a member of our community has deepened that wound. It is no longer happening only on national television—it is a reality here and now at the University of Virginia that we must face as a collective.

After Martese was denied entry to the bar, he found himself suddenly flung to the ground. The brutish force used resulted in his head and bodily injuries. His treatment was unprovoked as he did not resist questioning or arrest. In confusion, with blood painting his face and creating a pool on the bricks of the corner, he yelled out for mercy. Though he lay bleeding and crying out, officers continued to hold him to the pavement, pinning him down, twisting his arm, with knees to his back until he was handcuffed.

As students pleaded with officers to lift Martese from the ground they were pushed away, and some were even handcuffed and threatened with possible arrest if they did not leave the scene.

We demand there be a swift and thorough investigation on the state, local, and University levels. We have seen what happens at the University when we allow problems we have long known exist to be handled quietly, so we will not be quiet. We demand noise from each other, noise from professors, noise from administrators. Martese, like any other student at this university, like any other person in this country and in this world, deserves more than our uproar: he deserves follow through and intentional action.

Look forward to a follow up email regarding further plans and actions.

Sincerely,

Concerned Black Students

For many students, this incident has stirred up a general sense of anger on campus. “This is serving as a huge wake up call,” student Eden Zekarias told me.

A demonstration has been planned in Charlottesville tonight. University President Teresa Sullivan has submitted a request to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to open a state investigation into Johnson’s arrest.

ICYMI: Raven-Symoné Says ‘Some People Look Like Animals’

Raven-Symoné doesn’t seem to think comparing Michelle Obama to an ape is racist.

Last week, Univision news anchor Rodner Figueroa was fired after comparing Michelle Obama to an ape from Planet of the Apes while on air. There’s a long history of racist, dehumanizing tropes that compare black people to animals.

On The View, Symoné was unconvinced when Rosie Perez said that there is racism in Latino communities and that this incident was a clear case of racism.

“But was he saying it racist-like? Because he said he voted for her later. And I don’t think he was saying it racist. Not Michelle Obama. Michelle, don’t fire me from this right now, but some people do look like animals. So can I be mad if someone called me Toucan Sam,” Symoné joked.

Yes, Raven. Maybe you should be.

 

Photo: Raven-Symoné/Facebook

Elite Degrees Give Black Americans Little Advantage In Job Market

harvard

A new study from the University of Michigan shows that elite credentials give black Americans very little advantage in the job market.

From the University of Michigan:

Gaddis used a unique field experiment to test the value of different types of college degrees in the labor market for white and black candidates. He created more than 1,000 fake job applicants through email addresses, phone numbers and résumés, and applied to jobs online. Each candidate listed a degree from either an elite school (Harvard, Stanford, Duke) or a nationally ranked, but less-selective state university (University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of California-Riverside, University of North Carolina-Greensboro).

Additionally, the candidates had first names that likely identified their race: Jalen, Lamar and DaQuan (black/male); Nia, Ebony, and Shanice (black/female); Caleb, Charlie and Ronny (white/male); and Aubrey, Erica and Lesly (white/female).

White job applicants with a degree from an elite university had the highest response rate (nearly 18 percent), followed by black candidates with a degree from an elite university (13 percent) and white candidates with a degree from a less-selective university (more than 11 percent). Black job applicants with a degree from a less-selective university had the lowest response rate (less than 7 percent).

Read the entire study here.

 

Photo: Harvard