Commentary By Bakari Kitwana

 

Originally Published on Ebony.com (June 23, 2015)

By Bakari Kitwana

Two weeks ago today, I, along with seven other Cleveland area activists, filed affidavits with the municipal court calling for the arrest of Police Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback for their involvement in the killing of 12 year-old Tamir Rice. Tamir was gunned down in less than two seconds in a park at a community center near his home. While many in the community have applauded our approach as a breath of fresh air toward obtaining justice, Police Patrolmen’s Association President...

Originally published on newsone.com

Political activists around the country are still absorbing the news of Geronimo ji Jaga’s death. For those of us who came of age in the 80s and 90s, the struggles of the late 1960s and early 1970s were in many ways a gateway for our examination of the history of Black political resistance in the US. Geronimo ji Jaga (formerly Geronimo Pratt) and his personal struggle, as well as his contributions to the fight for social justice were impossible to ignore. His commitment, humility, clear thinking as well as his sense of both the longevity and continuity of the Black Freedom Movement in the US all stood out to those who knew him.

I interviewed him for The Source magazine in early September 1997 about three months after he was released from prison, having served 27 years of a life sentence for a murder he didn’t commit. Three things stood out from the interview, all of which have been missed by recent commentary celebrating his life and impact.

First that famed attorney Johnnie Cochran was not only his lawyer when ji Jaga gained his freedom, but also represented him in his original trial. They were from the...

Originally published in the Huffingtonpost.com

As the 2012 presidential election ramps up, expect conservatives to keep gunning for black youth, in general, and hip-hop, specifically. Black youth showed significant gains in 2008, and now represent the group of 18- to 29-year-old who vote the most. Their ability via popular to inspire young voters -- who in 2008 voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by a ratio of 2-to-1 -- poses one of the most viable threats to Republicans' aspirations to retake the Ppesidency. The recent national discussion surrounding the rapper Common's appearance at the White House is perhaps the first salvo.

What was quickly summed up as either an attempt to defend law enforcement or as an attack on the value of the arts does not get to the heart of what conservatives were really communicating to voters in the Common dust-up. That is, is there a place in mainstream American political life for young blacks, whose political views don't always fall within traditional mainstream conservative/liberal lines?

Black youth, particularly those who are poor and often ignored by politicians and lawmakers, are the men and women that the...

The Huffington Post

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - 2:45pm

Originally published in the Huffingtonpost.com

As the 2012 presidential election ramps up, expect conservatives to keep gunning for black youth, in general, and hip-hop, specifically. Black youth showed significant gains in 2008, and now represent the group of 18- to 29-year-old who vote the most. Their ability via popular to inspire young voters -- who in 2008 voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by a ratio of 2-to-1 -- poses one of the most viable threats to Republicans' aspirations to retake the Ppesidency. The recent national discussion surrounding the rapper Common'...

Sunday, November 7, 2010 - 11:33am

Let’s begin with the premise that no people, culture, religious, racial or ethnic group is by definition immoral. Not acknowledging this, at the core, is the problem with Juan Williams’ gross generalization about Muslims that recently got him fired from National Public Radio (NPR). But if NPR’s “Fresh Air” interview last week with the rapper Jay-Z about his new book Decoded is any indication, it’s a message still lost on Terry Gross.

To be sure, Juan Williams revealed his bias by openly expressing his personal opinion. Terry Gross didn’t do that. Instead the bias is more subtle and...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 2:43pm

Originally published in the Huffingtonpost.com

As the 2010 midterm election season winds down, electoral politics experts agree that 18-29 year-old voters have a pivotal role to play on November 2nd. Anxiety among Democrats and Republicans concerning the way the political winds will blow the youth vote is crystallizing around the idea that over the last two years President Barack Obama did not fulfill his campaign commitments to the 14 million plus young voters so crucial to his 2008 victory.

Last week, the Houston, Texas local Fox affiliate framed the question like...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 12:32pm

As the 2010 midterm election season winds down, electoral politics experts agree that 18-29 year-old voters have a pivotal role to play on November 2nd. Anxiety among Democrats and Republicans concerning the way the political winds will blow the youth vote is crystallizing around the idea that over the last two years President Barack Obama did not fulfill his campaign commitments to the 14 million plus young voters so crucial to his 2008 victory.

Last week, the Houston, Texas local Fox affiliate framed the question like this: "Youth Vote: Obama Boost or Backlash?" or as reporter...