Another video. Another black person lying dead in the street. Another police officer, nameless, faceless, shouting into radios, “he’s dead.” A mother feels a pang in her stomach, her ears ring a sound she’ll never hear again. Charlotte, North Carolina. Ferguson, Missouri. Tulsa, Oklahoma. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And those are just the ones that make the news. The Washington Post (the paper of Watergate) keeps a running tab on who police are shooting. It seems they’re shooting more and more. And they’re fearing more than ever, too.
There have been days of protesting in Charlotte. People are fed-up. They’re tired. Day one ended in bloodshed after a man shot a protester in the head. Point blank. The crowd erupted. Social media followed suit. First, we heard that a protester shot his activist kin. Then, that it was the police. Now, finally, the truth: an assailant opened fire on Justin Carr setting off a tidal wave of rioting. The response was deafening, as usual.
What's going on
The violence feels senseless. The reactions to black people doing completely ordinary things seem absurd at best. And King Mez, a North Carolina emcee on the rise, agrees. “Unless something comes out that’s firm, hard evidence, it’s hard to pinpoint what’s actually going on,” he stated. “It doesn’t feel right to me. Especially since it’s a recurring theme.” Such a recurring theme, in fact, that the political right has readily jumped to the fantastical idea that the “mainstream media” is race-baiting, so ready liberals are to suit up for a racial holy war. How arbitrary those folks would rather do some magical thinking than deal with the reality: African-Americans, Latinos, and other POC are disproportionately affected by policing strategies that value escalation.
“That’s the thing that frustrates me, too,” says Mez. “People are always talking to us like we’re crazy like we’re supposed to be beyond this. I don’t even see how that makes any sense. We’re still dealing with this to this day.” His voice rises and falls in waves. You can feel the tension in it. His fear. Fear that all our lives are up for grabs in this free-for-all of a situation. We hit them with #BlackLivesMatter. Some argue that we’re separatists. We hate America. We want this discord, and, most disturbingly, that we deserve it.
The narrative of race
The narrative is a simple one. "Brown people commit the most crime, they argue. Of course, they’re the ones we should watch the closest." But these institutions have given themselves away. For, if you’re watching us as closely as you say you are, then it stands to reason that you could be stacking the deck. Who's watching the folks this media narrative presupposes is not committing a crime? And, the kicker, who is watching you? The examples of oversight are almost too numerous to claim. In June of 2015, an officer approached a young, black woman in a parking lot in Austin, Texas. The resulting exchange went viral. The officer body slammed her and generally acted the fool. She was arrested and placed in the back of another cruiser where she asked the question on everyone’s mind. The officer replied that blacks had “violent tendencies.” He elaborated, “Ninety-nine percent of the time … it is the black community that is being violent. That’s why a lot of white people are afraid. And I don’t blame them.”
I do. These narratives are costing us our lives. But what King Mez wants to know is where are the artists that are willing to speak out about these issues? “As an artist, I feel like I’m excited to do the things I can do with this art to make things better. But I’m really disappointed in anybody who ain’t using everything they have to make this sh*t better,” he notes. “I’m disappointed in the artists who won’t use their voice.” There are a few that are.
The artful protest
Some of the best musical output this year has been "protest" records. Jamila Woods Heavn and NoName’s Telefone are exuberant, somber redresses to bigotry. Colin Kaepernick’s silent kneeling during the National Anthem inspires both an image of prayer and of defiance. And Charlotte, too, has been artfully protesting. Through curfews and state emergencies, they’ve marched.
Even now that partial viewings of the dashcam and body camera videos of police officers involved in the shooting were released, still they march. Because, despite the rhetoric, protesting is an act of love. It’s a peaceful reminder that people matter. Mez wants to show that, as well. And he understands how hip-hop’s influence can shape the world. “Hip-hop is the most influential culture in the world. Even pop music sounds like hip-hop. Hip-hop culture influences the whole world. All we have to do to be together, but people’s minds are on so many other things,” says Mez. “It’s so much bigger than me. It’s so much bigger than my career. I’m so passionate about this.” With everything going on in his home state, how else could he be?
The Last Question
Blavity: Is there anything you do for self-care? It can be hard to watch all the media around this stuff.
King Mez: I’m going to be honest with you. It’s hard for me to watch [the videos] all the time. I definitely don’t like to see, but I honestly, in some instances, force myself to watch it. I want to feel those emotions. [That] will directly affect my art, directly affect the way I carry myself and the decisions I choose to make. What a lot of people don’t even realize is at this point all the decisions you make as a black man you’re not just making for you. You’re making them for everyone. You’re making them for the culture. As an artist, it’s not just about you anymore. It’s about everyone.
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Fantasia is the headliner of an "All Lives Matter" concert scheduled in Charlotte.
The event featuring Anthony Hamilton, John P. Kee, Dennis Reed and more was scheduled for Sunday evening in Uptown park, the site where protests took place just 24 hours earlier demanding the city release body cam footage of Keith Lamont Scott.
Fantasia is a North Carolina native, and the show was aimed at providing worship and peace after days of unrest following Scott's killing by a Charlotte police officer.
Despite her good intentions, the show didn't happen. Fantasia released a video on Sunday afternoon, notifying fans that the concert was postponed until next week after receiving a call from the city.
Important message regarding tonight's event. Please join us next week. Thank you to the city of Charlotte. pic.twitter.com/jw9dKSvsWO
— Fantasia Barrino (@TasiasWord) September 25, 2016
Fantasia and Anthony Hamilton kicked off a joint tour earlier this year, but this apparently was not a team effort. Hamilton released a video insisting he had nothing to do with the concert's promotion, nor did he support the ALM cause.
#BlackLivesMatter ✊🏾 | Read my article here: https://t.co/0YZcoZcEVB @ pic.twitter.com/cUarJ71eGB
— Anthony Hamilton (@HamiltonAnthony) September 25, 2016
On Friday, the soul singer wrote a piece for The Root opening up about the current turmoil and protests taking place in his hometown of Charlotte.
"We deserve to speak out against the injustices that plague communities of color. People often forget that, not long ago, dogs attacked us for peaceful protests. They put nooses around our necks and we swung from trees—displayed as America’s 'strange fruit.'"
Twitter was done long before the plug was pulled on Sunday's concert.
When someone finally reads that flyer to Fantasia, she is gonna be PISSED! pic.twitter.com/y6tTgWlGlI
— eяιc b. (@eb4prez) September 25, 2016
Fantasia's team was like pic.twitter.com/I3kFAmi18G
— ᴅᴏʟʟᴀʀ (@callmedollar) September 25, 2016
Fantasia's career is already on its 4th life and she goes and pulls some mess like this? pic.twitter.com/I2SpPAfwUF
— Stefano Dimera (@2much336) September 25, 2016
— pobrecito (@dangerousmoons) September 25, 2016
The show is still happening, however, a name change (if any) hasn't been announced.
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When police departments across the country began the use of body cameras, for some reason, the public took a collective sigh of relief in regards to critical issues within our criminal justice system.
Supporters proclaimed, "The cameras will hold officers accountable" and "It will allow our police departments to be more transparent."
We bought into their lies.
Well, more like everyone else believed them because I jumped off the bandwagon and joined club, "We don't believe you." So why did I get off the burning wagon? Because the killings of 12 black men before Alton Sterling were caught on camera. These cameras only make the issue visible, not accessible.
Take for instance the press conference held by Charlotte's police chief regarding the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott. Chief Kerr Putney was asked by a reporter about the mixed messages he was sending to the public regarding the department's investigation. Putney insisted there would be full transparency and then announced his decision not to release the tapes from Scott's shooting.
His response, "I appreciate your passion, but I never said full transparency. I said transparency.Transparency is in the eye of the beholder."
Did you realize that your mic was on?
Oxford defines the term transparent as, "Having thoughts or feelings that are easily perceived; open to public scrutiny."
Where, Putney? Where. Where is this transparency you speak of? Apparently, transparency or the lack thereof is a recurring theme for the state.
North Carolina has failed time and time again in the transparent department. Elected officials have cost the state the NBA All-Star Game, ACC Championship game and millions of dollars in tourism revenue. But I never expected the state of North Carolina to fail so miserably with its policing.
It's clear that Putney is not the only leader needing a dictionary to define transparency. During a press conference about mail fraud, Attorney General Loretta Lynch referenced the current state of affairs in her home state.
"The tragic incidents in Charlotte and in Tulsa, Oklahoma, earlier this week once again underscored the divisions that persist between law enforcement officers and communities of color. One of my top priorities as Attorney General has been to do everything in my power to help heal those divides, and the Department of Justice will continue working tirelessly to protect the rights of all Americans; to give law enforcement the resources they need to do their jobs safely and fairly; to open dialogue and promote reconciliation; and to reduce violence of all kind in this country," Lynch said.
She pushed for transparency without living up to the definition.
The DOJ has managed to storm us with more investigative reports detailing what we've already known to be true. (re: Baltimore's police are racially bias. Oh, and so is Ferguson.)
For every government employee who has failed to understand what transparency means let me help you out. Making a differentiation between "full transparency" and "transparency" is like you promising me a sweet potato pie but instead you bring me a pumpkin pie. Give me what you promised me, not what you think I will settle for. Give me the truth of why your officers are trained to respond to black men and women like targets but white criminals are getting hot meals on the way to the jail. Give me the truth of why a white man can eat two people alive and bite officers but he manages to escape the situation alive and unharmed.
Give me the truth as to why Keith Scott is not here.
Attorney General Lynch and Chief Putney, if you want protestors to demonstrate peacefully in Charlotte then we need you to practice this so-called transparency. And while you're at it, please remember the disruption of peace that it took to get you in the very seats you sit in today. We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. One day, you will get there too.
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After the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, NC earlier this week, the city has erupted into a state of unrest as both peaceful and violent protests flank the city. Protester Justin Carr was shot and killed during the demonstration on Wednesday. The suspected shooter was arrested Friday.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency in Charlotte and prompted the National Guard to assist local law enforcement.
Scott's death is only the most recent in a string of police-involved shootings that have claimed black lives this year. The resulting protests reflect the anger, fear, grief, and demands for justice that have been echoing across the country.
“I saw this woman throughout the protest. She was very vocal and was walking back and forth yelling at the line of officers. She finally had enough and sat down, throwing her fist into the air. If you look to her right you can see a tear gas canister. The light was perfect and it’s a very visual scene. It was a quiet moment in the middle of chaos.” - Brian Blanco _ Police clash with protesters as residents and activists protest the death of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina. | September 21, 2016 | 📷:Brian Blanco/Getty Images | #KeithScott #BlackLivesMatter #Charlotte #iamrollingout #Repost @gettyimages
A photo posted by Rolling Out (@rollingout) on Sep 22, 2016 at 8:39pm PDT
Here are several powerful images from the protests.
1. Protesters pass the Firebird sculpture in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
2. Frustration in Charlotte is widely felt as large groups took to the streets
3. Some have approached police lines head on.
4. One protestor kneels at the spot where Justin Carr was killed.
5. "Hands up, don't shoot"
6. Allies have joined the protests as well.
Word. #Charlotte pic.twitter.com/5fmlmPAznE
— Alice Speri (@alicesperi) September 23, 2016
7. Fists raised in solidarity.
8. 51-year-old Henry Lee silently refused to leave his seat during the protests.
9. A fire burns as protestors block I-85.
10. Witnesses insist that Keith Scott was unarmed. Protesters march with their hands up to signify the non-threatening stance.
11. We'll let you caption this
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Protests continued a second night after the murder of Keith Scott on Tuesday. With protests causing the Governor of North Carolina to call for a State of Emergency, the anger and rage of the community is prevalent. Last night Fox News reporter Steve Harrington was on the ground in Charlotte investigating rumors of the now confirmed shooting of Justin Carr by police.
While Steve Harrington was reporting, he was interrupted by a woman who was peacefully protesting. Making her stance known immediately, we can feel the passion and emotion behind her words saying “It’s okay for our brothers and our fathers not to come home right?" Through this entire clip Harrington is trying to look into another shooting that was reported earlier. The woman stands her ground and when asked why she was there. She continued “I’m here because...whether I’m here, I’m in school, I’m in my car...I can still get shot by the police."
The last minute or so of this interview puts an image to the lack of trust we have in the media and law enforcement. As Steve Harrington continues to try to get facts from the woman about the shooting, the protester believed Harrington was trying to get video of the victim to create a fabricated story. She said what a lot of us are thinking during these times and I have to commend her for speaking up on national television.
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According to numerous reports, an unarmed, disabled black man was fatally shot in Charlotte, North Carolina near the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Family members and bystanders on the scene said he was sitting in a card and reading a book while he was waiting for his son.
Police say they were attempting to serve a warrant to someone, but the reports say that the man in question was not the person they were looking for. Police also say that the man was holding a firearm, and "posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers," something that his family and bystanders say is not true.
Sources have confirmed the man's identity as 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott. According to his family, he is married and is the father of seven children.
A woman who is believed to be the his daughter, live streamed the scene of the shooting for over an hour on Facebook. She said she found out about her father's death on the news, and according to her, he was tasered and shot four times. Her Facebook live video depicted the tense aftermath between the authorities and the community. It was removed from Facebook soon after.
His sister spoke to WBTV News, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte on the scene as well.
Here's the man's sister. She says he did not have a gun. @CMPD says he did. @WBTV_News pic.twitter.com/JwHMixy9m7
— Sarah-Blake Morgan (@SarahBlakeWBTV) September 20, 2016
Large protests broke out near the scene of the shooting.
MORE VIDEO. pic.twitter.com/NzsxXUFRnx
— Sarah-Blake Morgan (@SarahBlakeWBTV) September 21, 2016
Crowd surrounding @CMPD cruiser. @WBTV_News pic.twitter.com/xl8tyGsB6c
— Sarah-Blake Morgan (@SarahBlakeWBTV) September 21, 2016
#BREAKING Protesters on Old Concord have surrounded a police car and are sitting on it @WBTV_News pic.twitter.com/0AsQMbkm65
— Alex Giles WBTV (@AlexGilesNews) September 21, 2016
Situation continues to escalate @wsoctv pic.twitter.com/niNSu11vTQ
— Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoWSOC9) September 21, 2016
WHO IS THIS??
Raw emotion from Charlotte.#KeithLamontScott#TerenceCrutcher#BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/6srQkT8W0e
— Unstripped Voice (@UnstrippedVoice) September 21, 2016
WBTV is also reporting that the officer that shot the man was black, and his name is Brently Vinson
. The officer, who was undercover, was not wearing a body cam. In a press conference, CMPD police chief Kerr Putney said 16 police offers had minor injuries in the protests, and one protester was arrested. Putney also said that he is looking for the narrative to be changed, and maintained the initial claims that Scott was armed, saying a weapon was seized and he does not definitively know if it was pointed toward the officer. He also said they need not find a book. It was crucial to note that North Carolina is an open-carry state.
As stated before, this police's story is in direct contrast to what his family and some people on the scene reported.
This shooting comes just after the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We will keep you updated on the latest with this story as it develops.
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While it's been rumored for a good while now, it's official that 2017 All-Star game will not be in Charlotte, North Carolina. The move by the NBA is all thanks to the state's controversial anti-LGBT legislation known as House Bill 2. The bill forbids transgender individuals from using the bathroom for the gender they identify as, among other things.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical first reported the news, followed by an announcement from the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets.
The NBA issued the following statement today regarding the 2017 NBA All-Star Game pic.twitter.com/2yo1YDA2Un
— NBA (@NBA) July 21, 2016
ESPN is reporting that sources have told them that the NBA is reaching out to multiple cities to take the game over. Wojnarowski says New Orleans is now the league's focus for a location, and Las Vegas is also being explored.
The league hopes to reschedule the game in the city by 2019, which leads us to assume that they hope the law is repealed by then.
Michael Jordan and the Hornets released a joint statement, which reads: "We understand the NBA's decision and the challenges around holding the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte this season. There was an exhaustive effort from all parties to keep the event in Charlotte, and we are disappointed we were unable to do so. With that said, we are pleased that the NBA opened the door for Charlotte to host All-Star Weekend again as soon as an opportunity was available in 2019. We want to thank the City of Charlotte and the business community for their backing throughout this entire process, starting with the initial bid. We are confident that they will be just as supportive and enthusiastic for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game."
Until the law is repealed, this could be the first of many sporting events, among other activities, to be pulled from the state and one of the nation's largest cities.
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About a year and a half ago at a brunch with friends, Genese Jamilah, the founder of I Don't Do Clubs, decided to throw a party for people with beards and those that appreciate them. Although the original party was during the harsh winter weather in NYC and only on a small scale, she was surprised to see a line wrapped around the block with women excited to pay their way into the event. People were turned away because there simply wasn't enough room, and a clearly underserved group was finally being catered to.
This time around, the party is coming to a city near you. And if you aren't yet sold on snatching up those tickets, let us give you a few good reasons:
1. You have a beard.
This is your moment. Don't pass it up.
2. You love men in beards.
What better time to find a new boo?
3. You don’t love men in beards.
Isn't it good to broaden your horizons? Before you write off every man with a beard, let this party be one last chance for you to (potentially) change your mind.
4. You’re looking to get out of your house and connect with new people.
And if you're not... maybe you should be.
5. The party is now in your city.
If you live in Washington, D.C., The Bay Area, Toronto, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia or Charlotte, get ready to turn up at Must Love Beards this summer.
6. Men get in for free (for once).
That's right, you can finally see what it's like to have free entry into a party. Enjoy it!
7. If you’re looking to land a date with a beard, there will be plenty of options.
Chances of you finding a date or even a new friend are high.
8. You’re not Olivia Pope, and you don’t need any more wine nights binge-watching old episodes of Scandal.
9. You can win money if you have the best beard in your city.
Submit a photo of your facial hair along with your name, Instagram handle, age, city, state, profession, passion and one word that describes your beard to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Best in Beards Contest (insert city here)" as the subject for a chance to win $100 and five women's tickets to the party in your city. Check out @idontdoclubs on Instagram for deadlines for your city.
Tickets for Must Love Beards Washington, D.C., The Bay Area, Toronto, Houston, Miami and Atlanta are now on sale!
Must Love Beards Chicago, Philadelphia and Charlotte tickets will be available soon.
Will you be attending? Let us know in the comments below!
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*This post is sponsored by I Don't Do...
Carolina Panthers player Cam Newton was filming his upcoming TV show near Davidson, N.C., when he noticed a group of students playing football at the Community School of Davidson.
As reported by the Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC-TV, one student in particular was wearing his #1 jersey, prompting Newton to stop at the playground. The QB stopped and asked their teacher could he hop the fence and join in with them, resulting in a joyous reaction from the seventh graders.
“I saw one girl crying and hyperventilating and when I asked, ‘Honey what’s wrong?’ she said, ‘That was just the best moment of my life," said the teacher, Mimi Siadak.
After Newton's visit, they wrote notes to Newton to thank him for visiting. One of them thanked Newton for being an inspiration for him, writing, "I am in a hard place in my life, because my parents are getting divorced. But to me you are now a symbol of hope and that even when things go bad there is always happiness."
Is there anything Cam Newton can't do?
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