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Why policing in America is rotten to the core

Photo by ludovikus at Canstock

Consider this hypothetical scenario: You’ve got a box full of apples. The majority of them, say 65, are ripe. But there’s also another 35 that are rotten. Unfortunately for you, there’s only one box and you’re transporting them on a very long road trip, so you have to keep all of the apples together.

You’re so happy that you have more ripe apples in the box; you don’t even think about the rotten ones.

Somewhere along the way, though, you notice a pungent odor coming from the decaying fruit.

You take a moment to check the box and see that…


Reflections on the rapper’s passing

Nipsey Hussle on a boat with his left hand raised. A still from his music video for “Victory Lap”
Nipsey Hussle on a boat with his left hand raised. A still from his music video for “Victory Lap”

“Don’t let the water in the boat,” Nipsey Hussle told me on February 22, 2018, six days after the release of his album Victory Lap. “The boat’ll never go down if you don’t let the water in the boat.” It was advice he shared with his daughter sometimes, wise words to hang onto when facing any kind of adversity.

“And that’s just water,” he said. “You know what I’m sayin’? That’s just rough seas. We got a destination. We tryin’ to get across the ocean to the other country, or to whatever land on the other side of this water…


LEVEL Reader,

The Black Lives Matter movement is a force. It’s been unapologetic about who it represents and has been doing the work to point out the many racial injustices that African Americans face in the land of the (kinda) free. Eight years have passed since George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida. Since then, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Ahmaud Arbury, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and a litany of other Black Americans have fallen to racial violence. The BLM movement, which started as a hashtag in 2013, sheds light on all those killings…


American exceptionalism and xenophobia cleaves the Black struggle once again

Still from ADOS 2019 conference video.

Scrolling social media feels like, at any moment, I’ll get pulled into one of those haunted houses I hated as a kid. I didn’t know what was in them but didn’t want to terrify myself looking. I fell into one such spooky abyss last month — ADOS — and I’m mangling my nails trying to claw myself out.

The acronym stands for American Descendants of Slavery, which is an awkward phrase: Since the country was built on slavery, anyone American is a descendant. It’s hard to understand how a person can descend from a system. (I could call myself a…


Getting hit by a police car isn’t justifiable

Photo courtesy of the author

The son of a friend of our family, Christopher, is Black. A couple of nights ago, his car was hit while he was driving it. The police arrived and determined that Christopher’s car had to be towed. They also determined it was important to give our friend’s son a citation because he was driving with an out-of-state license. When it rains, it — well, just wait.

As the car was about to be towed, Christopher realized that all of his personal papers — birth certificate, identification, everything — were sitting in the car as were his shoes. So he asked…


Is the U.S. any safer for Black Americans?

Many rejoiced earlier this month when the decisive projection came in and the Associated Press declared Joe Biden winner of the 2020 presidential election. It was glorious (and so were the memes). While some are still riding high on the optimism of a forthcoming regime change, for others, the question lingers: How will the aftermath of Trump’s presidency play out—particularly with regard to Black Americans?

Donald Trump wasn’t the sole problem. There were millions of people who voted him into power—and even more who came out in support of a second term. Many within that base are bitter and angry…


I’m glad you’re trying to figure it out, but where the hell have you been all this time?

Photos: Shane Paul Neil

Four days later, the results were final. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were in. Donald Trump and Mike Pence were out.

I spent that Saturday morning sifting through the latest updates while watching the coverage and joining the chatter on Twitter (yes, the Black one).

When the news hit, I watched Black joy in the form of GIFs, memes, and clever takes. We laughed while embracing all of our pettiness, mocking the racist cartoon Trump and his MAGA supporters had become in the wake of their loss.

I watched the joy of Black women.

I watched the joy of Brown…


Thousands of African Americans really wanted a second term for one of history’s most racist presidents

Photo: Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

There is a branch of Islam referred to as the Five Percent Nation. Its name derives from the belief that the world population is broken down into three percentages. Eighty-five percent of people are ignorant to the evil of the world in which they live and the fact that the original man is the Black man. The 5% — the Five Percenters — know the truth within and around themselves and aim to “civilize” the 85% with education. Then there’s the remaining 10% of the population. …


As my hair grew, so did my activism

The author at 5 years old. Photo courtesy of the author.

Thuggish. Immature. Unprofessional.

I have heard it all when it comes to my hair. For years I listened and bought into what everyone told me. How could I not? I was a teenager fighting a racist family court system for custody of my son. I was a young Black man trying to navigate the professional world. I am an African who has been placed in a colonial settler state on Indigenous land.

My very existence, down to the length of my hair, is constantly under attack as long as I don’t seek to fit into colonizer standards of beauty and…

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