September 04, 2014
By Rebecca Rivas
Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American
On Saturday August 30, Tarah Taylor, a labor organizer from Houston, knocked on St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s door in Kirkwood.
A group of nine young people stood behind her anxiously waiting for a response.
“Unfortunately he wasn’t home,” she said, “but if he was home, I would have told him that the people of Ferguson have lost faith in the county being able to review this case fairly and it’s imperative that he listen to them.”
Taylor drove 12 hours from Texas to join a group of 400 young people from around the country for the “Black Lives Matter Ride” – a call to action to end state violence against black people. Joining local activists, the “riders” participated in several actions on Saturday, including the National March on Ferguson, a protest in front of the Ferguson Police Department and a picnic to raise the moral among the Ferguson community.
And, about 25 people canvassed in Kirkwood educating the prosecutor’s neighbors about why he should recuse himself from the Michael Brown case. McCulloch is overseeing the investigation into the fatal shooting of the unarmed teen shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer.
“That’s the ethical thing to do and the right thing to do to move forward towards healing in this community,” Taylor said.
Kenjus Watson, 29, from Los Angeles, knocked on the door of an older white woman who lived two houses down from McCulloch. He introduced himself and got through a few of his talking points before she interrupted him.
“It was pretty quick that she said ‘I know what’s going on,’” she said. “She said she cares about her city and it hurt her.”
Watson asked her take a stand with them and sign a petition. However, she refused to sign the petition even anonymously. So then he asked her to talk to McCulloch.
“Speak to Bob about how much you care about your city and what’s going on with marginalized folks here,” Watson told her. “Instead of talking about the weather, talk about the time that you shared with two people from Los Angeles who came here specifically to ask Bob McCulloch to recuse himself because his role in this case could be problematic.”
She didn’t answer.
Yet not all of his neighbors were willing to listen to the group. Chuck Leroi, who lives cattycorner to McCulloch, came out shaking with rage. With a TV production video camera on his shoulder, he walked briskly up to the young people, pointed the camera in their faces and asked them why they were there.
“That’s an issue with Bob who happens to be a neighbor,” Leroi said. “It’s not an issue with you, me or anybody else.”
He believed the canvassers couldn’t knock on people’s doors unannounced. However, the group’s legal advisor assured the group before they went into the neighborhoods that they do not need a permit to do voter education. McCulloch is up for re-election in November.
The ride’s mission “aims to end the insidious and widespread assault on black life that pervades every stage of law enforcement interactions; be it in custody or community,” according to the group’s press release.
Although black people make up 13 percent of the country’s population, they make up more than one third of those killed in officer involved shooting across the country.
Rheema Calloway, 24 from San Francisco, said her journey to Ferguson started on Wednesday when she took a Megabus to Los Angeles. Then she hopped in one of the three 15-passenger vans that made the 36-hour ride to Ferguson from Los Angeles.
“It’s been really emotionally draining,” Calloway said. “I didn’t know that ground zero was going to have that much effect on me, being that I’ve lost so many friends and family members. But this case was different because it wasn’t black on black crime. The officer was supposed to protect and serve – but that hasn’t been the case as it relates to African-American men and women.”
September 04, 2014
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
An airlift of emergency supplies needed for those treating Liberians with the virus Ebola was launched this weekend by the U.N. children’s fund, known as Unicef.
“The largest component of the supplies was chlorine,” for disinfection, said Unicef’s representative in Liberia, Sheldon Yetts. Other supplies in the airlift were oral rehydration salts and sodium lactate to help ensure people are rehydrated, as well as about 900,000 gloves for infection control.
“Health workers have suffered a disproportionate number of casualties from Ebola,” said Yetts. “We need to make sure that health centers are disinfected and that people in Liberia feel safe to return to health centers.”
Ebola, some experts say, is much less contagious than other more common diseases. The virus, much like HIV or hepatitis, is spread through blood or bodily fluids and is not airborne. Still, some countries in Africa are rejecting the World Health Organization’s advisory and are slamming their doors on visitors from West Africa. Travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are banned from entering South Africa. Citizens returning home from these areas must undergo a strict screening process, a health ministry statement said.
Senegal has closed its border with Guinea, while Chad closed its border with Nigeria.
Air Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria’s Arik Air, Togo’s ASKY Airlines, British Airways, Emirates Airlines and Kenya Airways have together cancelled over 200 flights to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Kenya Airways froze routes to Liberia and Sierra Leone after Kenya’s ministry of health called the Ebola outbreak “vastly underestimated” and that it is was “expected to continue for some time”.
Only Brussels Airlines and Dutch airline KLM say they will continue flights. “Travelers are highly unlikely to be infected with Ebola, which cannot be transmitted under normal hygiene conditions,” said KLM.
With apparently conflicting health advisories sowing confusion and fear, a Zimbabwe blogger penned her concern that the upbeat picture of “Africa Rising” was getting a black eye.
Writing in the Mail & Guardian’s “Voice of Africa,” blogger Fungai Machirori observed: “Over the last few years, meticulous work has gone into crafting the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative–namely rising economies (like South Africa and Nigeria), tech and innovation [think Kenya] and the growth of a middle class we might call ‘post-African’—savvy, urban, cosmopolitan with no flies to swat off their faces and no begging bowls in their manicured hands.
“While the statistics do point to a truth, another truth still prevails,” she cautioned.
“Across Africa, I have seen the consumerist dream [high-end malls, cars, mansions and general financial exuberance] coexist with abjection, poverty and depleted social services. The rich do exist, but they are not the majority.
“The spread of Ebola shows up the Africa Rising narrative … Quite instantly, Ebola has become ‘the great leveler’ among Africans, re-perpetuating stereotypes of barbarism and savagery; that Africans eat ‘strange foods’ like fruit bats and bush meat and other ‘filthy creatures’, that we are unclean, diseased and therefore dangerous.
“Ebola has opened up the way for the ‘dark continent’ narrative to re-emerge, if it ever really disappeared,” she said. “Africa is collapsed into one territory, one country, one race, even if the fatality of Ebola represents about 0.15% of the continent. A dominant global hysteria has emerged that lends itself to racial profiling and generalizations. I’m wondering how far, if at all, the discourse around blackness has progressed.”
At the same time, she said, “Ebola is serving to deepen regionalism [West Africa versus the rest of Africa]and the dangerous sort of nationalism that has often led to ineffectual collaboration across the continent.
“If Africa—given its wealth of human and natural resources—cannot contain Ebola, then we must sober up and accept that we haven’t risen to where we should be, given the accompanying discourse of booming economies and commodity markets.”