Friends of Webster

Raised in the house, but field certified.

We Can Do Better: The stereotypes that black ‘spokesmen’ impose on the rest of us

The infamous Ron Artest was recently traded to my home town’s NBA basketball team.   Before he opened his mouth, I accepted him with open arms. He is probably a good guy. He is a tough player with an endless motor.  He is also an idiot and he speaks in absolutes.

How does that affect me?  At the time of this post, there were over 200 comments on ESPN.com about this man’s cultural commentary.  While he may not be talking about black people as a whole, this is the type of figure that the media glorifies and exploits.  Leaving many minorities fighting stereotypes and overcompensating in the work-place or at school, just to seem compatible more compatible…less different. Upon hearing news that Ron Artest had been acquired by Rockets, Yao Ming made the following comment:

 

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Instead of laughing about it and displaying any sort of maturity, he brings race into it.

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Many young black and white kids are gullible enough to think that black people handle confrontation by reacting physically with complete disregard of their careers, livelihood, or reputations.  Hip Hop cultivates many of these negativities and is just starting to get back to the positive roots of the early 80′s. 

In a time when blacks are at the verge of collectively shedding victimhood for the responsibility approach to the Post-Jesse era of civil rights and equality, this is where a public figure should stand and denounce this sort of mentality.  It has to be someone more credible than the women on ‘The View’ and more understood than Bill Cosby. It can’t be Condi Rice or Michael Steele because ‘hip hop’ won’t listen. 

A positive, globally popular, family-oriented, decent politician should do the trick.  But no, let’s wait for our demise as a black-American culture to finally attack this issue.  There are dozens of public and influential ‘bi-racial’ or multi-racial blacks that we have had in the past century–some that many don’t even realize. 

 

Unfortunately, a bi-racial black man doesn’t count as being black for some. So don’t be too excited about a black president and potential role model to scores of Americans, Obama won’t count. We can wait another 25 years, right?

 

July 31st, 2008 Posted by | We Can Do Better | no comments

Justice is Contagious: The Innocence Project

Here is an article for you all.  Recently, I asked a colleague and former-prosecutor, a very tough question.  What do you do when you know that they are innocent?  He told me that he ”tried to have the case thrown out.”  He is a stand up guy, so I believe him…but does every prosecutor have principle, like that?  The article, below, is a good example of what happens when justice becomes political, prejudicial, or simply gamesmanship.  People lose their life for the sake of competition, promotion, or political favor.  More attorneys and politicians have to stand up for what is absolutely right and stop yielding to the status quo.

My little Sister, a senior sociology major, has dedicated the beginning of her budding career to help uplift and restore the lives of exonerated men.  I am here to tell you, one day behind a wall is an eternity when a man believes in his innocence.

 

After Famed DA’s Death, 19 Convictions Are Undone

Dallas – As district attorney of Dallas for an unprecedented 36 years, Henry Wade was the embodiment of Texas justice. A strapping 6-footer with a square jaw and a half-chewed cigar clamped between his teeth, The Chief, as he was known, prosecuted Jack Ruby. He was the Wade in Roe v. Wade. And he compiled a conviction rate so impressive that defense attorneys ruefully called themselves the 7 Percent Club.But now, seven years after Wade’s death, The Chief’s legacy is taking a beating.

Nineteen convictions – three for murder and the rest involving rape or burglary – won by Wade and two successors who trained under him have been overturned after DNA evidence exonerated the defendants. About 250 more cases are under review.

No other county in America – and almost no state, for that matter – has freed more innocent people from prison in recent years than Dallas County, where Wade was DA from 1951 through 1986.

Current District Attorney Craig Watkins, who in 2006 became the first black elected chief prosecutor in any Texas county, said that more wrongly convicted people will go free.

”There was a cowboy kind of mentality and the reality is that kind of approach is archaic, racist, elitist and arrogant,” said Watkins, who is 40 and never worked for Wade or met him.

But some of those who knew Wade say the truth is more complicated than Watkins’ summation.

”My father was not a racist. He didn’t have a racist bone in his body,” said Kim Wade, a lawyer in his own right. “He was very competitive.”

Moreover, former colleagues – and even the Innocence Project of Texas, which is spearheading the DNA tests – credit Wade with preserving the evidence in every case, a practice that allowed investigations to be reopened and inmates to be freed. (His critics say, of course, that he kept the evidence for possible use in further prosecutions, not to help defendants.)

The new DA and other Wade detractors say the cases won under Wade were riddled with shoddy investigations, evidence was ignored and defense lawyers were kept in the dark. They note that the promotion system under Wade rewarded prosecutors for high conviction rates.

In the case of James Lee Woodard – released in April after 27 years in prison for a murder DNA showed he didn’t commit – Wade’s office withheld from defense attorneys photographs of tire tracks at the crime scene that didn’t match Woodard’s car.

”Now in hindsight, we’re finding lots of places where detectives in those cases, they kind of trimmed the corners to just get the case done,” said Michelle Moore, a Dallas County public defender and president of the Innocence Project of Texas. “Whether that’s the fault of the detectives or the DA’s, I don’t know.”

John Stickels, a University of Texas at Arlington criminology professor and a director of the Innocence Project of Texas, blames a culture of “win at all costs.”

”When someone was arrested, it was assumed they were guilty,” he said. “I think prosecutors and investigators basically ignored all evidence to the contrary and decided they were going to convict these guys.”

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July 30th, 2008 Posted by | Justice is Contagious | no comments

To my wife: Thank you

I should show more appreciation for how my wife has affected my life.  Without her, her prayers, and her inspiration–I would be lost.  She chose to sacrifice the life she had, for a life with me. I can never thank her enough. This email that she sent me was read while in a meeting, yesterday.  I literally fought back tears because in many ways, she was exactly right…without me saying a word.  We have been married for a year, but she has been my rock since the Fall of 2005.  She is of the strongest women, the most able of mothers, and the best of wives.

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A Monday morning email from my wife:

My dear husband,

I’m going to write you an email that I feel is probably a bit overdue.  I am often at a loss when trying to think of conventional ways of encouraging you these days and I know encouragement in general can be scarce.  A card filled with heart-felt “I love you’s” and tidbits of scripture may be a bit played out when one has a box of full of hallmark greetings sitting in the garage.  So, I’m going to take a different approach.  I want to challenge you in the same way I know you would challenge me.  

Last night you highlighted a reality that I have been trying to ignore.  I know exactly why you do not study for your LSAT and believe I always have known, but last night you confirmed that reasoning.  I also know that it is easier for you to say that I don’t want you to win than to face the possibility of feeling as though you have let me down.  You said you “have bigger fish to fry” and you said you “don’t need time to study for that test anyway.”  In a sense, these are both foolish lies.  First of all, the fish is yours, but thankfully, God has put someone else in charge of the frying.  Secondly, it is your personal responsibility to be the most prepared you can possibly be for the day we hear that one, so powerful, word… “Acquitted.”  

The interesting thing about this process is that we have never known an end.  If all would have gone as we wished, the “end” would have come in March of ’06 or perhaps on June 28th of the same year.  We would have been ‘ok’ with putting it to rest at the hands of Admiral Van Sice in October, or even in January of this year when it was placed in other’s hands.  And now we simply wait… Unfortunately, it is not our timeline we are working on, but that does not mean we cannot or should not be prepared for that glorious day when it does come.  How sad would it be to find out that you are eligible to attend law school in a mere 12 months only to find that you did not prepare yourself in such a way that you can chase after your dream that now lies in your finger tips? Essentially, they cost you a year.  Do not let them steal another.  When you apply to Howard and George Washington this fall I want you to be proud and confident in the score that you attach to that application.  I want you to have confidence in knowing you could do no better.  I want you to have complete assurance that admissions cannot turn you down.  Yet, you still think to yourself, “what a waste of time this could be.”  But, Web, ten years from now are you really going to be upset with yourself for taking the time to study diligently for two months of your life?  Regardless, you gain knowledge.  Regardless, it is advantageous.  I see you spending so much time writing these articles, pouring your heart and soul into addressing the injustices of a service you still love.  Yet, dear, please do not allow this effort to stand in the way of something much greater and much more rewarding, something I know you long for.  On the blogs you can offer insight and advice, you can bring attention to improper circumstances, and you can make your voice heard… as a lawyer, you will change lives and you will change history.  To me, that latter is nobler.  

I need you to know, circumstances you cannot control will never be a factor in your letting me down.  I will faithfully push forward knowing God has a plan for our lives, but as for the circumstances you can control, I expect you to boldly take responsibility.

When you were offered a position as a legal assistant at one of the top law firms in the country I surrendered my apprehensions of you becoming a lawyer out of bitterness or any selfish ambition and accepted the reality that this may truly be what God has ordained for your life.  I prayed and I prayed for God to help me see a beginning to this path we now call our journey.  We are on the path.  I feel the gravel beneath my feet and I can see the mountains that lie ahead.  

I love you, Star Head.  = )

ALL my support,
Lindsey Brooks

July 29th, 2008 Posted by | Justice is Contagious | 4 comments

Finally: Black Conservatism is on the rise.

The Great African-American Awakening
Some brave voices are shifting the conversation from victimhood to responsibility.
The conversation about race that Barack Obama says America needs is already in full swing—and it is a conversation among blacks. Its spark was a speech that TV star Bill Cosby gave at the NAACP in 2004. In books and articles, on talk shows and in town meetings, at barbecues and barber shops, African-Americans have been arguing over his words ever since. Their impassioned discussion is the most hopeful development in race relations in years.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a 50 percent high school dropout rate and a 70 percent illegitimacy rate, with African-Americans committing half the nation’s murders though only 13 percent of the population, black America—especially the poorer part of it—is in trouble. “We cannot blame white people,” Cosby asserted in his incendiary speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board school desegregation decision. “It’s not what they’re doing to us. It’s what we’re not doing.” As Jesse Jackson used to say, Cosby recalls, “No one can save us from us but us.”

Sure, racism hasn’t vanished, Cosby acknowledges in his 2007 book Come On People, a follow-up to his speech written with Harvard psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint. “But for all the talk of systemic racism and governmental screw-ups, we must look at ourselves and understand our own responsibility.” Even with lingering discrimination, “there are more doors of opportunity open for black people today than ever before in the history of America,” and “these doors are tall enough and wide enough” for just about all black people “to walk through with their heads held high.” So while “there are forces that make the effort to escape poverty difficult,” African-Americans are by no means merely the playthings of vast forces and helpless victims of racism. “When people tell you, ‘You can’t get up, you’re a victim,’ ” Cosby warns, “that’s when you know it is the devil you’re hearing.”

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July 21st, 2008 Posted by | Political Commentary | no comments

Pennsylvania Ave?