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Gentrification from the lens of Dan Scott & Spike Lee

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Read additional commentary by Jamala on Dan, Spike Lee and gentrification  at BlackCommentator. The commentary includes video of Spike’s remarks at Pratt Institute.

I, too, sing St. Louis: The Dan Scott Saga

(This year is the 250th birthday of the City of St. Louis. This is the first of several articles throughout the year that share the stories of residents who have been excluded socially, politically and economically from the progress of the city. The series’ title is a take off from Langston Hughes’ famous poem,” I, too, sing America.” These citizens have been looked upon as second-class citizens, and their contributions or potential contributions have been blocked, discounted or stolen.)

Dan Scott_St. Louis PD photo

You probably would have never heard about Dan Scott had it not been for a rare and heavy-handed move by Alderman Joe Roddy and the St. Louis Courts. The story has gone national as yet another sad example of how this city chooses to deal with race relations.

After Scott’s arrest in May 2012, Judge Michael Stelzer set bail at $10,000 cash, gave Scott a curfew and ordered that he wear an ankle bracelet. He was banned from his home, youth programs and rental property for 17 months while waiting for his trial. All are located in the Forest Park Southeast (FPSE) neighborhood. Scott was charged with 5 counts of harassment and two counts of obstructing government operations and faced up to six years of prison. This act was designed to kill his spirit, destroy his livelihood and criminalize him. Read more

Getting a whooping in Kansas

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Rep. Gail Finney (see photo to right) introduced a bill to not just reinforce using corporal punishment wherever kids are, but to do it harder–literally. Finney’s bill called for a definition of spanking that should result in redness or bruising. I’m a strong opponent to spankings, especially with it is in isolation of other option. The research is very clear on this: physical punishment — including spanking, hitting and other means of causing pain– can lead to increased aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injury and mental health problems for children.

Rep. Finney is African-American and that could be inconsequential except for the ugly history of slavery where blacks were beaten into submission. Beating a child when you’re anger is not a substitute for changing a child’s behavior in a positive manner.

Luckily, the bill didn’t get out of House. Check it out.

A Kwansaba for Baraka

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I presented my first Kwansaba publicly at the Kwansaba Celebration for Amiri Baraka at the Sunshine Performing Arts Center, East St. Louis on February 18, 2014. Kwansaba is a poetic form created by Eugene B. Redmond and the EBR Writers Club in 1995. (Photo credit: Roscoe Crenshaw)

 

JR_Kwansaba_2014

Baraka

He was a genius with vision but
still a mortal man, flawed not fake
A custom gift for each he met
Light for those who sought the truth
Heat for those who needed a push
Fire for the enemies of the people
You would feel him and know it.

By Jamala Rogers © 2014