Friday, November 22, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
By Clairmont Chung
In the sad aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict, former federal prosecutor, Sunny Hostin incredulously admitted on CNN that she had not ‘seen race’ in the Trayvon Martin case. She went further, adding that she had never seen race in her 20 plus years as a prosecutor. I had heard similar statements before and, though always incredible, dismissed its owners as ignorant and without any power to seriously hurt anyone anyway. But Hostin had to have hurt many people in her capacity as prosecutor and now had a certain power as legal analyst and frequent commentator on TV with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and others. This essay is not about the specifics of racial inequality and its parents: white supremacy and monopoly capitalism. I am not writing about unequal pay, access to health care, mass incarceration, homelessness, joblessness and sub prime mortgages. It is too complex a subject to cover in an essay. I make brief references and recommend a few sources for that information and they are many. Instead, I write about a peculiar group who, all things being equal would stand as true examples of achievement; the colorblind: and particularly those of African descent. Perhaps they are not as colorblind as claimed and have chosen the massas over the masses.
I tried to contemplate what it meant for a person of obvious African descent, living on earth, let alone in America, not to see race, in the Zimmerman case, any criminal case, anywhere, on this planet. American platitudes from the highest office and cabinet about ending ‘stop and frisk’ and repealing ‘stand your ground’ ring hollow. It’s time for the expansion of a national and international movement to lift the veil from the eyes of the injustice system; beginning with a review of all verdicts Ms. Hostin, and others like her, has had a hand. Because to ‘not see race’, to be ‘race neutral’, in a racist society, is to violate its victims. To not see race is to be racist. There could be no serious discussion of racial inequality without seeing race.
|Sunny Hostin, CNN legal Analyst|
As stunning a revelation as that was, Ms. Hostin exceeded it by adding that she did not see race in the case before, not until the Anderson Cooper’s interview with juror B37. Unbelievably, it was not the history of slavery and race in America, Zimmerman’s predation, the method of Trayvon’s killing, the prosecutors’ ineptitude, the exclusion of Black people from the jury, the covert references to race by the defense, or the verdict itself, that informed Ms. Hostin. Instead, it was the interview with, a hooded, hidden, White, juror B37 that opened Ms. Hostin’s eyes. It is then that I began to see Trayvon’s killing as a ritualized sacrifice: shrouded in some kind of mystical cloud, maybe destined to change the world, yet hidden from the uninitiated. I’m speaking metaphorically and metaphysically.
On one hand, it was for George Zimmerman to act-out some ancient rite to cleanse his personal torment through a terminator-like predator syndrome, coded for activation by any perceived threat to White supremacy. On the other hand, and as a consequence, even the colorblind could now see. In a role reversal of sorts, on national TV, justice wore a hood rather than a blindfold: The juror hid her identity like a Ku Klux Klan member, but in the process lifted the blindfold off a number of eyes: if not brains.
|Justice with Blindfold|
As a result, out came a number of peculiarly situated people of African descent, like Hostin, to speak on race. Many prominent figures, some barristers of eminence, and others not so eminent came from behind the blindfold or some rock. Many African descendants, who ought to know better, had fallen into uneasy silence, totally co-opted, invested. The sacrifice of Trayvon and, more so, the sacrilege of juror B37’s interview ‘outed’ a group of people ‘passing’ not as White, but as Black.
‘Passing’ was historically used to describe very light skinned people of mixed African and European or other descent who looked, acted, and lived White, as a way of accessing white privilege, while protecting, and advancing themselves. It was like a reverse witness protection program: where you witnessed crimes but joined the gang to save yourself rather than be a victim. It’s not peculiar to any people or race. It’s a technique applied wherever advantages are gained because of membership in identifiable groups, for example, political parties, ethnic groupings, gender and sexual orientation. Generally those under despotic rule seek to join the ruler, even if in disguise, to preserve self.
Of course, the stakes are higher, dehumanizing, when the power group seems to control all the advantages and the basis for exclusion is your ‘unchangeable’ skin or sex. Bleaching is its own dehumanization. But we struggle to explain it in the context of White privilege. White privilege is the reward in a racist construct. Often, the privileged neither knows nor admits to privilege. There was a time when successful passing could mean life over death. But as the name suggests it was intended to be temporary; like clouds. The plan would be to revert to your true self in safer times. Evidently, those times are not here yet.
Today the terror is more sinister. In a pigmentocracy the lighter you are, the better: white is still best. But it’s more about ideas or the absence of ideas and less about color. If you were passing in the traditional sense, you could not realistically claim the absence of racism. It was the reason for your passing. But this new group, passing as black, requires the absence of race based ideas and analysis. You can be obviously Black and still pass by absorbing the cultural norms of White supremacy. That requires colorblindness: an affliction affecting people of all hues and requiring a blindfold. Those who cannot ‘pass’ in the traditional sense instead ‘pass’ as Black. It’s ideological.
You pass as Black when you enjoy the benefits of the historical struggle, but ignore any attempt at its recognition: you ignore the existence of White supremacy. Others in this group recognize it exists but say, so what: fight harder. To them the idea of reparation is ludicrous. Even some, who shouted racism from platforms in the past, now appear forgetful or blind. Some are public figures and represent their government at conferences on racism then walk out on the crucial discussions on repairing racial inequality. In their personal lives, those who can afford it, they move to completely White, or passing, neighborhoods; as is their right. They live with the trappings of privilege: exclusive schools, gated communities, and summer homes. This access was fought for by people over centuries of struggle, the majority of whom remain without access. Okay, maybe summer homes are a little too much, and not the goal of struggle, but you get the idea: it flows from assimilated upward mobility. Trayvon’s dad’s mobility played an unfortunate and cruel trick. Intended, perhaps, to serve as a reserve of peace, the gated community became a trap.
|Trayvon Martin and his father, Tracy Martin|
All passers need do is close their eyes to race discrimination as a way of advancing oneself and maybe maintaining a kind of sanity. There are two groups: the blind and the blindfolded. It’s a peculiar altered state. Whereas they act like a White person, seek out and pursue all the privileges enjoyed by white people. They are able to secure the benefits fought for by those who, could not or, chose not to pass. Affirmative action access to schools and many token positions in the social and economic structure are filled by these people. Others may even claim racism as a way of advancing but soon forget. Some in this group, that see race, feel their hands tied and their mouths taped; the blindfolded. They occupy the same positions as those who see no race: the blind. So, something tragically dramatic has to happen before they say or see anything. Trayvon happened.
Racism is a reward system.
If you play your cards correctly you can make it all the way to the top: even to president.In the past, we may have referred to this group as Uncle Toms or House Negroes but these terms have been misused. Malcolm X was attempting to make a particular point in a particular context, when he berated house Negroes as an ideological concept. It’s the same people I attempt to address now. Much of what Malcolm X said has been converted to serve the ends of these same opportunists. For example ‘by any means necessary’ is used to justify the accumulation of wealth, gettin’ mine, even by trampling on the rights and lives of others.
But contrary to popular belief some of our most revolutionary and radical activists and thinkers were actual, if not ideological, House Negroes. Revolutions in Haiti and Berbice, and rebellions elsewhere, would not have been as successful without House Negroes. They lived near, and had access, to the Great House. They had intelligence on the comings and goings of massa, the location of weapons and the numbers of the enemy. They had access and opportunity to poison opponents and animals and otherwise sabotage the plantation production system. L'Ouverture and Cuffy were House Negroes. Servility was also attached to the House
Toms and Negroes
The terms House Negro and Uncle Tom is often conflated. But not by Philosopher Dick Gregory who has credited Uncle Toms, made famous in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, with shape-shifting. Shape-shifting is the ability to change shape and morph into different life forms: a skill found often in African mythology. A hero may become a lion or an ox depending on the obstacle ahead. In the Epic of like Sonjara (Sundiata) the protagonist shifted shape. Today these ideas are associated with Voodoo and Obeah. Stowe’s hero, Uncle Tom, remained a loyal Christian but incited escape. Escape often required a shift in shape. Nat Turner had certainly shifted his shape as a result of instructions he claimed he received in a dream. Harriet Tubman avoided detection sometimes dressed as a man. Frederick Douglas used fake identification as a prop in his own daring escape disguised as a sailor. Much like the Uncle Toms of old, today, African descendants indentured to corporations are often engaged in a kind of shape shifting as a survival mechanism. They must present a face on the job and another at home.
In the supposedly post-racial era, African descendants have been incorporated within, if not assimilated into, the whole: black and white. But that too is not an exact science. That many of the passing members are, historically and currently, light skinned is more than likely due to the long history of the original ‘passers’ and the effect of White male aggression, rape, on women of African descent. Douglass’ father was listed as an unknown White man. This has been further reinforced by the reward system set up by White supremacy where Black people consciously choose lighter partners to affect better opportunities. Its current evolution seems to be the skin bleaching phenomenon. Bleaching like passing is temporary, though you may kill yourself before times get safer.
But this is not light skinned privilege, by itself. Passers can come in any description. Malcolm X, Detroit Red, did not make a distinction in describing House Negroes. On one hand we have prosecutors and judges of dark complexion sending us to jail and presiding over the disappearance of constitutional rights. On the other hand, many of the most fearless fighters for the rights of people of African descent were light skinned and some could even have passed for white. In fact, some were white.
Passing is not something that afflicts only people of African descent. Everyone is affected. At one time, some Jews had had to change their names and list themselves as Christian to find work. Recently, Asian media personality, Julie Chen admitted to plastic surgery to Europeanize her eyes on the advice of her boss and noted the increase in opportunities as a result. Even some White people seek to lighten their hair and eyes for the same reason. Volumes have been written about the Whiting of Europeans; the Irish and Italians in particular. This is not some pathology peculiar to African descendants. But Black people have borne the brunt of its negative effects and precisely because of their color and false notions of beauty, but only as a toll to secure power and control for a White minority capitalist group: the one percent.
However, this multiplex passing group is a one percent of sorts, the chosen few, enjoying these benefits and while eating at the table of white privilege, offer a few contemptuous comments to the wretched about the hang of their pants, the correct position for caps, the coarseness of speech, the importance of an education, personal responsibility, littering, laziness and fatherlessness. Beyond that, they see nothing and say little else. They don’t see the skin or anything deeper, below the skin. The education they speak of is not about independent thinking, but about appearance and presentation. They don’t see themselves. Instead, they look at mode of dress and appearance, the surface, things that cover skin.
|Uncle Tom assaulted by plantation owner Simon Legree|
printed Circa 1883
As happened to Hostin, Trayvon forced Eric Holder, our nation’s highest justice official, to speak on race in a way he had never done. He offered his own experiences at being racially profiled even once while a federal prosecutor. We heard he had cautioned his own son on racial profiling as his dad had cautioned him. He since offered to end prosecution of low level criminal defendants for drugs and suggested we needed to take a look at the five- decade old war on drugs with an eye to reform. This was something new: maybe, its shape shifting. Shape shifting like tom ism is also ideological. Tom in the Beecher Stowe narrative has come to personify the hat in hand servile slave. But remember Tom was beaten for refusing to whip another captive and later killed for refusing to reveal any information on the whereabouts of the recently escaped Cassy and her daughter Emmeline.
It’s hard to fathom which is worse: Attorney General Holder who knew and saw race, but said and did nothing, or former federal prosecutor Hostin, who never saw race and said and did nothing: but for Trayvon. Even, President Obama suddenly found the voice to intone that Trayvon could have been his son. These outings and confessions ought to have caused a major shift. Don’t be too optimistic.
Stop and Frisk is now under scrutiny: even though President Obama is about to appoint its most recent public defender, NYC Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, as head of Homeland Security. In Floyd V. The City of New York, Federal District Court Judge, Shira Scheindlin, in a brilliant opinion, ruled ‘stop and frisk’ unconstitutional. New York City, the recent model child of ‘stop and frisk’ has a council that is seemingly on the right path to end the practice.
But let’s not be carried away by these pronouncements and rulings. Understandably, some and particularly the passers have rushed to highlight these developments as progress. Avoiding the Voting Rights Act or the health care discussion for the moment, am I to rejoice about the return of something you took from me? Is this progress, the change? We will rejoice at the return of both: The things you took from us and the things we lost because of the things you took from us. Know the difference.
This is very little, very late, but an indication of what continued pressure can do. Perhaps, that is what President Obama meant when he said, “make me”. I resented it then and do now. Is Trayvon’s death the requirement? My response then, as now, was ‘who do you think made you’?
Even as we rush to celebrate some victories, we are being defeated. Michael Jackson, that extraordinary artist and microcosmic conundrum of race and class with bleaching and all, reentered the news recently when his concert promoter, AEG, was found not liable for his death. Imagine his doctor, Murray, who worked for AEG was convicted in criminal court and at the higher standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, while Dr. Murray’s employer, AEG, was found not liable. Michael Dunn, a white gun collector fired at least eight shots into a car full of teenagers, killing 17-year-old African American Jordan Davis. Dunn is awaiting trial and claiming ‘stand your ground’. Miriam Carey, an unarmed single mother, was gunned down by security personnel in Washington D.C. while fleeing police pursuit and allegedly using her vehicle as a weapon. I promised not to talk about mass incarceration. But using the car as a weapon and eluding were laws and ideas created to target the inner-city: Blacks and Latinos. The only video circulating so far, show the police vehicles surround Ms. Carey but carelessly leave sufficient space for her to reverse and drive away. The chase should have ended right there with all parties safe. Then there is the motorbike ‘gang’ in New York. Did the driver of the SUV not use his car as a weapon, seriously hurt somebody, and left the scene of an accident while eluding a group that included police officers. Instead, the voices are about the attack of the bikers on the ‘passing’ driver.
As I write the US Supreme Court deliberates over a White student’s claim of discrimination as a result of being rejected from the University of Michigan and because of spaces reserved for minority candidates. The tenor of the times says she will win. It says enough that the highest court is considering these issues 50 years after the march on Washington. Though Trayvon forced some important people to belatedly lend their voices to the obvious, its business as usual.
This race based access to education needs more attention, because it is the same passers who attended these same universities because of race but now are against the idea. Imagine, this court challenge amounts to people requesting a judge to force public universities to wear blindfolds. After years of racial oppression and inequality everything is now equal. We now must all agree to be colorblind. One would think you balance scales by adding or subtracting from the left or right. The University of Texas is also in court over the issue of ending race based enrollment at public universities. Given recent decisions on Voting Rights and others, I fully expect a minimum of five Supreme Court judges to find race-based policies unconstitutional. One of those Judges will definitely be named Thomas.
But it was not just Trayvon that brought the positive results and outings. It was the voices of people like Michelle Alexander in her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. It was the voices of Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, Harry Belafonte and Boyce Watkins. More importantly it was those unknown voices that took to the streets for Ramarley Graham, chased and gunned down in his own home by NYPD, and Kimani Gray in Brooklyn, and many more across the United States and abroad.
There is so much work to do and its global. Trayvon’s killing and Zimmerman’s trial had global repercussions. We cannot forget the 43 miners at Marikana, South Africa, the 3 protesters at Linden, Guyana, and 70 plus at Tivoli Gardens, Kingston, Jamaica. When we calculate per ca pita the 70 plus lost in Tivoli Gardens is more than the 3000 lost on 9/11.  Instead of fear seizing the masses it seems to have seized the state.
On July 28, 2013, I was sitting in the Atlanta Airport, on a return trip from Jamaica, outlining a letter to Ms. Hostin, when Don Lemon popped onto the screen with his ‘tripe’ as my mother would sometimes refer to foolishness. As I went through security, I was singled out; randomly they said, to test for recent contact with explosives. Angered by Lemon and now this intrusion, I realized that in ten days, I had been tested for bomb material five times. This is not a confession intended to reveal my empathy and enlist yours. This is how we are living.
|Writer in Jamaica|
The first was on Thursday, July 18, 2013, I was stopped at Port Authority, in New York. The officers told me I was randomly selected. They did not say whether I could leave or refuse. There were about five officers some in the dark blue of NYPD and at least two in the lighter blue shirts of the TSA: the ones seen at airports. I guess transportation includes trains, NYC subways too. They swabbed my hands, ran the swabs through a sensor and sent me on my way: clean. The next morning I went through security at the Newark Liberty Airport on my way to Jamaica and was again randomly selected, swabbed, and sent on my way.
In Jamaica, I grounded with my brothers and sisters, ate, drank and grounded some more and soon forgot all the anxiety. Until, ready to leave from Montego Bay, I was randomly selected and tested, not once, but twice before boarding. After passing security, I was randomly selected for exposure to explosives, hands swabbed: you know the drill. I waited quietly for an hour to board, showed my boarding pass at the gate, and was again randomly selected for recent exposure to explosives. I told the security person that I was already swabbed by security to enter the area. She indicated that that was for the airport, her swab was for the plane. This is what is happening now.
Many young black men and women have been murdered by the state or those acting in place of the state. In fact, many young Black men have been killed by young black men as TV personality Don Lemon, another passer, reminded us. The Las Vegas Guardian reported Five hundred and twelve murders in Chicago for 2012: President Obama’s political home state. Seventy Five percent of those victims and perpetrators were of African descent. In these daunting statistics, somehow Trayvon’s killing stands out. It is an epic tragedy and the trial a farce like so many.
Much like Africans involved in the trade of other humans, blame must be placed where it belongs. It is a system organized and maintained by Babylon without any care of any humanity, only for the strength of its dollar.
|Don Lemon, Host CNN|
The Don Lemons’ and Sunny Hostins’ are chosen indeed. It is not entirely their doing. They have little power and are selected precisely because of this propensity to ignore race. The skilled job interviewer can identify this person without a word exchanged. Anderson Cooper, for example, can select from any number of deep thinking legal practitioners but instead selects Sunny Hostin. Dr. Drew also demonstrates his contempt by selecting Shahrazad Ali as a panelist to help analyze race and the Trayvon Martin case: completing the minstrelsy. Ms. Ali’s claim to fame is a book on Black women that challenges Willie Lynch for foolishness. So, an occasion for serious discussion becomes a show replete with colorful performers engaged to entertain.
Don lemon can host at CNN and emit some of the worst stereotyping and nonsensical reasoning that I have ever heard unless it was Bill Cosby or another of those passers. Then he cites President Obama for support. If he is any indication of what his kind of education can do, I caution against it. He prefaced his diatribe by warning us that Bill O’Reilly and he had agreed on these points and O’Reilly had not gone far enough. Mr. Lemon and others like him evidently hadn't noticed the killings in Black communities prior to Trayvon Martin. Or maybe Trayvon gave him license to speak: whereas before, he only mouthed the thoughts of others who seek to show why the young black male gangster model, a micro set, is a paradigm for all black males and black people. No social scientist has been known to show the relationship between sagging pants and low expectations, low achievement and prison. But Don Lemon and his mentor Bill O’Reilly have so concluded. That he remains on air is incredible until you realize that that is precisely why he is on air. He was properly vetted. Human resources did a splendid job in finding Lemon. They know exactly what they are getting.
The establishment loves this group because they make the point, of white supremacy, better than even White men. Once passers remain as window dressing and powerless in the decision making process, the point can be made about how well adjusted the rest of us can become. It’s our potential to pass.
The random testing, just days after the Trayvon verdict, seemed not so random and I began to wonder the reason for this attention. How does one get tested for exposure to bomb making materials 5 times in 10 days? Perhaps, it was my longer beard grown to escape the tyranny of the daily razor. I did notice that more Black men had taken to growing longer beards. Perhaps it was some silent solidarity with the would-be terrorist. I am just lazy. Imagine that under the national leadership of an African descendant and an attorney general of African descent I can still be randomly selected 5 times in 10 days for bomb activity and so soon after their promised review of stop and frisk. Not even gun or drug possession but bomb. Jamaica was only interested in testing me as I left. Presumably they didn't care about Jamaican casualties, but were protecting the US: my destination.
It is October and when we celebrate Columbus Day. In true Columbian fashion, the US sets its sails abroad to recover the wealth and obedience of others by arms. My nationalists’ family rejoice in the knowledge that Columbus’ navigator was of African descent. Similarly, some revel in the fact that the current expedition’s navigator is African, or of African descent. Like Columbus, America targets the world, but the Caribbean is special. Assata Shakur in Cuba has been placed at the head of the most wanted list of terrorists by the US Department of Justice. She is the new Osama Bin Laden with a bounty of 2 million. She can be murdered by the state at any time or anyone acting on its behalf. Would that be black on black crime or is Columbus’ legacy living?
I hope that my analysis is wrong, because seeing race and not saying anything must be torture. If I sound like I am at the gate of color deciding who is and who is not, it is only because of the complexity of the subject and that it defies the confines of an essay. I hope that those passing are really Uncle Toms and House Negroes that can shift shape and swiftly reform as revolutionary change mongers rather than passing like ominous clouds on the racial landscape, announcing a rain that can wash color away.
Let’s be clear. Not seeing racial imbalance is, in fact, racial imbalance. Not seeing white supremacy is White supremacy. Its goal is to hide. It has always been that way, at its worse. Sunny Hostin’s view of race was clouded like our view of juror 37. Hostin later relented and called her own view, ’naive’. Naive is a soft word. Blind is more accurate. The education Sunny received did not prepare her to analyze White Supremacy and monopoly capitalism. It is the education that blinded her. I hope that our passers are like clouds temporarily blocking brighter skies or shape-shifters priming for imminent rebellion and we would not have to mutter as did Zimmerman, “these assholes always get away,”
 For a working definition of racism see Huffington Post, October 12, 2013, an interview conducted by Kathleen Wells, J.D., Prof. Robert Jensen Discusses Racism, White Supremacy and White Privilege, Part 1.
 Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, John P. Jewett & Co, Boston 1852
 Stop and Frisk a policy credited to New York Police Department, in error, that permits the stop and frisk of Black and Brown people without probable cause or without any crime being committed. Ray Kelly is the current NYPD Commissioner and advocate for the practice.
 Jamaica’s population is roughly 2.9 million, 3 million for the ease of calculation, and the US roughly 300 million. We would have to multiply the 70 deaths in Tivoli gardens by 100 to match the deaths on 9/11 to that in Tivoli. Instead of 3000 deaths on 9/11 it would have to increase to 300000 to match the death toll in the Tivoli Massacre.
 Las Vegas Guardian Express, Chicago Murder Rate Climbs, Four More Killed and Ten Wounded Since Friday, by Douglas Cobb, July 14, 2013, “Between 2003 and 2011, 4,265 people were murdered in the city of Chicago. In 2012 alone, 512 people were murdered in the city.”.
 A largely discredited essay, supposedly written by West Indian planter, slave owner, Willie Lynch, instructing American slave-owners on the methods of breaking slaves.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
by clairmont chung
The cargo is not as mobile as before. Some sit and stare, chronically
unemployed, some addicted, some homeless, some exhibiting signs of madness, in
states of despair, in poor health, stateless, all invisible. Take a nighttime walk
through Penn Station, under that other New York arena, Madison Square Garden. Maybe
you will see the future Barclays promises.
Barclays, with no retail banking operations in the United
States, would pay several hundred million to place its name on a building and a
subway station in Brooklyn without any ownership interest transferred to it in
exchange. For a bank with no retail account holders, no street level banks, in
the US, this means more. We know what Jay is trying to leave behind. But is
Barclays trying to leave its role in the slave trade behind. Did Barclays not
finance the slavers and help build their ships that brought Jay’s ancestors
across the Atlantic. Many of those ships were built and outfitted right there
at the Brooklyn Navy Yard: a stone’s throw from Jay-Z’s Marcy Projects childhood home and
|Barclays Center moored on Atlantic Avenue (Getty Images)|
The subway train shook me from my half-sleep as we jerked to a stop. It was as if it wanted to show me something. Then I read in bold letters on the station’s walls: Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center. At first, I did not understand what was happening. This was some kind of trick, payback for the things I said about capitalism. Maybe I had made a mistake and taken the wrong train. I had never heard of a station by that name in New York or anywhere. The underground dimness looked familiar. Then the conductor’s cackle announced that we were on the “2 train to Flatbush”. I relaxed a little, even smiled. This was no mistake. Then he said the name of the stop, “Barclays Center, Atlantic”. It felt like a slap so hard that I did not hear the name of the next stop: Barclays-Bergen. I was fully awake then, but train sick. Imagine, not one but, two stops in Brooklyn renamed Barclays in 2012. Barclays Bank was now back, on the Atlantic, naming stops as its debtors did during slavery. Except now it added other property: A building that looked like a ship and Jay-Z.
|Down below (c) rootsandculture|
I paid little attention to the building of the new entertainment arena for the Brooklyn Nets. I treat some of these developments like the presidential elections. They are like trucks rolling down the highway, or oil tankers at sea, and you get the sense that getting in the way brings worse and so I follow at a healthy distance. But this required more scrutiny. With the city’s help, the developer used the powerful legal tool of eminent domain to clear out residents and businesses for the needed space. A bar I visited from time to time closed so that the stadium could be built. Barclays Bank paid the developer, a kind of rental fee, to place its name on the arena: but has no direct interest in developing the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, that calls it home, or with Jay Z. Even the refurbished and renamed subway station was paid for by the developer. So Barclays does not actually own the ship nor does its own Jay-Z, actually.
I can understand one corporation making a deal with another, but the subway was not owned by a corporation. Is it? How much did it cost Barclays to change the name of a subway stop and who received the money? Who knew downtown Brooklyn was sufficiently blighted for the state’s highest court to find just that and order private property demolished? As it turns out, Bruce Ratner, the developer, bore the cost of the naming rights and the $76 million for refurbishing the stop. In exchange for the latter he received the rights to the airspace above his ship: seriously. The naming rights to the stop is to last the same 20 years as the lease to name the center. Evidently, Atlantic-Ratner, or Roc- A- Fella-Atlantic does not have the same bouquet as Atlantic-Barclays.
Somewhere I had read that Jay Z owned an interest in a basketball team. I never really followed Jay Z’s career, he came much after hip hop’s originators, and I stopped following Pro basketball some years ago, after watching a Nets versus Knicks game at the Continental Arena in Jersey. The four tickets included valet parking and cost close to eight hundred dollars. It was a gift and did not include the twelve dollar beer. The game was a sham. In my view the athletes under-performed some deliberately. I had seen better games at the summer tournaments at Rucker in Harlem and Wingate in Brooklyn. It seemed more like worker action, a go –slow, against the owners. That was the only way I could justify that, but attending another NBA game, even for free, was out of the question. So, the New Jersey Nets moving to Brooklyn was background noise to me. But a ship named Barclays in the middle of downtown Brooklyn, with Jay-Z as the launching act, required a closer.
|Barclays flagship under construction (c) Nelson Brakerman|
NY Daily News
Unlike Barclays, in the US, Jay Z has never been far from media cameras and our consciousness. He laid-down great beats, added serious flow with clever lyrics and created major influence. But his subject matter, though creatively delivered, remained mired in the brag and boast genre and without the promise of conscious music early Hip Hop offered through KRS 1 and others. Wikipedia says Jay-Z’s interest in the Nets basketball team is about one-fifteenth of one percent and that he paid 4.5 million for it. It isn't that Jay-Z needed another ten, or even twenty, percent return on this investment. He has a huge public persona, and a bank account to match, separate and apart from the Nets. It certainly was not intended to give Jay any control over the operation. His minute ownership interest combined with the use of the Barclays’ name in exchange for a payment, and with no ownership interest, is proof that it is a publicity stunt for all the players but more so for Barclays and Jay Z: both of whom owned little else in the deal.
Jay-Z’s interest may be microscopic but hardly invisible. It’s the convergence of diverse backgrounds in the interest of making more money. But it reflected something worse: a return to a time when Barclays financed the trade of human cargo whose entrepreneurs sought the help of some local chiefs to execute its plan. Once that cargo reached its destination, it was resold and branded. Today, Barclays, unwilling to slink quietly into the past, instead, pays a rent -$400 million over 20 years- for its name to sit on the building and on letterheads and foreheads like a reminder: a bold brand. It has denied any involvement in the slave trade. But to now join its name, Barclays, to Atlantic is beyond bold.
Barclays’ history in the slave trade dates back to 1690. It has defended itself against these accusations by pointing out that there is no documentary, no paper, evidence of its involvement in the human trade. But we ought to compare the trade in captives to today’s drug trade. Many have no direct involvement, but enjoy its benefits. The slave trade was the drug trade of that day. Huge investments made huge profits and banks in Europe and America made millions investing directly or indirectly in the trade of human cargo. The test should not be whether there is any documentary evidence of involvement, there is, but whether there is any documentary evidence of repudiation at the time. Where none can be provided, we can safely conclude banks and other financiers were involved in the trade and that Barclays was one of them.
Moreover, one of our preeminent historians, Eric Williams, in his Capitalism and Slavery, squarely placed banks and Barclays at the table of human flesh. Its most famous officer, David Barclay, even owned a plantation in Jamaica. His father is said to have owned one of the fanciest mansions in London reputed to have hosted royalty. Williams painstakingly described the importance of banks in the trade of human cargo. Little has changed since.
|Penn Station home to a growing population (c) Niko|
HSBC recently paid US $ 1.9 Billion in penalties and fines to the US Department of Justice for its admitted role in laundering drug money from Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. Banks in Mexico would load up raw cash and deliver to HSBC. Banks do not exist singularly. They operate as a cartel themselves: loaning money to each other at rates they themselves set. One example is the LIBOR which is an interest rate for banks to loan to other banks and set by a group of London based bankers which includes Barclays. So, whatever money HSBC used from the drug cartels would be of no value to it if it could not sell and share that money with its fellow bankers at rates set by Barclays and its friends in London. Even we indirectly used that money as loans and other credit purchases we now find difficult to repay. The sub-prime mortgage scam that targeted people of African descent was largely financed from this money. Those loan rates too depended on that LIBOR rate. And the high rates we paid generated exorbitant profits off the low rates set by Barclays and friends in London. Even a fraction of a percentage point could generate millions, daily. So, much like HSBC, most other banks were involved directly or indirectly in laundering drug money and the sub-prime mortgage scam. Not so long ago, Barclays and its friends depended on the trade in captured Africans to sustain themselves. The formula still works.
Much is made of the involvement of Africans in Africa in the capture and sale of their own people. Some of this I find unfair. Not enough attention is paid to where and whom originated the idea of a slave trade to the Americas, nor much written about African resistance to the trade. The Africans that benefited probably demanded silence and as a sign of unity. Yet, the suffering is well documented. Similarly, Africans today, the descendants of those captives now involved in the drug trade receive little of the benefits that accrue to the banks that launder the proceeds from the trade. On the contrary, they suffer all the pain beginning with surveillance, constitutional violations, and imprisonment: mass incarceration. Then the money they do borrow comes at unsustainable rates of interest. Jay-Z’s role is to legitimize all of that. But the idea is Barclays’. This system of crony capitalism does not permit the captive to own the plantation. It seeks to put the name of the most commercially successful hip hop personality on a product bought on misery and suffering, ultimately a losing proposition, yet seeking youthful and cultural relevance.
|1862 Capt. Nathaniel Gordon hanged in NYC for piracy: the illegal|
importation of Africans . The importation of Africans was banned in
1807. Gordon used Brooklyn Navy Yard to outfit his ships
Now, I thought long and hard about writing this article. Some would argue not long or hard enough. I wanted to avoid sounding like a spoiled crab, jealous of the success of another African: angry that I am not sitting at the table with Jay-Z, political heavies, Barclays and company. Often, it is only after the very corporate power structure rejects us that we find the radical-self and the politicization needed to understand what we are experiencing. After we have done everything they asked and still are not allowed at the table, often only then we suddenly see the table for what it is: the last supper.
In reality, you are only permitted at the table when you demonstrate you know nothing. For example, some fall-out followed Dr. Cornel West’s remarks about Jay-Z’s minute ownership interest in the Nets. Most of it attacked West as that self-hating Thomas seemingly bent on destroying and attacking the African community’s recent symbols of success. Some went even further and called West’s comments racist. West had called on Jay-Z to reveal his true relationship with the Nets. Yet others decry the reason African descended people attack each other when we are supposed to be uniting in common defense. Too often, this is code for ‘shut up’.
This is not an attack on Jay-Z nor is it an attempt to defend Dr. West. He is well equipped to do so himself. But I think this willingness to advocate for West’s silence whenever the object of his critique is of African descent is a very dangerous position. It tells us that all is not well and the merger of Barclays and Jay Z is not one of equality. It is one of the major foundations of dictatorial behavior, which permits the abuse of the rights of Africans in the name of some kind of nationalism. Silence is supposedly justified when the intended object of critique is of African descent: and in the name of unity. This can’t be acceptable. There is a long history of public debates among Africans throughout history on the issues; Du Bois and Garvey, Du Bois and Washington come to mind. Whatever the respective positions, the positions must be aired and debated. The alternative is the kind of shackles that remain on our minds: and increasingly around our bodies. The notion of unity is too often abused into meaning silence: a silence that is too often a license to do the same things we all agree are wrong when done by others.
We know Jay was a petty hustler running cocaine from Harlem to his block in Brooklyn. Then he expanded to places along the I-95. He told us this. It’s not a secret. We never held his past dealings against him. We understand the forces that drive many to the underground economies. He called his album and himself the American Gangster. He was inspired, he said, by the film of the same name and starring Denzel. In one iconic turn, the American gangster had suddenly turned black: of African descent. A documentary series followed, of the same name, which featured only gangsters of African descent. The people who came and pushed out the Native peoples, by force, seized and renamed the land, enslaved them and others, brought African people to build a system that is beginning to feed on itself, are no longer the American gangsters. The ones they enslaved are now the gangsters. We are supposed to remain silent, because Jay-Z is ‘successful’. And now, the system builders have engaged Jay-Z to reinforce that message.
Rather than sit back quietly, and enjoy the illegal gains, the largesse from illegal actions, past and present, benefiting from public ignorance, Barclays decided to engage with Jay-Z: to recapture its name and continue its practice. But then again, its history should explain its reasoning. In its most recent dabbling debacle Barclays is charged with influencing the setting of LIBOR. Robert Reich, Former Secretary of Labor under US President Clinton, called it Wall Street’s ultimate scandal and scandal of scandals. He estimates the money lost, as a result, at 5 to 6 Trillion. This dwarfs the 3 Trillion of our money used between Presidents Bush and Obama to bail failing banks and businesses. When we combine the two scams, we get an idea of what has happened to poor communities and particularly African American communities. Understand, the failure was as a result of mortgages targeting Africans disproportionately among other working class communities. The low interest rates cooked-up in London gave the mistaken view of liquidity upon which the sub-prime mortgages were made; albeit with inflated rates of interest. The LIBOR is based in London but its effects are global and its members have redrawn, with indelible ink, the old triad of the trade in people: London, the Americas, and Africans at home and now abroad.
In the US, the Department of Justice (DOJ) recently offered a deal to Barclays without any trial or official finding of wrongdoing: that if it paid 169 million dollars and signed a document that it was involved in wrongdoing then the matter of its involvement in the LIBOR scandal would be considered over. This is the same Department of Justice in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), that, for much less, deported 400,000 people from the US in 2010 and again in 2011 and 2012. After disbursing more funds to local police departments through its Secure Communities program (SCom), together these Departments share the spoils of actual bodies off the top, for deportation. Detainees are held mostly in private prisons at exorbitant rents and then repatriated to countries south. The stops and frisks by the New York Police Department is part of that national policy and targets young African men. Do you see the turn around? The triad of Europe, Africa and the Americas has been turned on its head but the result is the same. They are returning African descendants home where possible, and destroying the homes and wealth of those remaining in the US, but the money stays among the wealth class in Europe and America. We are not supposed to say anything because they and Jay Z are now friends. We are left scrambling for the crumbs from that table.
|Optimistic OWS protester (c) rootsandculture|
They no longer need to move the people to labor camps, they move them out of the labor statistics, they don’t even exist anymore, and instead they indebt the people, the survivors, descendants of captive labor, with unsustainable mortgages way above the value of their modest houses. The result is increased poverty, homelessness and despair. The African American community includes people from all over the diaspora. Foreclosures as a result of the sub-prime debacle affect 2.5 times more African homeowners than European Americans. It is estimated that between 72 and $93 billion of African American wealth was lost as a result of the sub-prime scam: a significant percent of total wealth since home ownership forms a larger percentage of African American wealth than of Whites. This figure does not include the cost of deferred small business development using home equity, or deferred educations, lost retirement plans, neglected health and related debt management. This will eventually run into several trillion.
The Department of Justice and has treated Barclays in much the same way it treats thousands of its detainees: offered a deal. Barclays also paid $200 million in fines to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and £59.5 million to the Financial Services Authority. The difference is that for Barclays it’s a slap on the wrist, for us it’s our lives. If you are deportable, and sometimes even if not, you are asked to sign a non-contestation agreement, saying that the allegations are true and that you would prefer to be returned home. Sometimes this comes after serving time for a crime at the state or federal level. Sometimes the defendant would avoid jail by admitting wrongdoing without a trial: like Barclays did here. Barclays went further and offered to tell what it knows about the involvement of other banks. The reward is an arena and a subway station or two.
Banks are what they are; a cash-vac. HSBC admitted to money laundering. They are part of a system that denies any ties to organised crime and decries any attempt to associate them with money laundering. Barclays has not yet been accused of laundering drug money. But it’s like their refusal to admit involvement in the slave trade: not to be taken seriously. You may not have kidnapped a tribeswoman from Dahomey, placed her on a ship and sold her in Barbados. But the money derived from that trade was placed in your banks. In fact, you loaned that same money to other entrepreneurs engaged in the trade. Like HSBC, you need to admit your role.
It’s been reported that neighborhood entrepreneurs have welcomed the Barclays Center in anticipation of the development it would initiate. These entrepreneurs would not have read any of the current science on this phenomenon and moreover cannot point to any example to explain and support their enthusiasms. The fact is that Atlantic City, as an example, the resort with gambling, has done nothing for the Atlantic City proper. Just a few short blocks from the casinos and you are face to face with the old depressed Atlantic City. This is the same misguided enthusiasm of trickle-down economics. The spate of casinos on Indian lands has done nothing for the Indians. On and on big-business thinks building a cash cow in a depressed area lifts the area. The opposite is true. It simply sucks value from the neighborhood while sending the real estate prices and rents up and beyond the reach of current residents. The jobs offered are not career builders but simply the unskilled labor that big-business has always craved. You don’t need an education for those.
Similarly, Brooklyn, ravaged by recession and the mortgage scam, has lost more people than any other American city. Ratner claimed the presence of urban blight as the basis for his eminent domain claim. Many groups came out in protest, but some seem to have been quieted with more promises. Others have continued with protest. But this borough is just a shell of itself. At no time was this more evident than in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. And even as I write, there are still people without homes, without lights, without jobs, and sufficient food and all because of the city's inability to deal with the disaster. The insurance companies all caught in the ongoing subprime and LIBOR debacle are slow to respond. The hidden story is how the wealthiest city in the world is incapable of handling a disaster that some Caribbean islands experience on a regular basis. The result would be more applicants to that parallel underground economy.
Jay-Z seems unaware of the forces that drove him and others to that economy, away from the path his friend President Obama took, and instead towards the enterprise of cocaine and crack sales. The other path is one of formal education and a promised, steady, good job at a good university, bank, or similar institution or even the presidency: success. Though we can now touch it, it is actually further away. It now seems conflated into one confused mess. Jay-Z like many around the country around the world, denied a competitive education, used his innate business skills to develop and expand his empire. But seems to forget the forces that drove him, the reasons why he entered that underground economy in the first instance. As he described in the 1990s,
Blame Reagan for making me to into a monster
Blame Oliver North and Iran-Contra
I ran contraband that they sponsored
Before this rhymin' stuff we was in concert.
His are not words of protest. Instead, now we are asked to cheer his eventual entry into the 1 percent albeit with the same suspects: still in concert with those who continue to sell and profit off his people.
|@ 40/40/ Club, NYC (Rolling Stone|
In the recently concluded presidential elections, even the debates intended to educate the voter about their choice became obfuscated into some competition as if in high school. Like gladiators the candidates matched strengths in a ring where neither seemed aware they are trapped and where the winner is determined by a voice on high from a flickering image. But like the coliseums of old, in the arena, you are only the winner for so long. There is no loyalty: not that that ever made anything better. Soon the winners turn will come from somewhere, younger, stronger and better looking. The weak questions from the press, the people’s representatives in this process, reflect a similar high-schoolish understanding of power and with no follow-up questions allowed, one is left wondering whether that is the best this country can do. Don’t get me wrong African history longs for figures of power and poise. There is no more cheered example than President Obama. But this longing for, and paucity of, figures have left us silent. It seems to have actually restructured and restricted our power. We can’t even ask a sensible question: even of Jay Z.
We seem to see none of this because we are so invested in the image of who we might be. Euros and Afros alike, but Afros, way more so, imprinted and inundated with racial hatred and oppression, seek any glimmer of redemption and so we debate on who won instead of the issues. Obama is it. But the things on the menu for discussion are not about the high percentage of prisoners and higher percentage of African descended ones, LIBOR, subprime loans, global warming and their relation. And by extension, why was Jay-Z involved in selling, whites, white lady, kane, roc: one time street names for cocaine and its derivatives. How come immigration is about who is coming and not who is going out?
Only in America, and its peculiar sense of freedom, can someone boast about the ways in which they broke the law, the amount of cocaine they sold, and become rich on those boasts. It is conceivable that had Jay- Z directed his talents at math or science he could have contributed something really important to our society. Maybe he would have risen to the top at Barclays, or created his own, and changed it for the better by admitting past wrongdoings and plotting a course of reparations and social responsibility. Perhaps that is still in his future,
For now, he is part owner of a team housed under the Barclays brand. But that was not his only achievement. He is primed for much more. He was able to send for, and have the President of the United States meet him at his house: the 40/40 club. Now, that is power: royalty. The President came to visit; and to collect the $4 million contribution Jay Z raised among his equally dazzling friends. One is left to wonder, who is guesting on whose production? Who is hype man for whom? So when the President sat down with Jay-Z we can only guess about the conversation topics. It would not be about stop and frisk. Had it been exercised with the same intensity when Jay-Z was a street hustler, he may have been in a different place. It would not be about mass incarceration and deportation, not even about the 99%, or the rudiments and origin of hip hop. Perhaps it would be about their African descended children and which financial instruments offered by which bank would best protect them from want, hunger, poverty, poor healthcare, police brutality, and unreasonable stops and searches.
Only their children would be able to afford tickets to anything at the Barclays Center. Even the subway fare has increased, its fourth increase in the last five years, and the tolls to enter New York are at an unbelievable $13.00. So those Nets fans from Jersey will have to add $50 to their tickets prices and that is just for tolls, parking and gas. Soon those within the city will be unable to leave, unless it’s permanently. Those outside will have to remain so. All this in a city that saw its income disparity outstrip national numbers and lost 23,000 manufacturing jobs in the last decade. Perhaps all this is to cover the real cost of the tax breaks and subsidies given to the Barclays Center development. New York City Transit’s man on the deal, Joseph Lhota, has mayoral ambitions. Perhaps to oversee the promises made to Mr. Ratner. While the city’s current mayor exhibits national ambitions.
In 2011 New York police made 684,300 stops and frisks many just blocks from Jay-Z’s 40/40 club’s second location in the Barclays Center. While in Brownsville, East New York, Crown Heights, Red Hook, and the ‘Bush’ unemployment is rampant and infant mortality on par with underdeveloped countries. More than likely Jay-Z would be kicked to the curb like Reverend Jeremiah Wright should he include in his rhymes anything about reparations or the revolt of African descendants: Jay-Z unchained. Past drug sales is fine. But any rhyme of resistance is unlikely because Jay Z has made his past quite clear and his politics clearer: he cannot even understand the need for Occupy Wall Street: as he was reported to have quipped after a reluctant visit to the Liberty Plaza Park home of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
As if not enough, his empire of style and music boasts some derivative of the name Rockefeller: more accurately, Rocawear and Roc-A-Fella. The Rockefeller name just happens to be one of the central names in banking, investment and government history. You can’t wear that name and understand the 99% rhetoric. Still not satisfied, the Rockefeller name graces that law that continues to send our young men to jail in those ever increasing and disproportionate numbers. The Rockefeller drug laws are also referred to as the three strikes rule, where mostly African Americans are sent to prison for as much as twenty five years for as little as three non-violent offenses. In most cases the three offenses if treated individually would not result in any jail time. But together, its Rockefeller time, it’s a kind of death. And of course there was Attica. This is what we are living under. Yet we run around with these symbols on our chests.
After prison, these young men and women, the deportees, are returned to what have essentially become Bantustans: a throwback to the apartheid era. Some of the communities are right here in the US as Ishmael Reed declared them internal colonies. Gentrification is the new colonization. When viewed together, gentrification, internal colonization, stop and frisk and deportation, then add, unemployment, low wages and high subway fares a picture should emerge: of a divided Brooklyn. The minimum wage employees at the Barclays Center would have to work an hour to pay the subway fare to and from work. As for tickets, even Jay-Z implicitly acknowledged the situation by awarding free tickets to some lucky Brooklynites for his opening concert at the Barclays Center.
Of course, some of these Bantustans are actual countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa with no access to power, no access to Markets, and no access to jobs. The few jobs available include making Rocawear and similar celebrity brands. Even when they work, they are unable to set the price for the things they produce or their labor and instead live on the largesse of the developed world and its agencies: hush money to governments. The governments are often placed there with the help of the US and its allies. They live on landmasses named by others and speak an official language not native to that landmass. While the US continues in open support of another famous Bantustan that has corralled brown people into an unsustainable and barren landmass and politicos make the support of Israel part of their campaign platform.
We are left to contemplate its only redeemable argument: that under Romney things would be worse. This has silenced us: we the people who waged war against slavery; waged war for the right to vote, raised our voices against all injustice, at home and abroad, are now asked to be silent. This is the height of selfishness and self-indulgence. Because what it means is that they are unable to identify their world, care little about others in the rest of the world, and those not in their world, but misguidedly do what they feel is best for ‘me’.
There was a time when the sight of an armed man on a horse caused real fear: fear of capture and return. Even now, flashing police lights and presence generate a similar fear in those who have been there: while we wear outfits, with a man on a galloping horse, and with a stick in his hand, emblazoned on our chests, as a symbol of our successful enterprise. Jay-Z’s cohorts, not to be outdone, rent their images to clothing, and vodkas and champagnes with strange names.
It's unfortunate that our own self-interest is used against us, under the guise of unity, and blinds us to atrocities committed in our name and to us. It is not a problem peculiar to African Americans. All groups are vulnerable. Communists, Marxists, democrats, tea partyers, even capitalists: all are vulnerable and it takes real courage to resist. This transcends and includes race, ethnicity, nationality and religion. You can’t criticize the group. You’ll be branded a traitor or worse: a hater. Despite the daily atrocities meted out to the Palestinian people, many Jews remain, quiet, if not supportive. Some in the African community see this example as a model of the kind of unity needed. Now, with President Obama's resounding support of America's foremost ally, all Americans are drawn into tacit support. More peculiar is the silence from African descendants whom history has judged harshly: given that peculiar history. The majority of humans seem incapable of adhering to that overused tenet ‘do unto others’.
It’s either that I am blind and cannot see that finger on a dark hand beckoning me towards freedom or that I am right. If I am right, then that sets off a series of realizations that end badly for us all. We simply don't seem to have the capacity for the kind of fight true equality demands. I’d rather be wrong. I have my doubts. Instead we band together in groups seeking an advantage like some game of basketball or maybe Survivor; the larger the better. Those standing, or sitting on benches, bent over machines and screens should be feeling that new pain all over their backs, feet and eyes. We fight for spots in the factory knowing a step down leads to the bowels of Madison Square Garden.
|Protest outside Barclays Center (c)S.Platt|
Jay visited and performed across Africa. In his role as humanitarian, he joined the UN in a project to bring Africa’s water woes to world attention and was reportedly en-stooled as a Chief in Kwara State, Nigeria. The state named a street after him. We should take this as his understanding of the dynamics of power and not an opportunity to exchange trinkets. His lyrics in Oh My God suggests he was crowned King with,
I got crowned King down in Africa
Down in Nigeria do you have any idea.
Down in Nigeria do you have any idea.
Whatever the title, we should all take note of the old alliance. It is now full circle: Barclays, Atlantic, and an African Chief.
Eric Williams recounted a story involving the role of rum in the trade of humans. Rum was valuable cargo and often used to ply African chiefs, middle-persons, in negotiating price. Having already received his payment in gold coins, a ‘negro trader’ was invited aboard a ship and feted by its captain. He awoke from his drunkenness the next day to find himself branded and chained with the rest of his human goods. More than likely he survived and made it to the new world. He was not the only one. Like Barclays and the other banks, these chiefs are engaged in similar practices. Are we to be accused of participating in this trade from West Europe, to West Africa, to West Indies and to the world? They are not done selling. You are sold a different image of yourself. It’s a different kind of crack: fame and fortune. The whole thing must go.
Just say no. Just say something.
 Metropolitan Transit Authority operates almost all the trains, toll bridges and tunnels within, and connecting to, the city of New York. It is described as a public benefit corporation: a quasi-corporation operated for our benefit with support from government, fares, tolls and property taxes. The real estate fiasco precipitated by the subprime crisis led to reduced tax contributions and increased deficits.
 Wikipedia states that, “In June 2009, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority sold the naming rights of the station complex to Forest City Ratner for 20 years at $200,000 per year”. Forest City Ratner is the developer of Barclays Center and headed by Bruce Ratner. The sale did not prevent the seemingly annual rise in subways fares a few short months after the center opened.
 Jason Sheftell, First Look at the $76 million Barclays Center Subway Station, New York Daily News (September 14, 2012)
 Jay-Z formed the independent label Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995 with former Partners Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs
 Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery, (Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 1944) p.48
 Ibid, p.101. It appears Unity Valley Pen in St. Anns and its 30 captured Africans came under Barclay control through unpaid debts. At the time of the emancipation John Barclay had died and his executor, David Barclay, was of advanced age. All but 2 of the Africans were brought to Philadelphia, USA and trained in various trades.
 From the Departments of Homeland Security website, “ Between fiscal years 2008 and 2011, ICE removed more convicted criminal aliens from our country than ever before, with the number of convicted criminals that ICE removed from the United States increasing by 89 percent, while the number of non-criminals removed dropped by 29 percent.” How is it Barclays and HSBC never get deported are they not convicted criminals too.
 An African kingdom centered near present-day Republic of Benin and a major source of captured Africans for labor in the Americas.
 Blue Magic, Roc- A- Fella Records
 Joel kotkin, The Hollow Boom Of Brooklyn: Behind Veneer Of Gentrification, Life Gets Worse For Many,
Forbes, (September 2012)
 Jay-Z’s Bedford Stuyvesant, a stone’s throw from Barclays Center boasts an infant mortality rate of 14 deaths per 1000 births. In the Caribbean, Jamaica is at 14.3, Antigua is about the same and Barbados about 11.5. Guyana needs an investigation at 35 deaths. By comparison national US numbers are 7.2 deaths. These numbers are sourced from the CIA Factbook. See also , Mundi, and, Jennifer Steinhauer, High Infant Mortality Rates In Brooklyn Mystify Experts, NY Times, a 2000 study but shows the lack of improvement over the past decade. Mario Sims, Tammy L. Sims, and Marino A. Bruce, Urban Poverty and Infant Mortality Rate Disparities, Journal of the National Medical Association, 2007 April; 99(4): 349–356.
 In 1971 New York State Governor, Nelson D. Rockefeller launched an attack to retake Attica Correctional Facility, from protesting prisoners, and in the process killed 39 people including 10 guards and civilian employees.
 Capitalism and Slavery, p 123.