It Ain’t About Race

It Ain’t About Race


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



You lay on the ground in excruciating pain

Cameras rolling / Revealing to the world yet again

The History / The Truth

that lies in the darkness of New Orleans streets




It Ain’t About Race

By Claire Carew

Cleaning up the gutters

Soaking up the rains

They forgot to mention this kind of pain

The beatings in the alleys

The kicks and blows to black men heads

Out came our ancestors vex and blue

Studying what the hell to do

Sorry Bro it had to be you

Retired Teacher,

64 years old,

Owner of several properties,

Walking the French Quarters

To buy cancer sticks cigarettes


Dare to ask a cop about a curfew


Dare to say that wasn’t right


No you have GOT to be drunk and disorderly.

Bang, pop blows to your head

Blood gurgles and pours out of your veins


You lay on the ground in excruciating pain

Cameras rolling

Revealing to the world yet again

The History

The Truth

that lies in the darkness of New Orleans streets

The forgotten story our ancestors wanted told

Another beating of our own

Another attempt to wake us up

Our ancestors restless journey from dust to dust


Cops BeatBy Joe Williams III

Sometimes when the racists turn up the heat, it makes you want to go out and buy a shotgun.  I watched as the New Orleans police punched, kicked, and cussed an old black man.  TV camera rolling, they punched, and punched, and punched.  Robert Davis eye was so big, and blood oozed from his body onto the hurricane streets of New Orleans.  Thousands of New Orleans residents had just become homeless, some dead, but the bloody rage of a few cops spoke of how senseless a black life appeared to them.  

I tried to explain it to my son, but words could not reach his tender mind concerning the historical reality behind the beating.  

It is his first time, but it was a repeated scene from my whole life.  I grew up in New Orleans, when a black man couldn’t party in the French Quarters.  I was a victim of a couple of those “cop beatings.”  They don’t really hurt that much when you are young, but a 64 year old, retired teacher, it must have hurt.  It must have raised anger inside of him.  It must have made him feel less than human, to be beat down like an animal.  I wish he would have been packing.

Former Secretary of Education, William Bennett, better known in the black community as “Wild Bill,” said that every black baby in America should be aborted.

Well, I guess we need to buy ourselves some “protection” against politicians like Bennett.  When Bennett speaks of the womb of white women he cries, “Pro-Life,” but when he speaks of the womb of black women, he screams, “abortion.”  Now, if Bennett was just an ordinary politician, then I would not be screaming, Bloody Mary.”

 However, he was the Secretary of Education.  He was in charge of what our children and grandchildren learned in school.  Oh, by the way, that black man the cops beat in New Orleans was a school teacher, but that didn’t matter, just like Bennett doesn’t care if the aborted womb was Condoleeza Rice, and the New Orleans officers didn’t care if their punching bag victim was a Colin Powell. 

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Joe, I’m glad you mentioned that story. I got the AP story and the photos. They beat him just like a nigger. And they didn’t care that he was middle-class and owned a few properties. They busted him up again and again and locked him up. And now the Negro said it had nothing to do with race.

When is black oppression ever about race? When will Negroes leave the traditional political parties and organize independently? Why are Negroes afraid to think of a black political party? Why are they afraid to even talk about it, discuss it? I am not talking about a revolutionary party, or a socialist party, or a Black Panther Party, just a plain black political party that’s willing to defend the poor, that is for the liberation of the poor, and stand for elections on that issue? Are we the walking dead, zombies on the man’s plantations, unwillingly to go out in the wilderness, on our own? 

I know the plantation is comfortable. There you got some roof, a regular meal (though not too much meat), a few rags passed down for our bodies. A little salve for our sores. Assurances that tomorrow will be no worse than today, more or less, why are we so content? Who speaks of integrity and dignity these days? We love the little life that our oppressors have granted us and  we are convinced, damn near unanimous, that we cannot do without our masters. Is that all that black life is now, just getting by?

Just because they took the signs down, that didn’t make us free. Integrating into evil has not made us free. Do we have any love for our women, our children, our grandchildren, the coming generations. What legacy will we really leave for them, that a few did well? Well, what about the rest? Have they convinced us so easily, that half of us is of no account, no matter, dispensable?

You speak of William Bennett, the Republican operative. Well, James Carville, Clinton’s man, “the most influential Democratic strategist of our time,” spoke here in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins on the hopes of a Democratic win in 2008. Here is his message for Democratic Party Negroes:

Carville also demanded greater personal responsibility from the poor, urging teenagers to “stay in school longer and get pregnant less”. . . that the public accept the need to work longer before retirement and include smaller cost-of-living increases in Social Security for the sake of the country” (Johns Hopkins News-Letter, 29 September 2005). 

He ain’t talking about helping the poor. He’s talking about more of the abuse of the poor. For Carville, the poor not only have to work two and three jobs to make ends meet, not only do they have to withstand criminalization, but we must endure also snide remarks about our lack of morality and in addition allow the national budget to be balanced on the backs of the aged, after he and is kin have given trillions of dollars to the rich. Like Bennett, black babies don’t appeal to him. What gall!

Now I haven’t heard one Negro politician complain about Carville, Clinton’s boy from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who is married to a right wing Republican. Now they are all in the same bed. But we are going to go out next year and vote for these Democrats and we’re going to go with their game in 2008. And we will be so pleased with ourselves. Keep in mind that New Orleans is a Democratic city. Is there no such thing any more as Negro shame, nor pride? — Rudy

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Justice Department Probes New Orleans Beating

Retired Schoolteacher Disputes Police Report of Drinking

By Ross Sneyd, AP

NEW ORLEANS (Oct. 11) – Robert Davis stood at the corner of Bourbon and Conti streets in the French Quarter and stared in disbelief at the brown stain on the sidewalk.

“It that my blood? It must be,” said the 64-year-old retired elementary schoolteacher, who was arrested and repeatedly punched by police over the weekend. “I didn’t know I was bleeding that bad.”

The confrontation, captured on videotape and broadcast across the country, has put another unwanted spotlight on the beleaguered, exhausted police force in this storm-struck city.

Three officers pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the incident and the U.S. Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation.

Davis disputed contentions by police that he had been drinking.

“I haven’t had a drink in 25 years,” Davis said Monday.

“I didn’t do anything. I was going to get a pack of cigarettes and taking my evening constitutional,” he said, using an expression that means an evening walk.

The two city police officers accused in the beating, and a third accused of grabbing and shoving an Associated Press Television News producer who helped capture the encounter on tape, pleaded not guilty to battery charges and were released Monday.

After a hearing, at which trial was set for Jan. 11, officers Lance Schilling, Robert Evangelist and S.M. Smith were released on bond. They left without commenting. They were suspended without pay Sunday.

Police Superintendent Warren Riley said any misconduct found in an investigation would be dealt with swiftly. He noted the video showed “a portion of that incident.”

“The actions that were observed on this video are certainly unacceptable by this department,” Riley said.

Davis is black; the three city police officers seen on the tape are white. But Davis and police officials have said they don’t believe race was a factor.

Two other officials in the video appeared to be federal officers, according to police. Numerous agencies have sent officers to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and police spokesman Marlon Defillo said it would be up to their commanders to decide if they would face charges.

Davis had stitches under his swollen left eye, a bandage around a finger and complained of aches in his left shoulder and soreness in his back. His lawyer said he suffered fractures to his cheek and eye socket.

The confrontation came as the New Orleans Police Department – long plagued by allegations of brutality and corruption – struggles with the aftermath of Katrina and the resignation last month of Police Superintendent Eddie Compass.

Davis said the confrontation began after he had approached a mounted police officer Saturday to ask about curfews in the city when another officer interrupted.

“This other guy interfered and I said he shouldn’t,” Davis said. “I started to cross the street and – bam – I got it. … All I know is this guy attacked me and said, ‘I will kick your ass,’ and they proceeded to do it.”

The APTN tape shows an officer hitting Davis at least four times in the head. Davis appeared to resist, twisting and flailing as he was dragged to the ground by four officers. Davis’ lawyer, Joseph Bruno, said his client did not resist police.

Another officer also kneed Davis and punched him twice. Davis was pushed to the sidewalk with blood streaming down his arm and into the gutter. The officers accused of striking Davis were identified as Schilling and Evangelist.


During the arrest, another officer, identified as Smith, ordered an APTN producer and cameraman to stop recording. When producer Rich Matthews held up his credentials, the officer grabbed him, leaned him backward over a car, jabbed him in the stomach and unleashed a profanity-laced tirade.

Davis had returned to New Orleans over the weekend from Atlanta to inspect six properties owned by members of his family, intending to clean them up or figure out how to rebuild them. 

He’s no longer sure he’ll return permanently to the city he’s called home for 28 years.


“That’s up in the air. The chaos that’s here – I don’t know,” he said.

Associated Press writer Rachel LaCorte contributed to this report. 10-11-05 08:34 EDT

*   *   *   *   *

Claire Carew was born in Guyana and is of African, Arawak and European ancestry. She began her visual arts career over 25 years ago with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Guelph and studies at private art schools.  Carew also holds a Diploma in Education, a Visual Arts Specialist from McGill University and has completed studies in drama at the University of Toronto. Carew’s work has been shown in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Her work is also in private collections in Brussels, England, Guyana and Russia.

posted 12 October 2005

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*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 19 February 2012




 Home Claire Carew Table   Criminalizing a Race: Blacks and Prisons Table     

Related files:Related files:  The Black Religious Crisis   A Theology of Obligation & Liberation  Howard Thurman  The Negro Church  Pan-Africanism and the Black Church  Death of the Black Church  

The Black Church Is Dead   Beyond Vietnam A Time to Break Silence   Racism Republican Style    Sitting ducks at the superdome  

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