We Are More Than Hashtags: Death of Sterling and Castile 

  Black men are dying. Black men are dying at such an alarming rate it’s downright scary. They were our brothers, uncles, fathers and husbands. Now they are reduced to nothing but a mere hashtag. 

What has our country become when black men can’t even live without being in constant fear of their lives. Wives, mothers and sisters living in fear if they will return home at the end of the day. 


Simply selling CDs or exercising your right to bare arms is reason enough to kill?!? (Alton Sterling)

I think not! 

No one bats an eye until the murder of police officers are in question. Although the lives of innocent people is a devastation in an of itself. But just like police officers lives matters so does black lives. 

We are not saying other lives don’t matter but we need to get the same amount of sympathy for our slain black men just like those slain officers. 

Something needs to be done. But destroying innocent civilians isn’t the answer. We need love not hate. 

We need to come together and fight injustices. But until the ones with all the power and wealth change the way they think nothing will ever change in this crazy world. 

The girlfriend of Philando Castile live streams her boyfriend’s murder. Please be careful everyone you are worth more.  Don’t become the next hashtag. 

Tamir, Sandra, Freddie, How Many More Do We Have To Lose?

Black-Men-Killed-By-PoliceYear after year an unforeseen tragedy happens in the black community that results in an uproar. The slain killing of an African American. Within these past couple years we have lost almost a dozen citizens due to police brutality. There are so many murders but yet these officers go without any punishment. It’s almost as if the justice system is sending out a message that it is okay to murder black men and women and get away with it. The killing of the nine individuals at the South Carolina church was hushed under the rug while the murderer can go on with his life as long as he pleads “insanity.” That in of itself is insane. Members of the “Black Lives Matter,” movement being murdered just for protesting their  rights to be seen as an equal human being in the world.

Tamir Rice, a young teen shot dead after seen playing with a toy gun, Sandra Bland murdered for what, we still don’t know. Freddie Gray, shot down just like Mike Brown, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, and countless others. I don’t know what has to happen in this world before racism and violence ends. Gone, are the days when our children could play outside without fear of being killed. Everyday innocent men and women lives are being stolen away from them. Unsolved mysteries the media fails to uncover the truth about. No one will ever know what happen to young teen Kendrick Johnson who’s body was found rolled up in gym mats then later stuffed with newspapers. Somebody knows, no one is seeking to tell the truth.  NO one cares about the black community. It is far time that the black community come together to hold each other accountable. We must do something. We need to support each other. I pray that one day we can live in a world where gun violence and racism isn’t so rampant in our society. Where we don’t judge other cultures based over old stereotypes but we realize we are all one.  That we are all running one race; The Human Race.

justice or else

Do Black Lives Matter Anymore?

Recently, the nation united for the Justice or Else, Million Man March in Washington, D.C., to discuss racial injustices within our society for all of the police brutality that has taken place with our men and women. This was such a historical event but yet it failed to receive nationwide television coverage. Especially, from major predominantly African American television stations.

So this lives me to wonder if black lives important? Do we matter in this world?

I have created a poem that honors our lost ones in society due to injustices.

It is entitled Do Black Lives Matter Anymore?


straight outta compton

Straight Outta Compton’s Going Straight to the TOP

Straight_Outta_Compton-movie-posterIt’s not everyday that a major studio backs a predominately black movie, with almost no name actors in the lead role, carry a movie about one of the most influential and controversial rap groups of all time. It may also help that two of the producers, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre are power players in the music and film industry, and two of the core members of the group that this film is about.

The film is about the five members of N.W.A., but mainly focuses on the core three, Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright (played brilliantly by up and coming actor Jason Mitchell), O’Shea ‘Ice Cube’ Jackson (played by Ice Cube’s actual son, O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) and Andre ‘Dr. Dre’ Young (played by Non-Stop’s Corey Hawkins), who solidified the group’s power as the face, the rapper and the producer, with Lorenzo ‘MC Ren’ Patterson (played by former Leverage actor Aldis Hodge) and Antoine ‘DJ Yella’ Carraby (played by Battle: Los Angeles’ Neil Brown, Jr) supporting the three leads on the stage and in the studio.

At the beginning, Eazy is in his early twenties, selling dope on the streets of Compton, trying to get by, slowly getting tired of the lifestyle. Cube is a high school senior, yearning to use his gift of writing rhymes and rapping to better his life. Dre is a twenty year old musical genius, but a struggling DJ and

beat maker, trying to establish his own sound and make an impact in the music world. Each of them deal

with police brutality on a daily basis, due to the racism shown by the police department and the gang

violence and crime in their Compton neighborhood. One day, Dre gets the idea of starting a group,

knowing Eazy has money after bailing him out of jail due to a fight he got in protecting his younger

brother Tyree (Keith Powers). Eazy is skeptical, especially when Dre asks him to be a rapper in the group

while Dre and Yella take care of the music aspect, and Cube would be the main writer with some

assistance from Ren. When Eazy begins enjoying the feel and attention he gets as a rapper, he quickly

becomes the face of the group. Eazy then meets rich record producer and manager Jerry Heller (played by

the always great Paul Giamatti), who helps the group book shows and get their records off the ground.

Quickly, the group becomes well known and controversial, taking hip hop beyond break dancing and

glamour rap of the early 80’s. The more popular the group gets, the more tension begins to rise. After the

success of their first two albums and Eazy’s solo album, Cube begins noticing that Eazy and Jerry are

making more money then the rest of the group and after an argument with Jerry over his contract, Cube

leaves the group to start his solo career. After a heated feud begins between the group and Cube, and

Cube easily winning with his hit song No Vaseline (one of the best scenes in the movie by the way), Dre

begins realizing Eazy and Jerry have been taking advantage of them, and after getting assistance from the

intimidating and notorious record producer Suge Knight (played by R. Marcus Taylor), leaves Eazy’s

label to join Death Row Records where he helps make the label huge, creating his masterpiece The

Chronic, and make stars out of Snoop Dogg (played by Selma and Dope’s Keith Stanfield) and Tupac

Shakur (played by newcomer Marcc Rose). A few years pass and Eazy realizes he needs to cut ties with

Jerry and yearns to get the group back together, making amends with Cube and Dre (Ren and Yella never

left Eazy’s side) but soon finds out that he has AIDS and a few months later dies, being named ‘The

Godfather of Gangsta Rap’. Right after Eazy’s death, Dre leaves Death Row to start his label Aftermath

where he makes superstars out of Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent, also being named one of the biggest

and richest music producers of all time. Ice Cube has become a star player in the film industry, being an

actor, producer and writer, and still continues to rap to this day. MC Ren continues to rap only locally in

Compton but still a name in the industry. DJ Yella switched his endeavors and became a director of porno

movies, shooting almost 200 of them.

This film hit me hard. I am a struggling screenwriter/actor/filmmaker myself, and the yearning

they wanted to provide for their families and make an impact is exactly how I feel having come so close

with screenplays of my own in the industry and to continue being rejected, this film shows that anything

is possible. F. Gary Gray already has a great filmography, but he already knows these streets after

shooting the classic Friday and Set It Off. He captures the essence, the grit, grime, glamour, all of the

elements that needed to be put in this film to make it work. It speaks to the audience, regardless of the

background, but obviously more relatable in the black and hip hop communities, but in the theater I was

in it was very mixed with a lot of white collard, middle aged white man who sang the songs in the theater

with everyone else and I thought that was great. The police brutality scenes were hard to watch with

everything going on now with cops shooting black people in communities around the country. Almost

like 1988 was still happening, but sadly, it never went away. That was a point F. Gary Gray was trying to

make I think. The music pulsated and was just another character in the film. Capturing 1986-1996, they

did that on point. It’s almost like going back in a time warp.

In the end, my only negative thing to say about the movie is that it had to end. I am a huge fan of

biopics as well as films dealing with the hood and great character dramas. This takes the cake. To be a rap

group that was hated by everyone damn near including the government, to have a biopic come out 25

years later is a huge accomplishment. I am proud to say that I’ll pay the money I have to, to see this film

again. May this inspire not only rappers and filmmakers, but people in general who have a dream,

regardless of the color of their skin. Number 1 at the box office this weekend.



Sandra Bland: Another Case of Police Brutality on Black Women

By Jessica Daniel

With all of the police brutality happening against young black men, we see countless times in the media the public protesting and fighting for justice when a black man is shot and killed by police. However, what we fail to see recognized in the media are the many young black women who are getting attacked and killed by the police as well. This, too, is also a serious issue that needs to be reported and addressed.



28 year-old Sandra Bland was pulled over and arrested by a police officer for failing to make a turn signal. According to reports, the police officer told Bland to put out the cigarette she had in her hand, and Bland questioned the officer since she had been smoking in her own car. The conversation began to get heated between her and officer Brian Encinia. Encinia forced her to get out of her car, but Bland refused, so Encinia reached for her, threatening to “light her up” with his taser. The whole incident was recorded on video of the officer trying to pull her out of her car and knocking her head into the ground. Bland tells the officer, “You’re a real man now. You just slammed me, knocked my head in the ground.”

Bland was sent to jail all because of a turn signal in which the officer claimed that she had assaulted him.

Bland was “found hanging from a noose made from a plastic bag” inside her jail cell. The reports claim that she was suicidal, and she killed herself, but her family believed there was more to it and that she was not suicidal.

Police brutality is increasing day by day on our black men and women. What we need to do as a community, no matter what race or ethnicity we are, is to stand united in love instead of divided in hate. Evil is running rampant in these days, but we must not let evil take control over us. We need to pray for our entire community, our nation, and the police officers. Ephesians 6:10-13 talks about putting on the full armor of God, so that we can stand against evil in this world.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”



#SayHerName- Bringing To Light The Police Brutality Against Black Women

By  Payton Pruitt

CGSZTzSWQAAJUDjOn May 21, 2015 multiple protesters gathered together in seventeen different locations nationwide to protest the acts of police brutality against black women that had occurred in recent years. This action was done with work from the groups of BlackOUT Collective, and Black Lives Matter. Using the ever progressive approach of social media by spreading #SayHerName, as well as bearing their breasts and using body paint to send messages of their own, these groups brought attention to many of the women that had suffered at the hands of police brutality that had been overlooked by mainstream media, as well as protesting body shaming of black women, infant mortality, and the stigma of female masculinity.

Many of the names that were shown and spread in this protest were names such as Michelle Cusseaux, a 50 year old woman who was shot to death in what was supposed to be a trip to a mental facility in 2014; Rekia Boyd, a 22 year old woman shot to death by police in an alleyway in April of 2015; Yuvette Henderson, a 38 year old woman who was also shot to death by police in February of 2015; Yazmin Payne, a 33 year old trans woman who was stabbed to death by her boyfriend in February of 2015; and Aiyana Jones, a 7 year old girl who was shot to death by police in a raid in 2010.

This protest was nationwide to show support for the families who had lost their loved ones and to remind the media of the violence that had been taken against these black women in recent years that had been overlooked or pushed aside. The protest took place during the National Day of Action, as made by the Black Lives Matter group.

The protest was called in response to a report called “Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality against Black Women” that was released by the African American Policy Forum and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies by Columbia University. Dr. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Director of the African American Policy Forum and co-author of the report wanted to publish the names of the women who have suffered at the hands of police in recent years and show what they have experienced in the same ways as their male counterparts, and ways that they have also not experienced.


What we know less about is how black women have experienced police brutality.” Crenshaw explained in an interview with Democracy Now! “And all during this time that we have been marching around police brutality there have been a steady number of women who have also been killed and we haven’t really known their names, we haven’t really understood their circumstances. So the report was basically an effort to literally lift up the names of people like Michelle Cusseaux, Rekia Boyd to recognize that black women experience police brutality in many of the same ways that black men do, and also in some ways that are different.”

She goes on to explain in the interview that while black men are killed more often than black women, it is important to understand that the stories of police brutality extend to women as well and that their names and experiences need to be added into consideration when making the demands to help stop police brutality against people of color.

The collective protesters got their wish, as their acts went viral across social media such as Twitter and Tumblr. BlackOUT gave near constant updates and tweets to their followers to show how the protest was progressing, mainly in San Francisco where their Oakland, California branch had blocked off the San Francisco financial district where women bared their breasts and wrote their own messages of protest against society and its racial bias against black women’s bodies, saying that they are not commodities and are not lesser for the color of their skin. They protested the shaming of darker skin and natural hair in modern beauty media, saying that there are women who struggle with their appearance because they are taught that white women are gorgeous.

With protests such as #SayHerName coming alongside the Ferguson and Boston riots, and the newly received information and attention about police brutality against the black community, it is clear that this generation is the generation of fighting for human rights. People are stepping forward to speak about the abuse of power that is held by white men over those of color, calling them out on their racism and wanting justice for the innocent lives that were lost. It seems that a human rights revolution is on the horizon for the new generation, and will hopefully succeed in turning the world on its head and bringing about true race equality in all aspects of life.

Tavis Smiley Talks

tavis smileySmiley is the presenter and creative force behind America I AM: The African American Imprint. This unprecedented traveling museum exhibition, which debuted in January 2009, will tour the country for four years, celebrating the extraordinary impact of African American contributions to our nation and the world, as told through rare artifacts, memorabilia and multimedia.

Smiley’s most gratifying accomplishments are rooted in his passion to inspire the next generation of leaders. The Tavis Smiley Foundation, a nonprofit organization, was established to provide leadership training and development for youth. Since its inception, more than 6,000 young people have participated in the foundation’s Youth to Leaders training workshops and conferences.

His communications company, The Smiley Group, Inc., is dedicated to supporting human rights and related empowerment issues and serves as the holding company for various enterprises encompassing broadcast and print media, lectures, symposiums and the Internet.

Young Urban Voices had a wonderful opportunity to speak with Mr. Smiley about his career and recent events going on in America.

Young Urban Voices: What lead you to write the book, “My Journey with Maya?”

My-Journey-With-Maya-658x1024Tavis Smiley : When she passed last year, May 2014, I started seriously thinking about the role she played in my life. We had a 28 years we had a wonderful friendship. So when she passed I thought I would write this book to share with readers some of the efforts I’ve learned from her, that might be important and instructive to pass on to other people. That was the essential reason for writing the book, to celebrate her and share some of these lessons.

YUV: Is “My Journey with Maya” becoming a stage play?

TS: Yes, I’m glad you asked. They just announced it about a few weeks ago before the book came out. So we are on our way to Broadway. “We are Broadway bound!” The stage play will be directed by a wonderful director named Kenny Leon. He won a Tony award last year along with Denzel Washington for the play, “A Raisin in the Sun,” He’s worked with Denzel Washington, Roger McDonald, and Phylicia Rashad. We’ve announced the book will be turned into a stage play and we are on our way to Broadway.

YUV:  What do you think about the police brutality going on in America?

TS: It’s a tragedy and a moral disgrace. But this is what happens when you do not have the respect for the dignity of all people. {In reference to the Walter Scott murder—if you watch that video tape the cop shot him eight times in the back. He falls, he die.} He’s no threat to you. But you shoot him in the back so many times. He’s face down dead, you walk up to him and handcuff him. Why are you handcuffing a dead body? Once you’ve already shot him in the back. It just goes again to show there is a lack of respect for certain human beings in our country. I think often times black men are used as target practice. I was disgusted people are hurting and there is a way to deal with police brutality and it’s not to just give all of these cops a pass. These are isolated incidents. The question is how many isolated incidents are going to happen. Too often black men lives just don’t matter.

YUV: What lead you to write the book with Cornell West? “The Rich and the Rest of Us?”

TS: It was simple, it was a way to discuss one of the biggest issues facing our country; poverty. We believe poverty is threatening our very democracy. This country cannot afford to let poverty grow. It’s expanding. It’s not going to pass and we’ve got to do something about the raise of poverty. Income equality, economic immobility. We hope that this book can be serve as a research guide because something can and will be done about it.


Walter scott

Black Lives Matter: Walter Scott Gunned Down by Police

walter scottBy Chris Rivera


On Saturday April 4, an unarmed Walter Lamer Scott, 50, was shot eight times in the back by Patrolman Michael Slager during a routine traffic stop in North Charleston, S.C. It has been reported by the Associated Press that Walter Scott owed at least $7,500 in child support, but there was no warrant for his arrest.

It was during this traffic stop that Scott decided to jump out of his car and flee. Not knowing that moments later he would be murdered. Officer Slager would argue that he feared for his life because Walter Scott had taken his taser and he shot Scott during the struggle over his weapon. The statement that the police released would also support Slager’s story.

In a video from Michael Slager’s dash cam he could be heard asking a senior officer, “What happens next?”

The senior officer replies by saying, “Once they get here, it’ll be real quick. They’re gonna tell you, you’re gonna be off for a couple days and we’ll come back and interview you then. They’re not gonna ask you any type of questions right now. They’re gonna take your weapon,” the officer says. “It’d probably be a good idea to jot down your thoughts about whatever happened … once the adrenaline stops pumping.”

Slager responds, “It’s pumping,” and then laughs.

If it wasn’t for a video taken by a bystander, Feidin Santana, that caught the incident on his phone, Slager’s statement would have been the official story. The video starts in the middle of confrontation and Walter Scott is seeing running away from Michael Slager. It is during confrontation that an object, may be a taser but not certain, falls behind the two men, and Officer Slager takes out his gun and begins to fire eight rounds from his service revolver. Scott was hit four times in the back and once in the ear.

The officer then walks towards Scott and yells, “Put your hand behind your back.” He then begins to handcuff him. After he handcuffs Scott, Slager is seen walking back to where the object fell, he picks it up and walks back to where Scott is and drops it.

During the Tennessee V. Garner case, in 1985, the Supreme Court found that the “police can’t employ deadly force on a suspect who is running away.” The case involved a 15 year old Edward Garner, who broke into a house where he stole a purse with $10 in it. The police officer shot the child in the back of the head so he wouldn’t escape. It takes three days for Michael Slager to be fired and arrested for the murder of Walter Scott. If it wasn’t for the gruesome video that surfaced it may have taken longer, or may not have happened at all.

Black Lives Matter-Police Brutality In America

stop policebrutality

On Monday, November 24, 2014, the world awaited the outcome of a grand jury hearing on the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot down by Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson. The verdict of this hearing, which was held to determine whether Wilson would be indicted for the shooting, was that Wilson would not be prosecuted. It could not have come at a worse time.

The people in the town of Ferguson are crying out in pain and anger because yet another unarmed black male was shot down due to a racial injustice. The pain may never go away but the memory will forever go on.

It is a sad state in America when men and women cannot walk down the streets anymore without fear of being harassed by a cop who has yet again abused his power and authority. The ones truly affected by this travesty are the parents of Michael Brown. They have to live every day without their son.

This is not just a racial issue, but a humanitarian issue. Until society comes together as one we will continue to have these injustices. We have to get past the pain and unite together, but rioting and looting will not change how we are viewed in this world. We cannot burn down our towns and businesses to eradicate the unfairness we’ve faced.

It is true, Darren Wilson not being indicted was not fair, but what has happened in Ferguson will not change anything. This shows us at an all-time low. It shows ignorance and calamity in the black community. This is not the way to remember our fallen victims.

We need to band together and rationalize how we can come together as people. We need to educate ourselves and run our own businesses, and create our own police force if the ones sent to protect us are doing us more harm than good. The moment mothers and fathers worry about sending their children off to school or to the store and wonder if they will come back home, we know there is something seriously wrong in the justice system and in America, period.

Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, Oscar Grant and countless others will never be forgotten; but until we come together to try and change our justice system which has failed, things will stay the same. We must learn to become the change that we want.

Although it appears that black lives are not a matter of importance in America, we must learn to love and value ourselves and want to do better in this world. We need to know that we are important, we matter and we can make things happen in our society

Police Brutality –Black Lives Matter

Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin

Killing Our Black Community

Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Oscar Grant, Rodney King, Malice Green, Renisha McBride and several others all have one thing in common. They have all died to either police brutality or because of some malicious acts caused by some insensitive human beings. It seems our black community is dying at such an alarming rates. These names have began to slowly fade away because mainstream media  doesn’t want us to remember these individuals. It is truly sad that we have reverted back to the 1940s where segregation was running rapid in the cities. If you honestly, think about it we are reliving past times. Marching, rioting, protesting and demanding justice for fallen angels who were unarmed targets to police who treated them like animals.  But when we are losing four or more African Americans within a month or two of it self it’s incredibly ridiculous.

Mike Brown unarmed teen, shot down by police
Mike Brown

Michael Brown, was an unarmed teen, who was shot down by the hands of the police due to  an alleged robbery. He was supposed to start college in a couple of weeks.



John Crawford fatally shot because he was carrying a toy gun at Wal-Mart
John Crawford

John Crawford, was a young father of 22 years of age that was fatally shot in the chest after failing to adhere to officers orders of dropping his BB gun which he planned to purchase from Walmart.



Eric Garner
Eric Garner

Eric Garner, was a family man who suffered from asthma, officers tried to arrest him and while he resisted, they threw him to the ground and placed him in a chokehold. Garner, while in no position to move, cried out that he couldn’t breathe and tried to reach for an inhaler while officers mistakenly took for a gun. His death was ruled a homicide and video has now become viral.

Renisha McBride
Renisha McBride

Renisha McBride, was a young lady who crashed her car in the middle of the night, and was seeking help, knocked on the door and window of a middle age Caucasian man at his Dearborn Heights home, in Michigan. The shooter Theodore Wafer, fired through the door, which McBride endured a shot to the face. Wafer has just been convicted for second degree murder, manslaughter, and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony. He was found guilty on all three charges on August 7, 2014.

Ezell Ford
Ezell Ford

Ezell Ford, a mentally ill man, who was walking down the street while he was stopped by police for investigation. According to reports, Ford wrested with cops and attempted to grab an officers gun. The backup officers shot him, while the other officer while wrestling with Ford shot him and he later died.

Dante Parker
Dante Parker

Dante Parker, was tased by a female police officer after she mistakenly identified him as a burglary suspect, because he supposedly fit the description of someone who did,  because he was riding a bike, just as the actual suspect was. But the family man, worked 12 years at a Daily Press Paper as a pressman in their production department. Comments from family friends and co-workers say Parker often rode his bike, to lose weight and stay healthy, that he’d many times could be found running up and down stairs, and simply being a family man. He was apprehended by police who tased him because she felt he was resisting arrest meanwhile in the back seat of the police car Parker had difficulties breathing, so they rushed him to the hospital, but he like many others, also died.

There are so many faces that have died to foolishness. Why aren’t these cops, and citizens prosecuted through the fullest extent of the law? If anything they are forced to step down and take on desk duty. The worse part is no one cares enough about the black community. I can say Reverend Al Sharpton comes and speaks out about the injustices we face. But where all the influential voices in music and film. These are the people that can change the opinions of our young people. We watch young people spend hundreds of dollars on products and clothes from rich and successful entertainers yet when incidents like this happen we rarely hear anything from them. Now I am not saying it is their responsibility. But an injustice in an urban community is an injustice anywhere. Perhaps, their music could influence some type of change. Since we know the influence of Hip Hop already has on the young black community.

I don’t know when the killings of Blacks will ever end. But what I do know there is no respect at all in the black community. They are finding  new ways to kill us off.  If we aren’t killing each other, they’re murdering us. Until we decide to finally come together and unite as a community we will continue to get treated like animals with no voice. We have to remember the words and actions of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hopefully, one day people will finally see us as ordinary people with thoughts, feelings and opinions just like anybody else. I pray for a day where we aren’t victims of racial profiling and truly respected individuals of society.

Remember, YOU MATTER, Let’s Stop Injustice