Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!
Health, Poverty, Action, Social Justice Access. Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. “Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Social workers aim to open the doors of access and opportunity for everyone, particularly those in greatest need.” National Association of Social Workers. “Social justice encompasses economic justice.
Utibe Essien, assistant professor of medicine in Pitt’s School of Medicine, is the recipient of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ 2021 Herbert W. Nickens Faculty Fellowship Award.
This award recognizes a junior faculty member who is committed to a career in academic medicine and displays leadership in addressing inequity in medical education and health care, as well as addressing educational, societal and health care needs of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States.
The recipient receives a $25,000 grant to support a project performed in the United States to support racial and ethnic minorities.
Source: The University of Pittsburgh
When my daughter was four-years-old, she walked into the kitchen, showed her mother a facsimile of the picture (located to the right), and, excitedly said, “Look Mommy, I wrote my name!” My wife said to her, “That’s great. You wrote every single letter in your name. However, if you want others to know it is your name, then you must write the letters, one after another, in a straight line.” Marijata glared at her mother, snatched the paper, said “It’s my name,” and began to stomp out of the room. Her mother said, “Wait a minute! And when you go to school, always help your teachers and friends correctly pronounce your name.”
When she proudly presented her spelled name, Marijata was acting on previous self-efficacy home training regarding her name reflecting her heritage and, therefore, teachers, family members and others should spell it correctly. During the above brief exchange, she also received a mini lesson regarding basic writing skills. More than that, and regarding the main point of this article, if Blacks are to make good on the proposition that “education is key to success in the 21st century,” then there is much that parents/caregivers must do to help their children negotiate schools as they return during the Coronavirus pandemic.
An August 8, 2021 New York Times article presented the severe negative consequences of the Coronavirus having led to “ Year Without Kindergarteners.” The “poster child” for the article was a Black six-year-old who could not spell his name which, ironically, was Solomon. Thinking about how to address the impact of a year without in-classroom school as well as children now returning to school, I was reminded of the aphorism, “God helps those who help themselves.”
The foregoing reference to self-help is made with clear recognition of the fact that, in 2021, there remain systemic societal barriers that deny the vast majority of Black children the opportunity to obtain a high-quality pre-k through 12 education. Accordingly, major interventions are required with all aspects of delivering high-quality public-school education, including the confrontation of racism, homophobia, and xenophobia as well as the need to encourage supportive activities that must take place in children’s homes.
My Mama knew that the American public schools were not designed to function independently of primary caregivers. Therefore, before each of her 5 children went to first grade or kindergarten (kindergarten did not exist for me and my 2 older brothers) and, absent identification cards, Mama taught us to recite the alphabet; spell our first, middle and last names; spell the first names of our parents; and state our telephone number (only 5 digits at the time). Knowing that racism was operative, she also gave us “the talk” regarding how we were to behave in school, i.e., “sit down; listen to the teachers; do what your teachers tell you do to; say yes mam/sir or no mam/sir; don’t fool around with bad children; and don’t do anything you know you should not do and cause me have to come down to the school to meet with the teachers” …the latter of which would mean next to a death sentence for the child once Mama found out the specific violation. She ended with, “Remember that you are a child of God as well as Russell and Grace Daniel. If one of those folks at school does something wrong to you, don’t you say a word. Just come home, tell me immediately, and I guarantee you that they will never do it again!”
Daddy added to our “head start” by having me and my siblings do things such as memorize and recite the multiplication table (at least 1 through 5). Daddy made us memorize Bible verses; recite Biblical texts during Easter and Christmas programs; participate in every Sunday School session unless weather or health prevented; and he quizzed us about what the pastor said of significance during a given Sunday service. On Saturday nights, I and my siblings had read the Sunday School lessons and passed quizzes given by my Daddy.
As our children return to school during the current racial and viral pandemic, the pro-active support of their primary caregivers continues to be of critical importance. Some things worth doing are as follows:
· Proactively, be involved with your children’s school experiences by doing things such as hold daily discussions regarding what of significance transpired at school.
· Never miss a parent-teacher conference.
· Monitor grades and take timely interventions with teachers as necessary.
· Instead of another technological gadget for social media purposes, make sure that your children have access to the essential technology for learning during the Coronavirus pandemic.
· Give your child books ---especially those that reinforce their cultural roots.
· Designate times devoted to doing homework, minus social media, TV, etc.
· Make sure your children understand why they must do things such as mask wearing, handwashing, social distancing, and taking other science-based actions related to the Coronavirus. Get them vaccinated as soon as approval is granted.
In general, serve as sturdy Black bridges for your children to cross over societally-built chasms. “Be there for them” when and wherever they need a refuge. Serve as their soothing balm when they get wounded by race-based aggressions. Role model behaviors that will aid them in negotiating not just the public schools but also the larger society in which they must cope. Love them in ways that enable them to say to themselves and know, “I am somebody, worthy of all implied by human dignity.”
Jack L. Daniel
Co-founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
August 30, 2021
From its inception until today, America has been a racist, sexist, patriarchal, caste-like society as defined by the White “founding fathers” and sustained by subsequent generations of privileged White men. As such, it has been the structural enforcement of systemic discrimination, not “biological destiny” that contributed to no woman having served as President of the United States and only one known Black man to have done so.
White men do not systematically earn higher salaries than all other men and women because they have an “inherent acumen” for functioning in a capitalistic society. Rather, many White men and their successors benefitted in extraordinary ways from doing things such as  stealing the land of Indigenous Americans;  profiting for centuries from the free labor of enslaved Africans;  suppressing the right to vote among women and people of color; and  implementing immigration policies and practices that benefitted particular groups of Europeans.
Periodically, scholars articulate theories that, in an earthquake fashion, severely shake the foundations of the world view on which the American White, male, racist, patriarchal, sexist, and caste-like society is based. When the theories sufficiently rattle these oppressive foundations by exposing the evils from which they were built, then one political response is the “dumbing down” of the theories.
Herein, “dumbing down” refers to the deliberate oversimplification of liberating theories in order to appeal in a simplistic fashion to those of low intelligence and/or education. Dumbing down is also a sloganeering, propaganda-like way to attack the scholars who articulated the theories as well as the content itself in order to defend the White, male, racist, sexist, patriarchal, and cast-like American society. Those proselytized are told that they must act against the evil scholars and their theories in order to achieve glorious goals such as “make America great again;” “restore traditional values;” and “maintain the moral fiber” of America.
We witnessed “dumbing down” decades ago when “Feminist Theory” was articulated. In response to the valid critiques of the various ways in which patriarchy, sexism, and homophobia oppressed women and others, “dumbing down” took place, for example, by labelling “feminists” as  “anarchists” who were determined to “destroy family values;”  “bra-burning” women who hated men; and  radical women who wanted to destroy the “sacred” institution of marriage. “Dumbing down” critics of feminism decried notions such as “women’s and men’s ways of thinking.” And woe unto the “feminists” who declared that not only was a “woman’s place” not limited to a male-dominated home, but a woman’s place was wherever she wanted it to be.
“Dumbing down” of theories that critique the “White male powers that be” is not just a matter of simple ignorance on the parts of the perpetrators. Rather, what is also operative is what Martin Luther King Jr. perhaps had in mind when he stated, “There is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” as evidenced, for example, by a school board that sought to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) because it would make children feel rejected, sow divisions among the students, and cause some students to believe they were victims of oppression because of their color (See, The Pilot, May 11, 2021). As noted in the article, “Few speakers addressed the tenets of Critical Race Theory directly…”
Worse than sincere ignorance is deliberate lying about CRT for political purposes as was the case when Ted Cruz, a Harvard Law graduate, stated, “Let me tell you right now, critical race theory is bigoted, it is a lie, and it is every bit as racist as the Klansmen in white sheets.” Whereas Cruz has every reason to be aware of CRT’s basic tenets, others in the forefront of “dumbing down” CRT such as POTUS 45, Marjorie Taylor Green, and their propagandized followers have probably never read a paragraph of the voluminous scholarly CRT literature written by distinguished intellectuals such as Derrick Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado.
Those who have read a minimal amount of CRT literature know that CRT consists of undeniable basic propositions such as  racism has been and continues to be a systemic factor that impacts our educational, economic, legal, political and social systems in ways that contribute to race-related disparities in health, wealth and all other critically important indices relating to quality of life; and  as advanced by Kimberle Crenshaw, intersectionality is an analytic frame whereby multiple factors such as race, sex, religion, caste, and gender can be used to account for advantages and disadvantages in American society.
Instead of a “well-informed citizenry,” we find ourselves in the presence of the “dumbing down” CRT with one diabolical outcome being a new “lunatic fringe” that seeks to ban the teaching of CRT from public schools as well as throughout higher education. Indeed, “Banning CRT” might well become the “MAGA” slogan for forthcoming elections at all levels of American society. Sadly, some of those seeking to ban CRT are as ignorant as those who hated “Obamacare” but, at the same time, signed up for benefits from the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, “dumbing down” CRT can be as negatively impactful as in the case of the deadly consequences stemming from ignoring the science associated with the Coronavirus.
Regardless to whether it is simple or sincere ignorance and/or devious politically-inspired, essentially the “dumbing down” of CRT is a desperate attempt to maintain the caste-like society that was built on the foundations of Indigenous American genocide, the American holocaust of slavery, and ongoing racist, sexist, patriarchal policies and practices. As these horrendous foundational walls are attacked, of course those who benefitted most from the oppressive system are screaming the loudest. However, as in the biblical story “when the priests blew the rams horn, the army shouted, the walls came tumbling down, the people charged straight in, and they took the city,” the articulation of CRT is but the latest intellectually- inspired “blowing of the ram’s horn” that will help Americans tear down the walls of oppression. Therefore, folks must “stay woke” regarding the “dumbing down” of CRT lest they be duped by “wolves in sheep’s’ clothing” purporting to defend American democratic ideals.
Jack L. Daniel
Co-founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban View
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
July 21, 2021
Message from Allegheny County Common Pleas President Kim Berkeley Clark
As a former prosecutor, lawyer and judge, I take pride in the American system of justice, including the Constitutional protections that all citizens are afforded. I still have faith in our justice system and I am particularly proud of the justice system here in Allegheny County. We are well-respected throughout the United States and we are never satisfied with doing things the way we have always done them. We continue to work to improve our system of justice by making data-informed decisions, by implementing best practices and by working collaboratively with law enforcement and other stakeholders.
Notwithstanding my pride in our justice system, recent events, including the overdue acknowledgement and celebration of Juneteenth National Freedom Day, and the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, have led me to the decision that the Court must consciously and publicly address the waning public confidence in the justice system amidst the growing and compelling evidence that persons of color are at a greater risk of death or serious bodily injury at the hands of the police and are more likely to languish in the child welfare and juvenile and criminal justice systems than white persons.
These concerns raise questions of whether the justice system in America, including Allegheny County, is actually fair, whether the citizens perceive that our system of justice is fair, and whether, despite our best efforts, the American system of justice is replete with racial and ethnic disparities or operates under the cloud of systemic racism.
While judges have a duty to uphold the law and, in many cases, impose sanctions and consequences on those who violate the law, we have an equal duty to promote public confidence in the judiciary as an independent and unbiased institution. This means that Allegheny County Courts must be at the forefront in addressing these issues. We must undergo an ongoing and critical evaluation of how justice is administered in Allegheny County. It means we must openly acknowledge and address our flaws, rather than rely on the powers and privileges that may allow us to turn a blind eye to them. Please understand that our history is calling us to work collaboratively and inclusively to make positive changes in the justice system that will benefit all citizens.
Engraved above the front entrance of the United States Supreme Court Building, is the phrase “Equal Justice Under Law”. The words stem from the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which was adopted on July 9, 1868, in the wake of the Civil War, and which, among other things, granted citizenship to former slaves. This phrase has shaped American jurisprudence and is considered the gold standard of justice.
Despite the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, our history has demonstrated that justice has not always been equal for many Americans, particularly for racial and ethnic minorities, women, persons with disabilities, those who do not fit into what society has decided are traditional gender roles, and those living in poverty. What we need to do is ensure that we develop a justice system that not only promotes equality, but ensures equity.
To truly achieve justice, the proverbial scales of justice must be balanced. We must take into account the uneven playing field on which racial and ethnic minorities, those who do not squarely fit into traditional gender roles, other disadvantaged persons, and the poor enter the justice system. The public must see members of our local judiciary and court staff working with urgency to attain this goal in equal solidarity with them, with other justice-related institutions, and with each other. The Fifth Judicial District must rise to this generational challenge.
To the hundreds of dedicated civil servants and servant leaders of the Fifth Judicial District, please know that as I acknowledge these pressing questions, I also acknowledge the sacrifices you have made in the interest of serving the public as well as the stress and trauma that many of you endure in your positions. We are fortunate to have judges and staff, police officers, lawyers, victim advocates, and others who are dedicated to public service, who are committed to justice, who demonstrate a strong work ethic, and who possess a keen sense of fairness and respect for humankind. Our Court has been working hard to address the issues of racial and ethnic disparities and systematic racism in the justice system. Some examples of this are:
We have made progress, but the struggle is ongoing. We are committed to collecting and examining the data to identify disparities throughout all divisions of the justice system and will continue to examine our processes and procedures that might contribute to racial and ethnic injustice.
It may be difficult to know where to begin in the quest to create a system of equal justice for all. Consequently, I propose that in order to achieve a system that is both equal and equitable, we begin with a thorough and critical examination of our own mission to the public that we serve. We must have a mission that sets forth the Court’s responsibility to the public and we must evaluate everything that we do in light of our mission.
The mission will conspicuously appear on our website to remind the public that they have a right to justice that is free of bias and that the Court is firmly committed to addressing and eradicating ethnic and racial disparity, implicit bias, and systemic racism in our system of justice. Accordingly, I have asked a diverse group of citizens in Allegheny County and staff of the Fifth Judicial District to assist me with creating a mission for the Fifth Judicial District that truly sets forth our responsibility to all members of the public that we serve.
I am proud to serve as the President Judge of the Fifth Judicial District and thankful for the opportunity to work with judges and court staff who are so deeply committed to public service. In the near future, I look forward to presenting the new mission for the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania.
We will continue to examine our processes and procedures to demonstrate our commitment to equal justice under law and to keep us squarely on the path that will enable us to reach this goal. We will do our best to earn and keep your respect, and to hold ourselves accountable to the public that we serve.
I would like to thank the following people for their input, contribution to, and review of this message: Chris Connors, Angharad Stock, Lisa Herbert, Melinda Sala, Judge Mik Pappas, Lisette McCormick (Interbranch Commission of Gender Racial and Ethnic Fairness) Elizabeth Hughes (ACBA President), and the Administrative Team for the Fifth Judicial District.
“…Well, the only person talking about love thy brother is the preacher
…Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration
Aggravation, humiliation, obligation to my nation
… Fear in the air, tension everywhere…”
When it comes to police killing Blacks, the realization of justice demands that we not be victims of gaslighting, i.e., “…a form of psychological abuse where a person or group makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories…” (Jennifer Huizen, July 14, 2020). For example, gaslighting would have succeeded if police murdered a Black person(s) and, subsequently, Blacks and others accepted the excuse that the police officer(s) were confused when they committed their heinous crimes. Consider the following “balls of confusion.”
• In 1999, Bronx resident Amadou Diallo was unarmed but plainclothes police officers were allegedly confused when they fired 41 bullets into Diallo. This so-called confusion took place as Diallo, age 22, stood in a well-lighted area.
• In 2014, a Cleveland police officer, Timothy Loehmann, arrived on the scene and, within minutes, shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice because Loehmann claimed he confused Rice’s toy gun for a real gun.
• In 2018, Dallas police officer Amber Guyger murdered Botham Jean while he was in his apartment eating ice cream, after she supposedly confused his apartment for hers.
• In 2020, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman was guilty of no crime when confused Louisville police officers Brett Hankison and Jonathan Mattingly and Officers Myles Cosgrove executed a “no knock” warrant at the wrong home; broke down her front door; awakened Ms. Taylor from her sleep; and murdered her with eight shots.
• In March 2021, a Chicago police officer Eric Stillman was supposed to be confused when he shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo, after Toledo had raised his hands without a gun in his hand. Gaslighting the public, Stillman was said to be confused as he made a “split-second” decision, notwithstanding the fact that the gun in question was on the ground a few feet from Toledo.
• In April, 2021, Daunte Wright, a 19-year-old, was killed by police officer Kimberly Potter during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Officer Potter Wright said she confused her Taser with her Glock. Coming to her defense, former Brooklyn Center Police Chief, Tim Gannon, attempting to gaslight the public by telling reporters, “This appears to me, from what I viewed in the officer's reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright."
It would take a tome to tell the extent of allegedly confused cops killing Blacks and, therefore, we can only take momentary solace in the guilty verdict for the vicious cop who murdered George Floyd.
One convicted cop does not aggrieve centuries of police killing innocent Blacks. Woke folks must remain in control of their faculties by remembering “…Black people in America are constantly at risk of state-sponsored violence and death. Police still exist to uphold White supremacy and have been empowered by laws and the courts to inject themselves into Black life for any reason, no matter how minor – even expired registrations. And as long as police continue to act as this occupying force and mechanism for social control in Black communities – horrific acts of police violence will be commonplace…” (Paige Fernandez, Policing Policy Advisor, National Political Advocacy Department, ACLU).
We must never forget the fact that today’s police abuse of Blacks is rooted in the South where “Slave Patrols” were created to “(1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to their owners, runaway slaves; (2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts; and, (3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside of the law, if they violated any plantation rules. Following the Civil War, these vigilante-style organizations evolved in modern Southern police departments primarily as a means of controlling freed slaves who were now laborers working in an agricultural caste system, and enforcing "Jim Crow" segregation laws, designed to deny freed slaves equal rights and access to the political system…” (Gary Potter, 2013).
Regarding contemporary Minnesota and alleged police confusion related to deadly choke holds, note that W. Lehren and Andrew Blankstein indicated that as of June 1, 2020, Minnesota police had used “neck restraints” 237 times and that three-fifths of the victims rendered unconscious were Black. One victim was “…a 17-year-old fleeing from a shoplifting incident. Another involved a traffic stop where the suspect was deemed "verbally non-compliant." Historically, lest we forget, “neck restraint” is a euphemistic term for the extreme tactic previously known as “lynching.”
No amount of “diversity and inclusion” rhetoric/workshops/sensitivity sessions/virtual meetings, etc. will change the forgoing systemic pathology. A million public pronouncements full of pathos post the finding of guilt regarding the murder of George Floyd will abate the modern modes of murder of Blacks by police. What is needed with all deliberate speed is a complete reimagining of what it means to serve as a police officer. Hopefully, many more convictions of confused cops will serve as a catalyst for this endeavor. If this does not occur, then the May and June 2021 nightly news will be filled with efforts to gaslight ongoing killings of Blacks and, once again, we are likely to experience a long, hot summer.
“If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!”
Jack L. Daniel
Co-founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
April 27, 2021
In times of emotional turmoil, many people may not know exactly what to say to help calm the feeling of loss, sadness, anger and fear. But today and all the days going forward, none of us can remain silent when it comes to the continued loss and suffering experienced by our friends, neighbors and co-workers of color, as well as others who are the victims of racism and social injustice.
We must have honest and open conversations around equality and racism in our country. It is heartbreaking and gut-wrenching to see our fellow citizens from the black community continue to experience inequality and racism, and, collectively, we must raise each other up as we work toward solutions. We must never forget George Floyd and the many others who have experienced abuse and senseless deaths.
Pittsburgh has thrived as a travel destination because of the diversity of our neighborhoods and the amazing arts and cultural scene that reflects the talents of artists from different race and backgrounds.
As one of the largest industries in Allegheny County employing more than 43,000 employees, we have a powerful voice and a responsibility to ensure that our employees, neighbors and visitors are treated fairly and with respect.
We promote Pittsburgh as a welcoming city to visitors from around the world. ‘Pittsburgh. You are Welcomed Here.’ is more than a tagline, but a commitment to ensure that not only do our visitors feel welcomed, but, most importantly, that all our residents are welcomed, valued and are afforded the same dignity and respect.
While it is important for us to speak out, it is equally important for us to listen. We are receiving thoughtful, deliberate and heart-felt messaging from these protests. We must listen.
At VisitPITTSBURGH, we will actively engage with our community partners in equity and inclusion efforts, ensure we represent Pittsburgh’s diversity in our story telling, support our black and minority business partners and celebrate the region’s black and minority community members.
We aim to ensure that our voice is part of this community dialog. While we do not have all the answers, we are here and willing to do our part.
President and CEO
Jerad Bachar, President and CEO
Gwen’s Girls and the Black Girls Equity Alliance releases a new report, Understanding and Addressing Institutionalized Inequity: Disrupting Pathways to Juvenile Justice for Black Youth in Allegheny County.
Local data presents a stark picture of the ways Black children are disproportionately arrested
and cited at school, often for minor offenses.
For the last four years, Allegheny County, Juvenile Probation Office (JPO), Allegheny County
Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police have engaged with
the Black Girls Equity Alliance, providing and analyzing data and discussing the practices that
contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline.
“This report specifically opens up an educational dialogue about system response to African
American youth and Minority groups. I would ask that each partner takes this report back to
their agency and have "real conversations." Then we can help each other come together with
solutions,” Kimberly Booth, Assistant Chief Juvenile Probation Officer, Allegheny County.
“This report makes it clear: Pittsburgh’s schools, like its other institutions, are racially biased against Black students,” said Kathi Elliott, CEO of Gwen’s Girls and convener of the Black Girls
Equity Alliance. “The over-policing of students doesn’t make our schools any safer – many of the arrests, referrals or citations are for minor incidents considered disorderly conduct, such as being loud and disruptive, swearing, or making obscene gestures. Black students engaging in
typical teenage behavior are treated as criminals and that record follows them for years. It’s time to focus on solutions. We are looking forward to collaborating with the many system leaders to implement policies and practices that support our students and not criminalize
• Pittsburgh Public Schools police are the largest juvenile justice referral source for Black
girls in Allegheny County.
• The majority of arrests made by Pittsburgh Public Schools police are for minor offenses
that are not safety related. In 2019, 54% of PPS police’s arrests of Black girls and 42% of
Black boys ultimately resulted in a criminal charge of disorderly conduct, a highly
discretionary charge that is frequently affected by racial biases.
• Students with disabilities constitute a large proportion of Pittsburgh Public Schools
students referred to juvenile justice by the Pittsburgh Public Schools police.
• Black youth are 10 times more likely than White youth to be referred to juvenile court
for failure to pay fines.
The report concludes with recommendations for schools, law enforcement, judges, policy
makers, funders, and service providers.
Source: Gwen's Girls
On Tuesday July 28, 2020 Pittsburgh City Council finally passed five pieces of legislation sponsored by Council members Rev Ricky Burgess and R. Daniel Lavelle to reform the Pittsburgh Police. Those five pieces of legislation include:
Rev. Burgess says “We can cannot ignore the large national outcry from protests including Pittsburgh residents about the unjust deaths of unarmed people of color like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. We must implement fundamental police reforms and significantly fund evidence based violence reduction social service programs. The best way to improve public safety is not just additional police officers but rather by increasing the community’s confidence in the police. It is time to have an open inclusive conversation about the future of policing in this country and here in Pittsburgh”
Councilman Lavelle says, “During these times it is critically important that we not only acknowledge the voices of those marching in the streets but also provide a legislative platform for them to directly engage in the governance and policing of our city. The idea that more policing can solve a broad range of community problems is misguided. What our communities need, particularly communities of color, is more direct investment in things like: affordable housing, better education, counseling for trauma and addiction, youth development, workforce development, and public transit.”
NFL clubs today adopted new procedures in diversity, equity and inclusion. In approving a resolution and other rules changes, league officials will implement wide-sweeping workplace reforms to increase employment opportunities and advancement for minorities and women across the league.
"We believe these new policies demonstrate the NFL Owners' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the NFL," said Pittsburgh Steelers owner and chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee, Art Rooney II. "The development of young coaches and young executives is a key to our future. These steps will assure coaching and football personnel are afforded a fair and equitable opportunity to advance throughout our football operations. We also have taken important steps to ensure that our front offices, which represent our clubs in so many different ways, come to reflect the true diversity of our fans and our country."
The resolution changes the current Anti-Tampering Policy by establishing a system that prohibits a club from denying 1) an assistant coach the opportunity to interview with a new team for a bona fide Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator, or Special Teams Coordinator position; (2) a non-high-level/non-secondary football executive from interviewing for a bona fide Assistant General Manager position. In either case, a contract could not be negotiated or signed until after the conclusion of the employer club's playing season; and 3) requires all clubs submit in writing an organizational reporting structure for the coaching staff with job descriptions for any coach who is a coordinator or co-coordinator within that structure. The resolution also requires that any dispute regarding whether the new team is offering a "bona fide" position will be submitted promptly to the Commissioner, whose determination shall be final, binding and not subject to further review.
The resolution was put forth by the Workplace Diversity Committee, chaired by Rooney and the Competition Committee, chaired by Rich McKay (Atlanta Falcons). The league also announced expansion of Rooney Rule requirements and implementation of enhanced diversity policies.
The enhancements to the Rooney Rule include changes both on and off-the-field. Clubs will now be required to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coach vacancies; at least one minority candidate for any of the three coordinator vacancies; and at least one external minority candidate for the senior football operations or general manager position.
For the first time the Rooney Rule will also apply to a wide range of executive positions. Clubs must now include minorities and/or female applicants in the interview processes for senior level front office positions such as club president and senior executives in communications, finance, human resources, legal, football operations, sales, marketing, sponsorship, information technology, and security positions. The league office will also adhere to these requirements.
"The NFL is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which I believe is critical to our continued success," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "While we have seen positive strides in our coaching ranks over the years aided by the Rooney Rule, we recognize, after the last two seasons, that we can and must do more. The policy changes made today are bold and demonstrate the commitment of our ownership to increase diversity in leadership positions throughout the league."
Comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion plans will be implemented at all 32 clubs and the league office to include education, training, and universal data collection. Additionally, an advisory panel, with input from the Fritz Pollard Alliance, will be convened to promote ideas to foster an inclusive culture of opportunity both on and off the field.
In other steps, for the first time, all 32 NFL clubs will host a coaching fellowship program geared towards minority candidates. These fellowships are full-time positions, ranging from one to two years, and provide NFL Legends, minority, and female participants with hands-on training in NFL coaching. While positions at each organization vary, these programs help identify and develop talent with the goal of advancing candidates to full-time coaching positions through promotion within.
Additionally, the NFL has two long-standing fellowship programs focused on increasing the pipeline for minority coaching and player personnel candidates– the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship and the Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship.
The NFL's Workplace Diversity Committee is comprised of owners and executive personnel to include: Chair, Art Rooney II (Pittsburgh Steelers); Michael Bidwill (Arizona Cardinals); Arthur Blank (Atlanta Falcons); Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore Ravens), Kim Pegula (Buffalo Bills), George H. McCaskey (Chicago Bears). E. Javier Loya (Houston Texans); and John Mara (New York Giants).
The NFL's Competition Committee consists of two owners, two club presidents, two general managers, and three head coaches: Chair, Rich McKay (Atlanta Falcons), Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore Ravens), Stephen Jones (Dallas Cowboys), John Elway (Denver Broncos), Mark Murphy (Green Bay Packers), Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints), John Mara (New York Giants), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins).
The policy changes were developed in consultation with the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which advocates for diversity and job equality in the league.
White supremacy is a long-rooted destructive social determinant that contributes significantly to disparities in education, health, housing, wealth, and, in general, quality of life. When addressing this Revelations-like “Beast,” we must understand that institutional statements about Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Inclusion are just statements unless oppressed people force institutions to also proactively pursue equity and social justice. Otherwise, we witness appalling things such as the Rooney Rule being adopted in 2003 when there were 3 Black Head Coaches and, in 2020, there are 3 Black Head Coaches.
Because of its ability to regenerate, White supremacy deserves responses as rigorous as those made to Covid-19, i.e., systemic interventions by all societal sectors. Regarding Blacks’ responses to White supremacy, this article was stimulated by my colleague, Dr. Curtiss E. Porter (Chancellor Emeritus, Penn State Greater Allegheny) who wrote, “I am concerned about this generation’s response to White Supremacy… It appears to me, that they think ‘words are enough,’ which I will generalize in the headline ‘Dear White People.’ They are brilliant in articulating the vectors and intersections of racial substance, thought and action, such as the negative outcomes posed by micro-aggression but, in the end, it appears, that much is directed toward some ‘great white ear’ which will hopefully respond munificently.”
In the spirit of Sankofa, a backward look was taken to recall what “brought us thus far” and, based on current circumstances, discern implications for today’s fight against White supremacy. This brief reflection confirms, for example, that “Freedom only comes through persistent revolt, through persistent agitation, through persistently rising up against the system of evil.” (Martin Luther King Jr.) As corroborative evidence, consider two significant periods during the war against White supremacy.
1663-1865 The African Holocaust in America, also known as slavery, remains one if not the worst example of inhumanity --one that produced such excruciating suffering that “ride-or-die” folks were needed in the pursuit of freedom. The horror produced by demonic White supremacists led to people who  leaped from slave ships into the seas;  conducted more than 250 slave rebellions;  implemented work slowdowns by breaking tools and setting fire to crops;  killed newborns rather than let them grow up as slaves;  served as “House Negroes” but spied on masters in order to help “Field Negroes” plan attacks against the master; and,  fled from plantations. These were the proverbial “desperate times that required desperate measures,” including the fact that it took the bloodiest American war to end slavery.
1954-1980 Immediately after the Civil War, there were continued bombings, burnings, lynchings, and shootings of Blacks. Jim Crow laws were passed to enforce racial segregation. Racism became institutionalized. For more than a century, by law and in practice, Blacks were subjugated second class citizens. Therefore, the Civil Rights Movement was driven by a sense of urgency as well as commitment to a wide array of direct actions undergirded by Martin Luther King Jr’s exhortation “…that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
Accordingly, instead of simply hoping that White leaders would respond munificently,  Black students confronted and made demands on historically White institutions of higher education;  Black national organizations won a series of key court cases;  Black community activists boycotted, marched, sat-in and made demands on local governments, schools, and businesses;  Blacks, by way of urban insurrections, exploded like a “festering raisin in the sun;” and  Let us not forget that Dwight Eisenhower sent troops to Arkansas and, later, Lyndon Johnson sent troops to Alabama.
Blacks’ direct action was supplemented by a plethora of efforts to raise “race consciousness,” i.e.,  to move from an inferior and subservient self-concept as a “Negro” to a proud and self-assertive “Black” mentality; and  to gain “Black power” which included Blacks doing for self as well as taking their rightful places in public spaces, e.g., to freely attend public schools as well as build Black owned and operated schools; to work in corporate positions as well as become entrepreneurs; to be fairly covered in the White-owned press as well as create Black newspapers; and to dine at any public restaurant as well as own and operate restaurants.
2000-2020 “Diversity and Inclusion” replaced “affirmative action” but did not significantly advance “equity and social justice” for Blacks. During this period, members of the “talented tenth” became the first Blacks to occupy various managerial, political, and staff positions; Black students gained a significant but token presence in higher education; and more Blacks escaped the worst of poverty. However, by 2020, disparities were growing like a lethal virus as evidenced by widening gaps in Black home ownership, health, educational achievement, and wealth. This scenario reminds one of when more than 40,000 Blacks got back on the White folks’ buses instead of also building upon the transportation system they developed during the Montgomery boycott.
Regarding Blacks’ addressing White supremacy, I have a dream that, one day, the very best Black student-athletes, other students, faculty, administrators and staff will choose to take their talents to several leading historically Black colleges and universities and turn them into externally verified world class colleges and universities. I have a dream that there will be more OWN channels, Tyler Perry Studios, Black law firms, Black banks, Black construction companies, Black grocery stores, and, in general, an exponential expansion of Black entrepreneurship.
In my dream, Blacks will deal with the full implications of Carter G. Woodson’s statement, “The education of the Negroes, then, the most important thing in the uplift of the Negroes, is almost entirely in the hands of those who have enslaved them and now segregate them.”
I dream of White supremacy withering on the vine when  Blacks become the largest active voting block and Black elected officers are multiplied significantly;  Black civic organizations, churches, and families regain their critical importance;  Blacks’ undying love for their people is wed to sustained systematic actions;  the most talented and highest achieving Blacks constantly speak truth to power instead of being muzzled by “30 pieces of silver;” and  the struggle against White supremacy is joined by all people purporting to endorse freedom, justice and equality.
Jack L. Daniel
Co-founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
May 13, 2020
“I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and he would be free’
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
A plea, that upward to Heaven he flings-
I know why the caged bird sings.”
-Paul Laurence Dunbar-
Wearily we watch as “Black babies face double the risk of dying before their first birthday” (see Gaby Galvin, August 1, 2019). Tragically, Black teens have the highest probability of becoming a homicide victim. The most gifted Black child’s life can be halted when a wanton bullet finds its deadly mark. Black men know that jogging while wearing a “hoodie” and a Covid-19 protective mask could contribute to them being murdered. Like Sandra Bland, days after a traffic stop arrest, a Black woman can be found dead in a cell, or, as with Breonna Taylor, be aroused from sleeping and murdered during a “botched” police raid.
Far too many Black lives are ones in which hopes are routinely dashed; excruciating pain is daily delivered; spirits are constantly broken; and life is like trying to breath inside a stifling vault. For no other reason than being Black, these harsh things and more are strapped on Blacks’ backs and, in turn, contribute to the rapid rise in mental illness among Blacks (See Cordilia James and Petersen Pedersen in the Wall Street Journal, July, 21, 2020).
More than a century after Dunbar wrote the above poem, my father-in-law (Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr.) experienced what all highly accomplished Blacks know, i.e., that “doing the right things” does not provide him/them with a pass to escape the deleterious fate of being born Black in America. He did his undergraduate work at Tuskegee; earned his law degree from Yale; served as an army officer during World War II; was a NAACP Western Region general counsel; and, while assisting President John F. Kennedy, he agreed to take part in an inspection of military troops stationed in Japan.
While in Japan, a Japanese citizen sought to understand the extent of White American racism by asking, “Mr. Colley, if you go to Mississippi, will they also put dogs on you too?” My father-in-law said, “Yes, if I go to Mississippi, they’ll put dogs on me too!” For the rest of his life, Colley Sr. reminded himself and others that neither his Tuskegee and Yale degrees nor his many distinguished trial lawyer accomplishments would prevent “dogs from being put on him too” ---that Malcolm X spoke truth when he asked and answered, “What do Whites call a Negro with a PhD? A Nigger!”
Recently, I had a reminder that “dogs could be put on me too. The rear deck of my home is about 15 feet from the water that feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. An armed White police officer walked past my home many evenings and spoke to me as I sat on my deck. His seemingly friendly “hellos” caused me to have a lapse in judgment, but I was reminded of who I was when I went down to the boardwalk to fish.
As the White officer approached, I said “Hello,” and he said, “Excuse me, do you live here?” I said “Yes” and, pointing to my home, I added, “I speak to you from that deck behind us when you pass by each evening.” He said, “Oh and, by the way, you have to move your stool off the boardwalk. There are no chairs allowed on the boardwalk.” Noticing the gun strapped on the officer’s hip, I knew being a Black man was in play, not “Dr. Jack L. Daniel, the emeritus Vice Provost and Distinguished Service Professor.” Hence, I said nothing and moved my stool.
After the officer left, I thought about what could have happened had I gotten angry, jumped up and asked, “How can you ask me if I live here when, after so many evenings, you passed by my home and spoke to me?” In minutes, the story could have become, “After fearing for his life, officer accidentally shoots angry man who was breaking the law on residential boardwalk,” followed shortly thereafter with “#Jack L. Daniel, say his name.”
If you are Black in America, then you don’t drive your car; walk down the street; barbecue in a public park; enter your own apartment late at night; fall asleep in the reception area of a dorm hall; attempt to cash a check with “Dr.” in front of your name; or engage in any normal activity without the nagging realization that you could become a fatal statistic. You can’t be stopped at a red light without the possibility of a White male throwing lighter fluid on you and setting you on fire as was done recently to a Black woman in Wisconsin. Even in death, as was the case for Congressman John Lewis, racist derived inhumanity was put on full display when, in their “tributes to John Lewis,” Republican Congressman Marco Rubio and Senator Dan Sullivan mistakenly posted pictures of themselves and Elijah Cummings.
Notwithstanding the woes of being Black in America, we of good faith will continue to do as John Lewis commanded, i.e., “get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and redeem the soul of America.” We will do so because we know, as John Legend sang, “One day when the glory comes; It will be ours, it will be ours; One day… When the war is won; When it's all said and done; We'll cry glory, oh glory.”
Jack L. Daniel
Co-Founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
July 29, 2020
Civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis.
DICK'S is the first sports-related company to support the LISC impact investment fund
DICK'S Sporting Goods, Inc., the largest U.S.-based, omni-channel sporting goods retailer, is investing $12.5 million in the Black Economic Development Fund to fuel minority lenders and anchor institutions and businesses as part of an effort to close the racial wealth gap.
DICK'S is the first sports-related company to invest in the fund, which is managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national impact investor that has invested more than $22 billion to promote economic opportunity in urban and rural communities.
With investments from DICK'S and other corporate investors, LISC expects to raise more than $100 million for the fund by year-end. Investments will include deposits in Black-owned banks and financing for minority businesses, charter schools, affordable housing projects, and athletic facilities – all designed to support economic development in communities of color.
"DICK'S started as a small business with just two stores in upstate New York, so we understand the critical importance of access to capital," said DICK'S Sporting Goods Chairman and CEO Ed Stack. "We're pleased to be able to take action and help Black-owned businesses get the resources they need to grow and continue to be an essential part of communities."
LISC announced the fund this summer, encouraging corporations to make investments that are specifically designed to improve economic opportunity for Black Americans and, at the same time, boost the national economy as well. The racial wealth gap has cost the U.S. economy an estimated $16 trillion over the last two decades.
"One of the most exciting aspects of this fund is that it offers companies like DICK'S, which already have strong philanthropic commitments, an opportunity to also invest their assets in ways that help promote inclusive growth and opportunity," said George Ashton, managing director of LISC Strategic Investments, the organization's fund management and venture capital arm.
"This isn't charity," he explained. "It is a treasury strategy that directs corporate funds to businesses that fuel broad social and economic benefits. This investment strengthens the American consumer base, builds up our communities, and makes our economy work better for everyone," Ashton said.
DICK'S Sporting Goods Chairman and CEO Ed Stack