Category Archives: Economics

Athlete-Activist Bennett Nearly Killed by LV Police

 

Michael Bennett

NFL Defenseman Michael Bennett

By Free Radical

As the NFL football season is set to kickoff and new highlights can potentially silence the largest elephant in the room, that of Colin Kaepernick’s indefinite free agency, many NFL owners have reasoned that they can quickly return to business as usual. They are wrong.

On Wednesday, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman, Michael Bennett posted on his Twitter account a harrowing experience with the Las Vegas police. He wrote that on August 26, after watching a boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, he was unjustly stopped and threatened to be murdered by police following alleged gunshots heard in the area.

Bennett described the encounter on his Twitter account:

“A police officer ordered me to get on the ground. As I laid on the ground, complying with his commands not to move, he placed his gun near my head and warned me that if I moved he would “blow my fucking head off.” Terrified and confused by what was taking place, a second Officer came over and forcefully jammed his knee into my back making it difficult for me to breathe. They then cinched the handcuffs on my wrists so tight that my fingers went numb.”

Portions of the encounter were captured by TMZ.

The Las Vegas police have announced that they are currently reviewing the issue with its officer Jacinto Rivera stating, “Without looking at video footage or reading any reports we can’t say yet what happened.”

Michael Bennet has been one of the NFL’s leading critics of police brutality and the punitive treatment Colin Kaepernick has received for his activism. He has also announced that he will not stand for the national anthem for the entire 2017 football season.

His arrest contradicts the arguments of critics who argue that athletes have no place in the national discourse on criminal justice reform and their salaries and privilege make them too far removed to engage the topic.

Bennett has announced that he is considering filing a civil suit against the Las Vegas police and has already sought the counsel of acclaimed Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris.

An issue that the NFL had hoped would simply wither way, now can potentially tackle business as usual.

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Hood Incubator Creates Paths to Weed Industry

By Free Radical

Hood Incubator co-founders, (l-r) Biseat Horning, Lanese Martin, and Ebele Ifedigbo.

Hood Incubator co-founders, (left to right) Biseat Horning, Lanese Martin, and Ebele Ifedigbo.

Last week, theroot.com profiled the Hood Incubator, a collective that assists people of color in entering every phase of the $7 billion dollar marijuana industry.

The organization was founded by electoral organizer Lanese Martin, community organizer Biseat Horning, and Ebele Ifedigbo, a Yale MBA graduate.

According to Juell Stewart, the Hood Incubator’s director of communications, “We envision a model where a pool of minorities can fund growers; manufacturers—whether it’s tinctures, oils or edibles; suppliers; and dispensaries..” She continues, “We want to see a day when we have a group of people who invest in the entire cannabis industry.”

And that is exactly what the Hood Incubator intends to do. Though people who sell and use marijuana in the US are highly diverse, business owners in the “legal” weed market are predominantly White and male. One of Hood Incubator’s objectives is to help individuals transition from the underground market to the “legitimate” trade.

They also help with marketing, sales, education, and offer legal assistance for individuals seeking to acquire licensing.

Hood Incubator provides apprenticeships for participants to partner with established business owners to get hands on experience inside of the industry.

Clients have gone on to establish an edible catering company, open a dispensary, and start a delivery service.

For more on the Hood incubator, click here.

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A Remembrance of Dick Gregroy

By MCNS Staff

Comedic and political icon Dick Gregory

Comedic and political icon Dick Gregory

Comedian, civil and human rights activist Dick Gregory passed away last Saturday in Washington DC at the age of 84 after being hospitalized for about a week. His son Christian Gregory told The Associated Press that Gregory suffered from a severe bacterial infection. The cause of his death was heart failure.

“It was as if he just completely wore himself out,” said his younger brother Ron Gregory who spoke with The Star by phone last Monday.

He was born Richard Claxton Gregory on Oct. 12, 1932, in St. Louis, Missouri. He grew up in St. Louis and graduated from the famed Sumner High School.

At Sumner High School, he excelled in track and field, thus earning a scholarship to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He chose SIU from among 100 universities that made scholarship offers. He set school records in the 1/2-mile and 1-mile races thus becoming a nationally recognized athlete and one of the fastest milers and half-milers in the country. He captained both the cross country and track teams and in 1953 became the first Black student-athlete named outstanding athlete of the year. However, the U.S. Army drafted him in 1954 while he was still in college.

Turning lemons into lemonade, Mr. Gregory had his start in comedy while he was in the Army, performing various routines in military shows. He was discharged in 1956 and returned to Southern Illinois University before moving to Chicago to join the national comedy circuit. In Chicago, he performed mostly in black nightclubs while working at the Post Office during the day. He met Lillian Smith at one of those nightclubs and they married in 1959. She and Gregory would have 11 children (one son passed away two months after birth).

His career took off in 1961, when a one-night show at the Chicago Playboy Club turned into a two-month engagement. Time profiled him and he made an appearance on The Jack Paar Show.

Gregory used comedy to attack racism by satirizing segregation and racial injustice in his comedy acts. He was part of a new generation of black comedians who opposed negative stereotypes and comedic minstrel shows.

The burgeoning comedian became very active in the Civil Rights Movement. He spoke before the voter-registration drive known as Freedom Day on Oct. 7, 1963 and made appearances at a number of other rallies, marches and benefits. During his engagements in these activities, he was jailed in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Mr. Gregory was also an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War.

In 1964, Dick Gregory released his autobiography, Niggerabout his experiences with America’s color line, starting in boyhood; it has since sold more than 7 million copies.

His political activism also led him to run for mayor of Chicago in 1966 and then for the U.S. presidency as a write-in candidate of the Freedom and Peace Party in 1968.

Dick Gregory was an outspoken critic of capital punishment as well as a proponent of women’s rights (he marched for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1978) and health care. In 2004, at the age of 73, he was arrested while protesting genocide outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. In 2005, at a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, he called the U.S. “the most dishonest, ungodly, unspiritual nation that ever existed in the history of the planet.”

He weighed 350 pounds, drank heavily and smoked several packs of cigarettes a day before he became a vegetarian in 1969 and began to explore other areas of wellness in the 1970s. He spoke against a soul food diet, given his concern that it is the cause of many of African Americans’ health challenges. Therefore, in 1984 he launched Dick Gregory Health Enterprises Inc., which sold the Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet, a very profitable weight-loss program.

He also began to fast and engage in marathon running in order to bring attention to social issues. He fasted on different occasions in order to draw attention to drug abuse in the US as well as world hunger and he began a hunger strike in Iran in 1980 to obtain the release of U.S. Embassy staff who were taken as hostages.

Mr. Gregory was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2000, however he refused medical treatment. Instead, he employed healthy eating, exercise, herbs and dietary supplements. As a result, the lymphoma went into remission a few years later.

Dick Gregory has received 45 honorary degrees from Historically Black Colleges.

He is ranked 81 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time. Additionally, Mr. Gregory has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame and has received numerous awards for his civil rights and health activism. Although Dick Gregory has transitioned into ancestry, his many contributions will remain with us.

ESPN Receives Backlash for NFL “Auction”

By Free Radical

An auctioneer presents a player for bid.

An auctioneer presents a player for ESPN’s fantasy draft..

Last week, leading sports entertainment network, ESPN, received a deluge of criticism after staging a controversial fantasy football auction.

On Monday, the network launched a 28-hour marathon devoted to fantasy football in which players join leagues and attempt to compile the most statistically productive team of NFL players. Some leagues use a “draft” format where participants take turns in selecting the NFL players. In a special segment, ESPN, like some other leagues, used an auction system where participants use fake currency to bid on athletes.

After airing, Twitter soon responded to the scene of a White auctioneer placing several Black players up for “sale,” to be bought by a predominantly White audience. New York Daily News journalist Shaun King tweeted “Dear @ESPN, Apologize now for doing a sketch where you auctioned a Black man off to the highest bidder.”

NFL players also weighed in. NFL Giants megastar wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. simply tweeted, “Speechless.” New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan mentioned that the segment was done in “bad taste…In whatever context was intended.”

ESPN’s response to the backlash was mixed. In a tweet directed to Shaun King, Sportscenter anchor Kenny Mayne reasoned, “The optics aren’t good — agreed. But it was replicating Fantasy Football auctions — whites up for bid too. We appreciate you.”

King responded, “As a general rule, white men NEVER need to be bidding for Black men on the auction block.”

On Tuesday, ESPN apologized noting “Auction drafts are a common part of fantasy football, and ESPN’s segments replicated an auction draft with a diverse slate of top professional football players.”

“Without that context, we understand the optics could be portrayed as offensive, and we apologize,” ESPN said.

Some have pointed out the irony of such a strong slavery metaphor as auctioning Black men being used in the sports network format at a time when the NFL’s all white owners have controversially locked out Colin Kaepernick for his refusal to stand for the national anthem.. While ESPN has shown contrition, little has been said by NFL owners about Kaepernick’s sustained free agency status despite having a more productive season than several quarterbacks who were signed during the NFL offseason.

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