Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fenced in Fathers

By Gary L. Flowers

Executive Director & CEO

Black Leadership Forum, Inc.

June 14 – 21, 2009

No civilized society would insist upon maintaining the anachronism of the death penalty. An imperfect system cannot ask for a perfect punishment, which is death. Therefore, any country that maintains the anachronism of the death penalty by that very fact is an uncivilized society.”

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

As I celebrated Father’s Day with my parents last week I felt a certain sense of security knowing lessons learned from growing up with my father (and grandfather) were deeply instilled in me. Yet, I mused on how many sons have insecure upbringings because their fathers are incarcerated behind security bars.

America in general, and the African American community in particular, has too many fenced-in fathers. For every father behind bars is a son who either must navigate the trail from boyhood to manhood alone or erroneously emulate men who use incarceration as a rite of manhood on the street. There of 1.7 million children (under 18 years old) whose fathers are locked up in federal or state facilities.

Factors for fenced-in fathers are poverty (over 1/3 of inmates earned less than $5,000 a year, prior to arrest), inadequate lawyers (often do not provide effective counsel), racial profiling (the probability of incarceration for Blacks, Latinos, and Whites is 29%, 16%, and 4%, respectfully), non-violent crimes, (over 65% of American inmates are serving time for non-violent crimes).

The United States of America leads the world community in prisoners per capita with over 2.3 million, 60% of whom are fathers of color. In fact, America incarcerates and executes more people per capita than any other country on earth (750 per 100,000 citizens). Such percentages are more than China, Europe, and Africa. One out of every Black male is under the control of the penal system. More startling is that while African Americans constitute 14% of the nation’s population, 43% of Death Row prisoners are Black.

Within industrial nations, the moral cache America has garnered over the years is increasingly diminished by the continuation of the death penalty.

Fact is: the death penalty is state-sponsored murder. If murder is a crime punishable by the government, why is not the capital punishment imposed by the state a crime against civility?

Since 1976, America has resumed the barbaric and ineffective system of capital punishment. Relevant research reveals that the death penalty is racially biased, economically inefficient, and does not serve as a deterrent to crime. I agree with the American Civil Liberties Union who oppose the death penalty:

· The death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment – It is cruel as a relic of the earliest days of European penology. It is unusual because the United States is the only industrialized nation which employs capital punishment

· The death penalty denies due process of law – Often the imposition of the death penalty is arbitrary and deprives convicts the benefit of new evidence or science which could overturn ruling

· Opposing the death penalty does not equate to sympathy for convicted murderers – State-sponsored murder is immoral and perpetuates violence as a means to solve the question of punishment

In particular, the death penalty is irreversible. Enough said.

America must end an “eye for an eye” penal policy system. In the words of Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. “an eye for an eye leaves people blind.” Our nation must visualize a more civil and humane approach to punishment.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Return of a Pharaoh

A Return of a Pharaoh

By Gary L. Flowers

Executive Director & CEO

Black Leadership Forum, Inc.

May 31 – June 7, 2009

“Ethnically homogeneous, Africa’s civilizing role, even in pre-historic times, is increasing affirmed by the most distinguished scholars.”

Cheikh Diop, The African Origins of Civilization

Scholars agree that Ancient Africa by way of Kemet (Nubian and Egypt) was the cradle of world civilization, from the first democracies to the introduction of written language, science, mathematics, medicine, and art. Arguably, the United States of America has advanced civilization more than any other global dynasty.

It is therefore fitting that the United States President Barack Hussein Obama, a son of Kenya and Kansas, has returned to the Motherland and delivered a seminal speech promoting his platform for peace in the “Middle East.”

His Sankofa (return to the source) marks the return of a Pharaoh.

Upon taking the oath of office as president on January 20, 2009, Barack Obama became the most powerful man in world history. The most. America remains the most powerful global superpower in terms of military might and the delegation of democracy. As such, President Obama’s power exceeds the mighty men and women of African antiquity.

Nubia (land of gold) located in Upper Egypt is recorded to have operated from a 14,000 year-old calendar in the year 4236 B.C. The Ta-Seti Kingdom and other civilizations formed what is today Egypt. From records pieced together following the pillaging (Alexander) and destruction (Julius Caesar) of African libraries, Nubian civilization emerged around 3800 B.C. and produced powerful and remarkable leaders and kings (Pharaohs) who ruled the civilized world (most of Europe was in the uncivilized Barbarian Age, without written language.

For example, in the 1st Nubian Dynasty (recorded) King Narmer (Menes) unified Upper Egypt (now northern Sudan) and Lower Egypt (now southern Egypt) and declared Memphis to be its capital. In the 4th Dynasty, King Khufu (Cheops) built the Great Pyramids of Giza (near which President Obama delivered his speech). In the 11th Dynasty, King Mentuhotep II re-unified Egypt and moves capital to the City of Thebes which housed the Royal Library of Luxor. Also, in the 11th Dynasty King Senworset expanded Egyptian rule and established an Egyptian colony in Athens, Greece.

In the 18th Dynasty, Thutmose I further expanded Egyptian governance to Persia (now Iraq) and developed the world’s first written alphabet. Likewise, in the 18th Dynasty, Queen Hatshepsut became the first female Pharaoh. Later Akhenaton and his wife/co-Pharaoh Nefertiti introduced monotheologism (belief in one God) and the dual-gender system of government. After their mysterious deaths, King Tutankhamen (“The Boy King”) returned Egypt to polytheologism (belief in several Gods). In the 19th Dynasty, Ramses II, with his Queen Nefertari further developed literature and art, to be shared with the world.

Despite the enormous power ancient kings and queens, none have the amassed arsenal of military and mentality possessed by President Obama. Like his predecessors of power, President Obama governs by assembling the best and the brightest to advance national interests and the greater good. However, he does not abuse power for the few and the filthy rich, but rather understands that true power percolates upward from the people whose trust he must continually earn through political and policy accountability.

Collectively, policies put forth by President Obama I royally resemble the ancient African system of Ma’at in Nubia and Egypt. Under Ma’at, truth, justice, and righteousness were the tenets of Pharonic public policy. As he seeks to advance the coexistence of Palestinians and Israelis and stabilize the entire region, while right-siding domestic policy, the memory of Ma’at is essential. From discontinuing torture and exorbitant credit card fees to promoting educational excellence American policy formation is predicated is predicated on the greater good.

As the world once looked at African Kings as global leaders, people around the planet now are awed by the brilliance and fairness of a regal American president. Let justice reign.