Archive for the ‘Dunbar Village’ Category

You Have Struck A Rock, Brothers: Update on Dunbar Village

Friday, April 11th, 2008

It goes without saying that you have to teach people how to treat you sometimes. You have to remind them that you are human and not an object. You have to make it clear that you will not be ignored. And that there is hell to pay for grossly mistreating you.

With that in mind I am posting an update today on the NAACP, Al Sharpton, Dunbar Village incident which many of us brown women bloggers have been blogging about for the past few weeks.

But first let me tell you a story.

I love the parable Jesus tells in Luke 18: 1-8 of the Persistent Widow.  

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

 ”For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’
Now, if the unjust judge did not fear God and cared nothing for the opinion of his peers, it’s probably safe to assume that this woman and her pleas meant nothing to him. But the widow refused to be ignored. This woman who in her culture was at the bottom of the social ladder refused to see herself through the judge’s eyes. She insisted that the judge acknowledge her existence and hear her out. She kept after him. How dare he think he could overlook her without consequence?

Don’t you just love knowing that no matter how oppressive and unbearable the circumstances, subjugated people (some of them anyway) have always pushed back, fought back, and figured out ways to subvert the system? Don’t think for a minute that women in patriarchal cultures have been content to fade away behind veils, customs, and unjust laws just because that’s what was expected of them.

Remember the impassioned freedom songs 20, 000 South African Women sang before the Union Buildings in Pretoria when they learned of the government’s attempt in 1956 to force them, like their husbands and sons, to carry passes as they moved about the country.  Passes were the symbol of South African’s deepest oppression. South African women composed a song in defiance of the government’s attempt to force passes on them: ”When you have touched a woman, you have struck a rock! You have dislodged a boulder. You will be crushed.”

I’ll say it again: Like the persistent widow in Jesus’ parable, you have to be prepared to teach people how you want them to treat you. Those who neither fear God nor care what others think, and think black women count for nothing, have to be repudiated. Even if those arrogant enough to try trampling over you are your own men.

 Update on NAACP, Al Sharpton, and Dunbar Village

We sincerely hope that this post can be the last Open Letter that criticizes the involvement of the NAACP and Al Sharpton in the Dunbar Village case. Although we are not satisfied with the official conduct of the NAACP in the past few weeks, we acknowledge that the finite goals that we originally set for this campaign have been completed. We will continue to offer our support to the victims of this crime, and would like to thank the prosecutor in this case for exercising a high degree of discretion.Synopsis New readers: this post is the conclusion of a protest in which thousands of African Americans from various walks of life condemned the recent actions of both the NAACP and the National Action Network in a criminal case known as the Dunbar Village Atrocity. Read details of the crime here.


We are satisfied that the NAACP will cease to use it’s power of advocacy to demand that the suspects in the Dunbar Village Atrocity case be given the opportunity to be released on bail.

We are satisfied that a long overdue show of official support for the Dunbar Village victims has been made, or is under way.
We are somewhat satisfied with the apology that was given for the public declaration that the Dunbar Village Atrocity and the Boca Raton rape case are comparable; however, it is not lost on us that the apology was done privately, and not delivered by the National office with the same level of conviction in which the original statement was made.

We condemn the NAACP’s failed attempt to obfuscate the truth concerning their participation in the press conference dated 03/11/2008. The absurdity of their attempt to deny such easily verifiable facts caused real damage to the credibility of their establishment. Our community needs to be able to trust the integrity and veracity of any organization that purports to advocate for it, therefore, we challenge the NAACP to be honest enough to admit their mistakes in the future, even the big ones.


We have done our very best to be people of integrity concerning this matter, by thoroughly researching the facts before mounting this campaign.

Our wish is to be to be able to work together with justice organizations to right the wrongs inflicted on people of color, by not only enforcing standards of prosecution, but also by raising the standard of ethical conduct of all people involved. While our demands have been met in this case, we are not convinced that either agency has taken the appropriate steps to ensure that tragic decisions like the press conference in support of the torture suspects will not be made again in the future. We urge the NAACP and the National Action Network to interpret this protest as a golden opportunity for critical self reflection, as a new line of dialogue, and as a chance to move into better alignment with the will of the very people that they exist to serve. 

The Dunbar Village Victim Assistance Fund

Individuals who would like to donate money to the victims can go to any Wachovia Bank and donate to the St. Ann’s Victim’s Assistance Fund. Donations will go directly to the mother and her son. St. Ann’s Catholic Church will also accept donations. Checks can be made payable to the “Dunbar Village Victim Assistance Fund - St. Ann’s”. Donations can be mailed to: St. Ann’s Catholic Church, 310 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 .

For more information about this Dunbar Village Campaign, you can visit any of the following blogs:

Open Letter Regarding Sharpton, NAACP, and the Atrocities of Dunbar Village

Friday, March 28th, 2008

For those of you who supported the scores of us brown women bloggers in an email campaign against Al Sharpton and the NAACP about their atrocious failure to stand up for black women and their children when we are victims of violence, even by our own.  


In the past week, a rapidly-moving viral email campaign was launched, and thousands of concerned black citizens spread the word about a shocking crime against a Black woman and her 12 year old son, in which crimes against nature were committed (read about this atrocious crime here)>.

This email, entitled “Stop Al Sharpton and the NAACP from endangering Black Women,” described a stunning betrayal in which the NAACP and Al Sharpton held a press conference and demanded bail consideration for three suspects in custody for the crime. (source1)> (source2)>

Concerned Black citizens all around the country were outraged by the actions of the NAACP and Al Sharpton, and many vowed to withdraw volunteering and financial support from these agencies “until they make the safety of Black women and children a priority.”

On March 24, 2008 an NAACP memo that attempted to defend this betrayal> was sent to Beverly Neal, who is the Director of the NAACP’s Florida State Conference. The memo claims that the NAACP was brought into this fray by Rev. Al Sharpton. Moreover, the memo was written by Maude Ford Lee, who is President of the West Palm Beach Branch of the NAACP (read about the Dunbar the memo here)>.

On March 27,2008, activist Al Sharpton went on the air to clarify his position on the treatment of the Dunbar Village Suspects. He invited writer Tonyaa Weathersbee> and blogger Arlene Fenton> to his show, to discuss the matter. Rev. Sharpton claimed that he never said that the Dunbar Village suspects were being treated unfairly, and that he did not want bail for the suspects in question.

Ms Weathersbee and Ms Fenton said that their research indicated otherwise, as indicated by video footage>, eyewitness accounts, and the reporting from the Florida Sun Sentinel> and the Palm Beach Post.>

At the end of the radio show, Al Sharpton strongly condemned any activity that would promote bail consideration for the suspects in question. Rev. Sharpton admitted that “if the suspects were white, he would have been there sooner.” He stated that this is a problem with many black civil rights organizations. He apologized and vowed to uphold his prior promise to advocate for the residents of Dunbar Village. He also challenged all activists, bloggers, and writers to be accountable to each other.

To date, the NAACP has not made an official statement denouncing the Dunbar Village Atrocity, nor have they officially expressed regret to the victim. The NAACP also has not officially retracted their statement requesting bail consideration for the alleged rapists/torturers. To our understanding, neither agency has contributed to the Victim’s Assistance Fund or created a reward program geared toward the apprehension of the remaining rapists/torturers.


WE ARE SATISFIED with Al Sharpton’s qualifying statements that he made on his radio show on 3/27/2008. We will watch to see if he fulfills his promise to advocate for the residents of Dunbar Village, and we are willing to assist any effort that promotes safer black neighborhoods in West Palm Beach, FL.

WE ARE NOT CONTENT with the reckless, irresponsible actions of the NAACP (West Palm Beach chapter). We continue to urge all black people, women especially, to refrain from volunteering or giving financially to this organization until they take our safety seriously.


We want law enforcement to make a concerted, sustained effort to apprehend the remaining suspects. We want to see a genuine reward system in place to encourage members of the community to come forward with the knowledge of the whereabouts of the remaining suspects.

We want the NAACP (West Palm Beach chapter) to reverse their position that the alleged rapists/torturers of this case should be considered for bail.

We want both the NAACP and the National Action Network to cease downgrading the gang rape/torture/atrocity of the Dunbar Village by comparing it to an unrelated gang rape, in which guns, maiming, and forced incest were not involved.

We want to see genuine victim advocacy in the form of financial support for the relocation, medical expenses, and mental therapy for the true victims in this case.

The Dunbar Village Victim Assistance Fund

Individuals who would like to donate money to the victims can go to any Wachovia Bank and donate to the St. Ann’s Victim’s Assistance Fund. Donations will go directly to the mother and her son.

St. Ann’s Catholic Church will also accept donations. Checks can be made payable to the “Dunbar Village Victim Assistance Fund - St. Ann’s”.

Donations can be mailed to: St. Ann’s Catholic Church, 310 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach, FL 33401

For more information about this Dunbar Village Campaign, you can visit any of the following blogs:>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Go Tell Pharaoh and Al Sharpton

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

I was away from my computer all day on Tuesday. But I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to add my voice to the chorus of black women bloggers on Tuesday calling for Al Sharpton’s head on a plate.

Not that anyone who regularly reads this blog gives much thought to Al Sharpton.

Not that anyone who regularly reads this blog considers Al Sharpton to be their leader or a prophetic voice within the black community. 

Not that anyone who regularly reads this blog trusts Al Sharpton.

But it pays to pay attention sometimes. You may discover that you’re being sold down the river,  and you didn’t even know it.

It seems that ”Rev. Hot Comb” (as someone on another blog refers to him) has once again taken advantage of a black woman victimized by violence to gain attention for himself.  Ten years ago it was  Tawanna Brawley. Two years ago it was Nicole Paultre Belle. This time it’s the black mother and her son viciously assaulted last summer by four black teen in the Dunbar Village housing project of West Palm Beach, Florida.  Instead of speaking out against the rape and assault of this mother and her son by thugs in their housing complex, Sharpton decided that his time was better spent this week in Florida  defending the four teens who assaulted the mother and son against the Florida judicial process!

Just how heinous was this crime everyone is up in arms about? Judge for yourselves.

In the Dunbar Village case, four teens are charged with armed sexual battery for the June crime where they allegedly forced the woman at gunpoint to have sex multiple times, including with her son. Police say the teens then used cleaning agents on the victims afterwards in an attempt to cover their crimes, including stuffing a bar of soap inside the woman.

Rather than decrying the heinous rape of this Dunbar Village mother and her son by five black thugs, rather than standing with the rape victim and her son, rather than denouncing the rapists and demanding justice on behalf of this mother and her son– Sharpton chose instead to expend the thimble of moral capital he hasn’t sold to the highest bidder on defending the rights of the four rapists. Evidently, it’s more advantageous to make black male criminals out to be victims of the system than it is to make black women who have been raped out to be victims..

How much are black women worth? Absolutely nothing, says men like Al Sharpton in essence.

Sharpton feels he can make a case out of the fact that the black rapists are after eight months still locked up, in contrast to white teens in nearby Boca Raton who are out on bond after being charged with a similar crime.  

SharptonThere must be something 
Sharpton knows that we don’t.

What is it?

How about this: speaking up for black women and their children doesn’t get your face on the nightly news. Speaking out against black on black crime doesn’t get you any corporate money. Speaking out against the rape of black women and children doesn’t earn the respect and attention of colleagues.

In order for charlatans like Sharpton to continue peddling themselves as ombudsmen for justice, black women leaders have to keep quiet. 

This is a wake-up call to my fellow black clergy women.

Ministers like Sharpton get to continue to come into our neighborhoods and exploit sexually victimized black women, along with grieving mothers and fathers, because good and decent ministers do not speak up in protest. As long we we believe, or let others make us believe, that we can not compete with men in ministry for the hearts of our people and that we have no truth or godly vision to offer as an alternative to what some men in our profession have been peddling, Sharpton gets to come in our communities and exploit our people.

Let’s face it: There are men like Al Sharpton who although they are black, they are not on the side of black women. They are not interested in equality and protecting black women from violation a not a priority. Their only interest is in cashing in on the privileges of maleness. As another of my sister bloggers pointed out, “As women, we are the firewood to fuel their activist engines.”

I call upon my fellow black women clergy to step up and start  dethroning demogagues like Sharpton who prey upon our communities. Show up to minister to those who are hurting. Take the mike. Stay around when the dust settles to serve those in need. We don’t need a pulpit to make a difference. All we need is a need and to fill it for ministry to happen. Let black clergy women become the change agents we want to see in our communities. Instead of complaining about those male preachers pimping our communities for cars and hot combs, let us do our part to root them out of our churches and neighborhoods. Our ranks as women in ministry have grown exponentially in the last 10 years enough for us to begin speaking out, speaking up, and stepping up to the microphone. We too have something to say. We too have heard from God. We too are ministers.

Black women clergy can not afford any longer to sit idly by and allow rip-off artists like Sharpton to be the ones held up as  representative of the black church, the black clergy, and the black prophetic tradition to a generation that’s becoming increasingly cynical about and dismissive of all three.  Black women clergy need to make it clear to the media and to others looking on that there are other voices on hand in the black church – more integrous, more intelligent, more prophetic, more authentic – to speak up on behalf of the poor and the victimized and all that’s godly.

Who knows whether we have come to the kingdom for just such a time as this? It just might be that women are the prophets the church sorely needs to hear from these days. One thing’s for sure: anything is better than the nimcompoop with the curls taking up air time at the mike right now.

Special thanks to Symphony at Essential Presence who remains in the trenches there in Florida keeping bloggers up to date on the Dunbar Village story and for Shecodes at BlackWomenVote for lighting a fire under black women and for PioneerValleyWoman at Episcopalienne for shedding some important light on black women and men’s different ways of thinking about racial solidarity and community uplift. Special shout out to Leslie Callahan, a fellow reverend sister blogger for keeping it real.

Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Red.

Monday, October 8th, 2007

“Will you help us get the word out to women in the church about our October 31st ‘Be Bold Be Brave Be Red Stop the Violence?‘ campaign?” a young activist wrote me recently.

“Of course, but you seem to think that women in the church need special persuading to get them to stand up against violence.”

“Well, you know.”

“No, I don’t. What?”

“If church women see the word “feminist” mentioned anywhere on our publicity, they are apt to be scared off.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Are you saying that I’m wrong?”

“I’m just saying that women in the church are as alarmed as other women by stories of attacks against women of color from around the country. We care about Megan Williams in West Virginia. We are horrified to hear about what some teenage boys forced the mother down in West Palm Beach to do to her son. We too resent Isaiah Thomas thinking it’s alright to call black women b*&%$, and we are sad to see Clarence Thomas continuing his vendetta against Anita Hill.”

“Do women in the church care enough to do more than just pray?”

“Excuse me?”

“You know what I mean. Do you think women in the church care enough to hold rallies at their churches?”

“Sure. But we don’t call them rallies. We prefer bible study meetings and worship services to rallies.”

“Fine. Do you think women in the church care enough to wear red on October 31st to show their solidarity with women everywhere who have been victimized?”

“Sure. We identify with the color of red and all that it symbolizes.”

“Fine. Do you think women in the church care enough to sit down with women who identify themselves as feminist or womanist or lesbian, women who are Muslim, Buddhist, or post-Christian, to brainstorm some solutions?”

“Sure.” Gulp.