Archive for March, 2008

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:>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

My Books, My Self

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

I resigned from university teaching a few years back for reasons that four years later still seem to make no sense to anyone other than myself. It was a decision I’m glad I made. The hardest part of leaving the university, however, after nearly eighteen years as a professor was having to decide what to do with the hundreds of books I’d accumulated over the years and that lined the walls of my office like sentinels to my deepest secrets. Books are like water to a scholar and teacher. You can never get enough. The life of the mind requires constant inspiration and constant priming.  I’d been an academic for virtually all of my adult life  – first as a divinity student, then a doctoral student, and finally a professor—and the books in my office were proof of my identity and testament of all the work as a woman and African-American I’d put into studying and preparing to do the work I was doing.  Each book had shaped me in its own way– books on topics like women’s studies, Ancient Near Eastern studies, Egyptian studies, African American history, African history, American politics, art history, linguistics, homiletics, church history, liberation theology, black church studies, early Christian literature, and, of course those from my discipline, Old Testament studies. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take my books home with me. There wasn’t room in my home office. And the thought of dumping them in boxes and storing them in a dark corner of the basement of my house seemed like an insult to books who were like friends who had at different points in my life stepped in and saved my life.

On a whim I decided to donate those books I could bring myself to part with to the library of a small black Baptist college across town– American Baptist College

It took six days to break down my library and to pack each volume away. As I took each book down from its place on the shelf I made sure to thank each one for whatever role it had played in my life – in helping me write papers, prepare for graduate exams, devise class lectures, research book ideas, come up with sermon outlines. Some books had proven valuable from over to cover. Others needed to be thanked for that one chapter, one paragraph or one sentence that had cracked open the secrets to a new world of undersanding. Giving away those books was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It felt like giving away bits and pieces of my body.

Off went more than three hundred books to a small black Baptist college across town which has a long and proud history of training students and leaders in the black community who otherwise might never gain entrance into the Ivy League institutions that have trained me.

In the four years that have passed I’ve bought lots of new books to replace the ones I gave away, books that reflect my new obsessions. And, truth is, I’ve forgotten about the books I gave away. (The moral of the story: you can live without more than you think you can.)

Meanwhile, the library and the librarian at American Baptist College have been thanking God for the gift that was dropped off at their doorstep. So invaluable to the school and its student body is the collection, especially, of religion books I donated that the school held a ceremony earlier this week in which they honored me. At the ceremony the school dedicated the section of the school’s library where the books are now housed as “The Renita J. Weems Collection.”

I choked with emotion when I saw my old friends standing proudly like sentinels in their new home. They looked happy and content. I guess that’s because they are where they should be, some place where they stand a chance of becoming once again the answer to someone’s prayer for ideas and revelation. I’m glad my old books have found a new home and am proud of the decision I made on a whim one day to donate them to a school and library that sorely needed them. I’m probably prouder of this achievement than I am of anything else I’ve done in my life. Perhaps because I didn’t plan it. “It is the Lord’s doing,” says the psalmist, “and it is marvelous in my sight.”

Who would have thought that in giving away a book you make room for more wisdom and insight than you had before?

Our Sisters’ Keeper

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Today is the Monday after Easter.

Folks drop by the blog on Mondays expecting to find out what’s new on my mind and what new and provocative spiritual lens am I proposing today for seeing the world in which we live .

That said, I believe it was singer-actress Bette Midler who said once that in this business you’re only as good as your last song. (Read: your last article, your last book, your last sermon, your last project). The public expects its writers, speakers, entertainers, and artists to constantly outdo themselves.  You must be better (and better and better) than you were the last time. God help if you fail to live up to their expectations.

As a minister and a writer I’ve found Bette Midler’s observation to be true. But today I elect not to try to best myself. Saturday’s blog post below says all that needs to be said today here on Monday.  A mother and her son were brutally and shamelessly attacked last June in Florida, and our black male leaders are more interested in garnering media attention for themselves than they are in making sure a mother and her son receive the justice they deserve. Recent news about the torture and slaying of Dorothy Dixon, a 27 years old pregnant, disabled woman by adults and children living in  the same house with her ought to make it clear to each of us that it’s not enough simply to shake our heads in horror and click off.  

I’m urging Something Within’s readers to respond and to speak out.  Organize the women in your book club, your sorority, the women’s ministry at your church, and speak out against violence against women and against the men in our community who could speak up for us but choose not to.  

Finally, let me leave you with a passage from the book of Proverbs which the pastor of my church (who also happens to be my husband) quoted yesterday in his Easter sermon. The passage is still ringing in my mind and heart here on Monday.  

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in your power to do it.
(Proverbs 3:27)

Let’s Show Al Sharpton That We Are Our Sisters’ Keeper

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008


This mass open letter is a call to action for all black people who
care about the safety and welfare of black women and children in
America. If you are concerned about the recent developments about
Dunbar Village, please copy the post below, and email it to all of
your friends and coworkers.



Right-thinking black people everywhere are stunned by the recent betrayal of Al Sharpton and the NAACP in a situation that is just too outrageous to ignore.

This is a painful story to tell, but it’s important for the moral, law-abiding majority of black Americans to understand exactly why Al Sharpton and the NAACP must be immediately stopped.

On June 18, 2007, a black woman was gang raped by 10 youths and forced at gunpoint to have sex with her own 12 year old son in a housing complex called Dunbar Village in West Palm Beach, Florida. The young men not only viciously punched, kicked and sliced this sister and her son with glass objects, but they also blinded her boy by pouring nail polish remover into his eyes.

The young men forced this sister and son to lay naked in a bathtub together, and attempted to set them on fire (they could not find matches). The youths boldly took cell phone pictures so that they could enjoy their violent, immoral and sadistic acts at a later time. The violence continued for more than three hours, and although this sister’s neighbors heard her screams, no one called the police or came to her aid.

This sister and her son had to walk a mile to the hospital, because the assailants stole her car, and threatened to kill her and her family if she told the authorities.

Only four of the young men have been apprehended, while the remaining six are on the loose, doing Lord knows what in our communities. There is no manhunt for the remaining suspects.

As devastating as this story is, what the NAACP and Al Sharpton have done about it will simply take your breath away:Not only did the NAACP ignore hundreds of requests to assist this woman because it was ‘outside the scope of their mission’, but they joined forces with Al Sharpton, and sent their lawyers to speak out IN SUPPORT OF THE RAPISTS.
You heard me right.

Even though there is conclusive DNA evidence and signed confessions, the NAACP and Al Sharpton are saying that it is ‘unfair’ to not offer bail to these four alleged rapists. They even had a press release about it.


Al Sharpton and the NAACP are banking on the belief that you and I will be just like this black woman’s neighbors. Join me by saying NOT THIS TIME. We will not turn a deaf ear to when we hear calls for help from one of our sisters and brothers who are being victimized.

Stop the NAACP and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network from committing this disgrace in our community. Just this once, let’s stand up and be counted by saying that we demand safe neighborhoods for our women and children.

Here is what you can do:

1. Spread the word. Forward this email if your conscience and concern have been raised. Send it to every concerned black citizen that you know.

2. Demand an explanation from your local NAACP chapter about this case. Cancel your membership to these organizations, and write a letter explaining that you will return when they prioritize the public safety needs of black women and children.

3. If you do not belong to these organizations, call and write them to tell them of your outrage and displeasure:

NAACP National Headquarters
4805 Mt. Hope Drive
Baltimore MD 21215
Toll Free: (877) NAACP-98
Local: (410) 580-5777

National Action Network
Rev. Al Sharpton
106 W. 145th Street
Harlem, New York 10039

If you know an African American reporter or a black radio talk show host, forward this story to them and ask them to follow up on it.

Read the history of the Dunbar Village problem here:

Something Within is collaborating with a network of other black women bloggers who are committed to staying on top of this story. Please check any one of the following blogs out on Fridays for an update on this story.