Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ain't a damned thing holy going on in the "Holy City" for Black folk

" be a Negro in this country, and to be relatively conscious -- is to be in a rage almost all the time."

James Baldwin
And rage is exactly what I felt as I scrolled through my Blog List late Tuesday night and came upon this headline at the PINAC site:  South Carolina Cop Arrested for Murder After Video Shows Him Shooting Man in Back.  I clicked on the link and when I got to the second paragraph, I was horrified to find -- this had happened in my own hometown (depending on traffic, a mere 10-15 minutes from where I now live)!

Scrolling through to the end as I sat on the couch with the husband in Florida (my plans to go back to The Gambia this Spring having been sidelined by the IRS, I drove down to see him just to recharge after nearly a year in South Carolina), I said, "Man, look at this shit!!!"  He inched closer, and with our mouths agape, we both watched this:

I counted each report of the firearm to myself as Walter Scott ran away from his murderer.  I could not believe I was seeing this -- on video.  Heart racing and body shaking, I unleashed a trail of epithets (too numerous and w-a-ay too vulgar to repeat here, I assure you).  The husband joined in with his own WTFs, as he snaked his arm around me, pulling me into him.  Though I wished I was home to be a part of whatever had to come after this killing, I was glad I was wrapped up "in the temple of my familiar."

He slowly dozed off, but I couldn't sleep.

As I felt his breathing slow (interspersed with a snort here and there indicating the beginning of a snore-fest), thoughts about the homesickness that had drawn me back to Charleston nearly a year ago by mutual agreement, coupled with the June 20 murder of Denzel Curnell by one of those "Blacks in Blue" less than a month after I'd moved in (particularly those "three missing minutes" from the surveillance tape finally released by the Charleston PD) kept pestering me. I went searching for the initial accounts of what had happened, starting with The Post and Courier, the local  paper of record, and found this: Man shot and killed by North Charleston police officer after traffic stop; SLED investigating:
SLED spokesman Thom Berry confirmed that SLED agents interviewed witnesses and gathered evidence at the scene.“We are investigating the shooting incident itself,” Berry said. “That is the normal protocol whenever there is an officer-involved shooting. ... Once we complete that portion of the investigation, the agents will write up the case file and present it to the 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, and someone from that office will determine whether charges should be filed in connection with the shooting.”

James Johnson, president of the local chapter of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, alluded to the officer-involved deaths in Missouri and New York that spurred the “black lives matter” movement when he spoke with reporters at the scene of the violence. He urged the North Charleston community to wait for the conclusion of SLED’s investigation before protesting in the wake of the death.

“I don’t want this to become another Ferguson,” he said, referring to the Aug. 9, 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Three things in the piece worried me immediately: SLED, Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson and Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network -- neither of the three worked out for the Curnell family.

Then I followed the link in the PINAC post to another Post and Courier piece: Day after officer’s arrest, video of shooting death sparks protests, more action:
Ed Bryant, president of the North Charleston chapter of the NAACP, said communication between neighborhood leaders and police commanders had improved since Chief Jon Zumalt left the department in early 2013. But the community’s relationship with the department’s rank-and-file members was still strained, he said.

“There has been a good conversation at the top,” Bryant said. “But nothing has changed at the bottom level.”

Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement late Tuesday that the shooting “is not acceptable” and not indicative of how most officers in the state act.

“This is a sad time for everyone in South Carolina,” she said. “I urge everyone to work together to help our community heal.”
Why do I get the "Massa, we's sick" feeling from the NAACP guy?  Does he honestly believe the problem is solely "at the bottom level?"  And, given Haley's low people in high places performance during the Baby Veronica, child-trafficking-is-good-for-white-folk case, her statement is ludicrous on its face. She obviously could care less about "community healing" -- although, given her use of $9,355.96 of SC taxpayer money to dispatch two deputies and a SLED agent to Oklahoma, she does know a little about how officers in the state act.

And a little further in, we (not unexpectedly, at least to me) we find this:
Two people filed complaints against Slager during his time with the force, including one man who said the policeman shot him with a Taser for no reason in September 2013. Internal investigators exonerated the officer of any wrongdoing, though the suspect in that case was never arrested.
According to this:  "Documents released by the force show there was one complaint in January 2015 involving failure to file a police report was sustained — though it was unclear what disciplinary action Slager faced, if any...Slager was cleared of another complaint regarding use of force. In that case, a man alleged Slager had used his Taser for no reason and slammed him to the ground in September 2013.  The officer was exonerated upon investigation, documents from the North Charleston Police Department show."

See, this is why I believe in Citizens Review Boards -- because  Internal Affairs is nothing but the fox guarding the henhouse!!  The police get to police the police with no real accountability to the citizens they supposedly serve.
Pastor Thomas Dixon, a community activist, said that he is concerned about outsiders coming into the community to incite violence. He said the outcry of anger so often ends up “tearing down our communities,” and emotions should be diverted to something more constructive than violence.

“Good people get caught up with crazy people,” he said. “The smart reaction is to just gather and peacefully let your voice be heard without any foolishness or craziness.” (emphasis mine)
Careful there Pastor, your words eerily echo those used against Dr. King and the SCLC during both the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Selma -- and I'm sure you recall what he had to say to his fellow clergyman like you about that in his, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."  Read it at your leisure, however,  here's a little bit of it to chew on:
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds. (emphasis mine)

Unlike Pastor Dixon, I proudly and humbly thank the younguns in the struggle today for their  fire this time -- would that plenty more "outsiders," who really get the soul-crushing inhumanity that has, and continues to happen in Charleston, show up in solidarity as they have all over these alleged United States. Until they do, please listen to my beautiful, young sister, Ms. Lauryn Hill explain the plethora of reasons for those "outcries of anger" with her, Black Rage (sketch) below:

Now comes the Mayor's press conference:

There are many point-by-point thoughts I could make about this press conference, but I won't, because I'm tired and it just feels like, "Y'all just need to shut the hell up.  We've fired him, charged him with murder -- what else do you want?!"

But I will say this, all I see it as, is an opportunity for both the mayor as well as the Chief to totally shut down the Black Lives Matter activists -- as if this problem has not been, and still is, an ongoing, far-reaching, INSTITUTIONALIZED and SYSTEMIC one!!  Well, this Salon piece totally debunks that idea, offering a mere smidgen of what's been going on in Charleston just over the last 15 years!  Please do check it out, Family.

However, it seems Mr. Scott's family was relieved at the mayor's announcement.  But I don't think they've bought it all hook, line and sinker -- and they shouldn't. Take a listen:

I didn't know why, but Bobby Blue Bland's song's been playing non-stop in my head since I started writing this post.  Now I know -- I needed to dedicate it to the Scott family, with my sincerest condolences for the brutal, senseless loss, forced upon them by a white supremacist officer in a racist system.  I hope all of you can find some semblance of peace:

Family, in the words of the late, great Fannie Lou Hamer, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired" -- aren't you?

- Media Were Already Running With Police Fantasy When Video Exploded It
- Bystander who filmed Walter Scott shooting: officer 'made a bad decision'
- Walter Scott Shooting: Councilman Says Support 'Hard-Working' Officer
- Walter Scott: protesters demand justice – and an end to police discrimination
- South Carolina police officer who shot fleeing black man 'looked like he was trying to kill a deer in the woods'
- GoFundMe rejects campaign to support officer in fatal N. Charleston shooting
- Walter Scott: Another Senseless Killing Of A Black By Police

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

50th anniversary of the "Sound of Music"

A quick post for now (just because I'm tired of hearing about the wondrousness of it all today).  My sister, seven years older than me and eight years older than my brother, took us to see the "Sound of Music" here in Charleston when it debuted at the Riviera Theatre.  We had to sit upstairs, in the balcony -- cuz that's where the "Coloreds" had to sit.  I'm 58 years old now, and seems I'll never forget, nor "get over" that memory.  It's important I never do...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

For Mama Cissy...

The "girls" are alright now, Dear Heart.  Accept all the love you can get right now and please, take care of yourself as best you can during this incredibly heartbreaking time.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Strange Fruit" -- still just as low-hanging as we ever were

UPDATE: Take a listen as Mychal Denzel Smith from The Nation and former NYPD detective Graham Witherspoon talk some REAL truth to power on Democracy Now:


Family, Ms. Holiday is singing my heart's song tonight.  Not only is my heart past breaking, it is broken.  From Michael Brown's murderer not being indicted, to 12 year-old, Tamir Rice being murdered by a cop already deemed unfit, to now -- Eric Garner's murderer NOT being indicted (even with a video) -- it has been a soul-murdering week.

I am numbed by the grand jury's verdict in the Eric Garner case -- and enraged.
"Lynchings offer evidence of how defenseless blacks were,  for the defining characteristic of a lynching is that the murder takes place in public, so everyone knows who did it, yet the crime goes unpunished." (emphasis mine)
Lies My Teacher Told Me -- James Loewen
And we are still defenseless it seems.  Here's "A list of unarmed Blacks killed by police" to which we should pay attention.  Family, if you've not ever visited Abagond's blog, please do -- you'll learn a lot of shit!  If nothing else, it should get your minds clicking about the relevancy of Loewen's quote above.  "In public" and "unpunished" -- that's how they roll, because we continue to let them.

I linked to the video of Eric Garner's murder in my 12/01/14 post about the Michael Brown grand jury's, bullshit non-indictment, but I'm posting it now -- because, unless you're a white supremacist, or a "respectability politics" apologist,  there's no way one can look at it and not believe this cop should not have gone to jail:

And after they choked him to death -- they did nothing (WARNING:  You're viewing Mr. Garner's, already dead body in the video below):

Around the 3:20 click, you hear one of the cops ask, "Did anybody call an ambulance?"  Never mind NONE of those charged "to protect and serve," even attempted to perform CPR (Hey, Twitter-verse:  CLEARLY -- Black lives don't matter!).    At the 4:00 click, they're talking to him like he's faking (or covering their asses):  "Sir, EMS is here, answer their questions, Okay?" (so damned respectful -- after they'd all jumped the big, scary Black man and Pantoleo choked him to death, No?).  Then, at the 4:03 click we hear one of them saying, "He can't breathe."  I'm with Mr. Garner's wife -- at WHAT video was the grand jury looking???  Maybe that's why the prosecutors gave all the other officers involved, immunity before testifying.

And what kind of EMS personnel can Black folk expect to respond in NYC, or anywhere in this country for that matter (cute white ones with nice jewelry, it seems)???  From the 4:03 click to the 4:27 click, she's checking for a pulse, and then -- like the officers covering their asses, she talks to him!  "Sir, it's EMS.  C'mon, we're here to help alright.  We're here to help you (inaudible) alright?"  She gave up after that, and by the 5:15 click, Blacks and Browns in Blue standing around should've been ashamed of their damned selves.

By the 5:59 click, they all knew he was dead, trying to get him up on the stretcher.  "Strange Fruit -- Reloaded."

At the 6:35 click, you hear one of them ask, "Why nobody's doing CPR?"  And white bread in the aviator, "I'm a cop" glasses answers, "Because he's breathing (I'm sure he was one of them that got immunity).

Yes, Brother "Sylon R," -- "That's what the f*ck they do."  I'm tired of being low-hanging fruit, Family.  I've raised two sons who look like me -- and I fear for their lives everyday.

The Medical Examiner ruled Eric Garner's death a "HOMICIDE."  Chokeholds have been banned from the NYPD SOP -- and still, this grand jury let this cop evade indictment.  They, and the grand jury in Ferguson, have literally given cops a license to murder us (as if they needed one).

Screw milk dud-head, Charles Barkley, et al!  When will WE  get, that the White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy will never make any bones about erasing us after having used us TO BUILD THIS DAMNED COUNTRY???

My beloved ancestor, Mr. James Baldwin addresses it here for me...

- The Not So Strange Fruit of Racial Murder
- The System That Failed Eric Garner and Michael Brown Cannot Be Reformed
- When the System Provides No Remedies to Torture, You Must Overthrow It
- Tamir Rice
- Can We Stop Police From Shooting Our Boys?
- Protesters decry Eric Garner grand jury vote LIVE UPDATES
- Man That Filmed NYPD Executing Eric Garner Arrested On Gun Possession Charges 

Monday, December 1, 2014

In Memoriam...

The murders won't stop unless and until, one way or another -- they are made to pay

"First of all, the European reigns; he has already lost but doesn't realize it; he does not yet know that the "natives" are "false natives." He has to make them suffer, he claims, in order to destroy or repress the evil they have inside them; after three generations, their treacherous instincts will be stamped out. What instincts?  Those that drive the slaves to massacre their masters?  How come he cannot recognize his own cruelty now turned against him?  How come he can't see his own savagery as a colonist in the savagery of these oppressed peasants who have absorbed it through every pore and for which they can find no cure?  The answer is simple:  this arrogant individual, whose power of authority and fear of losing it has gone to his head, has difficulty remembering he was once a man; he thinks he is a whip or a gun; he is convinced that the domestication of the "inferior races" is obtained by governing their reflexes.  He disregards the human memory, the indelible reminders; and then above all, there is this that perhaps he never new:  we only become what we are by radically negating deep down what others have done to us.  Three generations?  As early as the second, hardly had the sons opened their eyes than they saw their fathers being beaten.  In psychiatric terms, they were "traumatized."  For life.  But these constant acts of repeated aggression, far from forcing them into submission, plunge them into an intolerable contradiction, which sooner or later the European will have to pay for."

(Excerpt from Jean-Paul Sartre's preface to
Frantz Fanon's, The Wretched of the Earth)

I'm sure the title of this post is unsettling for those of you who don't like having your "certainties disturbed" (I could almost SEE the practitioners of the endlessly annoying "respectability politics" clutching their pearls as I wrote it).  However, like Baldwin, Sartre and Fanon in his,  The Wretched of the Earth above (whenever you have the time, please DO read this very important liberation handbook at the link.  Thank you so much Warrior Publications for making it available!) -- it is exactly what I believe.

Since time immemorial we've suffered and died (and continue to do both) at the hands of these jack-booted thugs.  Sometimes pleading, sometimes demanding, sometimes helpless -- we keep asking them, hoping they'll just treat us, "Others" with the dignity and respect every human being deserves.  We've marched, we've tried to conform, some of us have sold out, we've berated one another and we've even gone to historically Black churches (on Father's Day no less) denigrating us (simply, IMHO, to assuage our own sense of loss) -- all to no avail.

All of this, Family is the definition of insanity!  We keep doing the same damned things over and over again and expecting different results.  Aren't you tired??  I sure as hell am!!

I've purposely not written about the murder of Michel Brown until now because quite frankly, I've been overwhelmed -- by so many things.  Though I've briefly mentioned standing in solidarity with all those beautiful, young people who humbled me with their resolve as they gathered in his name for over 100 days and counting in Ferguson -- I needed to wait.  Wait, until I wasn't so overwhelmed by all that's been going on personally this past, almost year and a half; wait, to see if the white supremacists would get a damned clue and prove me wrong for a change (even though I never expected they would) -- I just needed to wait.

Eerily, I was on the road to Florida to see the husband last Sunday for our 34th wedding anniversary (two years ago, I didn't think we'd be here, but that's another story), alternately listening to BBC and CBC Radio.   Switching between each, around 7 p.m. or so, they both began reporting that the Ferguson grand jury had made a decision -- but it wouldn't be announced for a couple hours (more damned game-playin',  I thought to myself).  My youngest called to check on me as he always does when I'm road-trippin' right after that.  I told him to turn on his TV and keep me posted about what was happening because I couldn't' see it, but knew, "those mofos are gonna let Darren Wilson go free."


I say eerily because, in February of this year, after having put the house in the "Belly of the Beast" up for sale, the husband and I had two trips to make: a house-hunting trip to Florida for him, and a meeting on the 15th with the builder in South Carolina for me (more on that later).  We went to Florida first, because the day of the builder meeting coincided with the dedication of the Denmark Vesey Monument in Hampton Park in Charleston and I had to be there for deeply felt personal reasons (more on that later too).  Staying in a hotel as we checked out some places, we were also following the Jordan Davis case in Jacksonville, intermittently watching TV and listening to the radio -- constantly asking each other as we checked, "Got a verdict yet?"

We headed to South Carolina on the 14th, and shortly after our meeting, we heard the verdict -- Guilty!  While not totally what he deserved, he'll be in prison long enough to really know -- that shit he did was foul as hell.


About two hours or so after his first call,  the youngest checked in on me again as the BBC cut to Ferguson.  Listening to McCullouch's long, drawn out, bullshit spiel on the radio, I already knew -- Darren Wilson had gotten away with murder.  When the phone rang in the car, he didn't have to say anything.  I said, "Baby, I told you."  I listened, as he angrily vented about the unfairness of it all, then --  I just let loose (suffice it to say, not only was it past warm, it was vitriolic and quite profane). After letting me unload, he said, "Calm down, Mom. Pay attention to the road.  Call me when you get to Dad's and -- take it easy on Dad, he didn't kill Mike Brown" (Little did he know I was also listening to reports on the Tamir Rice killing in Ohio during the trip as well -- and it sure was gonna make that, "take it easy on Dad" thing,  a Herculean task!).

Nervous energy abounding, we both burst out laughing at the same time because he knows us as well as we know ourselves and he knew I was pissed. He knew I'd unload on his society-identified white Daddy as soon as I got there.  I said, "Okay, I love you madly, Man," -- and I kept driving the 20 or so minutes until I got there.

And he was dead-on. Not only was I feeling that familiar "quiet riot" roiling deep in my belly -- I was seething. Talking aloud to myself as I pulled in and parked, I said, "When in the hell are we going to see that none of this shit will ever change until we make them feel what we feel??!!  My head was so filled with all that had gone on before and since.


Shortly after closing on the house the end of May, I was assaulted by the death of yet another Black young man in June -- in what we used to call Bayside Manor.  Yes, it was then, and still is -- the "projects" (with a new, and white-folk-acceptable-name til they gentrify it and probably turn them into condos or something like everything else) -- but damn!!   This time though, it was one of our own -- a "Black in Blue," protected by a system, led by the same white man who'd been mayor when I left home at 18 -- 40 years ago!

When I was an integrationist, I was always, more or less, a "joiner" (ΔΣϴ, NAACP, US Navy, Teaching Tolerance, BCCLT, blah, blah, blah).  But, as I continue working to decolonize my mind -- I know today, I ain't none of them (that didn't, however, stop the president of the local NAACP chapter at home, from trying to recruit me when I attended the meeting concerning the murder and the three missing minutes from the surveillance tape finally released by the Charleston PD).  The tape showed the time the off-duty, CPD cop working private security encountered Denzel Curnell, then a three-minute blank, then the time he was dead, in front of the officer's car.  I felt so f*ed up about the "insanity" of it all, I had  to say something -- and I did (beginning at the 21:52 click).

Charleston used to be a city with a "Black Majority" when I was growing up -- not any more.  As one of my favorite commenters, "king of trouble" noted, on another of my favorite commenters, "jefe's" guest post, Anacostia over at Abagond's -- the city has slowly and methodically been, and to date, is successfully -- BLEACHED (and it breaks my damned heart).

Considering this child, IMO had been murdered, the attendees at the meeting were way less than I'd expected (and not even a march was planned or executed).  I told my brother later, "It doesn't matter if the killer was Black -- by day he wore blue and was automatically protected by that! -- and no response?!"  He said, "Welcome home, Deb, welcome home."


When the pupples and I walked in, the husband was watching CNN.  I said, "Hey, how you doin' -- I'm NOT in a good damned mood."  He said, "I know, I talked to Alan. already."  As I sat down and watched Ferguson on fire, my first words were, "Dammit!  Go burn down their shit, not ours!!  Then I realized, the White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy's plan had always been to just LET it burn (plenty cops armed at the ready for protesters, but no fire trucks, no ambulances -- nothin' in the hood.  Wasn't their shit -- Oh well!).

And when the powers that be trotted out their Sambo/Quimbo puppet to yet again give his presidential words of wisdom, I was really through (yes Family, do re-read Harriet Beecher-Stowe's, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" -- now I understand how we've been focusing on the wrong Negro all this time.  It was Sambo and Quimbo to whom we should've been paying attention)!!  Family, this man is "skin-folk, not kinfolk."  He's no more our people than any of the white supremacists who've bought and paid for him.  As I listened to his voice, all I could think of was dear, old Maxine saying:


As I said in the beginning, they must be made to pay.  Be it hitting them in their capitalist pockets as these wonderful, young folk chose in Ferguson, OR --  read Fanon's chapter, "On Violence" at that link up there and let it sink in.  Either is preferable to nothing at all at this point.  However, the onus is not merely on us to do something.  As Mr. Baldwin so succinctly explains here, starting at the 4:41 click -- they've got some shit to figure out themselves.

Family, I'm pretty full about all this (as well as those other things I mentioned above).  I just had to let some of it out right now.  I do plan to write more later, so please bear with me.  Most importantly though, never forget this:
“Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
My young Bothers and Sisters holding' it down in Ferguson still -- again, I'm so damned proud of YOU!

- Enough Is Enough
- No Indictment for Darren Wilson, No Justice for Black Lives
- Chronicle of a Riot Foretold
- As a white mother, I fear for my black son
- Despite Blacks Killed By Cops Here, Ferguson Reaction Unlikely
- Gaps remain in the Denzel Curnell suicide narrative
- Denzel Curnell case: Read the full SLED report

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Congratulations to my favorite, homeless, Homeless Advocate!!!

Tuesday morning at City Hall, the Washington DC Council honored my friend, Mr. Eric Jonathan Sheptock, enacting ceremonial Bill 200283, which proclaimed December 31 -- "Eric Sheptock Day" (you can read the text of the bill at the link).

Last Thursday evening, Eric sent me this:
November 18th: DC Council to Honor My homeless Advocacy (and I THOUGHT Others' Work Too)


I received word on October 20th that the DC Council would honor the work of myself and possibly other advocates as well. I received the date for the event earlier today. It will take place on Tuesday, November 18th, though I haven't been given a time.

DC Council sessions generally begin around 10 AM, sometimes at 11. I'll publish the exact time when I have it. You are invited. I'll be sure to put in a plug for other advocates.

I've begun to go to work on the Bowser administration:
My initial reaction was a swelling sense of pride deep in my heart (I've had that feeling often since I met and interviewed him for a class paper I was writing while working on my M.A. in Journalism back in 2009).  I emailed him back about an hour later saying:
Congratulations!!! Be careful though, Man.  Folk like them tend to think they can massage activists into silence with honors! Keep your eyes open and your head up!

He emailed me back to say he'd call me in about 45 minutes and he did. We talked for an hour, catching up on current events and talking about his upcoming big day.  It was wonderful!  I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I am so proud of this young man!  He's not only been talking the talk for as long as I've known him, he's definitely been walking the walk (not too many people I can say that about these days!).

On Monday he sent me this email:

On November 18th, 2014 in the DC Council chamber I will be recognized for my 8.5 and counting years of homeless advocacy. They will declare December 31st, 2014 to be Eric Jonathan Sheptock Day. Councilman Jim Graham's office just called for a list of my closest associates. I gave about a dozen names that might include YOU. It would be great if YOU were there. I've attached my speech and a copy of the resolution which you'll also find here: Washington D.C. CER20-0283 | 2013-2014 | 20th Council.
He was excited, and two hours later, I replied:
If I could afford to make the 9-hour drive tonight so I could be there in the morning, you know, or ought to know that I would. As a matter of fact, I sat down and took a look at my finances after our telephone call the other day to see if I could surprise you, but I realized I couldn't make it work because I'm driving down to Florida this weekend to spend the week with my husband — we're celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary on Nov. 28th (gotta honor that long damned time together, Man)!!

Like I've told you many times before — I am so-o-o-o damned proud of you Eric!! From our first meeting at Cosi's near the library, UP UNTIL TODAY -- you have been the man you said you were!!!! I am so grateful to have been able to call you my friend. I enjoyed meeting your friends in the park that day (How's "Better Believe Steve doing?), I felt privileged when we all went to see "The Soloist" because I was with people who really, really knew the life Jamie Foxx was trying to portray.

I know that little laptop is probably long-dead by now, but I hope it lasted long enough to keep you pecking away at this wonderfully, meaningful work to which you are committed. While I've always been a homeless advocate, I've never been as activist an advocate as you! Knowing you my Brother, has enriched my life wa-a-a-y more than you will ever know and for that, I thank you.

Have a great day tomorrow Eric, you deserve it! But, remember what I said, "Be careful, Man. Folk like them tend to think they can massage activists into silence with honors! Keep your eyes open and your head up!" -- and of course — KEEP GIVIN' 'EM HELL!!

Take care of yourself,

P.S. Great speech! Would you mind if I posted it along with the text of the resolution (I'll post the resolution today and update the post with your speech after the event is over)? Please let me know. I think it's important that more people than those in DC recognize not only the work, but the kind of man you are.

He responded:
Feel free to post my speech -- written and video. I'll send you the latter soon.

I'm using the laptop you bought me right now. it's 4 years and 2 months old. I've had to do major non-invasive work on it at times (clean out files, remove viruses etc.); but, it's still working.

happy anniversary! My parents did 41 years until he passed in 2000. I'm sure you'll surpass the number in 8 years.
I wouldn't trouble you to come for this event. I haven't forgotten that you said you'd drop what you're doing and catch a plane to DC if something revolutionary jumped off in a big way. I WILL call you for THAT.

Better Believe Steve is having mobility issues and is in an unstable housing situation right now. He's often in pain due to lower back and leg issues. he's still advocating though. He uses a walker now. I'll tell him you asked about him.

Through coincidence...err Divine providence, this event occurs at 9 AM and then some of its participants will enter Shitty..City Hall for my ceremony and legislation that is before the council concerning affordable housing. It's gonna be a great day!!!
I'm late in posting both (due to some dental work from which today, I've recovered), but I replied:
Thanks Eric. I'll post the resolution tonight. Damn, I'm glad it's still working!! I tell you Man, that was the best investment I ever made given what you've done with it! Again, Man -- I'm very proud of you. I s-o-o-o look forward to your work with this "new/old administration!"

Thanks for the happy anniversary wish! When we began, 34 years of longevity would've seemed a long time. But now, given your parents' 41 years and his parents' over 60 years before his father passed last year, I think, as my Grandmama used to say, "God willin' and the creek don't rise!" -- we'll get there!

"I wouldn't trouble you to come for this event. I haven't forgotten that you said you'd drop what you're doing and catch a plane to DC if something revolutionary jumped off in a big way. I WILL call you for THAT."

If I could've, I would've, but I'm glad you understand. And yes, particularly since I'm closer in SC now than I was in Texas, I will certainly answer THAT call! Hate to hear about Steve. Isn't he an Air Force Vet? Couldn't he get PSH from some of those gazillion dollars the Changeling proposed in his FY 2010 budget proposal for housing and homeless programs? {smdh} Yes, please do tell him I asked about him.

Divine providence — at least you'll have a larger audience! Yes, my friend, it IS gonna be a great day! Enjoy and savor it, then — get back to work!!!

Take care,
He replied about Steve's situation and then continued:
...PSH it is just another waiting list for housing, though it's shorter than at the Housing Authority. If they determine his condition is not as bad as someone else's, he moves down the list. That said, I know he's on some housing list but don't know if it's PSH.

DC has come up with a combined assessment for all of the housing lists. That makes applying easier but doesn't necessarily get you housed sooner. I'm not sure if Steve has done this consolidated assessment which is only a few months old called the VI-SPDAT (Vulnerability Index something, something something Assessment Tool)."
With that, I took my ass to bed -- fully planning to post all this the day before it happened. But as I said earlier, the tooth slayed me. I'm feeling better now -- and there's no way I wouldn't pay homage to this man who never, ever gives up -- "Homeless Advocate, thy name is Eric Sheptock!"

Here's his speech:

Eric Jonathan Sheptock – Advocacy Award Acceptance Speech for Nov. 18th, 2014

First of all, I'd like to thank you for this award. It's nice to know that my work hasn't gone unnoticed, though I've been involved in at least a couple of Facebook debates as to whether or not my virtually unpaid advocacy qualifies as work. But I can't say that it's a thankless job; as, many homeless people have stooped me in hallways or on the sidewalk to tell me how much they appreciate what I do sometimes three or four of DC's nearly 9,000 homeless people per day.

I stand on the shoulders of Mitch Snyder and others who worked with him. I'd also like to recognize the dozens of other current day advocates for the rights of the homeless, for living-wage jobs, for affordable housing and for the many other human rights which this city claimed to support on December 10th, 2008. Some of them hearken back to the days of Mitch Snyder and the Reagan Revolution.

While congratulating all advocates – myself and others -- for having an unwavering commitment to ensuring that all people have all of their basic human necessities, you should take pause to recognize what may very well be the grimmest reality of our time – that in this land of plenty there are those who go without.

No worries; for the other advocates and I will continue to fight the good fight as we transition into the Bowser administration. After 15 months in office, Fenty committed to and oversaw the housing of the most vulnerable homeless singles. After 38 months in office, Gray committed to and drew up a plan for providing better shelter to homeless families. I hope that by the time Ms. Bowser has been mayor for six months we'll have a plan for connecting able-bodied homeless adults to living-wage jobs and affordable housing which they can pay for without subsidies.

So, while I appreciate this award and the recognition from the DC Council, the work of the advocates is far from over. We actually have about time-and-a-half as many homeless people now as we had when the Inter-agency Council on Homelessness first met in June 2006 and probably twice as many as we had in 2004 when we adopted a 10-year plan to end homelessness by next month (December 2014). Needless to say, I don't have any faith in 10-year plans.

My commitment to real solutions is proven in part by the fact that I've already attempted to connect with the Bowser transition team so as to offer guidance on how to actually DECREASE homelessness in the city. In January we need to hit the ground running – especially if the weather is anything like it is today.

Thank you.

While I do believe the new administration is trying to get out in front of Eric's relentlessness by stroking him (they've no idea with whom they're dealing!)  -- I must say again, I'm so damned proud and privileged to call him -- "FRIEND."
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