Guilty On All Counts: But Hold That Celebration!

It’s time to Break It Down!

I’m gonna keep this short.

Yesterday, some might say, ironically, on 4/20, the jury found Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts:

Second Degree Murder

Third Degree Murder

Second Degree Manslaughter

When asked, one-by-one, the 12 jurors acknowledged they agreed with all three counts. In summary, as required by the rules of the court, the decisions were unanimous, one and all. Sentencing is scheduled for 8 weeks from yesterday. Chauvin’s bail was revoked on the spot, and he was remanded into custody.

It has been nearly 11 months since Officer Chauvin extinguished the life of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, by applying a knee to the neck…for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. In the ensuing months, America was subjected to another long, hot summer, in large measure, due to marches and protests across the nation, spurred on by Floyd’s murder. An execution which, as fate would have it, was videotaped from start to finish.

The slogan, “Defund the police,” was injected into the country’s vernacular. At its essence, it supports divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, such as social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources. By most, but not all, accounts, it does not mean eliminating police departments.

A number of State and local governments have proposed or implemented reform legislation to change policing strategies and techniques. The House of Representatives has introduced federal legislation in George Floyd’s name. At first blush, this year, 4/20 was a good day, and not just for those who support legalizing Marijuana. Still, I’m uninclined to celebrate. First, despite the events of yesterday in Minneapolis, Chauvin’s conviction is an aberration, the exception to the rule. If there is anything history has shown us, it is that too often, yesterday’s outcome does not happen. In retrospect, there are too many instances when a law enforcement officer kills a frequently unarmed, too often black, man and subsequently evades conviction, or even a trial.

Yesterday, the stars aligned in just the right way, and jurisprudence was properly executed. I cannot; no, I will not, call this justice. Accountability, maybe, but not justice. And it’s just the beginning. Until yesterday’s outcome is the norm, and not the exception, we have more work to do. Since March 29th, the day Chauvin’s trial began, an average of 3 people a day have died at the hands of law enforcement. And, as quiet as it’s kept, the specter of an appeal still looms. To wit”Guilty On All Counts: But Hold That Celebration!”

I’m done; “holla back!”

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right-hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/04/chauvin-verdict-george-floyd/618651/

https://people.com/crime/police-killed-64-people-since-start-derek-chauvin-trial/

https://www.cnn.com/us/live-news/derek-chauvin-trial-04-20-21/index.html

Su Casa Es Mi Casa…Or Words To That Effect

It’s time to Break It Down!

As I am wont to do, I have chosen to share a story that resonates with me. It’s about a family who for all practical purposes, had its property taken, nearly a century ago. The family had been threatened and intimidated for years, by residents and Klansmen, before the City of Manhattan Beach took the property, using eminent domain, paying them a fraction of what the beach property was worth. A lot like contemporary instances of law enforcement officers killing unarmed Black men and women, this was a common experience of Black property owners, who owned desirable properties, located across America.    

A well-worn figure of speech in popular culture is mi casa es su casa. Roughly, that translates into, my house, is your house, or into, what’s mine is yours. It’s fair to say the City of Manhattan Beach reversed that aphorism in acquiring the property of Charles and Willa Bruce.

The gist of the story is that Charles and Willa, a Black couple, owned a beach resort in Manhattan Beach, a scenic town in Southern California. The Bruce family had a thriving business at the beach that included a dance hall and a lodge. Strict segregation codes at the time, as well as harassment from White neighbors, and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) expedited a quick and rocky end to the flourishing business. The city’s eminent domain claim ushered in the final blow. Due to the collapse of the business, and the taking of the property, The Bruce family relocated to Los Angeles where they lived an impoverished life, and where they died within 5 years.

Los Angeles County officials have initiated actions to provide justice for the descendants of the Bruce Family for the California dream they had stolen from them. The County officials are working in conjunction with State lawmakers to return the property, estimated to be worth about $75 million, to the family. Janice Hahn, County Supervisor, assessed that, “Generations of their descendants … almost certainly would have been millionaires if they had been able to keep their property and their successful business.”

At the outset of their beach property ownership experience, Bruce’s Beach extended to Black families an environ in which they could enjoy the rich taste of California life. The couple paid $1,225 for the land in 1912. They built several facilities, including a café and changing rooms.

Some of their White neighbors resented the Black beachgoers and the popularity of the resort. White Supremacists and Klan members posted “no trespassing” signs and slashed tires so Black families would avoid the area. The KKK attempted to set the property on fire, and they succeeded in burning down a local Black family’s nearby home, according to county officials.

Hahn shared with reporters that when scare tactics didn’t work, Manhattan Beach resorted to eminent domain. The couple was paid roughly $14,125. The land was left vacant for decades. The property is now a park with a lawn, parking lot and a lifeguard training facility. Manhattan Beach transferred ownership of the property to the state and Los Angeles County in 1995.

Manhattan Beach city officials have acknowledged and condemned what happened, though they stopped short of an apology. They made the following statement:

“The Manhattan Beach of today is not the Manhattan Beach of one hundred years ago. The community and population of the City of Manhattan Beach are loving, tolerant and welcoming to all. We reject racism, hate, intolerance and exclusion. Today’s residents are not responsible for the actions of others 100 years ago.”

 The population of the city today is less than 1% Black.

Losing Bruce’s Beach was devastating. The family struggled to buy beachfront property elsewhere. As a result, Charles and Willa Bruce moved to South Los Angeles and became laborers, according to family spokesperson Duane Shepard. He added, they suffered “physical, mental, social and emotional stress and died within five years after leaving Manhattan Beach.

Although the bill is not expected to face much opposition at the legislative level, it has been met with resistance from some in the neighborhood. One person who did not give her name expressed her concerns at the county’s news conference on Friday.

“I’ve been lucky enough to live in this beautiful spot for over 50 years. I’ve never been discriminated against by this community, but it hurts me that the people here are trying to spoil what we have here.”

One option the family is considering is leasing the land back to the county. With this option, the Bruce descendants would be landlords and the county would pay rent to use the property to maintain the existing park and lifeguard facility, for example.

Another alternative the descendants are considering is an offer to accept an outright payout from the county, the family spokesperson told CNN. Details of that specific amount have not been disclosed. The family may also elect to simply reclaim the property and do as they wish with developing plans, a move that would require various steps to achieve local officials’ approval.

As state Sen. Steven Bradford, a coauthor of the legislation, noted, the story of Charles and Willa Bruce is not unique in California.

“Black-owned properties experienced tremendous amounts of hatred, harassment, hostility and violence at the hand of the Ku Klux Klan, who cold-bloodedly threatened the Bruces and other families who dared to enjoy their property.”

The details of how this story unfolded, were repeated more times than we know, across this country. It actually appears that this case, unlike too many others, is on its way to a long overdue happy ending. It’s too late for Charles and Willa Bruce. But hopefully, their descendants will reap the benefits of their legacy of foresight, courage, hard work, and diligence. The State of California is poised to make right this god-awful example of”Su Casa Es Mi Casa…Or Words To That Effect!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right-hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/12/us/bruces-beach-los-angeles-county-black-family/index.html

Hubert Davis: He’s A Tar Heel…Coach

It’s time to Break It Down!

You already know, I’m a fan of the game. If you don’t know…now you know. The NCAA Men’s Basketball season ended Monday night, as the Baylor Bears facilitated an inglorious conclusion to what for much of the season had appeared to be Gonzaga’s inexorable march toward the Title. The Bulldogs of Gonzaga entered the contest, having amassed a 31-0 record. They were attempting to be the first collegiate men’s basketball team to complete the season, including the title, undefeated. At the end of the night, they were denied. Baylor won the game in what for all intents and purposes was dominating fashion. Up by 19 with ten minutes to go in the first half, they led by ten at the half. They went on to lead by 20, in the second half, and won by 19. Congratulations Baylor.

Of course, I’m a Tar Heel. So, while Monday’s Title Game marked the culmination of the college hoops season, it was the second most significant college basketball event of the day for me. What, you may ask, was the first? The University of North Carolina Tar Heels, my alma mater, named a new men’s head basketball coach.

Monday afternoon at 2:44 p.m., insidecarolina.com sent a text message informing boosters and fans (like me) that the UNC Board of Trustees was holding an emergency meeting at 3:00 p.m., to review the terms and conditions of a prospective employment contract to approve Huber Davis as Carolina’s new basketball coach. To be honest, it was cool that, unlike last year, there was an NCAA Tournament, a Final Four, and the crowning of an NCAA Champion. But, after that text message, and the ensuing machinations and press conferences that followed, I could have been OK, skipping the Title Game.

On April 1st, Coach Roy Williams announced his retirement, after 18 seasons at Carolina, which followed 15 at Kansas University. After two exceedingly tough years for Carolina basketball, there was a lot of noise emanating throughout Tar Heel Nation regarding the question of what’s wrong with our Heels, including a fair number of voices suggesting a coaching change was in order. The noise notwithstanding, I seriously doubt many people expected the venerable coach to step down. In fact, given his reputed stubbornness, I personally felt Coach Williams’ most likely response would be to double down, come back, and lead the Heels to an incredible rebound season, not unlike what his mentor Dean Smith did in ’97. Alas, it was not to be. Once I was forced to accept that it was not an April Fools prank, I transitioned into next coach mode. Let’s do this!

Back in 2012, when Coach Williams asked ESPN Analyst, and former Tar Heel player Hubert Davis to join him on the bench as an assistant coach, there was rampant speculation, perhaps some of it informed, that the move was a prelude to elevating Davis to the Head Coach spot, whenever Coach Williams retired. At the time, most folks, or so it seemed, knew that. However, when the moment actually arrived, there seemed to be significant pushback to the idea of Coach Davis. The vibe I got was that Davis was Coach Williams’ personal pick, in much the same way Coach Guthridge was the pick by Coach Smith back in 1998.

To make a long story short, there is a concept known as the Carolina Way. The premise is steeped in the notion of “family,” and the idea that as openings occur at UNC, every effort will be made to select a Carolina guy as the next man up. To wit, Coach Guthridge, who had been a Dean Smith assistant coach and protege for decades, succeeded Coach Smith. Matt Doherty, who played for Coach Smith, succeeded Coach Guthridge. Roy Williams, who played JV ball during Coach Smith’s tenure, then apprenticed as an assistant coach under Coach Smith succeeded Coach Doherty. Now, Coach Davis, who played for Coach Smith, and served as an assistant under Coach Williams, emerges as the head basketball coach, at the University of North Carolina.

Coach Davis’ resume includes:

Played 4 seasons at UNC (1988-92)

Second Team All-ACC – 1992

Coached by Dean Smith

43.5% 3-pt FG (best in school history)

20th pick in the 1992 NBA Draft

Spent 12 seasons in the NBA )1992-2004

44.1% 3-pt FG (3rd best in NBA History)

Spent 7 years as an ESPN Sports Analyst

Received the 2008 Coach Wooden Keys to Life Award

Spent the last 9 seasons as an assistant to Roy Williams (2012-2021)

Coached the UNC JV Team

1st Black head coach in program history

I will speak only for myself; I’m delighted. GO HEELS! Hubert Davis: He’s A Tar Heel…Coach!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right-hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:   

https://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/31199144/sources-hubert-davis-expected-hired-north-carolina-basketball-coach-replacing-roy-williams

If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, Kemp’s Plantation Lullaby = A Thousand Words Times Two

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last Thursday evening, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed sweeping legislation, which many argue will make voting harder for people of color. In fact, numerous voting activists contend the law will also serve as an impediment for poor and working people. Not surprisingly, Republicans, writ large, dispute this premise, and insist, their efforts, 253 bills in 43 states, so far, are not aimed at voter suppression, but rather, are designed to bolster integrity in the voting process. 

The GOP certainly provides an enthusiastic retort. However, methinks they protest too much. The genesis of this scorched earth spate of anti-voting bills can be tied directly to “The Big Lie;” the assertion that Donald Trump lost the 2020 Election as a result of wide scale Democratic and foreign-influenced voter fraud. This notion was repeatedly debunked. More than 60 courts, many Republican Judges, and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected, or refused to hear the specious claims. Republican officials, including Governors and Secretaries of State repeatedly verified and affirmed the integrity of their state’s elections…Brian Kemp among them.

So, let’s put this one in succinct fashion. Kemp actually had the signing ceremony photographed. The picture, one for the ages. It captured an image of an imperious Kemp, seated in an executive chair at a conference table in a stately room, flanked by six White male legislators, three on either side, with a photograph of Calloway Plantation, in Washington, Georgia. It is currently a museum, but was formerly, a slave working plantation, For a law reputed to facilitate Black and poor voter suppression, it is difficult to fathom more powerful optics.

The story would be resonant, even if it ended there. But that was not the end. Outside of the frame of the photograph, specifically, on the other side of the door, a second picture was developing. In this photo, Two White Georgia law enforcement officers were arresting Georgia State Representative Park Cannon, a Black female, for trying to gain entry to the signing and announcement ceremony.

Optics are critical; so is timing. Beneath the cover of darkness, seven masked men (yes, they were adhering to Covid protocols…imagine that), celebrated the signing of legislation that included such novel supposed bright ideas as making it illegal to provide snacks or water to people waiting in line to vote. Can you think of a more effective way to fuel suspicion among voting rights advocates and Black Americans that what Georgia Republicans did last Thursday wasn’t lawmaking. There is a robust argument that it was the 21st-century political equivalent of strongarm Jim Crow tactics to prevent Black citizens from voting.

It’s been said that a single image can supercharge a movement and change public opinion. Kemp and company gave us, not one, but two. “If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, Kemp’s Plantation Lullaby = A Thousand Words Times Two!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right-hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:   

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/28/us/georgia-callaway-plantation-painting-trnd/index.html

https://www.newsweek.com/georgia-governor-brian-kemp-signed-bill-slave-plantation-picture-jim-crow-1579220

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callaway_Plantation

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/26/politics/georgia-voting-law-two-photos/index.html

No Reasonable Person: A Sad Commentary on the Fictile Trump Coalition

It’s time to Break It Down!

If 2020 is destined to be remembered as the Year of COVID-19, 2021, early as it is, may very well be recalled at the Year of the Capitol Insurrection. Last week, and again this week, we’ve seen two more mass shootings on the American landscape. In the parlance of contemporary pop culture, that might be enough for some to turn the page. With all due respect to the victims of those tragedies, a story unto itself, I’m not ready to move on.

On January 6, thousands of people assembled at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., for a Trump Rally. Afterward, many of them, inspired by rally rhetoric, changed their venue, and stormed the Capitol, in an unprecedented attack that will go down in the annals of history as the first time the venerable Citadel was breached since August 24, 1814, when invading British troops burned it. On that occasion, only a torrential rainstorm prevented it from being reduced to rubble. The January atrocity was not that devastating to the structure, but it was historic in another specific and notable way. The invaders, “Americans,” who built gallows on the grounds, broke windows and doors, scaled walls, and once inside, took down American Flags. Some of the attackers carried their own Flags…Trump Flags, and Confederate Flags. This is the stuff of never before executed sedition and terrorism. Five people died, as a result, including a Capitol Police Officer.

Trump and his team’s fiery oratory on January 6th were not the genesis of that day’s insurrection. Mr. Trump had promoted for weeks, a rally in Washington for that day, the day Congress was scheduled to certify Joe Biden as President. But even before that, Attorney Sidney Powell had joined Trump in promoting insidious conspiracy theories about election fraud, and a non-existent connection with the late Hugo Chavez and Venezuelan, Cuban, and Chinese election interference. Trump, Powell, and Rudy Giuliani were part of a group that filed over 60 lawsuits attempting to stop the count, or overturn election results in at least 6 states, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. All but one of the suits were tossed; many by courts with Republican majorities, including the U.S. Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority and 3 Trump appointees. 

Caught up in the throes of defending against a more than $1 billion slander and libel lawsuit, filed by Dominion Voting Systems, Powell changed her tune. Using a defense similar to one employed by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, in defense of a slander lawsuit against him, brought by Karen McDougal, Powell’s lawyers argued no reasonable person would have believed her. In Carlson’s case, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil, a Trump appointee, ruled that: 

The “’general tenor” of the show should then inform a viewer that (Carlson) is not ‘stating actual facts’ about topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary.’” 

Yesterday, in her defense, Powell’s attorneys said:

“Indeed, Plaintiffs themselves characterize the statements at issue as ‘wild accusations’ and ‘outlandish claims.’ They are repeatedly labelled ‘inherently improbable’ and even ‘impossible.’ Such characterizations of the allegedly defamatory statements further support Defendants’ position that reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process.”

In summary, no reasonable person should be expected to believe the bovine excrement Powell was spouting. And guess what; more than 60 courts did not. Neither did election officials in those aforementioned 6 states. But wait! Who did? Apparently, Donald Trump, 67% of republicans, hundreds of GOP state legislators, and a majority of GOP U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives. I would add Tucker Carlson…but you can’t believe what he says, so who knows?

Erstwhile reasonable people might hope that upon finally hearing Powell’s defense/response/explanation, many of those Republican citizens and lawmakers might default to a reasonable man/woman standard, and let go of those ‘wild accusations,’ ‘outlandish,’ ‘inherently improbable’ and impossible’ assertions, because, they are in fact, wild, outlandish, inherently improbable, and, in the final analysis, impossible. Hope springs eternal. No Reasonable Person: A Sad Commentary on the Fictile Trump Coalition!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:   

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/22/politics/sidney-powell-dominion-lawsuit-election-fraud/index.html

https://www.npr.org/2020/09/29/917747123/you-literally-cant-believe-the-facts-tucker-carlson-tells-you-so-say-fox-s-lawye

Trump Urges His Band of Compadres to Do the Right Thing; Will They?

News reports revealed on March 1st that Donald and Melania Trump were inoculated for the Coronavirus in January, while he was still President. Not to be confused with shots heard round the world, their vaccinations were closely held information until a little more than two weeks ago. It’s almost as if he did not want his carefully cultivated mass of followers to know that he had gotten vaccinated for what he once referred to as the Democrats next big hoax, and what his zealous throngs passionately argued would go away on November 4th, the day after the Election.

Fast forward to yesterday; Trump, in a Fox News interview with Maria Bartiromo, urged Americans to get vaccinated to help curb the Covid-19 pandemic, calling it “safe and “something that works.”

He added, “I would recommend it and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly.”

“But again, we have our freedoms and we have to live by that and I agree with that also. But it is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works.”

All this adds up to Trump’s most energetic endorsement of vaccination, to date. It comes at a time when vaccine hesitancy among Republicans continues to threaten the US’ path to herd immunity. While 92% of Democrats either have gotten vaccinated or want to get vaccinated, Republicans weigh in at only 50%, a CNN poll conducted by SSRS shows.

President Biden, Vice President Harris, and their spouses, were vaccinated on live TV. The living former Presidents, minus Trump, were also vaccinated amid significant fanfare, in an effort to promote getting shots for the virus. Trump’s absence stood out. It was immediately contrasted with the recent news of his quietly being vaccinated on one hand, and with the widespread vaccine apathy of his supporters, on the other hand. As he endeavors to remain relevant in the GOP political spectrum, this pivot appears to be his next gambit to ensure that he retains his immense popularity and influence in the Republican Party. He has hinted at being a powerbroker for the 2022 midterms, and possibly running again in 2024, or positioning himself to be the key player in choosing the nominee.

The question of the hour is, will Trumpians, groomed to downgrade the importance of the virus, and to denigrate mask wearers, social distancers, and avid hand washers, be willing and able to make an abrupt about-face and embrace the vaccines? The smart money says they will make the adjustment. After all, heretofore, whenever he says jump, their axiomatic response has been to ask, how high? Why should this time be different? This time should be precisely like all the other times because, as much of a deviation from the norm as Trump’s new advisory is, it’s the right thing to do. For the sake of the health and safety of all Americans, let’s hope that’s enough. Trump Urges His Band of Compadres to Do the Right Thing; Will They?

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:        

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/16/politics/donald-trump-covid-19-vaccine/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/01/politics/trump-melania-vaccinated-white-house/index.html

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2021/03/17/trump-urges-his-band-of-compadres-to-do-the-right-thing-will-they/

Vaccinations Surpass COVID-19 Cases: A Stat With Which More of Us Can Live

It’s time to Break It Down!

The vaccination arc is beginning to make its mark, bending toward efficacy. Alas, more Americans are fully vaccinated than there are confirmed cases in this country, 31 million to 29 million as of Monday. Over 60 million Americans have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 31.3 million are fully vaccinated, according to a Centers for Disease Control issuance Monday. Andy Slavitt, a Biden official notes that 92 million doses have been administered, accounting for 18.1 percent of the U.S. population. On top of that, of sexagenarians, such a me, and septuagenarians, 60% and 70%, respectively have received their first dose, as have 24% of all adults. Additionally, 30% of those over 65, 39% of those over 75, and 12% of all adults are fully vaccinated.

Happily, as one of the more than 10% of North Carolinians who are fully vaccinated, I am looking forward to Friday, which will mark the two-week benchmark of my having received my second shot. Time flies. Tomorrow will be the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic. It will also be the anniversary of the NBA shutting down. That…was roughly 29 million+ cases and 520,000+ American deaths ago. When viewed in that light, a year seems not nearly long enough to have wrought so much pain and suffering. And yet, that is precisely what has happened.

Here’s a quick summary, courtesy of Yahoo News.

Approximately 1 in 4 U.S. adults have been inoculated and 12 percent can now, the CDC suggests, resume some semblance of a normal social life. Here are some of the numbers emanating from the accelerating COVID-19 vaccination drive:

On a seven-day average, 2.2 million COVID-19 shots are now being administered daily 

0 percent of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine included in the CDC’s numbers as of Sunday night.

44 percent of fully vaccinated U.S. adults, and about half of all adults, are anxious about re-entering normal life, according to soon-to-be published data from the American Psychological Association

25.8 percent of New Mexico’s population has gotten at least one vaccine dose

15.8 percent of Alaska’s population is fully vaccinated

13.3 percent of Georgia’s population has gotten at least one vaccine dose

6.6 percent of Utah’s population is fully vaccinated

100 percent of K-12 teachers are eligible to get vaccinated in the U.S. as of Monday — “though the situation is more straightforward in some states than others,” The New York Times notes

312 million doses (at least) have been administered worldwide in 116 countries, according to Bloomberg‘s tally.

Virginia Tech epidemiologist Lisa M. Lee tells The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. is making steady progress in its vaccination drive. However, logistics continue to be the primary hurdle, “everything from secure and simple registration systems to directing traffic at large vaccination events.”

Logistics aside, states opening up fully and prematurely are a critical problem that threatens to stem progress, spur calamitous super spreader events, and possibly even reverse the aforementioned steady progress. Therefore, I enthusiastically urge any and everyone who cares about beating coronavirus to proceed with caution. The vaccine is doing its job. With the right amount of patience, we just might beat this thing, somewhat sooner, rather than much, much later. ”Vaccinations Surpass COVID-19 Cases: A Stat With Which More of Us Can Live!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.businessinsider.com/us-coronavirus-vaccinations-surpass-case-count-jhu-2021-3

https://www.yahoo.com/now/1-4-u-adults-gotten-051400061.html

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2021/03/10/vaccinations-surpass-covid-19-cases/

American Conservatives’ Open Political Secret: Fear of the Black (Mostly) and Brown Vote

It’s time to Break It Down!

Arizona. Georgia. Michigan. Nevada. Pennsylvania. Wisconsin. Six states, six Biden wins, six Trump losses, and six reasons why the Brennan Center’s recent report on state voting proposals reveals that lawmakers in 43 states have carried over, pre-filed, or introduced 253 bills that restrict voting access. The reason for this barrage of voter suppression initiatives is both clear, and simple. To put a fine point on, back in March of 2020, when Donald Trump was still and actively participating member of the Twitterverse, he tweeted this:

MAIL-IN VOTING WILL LEAD TO MASSIVE FRAUD AND ABUSE. IT WILL ALSO LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY. WE CAN NEVER LET THIS TRAGEDY BEFALL OUR NATION. BIG MAIL-IN VICTORY IN TEXAS COURT TODAY. CONGRATS!!!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020

Simplified translation – Mail-in voting leads to more people voting. More people voting means more people voting for Democrats, or if you prefer, against Republicans. More people voting for Democrats than Republicans means…more Democrats elected; more Republican losers. 

Consider what this means, in its essence. If enabling more people to vote means Republicans will consistently lose — well, isn’t that the baseline for how democracy works? The point of democracy isn’t that there must necessarily be two parties from which people can choose, it’s that people can choose. If people chose against Republicans — or against Democrats — that’s their choice. You can’t justifiably limit that choice solely to protect the party itself. 

Typical means used to curb or discourage voting include, limiting or eliminating mail-in voting, early voting, voting locations, voting drop boxes, and the people who can present one’s ballot. Also included are, increasing the degree of difficulty one must overcome in order to cast a vote, for example, by requiring a specific set of allowable reasons to vote absentee, matching signatures, notarized ballots, and state voter ID, to name a few.

Specifically, as it relates to mail-in voting, it’s important to stipulate that there is no evidence that mail-in balloting favors Democrats over Republicans. In fact, there is published research that shows encouraging widespread voting by mail yielded “a truly negligible effect” on turnout and vote share by party. This documentation is not limited to a single report. A similar conclusion was reported in the Washington Post. It noted that absentee voting in Michigan and Wisconsin might actually have contributed to putting Trump over the top in those states in the 2016 presidential election. Huge early and absentee voting initiatives contributive to Trump and down ballot Republicans winning virtually all the statewide races in North Carolina, except the Governorship in this past November’s 2020 Election.

An oft repeated GOP contention alleges that absentee votes or mail ballots are rife with fraud. This allegation is reinforced in two ways: by noting isolated past examples of fraud being committed on a small scale by individuals, and by emphasizing characteristics of mail balloting that seem like they might allow for fraud to occur. Each of these elements was integral in Trump’s poison pill hokum dispensed before the 2020 Election, and his “big lie,” afterward. He created the opening gambit by priming the pump with the assertion that there was no way he could lose, unless Democrats cheated, and he doubled down with the repeatedly disproved perversion that Democrats, foreign countries, and voting machine conglomerates conspired to commit voter fraud, thus stealing the election he claimed to have won in a landslide.

The thing is, he lost. He lost bigly. In fact, let’s give the victor his due. Joe Biden won. He won by more than 7 million votes. He received a record 81 million votes, and he bested Trump in the Electoral College 306-232. That’s the same Electoral College differential by which Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in in 2016…when he, not surprisingly, claimed a landslide win.

By now, the events of January 6 are permanently etched in American political lore. Immediately following a Trump Rally at the Ellipse, during which Trump and several of his surrogates pointedly fired up the crowd, urged them to fight like hell, and told them to go take back their government…adding that he’d be there with them (He wasn’t). The crowd, or at least parts of it, morphed into a mob, and the next thing you know, there was an insurrection ensuing on the grounds, and in the halls of the U.S. Capitol, the Citadel of American Government. Despite the fact the events of the day unfolded live on Network and Cable TV, many Republicans and conservatives instantly resorted to some kind of bizarre alternative narrative, blaming the carnage on Antifa and Black Lives Matter, when all who had eyes and watched could see that Trump supporters, hyped by his barrage of lies about a stolen election went to the Capitol to prevent Congress from executing its duty and certifying Joe Biden as President. Weeks later, Mitch McConnell described it this way:

“The people who stormed the Capitol believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president. And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting into the loudest megaphone on planet earth.” —Mitch McConnell 2/13/21

In summary, Donald Trump spent months, on Twitter, and at too many rallies to count, encouraging his supporters not to mail-in ballots, or vote early; rather, vote in-person on Election Day. After Team Trump’s strategic assessment projected that the likely outcome of this tack was a Trump early lead, overcome by the tide of Biden mail-in and early votes, in states where most GOP legislatures had refused to allow votes to be counted until after Election Day ballots. This dire analysis resulted in Trump trying to stop the count in several states where he led at the end of the night on November 3rd (Election Day), but which trended toward Biden due to still uncounted ballots. By the time it was over, more than 60 courts, many with Trump appointed Judges, including the Supreme Court, on which Trump appointed 3 of the 9 Justices, rejected Trump lawsuits to stop or overturn election results. This goes back to the opening. Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were states Trump wanted, expected, and most importantly, needed to win. To his shock, to Republicans’ disappointment, and to Democrats’ awe, he lost all of them. All 6 are states in which African American, Latino, and/or Native American voters proved decisive, in favor of Joe Biden. In a nutshell, that’s why Trump and the GOP want to limit voting, particularly by people of color. Without a doubt, this is”American Conservatives’ Open Political Secret: Fear of the Black (Mostly) and Brown Vote!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/state-voting-bills-tracker-2021

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/05/29/trump-just-said-what-republicans-have-been-trying-not-say-years/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2021/03/03/american-conservatives-open-political-secret-fear-of-the-black-mostly-and-brown-vote/

What A Difference A Year Makes: 500,000+ Coronavirus Deaths And Counting

It’s time to Break It Down!

On Monday, two days ago, the U.S. Coronavirus death toll eclipsed 500,000. One year ago, today, not a single American was known to have died from the illness. On February 23, 2020, then President Donald Trump proclaimed the virus was under control in the United States. The first reported U.S. fatality, due to COVID-19, was on February 28 in the Seattle area. Months later, in April, it was determined via postmortem testing, that at least two people died in Santa Clara County, California, attributable to Coronavirus.

In my March 11th post last year, entitled, “Coronavirus: The Next Big Thing,” I laid out the basic details, as we knew them to be at that time. In what has been a year-long evolving litany of proposed remedies, we have witnessed, and in far too many instances, experienced, competing narratives between science and conspiracy theories about how to stem the scourge of the latest global pandemic. Focusing upon the national ramifications of the dreaded disease, the one-half million American lives lost, has to be the headline, but quickly thereafter, we must confront the opportunity costs of the politicization of the virus. 

The former President of the United States rejected, for far too long, the premise that Coronavirus posed a serious threat on American soil. Ergo, his enthralled mass of supports followed suit. Even now, many of them disparage mask-wearing, and more pointedly, the team of doctors and scientists selected to lead our national effort to defeat the menace that is COVID-19. The collective resistance of the man formerly holding what some consider the most powerful position in the world, along with his supporters, resulted in Coronavirus establishing a much more significant foothold than it might have gained otherwise. The list of actions that ultimately muted, and or delayed, our national response is long and substantive. 

Here is a less than exhaustive sample:

May 2018 – The Trump Administration disbanded the White House pandemic response team.

July 2019 – The CDC epidemiologist embedded in China’s CDC left the post; the role was eliminated.

January 22, 2020 – Trump said, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”

January 24, 2020 – Trump said, “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American people, I want to thank President Xi!”

February 2, 2020 – Trump said, “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

February 7, 2020 – Trump said to Bob Woodward, The Washington Post, “It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu… This is deadly stuff.” (Made public September 9, 2020).

February 10, 2020 – Trump said, “I think the virus is going to be—it’s going to be fine.”

February 10, 2020 – Trump said, “Looks like by April, you know in theory when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”

February 24, 2020 (one year ago today) – Trump said, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… the Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

February 25, 2020 – Trump said, “CDC and my Administration are doing a great job of handling Coronavirus.”

February 25, 2020 – Trump said, “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine”

February 26, 2020 – Trump said, “The 15 (cases in the U.S.) within a couple is going to be down to close to zero.”

February 26, 2020 – Trump said, “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”

February 27, 2020 – Trump said, “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

March 4, 2020 – Trump said, “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”

March 5, 2020 – Trump said, “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”

March 5, 2020 – Trump said, “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 cases… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”

March 6, 2020 – Trump said, “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”

March 7, 2020 – Trump said, “No, I’m not concerned at all.”

March 13, 2020 – Trump said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

March 14, 2020 – Trump said, “I’d rate it a ten,” [Trump’s rating of his coronavirus response]

March 17, 2020 – Trump said, “The only thing we haven’t done well is get good press.”

March 19, 2020 – Trump said, I intended “to always play it down.”  [Trump in a private taped interview with Bob Woodward, made public on September 9]

March 26, 2020 – The United States becomes the country with the most confirmed coronavirus cases. A title it keeps for the remainder of Trump’s time in office.

March 30, 2020 – Trump said, “Stay calm, it will go away. You know it — you know it is going away, and it will go away, and we’re going to have a great victory.”

April 3, 2020 – Trump said, “I’m feeling good. I just don’t want to be doing — somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful resolute desk, the great resolute desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself. I just don’t. Maybe I’ll change my mind.”

April 6, 2020 – Trump said, “LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!”

April 6, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 10,000

April 9, 2020 – Trump said“I couldn’t have done it any better,” [When asked if his coronavirus response could have been better]

April 11, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 20,000

April 14, 2020 – Trump said, “[w]hen somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total.”

April 15, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 30,000

April 20, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 40,000

April 24, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 50,000

April 29, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 60,000

May 5, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 70,000

May 11, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 80,000

May 18, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 90,000

May 22, 2020 – Over 38 million jobless claims filed

May 27, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 100,000

September 19, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 200,000

October 2, 2020 – Trump tweets that he tested positive for COVID-19-19.

December 9, 2020 – 3,103 COVID-19 deaths in a one day

December 14, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 300,000

January 1, 2021 – U.S. surpasses 20 million confirmed COVID-19 cases

January 4, 2021 – CDC reports that 4.6 million people have been vaccinated.

January 6, 2021 – Trump mob stormed Congress. Officials reported at least 3,963 new coronavirus deaths in the US, a new single-day record.

January 14, 2021 – The Trump administration promised to have 20 million people given their first shot by the end of 2020. Two weeks later, they have administered just over 11 million.

January 20, 2021 – Each day in January, covid-19 killed an average of 3,100 people in the United States — one every 28 seconds.

Trump’s term in office saw over 25 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, over 400,000 of which resulted in death.

February 22, 2021 – U.S. death toll surpassed 500,000

The Biden administration has been in office just over a month. He has pledged to be guided by science in working to fight Coronavirus. The disease Trump conspiracy theorists claimed would disappear November 3rd, has continued to ravage the country. While there are signs it is receding at long last, partly due to getting past the holiday season, partly because of the expanding vaccination effort, and partly as a result of masking, social distancing, and handwashing, doctors and scientists warn, this is no time to relax. Doing so, may lead to another spike.

Research has shown a disparity in who’s getting vaccinated. Blacks and other people of color are disproportionately impacted by the effects of the virus, but are also the least likely to receive vaccinations. This combination presages a deadly double jeopardy. It is wrought by a confluence of circumstances that includes an uneven distribution system, further complicated by an inherent reluctance of certain groups to avail themselves of the vaccine. Black people in particular, are concerned about being on the receiving end of historical patterns of abuse, perpetuated by what at times has been a wantonly irresponsible healthcare system. That the current wave of vaccines came about so rapidly is by and large a good thing. It does not, however, lend itself to alleviating the reservations of people who have legitimate reasons to mistrust a system that has abused them on a horrific scale, on more than one occasion.

Nevertheless, there is an undeniable hankering to return to some level and degree of normalcy. Refusing the vaccine heightens the likelihood one will contract the virus, which increases the probability one will become seriously ill, which ups the odds one with prematurely perish from Coronavirus. Over half a million of our friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances have already died on that hill. Most of them didn’t have the option to take the vaccine. It’s coming to your cohort; sooner rather than later. Don’t be a vaccine martyr. Take the shot. Your kith and kin need you. “What A Difference A Year Makes: 500,000+ Coronavirus Deaths and Counting!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/coroner-first-us-covid-19-death-occurred-early-february

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2020/03/11/coronavirus-the-next-big-thing/

https://doggett.house.gov/media-center/blog-posts/timeline-trump-s-coronavirus-responses

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2021/02/24/what-a-difference-a-year-makes-500000-coronavirus-deaths-and-counting/

Blue Lives Mattered…Until They Didn’t: Is Kneeling Really That Bad?

It’s time to Break It Down!

OK, here’s the skinny; this is how privilege works.

How often have we been immersed in the righteously indignant refrain of Blue Lives Matter! Typically, a rejoinder to a Black Lives Matter event, or banner, or pronouncement. It’s as if, in the hearts and minds of those who declare it (Blue Lives Matter), two things cannot be true at once. They can, of course. In fact, Black Lives Matter, in and of itself, is not a diminution of Blue lives, White lives…or any other lives, for whatever its worth. Yes, Blue Lives Matter. But don’t tell that to Trump’s marauding MAGA-mob; that’s right, the same riotous interlopers who begat an insurrection on that vaunted citadel of American democracy, the U.S. Capitol, on January 6th.

On that day, as you, and most Americans, and countless people around the world, know by now, the marauding MAGA-mob attacked, not only one of our pre-eminent symbolic institutions, and the 535 men and women who work there as members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate, but they also attacked the men and women, the Blue Lives, if you will, who protect the Capitol and the Congress. Three Blue Lives were lost, due to the events of that day. One who perished from the injuries he sustained while trying to protect the Congress, as it went about its Constitutional duty and responsibility to certify the 2020 Election results, and two others who subsequently committed suicide. Many others sustained serious injuries, courtesy of the marauding MAGA-mob. Say it. Say it loudly. Blue Lives Matter! But, apparently, not that day. Not to those people. Not to Trump’s marauding MAGA-mob!

These were part and parcel to the same crowd that derisively scolded Colin Kaepernick, for kneeling during the Nation Anthem. Donald Trump, and many of his loyalists figuratively flayed Kaep, and anyone else across the sports world who dared kneel during the Anthem. They considered it a desecration of Old Glory, our preternatural flag. Even though a veteran suggested kneeling to Kaepernick, as a way to register a peaceful protest of police brutality and violence against people of color, Trump and his “super-patriot” crew would simply not hear it. Trump called them SOB’s and suggested they be fired. Team MAGA co-signed, and attacked Kaepernick, and anyone who agreed with or supported him, at every turn. To this day, many of them preach about the sanctity of the flag.

At least, they did, until January 6th. On that day, the marauding MAGA-mob repurposed the flag, along with the pole upon which it was hoisted, into a spear; a weapon to poke and bludgeon the enemy, which included…you guessed it…Blue Lives. Can you hear me now?

All of these actions reek of sheer hypocrisy. The variety that oozes privilege as its source and inspiration. I understand denying white privilege is in vogue. That’s a debate for another day, as far as I’m concerned. For now, I’ll leave it at this. “Blue Lives Mattered Until They Didn’t: Is Kneeling Really that Bad?”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.cnn.com/videos/entertainment/2021/02/16/dave-chappelle-capitol-riots-don-lemon-nr-vpx.cnn

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/01/11/police-beating-capitol-mob/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2021/02/17/blue-lives-mattered-until-they-didnt-is-kneeling-really-that-bad/