In-The-Books: The First 100

It’s time to Break It Down!

“Today, the police will kill three people. And tomorrow, the police will kill three people. And the day after that, the police will kill three people. Because on average, the police in America every day kill three people. Which amounts to about 1,000 people a year. And those people happen to disproportionately be Black people.

James Baldwin once said, ‘The most despicable thing that anyone can be is indifferent to other people’s pain.’ And so, I just ask that you please not be indifferent. Please don’t be indifferent to our pain.” –Travon Free Oscar Speech (4/25/21)

Just so we’re clear, that preamble has absolutely nothing to do with, and has no association to today’s post. It is simply one inescapable factoid that in my humble view, warrants inclusion in every conversation, every day, until or unless we re-invent that untenable narrative. But I digress.

Tomorrow will mark Joseph Robinette Biden’s 100th day in office, as our nation’s 46th President. Media outlets across the spectrum will invest in highlighting that point, in the days immediately preceding and following Thursday’s milestone. But why? How did this manufactured news item come to be a thing?

Ironically, it is an ode to the incomparable accomplishments of FDR in his first 100 days in office. Since then, the media has often framed the early tenure of U.S. Presidents in that light. To be sure, Mr. Biden came into office with an array of challenges, and on the wings of a host of promises. The list is longer than I will enumerate, but includes, the pandemic, vaccines, the economy, the border, Russia, China, climate change, and restoring America’s global stature.

In this era of hyper-partisanship amid our country’s political landscape, anyone who assumes the presidency with start with a large favorable constituency, but also a hefty opposition. Probably one of Biden’s most notable positive characteristics is, he is not Donald Trump. That alone, may have made the difference between winning and losing the election. Despite Trump’s hollow ringing assertion that he did not lose; the election was stolen, my own analysis leads me to conclude, many Republicans abandoned him. In several of six states Trump and his team contested after the election, Republicans were successful in other parts of the ballot, but not for President.

Joe Biden the candidate committed to attack the coronavirus by following the lead of scientists. He promised 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days. When the nation met that goal in 58 days, Biden doubled down, and promised 200 million shots; a goal that was also exceeded. In February, the U.S., under his direction, rejoined the Paris Climate Accord. Yesterday, the CDC announced new guidelines that stated those who have been fully vaccinated can congregate outside in small groups without masks. Biden and the CDC did clarify that masks are still required in crowds.

In an instance of political derring-do; also the source of GOP chagrin, Biden and the Democrats pushed through a $1.9 stimulus package, aimed at boosting the economy, and stemming the pandemic. As a follow-up to the collective results of Biden’s initiatives, and his non-argumentative relationship with the media writ large, he recently polled a 54% approval rating. That number, while modest, in comparison to several recent presidents, was higher than his immediate predecessor attained at any time during his tenure.

But, let’s face it, now is when the real tests begin. The President has a $2.1 trillion infrastructure package on deck. Just as with the aforementioned stimulus plan, Republicans are in lockstep opposition to the bill. However, in this case, it’s likely passage of the bill will require 60 votes, rather than a simple majority of 51 votes. In addition, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, of West Virginia, and Arizona, respectively, may also opt to not support the bill. Moreover, both have already expressed opposition to killing the filibuster…which, if executed, would negate the need for the 60-vote supermajority.       

And there’s more. Biden has stood up to Putin, calling him a killer, and his administration has implemented more sanctions on Russia. Allegedly, a potential summit between the U.S. and Russia may be in the offing. Any day now, campaigns for the midterm elections will begin. Republicans have designs on retaking House, and increasing their numbers in the Senate, where they need to net only one additional seat to reclaim the majority. It remains to be seen how the future will unfold. What we know is”In-The-Books: The First 100!”

I’m done; holla back!

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; 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:

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; 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:

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., 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; 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: