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OP-ED: Don’t Judge this Book by its Cover

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I am a 56-year-old Black man who has read a total of five books in my life. I simply do not like reading books. Now before you get too excited, I have read the Holy Bible, cover to cover, have you? I believe the Bible is the soap for the heart and I encourage all to search out and apply its wisdom as soap, not man’s myths or biblical customs in an attempt to clean up one’s life.

Why has it been so easy to buy into the myths that Adam and Eve were the “First” people on earth and that Adam and Eve ate an “Apple”, but when it comes to reading, “Love one another”, too many of us act illiterate?

Recently, I walked into Marcus Books; the oldest Black owned book store in the country, located in the Fillmore district of San Francisco. Karen Johnson, who runs the SF store (There is a Marcus Books, Oakland) held up a book for me to read. Reading the title, I thought to myself, get real and then, this woman has lost her mind. I was offended by the title: “What is Wrong with Being Black?”

If there is one good quality about me, it is the fact that when I get offended, I do not run or lash out. Therefore, I took the book and thumbed a few pages. But I purchased it out of curiosity. This erudite Black London preacher and author, Matthew Ashimolowo, born in Nigeria pastors the largest church in Western Europe and he got me to read his 344 page book, by insulting me first.

After reading this thoroughly referenced work and certainly no expert on reading material, I recommend every Black person on earth read, “what is wrong with Being Black?”

Commonsense answers the question posed by the title. Nevertheless, with this book sitting in my vehicle, I still purposely hid the title from view. The author takes you on a well researched tour of truth about the Black race from Adam and Eve to Rev Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton before ending in chapter 25 on the subject of marginalization. “Celebrating our heritage, confronting our challenges” is the sub-title but I still can’t handle the title.

Thank God I can handle the truth.

I am also a man who has always been annoyed with the stories of slavery. In fact, I don’t think I am alone. While teaching a Bible study in the early 90’s, to a room full of Black teenaged felons at the San Francisco juvenile hall, I said, “I am more concerned with Black future, than Black history.”

They all applauded my statement. My guess is that they too, were not quite buying into the stories of the past 400 years of slavery as I had not. Sure Blacks were slaves for too long. But I never felt as though the whole story was being told, after all, I only had White teachers.

This is quite a biblical and African history lesson to say the least. This London preacher pulled no punches. And though I can’t say I subscribe to everything he suggested on what struggling Black communities should do first, Blacks can’t go wrong by applying all of his advice towards changing course.

Ashimolowo, points out how and why slavery of the Black man was not the fault of the White man, while not letting the White man off the hook for their evil deeds. He also exposes two well known American preachers for who they really are and then artfully compares the totally different approaches against segregation used by Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. Both men were 100% right. He even pointed out the good of segregation that most, including me, would not have seen, were it not for his pointing it out.

I was most impressed with how Ashimolowo pointed out the problems of trying to educate today’s young Black male and his suggested solution. Where I slightly disagree with the pastor is when he suggest Blacks should first get a hold of God.

Though God is first, in my life, I believe Blacks should get a hold of the book, “what is wrong with Being Black”, first.

Allen Jones

Allen JonAllen Jones was a Bible Study teacher to teenaged felons from 1983 to 1993 at the San Francisco juvenile hall. Currently he is a prison reform activist living in San Francisco.

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Black History

OPINION: Warrior Parade Was America’s Juneteenth Celebration

The Warriors are full of talented millionaires, even among the bench warmers. Jonathan Kuminga, 19, is a future all-star on a four-year/$24.8 million deal for an average annual salary of $6.2 million. Former top draft pick James Wiseman has been hurt but is still on a salary that averages $9.9 million a year. Nothing like Curry’s deal, but just wait till their stars shine.

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a talk show on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com.

By Emil Guillermo

This past week we saw the celebration of Juneteenth come alive with coincidence.

On the second year since it became a federal holiday, people began to understand the day for what it was. A delay of the end of slavery, which officially was abolished with the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, signed 100 days later, but not practically ended until the U.S. Army brought word to Texas which had continued slavery until 1865.

When it comes to social justice, even when you win, some will slow roll you to the very end. Blame it on the post office? It took an army to deliver the news.

So, Juneteenth is a worthy celebration both to note the real end of slavery and to celebrate the triumph of truth and history.

But, this is why there are still forces out there that don’t want Americans to know even rudimentary aspects in U.S. history that may be critical of whites, or harmful to white self-esteem. Everyone should know of the reluctance to end slavery among those who still valued free labor that masked real racism.

On Juneteenth everyone was back on the same page. It was like America was finally on the same team.

And that’s why the coincidence of the Golden State Warrior parade was somehow fitting. Sure, the parade was in San Francisco, but Oakland is where the soul of the team has been since their days at Oracle.

To see them celebrate a fourth NBA basketball championship in eight years was remarkable. Because who were the stars? There was Stephen Curry holding up his trophies, puffing a cigar like a mogul. The 34-year-old is on a four-year contract worth $215,353,664, that expires in 2026. That’s an average salary of $53.8 million, all according to the website Spotrac.

Curry’s the MVP. But the other stars are all well paid. Andrew Wiggins is at $35+ million a year. And as he and teammate Jordan Poole joked in the locker room after the Game Six win for the championship, both are expecting a “bag.”

Wiggins’ bag will be bigger, and Poole’s bag should shoot up from his current $2.5 million annual salary. The Warriors already have the NBA’s biggest payroll, and the post-season adjustments will push the team to a record luxury tax.

But the Warriors can afford it. They already make a ton of money from the games, from attendance, from merch, from international rights, so the players shouldn’t be shortchanged nor the true beneficiaries of the sport, the fans.

The Warriors’ two owners — Joe Lacob, a former Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and movie producer Peter Guber — were part of a group that paid $450 million for the team in 2010. Forbes Magazine estimates the team is now worth 10 times their investment. That’s $4.5 billion. And that’s probably a low figure.

I think the Warriors can afford the luxury tax.

And it’s significant to note because, in the NBA, we are talking about African American labor being compensated here, richly but fairly.

The Warriors are full of talented millionaires, even among the bench warmers. Jonathan Kuminga, 19, is a future all-star on a four-year/$24.8 million deal for an average annual salary of $6.2 million. Former top draft pick James Wiseman has been hurt but is still on a salary that averages $9.9 million a year. Nothing like Curry’s deal, but just wait till their stars shine.

On parade day, Guber said he wants a “sequel.” And that, like everything else in capitalist America will cost money. It’s good to see them seem willing to pay the price for extraordinary talent in a country where for so many years Black labor was free.

That’s what we celebrated as a country on Juneteenth. The Golden State Warrior Championship parade may as well have been the symbolic national celebration for the entire country. It left us with a feeling that we were all on the same team.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com.

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Activism

EDITORIAL: Gallo Wants the Voters to decide if the city should spend $1 billion of its Public Funds on a Privately Owned Stadium and Luxury Condos

We salute Noel and encourage the Council to support his efforts. Oakland faces many critical issues including homelessness, affordable housing, crime, and keeping schools open. City officials need to focus attention on getting those issues under control. Instead, the A’s attempt to bully them into spending over $ billion on their new stadium and luxury housing project.

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District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo. Photo courtesy of SF Bayview.

By Paul Cobb

The Oakland A’s have finally met their match. Councilmember Noel Gallo is courageously bringing forward two significant pieces of legislation to stop the A’s bullying of the City of Oakland.

Gallo convinced his colleagues on the Council to unanimously vote for a public hearing and an independent third-party analysis of the costs, benefits, and risks to the city of funding the A’s privately owned stadium and luxury condo project at Howard Terminal.

He has also introduced legislation to place a measure on the November 2022 ballot to allow residents to vote on whether public money should be spent on the A’s private development.

We salute Noel and encourage the Council to support his efforts.

Oakland faces many critical issues including homelessness, affordable housing, crime, and keeping schools open. City officials need to focus attention on getting those issues under control. Instead, the A’s attempt to bully them into spending over $ billion on their new stadium and luxury housing project.

Let’s peel away the layers of the onion.

The A’s promise union jobs. But the truth is that all the new jobs they promote are construction jobs that could be created at the Coliseum if they built their stadium there. And that would not cost $1 billion because the land is already approved for development and there are fewer infrastructure needs there than at Howard Terminal. Meanwhile, if the A’s build at Howard Terminal they weaken a working port and threaten the loss of hundreds of good-paying existing ILWU union jobs.

The A’s threaten that if they don’t get their way they will leave and eliminate Oakland’s last sports team. Right now, there are fewer fans at A’s games than there are homeless people living on the streets of Oakland. We should worry more about our unhoused, mostly Black residents than 2,000-3,000 baseball fans.

The A’s say they are adding 3,000 new housing units to the city that desperately needs housing. But the A’s balk at making more than a paltry 15% of those units affordable. They do not clarify the income levels of affordability. Will unhoused people be included?

Unlike every other developer, the A’s do not contribute community benefits, especially to the East Oakland area where emergency affordable housing is sorely needed.

But rather, in a deceptive and clever ploy, the A’s would have the community pay for their benefits, which unwittingly would hasten the gentrification wave that could increase homelessness. They reneged on past promises and caused people like Margaret Gordon, a strong community advocate, to drop her support for the team.

More galling than everything above, the A’s are negotiating with Las Vegas while they arrogantly bully Oakland.

Many people believe this is all a sham. The A’s leverage a potential site in Oakland only to get a sweet deal in Vegas. And, ironically they stand to further enrich themselves by just “occupying” the coliseum site and taking advantage of the increased property value of their half-ownership share of the Coliseum.

By questioning the financial capability of the co-owner, the city staff upped the price to sell their half interest to a Black-led group for more than $30,000,000.00 than that for Alameda County, which owns the other %50 of the Coliseum.

Oakland does not need the A’s.

Oakland needs to take care of its own critical issues. The City’s Department of Race and Equity should be at the table with the City Attorney to make sure that the financial interests of Oakland residents are protected and fairly handled.

But even if those issues were not so pressing, City officials must stand firm and not let any developer bully them and disrespect them the way the A’s are disrespecting them.

Thank you, Mr. Gallo, for standing up for Oakland residents and not bending the knee to the A’s.

We urge the Council to support Mr. Gallo by placing the A’s request for public spending before the voters in November. Let the voters guide the decision of whether the City should fund the A’s or take care of our own problems.

We encourage all voters to demand that the Council let the people vote.

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Activism

OPINION: Juneteenth is a Chance for Faith Leaders to Address Modern Slavery

the prohibition of slavery in the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the 1st Amendment of the California Constitution have exceptions with regards to people duly convicted of crimes. People continue to be subjected to involuntary servitude in California and are as invisible as the enslaved people met by Union General Gordon Granger in 1865. I question the moral implications of the state and federal governments’ ongoing practice of slavery; it is one thing to punish and another to be entitled to enslave.

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Dorsey Nunn dons his “All of Us or None” cap with a smile.
Dorsey Nunn dons his “All of Us or None” cap with a smile.

By Dorsey Nunn

I hope this letter finds you in the loving embrace and grace of the God of your understanding. I am writing you as a former slave of the State of California. As Juneteenth approaches, I thought I would reach out to you in hopes of influencing and inspiring faith leaders to speak to their congregations about the issue of current day slavery on the week of June 12. Juneteenth has been adopted as a federal holiday—one that has been celebrated in the African American community since 1865. On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, the Union soldiers arrived, led by General Gordon Granger. They freed enslaved people that had been held in bondage almost two years after the Jan. 1, 1863 signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Despite this alleged freedom, the prohibition of slavery in the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the 1st Amendment of the California Constitution have exceptions with regards to people duly convicted of crimes. People continue to be subjected to involuntary servitude in California and are as invisible as the enslaved people met by Union General Gordon Granger in 1865. I question the moral implications of the state and federal governments’ ongoing practice of slavery; it is one thing to punish and another to be entitled to enslave.

A couple of weeks ago while sitting in a church listening to a minister preach about Moses, I wondered why current enslavement was invisible. Why can’t people see current day slavery? Why can’t they see people being forced to work on the side of freeways as current day slaves? Why can’t they see people being forced to work in parks, shoring up levees in the valley, fighting forest fires and countless other jobs extracted through threats and punishment by the state as current day slaves? Moreover, why can’t they see people being rented out to corporations by the state and traded on the stock exchange as current day slaves? I do not believe people can volunteer at gunpoint or while imprisoned. I wonder if Moses showed up today if we could really see him or his enslaved parents.

The narrative associated with right and wrong is so potent that it renders people indifferent. People assume because it is legal, it must be just and it must be right. History has more than enough examples where laws were proven to be unjust over the course of time. Chattel slavery is just one of those examples.

If Assembly Constitution Amendment 3 passes in the California Senate, the issue of whether prisoners should be enslaved will be put on the California ballot for a vote. If it is put on the ballot for a vote, it will be the first time in multiple generations that the California electorate will have the opportunity to vote on anything regarding slavery. I believe faith leaders will get a chance to ask themselves and their congregations, “What would Moses do if given an opportunity to vote on the issue of slavery?”

Ultimately, if the historic ACA3 winds up on the ballot, I want to offer my formerly incarcerated staff and All of Us or None members to speak or lead discussions on this most important political and moral issue. People could see my incarceration, but they still have not caught up with the notion of my enslavement.

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