This has been a hard piece to write. I’ve spent over a week starting and stopping and deep down I know why – because I never wanted to write a memorial to my friend and one time co-chair of the Pinellas County Green Party, Rev. Bruce Wright. I still keep expecting to find links on my facebook page from him. I keep expecting to see another text. And more than anything I keep wishing I had spoken to him at least one more time. But I got busy, as we all do, and after all, he’d be there, he was always there. And so in writing this I have to come to terms with his untimely death and I’ve put it off as if to stop it all from being true.
Black Power is what is needed to ensure black lives matter. That same power is needed for black deaths to be respected as well. There are countless African American cemeteries in Florida that have been abandoned. Completely forgotten. The physical appearance of most of these neglected sites reflect the defiant attitude Florida has harbored against the African Community. Torn, ripped, pillaged, and neglected describes the numerous cemeteries of those of African lineage.
Florida’s Palm Beach County braces for its annual “burn season,” which begins each year in October and runs for six months at least through March to as late as May. The Florida sugar industry begins its harvest season for 400,000 acres (625 square miles) of sugarcane fields. Assuming a six-month burn season, this means there were approximately 43 fires per day in 2019. During the burning, walls of fire rise from 30 to 40 feet in the air, and then create smoke plumes reaching over a half-mile high, stretching as much as 26 miles from the actual burn sites, around four small Black and Latino communities in Palm Beach south of Lake Okeechobee — Belle Glade, Pahokee, South Bay and Canal Point. Hendry, Glade and Martin counties are also targets. This is all designated as part of the “Hazard Zone.”
Roads become impassible. Children walk to school wearing trash bags to protect themselves from the noxious “Black Snow” which bombards everything in the area. The greasy, sticky, toxic ash accumulates on parks, schools, roads, hospitals, restaurants, and shopping areas.
Smoke filters into people’s homes, schools and hospitals. Schools stock up on asthma inhalers. Air conditioner and water filters become clogged. Still-lit embers sometimes rain down from the fields. Flowers die and gardens are poisoned. Children wheeze and cry, and adults cough when they breathe. Everything stinks.
In mid- February 2020, my wife Rose and I were very sick. We of course had heard of the Covid-19 virus outbreak, but that was on the other side of the world, nothing to do with us. We just figured it was the flu or a bad cold. Rose had spells of difficulty breathing. One night, she couldn’t breathe at all. While we considered calling an ambulance, a few hits from an inhaler got her breathing again.
One day, I started getting very weak, to the point where I couldn’t even stand up without desperately clinging to walls or furniture. We called an ambulance, which took us to a hospital. There, the hallways were packed with beds and patients waiting to be admitted. Nothing moved. A doctor told me that admission would take at least 24 hours. Then he quietly confided that at St. Pete General, the waiting time was 72 hours. Three days! I got examined in the hallway, was pronounced not on the verge of death, given a prescription for TamaFlu, and sent home.
Something odd was going on. But we had no idea. We may have been very lucky.
With Florida’s official death toll from Covid-19 standing at 1,898 (among 42,402 confirmed cases), Governor Rick DeSantis has appointed a Re-Open Florida Task Force, chaired by Florida Chamber of Commerce Chairman and CEO Mark Wilson, to get the state back in business in less than a week.
As “the Continent” braces itself for a heat wave expected to be worse than the 2003 one which killed 20,000 Europeans, the headlines of last May showed alarm in varying degrees, from the European press to the titans of the New York Times and Washington Post. The elections for the 751 seats in the European Parliament had just marked disturbing gains for both European Green parties and the anti-immigrant nationalist parties identified with the Far Right. American Greens were delighted:
European Greens surge … voters abandon old parties over climate!
November 7, 1972. Election Day. Richard Nixon beats Democrat George McGovern.
I remember the night far too well. First time I ever voted. Nixon supporter Sammy Davis, Jr. was cavorting with joy on TV while I was getting blotto on Southern Comfort and Dr. Pepper, then puking my guts out the back door into the chilly Michigan darkness.
The Pinellas County Green Party fully supports brave McDonald’s employee, Yasmine James in the face of her being assaulted on January 1st by a violently racist customer, Daniel Taylor. While Ms. James admirably defended herself during the assault, other McDonald’s employees initially stood idly by before finally pulling her away from her attacker. They then proceeded to take the attacker’s order as though nothing had happened. McDonald’s didn’t contact the police about the assault against Ms. James or another co-worker, Tateona Bell, who had been kicked in the stomach as he left the establishment. Ms. James was left to contact law enforcement on her own and the police only became involved after Taylor himself made a false report of being robbed by African Americans and was recognized as Ms. James’ attacker from a surveillance video.
We are very pleased to feature a guest post by Michael Clarkson, a “70 years young” Afrikan International Freedom Fighter. He works with KonsciousKontractors which focus its primary work inside Ti Ayiti ( Lil Haiti ). That French-Creole-speaking neighborhood, settled by Haitian exiles, has long been a lively cultural center for Haitian and Caribbean culture. Clarkson references Wilfrid Deleus, a renowned Haitian painter who died last year while unable to pay his rent. Little Haiti now faces the eradication of its rich and distinct culture, as it has become one of the prime targets of the Miami Gentrification machine, along with other poor Black communities such as Overtown, Coconut Grove and Liberty City. They call it “Climate Gentrification,” as wealthy Miami residents flee rising sea levels, and drive out poorer residents, while turning the city into an ever-expanding playground for the tourist industry. Clarkson and others are fighting back, and he states that he is “still standing as an example of resistance to continued oppression & exploitation by capitalist/imperialism worldwide!”
The domesticated colonies of Black, Brown, Poor & Working Poor inside North amerikkka, have become the victims of the War of Gentrification.
In reporting on the Green Party of Florida (GPFL) election results for the August 28, 2018 primary, we reported that Elijah Manley got 43,000 votes (18.49%) for Broward County at-large School District 8 and Robin Harris netted 4,720 votes (24.8%) for Orange County Commission District 6. We remarked:
“To put it simply, this year’s numbers show that where Greens run and run hard, they now represent an identifiable voting bloc that duopoly candidates can only ignore at their peril. They call that power.”
Tuesday is the day we can make a difference. But frankly, it is clear that we already have.
My opponent is getting nervous. First of all, he has been adopting my positions. In our first side-by-side radio interviews on WJNO, Joel Malkin interviewed me first, and latched onto my founding Black Lives Matter in Palm Beach County. Joel then asked Silvers about that and pointed out that Silvers was touting his endorsements from the FOP (Fraternal order of Police) and the BPA (Benevolent Police Association). Suddenly, Silvers is all like “Cops? I… pfft… no, man, I don’t get down with cops. I mean, sure, they endorsed me, but I don’t know them.”