Monday, December 11, 2017
Culture

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On Sunday, the Rhodes Trust announced that 32 winners were chosen to continue their post-graduate studies at the prestigious Oxford University in England.  Out of the 32 students chosen, 10 were African Americans, making it the highest number of blacks in history for a class.   These Rhodes scholarships are considered to be the most prestigious awards available to American students.  The funds cover all expenses for up to 2 to 3 years of schooling, and may allow funding for their projects for a total of 4 years.  Out of 848 applications from 299 different colleges and universities, the group selected is an international group of scholars from more than 64 countries; about 100 scholars will be selected this year with each receiving 68,000 per year for their education.

A few of the winners have dedicated their studies to racial, economic, and social justice.

Simone Askew is first black woman to serve as first captain of the 4,400-member Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy – the highest position in the cadet chain of command at West Point. During her undergrad studies, her thesis was based on the use of rape as a tool of genocide; she plans to continue studying this topic while at Oxford.

Tania Fabo of Harvard University, created the first Black Health Matters Conference at Harvard. She will research Oncology while at Oxford.

Samantha Mack, from the University of Anchorage, Alaska was this school’s first ever Rhodes Scholar recipient.  An Aluet woman raised in a remote village, her parents brought her to Alaska for better educational opportunities. Her plans are to study political theory from an indigenous / feminist perspective.

Thamara V. Jean from the City University of New York, completed her thesis on the Black Lives Matter movement.

JaVaughn T. “J.T.” Flowers of Yale University started an organization while in college that provides mentors, tutors and summer stipends to low income students, insuring they receive the same academic opportunities as others.  He also worked with Dem. U.S. Rep Earl Blumenauer where he researched the high cost of phone/video calls in prison and how these phone companies are basically ripping off inmates, making it harder for them to keep in touch with families, in turn making it harder for them to readjust once they return to society.

Calvin Runnels from the Georgia Institute of Technology, is also the programs second transgender student.  He has organized rallies for immigrants, helped to increase the number of gender neutral bathrooms on campus, and plans to study biochemistry at Oxford.  He will research the origins if the ribosome, which may provide details of the origins of life.

Matthew Chun, captain of MIT’s wrestling team, has researched the impact of intellectual property law on innovation. He also has experience as a patent technology specialist. He’s the leader of a team developing prosthetic knees for use in the developing countries, and he will be studying jurisprudence while at Oxford.

“This year’s selections – independently elected by 16 committees around the country meeting simultaneously — reflects the rich diversity of America. They plan to study a wide range of fields across the social sciences, biological and medical sciences, physical sciences and mathematics, and the humanities.” Elliot F. Gerson, American secretary of the Rhodes Trust

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Home, money and gavel real estate concept; isolated on white with shallow depth of field

It’s the end of the year and its that time again.  Charleston County intends on auctioning HUNDREDS of pieces of property of residents who are delinquent on their property taxes.  Yes, this sounds mean, however if you are a Charleston native, then you know this is just one of the ways black families, who have had property in their families for decades, no longer are the owners of their properties.

Historically, there have been many generations of blacks who have acquired land, but unfortunately due to lack of knowledge or available funds, generations of descendants have not been able to hold on to this land.  The property, in some cases is now worth millions because of the increase in  values here in the Lowcountry – and some of this property was purchased for just pennies on the dollar.  Many were acquired through county tax sales.

The solution.  If you can’t beat them – join them!  Charleston has a growing network of young investors who are slowly acquiring property around the Lowcountry.  This is a good thing, not only is it a great business investment, but it is one of the main tools of building wealth that can last for generations.  And let’s be honest, if young, black investors don’t get into the land acquisition game – then rich, white developers will simply continue to buy everything!

On December 11th, from 9am – 5pm Charleston county will hold its annual delinquent tax sale auction.  If this is your first time considering bidding on property, here are a few things you should know.

There is a long, comprehensive list of property addresses available on charlestoncounty.org.  Here, you will find all property within the county that currently has delinquent taxes. Click Here to download the Real Property Listing and Click Here to download the Mobile Home Tax Sale Listing Note: If you see any names on this listing of people or family member that you know – contact them immediately.  Many times, this property is heirs property, and  family members have no idea the land they own is set to be auctioned off!  This is why families lose their property every year.

 

 

If you attend the auction, remember the auction will be held ALL DAY, with no lunch breaks – so get comfortable!

The property listed on the website is at risk of being auctioned, but owners still have until December 9th to pay any taxes, so the list could change by December.   They will also publish properties for sale in the Post and Courier on December 6th.  This published list is also not the list that will be used on the day of the auction.

For $10, you can register as a bidder for the Charleston County Tax Sale.  This registration will help to avoid lines on the day of the tax sale, provide you a bidder card, and updated listing on the day of the sale. Bring a valid photo I.D.

All bids are to be paid with cash, money order or certified check by the end of the business day.  If you do not pay by the end of the day, you will be charged $500 and court fees.

You cannot bid on your own property.  You cannot have someone bid on your behalf on your own property.

If you win a bid, you cannot redeem the property for 12 months.  The original owner is still allowed to pay the money in order to retain their property.  If this happens, the bidder will be reimbursed the amount of the bid + interest. See the detailed interest rates on charlestoncounty.org
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The Trump administration has decided to end the temporary protected status for Haitians.  This TPS was granted by President Obama after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  The protection shielded Haitians from deportation, but now President Trump and  Homeland Security Secretary, Elaine Duke is giving these Haitian Immigrants 18 months to return to their poverty stricken homeland.

Elaine Duke has stated that the island of Haiti has had considerable improvements since 2010:

 “It was assessed overall that the extraordinary but temporary conditions that served as the basis of Haiti’s most recent designation has sufficiently improved such that they no longer prevent nationals of Haiti from returning safely.”

“Considerable Improvements” is a laughable phrase considering they are referring to the same Haiti that the Red Cross raised over $500 million in a Haitian relief effort, only for the world to question what happened to the funds.  The American Red Cross was not able to rebuild roads, schools and were only able to rebuild approximately six homes as of 2015. We discussed the disaster of the Haitian Relief effort briefly in this article.

Of course, this decision falls in line with Trump and his commitment to tighten restrictions on immigration within the United States.  Other immigrants who have been asked to pack their bags and go within 18 months are, the Sudanese and Nicaraguan immigrants.  South Sudanese and Honduran protection has been extended to 2019.

There are not many options immigrants can consider now, but the hope is they can return to their nations and be a part of rebuilding a strong, competitive nation that will not need the United States in order to prosper.

Source: Washington Post

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The story of Cyntoia Brown is clearly an American tragedy. Close your eyes and picture this. Imagine being born to a teenage mother with a substance abuse problem, who continued to drink and take drugs while pregnant.  Then imagine being removed from that mother and placed into foster care where you lacked love, care and protection.  Meanwhile, imagine growing up in foster care, being hooked on drugs, and becoming a victim of abusive men who continuously take advantage of you mentally and sexually.  Imagine as a teen, living on the streets and being forced into prostitution in order to make enough money for your adult, abusive, rapist boyfriend.  But it doesn’t stop here, imagine at 16 years old, one of your ‘clients‘, a 43 year-old Army veteran, deciding he wanted to use you for the night; so he takes you back to his home where you are basically this man’s property and your job will be to fulfill his sick desires.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a made-for-Lifetime movie, this was the real story of a 16-year old girl named Cyntoia Brown. Thirteen years ago at the age of 16, she shot and killed a 43 year-old pedophile , Johnny Allen; and this is where the nightmare gets worse.  Yes, homicide is a horrible crime, but it is apparent that the judge and jury did not take into consideration the abuse and distress Brown had experienced during her young life.  Most importantly, when she killed Johnny Allen, the teenager believed her life was in danger.

On the day of Allen’s murder, instead of taking her to a hotel, she got into his truck where he took her to his home; this is where she testified she was uncomfortable.  While there, Allen showed the teen his gun collection; he was a sharp shooter in the Army and had amassed a serious collection of artillery.  According to Cyntoia, when Allen reached beside his bed, she thought he was reaching for one of this guns, and she took out a gun she had hidden for her own protection and shot him.  After she shot him, she took more weapons, ran away and called 911.

Although Johnny Allen was a child predator and was committing a sex crime with an underage girl, supporters of Cyntoia believe she should have at least been charged with manslaughter.  Instead, the court tried her as an adult and sentenced her to first degree murder which came with a 51-year prison sentence. Cyntoia at that time says she was in fear of being in this man’s home and believed that he was going to harm her.

Did the American court system fail Cyntoia? Did it not take her rape seriously? Did they not believe she was in fear for her life? This is the same American court system that allows police officers, who are trained to deal with risky situations, to be found ‘not guilty‘ after they have murdered someone while claiming they were in fear for their lives.

Cyntoia’s case has slowly grown legs of scrutiny and was even the inspiration for filmmaker Dan Birman, who followed Cyntoia’s for many years and created a documentary titled, “Me Facing Life“.  Talk regarding giving life sentences to children came to light during the Obama administration, but with Brown’s case giving new light to the number of teens handed life sentences, the dialogue has ignited the debate questioning if sentences like these are fair.

Now at the age of 29, Cyntoia’s public defender from 13 years ago and others are working to lead efforts in Tennessee to change the law.  They want the courts to require teens who are sentenced to life, get a mandatory 15- or 20-year review of their sentences. If these laws change, Cyntoia would at least have a chance to get her sentenced reviewed at the age of 31 or 36.  Cyntoia has been called a model prisoner, a mentor to other female prisoners, and she was able to earn her Associates Degree from Lipscomb University’s in-jail program.  She is now working on her Bachelor’s degree and is an unpaid consultant for the Juvenile Justice system in Tennessee.

“I myself can create opportunities to help people [behind bars],” – Cyntoia Brown

There is a strong, supportive group of people behind the walls and within the justice system, looking to get Cyntoia clemency.  They are pushing to get the governor and the parole board to look at all of the factors in her case, and look at all of the work she has done behind bars in order to get the powers that be to consider clemency.

If this case had happened in 2017, Cyntoia would have been considered a sex slave and a victim of sex-trafficking – not a criminal.

Check out Cyntoia Brown’s Documentary below
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLyenhWOwg8

 

Source: Fox 17

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It’s the holiday season and many people around the country choose to give back by feeding the homeless and less fortunate.  Unfortunately, in the city of Atlanta, advocates of the homeless are now being charged a fee in order to gain a permit that allows them to feed the less fortunate within city limits.

Georgia State University police were handing out flyers at Hurt Park this past weekend.  The flyers, which included the city’s seal, stated that if anyone intends to feed the homeless in the streets or parks, they are now required to have a permit.  In an interview with wabe.org,  Marshall Rancifer, an advocate for the homeless, discussed how after 17 years, he was shocked by the news.  “I’ve never been required to have a permit. I’ve been feeding people on the streets for 17 years,” Rancifer said.

Police Chief of Georgia State University, Joseph Spillane has stated that permits have always been required due to food safety reasons.  He also goes on to explain why he believes that feeding people on the streets have become such a problem.  In an interview with wabe.org, he stated, “If you look around the city where these feedings happen, unfortunately, there’s trash everywhere afterwards, and someone has to clean that up.”  The Chief explains that campus police or the city are left to clean up after the homeless, and this drains the city’s resources.  For these reasons, people are now encouraged to give out food indoors, at churches or shelters.

Advocates however, believe that this is not an effort of the police trying to find more humane ways of feeding the homeless, but instead, it’s an effort to keep the homeless away from certain areas.  The Midtown homeless shelter on Peachtree and Pine was closed, and around the time of the closure, advocates report this is when police started handing out flyers warning not to feed the homeless.  Around the country, we have seen these efforts, as they try to rid popular downtown locations of homeless individuals who are living in streets and parks around the city.  These efforts are not a solution to any problems, it’s merely a way of pushing the homeless away from popular locations, into more obscure areas within the city limits.

Many advocates have stated instead of using money to pay for permits, they can use that money to serve the homeless.  Police are warning that citations are possible for anyone violating these permit requirements.

 

Source: wabe.org

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On Sunday, the Rhodes Trust announced that 32 winners were chosen to continue their post-graduate studies at the prestigious Oxford University in England.  Out...