Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mainstream Media Coverage of RBMF March

News 4 NEW YORK -- Three years after her son was murdered, the mother of a gay Bushwick teenager is hoping for a break in the case and that her son's killer will be brought to justice.

Rashawn Brazell's dismembered body parts were found in garbage bags strewn throughout Brooklyn, including the Nostrand Avenue subway station.

On Saturday, dozens of people marched in memory of the 19-year-old whose life was brutally cut short.

Brazell's mother said she hopes the march will lead to a tip that will help detectives solve the murder.

Gay activists and members of the Bushwick community have established a memorial fund for Rashawn Brazell to fight against racism and homophobia.

Watch video report.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Race, Class and Gender at the DNC, part 1.

On Michelle, the South Side girl.

I’m not sure whether this is what I happen to be thinking, or if this is my recognizing some very insistent messaging packaged by the DNC machine(s), but I walk away from Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention thinking that her remarks were intended to herald the novel possibility of a “girl” raised in a blue-collar family on the South Side of Chicago becoming the First Lady of the United States, a notion that stands to gain the Obama campign the allegiance and admiration of women of all races. I mean, don't Americans love those rags-to-riches, triumph-over-adversity, underdog wins tales?

Further, Michelle's willingness to speak publicly and passionately about her upbringing, her own credentials and (less directly) her love/hate relationship with the American political system signifies that Barack doesn’t need Hillary as a running mate in order to be accountable to women’s issues (or, for that matter, to the working-class). We might say that Michelle is [being] positioned to represent a sizeable portion of her husband's political conscience and to assure all of us who happen to share her identity categories that our priorities will not only be taken seriously, but will be housed in the safest place possible -- close to the future President's heart.

As such, Barack's [staged] public doting on his wife also serves to assure the voting public that his responsibility to her in and of itself constitutes an intimate committment to the rights of women and the working-class. This is of no small significance given recent discussions about Obama
1. being elitist and disconnected from the daily lives of the working class
2. losing hoardes of women voters as a result of the Clinton defeat

Is it true? Are Michelle's "South Side" origins and her committment to giving back to working-class communities weighty enough to counterbalance the Obama family's undeniable indebtedness to networks of power and privilege? Only time will tell. What can safely assume, however, is that the message we received last night was an intentional one -- shrink-wrapped and pre-packaged by those ever-clever, invisible campaign brains.

I, for one, am not mad at 'em.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bringing Justice Home: A March for Rashawn


Three years after the brutal murder of her son, Desire Brazell literally sees him everywhere. Much of the city is covered in posters offering a $12,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Rashawn’s killer; the Nostrand Avenue subway station where his dismembered remains were discovered in February 2005, the streets of Greenwich Village where he enjoyed nights out with friends and even on several Jersey-bound PATH trains. Everywhere but in the bustling Bushwick neighborhood that he called home.

With each day that witnesses and would-be informants remain silent about the crime, the callous murderer that killed her 19-year old son gains a little more time to elude justice. So, after three years without a single suspect in custody, Desire believes that the time has come for the Bushwick community that embraced and nurtured Rashawn to aid in tracking down his killer. On Saturday, August 30th, Desire will be directing an hour-long flyering session geared toward soliciting tips from neighbors and commuters who might have information about what happened on Valentine’s day of 2005 when her son left their Gates Avenue apartment, never to be seen again. Her message is a simple one: if you want justice, you have to start at home.

And Desire will not be alone. After posting reward flyers throughout the area where Rashawn was raised, Desire will lead NYPD officers, elected officials, activists and concerned community members in a march to the subway stop where her son’s severed body parts were found to proclaim that no parent should ever lose their child to homophobic violence or intolerance of any kind. Also joining her will be the parents and families of gay and lesbian people of color from New York and New Jersey who have been jailed, assaulted, killed or treated unjustly because of their identities.

Desire is supported by the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund, which honors the teen’s legacy by granting $1500 scholarships annually to college-bound NYC students committed to the fight against racism, sexism and homophobia. Invited guests include NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilwoman Letitia James, Kimma Dandridge (mother of the New Jersey Four’s Terrain Dandridge), Denise and Ezekiel Sandy (parents of the late Michael Sandy) and LaTona Gunn (mother of the late Sakia Gunn).