The Curious Case of Limo Rivera

After reading this, ask yourself how much has changed? Look at this case side by side with that of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. Do you see a trend? Nearly 100 years later, you can identify that this case is an early example of a model of racial violence that is reconditioned throughout the 20th century in America.

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   It’s mid afternoon in Harlem on March 19, 1935. A 16 year old Puerto Rican/ Black boy by the name of Limo Rivera enters E.H. Kress and Company’s nickel and dime store on 125th Street. After a few minutes of wandering around the store, Rivera is spotted pilfering a ten cent pocketknife. The white storeowner and manager begin to subdue the boy by wrestling him to ground. Amidst the scuffle, the frightened young boy bites the manager’s hand and knocks over one of the store columns closest to the entrance. The noise from the altercation attracts the attention of bystanders and a crowd of begins to form around them. Eventually Rivera calms down and the police are called. A Mounted Patrolman arrives on the scene and asks the store manager if charges were going to be pressed, but he, as he has done many times before, advised the Patrolman to let the shoplifter go. To avoid the crowd or any questioning, the officer took the boy through the basement out the back exit and released him on 124th Street behind the store. While there was no information of the events that ensued, a hysterical black woman within the crowd cried out that “the boy was taken to the basement to be beaten up”.

   Within moments an ambulance pulls up outside the store front to tend to the wounds of the store manager. Almost immediately, the rumor of Rivera’s death became viral. Minutes later, through sheer coincidence, a hearse pulls into a parking space across from the store. The driver was the store manager’s brother- in law. But to the perspective of the already agitated crowd of blacks, it was conformation of the rumor that Rivera was dead. Soon after, another upset woman within the crowd screamed “just like down south where they lynch us!”

 

    The crowd began to grow increasingly more impatient and demanded to know what happened to the teenager. Police that arrived on the scene insisted that situation was none of the crowd’s business. The police began to try to navigate the crowd away from the store. After many unsuccessful attempts to disperse the crowd, the nickel and dime store closed it doors early at 5:30pm but by that time, the crowds were beginning to double. When a man tried to climb a lamppost to address the crowd, the police hauled him off and arrested him. This only further agitated the people that were gathered to take action. A rock was hurled through the window of Kress’s.

   The police’s use of force and lack of information only provoked the crowd. Whenever police had success dispersing the crowds, they would reassemble further down the street. As hours passed, several thousand black people became were gathered and began to riot. Mayor Fioerllo LaGuardia commissioned a team to investigate the riot. Documents from that night read “From 125th Street crowds spread to Seventh Avenue and Lenox Avenue and the smashing of windows and looting of shops gathered momentum as the evening and night came on”. The Commission also stated “By the end of the night 697 (white owned) business establishments were shattered at a cost to insurance companies of $147,315, the police had detained 121 people, and 57 civilians and 7 police (officers) had been injured. And most tragically, Lloyd Hobbs, a black schoolboy on his way home from the cinema, had been shot and killed by the police”. The total record of damage was 2 million dollars.

 

      A New York Times Reporter reported wrote “thousands of curious white visitors thronged Harlem’s sidewalks” Many of the “white visitors” wanted to see for themselves the evidence of what happened the previous night, they wanted the opportunity to experience what the New York Times described as “ (being) alive with resentful Negroes”. Just three days after, The New York Times reported that black leaders were trying to determine what caused the riot. They all established it was much more than just a young boy’s desire for a cheap knife. The collective explained “the basic cause (of the riot) is economic maladjustment segregating and discriminating against Negroes in the matter of employment”. In 1935, the height of the Great Depression, residents of Harlem experienced an unemployment rate of 50%. Money that was granted to cities for aid ultimately wound up in the pockets of white shop owners known for refusing to hire black workers.

    Moreover, it was commonly known that the cost of rent and various goods were more expensive in black communities. Many black families had to double and triple up on apartment space. On average, one block contained as many as 3,000 to 4,000 residents. As a result, disease became a major issue. With a community of 200,000 people, Harlem Hospital was ill equipped with only 273 beds and 50 bassinets. These were the problems minorities were facing in 1935, they were tired, scared, malnourished and in poor health. They needed change.

 

    The case of Limo Rivera was simply “straw that broke the camel’s back”. The Mayor’s committee went on to report “ The Negro in Harlem: A Report on Social and Economic Conditions Responsible for the Outbreak of March 19, 1935” in their last report they identify “injustices of discrimination in employment, the aggressions of the police and the racial segregation” as the main catalyst of racial tension in Harlem.

    After reading this, ask yourself how much has changed? Look at this case side by side with that of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. Do you see a trend? Nearly 100 years later, you can identify that this case is an early example of a model of racial violence that is reconditioned throughout the 20th century in America. This brand of institutional racism is deep rooted. It will go on to become a new form of war, not completely centered on interracial attacks but deflected at property and the police, but ultimately quarantined in black communities.

{ Baby I’m your Hero, Donald 4 Spider-Man } Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Webbed Warriors

Baby I’m your Hero, Donald 4 Spider-Man

Finally Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) got his wish to play Spiderman, well sort of. Spider-Man: Webbed Warriors is special episode of Ultimate Spider-Man premiering this Sunday at 9am on Disney XD and it features the one and only Miles Morales voiced by Donald Glover! Remember way back when in 2010 when Glover expressed his feelings of unfairness via Twitter about not being able to portray America’s favorite arachnid in the then next live action movie Amazing Spiderman? He auditioned for the role which spawned the campaign/hastag #donald4spiderman. Stan Lee even supported the notion for him to audition. The campaign became so prevalent that Marvel eventually decided to create the first African American Spider-Man. Miles Morales was created in the likenesses of Glover, the character has become a staple in Marvel Comics. Below are screen shots from the episode and a quick teaser.

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Don’t Shoot !

Officials have called for a state of emergency, and the president has pleaded for cessation, yet the Missouri city is still in chaos.
You might ask why? The answer is very simple; people are angry but more importantly, they are afraid.

Last weekend I visited Washington D.C. and got the opportunity to make my first visit to MLK memorial. It was a beautiful sight to behold; it was bold, towering and shimmering in the sunlight. Visiting the monument at this time held great relevance to me, not only because I am a black man in the 21st century, but also because I understand the racial obstacles my ancestors conquered in order for me to have a better future. What hurts is that while they achieved so much, it still wasn’t enough.
Eleven days ago, an unarmed teenager by the name of Michael Brown was fatally shot in Ferguson, Missouri by a police officer. Since that day the nation has witnessed the civil unrest as a result of this horrible event. Citizens in Ferguson have been tirelessly protesting and rioting their local police force. In some cases, people are showing their anger with acts of destruction and looting. Their actions have been met with military force; police have used tear gas, attack dogs, flash bangs, rubber bullets and other forms of excessive force on protestors. Journalists covering the scene in Ferguson have also sustained injury and unlawful imprisonment. It has become a battle of “us” versus “them”, a battle with no middle ground. Officials have called for a state of emergency, and the president has pleaded for cessation, yet the Missouri city is still in chaos.
You might ask why? The answer is very simple; people are angry but more importantly, they are afraid. There is a long history of seemingly unjustified violence against unarmed black men. Within the month alone there have been five unarmed black men killed at the hands of the police, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford and Dante Parker. People around the country are manifesting the pain and fear that blacks have been internalizing for many years.
Do people have every right to be angry? Yes. Are their actions towards change effective? No, not really. Their actions of violence will only be met with more violence; police will continue to believe that blacks are only capable of senseless acts of anarchy and chaos. This will not make them understand how deeply discrimination is embedded into America’s backbone. They will not see the criticisms of systematic discrimination, classism and white privilege through the broken windows.
An organized diplomatic approach can be taken to protect the people of Ferguson. What if there was someone of great influence to set an example? To, dare I say, lead the fight of systematic injustice? What if, St. Louis native Nelly pulled a James Brown and threw a free concert in Missouri, instead of criticizing the speed and fashion in which protestors took to the streets? It could ease tensions and let people know his stance on these issues. More would be done effectively if this fight had an organized approach with an influential leader and a clear, concise list of reasonable demands.
There have been many people in NYC applying pressure for the NYPD to require police officers to wear body cams. The justifications were clear and overwhelming. Some reasons included the opportunity for citizens to issue legitimate grievances against the NYPD in more of a decisive way, transparency into the city’s dealings between officers and residents and on the flipside, giving police officers visual proof of why and how they needed to use excessive force in certain situations. The request has made its way to the Civilian Compliant Review Board, and the Board is pushing for its progress.
It’s not reasonable to expect the nation’s police force to surrender; no one would know what to do if they did. These changes have to start small, begin at a state level, gain traction and spread to every corner of the nation in a natural way. It may take years, but with unity, perseverance and patience the fight can be won. We must stay steadfast to the notion that this is an American problem, not just a black problem. We are all connected. If we follow the methods of our forefathers, like Dr. King, that fought this battle before us, a change can be made. Now with the abilities of social media, more people can be reached, swayed and educated. With far less technology at their disposal, civil rights activists of the 1960’s made some amazing, everlasting changes. Now it’s our job to take it a step further.
Hopefully the death of Michael Brown will motivate people be social agents of change. Hopefully we cam band together with people of all ages, credence and races to breathe life into a movement with organized ideas for change and work with lawmakers to keep its heart beating.

An article published in Time by Kareem Abdul- Jabbar (yes the basketball player) further illustrates the ideas and theories I have explained. Read it here.

“To live, to live would be an awfully big adventure” – A Few Words about Robin Williams

If there was one actor that singlehandedly brought joy into my life during my childhood, it was Robin Williams. I believe that anyone who had the opportunity to see any of his work, could undoubtly agree that he entertained and touched all of us hearts. Either it is the fan favorite Mrs. Doubtfire, the inspirational Good Will Hunting, the classic Disney movie Aladdin, the heart wrenching, Jack or my personal favorite, Hook, it reminded me to never forget to remain a child at heart. Upon hearing of his death, my heart sank into my stomach and at that moment, the world felt a little bit colder. Robin Williams usually chose movie roles that reflected his personality; he used comedy and professional acting as a tool to promote positivity and inspiration. From stories of those closest to him, he exuded happiness and positivity.

 

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When I read about his relationship with Christopher Reeve, it gave me an opportunity to understand his caliber as man. The two met in Julliard College. They remained friends for years. In 1996, after Christopher Reeve’s unfortunate accident that left him paralyzed, he suffered extreme depression and even contemplated suicide.

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Then one night before undergoing surgery, Reeves recalls hunchbacked man rushing into his hospital room dressed with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses shouting in a Russian accent. The man announced that he was present to perform his rectal exam. It was Robin Williams channeling his role from the movie 9 months. Reeve stated that “For the first time since the accident, I laughed. My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay”. After countless medical procedures, Reeve couldn’t afford the bills, Robin Williams then nobly elected to pay for all of his medical expenses. Williams took up as many acting roles in the late 1990’s to earn enough money to keep his promise to his friend. Even though I never got the opportunity to meet him, I felt like Robin Williams was apart of my family. His movies made me laugh, cry and everything in between. They resonated with me and will always be a huge part of my upbringing. Ironically a man so notoriously known from bring joy to people, died alone and sad. That’s what is most heartbreaking to people, when you love someone, you want them to go peacefully. I believe that everyone that has witnessed Robin Williams in some form genuinely loved him and his contributions to the world. He made us remember that comedy is a form a love that can be universal. And if you stay in touch with your inner child, your accomplishments can be boundless.

{One huge thing that stuck out from this movie} The important use of music in Guardians of the Galaxy

So I recently saw Guardians of the Galaxy right? And I loved every minute of it! I could write a review about how fantastic the movie was, talk about how it has the perfect blend of action and comedy, a thrilling plot and instantly likable characters, but you could read that anywhere. It would just be my opinion anyway, but as a friend and a fan of comic books and especially good movies, GO SEE THIS MOVIE. Now, with that out of the way, I can explain in my opinion on what I think is the most impressive and important element of the movie, the use of the music. Not the orchestra score that is basically required every big budget movie but the classic rock/blues songs that are randomly featured. These songs continuously reflected the tone of the movie. Ok, briefly without royally spoiling movie, I’ll explain what I mean. In the movie, the main protagonist, Peter Quil (Chris Pratt), is abducted from earth at a young age. The only thing from his home planet that he is able to take with him is an old walkman that housed an “awesome” mixtape his mother created for him. The songs that feature on the mixtape, serve as the in- movie soundtrack. So in other words, whatever Peter Quil is listening to within his headphones or on his makeshift stereo, becomes the theme song to whatever moment he is in.

Whether he is escaping from a band of space pirates, exploring a moon’s dark crater or charming an extraterrestrial hottie, his music serves as the theme of the moment. Not only was this a clever way to display human attributes within the title character (that spends the entire movie among people that aren’t from earth); it explained that he is still tethered to earth in some form. Music was still a major influence to his mood and personality. It also gave the audience a chance to listen and appreciate music from decades ago. The audience got to hear some awesome cuts from Davie Bowie, The Runaways and Elvin Bishop. It was also a smart way for director James Gunn to use a recycled trick in movies. If you were watch a movie from two decades ago, every time there was a some sort of scene that suppose to exhibit emotion with the characters on screen (ideally a love scene), title music was used. For it’s time, it was the standard in all movies, that’s why you have all these awesome theme songs that remind you of classic movies, think Rocky with “eye of the tiger” or Top Gun “Take my breathe away”.

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As I said before, most of songs featured are older classic songs, so most likely you’ve heard them before. Maybe you might have heard it in a commercial, the supermarket or from an older relative. But overall the use of music was another brilliant part to an already breathtaking movie. And through the graces of the Marvel gods, Peter Quil’s “awesome” mixtape is available for download on Itunes, so you too can be a dancing fool. Check out of the track listing below…

Title Artist(s) Length
1. “Hooked on a Feeling” Blue Swede 2:52
2. “Go All the Way” Raspberries 3:21
3. “Spirit in the Sky” Norman Greenbaum 4:02
4. “Moonage Daydream” David Bowie 4:41
5. “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” Elvin Bishop 4:35
6. “I’m Not in Love” 10cc 6:03
7. “I Want You Back” The Jackson 5 2:58
8. “Come and Get Your Love” Redbone 3:26
9. “Cherry Bomb” The Runaways 2:17
10. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” Rupert Holmes 4:37
11. “O-o-h Child” Five Stairsteps 3:13
12. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell 2:29

{Music You Never Knew You Liked} Adventure Club Feat Yuna- GOLD (Minnesota Remix)

Wow is this song amazing. Not to be cheesy but this song, is it’s title, Gold.  Adventure Club usually makes incredible tracks that cannot be topped but somehow, someway, Minnesota did it. Just by slowing down the tempo and turning up the chopping, the song sounds totally different. It still has elements of dubstep original song, but dare i say more exquisite? This rework has a charm that can get you pumped at a club or used for a relaxing night drive, it simply just pops more than the original, you be the judge. Tell me what you think below?  Good looks on this find Elizabeth, you have great taste.