Category Archives: African Americans

The Case for Reparations: Champaign County

According to the Descendants Truth and Reconciliation Foundation, Black people in America own 10 cents of wealth for every dollar a white person owns, have lower life expectancies and higher unemployment, will earn $1 million less during their lifetimes, are … Continue reading

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What is the Radical Black Church?

How Do We Define the “Black” Church? In some sense, the Black Church can be readily defined by its music, style of preaching and sounds. Yet these are only surface definitions—it is so much more. The Black Church was born … Continue reading

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The Prison Economy from the Inside

Nineteen-year-old Shamar Betts of Urbana had no previous criminal record when he was arrested for “inciting a riot” via a Facebook post he wrote after witnessing the video of George Floyd’s murder in 2020. He was sentenced to three years … Continue reading

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Black History: Is This Really 2024?

I am a mother of three sons and a grandmother of 83 years of age. This incident happened on Wednesday, January 31, in the middle of the afternoon. I was going to visit a friend and on the way, I … Continue reading

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At the Feds

Shamar Betts had no previous criminal record but was sentenced to three years in federal prison for “inciting a riot” through a Facebook post he wrote after witnessing the video of George Floyd’s murder in 2020. He was also made … Continue reading

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There Is Only Old People Here. All the Children Are Gone

There’s no hope for a better tomorrow. There’s no vision or dream for a better reason. The paths are darkened by fear and evil forces that dwells in the darkness that roams the corners of the street. There is only … Continue reading

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Code Blue: Suffering through DWB in Rantoul

This essay, submitted to the Rantoul Press in 2009, was never published. The author shares it now to give context to community concerns with policing in Rantoul in the wake of recent police shootings of young Black men. “You were … Continue reading

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Diesel Therapy

The odyssey of Urbana resident Shamar Betts continues. Betts was arrested for authoring a Facebook post at age 19 in the wake of the George Floyd murder in 2020. He was sentenced to four years in federal prison and charged … Continue reading

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The Lavenders: Past and Present Queer Journalism in Champaign-Urbana

On February 23, UCIMC Executive Director Miriam Larson hosted a virtual conversation with representatives of two generations of activists in Champaign-Urbana. Mary Lee Sargent, former director of Parkland College’s Women’s Studies Program (now residing in New Hampshire), was one of … Continue reading

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Slaves—Our Ancestors

We give praise to those who came before us, fighting for the right to be free. Who were they? They are our ancestors, who suffered unendurable pain. Pain, from the snake-like whip that mutilated their flesh as it bit into … Continue reading

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Why I Called Herschel Walker Coonish: The Right of Black People to Call Out their Traitors

Editors’ Note: This article has been held until after the Georgia runoff election so there would be no suggestion of a political endorsement. Since Donald Trump’s incursion into US politics in 2015, deprecation and intimidation have become pervasive. Trump and … Continue reading

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How The Issue of Representation Impacts Central Illinois

The issue of unequal representation of cultures has plagued the nation since its birth, often resulting in the perversion of people’s natural rights. In central Illinois, it extends that perversion through aggressive discrimination. Although minorities have seen more representation on … Continue reading

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Donald Trump v. Shamar Betts

I, Shamar Betts, incited a riot through a Facebook post encouraging my people to join alongside the rest of the world in an attempt to express our feelings on the tragic death of George Floyd in May of 2020. Although … Continue reading

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Posted in African American, African Americans, BLM, Court System, incarceration, January 6 insurrection, Justice, Prisoners, Racism, Trump, Voices of Color, Youth | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Donald Trump v. Shamar Betts

A Time of Monsters: The New Nadir and the Crisis of the Black Worker

We currently reside in what Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci called “A Time of Monsters.” Exacerbated by the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic, the Black working classes continue to struggle under what Black Studies scholar Sundiata Cha-Jua has dubbed “the New Nadir.” For … Continue reading

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Juneteenth Freedom Day

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with … Continue reading

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Juneteenth 2022 at Randolph Street Garden

Seitu Ken Jones, a multidisciplinary artist who believes in the power of public art to link the past and present, spent 2020–21 as a visiting artist at the UIUC Center for Advanced Study. He returned this past June to work … Continue reading

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Reckless Law, Shameless Order: Behind the Scenes

  One afternoon in April of 2021 Faranak Miraftab called me to ask if I was interested in holding an art workshop with formerly incarcerated artists in continuation of the “IDENSCITY,” a conceptual art space that I had been developing … Continue reading

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SB 148 and the Assault On Teaching Black History

Florida’s SB 148 represents the surging wave of white supremacist fascism sweeping across the country. Entitled “An Act Relating to Individual Freedom,” it symbolizes the deceptive, authoritarian, and racist motivations that characterize the white nationalist Republican Party. By making the … Continue reading

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Ending Gun Violence Requires Long-Term Investments in People and Communities

Quansay L. Markham (17 years old), Jonathon McPherson (17), Jadeen Moore (19), Acarrie Ingram-Triner (19), and Jordan Atwater-Lewis (17) are among the people who were shot and killed in Champaign-Urbana in 2021. Are there things we could have done as … Continue reading

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What’s Understood Need Not Be Explained

I’m curious to know, as a reading eye and listening ear, what are you expecting to hear from me? That the feds were somehow wrong, and Shamar was right? Or that he was justified in putting out some call to … Continue reading

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