Monday, December 17, 2012

When Chickens Come Home to Roost.....

Hello guys.....

By now, we have all cried, watched in horror,and shaken our heads in shock and disbelief over the tragic, senseless shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza, a 20 year old who suffered from mental illness his entire life, entered Sandy Hook Elementary School, armed with enough ammunition and weaponry to murder every child in that school, and proceeded to annihilate 27 human beings before extinguishing his own miserable life, 20 of them being ages six and seven years old.

 I keep listening to national news anchors covering this tragedy, who are predominantly white, and how different their tone is even from the local news anchors here in Chicago.  Nationally, I keep hearing how Newtown was supposed to be a "safe place" for those who live there. Many residents moved from major cities like New York because they wanted to escape "urban violence", thinking that if they moved away from "urban areas", they were indeed safe and sound.

Here locally,however, a much different tone was struck by media. You see, Chicago is well known-perhaps too well known-for senseless acts of gun violence. Chicago has been styled by many as a city where 52 people can be shot in a 40 hour period, all in random parts of the city, and where far too many children are murdered every single month. However, because their faces are black, the national media chooses not to give those stories such expansive coverage. That would interfere with the narrative that "urban violence" is gang related, and is essentially savages killing savages. Local media, whether white or black, get it that no matter what the race of the child, the deeper problem is violence itself and the proliferation of guns in the American culture. They get it, because we know that at any point, someone can be shot and killed, whether on the South side, West side, or in the whitest of suburbs.

This narrative that a white male must be only seriously mentally disturbed, while black murderers are callous, rational, cold blooded killers who are not worth saving or lamenting, despite the dramatically increased amount of mental illness within the African American community is disheartening. Viewing life and death through a purely racial lens allow many to say,"Their problems are not my problems. I am safe in the suburbs away from those savages." We join our voices with all of those who have condemned this as an unbridled act or terror, and do not minimize the horror of December 14th, 2012. I have heard, however, even blacks make silly distinctions between urban violence and what happened in Newtown. "Well with us, its young black men killing young black people!" I heard one lady tell me. I guess she ignored the fact that Adam Lanza is white, and all of his victims were white. 

White on white crime.

What those who choose to make distinctions will not say, is that we as a society, whether we are black or white, value white life more than black life. In fact, black life is not valued at all in this country, and that should be a surprise to no one reading this blog.

 Using this tragedy to begin a dialogue on gun safety laws is fine,but passing legislation to make laws stricter for those who seek to legally purchase semiautomatic weapons does not solve the problem of the millions of illegal weapons that magically funnel themselves into inner city black and Hispanic neighborhoods, allowing far too many children and young people in this nation to still remain at risk.

America is still a racist country.


America's racial subtext creeps into these discussions, and within a week or two, we will act as though this was a distant relic of the past. Many will go back to their insulated bubble, thinking that if they merely escape the stereotypical "gang banging, drug peddling black and Latino male", they can raise their children in quiet suburban areas, or isolated rural areas  without fear. For these people, Sandy Hook Elementary School's tragedy was, if nothing else, a chance to wake up and see violence and murder as an American problem, not a racial one. Since the murders of both Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Attorney General Robert Kennedy in 1968, over one million American citizens have been murdered.

Think about that.

America is the most violent nation in the Western world. 300 million guns-many legal, some illegal-flow through this country as we speak. Gun violence in the United States is twenty times higher than the combined rate of many other nations, according to the UCLA School of Public Health. A nation with its origin in genocidal violence now sees its own bloodstream infected with too much violence today. We must stop trying to compartmentalize Newtown,Connecticut from the South Side of Chicago, and making one set of rationalizations to justify one while acting in horror over the other. Violence is as American as apple pie. Deal with the entire problem, and America just may have a chance to avoid these chickens coming home to roost.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Open Letter to the P.O.T.U.S. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Hey guys....below is the text of a letter I recently sent to the White House. Let me know what you guys think!)

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Hassan Hartley, and I am an author, activist, convicted felon, and  small business owner.  Congratulations on having been elected to a second term,so now let's get to business: there is a perception among many in black America that a “black agenda” has not clearly been outlined for you to incorporate into your policy decisions.  I have been reading your PDF file located on the White House website entitled, “The President’s Agenda and the African American Community”,and you make some great rhetorical points in the document. What troubles me as I read it, is that it appears to be little more than platitudes and glittering generalities. It appears as though some measure to scramble together bullet points to appease African Americans for election purposes was the intent behind the agenda. 

As a former convicted felon, who has authored a book on some aspects of social, cultural and political aspects of the Prison Industrial Complex, what troubles me is that more is not done legislatively to correct the damaging policies of the “War On Drugs” on millions of young black men who have been convicted of low-level drug crimes. Young black men who,socioeconomically, for all intents and purposes, are trapped in a cycle of recidivism that devastates the African American community exponentially. Family bonds are often strained, even destroyed, and children are being raised in marginalized subcultures that accept limited education and mass incarceration as real possibilities for their lives.

Lives ruined because of low level drug crimes, crimes that their white counterparts, commit with equal frequency, if not greater frequency, but who are not targeted, arrested, convicted and sentenced at nearly the rate as someone who looks like you or me.

No one expects you, Mr. President, from the Oval Office, to wave a magic wand to heal the ills of Black America. There are things that can be done, however, in terms of policy, to put us in a better position to be able to help ourselves. In her book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”, Michelle Alexander astutely points out that more black men are under the control of the criminal justice system today, primarily because of the War on Drugs, than there were black people enslaved in the South after the 1850 Census (3.5 million).

The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 is a start, but far more must be done. Attempting to reduce recidivism with Reentry Councils is laudable, but legislation that allows an offender to vote, not have his or her criminal record impact their ability to gain employment, and be able to truly turn the page on the mistakes of the past, needs to be crafted as soon as possible. As an entrepreneur, I am glad to see more being done for small business owners like myself(although I am currently a one man LLC), but I haven’t felt the policies kick in yet, and getting a Small Business Loan for someone in my position is difficult, at best.

I would love to work with your Reentry Council to help ex-offenders not only get properly trained to enter or re-enter the job market, but be able to become legitimate small business owners as well. This seems more realistic than hoping other companies will offer us a job coming out of prison. Teaching these young men how to fish, instead of offering a fish, will help out tremendously. Many of these young brothers literally have reading levels at or near the third grade. This is particularly troubling to see young men ages 18-35 that cannot read on a fourth grade level, but who, if trained properly, could maximize a wealth of talents and skills to help make this nation even greater.

It fuels my cynicism to see the public school system so badly broken as it is. Schools in "urban" areas are a joke, even compared to my days as a teenager, and they were not a sparkling gem of a model even then. There is a direct relationship between a lack of education and crime/incarceration, and you can alleviate some tax burden on the American people by quoting the disparity between what it costs to incarcerate a citizen, and what it costs to educate one.

 I wonder sometimes if a dumber, less critical electorate becomes a more manageable one, particularly for corporate special interests who pillage the middle class and poor with ruthless efficiency. These same corporations invest heavily in privatized prisons, while the public schools become veritable wastelands. If the "underclass" is allowed to expand due to mass incarceration at this same rate, this great nation will fall to the ignominy of many other  nations before her.

I pray for your continued success, Mr. President, as your success will translate hopefully into America’s success. Thank you or your staff for taking the time to read these few words.

I am,
A Friend and Supporter,

Hassan Hartley

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Conversation with a Muslim About Human Sexuality! LOL

Hey guys!

The following is a debate sparked off in a Facebook group about the following article:

This brother who is a Muslim,  responded with the following...


  • JML It's obvious that most (not all) gays & lesbians are produced by households that have absent fathers. The single parent woman dominates the kids. The male gives in and adopts her inner characteristics, the female competes with her dominance and seeks a...See More
  • JML typo - when she has kids
  • JML Others suffer from sexual and emotional abuse that occurs in dysfunctional households and social circles.
  • J.M.L. I don't usualy address politics when speaking to believers but in light of the upcoming election, I believe that compassionate conservatism in addressing the situation head on is more effective than pampering and pandering to the demographic which empowers immorality.
  • MM.D.M. Highly refined pig manure with artificial sweetener on it.
  • Hassan HartleyJML being gay does not mean you are feminine or want to be a woman, any more than being a lesbian means you want to be a man. The premise of your argument is deeply flawed and misinformed. Many gay and lesbian people have both parents i...See More
  • Hassan Hartley I would respectfully caution us, when having this discussion, not to allow our "feelings" about these people to cloud the central argument at hand..
  • JML I don't buy what you are selling Bro. You are trying to make evil fair seeming. Doesn't work on me.
  • JML Even Bible scriptur points out the desire to cross gender roles. And condemns it.
  • JML scripture
  • Hassan Hartley JML sexual orientation has NOTHING to do with cross gender roles, so your point fails. You are basing your analysis off stereotypes, not facts. This is a debate I am happy to have as a scholar.
  • Hassan Hartley You watch too much Tv where you see drag queens and mannish looking women...reality is not that way.
  • Hassan Hartley I am approaching this as a behavioral scientist, not a preacher or Imam....
  • JML I read the Holy books which are not inaccurate.
  • Hassan Hartley Hiding behind the Qur'an instead of using it to see into science is a hallmark of ignorance, sir. No disrespect.
  • JML I'm not a specialist in sexual behavior but I've dealt with a lot of personalities. Bring any homosexual man before me and I will expose the inappropriate femininity in his character and ultimately his social behavior. Vice versa with a woman. To be cl...See More
  • Aliyah Farooq Don't mean to but in, but are either of you gay?
  • JML I'm not Sister. I want to add that Male and Female - Man and Woman are spiritual beings. Gender characteristics are not limited to the physical body. God formulated the characteristics of man through divine instructions not just by physical formation.
  • Hassan Hartley JML that sort of unscientific braggadocio is more Mitt Romney-like than anything I find credible. Aliyah Farooq I have interviewed, literally thousands of persons in prison, on the street, and any and everywhere else on the topic of hum...See More
  • Hassan Hartley This is like talking to a brick wall with a bowtie on. I'm off to bed. If I'm still in this group in the morning, and you have a cogent argument to present, I will continue this discourse. Otherwise, As-Salaam- Alaikum to you all.
  • Sunday, October 21, 2012

    My Open Letter to Min.Louis Farrakhan Regarding Human Sexuality!


    Dear Minister Farrakhan,

               May this letter find you in the very best of health and spirit. I had the pleasure of listening to your lecture via webcast on October 21st, 2012 giving President Obama advice for his second term.You pivoted, at one point, into a riff about homosexuality, the power of the gay community, and how, in your words, "Homosexuality leads to the death of the   family". You mentioned that it was(paraphrased) a sick type of love that would "not allow you to want to reproduce yourself". This letter is an open rebuttal to those remarks, from myself, an author who has published a book on human sexuality among black men, and who is   one who loves you and is a former member of the Nation Of islam.

     I have a unique experience with your organization, as I was once a proud member of the FOI(Fruit Of Islam; the name given to the military training of men who belong to the nation Of Islam in North America) during the years of 1989 to 1994.You, Minister Farrakhan, gave me a partial scholarship to Tuskegee University, in large part because you saw potential in me for future greatness and productivity. As an openly same-gender loving man, here is my point-by-point response to your comments:

    1).Your remark that Homosexuality leads to the death of the family is,respectfully, one I find tremendous disagreement with. 70% of black women are having children out of wedlock, not because of black gay men, lesbian women,or transgendered persons, but because of a variety of other reasons, including a War on Drugs capturing 3.6 million black men and either incarcerating them, putting them on probation, parole, or some other form of court supervision. That  figure,3.6 million,is a number greater than the total number of slaves, male and female, in the South in 1850, just 10 years before the Civil War. Perhaps instead of using Bible and Qur'anic based riffs against homosexuality to get your crowds fired up, you could use those books to tackle that prison issue,, more than the small, marginally consequential prison ministry you have in the Nation Of Islam.

    This War on Drugs marginalizes MILLIONS of otherwise eligible black men from job opportunities, having a felony conviction. Without adequate employment, a vicious cycle of repeated incarceration occurs. Add to this,a trans-generational cycle of poverty, mis-education, and a warped view of manhood of many young brothers in so-called gangs that does not value collective responsibility on a sex-to-marriage level when babies are produced. All of these issues, Minister Farrakhan, (respectfully,sir), loom far larger than a small segment of the black community that is same-gender loving. To use us as scapegoats for the community's condition is disingenuous at best, and bizarre in the extreme in context of the above facts. Many black gay men and lesbian women face intense discrimination from their white gay counterparts as well as heterosexual blacks.WE ARE NOT THE DEATH OF THE BLACK FAMILY.

    2). Many, many black same-gender loving men are fathers, and take excellent care of their children. To suggest that we have no desire to reproduce is simply UNTRUE. We do not love the same gender to avoid child bearing or rearing, but simply because we are attracted to the same gender. We do not engage in relationships with the same gender out of resentment towards black women or black men who are heterosexual. Respectfully sir, we do not think that much of heterosexuals to hate or resent them to the point where we would "choose" homosexuality. This form of accusatory language is false,and repugnant. I find it ironic that, as a former member of the Nation Of Islam, I was a witness to several(nearly two DOZEN, actually) young brothers in Mosque Maryam who were secretly gay or bisexual, including young men who were close to you, Minister Farrakhan. I would have thought that exposure to them would have opened your eyes to the humanity of same-gender loving people, but I see that it has not. Saddening indeed.

    3).I fully understand that, as the National Representative of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation Of Islam, your position on homosexuality is carved out for you through religious text and Nation Of Islam teachings. Please, sir, while articulating your position, have a more informed assessment of the humanity of my section of the black community and make fewer inaccurate statements about our motives and intentions. While you may claim not to be homophobic, your comments can easily be used by those who are to feed into a hateful climate that I do not think you wish to create. We are all around you, and have much to contribute to the liberation and salvation of the black community. Divisive rhetoric under the cover of "religious doctrine" is not productive, either. We are not "sissies"(a term you have used throughout the years to describe gay men), "punks"(another term used  that is derogatory to gays that you have used to suggest "real manhood" is heterosexual manhood) or "faggots"(a term you used passionately in a few speeches  from the 1980's to describe men who you suspected might be gay). We are same gender loving men, and we are not going anywhere. There has been no "growth" of homosexuality. There are just more and more of us that are no longer living in fear and silence...

    I am,
    Your Brother and Servant,

    Brother Hassan Hartley, CEO,Brother Hassan's Books

    P.S. Yes it was me who sent you my book, "When The Lights Go Out".  May Allah continue to bless you and the followers of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.





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