Lissa Jones

Recent Articles

Your turn to speak up has arrived Critical thinking in the village



“With the people, for the people, by the people, I crack up when I hear it; I say, with the handful, for the handful, by the handful, ’cause that’s what really happens.” 

— Fannie Lou Hamer


As we celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., my mind reflected on this thought: What if, while he was still living, he turned to one of us and said, “Okay, your turn”? What if Fannie Lou Hamer, after countless beatings and eviction from her sharecropper home, got tired and turned to us and said, “Your turn”? What if Malcolm X, newly enlightened after his trip to Mecca, would have decided to work on other things, and he turned to you and said, “Your turn”? This year, beautiful people of the village, it’s our turn. If we want things to be different, to improve, then we must recognize that the solutions we’ve been offered, the prescriptions written by politicians and self-proclaimed leaders, haven’t worked. Continue Reading →

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A ‘New COINTELPRO’ will not deter our resistance

2012 will be The Year of the Village

FBI records show that 85 percent of COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed ”subversive, including communist and socialist organizations; organizations and individuals associated with the civil rights movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Congress of Racial Equality and other civil rights organizations; black nationalist groups; the American Indian Movement; a broad range of organizations labeled ‘New Left,’ including Students for a Democratic Society and the Weathermen; almost all groups protesting the Vietnam War, as well as individual student demonstrators with no group affiliation; the National Lawyers Guild; organizations and individuals associated with the women’s rights movement; nationalist groups such as those seeking independence for Puerto Rico, United Ireland, and Cuban exile movements including Orlando Bosch’s Cuban Power and the Cuban Nationalist Movement; and additional notable Americans, such as Albert Einstein (who was a member of several civil rights groups).”

The remaining 15 percent of COINTELPRO resources were expended to marginalize and subvert ”white hate groups,” including the Ku Klux Klan and the National States’ Rights Party. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued directives governing COINTELPRO, ordering FBI agents to ”expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of these movements and their leaders. (quotes from Wikipedia)

Breathe — this is deep. Last week I was threatened by two Black men with “public character assassination.” Truth. Coincidentally, last week the village shouted its dissent and let the politicians know about our dissatisfaction — and here comes COINTELPRO. Continue Reading →

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Black wisdom: for our collective prosperity in 2012

Critical thinking in the Black Independence Movement

“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends,” a lesson from Mary McLeod Bethune. This year, we can work to broaden our own experiences and, when possible, to broaden the experiences of those around us. Our kids need to know that there is more to the world than Minneapolis and St. Paul. If our kids never see a play at the only Black theater in the Midwest, our very own Penumbra, how will our people help to shape and create the next August Wilson? Continue Reading →

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Urban women must stand together for change



”The Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house,” advises feminist Audre Lorde in her famous essay. I was doing some research for an upcoming show that will help us examine the impact of racism on our mental health, and I came across a powerful video of a James Farmer interview with Betty Shabazz after the assassination of her husband, Malcolm X.

After watching her, I was left with the thought that in the aftermath of violence we are left to try to raise our babies anyway. I thought about it a few more days, and this occurred to me: When we look at the statistics for the numbers of Black men in prison, we aren’t talking about some generic men we are unfamiliar with. No, those men are our brothers, husbands, cousins, uncles, nephews and fathers — urban men. Ray’jon Gomez, 13; Quantell Braxton, 14; Jason Osburn, 16 — victims of homicide, urban babies, our babies. Continue Reading →

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Giving thanks for being Black Critical thinking in the Black Independence Movement



“Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud!” — James Brown

Thanksgiving — what a marvelous word! To be thankful seems a rarity these days, especially when it comes to being Black. I can’t count the number of times just this week that I have heard, “You can’t trust Black people,” “You know how we are,” “I knew they would be so ghetto,”… You get the inference. What I hear much less often are things like, “My Black is BEAUTIFUL!,” “How wondrous to be the descendant of so great a people!,” “Black people are good and righteous and just,” or how about “Black is so GOOD!”

This weekend I watched Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair, and wow! I saw with my own eyes that Willie Lynch is still shaping our thoughts about one another, and ultimately, the value of our Black selves. Continue Reading →

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We need Black solutions to Black problems – Critical thinking in the Black Independence Movement



“Salvation for a race, nation or class must come from within.” 

          — A. Philip Randolph


Unless you are Herman Cain, you know that the Civil Rights Movement was ignited by young people tired of going through back doors, tired of being refused service at lunch counters, tired of living in the prison of Jim Crow. The older of us were moved to act when we saw our babies being shot with water cannons, our babies being beaten by police in riot gear. When we saw our babies maimed by vicious, hungry police dogs, their mothers and fathers said, “Not our babies!”

News to the wise: Our young are on the move again, this time against the now semi-invisible Jim Crow — the cradle-to-prison pipeline, the divestiture of public education and concurrent divestiture of the surrounding neighborhoods, the dispensing of guns to children too young to apply for a driver’s license. They are on the move against disproportionate minority contact with the police and against systems sustained off of Black misery. They are on the move against the tides that for so long have bound their ancestors — not just Harriet Tubman but us, their ancestors still here on earth. Continue Reading →

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