Random thoughts of a free Black mind, v. 335

I’m back! Yes, it has been a while. Thanks for your concern; all is good! I’ll explain my long absence in a future installment…

Kobe Bean Bryant, 1978-2020: The most tragic part of this is that it involved a routine trip of parents and kids to a basketball game, something that happens literally millions of times a year with “ordinary” American families. The difference? Kobe used helicopters to dodge Southern California’s notoriously bad traffic, so being in the air was routine for him. Most of us who support our children’s extracurricular activities cram ourselves into cars or minivans rather than a luxury helicopter…

What’s next? The world will pause briefly while the crash victims are memorialized; the Federal Aviation Administration will complete its investigation; the inevitable wrongful death lawsuits will be filed against the dead pilot’s estate, the owner of the aircraft, and anyone else the personal injury lawyers can find. By then, the rest of the planet would have moved on, much as we all did in the aftermath of the deaths of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Prince.

In a year, ESPN will air a retrospective, and we’ll be shaking our heads that Kobe’s death
only seemed like yesterday and that he shouldn’t be dead. Will his death have permanent impact? Yes, but only in the lives of his immediate family and close friends for whom he was irreplaceable. The rest of us? Probably not so much. That’s the way of the world…

Prison gerrymandering – It’s now time for the U.S. Census. Most of us don’t know how important the Census is with regard to the division of political power.

Long story short, the more people that are counted in a particular geographical district, the more representative power they have in state legislatures.

Ironically, Black folks who are ‘guests’ of the Florida state prison system are primarily responsible for the disproportionate amount of political power that many rural areas have in the Florida Legislature.

How? Because inmates in Florida prisons are counted as residents of the counties in which the prisons are located, rather than the counties where they lived before they got locked up. That is known as “prison gerrymandering.”

The solution? To do what states like New Jersey have done: count prisoners as residents of their home counties, rather than as residents of the counties in which they are locked up. Given the disproportionate number of Black Floridians who are in state prisons, this should be a priority issue for Black legislators during the current session. No rural Florida county will give up such undeserved power willingly, but it’s a fight worth having. For more information, go to www.prisonersofthecensus.com

Time to change your registration! Like a growing number of Floridians, I am registered to vote with no party affiliation (NPA), meaning I am neither Republican nor Democrat. If you are interested in voting in the Democratic presidential primary, as I am, you must register as a Democrat 30 days prior to the March 17 primary. That means you have until February 16 to temporarily change your party registration. Do it now, and I’ll see you at the polls…

Contact me at ccherry2@gmail.com.

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