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Young, Gifted And Black On New County Jail Plan

Young, Gifted and Black on New County Jail PlanOn December 27, 2014, Brandi Grayson addressed a crowd of almost a thousand as they blocked traffic on Madison’s East Washington Avenue.  The Young Gifted and Black Coalition organized dozens of similar protests in the wake of a Race to Equity report that condemned racial disparities in Madison and Dane County and later, in response […]

Movement For Black Lives

Movement for Black LivesWas the pepper spray necessary for the protesters at the Black Lives Matter Conference in Cleveland last weekend? When will this pattern of police brutality end? Today host Karma Chavez talked with Brandi Grayson, Alix Shabazz, Lexy Ware and M. Adams from Young Gifted and Black about the Movement for Black Lives Conference, Sandra Bland and the state of the movement.

Peaceful Protesters Arrested At Tony Robinson Rally

Peaceful Protesters Arrested At Tony Robinson RallyMADISON (WORT) — Hundreds of Madison residents gathered to protest the District Attorney’s decision not to charge the officer who shot and killed 19-year-old Tony Robinson. By the end of the peaceful protest, dozens of police officers were on the scene and arrests were made.



Published On October 4, 2015 | By Teddy Shibabaw | Fighting Racism

Nationwide Solidarity Action Monday 10/5

By Teddy Shibabaw, Madison Socialist Alternative

The Madison Police Department and City Attorney have been harassing Brandi Grayson, one of the most outspoken and prominent leaders of the local Black Lives Matter movement, led mainly by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition (YGB). They’ve targeted her with extra citations for protests she took part in, have been following her, parking outside her house, visited her home and questioned her children without her presence. This police response is largely in retaliation to the role Brandi and YGB played in organizing mass protests and civil disobedience in response to the police killing of Tony Robinson last March. We must be vigilant in defending racial justice activists from police intimidation and harassment.

Socialist Alternative stands in full solidarity with YGB and echoes the following demands from a YGB Call to Action:

  1. We demand the City Attorney’s Office dismiss YGB founder Brandi Grayson’s citations. We recognize that this attack on YGB founder Brandi Grayson is a tactic used by the Madison Police to quell the local movement for Black liberation led by Young Gifted and Black.
  2. We demand the Madison Police Department put an end to the harassment and terrorizing of Brandi Grayson and of all Black people in Madison, WI. This means an immediate end to the racial disparities in arrests and incarceration in Dane County.
  3. We demand Community Control of the police. We can only begin to get to grips with police brutality if ordinary people have a direct say in every aspect of policing policy. If we have community control Brandi would be protected from prosecution by Madison Police Department.
SOLIDARITY ACTION MONDAY 1pm-3pm Central – Jam the phone and email lines of Madison Police Chief Mike Koval and City Attorney Michael May by calling/emailing them to demand #HandsOffBrandi! #HandsOffBlackWomen! CLICK HERE to RSVP and read details of action.

YGB have been successful in building a vibrant racial justice movement in Madison and Dane County. They have already scored some significant victories and support – most notably stopping a project to build a new jail that would have cost $150 million and forcing the County to pass a Jail Alternatives resolution that is being brought to fruition. And their organized mass response to the killing of Tony Robinson helped make Madison a focal point for the Black Lives Matter movement. Brandi Grayson is being targeted precisely because they’ve been too effective!

It’s an all too familiar tale. Whenever movements become too successful in shaking up the status quo and ideological propaganda is not enough, the pro-capitalist establishment resorts to police intimidation tactics. Madison’s political, media and cultural elite like to present an image of the city as a progressive paradise.  The reality is starkly different. The priorities of the political establishment, especially in the Mayor’s office, has been a pro-big developer agenda that shunts everyone else aside but especially subjects Black and Brown communities to malign neglect and deterioration. It creates conditions that are used as excuses for over-policing of Black and Brown communities. There are huge racial disparities in employment, housing, education, health as well as police brutality and mass incarceration. The Black to White arrest rate in Madison is 11 to 1!

YGB is exposing these brutal realities and forcing the establishment to make some concessions. It has woken up and trained the eye of big layers of activists and the broader population to the actions of the police department and the judicial system. Longing for bygone days of business as usual policing without prying eyes, the Madison Police Department is beginning to use sharper intimidation tactics in a bid to stuff the genie back in the bottle. We cannot let it continue! We cannot let Brandi Grayson fall victim to that any longer. We must protect our fellow activists and fighters for racial and social justice.

Young Gifted Black

Fiery activist group praised and panned for disruptive protests in name of racial equality


May 1, 2015

– See more at:

Brandi Grayson claims Madison police are targeting her

  • Sep 3, 2015

Young, Gifted and Black Coalition leader Brandi Grayson claims Madison police are targeting her and her driver’s license with a series of citations related to her involvement in protests.

Grayson has been an outspoken critic of police and the criminal justice system for about a year now, organizing the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition with other young leaders to protest disparities in the Dane County jail and later the officer-involved shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson.

In the past two months, she has received five citations and claims police are harassing her and following her.

“They’re definitely targeting me,” Grayson said. “The reason that I know they’re targeting me is I’m the only person receiving tickets.”

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval wrote in an email response to a request for comment that he does not believe any such targeting has taken place and said he “cannot sit idly by and permit inflammatory rhetoric to go unchecked as though it was ‘fact.’”

“The notions of selective enforcement, profiling, or harassment is abhorrent to all of us committed to delivering professional services,” Koval wrote. “If behavior tantamount to these vile practices are allowed to take place, then respect for the police must necessarily diminish.  But I do not believe that anything remotely akin to this took place.”

Grayson’s complaints center on five citations stemming from two separate occurrences, as well as officers showing up at her house and another officer issuing her a warning for a broken headlight Monday evening.

In July, Grayson said she received a citation in the mail for participation in a funeral procession protest for Tony Robinson, which took place on July 6.

She said police were present during the demonstration, interacting with the protesters who followed directions from police.

More than a week later, she said, she got a ticket in the mail for $86.20 and four points off her driver’s license for an illegal funeral procession.

“I was the only person out of 30 cars that got a ticket,” she said.

Koval confirmed this citation was issued for “her participation in facilitating a ‘mock’ (unlawful) funeral procession” and was mailed to her with a court date of Aug. 25.

On July 21, the group held a “free the 350” action at the City County Building. Grayson said she didn’t show up until 4:30 because she was at work. When she did, she said she asked an officer if she could park next to him, he said no, so she turned around and went to find another parking spot. She parked in another space and starting walking toward an officer, who asked what her name was. She said she gave her name and the officer said “I know who you are,” and she walked off.

She said she was never served with tickets for that occurrence but instead found out she had received four citations when she went to the City County Building to pay a parking ticket. The citations were for failure to obey a traffic officer, operating a motor cycle without a valid license, operating with an expired registration and driving against traffic on a one-way street. The court date was set for Aug. 26.

“I never got served with the tickets, meaning they never told me I got tickets,” Grayson said.

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Koval wrote in his email that service was not effected at the time of the event “due to the volatility of the crowd that was protesting.”

He said the officer attempted to serve her via mail and then went on vacation and returned to find the citations returned “unclaimed.” He then attempted to make service Tuesday night, Koval wrote, without having been informed by anyone that the court had already effected service on Aug. 25.

“This very likely contributed to the misunderstanding when this same officer attempted to serve the citations,” Koval wrote. “I apologize for this miscommunication which led to an officer going to Grayson’s home on 9/1.”

On Tuesday, Grayson said she got a call from her daughter that a police officer came to her house around 5 p.m. wanting to speak with her. Grayson left the house around 8 p.m. and received a call again that the same police officers had returned and she told her daughter to get a card from them.

That night, as she exited the Beltline, she was pulled over by a different police officer who issued her a warning for a broken headlight.

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She said getting pulled over right after hearing about officers coming to her house “was very scary and intimidating.”

Koval wrote that “by pure coincidence,” the officer who had been trying to serve Grayson with the unclaimed tickets had been at her residence earlier in the night.

“Again, it must be emphasized, neither officer (the one who issued a warning for no functioning headlight and the officer attempting to serve Grayson with citations), knew of one another’s actions,” Koval wrote.

“When it comes to acts of civil disobedience, protests, and marches, we try to work with organizers with the hope of keeping them and other members of the community safe.  As is her prerogative, Grayson has chosen to not work with the MPD,” Koval wrote. “Whatever her thoughts may be of MPD, the officers of this Department have consistently treated her with dignity and respect and will continue to do so. However, Grayson is not above the law and flagrant ordinance violations will often result in citations, as would be the case for any citizen.”

Yet Grayson and other Young, Gifted and Black leaders believe police are going after her license.

“We know for a fact that when it comes to licenses, this is how folks get trapped in the system,” Grayson said. “This is a strategy that they’ve used forever.”

She said she needs a license for getting around the city, for transporting her family and for her job.

“There’s a domino effect of having a police officer or police come after someone’s license,” Grayson said.

The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition is rallying on Friday at 4 p.m. outside Villager Mall on Park Street to “demand that MPD keep its hands off Brandi.”

“This is an example of what scholars call ‘legalistic repression,’” Young, Gifted and Black leader M. Adams said in a press release. “When a movement gets too much community or political support, law enforcement officials will use whatever legal means at their disposal in order to squelch a movement. We recognize what MPD is doing to Brandi is a textbook case of this phenomenon.”

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

The Center for the Study of Race & Democracy supports the following community programs and encourages you to participate.

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The Center for the Study of Race & Democracy supports the following community programs and encourages you to participate.



Arizona Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrations – through January 27

presented by: Various Organizations


There are many activities throughout the valley honoring and celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. including marches, awards ceremonies, rallies, presentations, and more.  Information and flyers for many of the events can be found at the Arizona MLK Celebration Committee website,  Below are some of the upcoming events:


·        Sunday, January 15:  #WritersResist: Arizona Edition  |  3 – 5 p.m.  |  Burton Barr Central Library

Writers Resist is an international movement that calls on writers to come together on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, to reinaugurate their commitment to a free, just and compassionate society. Prominent writers from across the state will read their work, including Arizona’s Poet Laureate and CSRD Board Member Alberto Rios. For more information, visit or contact Professor Sally Ball


·        Sunday, January 15:  Candlelight Ceremony  |  6 p.m.  |  Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church

The AZ MLK Celebration Committee presents the 2017 Candlelight Ceremony in celebration of youth.  This program includes guest speakers, “an unforgettable gospel experience” and scholarship awards will be presented.  More information:


·        Monday, January 16:  March and Festival  |  9 a.m.  |  Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church

The annual MLK March begins at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church at 9 a.m. and ends at Hance Park in Phoenix where a festival will be held until 4 p.m.  More information:


·         Wednesday, January 18: March on West  |  11 a.m.  |  ASU’s West campus, Glendale

Everyone is invited to join the annual march and experience the reenactment presented by Charles St. Clair. For more information about the event, call(602) 543-5300 or email



Movement Speaks Workshop January 26

presented by: Erika R. Moore


Dancer and choreographer Erika Moore uses dance to engage in critical dialogue around complex social issues.  Join her for free workshop at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church and explore the dance process and engage in conversation about the themes presented. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and come early for refreshments.  See attached flyer for more information.



History vs. Struggle: Ancestors Speak January 27

presented by: Mesa Community College NAACP Chapter


Visit the past, present, and future in this “poetrical production” about the African American experience and puts into context a Nation’s story in contrast to its struggle.  The show will be held at the Mesa Community College Performing Arts Center and tickets are $10.  Go to for more information and to purchase tickets.



Faculty Women of Color Caucus Diversity Keynote Address January 31

presented by: ASU Faculty Women of Color Caucus


Dr. Caroline Turner, Professor of Educational Leadership at California State University Sacramento, will present “Promoting Social Justice in Higher Education: Preparing the Next Generation of Scholars and Practitioners.”  The keynote address will be preceded by a reception and free and open to the public.


RSVP:  |  Live Stream:  |  Questions:



“The Price of the Ticket: James Baldwin a True Literary and Community Hero ” February 2

presented by: Humanities Lecture Series – College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


Join award-winning author Venita Blackburn for a screening of the documentary film “James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket” followed by a discussion.


Thursday, February 2  |  7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  |  Cronkite Building, room 128 – ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus



Movement Speaks February 3

presented by: Erika R. Moore


Movement Speaks, choreographed by and featuring Erika Moore, is an exploration of how movement speaks to the unspoken social constructs that exist in the educational system, connecting various civil rights movements of the past and present. This piece is part of the ASU Meridian Showcase, a special initiative giving emerging artists a unique performance venue for the culmination of their MFA work.  For more information and to purchase tickets:



Speaking the Unspeakable Conference  February 17 & 18

presented by: Arizona State University


Speaking the Unspeakable” examines how race and racial inequalities are structured, experience, and felt through the lenses of colorblindness, racism and antiracism.  This is a FREE two-day conference that brings together scholars, community experts, students and public-service providers for interactive workshops, panels, roundtables and more.


FREE and Open to the Public  |  For more information and to register, visit:  |  Flyer is attached




Center for the Study of Race and Democracy

Arizona State University

University Center, Suite 300

Office: 602-496-1376 |


Please help us educate and unify…


7 Things White People Don’t Understand About Black Hair


October 18, 2011  |  

Black hair in any state can be down right fascinating. Whether it’s silky, straight and draping or kinky, coily and wild, or something in between, our hair has the ability to shape shift like nobody else’s. Nobody has hair like ours. So it’s no surprise when people from other races have tons of questions about our hair and the way we take care of it. They’re honest questions and if asked in the spirit of genuine curiosity, I don’t mind educating someone about black hair. Which is why I’m taking the time out to educate non-blacks about a topic that’s so near and dear to our hearts and our minds: our hair.

Black hair in any state can be down right fascinating. Whether it’s silky, straight and draping or kinky, coily and wild, or something in between, our hair has the ability to shape shift like nobody else’s. Nobody has hair like ours. So it’s no surprise when people from other races have tons of questions about our hair and the way we take care of it. They’re honest questions and if asked in the spirit of genuine curiosity, I don’t mind educating someone about black hair. Which is why I’m taking the time out to educate non-blacks about a topic that’s so near and dear to our hearts and our minds: our hair.

1- We don’t want you to touch our hair because we’re human beings not some type of specimen in a zoo

I have no problem with people touching my hair… if they ask. As a stranger to walk up and touch someone’s hair… or anything on their person for that matter is rude. I understand curiosity and I’m into texture so I like to touch people’s hair too. But for the love of God ask first. Don’t let your curiosity get you cussed out. I do believe Biebs asked to touch Esperanza’s hair in the photo above but still black women felt a little twinge about it.

2- If my hair is cut in a pixie cut one day and down my back the next, it’s probably some sort of extensions

This one always amazed me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to say to someone “You know this isn’t my hair, right?”. It’s funny I can’t think of a time when I didn’t know about fake hair. Even my grandma had some pieces she’d slip in her head if she wanted some extra body that day. As much as mainstream celebrities rely on extensions and fake hair it’s amazing that the general population can be so oblivious to their prevalence in everyday life

3- Our hair, as it grows out of our head, is not unprofessional

Honestly I hear this one perpetuated by whites and blacks equally. The notion that our hair, chemically unaltered, is unprofessional is simply ridiculous and discriminatory. It’s the equivalent of asking a darker complected individual to invest in bleaching cream so he or she can fit into the corporate world.

4- Wearing our hair natural is not to make some type of rebellious statement

Who knows where this notion came from but wearing our hair unstraightened is not indicative of being a member of a counterculture. It’s just who I am.

5- I don’t have to wash my hair everyday

I remember back in elementary school I stayed the night over one of my friends’ house. Before we went to bed or when we got up in the morning my girlfriend informed me that she wasn’t going to wash her hair that day and she didn’t want me to think that she was dirty. I told her I wash my hair once a week. And the look on her face was absolutely priceless. Afterward I had to have the “black hair” conversation with her. Black hair thrives on oils and washing our hair and having to replenish the oils again requires entirely too much time (and money). So once a week it is.

6- Oil is actually good for our hair

Ooo there is nothing worse than seeing someone’s hair being weighed down by oil. It’s gross. And while oil is a the arch nemesis of someone with European hair, it’s actually our friend. Black hair thrives on oil. So much so that the activity of oiling our scalps has become a romantic gesture.

7- It may take some time for it to look right

Which is exactly I won’t be coming to that pool party. Because after I spent 13 hours in the beauty shop and paid a small fortune on this do– if someone throws me in the water somebody’s going to get cut.

Please note that it’s all about love and education. Most black women don’t have a problem taking the time to explain our hair to you as long as you approach us the right way.

What questions have you had to answer from non-black people about black hair?

More on Madame Noire!

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