Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY

From Crises to Crises: The Pain, Predicament of People of African Ancestry



After spending days in the Queens Court witnessing the trial of several police officers who fired 50 bullets into the vehicles in which sat three unarmed Black men, killing Sean Bell and wounding the other two – Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, I participated in a funeral service for a black woman.

On Thursday, 4/3/08, I was asked to funeralize Ms. Nancy Williams. She was killed by stray bullets. She was returning home from the store, paused to pay respect at the site where another black person had been killed when she was shot. She was 27 years old with 3 children. The funeral was held at Antioch Baptist Church, Pastored by Rev. Robert M. Waterman. After the funeral we marched to the actual place where she died. After being shot, she tried to make it home. She succeeded in getting to the entrance of her house where she collapsed and died.

The violence in our community is deep and pervasive. When others aren’t killing us, we are killing ourselves. There are a number of factors that contributes to this self violence. I believe at bottom, it is self-hatred. A legacy from the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Self-hatred produce violence. Usually, directed at one’s own self or family or people.

The next day, Friday, April 4th was the 40th Anniversary of the Assignation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King’s assassination is representative of the violence inflicted upon us by others or those outside our community. We, the National Religious Leaders of African Ancestry Concerned About Darfur (NRLAA), felt the most appropriate way to remember Dr. King and be inspired by his memory was to do what he probably would have done if he were alive. He would have engaged in some street action to highlight hunger, disease, joblessness, homelessness, mortgage foreclosure, human rights abuse, war and genocidal policies of governments.

So, after dealing with the mortgage foreclosure and predatory lending the night before, (another source of our pain predicament) we directed our attention to the China Mission. China is the Sudanese government major supporter. The Sudanese government, a minority Arab government, inflicting what some call genocide others calls ethnic cleansing, upon the indigenes majority African population in Darfur, the western region of Sudan.

Regarding mortgage foreclosure, we have formed an organization called Operation Lifeline. Every Thursday, between 7pm and 8pm, we devote time to this crisis. In all of my 50 years of ministry, this crisis ranks at the top. One of the most poignant cases of mortgage foreclosure happened to a young lady named Karen Smith. I like to share her testimony with you:

FOR-CLOSURE---FOR-GIVENESS

My Auction date is April 17, 2008, 3pm @ 360 Adams Street. The title of auction is Combined Ventures LLC. -Vs-fiske House Apartment Corp., Karen VM. Smith…Etal. The property address is 22 Fiske Place, Park Slope, in Brooklyn. But this is not just a story of a loan gone badly. It is a story of Forgiveness. A story, I think, America needs to listen to. Why? Because it’s me on the Auction Black, Just like my For-Fathers and Mothers before me. What do I mean?

My lenders consist of 3 men, one of who was my broker, Mr. Dignello, Mr. Ray Rothschild, and Mr. Michael Cibelli. Three White men. My loan was private. It called for 12% interest, only, ($1700 monthly) and a total payoff in one year of $170,000. Predatory? Maybe. Harsh terms? Possibly. Why did I take it? I needed the money.

The short of it. My building is an eight unit Co-op, worth over 2.8mil. After 911, people moved out, I needed to renovate to move in new tenants. I had a flood and the insurance company would not pay. I took the loan. I also had one stabilized tenant at ($420.00 who refused to pay her rent) two co-owners in apartment 3R who haven’t paid since getting the closing documents in 2001, and, an underlining mortgage to pay a regular bank. This coupled with taxes, water, heat and electricity and maybe some groceries for my son took a toll on my ability to pay it all.

Now, what does For-Giveness have to do with these series of unfortunate events that lead to my auction date?

Well, Sub-Prime Lending focused on African-Americans. Sub-Human was the term that sold the concept of slavery to the masses in America. Harder terms, higher rates, impossible odds with car loans, credit cards, mortgages, job prospects, our men, women and children locked up in a justice system that uses them for free labor, an education system that stymies growth and hope, medical inferiority. Life as a Black person? Or just poor people? Or just people? I think debt-slavery is converging on everyone, regardless of race, creed or color.

On July 28, 2005, I wrote my lenders, requesting them “to forgive the debt for the sins of their forefathers.” I sent them 2,000 as compensation. Legally the term is “Estopple.” On, May 11, 2006, they commenced a foreclosure action against my business and me. The Supreme Court at 360 Adams Street did not allow me to try the case (#14449/2006… No triable issues. Justice Theodore Jones) The Appellate Court up-held the denial (#2007-02721…Failed to raise triable issues…Justices, William F. Mastro, Steven W. Fisher, Mark C. Dillon and William E. McCarthy, JJ.)

My Ancestors did not get any justice or her children any reparations (as did the Jewish population and the Japanese), so I thought I’d give it a try with these men. I may not save my home, but I am encouraged by the fact, that the Federal Reserve Chairman has asked for the “Principle to be lowered and interest rates from banks” (forgiveness of debt) I am encouraged, not just for myself and my people, but for everyone suffering from this unchecked greed. After all, what is one man doing with a billion dollars, while millions go hungry? And why does Africa owe Europe or America any debt, when her children already paid the price of human sacrifice.

I am having a gathering in front of the Court house at 360 Adams Street, on Saturday, April 12, 2008 @12:30pm. It will be a mock trail and auction. I will stand on the Auction Black as my forbearers before me. I will ask for the forgiveness of this debt one more time. Please join me. Contact changenyc.org if you are suffering a foreclosure for some information on how to help yourself. I did all my own legal proceedings and wrote a book about it entitled, “BACK OF…please.” Trust me you can back them off with a bit of knowledge. Peace and Light Karma


I am urging everyone to attend the rally on Saturday in support of Ms. Smith and all of the unfortunate people who have lost their homes or had their homes stolen.

Upcoming Events

Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm to 9pm.

On Thursday, April 17, 2008, 7pm-9pm, Councilman Charles Barron will be the key speaker at the Timbuktu Learning Center Weekly Forum held at the House of the Lord Church. Councilman Barron will be addressing pertinent issues relative to the City Council and the City Government, (i.e. Congestion Pricing – Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to charge an $8.00 toll to enter parts of Manhattan.)

On Thursday, April 24, 2008, 7pm-9pm, Dr. Adelaide Sanford will be the guest speaker at the Timbuktu Learning Center Weekly Forum. Her topic will be: “My Years as an Educator.”

Join Operation Life Line if you need assistance or know someone who needs assistance with their mortgages as it relates to foreclosures, predatory lending and/or subprime lending.

Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday from 2pm to 4pm.
Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church