An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

I am a student of history. The history of black people in this country is so vast and so multifaceted that rarely does a one-size-fits-all story apply to us, other than how we ended up here. The genius of black people’s resolve to rebel at every level against the system of slavery, followed by Jim Crow I (pre-1964) and II (post-1964) is stupendous.

Our ability to survive despite the circumstances we found ourselves in is a story unto itself. As a people, we have always been able to turn the table on this country, often using to our benefit the very laws put in place to suppress us.

This Thursday, Oct. 17, from 6:30 to 9:45 p.m., the Chicago Independent Human Rights Council along with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign will sponsor a Human Rights Hearing. The hearings are to be held at the Jacob Carruthers Center, 700 E. Oakwood, lower level. Basically what those two groups are doing is allowing people to present testimony that will be brought before the United Nations regarding human rights violations in this country. That’s right. The United States of America, which runs around professing to be the moral authority for the world, is going to have her own dirty laundry aired. And it won’t be pretty.

Are you upset that we had 48 schools closed? Even though it was done by mayor at the local level, we can still take it to the United Nations as a human rights violation. Local governing bodies are not immune to violating human rights.

What about the current housing crisis? From the massive foreclosures, to the red Xs on buildings, to a circuit court that doesn’t have a stenographer to document what is said in court, all of those are human rights violations that can be presented to the United Nations.

What about your civil rights? Is it fair to take away the driver’s license of a father because of child support money owed, causing him to lose his job while at the same time giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens who may owe money for children? That, too, is a violation of one’s human rights. Or what about all the laws being put into place that are suppressing your right to vote? Again, it is a suppression of your human rights.

Racial discrimination against black people has gone on since before the Mayflower. The new Jim Crow, which puts hundreds of thousands of black men and women in jail on bogus or trumped up charges, also violates their human rights — especially when prosecutors, along with the public defenders, get people to plead guilty even though there isn’t enough evidence in the case to convict them of the crime. Again a violation!

What about those red-light cameras that ticket the owner of the vehicle as opposed to the driver? If the police pull over a car, they ticket the person behind the wheel. And those cameras are a violation of your right to face your accuser in court.

Young people should not be overlooked. The rights of a child are limitless, but young people can testify to the human rights violations they encounter daily.

Can embarrassing America before the United Nations make a difference? I say yes. America will be hard-pressed to talk about a country “using chemical warfare against their own people” when illegal drugs are poured into the black community — as if that weren’t chemical warfare as well.

On the subject of drugs, there is a new heroin substitute making the rounds called Krokodil. Several cases have been reported in the Joliet area, and we know that I-290 will soon bring it to the West Side. Doctors are giving people who have used the drug about two years to live as it slowly dries up and rots away their body from the inside out. It’s not a pretty picture to see fingertips turn black and just break off.

Lastly, the prosecution of Jon Burge was a direct result of the U.S. being embarrassed by having a torturer running free. Show up this Thursday to bring up the human rights issues that concern you.

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