Who Is Chauncey Bailey?

Who is Chauncey Bailey? Have you ever heard of him? Well Thomas Peele’s Killing The Messenger will tell you exactly why you should know him.

Chauncey Bailey was an American journalist assassinated on American soil because of a story he pursued about a bakery going into bankruptcy. A BAKERY’S BANKRUPTCY? That doesn’t sound like something for which you should kill or die. Chauncey Bailey’s assassination was about much more than that.

His murder was an assault on our First Amendment. His story could have begun the process of exposing a cult in Oakland, CA run by an insatiable pedophile (he molested and raped his own kids, y’all), that terrorized a community, while defaulting on tax-payer backed loans, defrauding the welfare system and exploiting some of our country’s most disenfranchised, dangerous and vulnerable people. That seemingly innocuous bakery was the base for the cult. That cult racked up quite the crime resume.

This story begins in the 1920’s and follows the rise of the Nation of Islam; paints a picture of a sect in North Oakland that decided to stand alone; and ends with the prosecution of Bailey’s assassins.

Bailey was shot execution style on an Oakland street in 2007. This is before President Donald Trump posted tweets featuring video of him beating up CNN because he didn’t like their coverage. This is before the 2016 election exposed just how much hate and ignorance drove a wedge between Americans. Yet, if we had paid more attention to Bailey we could have seen 2016 coming.

Bailey’s murder should have been front page on every paper and the lead story on every evening newscast, a la Daniel Pearl (check out the Angelina Jolie movie) in my opinion. Sure, one journalist called, “Bailey’s murder an assault on the bedrock principle of free press, the American way of life.” But it wasn’t covered that way. One woman said, “that the killing didn’t get as much media attention as it would have if Bailey had been a white reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper.”

Bailey’s assasination and the decades leading up to it expose the impact of America’s attempt to exclude African-Americans from mainstream freedoms; the blind-eye politicians, courts and police use when it benefits them; and how being disenfranchised can leave all people vulnerable to unspeakable evils disguised as acceptance. (Think David Koresh and the Branch Dividians or Jim Jones and The People’s Temple)

Simply put: this book is an eye-opening history lesson and a true crime story far better than any fiction John Grisham and his contemporaries could dream up.


Thanks, Beyonce

The moment I saw Beyonce in concert for my tenth wedding anniversary, I was ready to quit my job and follow her around the world. FOLLOW HER AROUND THE WORLD.

Her show took me on such an emotional journey. It walked me through my maturation into a woman, reminded me of my joys and the most painful time in my life.

I didn’t realize that Beyonce had been the soundtrack of my burgeoning womanhood. From, “Boy, I know you want me I can see it in your eyes” to “I’mma keep on running cuz a winner don’t quit on themselves,” she has been motivating me with beautiful imagery, thumping music and magical vocals (that I match in the car, honey). I absolutely love her and no I am not a member of the BeyHive.

But the reason I was near tears as confetti flew and she thanked the crowd in Foxborough, Massachusetts, was simply because I recognized the power of music. I could sing just about every song she bellowed in that stadium, except the ones from her album, “4.” Want to know why? Infertility.

When she debuted her baby bump at the MTV awards in 2011, I wrote this blog: http://mrsdjrass.blogspot.com/2011/08/beyonces-belly.html. I was still hopeful that I could have a child – that I was not infertile. 1 in 8 couples battles infertility in some way and I didn’t want to be one of them.

Well, I WAS infertile. With each IVF and IUI failure, I became more bitter. I stopped listening to Beyonce. I reached a point where I wasn’t listening to music at all. It contained too much hope and love in the melodies, and I all I felt was anger.

I seemed fine on the outside, but I was dying inside. I felt God had abandoned me and my body had forsaken me. At my lowest moment, I tried to take my own life. That was my rock bottom.

It took five years, counseling, reading and a renewal of my understanding of God to claw my way out of that valley.

As I listened to Beyonce belt out songs from that period in my life, I cried. I spent years avoiding beauty and appreciating the full miracles of life. It seems silly, but that moment was the best gift my husband could give me to celebrate our ten years of marriage.

It was a reminder that we only live once. I can’t allow the desire for something I don’t have to rob me of a chance to enjoy and cherish something that I do have.

So congratulations, Beyonce. You got the talent and the three kids, but you reminded me that I have blessings too. Right now it’s my life, my husband, my son and our family. It’s music, it’s flowers and it’s my time on this beautiful Earth. I hope to never forget that again. So thank you, Beyonce.

Fighting Faith

Infertility wrecked me spiritually. I began to hate religion. I became a troll, writing disrespectful things on Joel Osteen’s Facebook page (I know. I became an internet jerk hiding behind a screen and a keyboard). I couldn’t understand how I could pray, beg and be a kind person, yet fail to conceive a child.

Want to know what led me back to religion? Sammy Davis, Jr.’s autobiography. Sounds weird, right? It is! But his explanation of why he chose to convert to Judaism helped me realize that my understanding of God was the problem. Not God.

I tell you all of this because we made our first trip to church as a family during Memorial Day Weekend. We were nervous because we have a 7 month old, but our little guy behaved about as good as you can expect. He let out a few coos, but we did not have a breakdown. Hallelujah!

The sermon actually spoke to IVF-Erika. The title was, “When Heaven ain’t talking!” Instead of blaming God for your misfortune or the ills of the world, you continue to pray and don’t let others penetrate your soul with negativity.

When I felt like God had forsaken me during multiple IVF attempts, everything around me seemed to suffer. I lost my confidence in my ability to do my job, and that put me on a totally different path in life. I didn’t realize that God doesn’t grant wishes, He stands by you and gives you the strength to survive. I wasn’t accepting what He had given, instead I thought he stopped caring about me and I gave up on myself.

I couldn’t understand the women in my infertility circle who suffered IVF negatives, adoption failures, and a miscarriage yet they still held fast to their faith. Again, it was because I had the wrong understanding of God.

My goal is to never let that happen to me again. I’m trying to teach my son that God isn’t this vengeful dude waiting for you to sin so that he can punish you. My son is the master of his domain. He has to make his own choices and own them. God is there for support and has provided a game plan for living a good life, but God won’t do the work for him.