By Sylvester Brown, Jr.

May 27, 2020

One of my Facebook “friends” posted a photo, captured sometime between 1920 and 1938. It was a picture of a flag that hung in New York City from a high-rise building which housed the headquarters of the NAACP. The banner simply stated, “A man was lynched yesterday.”

The person who posted the photo made no comment. For me, words were unnecessary. I get it. A man, a black man, by the name of George Floyd, 46, was killed a couple days ago by Minneapolis police. The murder was captured on video.

For me…


Racism, like a double-edged sword, can kill the victim and wound the aggressor at the same time

I’m sorry. I feel compelled to write this: White folk, this is on you. And I pray you realize it. I hope that now that some of you or ones you know and love are sick or dying; now that incompetence is on public display; now that the whole country faces an economic collapse, I hope you see the folly of your ways. I hope you understand that racism, like a double-edged sword, can kill the victim and wound the aggressor at the…


From the days of slavery, throughout reconstruction, northern migration, the Jim Crow era, up until today on college campuses and in the midst of the #MeToo movement, there has been one sad constant: If a white woman accuses a black man of rape, he’ guilty-with or without a trial or conviction.

This, I believe, is the issue at the center of the firestorm brewing over Gayle King’s interview with WNBA great Lisa Leslie about the late Kobe Bryant. King has received vicious pushback from black people, celebrities like Snoop Dogg, 50 Cents and others. Personal insults and threats of violence…


We’re entering a new decade of the 21st century. Historians, I predict, will define this first 20 years as a pivotal point in American history. Where we go in 2020 and beyond is anybody’s guess. Candidly examining our trajectory so far, may help us right our seemingly wayward and chaotic course.

In the early 2000s, the Internet came into its full powerful force. Like a two-edged sword, it changed how the world communicated, giving anyone and everyone the power to decipher, define and disseminate “news.” Mainstream media suffered a massive blow. Its lifeblood, advertising revenue, was now siphoned off to…


The underlying premise of my book, “When We Listen: Recognizing the Potential of Urban Youth” underscores the importance of listening, learning and responding to the words, worries, hope and concerns of all young people. If we don’t do these things, young people will force us to pay attention through their passionate words, deeds and actions.

This, I believe, is the harsh lesson President Donald Trump and his army of loyal Republican minions are destined to learn very soon. Since his election in 2016, GOP leaders, evangelicals and a healthy number of adult voters have endorsed, supported or excused the outlandish…


By Sylvester Brown, Jr.

August 26, 2019

David Hogg, a survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School speaks during the March for Our Lives rally in support of gun control in Washington. Photo: AP

On February 14, 2018, 17 people were killed and 17 more wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The 19-year-old killer, Nikolas Cruz, used a legally purchased AR-15-style rifle to carry out the shooting. The incident prompted youth to publicly call for stricter gun control laws.

Last week, March for Our Lives, the gun control movement started by student survivors of the deadly shooting unveiled a package with a six-part plan to address “the deadly epidemic of gun violence.” …


by Sylvester Brown, Jr.

May 2, 2019

JAY-Z in New York paying a musical tribute to the late rapper Nipsey Hussle

“Gentrify your own hood before these people do it…Claim eminent domain and have your people move in…That’s a small glimpse into what Nipsey was doing…”-Jay-Z

During his performance at Webster Hall in New York City last week, multimillionaire entertainer and business mogul JAY-Z paid tribute to the late rapper Nipsey Hussle with an impromptu freestyle rift…

“For anybody still confused as to what he was doing…Take back the hood that keep us trapped…the redlining where property declining if you live by blacks…”

Watching the video via Instagram validated what I have written in my new book. In Chapter Eight, “When They Know Money,” I speak to the untapped power of hip-hop music and its potential to foster an empowering new lexicon among its legions of young fans. The chapter opens with a homage to Jay-Z:

“With his 2017 album, ‘4:44,’, Jay-Z parlays his experience as a former drug…


Originally published at When We Listen.net

Nipsey Hussle

April 9, 2019

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

No doubt these words have been repeatedly shared with Nipsey Hussle’s family and close friends. I, however, want to extend this sentiment to all the young people who followed his career, tried to emulate his style or was inspired by his philanthropy. His dedication to providing economic uplift was a true example of hope and reclaiming and revitalizing long-neglected neighborhoods.

For you, the fatal shooting of the 33-year-old Grammy-nominated rapper (born Ermias Asghedom) must have been a gut-kick to the soul. It was a high-profile reminder…


Remember that popular, old “Serenity Prayer” where God is supposed to help us accept the things we can’t change, change what we can and simply be serene with the wisdom to define the difference?

Well, it’s not working for me now days.

I’m finding less and less peacefulness in a world where kids gunned down in schools is less newsworthy than the latest Kanye West, jiggaboo rant at the White House. It’s harder and harder to accept the fact that Neo-Nazis, white extremists and domestic terrorism is a bigger threat to Americans than the Taliban or Isis? There’s no calm…


“Everybody’s misused him

Ripped him up and abused him

Another junkie plan

Pushing dope for the man

A terrible blow

But that’s how it goes…”

“Freddie’s Dead” by Curtis Mayfield

I’m in mourning.

The neighborhood dope dealer has been murdered.

I know it’s a strange thing to write. To most, the reaction to the death of an illegal drug peddler is “good riddance.” I might have felt the same way had I not come to befriend the neighborhood dope man.

About a year ago I moved back to the city, the place where I was born and raised. I’m going to be very…

Sylvester Brown,. Jr.

Sylvester is a writer, former St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist, founder of the Sweet Potato Project and author of “When We Listen“

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