The older I get, the more I realize how much of my mother’s personality has permeated into my own. It wasn’t as apparent in my younger years — I sometimes still fight the urge to act out in spontaneous emotional outbursts counter to my own well being. And I still to this day have to actively work on my tendency to proclaim and let my inner-most thoughts be known — without a filter or concern for how it would be understood by all sides.
But Moms brought an interesting set of principles into my life — by simultaneously being the most spiritual and religious foundation in my world, and also being a renowned scientist and biologist with a deep and innate understanding on the building blocks of life and science. I grew up absorbing this unique blend of having a profound faith in God and Spirituality, and also understanding the importance of the Church — especially the black christian church — in the Black Experience of America. I also was taught the necessity of constantly learning, reading, being able to question life — and even the ones you love/respect. I discovered that these two ideals that often are known to contrast majorly from one another….really aren’t and don’t have to be that different at all. That they infact, and more often than not have to, work hand in hand in achieving personal growth and gaining wisdom.
So when my mom sought me out after digesting some of my latest content, and said “LA, you have to stop calling pastors like Reverend Harrison Coons”, I will admit I had to reflect on the moment.
“Your generation might not see much of it,” she said “but your older followers — people my age. That’s serious, those are fighting words”
That in itself wasn’t exactly breaking news to me. I have always been well aware of the veracity of terms like “Coon”, “Sambo”, “Uncle Tom”, “Tap Dancer”, “Shuckin’ and ‘Jivin Buck-Dancing Shoe-shinin’ Negro” (okay I put some extra sauce on that last one). In prior times in this country’s history — one where racism was as open as it is approachingly becoming today — these racial epithets were used by White Supremacists in derogatory manners against Black People. Much like the current usage of the word “Nigga” within the Black Community, we have in recent times reclaimed how the term is spoken and dictated.
So I wanted to take some time to lay out why The Reverend Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition is the most fitting example of a modern day, and extremely dangerous, Coon.
For just a bit of reference, let’s go into the what we know as the literal definitions of this word “coon”, and how it has morphed over time. Dictionary.com defines it as such
Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to a black person. Taking this a step further, background is given on the definition of the original racial context the word.
This gives some context behind the feelings some older blacks have towards this particular word. Yes indeed, being called a coon by a black or white person in the early jim crowe/civil rights era could certainly be taken to mean that a physical altercation was about to ensue. However, things have since changed. Millennials and others in our age range have adopted a slightly different interpretation of the word. The ever-trusty Urban Dictionary gives us this definition —
“A Black person who is ignorant to white discrimination and unknowingly suffers with self hatred.” I like this one the best, but I want to take it even a step further. These people sometimes even knowingly participate and promote Coonery. In these cases it is knowingly used to perpetuate negativity amongst black people in order to appear to be an “Acceptable Negro” to enter into non-black social circles. This is done for monetary gain and to have access to white media outlets and organizations. A prime example of this type of coon is another Rev Harrison cronie, local media personality Abdul-Hakim Shabazz — but that is an entirely different article (or two).
In the most troubling and dangerous examples of cooning — black people are used as spokespersons for white supremacist agendas, whether social, political, or religious (often intersecting). When White Supremacy is ready to act negatively against Black People, Coons and their ilk are trotted out strategically to appear as Black Community representatives who support the Anti-Black Agendas. These people are often given access to traditional local media under the byline as “black community leaders”, are seen on TV or photo-ops at “community events” (usually void of actual community members), and reciting talking points of their white-supremacist puppeteers.
And in this context, Coons are just as — if not more — dangerous within the Black Community as White Supremacy itself. Which by default makes The Reverend Charles Harrison the most dangerous individual threatening the Black Community of Indianapolis.
Infamous Coons throughout history, and the damage they unleashed.
South Carolina, 1822 — Denmark Vesey lived as a literate, and extremely skilled carpenter. Using his talents and charisma he became one of the leaders of the African American Communities in Charleston, South Carolina. Vesey won a lottery and purchased his freedom at the age of 32. Even after starting a successful business, he was unable to raise the funds to purchase the freedom of his wife and children. After becoming active in the church, he helped found the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which at the time became the 2nd largest black church congregation in the newly birthed country of America. in 1822 it was fellow black people (i.e.: coons) who provided information alleging that Vesey was the leader of a planned slave revolt. By many accounts, the revolts would have involved thousands of slaves and plantations all over the state. Vesey and 35 of his closest followers were later executed.
Chicago, 1969 — American activist and revolutionary Fred Hampton was the chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party and the National Deputy Chairman of the Black Panthers. As Hampton quickly gained prominence within the Panthers, his “talent as a political organizer was described as remarkable.” Before his death Hampton was on the verge with uniting the Panthers with a Southside Chicago Gang, which would have doubled the size of the national Panther party. William O’Neal, Hampton’s Bodyguard, had previously infiltrated the Panther’s in exchange to have charges for auto-theft and impersonating an officer dropped by authorities. O’Neal organized rifts between the Panthers and allies from inside the organization, provided the blueprint and details of Hampton’s residence that was raided in the night of his murder, and even drugged Hampton’s drink earlier in the evening so that he would not wake during the raid. Hampton was killed in his sleep with two point plank shots to the head. O’Neal — remembered as one of the biggest coons of all time — later committed suicide by running into traffic.
Manhattan New York, 1965. As the infamous words “Nigga! Get your hand out my pocket” echoed through the Audubon Ballroom, the shotgun blast that followed, and tore through the flesh of Malcolm X, would live in infamy. Just two days prior, Malcolm X spoke to prominent Black Journalist Gordon Parks where he communicated his belief that the Nation of Islam was actively trying to kill him. After the murder, 3 Black members of The Nation of Islam were convicted of the murder of Malcolm, and all three were sentenced to life in prison (two are free today, while the other passed away). Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam while in prison, and gained notoriety under the umbrella of the organization. Since the killing, it has long been rumored that the US government were also accomplices in the murder, including speculation that real assassins have remained at large. Whether that holds merit or not, the fact that fellow blacks and former-comrades were complicit in the murder of one of the greatest revolutionaries of all time definitely sounds like some major cooning, in my humble opinion.
The aftermath of Coonery is one that has certainly been felt throughout the Black Community. Even in the squashed slave uprisings of Nat Turner, and the white John Brown — Black infiltrators and informants have been rumored in giving intel to the dominant society to gain the upper hand.
This is what makes the most prominent Coon in The State of Indiana all that much more dangerous.
‘The Minister of Massa’
The Reverend Charles Harrison has long used his role as a clergyman as a shield against the numerous accusations of propagating ideas contrary to the best interests of The Black Community that have raised against him over the years. Harrison’s organization, The Ten Point Coalition, “patrols” in an isolated corridor of the Northwest side of the city. He often runs to aftermath of crime scenes or incidents of reported gunshots — much like a sleazy insurance attorney chases car accidents — to “try to calm emotions” and “provide a liaison between the community and police”. They also serve as occasional informants to investigators in crimes. Here is a recently provided map of the areas the Ten Point coalition claims to “Patrol”
Now besides nearly a 4th of that map being a cemetery — the group claims its “core” area is the United Northwest/Riverside area, and the southern part of the Butler-tarkington Neighborhood. One of the statistics used the most in defense of the organization is the 2 years without a murder the Butler-Tarkington area has experienced (more on that later). This has led to Harrison campaigning for more money to be funneled into his organization, including $500,000 available to groups who want to replicate Ten-Points “blueprint” throughout the state.
However, Ten Points actual effectiveness in preventing murders, and the way their funds are spent and distributed, have continued to rise in opposition to the group. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has stated themselves that there is no way to say for certain how much of a role the coalition plays in homicide prevention.
However recent data released by local media outlet TheIndyChannel suggests that Harrison’s claim of The Ten Point model being successful may not be entirely accurate.
The groups base, the Near Northwest/Riverside neighborhood, has a homicide rate which has doubled in 2017 compared to 2016. There have already been 7 murders in the area with 2 months left to go in 2017 — compared to just 3 the year prior. In comparison two of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Indianapolis, Martindale-Brightwood and The Near Eastside, both have dropped their homicides nearly in half without any Ten-Point presence in those areas. DATA
Over 10 years of data studied by TheIndyChannel, two of Ten Point’s sectors (Near Northwest/Riverside and Crown Hill) have remained in the Top 10 of the most dangerous in Indianapolis. In nearly half of the 10 years used for data, the Near Northwest sector saw greater-than-average homicide numbers compared to the 5 most dangerous neighborhoods in the city. The Riverside neighborhood continued to see numbers within the averages for the other areas listed as the city’s most dangerous places. DATA
Ten Points 3rd sector, and their most celebrated, is the Southern border of Butler-Tarkington. The last listed homicide in the area was in 2015, and the coalition has claimed that their influence in the area has directly resulted in the lack of murders. A more complete look at the data suggests otherwise. From 2007-2014 the neighborhood averaged less than 1 homicide per year. The Ten Point Coalition became active in the area during a spike that included 4 killings in a span of months in 2015. Since then, the homicide rate has dropped back to almost zero for the last 2 years — which still would put it above its 10 year average in the last 2 years while looking at the entire time period. DATA So the question remains, how much influence does Ten Point really have in an area that more often than not rarely experienced homicides on a yearly basis prior to their inolvement?
‘The Prophet/Profit of Pimpin’
Harrison’s skewing of data to bolster the credibility of his organization seems more calculated and shady as time passes. He has continued to form relationships, which often result in his own monetary gain, with notorious politicians and community members known for their suspected bigotry and white supremacy.
His bafoonery reached new levels today, as he hosted United States Attorney General and longtime suspected White Supremacist Jeff Sessions to his church home.
I will dedicate minimal lines in this story to trying to prove that Jeff Sessions is racist. Sessions has been longed suspected of practicing White-Supremacy for decades. In 1986, he was denied a federal judgeship based on allegations from his colleagues that he “used the N word and joked about Ku Klux Klan”.
Sessions was also accused of calling a black assistant attorney “boy” and suggesting that he “be careful how he spoke to white folks”
Coretta Scott King, the late wife of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, famously wrote a letter to the senate opposing his nomination for a federal judge, saying —
“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”
Sessions also has been accused of rolling back civil rights protections as sitting Attorney General that affects a number of marginalized individuals.
Inviting Sessions to speak was just the latest in a long line of publicity stunts pulled by the Ten-Point Coalition at the expense of the credibility of his organization, and unfortunately the Black Community of Indianapolis.
The opposition to this move has already reached a fever pitch, with a coalition of inner-city pastors uniting in protest of Harrison meeting with Sessions. Over a dozen ministers gathered to denounce the meeting, going as far as to call the attorney general’s civil rights record insulting and offensive. The group even questioned the effectiveness of The Ten Point Coalition.
“Sessions trying to come here and tell us he’s going to help us in the black community is a farce,” said Pastor Fitzurgh Lyons with Galilee Baptist Church.
This would not be the first farce Harrison has hosted out of his organization. Earlier this summer, Harrison invited Vice President and the generally-despised-in-Indiana Former Governor Mike Pence president to be the Keynote Speaker of the Annual Ten-Point Coalition Luncheon. With tickets ranging between $1,500-$25,000 a table, the event was well attended by wealthy non-black Republican donors, Harrison has been using his newly found connections to pump money into his organization.
Harrison was also been a vocal supporter of proposed legislation that would target the Black Community of Indianapolis, including a local version of “Stop and Frisk“, and enhancing juveniles charged on non violent offenses to face adult court.
Harrison was also notably absent from the conversation about the killing of unarmed Aaron Bailey by the IMPD, a topic that has dominated the storylines in the Indy Black Community for recent months. The closest thing to a statement that could be found by Harrison on the incident came just a week ago, where he was quoted as saying
“I think you’re going to have mixed feelings within the African American community. You’re going to have people upset that there were no charges against the officer… We here in Indianapolis have built a really strong relationship with the police, but we have a lot of work to do in terms of rebuilding trust and preventing these kinds of events from occurring in the future.”
Sorry Charlie, there were no “mixed feelings” from the Black Community. We were collectively outraged at the decision not to file criminal charges against the officers, leading to a outbursts of protests and rallies, which ultimately lead to an internal investigation by IMPD coming to the conclusion that the officers in question should be immediately suspended and terminated from the police force for their wrong doing.
Day after Day, Charles Harrison proves to be more out of touch — and an ever growing threat — to the every Black resident of Indianapolis. He follows a long line of Coons who profit personally off of ideologies and rhetoric damaging to the people he claimed to serve and partner with. Now with the full cosign of a suspected White-Supremacist presidential Administration, Harrison looks to further his reach, and deepen his pockets, becoming a paid mascot for the white-society’s twisted version of Indy’s Black Community.
The good news is now that the true merits of the Ten Point Coalition are under a microscope, it is becoming increasingly more clear that the organization is no where near as effective as claimed — and there seems no need to pump additional money into a foundation that by all angles, appears to be built entirely on sand.