Book Excerpt Of The Week: Part 2- “Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go To War” By: Jimmie Briggs

“It has been estimated that at least 10 percent of the world’s fighting forces are under the age of eighteen. Since the time of the Roman and Spartan Empires, children have been molded into combat-ready soldiers, all the way up to the Civil War and later, World War II, which saw the emergence of a formal cadre of trained children, the Hitler Youth. In Vietnam youths were used on suicide missions to ambush unsuspecting American GIs. But today, with the proliferation of light weapons and the range of low- to high-level conflicts emerging around the world, the percentage of kids in combat has been growing higher and higher.

Sadly, the United States has not always been the most constructive partner in achieving international action on the issue of child soldiers. The Machel Report, a 1996 study presented to the United Nations General Assembly, documented the suffering of millions of children because of war…

The CRC [Convention on the Rights of the Child] outlines in detail the rights of protection for children living in difficult circumstances, including conflict, disease, and displacement, as well as domestic rights related to their parents and caregivers…The United States is one of only two countries that have not ratified it. In 1995, President Bill Clinton signed the treaty, but the U.S. Congress has been unable to ratify it. Generally, the Pentagon and, on occasion, the State Department believe that the United Nations should not interfere in domestic American matters, such as how and whom the country recruits into the armed forces. Further, members of Congress have long doubted the wisdom of conferring special rights on children; this is particularly true of many conservatives, who view the convention as an assault on the ‘traditional family.’

In January 2000, after six years of negotiation, progress was made with the passage of the Optional Protocol to the CRC. At the insistence of American and British officials, the 1989 CRC set fifteen as the minimum age for recruiting soldiers. The Optimal Protocol addresses the behavior of non-governmental and governmental armed groups but also applies a more stringent standard to non-governmental groups that to governments.” -From, “Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go To War” By: Jimmie Briggs

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Book Excerpt Of The Week: Part 1- “Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go To War” By: Jimmie Briggs

“Though overshadowed by high-profile fighting in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, the American Military has maintained a significant presence and role in Columbia for a number of years. In the fall of 2002, the U.S. Congress approved a request from the Bush administration to allow American military aid, previously targeted against the drug trade, to be used against insurgents namely the FARC [The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia] and ELN [The National Liberation Army]. Both the Columbian and American governments insist that fighting drugs is a major component of dealing with the anti-government guerillas as well as the pro-government, right-wing paramilitaries. That was the initial reasoning behind “Plan Columbia,” a $1.3 billion assistance package pushed by President Bill Clinton to combat the growth and production of cocaine in the mid to late 90s. Starting in the late 70s and going into the 1980s, illegal drugs became a factor in Columbia’s civil war.” -From, “Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go To War” By: Jimmie Briggs

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The 2008 not guilty verdict in the Sean Bell case evoked outrage, emotion, and debate. It is not an anomaly that the police officers involved in the Sean Bell slaying were acquitted of all charges on all counts in State Supreme Court. I could run out of ink printing the names of people who have been victimized by the inaptly named justice system.

The American justice system has been especially terroristic towards the African American community. Many community members can cite historic and personal accounts to prove this. Therefore, it would be foolhardy (at the least) to turn to a system that has methodically oppressed us, and request that they free us. We can only free ourselves through extreme discipline and intelligent planning.

As a community we have been too compliant with leaders who organize ineffective, delayed reactions. The only strategy that can save us in this last hour is one that calls for a collective code of conduct that will be conducive to improving the conditions of our community, and shifting the paradigm of how we are treated by outside entities. The first step of this code of conduct should be based on economics.

The old adage of “money talks,” still reigns true in the new millennium. Any political scientist worth his or her library card will tell you that: “Economic powerlessness equals political powerlessness,” and conversely “economic power equals political power.” This means that if we continue to allow our wealth to be extracted from our community, we will remain impotent.

The power of the collective “Black Dollar” is often discussed. However, that power has been left unchanneled. Today is the day to change that. A one-time boycott is not going to bring long-term change and respect to our community. Our community has launched boycotts before. Our success and ascension will be based on what we consistently do. For this reason, we should initiate “BUY BLACK FRIDAYS.”

BUY BLACK FRIDAYS is a small step towards our community acquiring power via controlling our economics. Every Friday, people who acknowledge the injustice and oppression that the African American community has been consistently subjected to should do one of the following:

Option #1: Spend $0 on Friday
Option #2: Spend no more than $10 on Friday
Option #3: Only Shop at Black Businesses on Friday
[PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ABOVE OPTIONS CAN & SHOULD BE EXERCISED ON A DAILY BASIS. However, we can all at the very least focus on Fridays. This way we can take a collective stand and build our collective discipline. Please remember that this is only Phase 1!].

To the people who are tempted to label “BUY BLACK FRIDAYS” as racist, I say this: In the big scheme of things, this is about right & wrong, justice & injustice. The African American community is a strong, proud community that has endured the brunt of America’s iron fist. We must stop the pounding. I feel that any fair-minded individual will concur, and join in.

ANY business that is privileged to enjoy the support of the African American community MUST return that support.

I thank you in advance for your effort and dedication.

-Elsie Law AKA Starface

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