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Black Topics Of Interest and Current Events

The Death Of Alton Banks

Health officials warn fentanyl, and other synthetic forms of the drug, can be so powerful that just inhaling or touching a small speck can be fatal. Detectives are still working to connect the dots of his final day and figure out where exactly he was exposed to the fatal drug.

Young victims — some curious toddlers who ingest the drugs by mistake — account for only a small amount of opioid victims. In 2015, there were 51 victims under the age of five, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, a number that is still an increase from over a decade ago.

Alton Banks returned home from a neighborhood outing at the local pool on June 23 and started vomiting. Family members later discovered him unconscious and rushed him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the Miami Herald reported.

Investigators do not believe Alton purposefully took the drugs, but how he came into contact with it may remain a mystery. The CDC says that accidental overdoses from fentanyl are not uncommon. The drug is 80 times more potent than morphine, and it’s likely that Alton touched a surface—such as a towel—that the drug was on, either at the pool or on his way back to his home in Overtown.

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office is still doing more testing, and a final report is pending. Authorities don’t generally disclose preliminary findings, but the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office agreed to comment publicly because of the unusual nature of the death and the need for tips in finding out how the boy might have come into contact with the drugs.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and is one of the most deadly painkillers out there. In fact, it’s even deadlier than heroin, PBS Newshour reported.

Since 2015, at least 31 people have died from overdosing on the drug. In addition to that statistic, Miami-Dade paramedics used Narcan to bring victims back to life 1,700 times in just the first nine months of 2016.

Alton’s mother, Shantell Banks, was informed of the preliminary findings late last week. She was too distraught to speak in depth on Monday but said her son was a “fun kid” who wanted to become an engineer and loved the Carolina Panthers.

The death comes against the backdrop of a staggering opioid crisis that has wreaked havoc across the country, with hundreds of South Florida drug users fatally overdosing in recent years. But illegal fentanyl and some of its synthetic cousins can be so powerful that just a speck, breathed in or absorbed through the skin, can fatally affect an unwitting victim.

Shantell Banks, the mother of Alton Banks, a 10-year-old Miami boy who may be among Florida’s youngest opioid victims, posted in a tribute to him on her Facebook page. Miami detectives are investigating how he might have a potent painkiller that was found in his system, according to preliminary toxicology reports.

The emergence of fentanyl on the streets has become a massive problem because some drug dealers lace heroin with it, and drug users are generally left unaware of it. Therefore, when they inject the heroin, they could possibly — and unknowingly — take a deadly dose.

Across Florida, in the first half of 2016, fentanyl and its analogs killed 853 people while contributing to 135 more deaths, state records show. Of those, only nine were under the age of 18.

Investigators do not believe the boy came into contact with the drug at his home. “We believe that it was somewhere between the park or the pool or the sidewalk, or maybe he touched something,” Rundle said.

FL Mayoral Candidate Congemi Says "Go Back To Africa and Obama Was Your Reparations"

A candidate for mayor in St. Petersburg, Fla. erupted at black reparations activists, telling them to “go back to Africa” during a mayoral debate.

A forum about opportunities for youth in St. Petersburg, Fla., turned racial when long-shot mayoral candidate Paul Congemi lashed out at an opponent’s supporters.

Paul Congemi, a white man who is in the mayoral race for St. Petersburg, fired back at his white campaign opponent Jesse Nevel, who centered his campaign on calling for government reparations for African-Americans.

He told the officers responding during an incident at a KFC, “Don’t touch me. I am running for mayor, and once I get elected you will be fired!,” according to a police report.

“Mr. Nevel, you and your people talk about reparations. The reparations that you talk about, Mr. Nevel, your people already got your reparations. Your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama,” Congemi responded, pointing a figure at the audience as he spoke. “My advice to you, if you don’t like it here in America, planes leave every hour from Tampa airport. Go back to Africa. Go back to Africa. Go back!”

Nevel said “I was reluctant to engage this candidate last night and draw even more attention to his disturbing message. I regret not doing so, though. It is simply unacceptable to spew this kind of bigoted rhetoric.” Free speech should not compromise the dignity and respect of any person or community. This candidate spoke hateful words about African Americans and our LGBT community. He has the right to do so, but nothing about what he said is right. His comments just aren’t who we are.

Congemi claimed that his mother had only been without home health care for about a day and a half as he switched providers. Congemi’s mother had serious bed sores all the way down to her tail bone. She was hospitalized and Congemi was arrested. Even in the middle of the fallout, after posting a $10,000 bail, Congemi told reporters that he would keep on with his political aspirations. Those charges were ultimately dropped, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Despite the rumblings over Congemi’s actions and his stances, Congemi insisted he is not going anywhere. And, apparently, we should take his word for it.

His modus operandi will apparently remain the same this time around, despite criticisms and backlash over his comments at the forum. And even if he loses, he says he won’t stop. Nevel’s campaign slogan is “Unity Through Reparations.” He is backed by a group called the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, which pushes for reparations as a way to alleviate racial inequality. The group also calls for solutions to racially charged issues in society, such as gentrification and police brutality.

Congemi told the Post that he believes his rival is “obviously” a “self-hating white man” for his policies, adding that he has “nothing against African-Americans who are doing their best here in America.”Congemi added that he had been a lifelong Democrat until former President Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage, prompting him to switch political parties. He said he is also a supporter of President Trump.

Though he is facing accusations of racism for his comments, Congemi said Wednesday that he will not drop out of the mayoral race. “I’ll run again in 2019 and, God willing, if I’m alive in 2021, I’ll run then too,” he said. “I intend to keep running and running and running.”

His comments were directed at Nevel, who is white. He is the national chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, a group that organizes white support for black-led community social justice. It is an organization that works with the main Uhuru organization, which has many African-American members, including founder and activist Omali Yeshitela.

Jocelyn Savage Deny Being Held Against Her Will By R Kelly

The parents of one woman aged 21 told BuzzFeed that their daughter has been “brainwashed” by Kelly since she met him following a concert in March 2015. The woman, who identified herself as Jocelyn Savage to TMZ Monday, is reported to have moved in with Kelly and broken off contact with her parents.

“It was as if she was brainwashed. She looked like a prisoner. It was horrible. I hugged her and hugged her. But she just kept saying she’s in love and is the one who cares for her. I don’t know what to do. I hope that if I get her back, I can get her treatment for victims of cults,” J. said. “They can reprogram her. But I wish I could have stopped it from happening.”

“You know the reason why Ms. Jocelyn Savage didn’t tell you where her location at? She’s not allowed to tell you her location,” Savage said. “Mr. R. Kelly, if you want to file a lawsuit, you should’ve filed it yesterday. I’m waiting on you. File the lawsuit.”

“I’m 21, I’m about to be 22 in five days and I just mainly want to say that I’m in a happy place with my life and I’m not being brainwashed or anything like that,” Savage said. “It just came to a point where it definitely has gotten out of hand, so I just want everybody to know, my parents and everybody in the world that, I am totally fine. I’m happy where I’m at and everything is okay with me.”

Earlier, Mack, Jones, and McGee said there are at least six women living in properties rented by the R&B star in Chicago and Atlanta. The ‘guest houses’ where the women are kept are near his home in suburban Atlanta, and his apartment at Trump Tower in Chicago.

Officers in Georgia and Illinois conducted welfare checks for one of the women after receiving a request from her parents, TMZ reported. However, the woman told officers she “did not want to be bothered with her parents because her father was threatening people.”

R Kelly Accused Of Leading Young Women Into A Sexually Abusive Cult

DeRogatis’ report goes into more detail about another young, aspiring singer from Florida who met Kelly when she was just 17 and recently had breast augmentation on his dime, and includes audio recordings of the 19-year-old’s conversations with the singer. Multiple parents have attempted to get law enforcement involved, but so far no major investigation has been undertaken.

On Friday, July 14, after Kelly and the Florida woman had been asked for comment on this story, Angelo said he got a surprise phone call from his daughter, who invited him to come to see Kelly perform in Indiana on Saturday. Wary of Kelly’s motivations, Angelo said he declined the invitation. He also is angry over the other surprise news from his daughter: She said Kelly had recently paid for her to have breast enhancement surgery.

“My thing was I trusted. I have never been in the music industry before, ever,” Theresa said. “He is a lyrical genius — he is R. Kelly! And the fact is he went to court, he was never found guilty — he was acquitted — and we were led to believe there was no truth in it. Now I got all of these people asking about why my daughter is there, telling me, ‘All of that, the charges against Kelly, was true.’ Well, how come you didn’t tell me that before?”

DeRogatis’ report for Buzzfeed focuses on two Georgia parents’ quest to free their 19-year-old daughter from Kelly’s clutches. The woman and her mother met the singer backstage at a show in Atlanta in hopes of advancing her own singing and dancing career. However, her parents now say they haven’t seen her since December of 2016 and have been reaching out to the FBI in hopes of finding legal recourse to save their daughter. They’ve received just two text messages from their daughter in that time, one in which she says she wishes she could spend Christmas with them and another reading, “Happy Mother’s Day from me and Rob.”

Two other parents are fighting to get their daughter back. The parents of an aspiring professional singer from Florida said their daughter met Kelly when she was 17 years old, and she moved into one of his rental properties once she was over the age of legal consent. (BuzzFeed News verified their identities and full names, but is withholding the alleged victim’s full name and her parents’ last name to protect her privacy. Her mother asked to be called by her middle name, Theresa, for the same reason.)

Theresa said she initially let her daughter spend time with Kelly because it was “supposed to be a music relationship.” She now regrets that decision.“My thing was I trusted. I have never been in the music industry before, ever,” Theresa said. “He is a lyrical genius — he is R. Kelly! And the fact is he went to court, he was never found guilty — he was acquitted — and we were led to believe there was no truth in it. Now I got all of these people asking about why my daughter is there, telling me, ‘All of that, the charges against Kelly, was true.’ Well, how come you didn’t tell me that before?”The Florida singer first met Kelly when her parents took her to see him perform at Funk Fest in Orlando on April 18, 2015.

Jim DeRogatis is a Chicago-based music journalist and critic. He is an assistant professor in the English Department at Columbia College Chicago; the co-host of “Sound Opinions,” the weekly rock-n-roll talk show originating at WBEZ Chicago and heard on some 125 Public Radio stations nationwide as well as on podcast at, and the the author of nine books about music.

Is Sammy Sosa Latest Skin Bleaching A Sign Of Self-Hate?

So far, Sosa hasn’t commented about the reaction to his appearance. But CNN commentator Keith Boykin offered some wise words about the controversy: “I don’t know what Sammy Sosa is going through, but the most important lesson I’ve learned in life is to love yourself for who you are,” he tweeted. If companies stopped trying to profit from the desire for light skin driven by racial oppression, Boykin’s advice might be easier to follow.

American consumers aren’t always aware that, for example, a global brand like Unilever, which advertises its Dove brand with statements about loving yourself, sells a product called Fair & Lovely in other parts of the world. Unilever’s website states that “It is the no. 1 fairness cream in India and is popular throughout Asia.” Similarly, some products from Nivea carry labels on the bottles that promote a “10X whitening effect.”

“It’s a bleaching cream that I apply before going to bed and whitens my skin some,” Sosa said during a Univision network event, reported ESPN. “It’s a cream that I have, that I use to soften , but has bleached me some. I’m not a racist, I live my life happily.”

Sammy Sosa was a great hitter in Major League Baseball in the 1990’s and early part of the 2000’s, whether he took performance-enhancing steroids or not. Since his retirement from baseball in 2009,  Sammy Sosa skin color lightening to a whiter shade has been keeping him relevant in the news.

Lighter skin and white people are heavily promoted in America.  For example, regular advertisements for computers, for clothing, for banking services all show light-skinned women playing, frolicking, cooking and being otherwise ‘fresh’ (another code word for lighter-skinned). Two side-by-side billboards on Oxford Street for a casino show African men surrounded by and having fun with white and light-skinned women.”

Sammy Sosa, the former Chicago Cubs slugger who had a 13-year run with a team-record of 545 home runs and three seasons of 60-plus homers, is in the limelight again, and not for using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Sosa’s recent television appearance in Panama was captured by Panamanian TV personality Nairobi Dacosta, who uploaded a photo on her Twitter of the former Major League Baseball (MLB) player looking “downright vampiric,” NESN reports.

The ex-Cubs slugger, who originally had a medium-to-dark skin tone, was said to be sporting a completely new complexion — white. Sosa was previously thought to have a skin condition that caused this drastic change in his face pigmentation. The former athlete’s “new face” was first spotted in the 2009 Latin Grammys in Las Vegas when Sosa showed up to the awards show with a lighter visage.

The dramatic change in pigmentation had baseball fans, sports commentators, dermatologists, and cultural analysts wonder what could have been the cause of the skin condition, says Time. But it turns out it was all cosmetic.  According to the Associated Press (AP), Sosa said he is not trying to look like the late pop star Michael Jackson and is not suffering from any skin illness. He stated instead that his skin color was due to a longtime use of a cosmetic “skin cream,” in combination with bright TV lights make his face appear whiter than it actually is. “It’s a bleaching cream that I apply before going to bed and whitens my skin some,” said the ex-Cubs slugger in a 2009 interview with “Primer Impacto,” a program of the Univision Spanish Network. “It’s a cream that I have, that I use to soften, but has bleached me some.

I’m not a racist, I live my life happily.” Sammy Sosa’s skin pigmentation change.  The photo that once caused so much public turmoil during the 2009 Latin Grammys has now been replaced by the recently posted photo on Twitter of the former baseball player.  His dark complexion is now gone and replaced with a “ghost-like” skin color that has not been well received by critics. Nairobi Dacosta with a “lighter” Sammy Sosa In Panama TV Studios. Nairobi Dacosta Twitter “Skin bleaching” is a cosmetic treatment that targets skin discolorations in order to even out the color of the skin. These cosmetic treatments are available over the counter and by prescription.

While it is not exactly known if Sosa applies the skin lightener to his entire body, those who do so could risk mercury poisoning. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends patients who use these skin whitening creams to discontinue use of all these products if they are not used at the direction of a dermatologist. The ex-Cubs slugger has not revealed the name of the mystery cream but did say he bought it in Europe. He also previously revealed in a Chicago Tribune interview that he had undergone a skin rejuvenation treatment — a treatment that is very common among women. “I’m going to market it, I’m a businessman,” said Sosa, ESPN reports.

Sosa, who retired in 2007, has tried to keep himself out of the spotlight, but it looks like some sunlight might do the former MLB player some good.