Provocative New Music From Dallas’ Buffalo Black Tackles What It Means to Be American

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelSeptember 15, 2016 12:57 pm,

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

For this week’s installation of “Cut In,” our series featuring new tracks from Texas artists, writer Lyndsay Knecht spotlights Dallas artist Jamil Kelley, who performs as Buffalo Black. Director Spike Lee hand-picked one of Kelley’s songs for the soundtrack to his film “Da Blood of Jesus,” released last year.

Kelley is back with a timely critique of American symbolism. These issues were brought into sharp focus when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling for the national anthem to protest police violence against people of color. The song “American Colors” featuring Freddy Sans made its debut on Texas Standard this week:

“American Colors” by Buffalo Black takes back the language and symbols keyed to patriotism by disavowing the institutionalized racism and injustice that contaminate the threads of American virtue. The song feels as much like a traditional rallying cry as an acknowledgment of struggle. The deep heart of Freddy Sans’ voice only intensifies the track.

You can read more about Jamil Kelley and how growing up in the military shaped his perspective on American symbolism at KERA’s Art&Seek

Attorneys for Sandra Bland’s family say they’ve reached a $1.9-million settlement with Texas officials. Bland’s mother Geneva Reed-Veal filed the civil lawsuit against Waller County officials, the Waller County Jail and a couple of its jailers. The lawsuit also included the Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who arrested Bland in July of 2015.

Brian Encinia arrested Bland after a routine traffic stop – she was found hanging in her jail cell three days later. Reed-Veal spoke about the pain of losing her daughter at the Democratic National Convention earlier this summer.

“I watched as my daughter Sandra Bland was lowered into the ground in a coffin,” Reed-Veal said. “She was my fourth of five daughters and she was gone. No, no, not on administrative leave but on permanent leave from this earth.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety has to cover 100,000 dollars of the settlement while Waller County has to pay the rest. You can read more about the settlement here.

Bexar County health officials are celebrating what they consider promising figures: Between 2010 and 2014 the rate of teen births there dropped by 26 percent. Sixteen-year-old Diego Cura is part of a mentoring group called “Project Worth” that works to reduce teen pregnancy. He told Texas Public Radio they’ve made a lot of progress:

“So if we can just keep up this pace, we’ll soon be with the national average or less,” Cura said. 

Right now San Antonio’s teen birth rate is still 55 percent higher than the national average.