Friday, July 31, 2009

Could this be???

I heard a radio pundit recently scold his listening audience about the condition of our minds. He was talking about what he called the “Tim Man Syndrome” that many are experiencing in our culture. I must admit, I was a bit confused as to the point of his commentary until I made the connection to the Wizard of Oz where the Tin Man need a heart and the Scarecrow who was lost, searching for a brain, and wanted the Wizard to give him one, respectively, when in fact each had a heart and brain all along. The pundit’s closing statement was profound and hit me like a brick. He said, “People we are locked up in our minds”.

This was all I was able to think about on this day. At some point, I remembered reading an interview featuring the amazing Sojourner Truth shortly before her death. She was asked by a newspaper reporter, “Do you know how many slaves you saved through your efforts conducting the Underground Railroad?” Her response was simple and to the point. She said, “I could have saved a lot more, if they had only known they were slaves.” Consumed by this profound thought I tried to conceptualize how this was possible. Who was responsible and how so many remain psychologically imprisoned?

To accomplish this I decided to start, not at the beginning, but where it’s widely believed the strategy to enslave us was devised. As the story goes, a British slave owner from the West Indies was invited to the colony of Virginia sometime during the year 1712, to teach his methods to slave owners there. Willie Lynch was the name of the man credited with a speech delivered on the banks of the James River. It is noteworthy to mention that the James River was named for the illustrious King of England, who was the same guy responsible for the twenty-eighth version of the cherished Holy Bible.

This man Lynch brought with him, as he put it, a foolproof method for controlling black slaves that will last for a thousand years. Consequently, it is believed the term “lynching” was derived from his last name as a way to pay homage to him for delivering this ingenious approach. The name Willie Lynch is interesting because it may be a simple play on words. For example, Will Lynch or Will he Lynch. Whatever the reason, it no doubt has significant psychological implications that played heavily on a naive race of people.

Lynch began his historic presentation with a warm greeting: “Gentlemen, you know what your problems are; I do not need to elaborate. I am not here to enumerate your problems. I am here to introduce you to a method of solving them. In my bag here, I have a foolproof method for controlling your black slaves. I guarantee every one of you that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least three hundred years. My method is simple…The black slave after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self re-fueling and self generating for hundreds of years, maybe thousands…”

The seeds of devastation were planted and the process of destruction was underway for the making of a race into slaves. In the speech, Lynch outlined a number of differences among the slaves. He stressed to his audience that they should take these differences and make them bigger. These differences included such things as age, color, intelligence, fine hair vs. coarse hair, tall vs. short, male vs. female. However, these tactics were not new. They were more than likely put together collectively for this specific purpose for the first time as keys to control.

This short eight-paragraph speech was profound in that it was the embodiment of the cruelest demoralizing agenda ever imposed upon a people since the days when the Romans crucified our Lord. As Lynch closed his speech that day, he said, “They must love, respect, and trust only us.” This is the key to producing a successful strategy. Whether this story is true or not is cause for much speculation. However, as history demonstrates, a manufactured plan was developed by someone to achieve these results that continue to this very day.

Let’s suppose the Lynch story is a myth. How could the ruling authorities, or anyone for that matter, justify an evil system that sanctioned murder, among other atrocities, as a way of building and maintaining a government, and controlling the minds of a people. I know most of us were taught the same HIS-STORY as I was taught in high school and growing up. Knowing this, I recalled how our government through legislative sessions passed laws to ensure that our bondage was sustained. Further, this wicked system was also sanctioned by the church. Therefore, what is important to understand, when the church endorsed slavery and the vehicle that drove it, this meant, in the eyes of the system - God himself authorized this immoral travesty and affirmed what they believed was manifest destiny.

I painstakingly walked through history from the perspective of the oppressed people – from Lynch through slavery, the Civil War into Reconstruction, through the Jim Crow era and segregation to the present. It is extremely important for African Americans, especially young men, to understand our heritage and be proud of it. We must know our past, the true past, in order to participate intelligently in the productive affairs of our future or we are certain to remain psychologically imprisoned. This history, which others have tried so diligently to erase, causes our mental bondage to place us on the verge of being a nearly extinct species – particularly black men.

As I reexamined our past that day, I was forced to remember this very important message. Your thoughts are the precursor to your words. Together they will translate into actions and your actions become habits. These habits will in turn become the foundation of your character and the content of your character will decide your destiny. The task ahead of you is never as great as the strength of the power behind you. As soon as the enslaved minds understand this concept, they will realize this is the only way they will live what God has breathed into their souls and not just live a life manifested by the likes of a Willie Lynch or dare I say, continue the “Tim Man Syndrome”.

“Free your mind and you’re ass will follow”.

A brilliant and renowned scholar once shared with the world – “to compromise on principle is to betray yourself, which will cause you to lose the fabric of your soul”. Underscoring that theme – “if you don’t know where you’ve come from then you will never know where you’re going or how to get there.”

Source – Just a Season
© 2007 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I was the keynote speaker for a Black History Month luncheon - invited by an organization of prominent successful African American business people. It was less than a month after President Obama had been sworn in as the first Black American President. During the speech I said in spite of this “we are still a nation of people, living within a nation, searching for a nationality”. A lady seated near the front spoke out, loudly I might add, saying “I am an American – I know my nationality”. I looked in her direction, noticing not only was she rude, but that she appeared offended by the remark.

It seemed as if the entire room of several hundred people in this very elegant downtown Washington, DC hotel emptied and there was only the two of us in the room. I moved from the podium in her direction and said, “You know, in my lifetime I have been colored, a Negro, Afro-America, Black, African American, and many things I won’t repeat. Nonetheless, thank you for making me aware that we are now Americans. Would this be the result of having entered an era that’s being called post racial?” She replied “Yes”. Hmmm.

I asked her, “Can you meet me later, say about ten o’clock, in front of this very building and let’s try to catch a taxicab to go to your neighborhood?” In this city that some would describe as the capital city of the free world; you will find out very quickly how much of an America you are when the cabbie refuses to pick us up. I assumed this black woman, as well as many black people believe that just because we have a black president that somehow something magical has happened where racism has ended and all is right with the world.

Now, fast forward to last Friday when I received a twitter message about an incident where Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested for trying to break into his own home near Harvard Square. Dr. Gates is a renowned Harvard University Professor, a preeminent African-American scholar, editor-in-chief of, and one of America’s foremost authorities on race - among many other accolades. More importantly, he is the very best of us - not the least of us. Therefore, I was drawn to this story immediately.

Details about the story were slow to become available, at least for a few days, but as the story began to unfold, as with any situation that involve “Black and White” there were two distinctly different accounts. The officer was there because of a call from a neighbor reporting “a black man breaking into a home” in the white neighborhood of Cambridge, Mass. According to the policeman Dr. Gates was screaming the word “racist” for no apparent reason other than he was a white cop who showed up at his home. The officer also indicated that Gates told him, when asked to step outside, “I’ll speak with your mama outside” and threatened to go after his job. Before I go any further, this incident occurred in one of America’s northern most cities and not Mississippi. However, in America “anywhere south of Canada is in the south”.

According to Dr. Gates, the cop mistreated him because he is black man. The professor asked the officer for his badge number and identification, which is his right as a citizen. Published accounts say the police officer refused to comply with this citizen’s request. At this point both agree that Dr. Gates did produce a driver’s license and his Harvard University ID, when asked by the officer clearly indicating that this was indeed his home. And yet, the police officer arrested Dr. Gates for disorderly conduct because the officer felt threatened, (wink) which is the all too familiar theme or codeword used for justification.

Dr. Gates is a 58-year-old slender built black man who requires a cane to walk. The officer, from the pictures I’ve seen, is a substantially larger and younger individual with a gun and a license to kill. The officer claims that had no choice but to use the four worst words in the English language to a black man “you are under arrest” basically for being home and black. Many people of the other hue are saying the officer’s story must be true because he is the police and Gates shouldn’t have said that to the policeman, who was only doing his job. In addition, they say that Gates’ position as a college professor with no criminal record should not be a factor at all in the story. Wait a minute, haven’t we seen this movie? It’s called, “The Uppity Negro Syndrome” where the black man has not committed a crime but has a big mouth.

By Tuesday, the charges of disorderly conduct against Professor Gates were dropped. The police and Dr. Gates issued a joint statement calling the incident “regrettable and unfortunate.” Because the charges were dropped tells me that once again overreaching by law enforcement was the reason - otherwise Dr. Gates would have to appear in court to face the charge. It also tells me (MESSAGE) that no matter how much education you have as a person of color, you still can’t escape institutional racism making us keenly aware of how many people every day experience abuses in the criminal justice system; a reality for many people of color and black men in particular.

We might be able to understand the reasoning for this philosophy that is the foundation for institutional racism from someone who knows; a well-known cable TV pundit Pat Buchanan. On the Rachel Maddow Show last week he was talking about the Senate Judiciary Committee GOP members who opposite to the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor. Although it was a different topic, it is the same basic theory used to reinforce institutional racism and their inner sense of racial superiority that is viewed systematically as their God given right. And I quote:

“White men were 100% of the people that wrote the Constitution, 100% of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, probably close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country built basically by white folks, who were 90% of the nation in 1960 when I was growing up and the other 10% were African-Americans ... That's why. Damn straight! And what were all those black people doing at the time when heroic white people were setting about the important business of founding this great nation of ours? You guessed it! Hanging around fields, picking cotton, like bone idle jerks! None of that ever contributed anything to the common weal, of course! I mean, what is “cotton?” Not exactly THE FABRIC OF OUR LIVES, right?”
- Source (Huffpost)

I wonder if the lady from the luncheon, wherever she is today, is aware that this incident, aside from the many others tragic and unnecessary situations that happen to African America’s everyday is a reminder that for all the racial progress she feels the country seemed to have made with the election of President Obama - not much has changed in the everyday lives of most people in terms of race relations.

To be continued – I am sure…

Friday, July 17, 2009

Grand Ol’ Party v Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor = WTF

I am going to start by saying I am appalled by the actions of the Grand Ol’ Party’s treatment of Supreme Court Nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Since I’ve lived through segregation, Jim Crow and have experienced racism - I should not be surprised. Actually, this behavior was reminiscent of days long past when the likes of Strom Thurmond and George Wallace espoused their vision of America. The tone used against the justice during nominating hearings was such a sad commentary on the part of these “Senators” and most right wing misfits in general. I suppose the reasons for this behavior, other than the obvious, is simple: President Obama, the first black president picked her and that she is the first Hispanic in history picked to wear the robe of a justice on the high court.

Many people of this ideology, who are practicing identity politics (race baiting), have attacked Judge Sonia Sotomayor personally, professionally, and in a sense all minorities. Of course the GOP’s main issue is the 10 year old remark: a Latina’s “experiences as women and people of color" are factors that "should affect our decisions, can make better decisions than a white man”. This remark caused white men/people to call her a reverse racist but it seems to me that they are afraid of extinction as a result of this new day in American politics. As an example or maybe to prove their point they trotted out the firemen who had their reverse discrimination claim rejected by Sotomayor and two other appeals court judges. The Supreme Court overturned that ruling late last month.

Some of the words, code words, used to belittle and disrespect her were “militant, a welfare queen, racist, liberal, activist, left-wing, affirmative action baby, temperamental, nasty, and a bully”. In addition, they believe she would bring her biases and a political agenda to the bench supporting minority positions that conservatives like to use to arouse their base. They even went so far as to use Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to beat up on her. One Senator went so far as to say during the confirmation hearing – “you got lots to splain” mocking a famous Cuban American comedian. But, the worst and most disrespectful of their insults was calling her “unqualified”.

Just a little about Judge Sonia Sotomayor who has, arguably, lived the American dream. Born to a Puerto Rican family and grew up in a public housing project in the South Bronx. Her father was a factory worker with a third-grade education, and died when Sotomayor was nine years old. Her mother raised Sotomayor while working as a nurse. After her father's death, Sotomayor reportedly turned to books for solace, and she says it was her love of Nancy Drew books that ultimately led her to the law.

Judge Sotomayor graduated as valedictorian of her class at Blessed Sacrament and at Cardinal Spellman High School in New York. She won a scholarship to Princeton where she continued to excel, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She was a co-recipient of the M. Taylor Pyne Prize, the highest honor Princeton awards to an undergraduate. At Yale Law School, Judge Sotomayor served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal and as managing editor of the Yale Studies in World Public Order.
After law school, Sotomayor spent five years as Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, trying dozens of criminal cases. Robert Morgenthau chose her for the position and described her as a "fearless and effective prosecutor." She entered private practice in 1984, working as an international corporate litigator handling cases involving everything from intellectual property to banking, real estate and contract law.

In 1998, Judge Sotomayor became the first Latina to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, one of the most demanding circuits in the country. Serving as a federal judge for 17 years, the last 11 on the appeals court in New York, participating in over 3000 panel decisions and authored roughly 400 opinions, handling difficult issues of constitutional law, to complex procedural matters, to lawsuits involving complicated business organizations. If, no when, confirmed to the highest court in the land, Judge Sotomayor would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years, and more overall judicial experience than anyone confirmed for the Court in the past 70 years... Enough said, I could go on an on. UNQUALIFIED???

Frankly, I am vexed because the last eight years of gangsta politics, all the lies and bad decisions about Iraq, W.M.D.’s, domestic surveillance, looted the treasury, torture, rendition and secret hit squads, Katrina, running the economy into the ground, use of fear, paranoia and revenge. Not to mention the only minority faces surrounding the Grand Ol’ Party were people who reminded me of my uncle whose name was Tom. Mind you, this is the same group that championed a governor from the wilderness who embodied the definition of irrational, volatile and a scattered country-music queen without the music as the their savior. Let’s not forget that it was the last Grand Ol’ Party leader who refused, would not accept, and did not attend any of the NAACP annual conferences – that would be eight. WTF!!!

Lastly, of the 111 Supreme Court Justices to date - all have been white men but four. So I say having a court as well as all areas of government representing the faces of America is America the beautiful. God Bless America…