Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Civil War Facts Might Change - Beware!!!

The prolific French writer, historian, and philosopher Voltaire said, “History is a pack of tricks we play upon the dead”. This statement could not be more profound, but I like to call it His-Story.

If you are not aware, we are about to enter into five years of untruths, unreal assessments, and in some cases out and out lies, as 2011 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. This was a critical point in time because a divided nation faced a crisis. It started in the early morning hours of April 12, 1861, when Confederate batteries fired upon federal troops occupying Fort Sumter. Union forces surrendered the next day after 34 hours of shelling; the bloodiest war in the nation’s history had begun.

There is no question this major event in the country’s history is significant. However, we should be candid about its causes and not allow the distortions of contemporary politics or long-standing myths to cloud our understanding of why the nation fell apart. There will be a lot of misinformation that will surely come, as both sides of the debate relive this chapter of American history. So be prepared for the revisionists to create many illusions pertaining to the facts as they relate to the realities of Civil War history.

It’s already begun with a surge of activity, especially among conservatives, to adjust the story to reflect contemporary political positions. One prominent recent effort occurred in Texas last May. The state school board revised social studies standards to increase study of Confederate leaders and reduce emphasis on the Founding Fathers’ commitment to separation of church and state. Some wanted to stop referring to the slave trade and substitute a euphemistic phrase, the "Atlantic triangular trade." Thankfully, after opposition, that idea was dropped.

More recently, the Virginia Department of Education conceded its error in allowing a misleading textbook to be used in classrooms. But, they will allow the history book to continue to be used and the offending passage will remain. Even after admitting that the inaccurate passage was "outside of accepted Civil War scholarship." The disputed passage was a gross falsehood that says two battalions of African American soldiers fought for the Confederacy under famed Gen. Stonewall Jackson. The department would go on to say that it anticipates teachers "will have no difficulty working around one objectionable sentence".

Also in Virginia, the new Governor signed a proclamation honoring the Civil War and made no mention of slavery, which again after considerable controversy he revised the proclamation. Let me add that Richmond, Virginia was the home of the Confederate capital. These are just a few examples detected within the last six months. Sure the First Amendment protects the Confederate sympathizers' right to write this nonsense but it is up to us to do our due diligence to understand, although we were never taught the truth, that it is untrue.

Before I go any further, let’s be clear, the war was NOT fought to free the slaves. That narrative came much later when the north was not winning and needed a reason to allow colored solders to fight. Abraham Lincoln, Honest Abe, although not a proponent of slavery, had no desire to end slavery at the onset of the war. He was for the free-labor ideology of equal opportunity and upward mobility. The issue of slavery, as he stated, “was the morality and future of the slaves and of slavery”. He believed if the nation remained divided on the issue of slavery, the nation would not last. If you recall he borrowed a statement made by Jesus to support this position; “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Actually, Honest Abe was considering the option of sending the slaves back to Africa or somewhere outside of America to solve the problem. IN FACT, as an experiment, he sent thousands to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This experiment was not successful because many became ill and died causing him to reevaluate the decision. He also had another plan, which was to acquire land in South America to host this unwanted population to include other locations as well.

On the other side, the south, secessionist, saw it this way. Their leader Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a major slaveholder, justified secession in 1861 as an act of self-defense against the incoming Lincoln administration. Abraham Lincoln's policy of excluding slavery from the territories, Davis said, would make "property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless . . . thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars."

The Confederate vice president, Alexander Stephens said, "Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea… Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical and moral truth." These guys were very straightforward in their belief that the proper status of the Negro in America’s form of civilization, if free, would be the immediate cause of the rupture.

Views such as this continue today, from various quarters, because there remains enormous denial over the fact that the central cause of the war was our national disagreement about race, slavery, or more specific states' rights. The historian Douglas Egerton says, "The South split the Democratic Party and later the country not in the name of states' rights but because it sought federal government guarantees that slavery would prevail… routinely shifted their ideological ground in the name of protecting unfree labor." I believe it was all about states’ rights similar to today’s conservative perspective.

Let’s understand slavery was about one thing – economics. The institution and the economics derived from it built America and that wealth made America a powerful force in the world as a result. Therefore, those who try to rewrite or obscure the reality of this evil do so wishing the greatest crime ever inflected upon a people never ended or that it would return. I suggest that you listen carefully to those who use the code word “States Rights” and hear what they are not saying.

The Confederacy broken up the United States and launched a war that killed 620,000 Americans in a vain attempt to keep 4 million people in slavery does not confer honor upon their lost cause. It’s been 150 years of folks, like back then and now, trying to change the narrative to justify why the war was fought. Some say slavery. Some say tariffs. Others say the Constitution. I found this quote where one captured Confederate soldier, as he was being marched off to prison, was asked, "Why are you fighting?" He is said to have grunted, "Because you're here."


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVES: Tis’ the Season: "This is the season we rejoice with great celebration for Christmas is the day Christ was born. Rarely do I share much of my personal being, ..."

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Washington Deadskins – Shame on you!!!

This is the first time I’ve delved into the sports arena via this blog, but as you know I might share a Thought Provoking Perspective on any topic, particularly if it relates to an African American issue. I must admit, I normally reserve my comments for those subjects that are more meaningful to life’s issues. Nonetheless, as I watched the Dallas Cowboys/Washington Redskins game yesterday I had a flashback with respect to the Redskins organization, which has a long history of mistreating African American player.

As I watched Donavan McNabb on the sidelines during the game I realized as sure as something’s change they remain the same. Many Washingtonians, as well as fan in many other places, are endeared to the Redskins football team, which is their personal choice. Unfortunately, I am not of them, and not just because of the team’s name. In my view it is akin to calling African Americans the “N-Word”, which surely must be the view of Native American’s; disrespectful at best.

Back to McNabb, seeing what appeared to be humiliation on his face caused the hair on the back of my neck to rise, because of the teams sorted past and there long history that support this position. The NFL’s color barrier was broken in 1946; it inexplicably took George Preston Marshall, the team’s owner, 16 more years amid legal threats and community pressure to bring Bobby Mitchell, their first black player, to the Redskins. Former quarterback Eddie LeBaron, who knew Marshall, said he never believed he was a racist. However, they were the last team in the NFL to sign a black player and were forced to do so.

In more recent memory, do you remember Quarterback Doug Williams? He was sent packing a season after he made history winning the Super Bowl. Now, let’s look at what happened to Jason Campbell last year when no one in management stuck up for him while he's getting killed behind his offensive line. I won’t even mention Big Albert’s treatment this year.

In the latest episode, Donovan McNabb suddenly is bad at understanding the playbook. This is a seasoned professional, who’s a six time Pro Bowler and a player sure to reach the Hall of Fame, who by the way has played football since he was 10 years old. The team’s management has disrespected him in every way imaginable from claiming he was out of shape to not being able to understand the offense to benching him for a quarterback far less capable, culminating with benching him for the rest of the season. Was this due diligence on the part of wrong-way Mike or something more ominous?

I’ll say Wrong-way’s benching of McNabb in the final two minutes in Detroit permeates my point, so let's get right to the point. Is there an elephant in the room: RACE? Surely this is noticed and reverberates in the minds of those who know and remember the history of this organization, which is significantly rooted in questionable decisions concerning black players. Looking back at this history, what happens is you start to wonder.

Kevin Blackistone an AOL Fanhouse columnist and Washington native remarked, whether Shanahan had any understanding of the organization’s history, the city’s composition, or the feelings that linger; he should be sensitive enough to understand that "this ain't Colorado." In 1965, his father, James Sr., wrote a letter to the acting president of the Redskins, Edward Bennett Williams. Like most African American fans at the time, James Blackistone was offended by the Confederate flags in the stands and the band's playing of "Dixie" during games. Less than a month later, Williams wrote back to Blackistone, saying he agreed. After 1965, the Redskins band did not play "Dixie" at another game.

When Wrong-way questions the intelligence of McNabb, black fans should ask themselves, what is he really saying? I want to be very clear that I'm not saying it was his intention to make McNabb sound dumb, incompetent or lazy. But it was and is shameful and disrespectful the way he has handled it, like the Big Albert’s situation, he insults the player. When it keeps happening, there is a fine line between coaching and hegemony.

The history of why African Americans are so sensitive is not made up or unfounded, particularly in light of segregation, Jim Crow, and slavery. The prevailing thought, in my mind, is leadership and they may have issues with the complexion of the leader. Hmmm.

How many great African American players have come out of this organization? They were the last team to integrate with Bobby Mitchell. Then Bobby was never given a shot to be the general manager. You throw in Doug Williams dismissed after he was the Super Bowl MVP, Art Monk and Brian Mitchell unceremoniously going to Philadelphia, and the list goes on.

There always seems to be an undertone, at the very least disrespect, with this organization that is not easily dismissed. Now, they limped into Big D, lost, and the pundits proclaimed Rex the future. Let’s look at it this way; they played a Dallas team that is not very good – ok. Then they put forth a game plan to justify the decision. For example, Rex threw all day and if you do that you will get stat’s both good and bad, which he did. There were no running plays to speak of – 55 yards accumulated the entire game.

Former team player Doc Walker said a few weeks ago, “Whenever anything happens involving a player of color in Washington, the bottom line is the old wounds are opened… The last two minutes of that game brought back 30 years or more of undertones. You don't necessarily say, 'That's what it is,' but you do pause and think about it… Given what's happened here, it's only natural.”

This is the very reason why there are so many Cowboy fans in Washington, because many black fans refused to support a team that would not employ an African American player for so many years. So they became fans of the team's arch rival. They have kids and they became Cowboy fans - and so on and so on – and most of them have never even been to Dallas. I agree totally because that is why I am a Dallas Cowboys fan.

My last point, keep an eye on the NFL MVP to be awarded. Let’s see if the rightful recipient Michael Vick receives the much deserved award or….

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This Holiday Season

I am one who believes - we are our bothers keeper. Therefore, I offer this Thought Provoking Perspective with all due respect for the coming holiday season with the wish that each of us to consider our follow man during these times of distress. As we approach and celebrate the blessed day dedicated to the birth of Jesus, it would be appropriate, I think, if we practiced his most basic principle, which is to “do unto thee as you would do unto me”. I am sure you know someone in distress, maybe you; therefore I would ask that all of us reach into our hearts and share some of the goodness contained within it to help another soul, or as Jesus said “the least of thee”.

The world in which we live is a place full of turmoil and strife, and it’s more than likely been that way since the days Jesus walked the earth. I’ve often wondered; if Jesus were alive today what would he do? Maybe he would do as he did in the temple with the money changers or he might bring a few loafs of bread and a couple of fish to feed the hungry. He might also calm the turbulent seas as the world is filled with war and violence. Nonetheless, if I had one wish, it would be that all men were free.

We have all bought into the story, or at least lied to our children, about the myth of Santa Claus. We also know that the Christmas story is said to be the greatest story ever told; considering it was written generations after the birth of Christ that would be a fair statement. To be honest, no one really knows for sure because there are differing accounts of the event within the holy text. Further, the story of the Immaculate Conception was taken from African folklore told, and historically evident, ten thousand years before the coming of Jesus. Do not misunderstand my words because I believe in a higher power, who I chose to call God, and I believe he is the creator of all things.

I also know that there was no such word G-O-D in ANY African language before the coming of Europeans. While I’m on that point, it is true that the visual representation of Jesus is that of a blonde haired blue eyed man obviously of European decent. We know this is not factual because no one had a camera or painted his picture during the time in which he lived. The picture embedded in our consciousness was paint by Michael Angelo in the 1600’s; centuries after the fact. Now, if you think differently, history tells us that there were three peoples in the region during that period. 1) Romans, 2) Greeks, 3) Others (African). Therefore, if Jesus was NOT a Roman or Greek, he was other which means African.

It is not my intent to dissect the story. It is just to say that we believe it because someone said it was true. My point is; as it says in Corinthians “we walk by Faith not by sight”. Faith is that which is unseen and we know it to be true. In other words, having a firm belief in something for which there is no proof. It is the adherence to your religious duty, belief in the tradition, sincerity of intentions, and loyalty to God without question that is the reason we believe.

If that is our belief and conviction, it is incumbent upon us as human beings and people of Faith to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We should not get caught up in the commercial aspects or fallacies that man has created and give of yourself to the benefit of others. This is the true meaning and spirit of the holiday season, and why we celebrate this glorious day.

I simply suggest that we forget the past, pray for the future, and appreciate today for it is a present which is why it is a gift; it is the day the Lord made for us and it must be cherished. I pray that during this season of giving that you will share, give love, and care.

Have blessed and wonderful holiday. God Bless you one and all.


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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This is Where it Began

On that December evening, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus leading to her arrested for a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code. In spite of the fact that she was not even technically seated in the white-only designated section on the bus; she was in a colored section. Regardless, fate dictated it to be the day that changed American and to a larger extent – the world forever.

Mrs. Parks would later recall asking the officer who arrested her, "Why do you push us around?" The officer's response was "I don't know, but the law's the law, and you're under arrest." This woman of great dignity thought, as she was being arrested, that this will be the very last time that she would ever ride in humiliation of this kind again.

Later that evening E.D. Nixon and Clifford Durr bailed Parks out of jail and that very night Nixon and members of the Women’s Political Council stayed up all night mimeographing over 35,000 handbills announcing a bus boycott. The Women's Political Council was the first group to officially endorse the boycott.

On Sunday morning, December 4, 1955, plans for the Montgomery Bus Boycott were announced at all black churches in the area and in a front-page article in The Montgomery Advertiser. By the end of the day, a church rally was held and those attending agreed unanimously to continue the boycott until they were treated with the level of courtesy they expected, until black drivers were hired, and until seating in the middle of the bus was handled on a first-come basis.

Four days later, Parks was tried and convicted for disorderly conduct as well as violating a local ordinance. The trial lasted 30 minutes and she was fined $10, plus $4 in court costs. Parks appealed her conviction and formally challenged the legality of racial segregation. Mrs. Parks would later say:

I did not want to be mistreated; I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time... there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn't hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.

On Monday, December 5, 1955, after the success of the one-day boycott, a group of 16 to 18 people gathered at the Mt. Zion AME Zion Church to discuss boycott strategies. The group agreed that a new organization was needed to lead the boycott effort if it were to continue. It was Rev. Ralph Abernathy who suggested the name Montgomery Improvement Association. The name was adopted, the MIA was formed, and march to justice was on. Its members elected as their president a relative newcomer to Montgomery, a young and mostly unknown minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fifty leaders from the African American community gathered that Monday night to discuss the proper actions to be taken in response to Parks' arrest. E.D. Nixon said, "My God, look what segregation has put in my hands!" Parks was the ideal plaintiff for a test case against city and state segregation laws. Plans for such a protest had been underway for some time. Claudette Colvin a 15-year-old, unwed and pregnant, was one of the first to be considered for such a case but she was deemed unacceptable to be the center of a civil rights mobilization.

Mrs. Parks was regarded one of the finest citizens of Montgomery, not one of the finest Negro citizens, but one of the finest citizens of Montgomery. Parks was securely married and employed, possessed a quiet and dignified demeanor, and was politically savvy, which was a huge plus for the cause.

On the day of Parks' trial, which was Monday, December 5, 1955, the WPC distributed the 35,000 leaflets. The handbill read, "We are...asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial ... You can afford to stay out of school for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don't ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off the buses Monday."

It rained that day, but the black community persevered in their boycott. Some rode in carpools, while others traveled in black-operated cabs that charged the same fare as the bus, 10 cents. Most of the remainder of the 40,000 black commuters walked, some as far as 20 miles (30 km). In the end, the boycott lasted for 381 days. Dozens of public buses stood idle for months, severely damaging the bus transit company's finances, until the law requiring segregation on public buses was lifted.

Some segregationists retaliated with terrorism. Black churches were burned or dynamited. Martin Luther King's home was bombed in the early morning hours of January 30, 1956, and E.D. Nixon's home was also attacked. However, the black community's bus boycott marked one of the largest and most successful mass movements against racial segregation. It sparked many other protests, and it catapulted King to the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.

To sum up the actions of the time Dr. King wrote in his 1958 book Stride Toward Freedom that Parks' arrest was the precipitating factor, rather than the cause, of the protest: "The cause lay deep in the record of similar injustices….  Actually, no one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, 'I can take it no longer.'"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The John T Wills Chronicles presents Iyanla Vanzant with Kathleen Wells

I have been fortunate enough during my life’s journey to have been blessed many times over. I am honored to announce that on Wednesday (December 8th at 8:30 PM) I will be blessed, as will you, once again, as I welcome a very special guest; the phenomenally gifted Motivational Speaker and Master Teacher Iyanla Vanzant. She has a new book, “Peace from Broken Pieces” that is an emotionally gut wrenching story of her personal triumph from the personal to the brutally honest recounting of life experiences that is a testament to her resilience.

“Peace from Broken Pieces,” is emotionally compelling, empowering and inspirational. Ms. Vanzant paints vivid imagery as the beautiful phoenix rises from the ashes of broken pieces to convince us all that challenges and tragedies can be overcome, when you draw from your internal power. The book is intertwined with teachings of universal laws and principles that Ms. Vanzant was able to show how cultural pathological patterns could show up in our lives as physical manifestations. In addition to empowering us as to how we can become aware of these repetitive cycles to overcome the disease of this damaging pathology.

This powerful story is masterfully composed, compassionate, heart-wrenching, hilarious, compelling, transformative, healing . . . the list of adjectives could go on and on, yet all would be inadequate to capture the gift of this treasure. “Peace from Broken Pieces,” is a mind altering eloquently written masterpiece that is spiritually impactful, and one which every woman, mother, aunt, grandmother and man should read. Ms. Vanzant demonstrates a divine ability to write from the being of her soul which pours out over each life stage, milestone, and crisis. She is brutally honest – holding back nothing.

Her presence is so strongly felt throughout the book that it will force you to acknowledge the consequences of cultural pathologies, family legacies, and misogyny that she strives to draw serious attention too. Frankly, Ms. Vanzant has done what many mental health professionals, family counseling professionals, scholars, and academics have failed to do: leaving out politics, ideology, and hidden agendas clearly and articulately describes how the demise of families especially black family (and in particular the destruction of black women) transpires. Readers will understand from a firsthand account how difficult overcoming structural racism, sexism, psychological abuse, skin shade racism, and premature parenthood truly are.

One of her viewers said, “the best parts of this book was her explanation of the thought process and the physical process of standing up to a television executive who thought he had the right to man handle her by using his size, voice, and status with the network. That was a powerful moment that in my opinion led to other powerful moments.”

Her encouragement to act as a Queen that manages her life with DIVINE power, authority, and victory are a call to overcome cultural pathologies, and misogyny that are viewed as disadvantages. Her life is a testimony that it CAN be done and that it ***MUST*** be done in order to leave the future generation with a legacy of compassion, grace, and depth. Arise and live up to your nobility. Iyanla does it again! This woman takes you on a journey that has been described as a healing trip, an eye-opener and a page turner! Nothing but blessings and love flow from my mouth about this book and Ms. Vanzant.
Please – Please join me and my co-host Kathleen Wells on the John T. Wills Book Tree Radio Show Wednesday (12/8) at 8:30 PM (est) for a wonderful conversation with Ms. Iyanla Vanzant.

“Love is not a thing you can find, Love is who you are! The degree of self-awareness, self Love and self actualization that you experience in your life will determine your love and loving experiences.” Iyanla Vanzant

Call-in Number: (347) 989-1049

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Truth or Fiction from the “Right”

I have been feeling just a little political lately because of the antics of some on the “right” who I think are wrong. I won’t name names because you know who they are – but I digress! The small town Mayor, couldn’t finish being Governor, and want to be President took a swipe at the first lady during an appearance on Laura Ingraham’s radio show to promote her new book. Yes, she will do anything for a buck and of all places the N-word Queen’s show. This time calling the first lady’s campaign to improve child nutrition another instance of a philosophical devotion to big government - “I think she has got a different worldview and she is not hesitant at all to share what her worldview is,” Palin said. This is the pot calling the kittle black – yes literally.

She continued her delusional rant saying, “And I will take heat again for saying it on your show Laura but she encapsulated what her view of America is, I believe, unless she has evolved and things have changed in the last two years, but she said it on the campaign trail twice that it was the first time that she had been proud of her country when finally people were paying attention to Barack Obama. I think that’s appalling. We can think of this infinite number of reasons to be proud of American exceptionalism and it baffles me that anybody would have that view and then allow that view to bleed over into policy… get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track.”

Does that mean when the “Real Americans”, i.e., citizen’s councils, were alive or that “Mystical Wonderfulness” of America’s past?

I’m going to step gingerly into this notion held by those who claim to be “Real Americans” concerning the African American Diaspora and this “Mystical Wonderfulness” of America’s past. Speaking from the perspective of someone who knew Jim Crow, I can tell you their view is dubious in terms of reality, actually its outright wrong when it comes to African Americans, Blacks, Afro-Americans, or the Colored struggle from the beginning.

Most of these folks, of the other hue, see no shame or disgrace in neglecting the truth. Their argument is, usually, “I was not there” or “I had nothing to do with it”. However, they are very comfortable with being the beneficiaries of the atrocities that lead to their belief that entitlement is their God given right under the constitution they so often speak, which by the way declares people of color three/fifths human.

Because of Caribou Barbie’s continued insane comments, and others, attacking the first family I was compelled to offer this “Thought Provoking Perspective” because of what I view as the need for moral growth. The place that they, the Tea Baggers, the Grand Ol Party, and the Republicans want to take us back to does not hold that “Mystical Wonderfulness” that I or most people of color want to return too.

This brings to mind a most ridiculous comment I read in the Washington Post Sunday that basically said; what are African Americans complaining about concerning an article in which the author said on his first trip to Washington he recalled seeing signs that said “Colored Only”. Yes, in the Capital City of America, and let me add that it was about a generation ago. I thought the statement was an anomaly, maybe even quixotic. Obviously, this guy was not one the signs were speaking to.

In this guy’s confused rant, he asked, referring to the “Mystical Wonderfulness of America”; was Brown v Board of Education a mystical? Was the Voting Rights Act or Civil Rights laws mystical? Then came the elephant in the room, what about “Affirmative Action”? These might sound like reasonable questions, to the ill informed, but let’s put them into context.

First, did he know that after the wretched schemes and policies to deny African Americans the right to an education the Supreme Court decided that “Separate but Equal” was unfair. But what he, they, and most people don’t realize that after the decision was rendered it took 13 years before integration became a reality. It also took three Supreme Court cases to do it. I’d say that’s “Mystical”.

Secondly, the “Voting Rights Act” and the “Civil Rights Act” came about after they were partially granted after the Civil War, then taken away after Reconstruction, it took nearly 100 years for African Americans to be able to vote or use any public accommodations with white people. This is also to include the kind of oppression mandated by American law that was far worse than the modern era of apartheid in the 1990’s. Yeah, sounds “Mystical”.

Finally, the red herring, Affirmative Action. Well that attempt to redress past wrongs was the biggest farce known to man. The so called Affirmative Action policy was never intended to address the wrongs or as Dr. King said to repay the bad check that America rendered unfulfilled. It was suppose to direct 10% of business, give us an opportunity to be hired, and to level (somewhat) the playing field – it did no such thing. What it did was create a new word in our lexicon “reverse racism”, which in most cases the courts agree. So “Mystical” is an interesting word to use or as Brother Malcolm would say “hoodwinked”.

These views are straight out of that old “States Rights” playbook used by the demagogues whose descent into amnesia, refusal to face the truth or use their message to intentional misrepresentation history. Frankly, these malicious untruths are insulting to anyone who has read a book. What is scarier is that the GOP has begun its accent to power and Caribou Barbie has aspirations of being the President.
Let me propose this thought; African American people are the only ethnic group, other than the American Indian, who has been in America consistently and longer. Most of the British who settled left, most other ethnic groups came after the forced migration of Africans.

So my question is who’s the “Real American”?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Day of Thanks and Giving

Thanksgiving is a season of reflection on successes, challenges and life's many blessings. As I reflect on the year 2010, I am thankful that I woke up this morning but I am puzzled. I cannot understand, and dare I say, believe, that we live in a country once known as the bread basket of the world that is capably of witnessing so much hunger in the land. Our government in an attempt to camouflage the impact of this suffering has created a new phrase – “Food Insecurity”. SHOCKING!!!

I am one who firmly believes that giving of yourself to the benefit of others is humanities greatest gift. Being a benevolent spirit I have experienced my share of mountains, milestones, and valleys. In addition, my generosity has sometime been viewed as a weakness, which I am pleased to say that it has not turned my heart into stone. To that point, my heart requires the blessings and the reward of giving. However, what I have learned is that you don’t give to those who want your help, rather to those who need your help!

Now, that brings me to my Thought Provoking Perspective – Thanksgiving!

In the supposed richest nation in the world we live in a nation of rampant hunger, homelessness, and despair. The Bible tells us that when Jesus faced such challenges, in one case, he took two fish and a loaf of bread and feed his legion of follower. There are many churches, community group, and non-profits that are desperately modeled on the tradition of giving trying to meet the needs of many, and I applauded them for their compassion. But our government would rather support the greedy than the needy. We have enough bombs to destroy the entire universe, yet most of the planet is starving or as they might say suffer from “Food Insecurity”.

It was all most fifty years ago, when then President Johnson, declared a “War on Poverty” and today there is more poverty than ever. Why? I think it’s important to note that you don’t have to be on the streets to be struggling with hunger and yes, despair. If the rich who have all the advantages are struggling with this crisis; how do you think the least of thee is fairing? I must ask, where is the mercy and compassion for humanity?

Let’s forget about the notion that America really cares because we witnessed just a few years ago as a major city drowned and the country consciously watched. Of course, our government will find and send billion to “help” any other nation on the planet. But my question is; if you opened your heart to help another soul during this so called special day, what will you do Friday and thereafter. Does it, make you feel good, to do this good deed on the holiday or is it like Sunday when you go to church and leave the message there until next week?

The whole concept of Thanksgiving is a misnomer – it is a commercial event. The origins began in 1621, when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn't until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

Some Native Americans and others take issue with how the Thanksgiving story is presented to the American public, especially to schoolchildren. In their view, the traditional narrative paints a deceptively sunny portrait of relations between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, masking the long and bloody history of conflict between Native Americans and European settlers that resulted in the deaths of millions.

Since 1970, protesters have gathered on the day designated as Thanksgiving at the top of Cole’s Hill, which overlooks Plymouth Rock, to commemorate a “National Day of Mourning.” Similar events are held in other parts of the country. Historians have noted that Native Americans had a rich tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans set foot on their shores.

So, like I said, let’s forget about those views and look at your neighbors, community, or in the mirror and realize that it is an issue, crisis, that affects mankind, real people, human beings, and yes, children. Thanksgiving should not be a day created for parades, football, and self. You might also want to consider that next year it might be you facing homelessness and hunger.

Lastly, an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. So les make this day one of being thankful and giving. Just remember that you were born to become a blessing: BE ONE!!!

Happy Thanksgiving

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tales from the Decider - Pt 2

This story just gets better and better with every detail that emerges. I am talking about the fallacies of “Decision Points”. As I learn more, and read newspaper chippings, about this book which will rank among the greatest stories ever told; I can’t help but wonder if this veiled attempt to soften the affect his reign and its devastations will have on future thinking or at $35 dollars, just a way to get a little pocket change.

America was built on a strong economy that has made the United States the world's leading power going back to its beginning. This is like one of the founding principles of what the founding father had in mind when they took it and formed, what some call, the Hypocrisy of Democracy. The Decider, in the book, appears not to realize that he was responsible for the Federal debt that will soar in the coming years endangering the country’s prosperity and leadership.

The national debt will overtake the economy itself, increasing our dependence on China and other foreign lenders, draining our resources and reducing the living standards more than we see today. These risks are the result of the last eight years that threaten to turn America into not only a second rate power, but possibly a third world nation. African Americans have understood this as a result of being a nation of people living within a nation searching for a nationality. In short, “second class citizens”. What the Decider did was to impose this dubious distinction upon all Americans, but the rich.

Ok, I will digress.

I read an article today by Ruth Marcus called “Bush’s deficit spinning” in the Washington Post. I was so impressed with it that I want to share pieces of it in this “Thought Provoking Perspective”.

She starts with:

The imaginary but completely delusional: My inner Bush would not regret pushing for the tax cuts. But he would acknowledge - how hard could this be? … Alan Greenspan was right when he suggested a trigger mechanism to cancel the cuts if the promised surplus failed to materialize. If only . . . Like the surplus, my quasi-apologetic chapter evaporated in the face of reality. I read "Decision Points," and it turns out that Bush is the Edith Piaf of fiscal policy: He regrets nothing.” But he writes, "I took my responsibility to be a good fiscal steward seriously."

How's that? Bush chose to go to war, but, unlike any other wartime president, opted to pay the cost entirely with borrowed funds while pressing for additional tax cuts. He laments that he left behind "a serious long-term fiscal problem" of runaway entitlement spending but blames resistance from both parties in Congress - without acknowledging that he added an expensive and unpaid-for new entitlement, the Medicare prescription drug plan.

And those tax cuts. "It was true that tax cuts increase the deficit in the short term," Bush acknowledges. "But I believed the tax cuts, especially those on capital gains and dividends would stimulate economic growth. The tax revenues from that growth, combined with spending restraint, would help lower the deficit."

This is cleverer than the usual supply-side formulation but still suffers from the tax-cuts-pay-for-themselves fallacy. Bush's own chief economic adviser, Gregory Mankiw, has estimated that over the long run, cuts on investment taxes generate enough economic growth to make up only half of lost revenue.

Except Bush's averages are misleading. For one thing, he cherry-picks his fiscal years. He gives himself credit for the 2001 surplus, 1.3 percent of gross domestic product, even though that course was largely set when he took office. At the other end, Bush takes no responsibility for his piece of the ghastly 2009 deficit, 9.9 percent. Subtracting bailouts and stimulus spending, on the theory that much of the former will be repaid and the latter happened on President Obama's watch, the 2009 deficit would have totaled 6.8 percent of GDP, the largest since World War II.

More important, the trajectory tells a story that is less kind to Bush. He took office after three years in which Clinton had overseen surpluses. After 2001, Bush presided over seven straight years of deficits.

In short, Bush inherited a budget in healthy shape. He left it in tatters. The faltering economy played a supporting role, but the chief factors were of Bush's making: his tax cuts, his wars, and his prescription drug bill. Without these, the country would have been running surpluses during his tenure.

I found this article to be filled with reality, thank you Ruth Marcus; I wanted to share this assessment of a reality that I know and understand to be true. This commentary is certainly worthy of my “Thought Provoking Perspective” and how refreshing to know that someone else share my views.

God Bless America…

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tales from the Decider

Sometimes as sure as things change, ironically, most often they remain the same. Let me explain, history is hardly ever written the way it actually occurred. Therefore, if that which I have witnessed and know to be true can be altered, no changed, how can I believe any recorded history. In fact, it is more like His-Story.

Case in point, this week our most recent President re-emerged into the public’s view with the launch a new book “Decision Points”. The B&N overview of the book bills it as “a groundbreaking new brand of presidential memoir, Decision Points will captivate supporters, surprise critics, and change perspectives on eight remarkable years in American history and on the man at the center of events.”

I am not sure exactly where it will be placed in your local book store; meaning will it be stocked under true crimes or fiction. Nonetheless, I am old enough and have lived long enough to have seen history made, told, rewritten, and changed to create a narrative that, frankly, fits the agenda. The agenda in this case is supposed to make us forget what we witnessed and know to be true concerning the last eight years in a way to be viewed as compassionate.

It’s understandable, especially as bad as the last eight years were that someone would want to attempt to rewrite this acrimonious history. Honestly, it was about as horrifying and deceitful as one can possibly imagine and yet no one complained as it occurred. At any rate the self proclaimed “Decider” has decided to justify why he was responsible, or not, for the worst period of life that I can remember.

To be fair, I have not read the book and doubt that I will, because I am not too big on fiction. However, I did see some of the interviews promoting the book, and read about it in the newspapers, and I think the interviews were good enough to be Oscar worthy.

While I watched the performance via the interview my thoughts were; would he admit that the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed him President? Would he explain how he allowed Energy company officials to dictate Energy policy to push us to illegally invade a country that posed no threat to us costing over 800 billion and counting? Might the book contain an apology for the enormous cost in lives lost and permanent injuries not to mention the horrible conditions they returned to face at Walter Reed Army Hospital?

Oh, by the way, where’s Bin Laden?

To W’s credit, he does take responsibility for TARP and other Bailouts, which most accuse President Obama for initiating. This was a good thing particularly when a Pew Research Center poll found that nearly half of Americans hold the false belief that TARP was passed under President Obama, while only 34 percent knew it originated under Bush. To that the former president said, "Fifty percent of the people were wrong."

He would go on to defended his rationale for supporting TARP: "Do you adhere to your philosophy and say, let them all fail? . . . Or do you take taxpayers' money and inject it into the system in hopes that you prevent a depression? And I chose the latter."

Bush acknowledges that he undertook "the most drastic intervention in the free market since the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt… helped spare the American people from an economic disaster of historic proportions." He defends the "automakers' rescue" with federal loans and those given to AIG as "basically a nationalization of America's largest insurance company." By Tea Party’s doctrine, that's heresy. But Bush, in "Decision Points," doesn't back off at all from his defense of the auto industry rescue and the federal ownership of financial companies - even though those positions today would make him a pariah in his own party.

He could have use the over 10 billion dollars in cash that just disappeared in Iraq to do some of this financing to pay the fat cats who played roulette on the global casino. Maybe he shares in the book why he gave people who had more money than they could spend, the filthy rich, over a trillion dollars in tax breaks. Nor have I heard how sorry he is for the worst 8 years of job creations in several decades as he embraced devastating trade and outsourcing policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.

I was also wondering if he explained in this historical remake; how one can have a huge surplus when you took office, blow it, and leave office with the country trillion’s in debt. Was this what they mean by impact default? Did he mention the 10 trillion dollars in combined budget and account deficits as he borrowed more money from foreign sources than all the previous 42 Presidents combined? Maybe he was focused on the over 200,000 American Citizens who lost their lives because they had no health insurance on his watch.

This is the only president in recent memory that refused to attend or be a guest at any of the annual NAACP Conventions, or frankly do much of anything for the African American community. Except maybe having a few Negroes sprinkled throughout his administration, which was more like eye candy than substance – in my opinion.

What troubled me most was his admission that of all the bad things, horrors of his rule. The worst for him was a comment made by a rapper who said, “George Bush doesn’t like black people”. A comment made as a result of his response, or lack thereof, when he let a major US city, New Orleans, drown while patting his buddy Brownie on the back praising him for doing a “heck of a job”.

Of all the things – this is what he thought was the worst – not the hundreds of thousands died, injured, or wounded and their families suffering as a result of the two wars he started. THIS!!!

After that comment, I am not even going to touch on the outing of a covert CIA operative, the Patriot Act, illegally wiretaps, or torturing people. Oh, he didn’t catch Bin Laden did he?

The most telling statement from what I have gleaned was "I felt like the captain of a sinking ship" he writes in the memoir, adding: "This was one ugly way to end a presidency." So I guess we can say “Mission Accomplished”.

I searched the online book stores for its customer rating: 3 Stars

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

John Henry Clarke the Unsung Voice of Our Times

John Henrik Clarke was one of the most brilliant, profound, and empowering educators of our time. He was born January 1, 1915 in Union Springs, Alabama and died July 16, 1998 in New York City.

His mother was a washerwoman who did laundry for $3 a week and his father was a sharecropper. As a youngster Clark caddied for Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley "long before they became Generals or President," Clarke would later recount in describing his upbringing in rural Alabama.

Ms. Harris his third grade teacher convinced him that one day I would be a writer but before he became a writer he became a voracious reader inspired by Richard Wright's Black Boy.a vertern who enlisted in the army and earned the rank of Master Sergeant. After mustering out, Clarke moved to Harlem and committed himself to a lifelong pursuit of factual knowledge about the history of his people and creative application of that knowledge. Over the years, Clarke became both a major historian and a man of letters.

His literary accomplishments were very significant but he was best known as a historian. He wrote over two hundred short stories with "The Boy Who Painted Christ Black" is his best known. Clarke edited numerous literary and historical anthologies including American Negro Short Stories (1966), an anthology which included nineteenth century writing from writers such as Paul Laurence Dunbar and Charles Waddell Chestnut, and continued up through the early sixties with writers such as LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) and William Melvin Kelley. This is one of the classic collections of Black fiction.

Reflective of his commitment to his adopted home, Clarke also edited Harlem, A Community in Transition and Harlem, U.S.A. Never one to shy away from the difficult or the controversial, Clarke edited anthologies on Malcolm X and a major collection of essays decrying William Styron's "portrait" of Nat Turner as a conflicted individual who had a love/hate platonic and sexually-fantasized relationship with Whites. In both cases, Clarke's work was in defense of the dignity and pride of his beloved Black community rather than an attack on Whites.

What is significant is that Clarke did the necessary and tedious organizing work to bring these volumes into existence and thereby offer an alternative outlook from the dominant mainstream views on Malcolm X and Nat Turner, both of whom were often characterized as militant hate mongers. Clarke understood the necessity for us to affirm our belief in and respect for radical leaders such as Malcolm X and Nat Turner. It is interesting to note that Clarke's work was never simply focused on investigating history as the past, he also was proactively involved with history in the making.

As a historian Clarke also edited a book on Marcus Garvey and edited Africa, Lost and Found (with Richard Moore and Keith Baird) and African People at the Crossroads, two seminal historical works widely used in History and African American Studies disciplines on college and university campuses. Through the United Nations he published monographs on Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois. As an activist-historian he produced the monograph Christopher Columbus and the African Holocaust. His most recently published book was Who Betrayed the African Revolution?

In the form of edited books, monographs, major essays and book introductions, John Henrik Clarke produced well over forty major historical and literary documents. Rarely, if ever, has one man delivered so much quality and inspiring literature. Moreover, John Henrik Clarke was also an inquisitive student who became a master teacher.

During his early years in Harlem, Clarke made the most of the rare opportunities to be mentored by many of the great 20th century Black historians and bibliophile. Clarke studied under and learned from men such as Arthur Schomburg, William Leo Hansberry, John G. Jackson, Paul Robeson, Willis Huggins and Charles Seiffert, all of whom, sometimes quietly behind the scenes and other times publicly in the national and international spotlight, were significant movers and shakers, theoreticians and shapers of Black intellectual and social life in the 20th century.

From the sixties on, John Henrik Clarke stepped up and delivered the full weight of his own intellectual brilliance and social commitment to the ongoing struggle for Black liberation and development. Clarke became a stalwart member and hard worker in (and sometimes co-founder of) organizations such as The Harlem Writers Guild, Presence Africaine, African Heritage Studies Association, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, the National Council of Black Studies and the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations.

Formally, Clarke lectured and held professorships at universities worldwide. His longer and most influential tenures were at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell in Ithaca, New York, and in African and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City. He received honorary degrees from numerous institutions and served as consultant and advisor to African and Caribbean heads of state. In 1997 he was the subject of a major documentary directed by the noted filmmaker Saint Claire Bourne and underwritten by the Hollywood star Westley Snipes.

John Henrik Clarke is in many ways exemplary of the American ethos of the self-made man. Indicative of this characteristic is the fact that Clarke changed his given name of John Henry Clark to reflect his aspirations. In an obituary he penned for himself shortly before his death, John Henrik Clarke noted "little black Alabama boys were not fully licensed to imagine themselves as conduits of social and political change. ...they called me 'bubba' and because I had the mind to do so, I decided to add the 'e' to the family name 'Clark' and change the spelling of 'Henry' to 'Henrik,' after the Scandinavian rebel playwright, Henrik Ibsen.

I like his spunk and the social issues he addressed in 'A Doll's House.' ...My daddy wanted me to be a farmer; feel the smoothness of Alabama clay and become one of the first blacks in my town to own land. But, I was worried about my history being caked with that southern clay and I subscribed to a different kind of teaching and learning in my bones and in my spirit."

Body and soul, John Henrik Clarke was a true champion of Black people. He bequeathed us a magnificent legacy of accomplishment and inspiration borne out of the earnest commitment of one irrepressible young man to make a difference in the daily and historical lives of his people.

Viva, John Henrik Clarke!
Resource: Black College Online

The John T. Wills Chronicles

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

They’re at it again!!!

Don’t you just love how the revisionists continue to alter true history? You may recall earlier this year, the Governor of Virginia introduced a proclamation celebrating “Confederate History Month” without mentioning slavery’s role in the Civil War making it appear “kinder and gentler”.

Well there is another attempt to revise history that coincides with preparations to marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. We know the capital was Richmond, Virginia which has long struggled to appropriately commemorate its Confederate past. However, doing so, or trying too, does not give them literary privilege to recreate their version of its wretched past.

This time it is in the form of a text book entitled “Our Virginia: Past and Present” distributed to fourth graders in the state’s public elementary schools disguised as a history textbook. Joy Masoff, the author of this book, who is not a trained historian but has written several books, makes the claim that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War. This claim is soundly rejected by almost all historians. In fact, scholars are nearly unanimous in calling her accounts of black Confederate soldiers a misrepresentation of history.

Masoff also says, the book was reviewed by a publisher’s advisory council of educators and that none of the advisers objected to the textbook’s assertions. These assertions are most often used by groups seeking to play down slavery’s role as a cause for the conflict; like the state of Virginia, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and other confederate sympathizing groups. Virginia’s education officials admit the vetting of the book was flawed adding that “Just because a book is approved doesn’t mean the Department of Education endorses every sentence.”

In its short lesson on the roles that whites, African Americans and Indians played in the Civil War, “Our Virginia” says, “Thousands of Southern blacks fought in the Confederate ranks, including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.” Now the author attributes this fact concerning the information she provides about black Confederate soldiers from what she's gleaned primarily through Internet research, which turned up work by members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Let me stop – take a breath. Ok, now. Let’s imagine thousands of slaves, people held in bondage, abused, beaten, owned as chattel, fighting to remain in a state of wretchedness helping their amoral captors/ masters/owners continue the practice of slavery. I think, more often than not, and history shows that they would choose the side of rebellion like a Nate Turner – if anything. What is troubling is that there seems to be a continuing pattern of this type of revision of late.

For example, most of the text books used in America's schools are modeled on the books used and approved in Texas, which has commissioned a body to alter massive amounts of information as it relates to actual history. The state school board revised social studies standards to increase study of Confederate leaders and reduce emphasis on the Founding Fathers' commitment to separation of church and state. Some wanted to stop referring to the slave trade and substitute a euphemistic phrase, the "Atlantic triangular trade," but that idea was, thankfully, dropped.

Carol Sheriff, a Civil War expert at the College of William and Mary, and the person who noticed the lie clarified the facts Wednesday on washingtonpost.com:

"As far as we know from the historical record, not a single black person participated in a battle under the command of Stonewall Jackson… There is historical evidence that individual blacks, usually servants who followed their masters to the front, occasionally picked up guns in the heat of battle. But it was illegal in the Confederacy to use blacks as soldiers until the waning days of the war (early 1865). A few companies . . . were raised then, but none saw battle action, as the surrender followed shortly thereafter. Stonewall Jackson had died in 1863, so no black soldiers could have served under his command."

Sheriff said that thousands of blacks worked as laborers for the Confederate army, most of them involuntarily, including under Jackson's command. But that's very different from agreeing to risk your life in combat on behalf of a government committed to your enslavement, as some Confederate apologists would have us believe.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group of male descendants of Confederate soldiers based in Columbia, Tenn., has long maintained that substantial numbers of black soldiers fought for the South and supported the cause – so says Charles Kelly Barrow who has authored the book “Black Confederates.” Really! The Sons of Confederate Veterans widely dispute the accepted conclusion that the struggle over slavery was the main cause of the Civil War. Instead, claiming the war was fought “to preserve their homes and livelihood”. SLAVES – Really!

As sad as this is on its face, these untruths are a way of purging their cause of its association with slavery. The problem for me is that these efforts seek to find legitimacy of the Confederacy while implanting in the mind of future leaders that it was not really that bad or implying that it was caused by Manifest Destiny and God while denouncing the legitimacy of the emancipation itself. Like a particular Tea Bagger running for office now said that the Civil Rights Bill should be reviewed for its fairness. He was talking about fairness to white America.

More troubling is that Masoff said one of her sources was Ervin Jordan, a University of Virginia historian who claims to have documented evidence in the form of 19th century newspapers and personal letters of some African Americans fighting for the Confederacy. However, in an interview Jordan says the account in the fourth grade textbook went far beyond what his research can support. I think it is safe to assume beyond the pale of reason or what anyone’s research can support.

I often write Thought Provoking Perspectives on historical events concerning the African American Diaspora and know a little about the reality of our legacy. Therefore, I recognize that these attempts frankly are a sad commentary to truth. Let me say this: “If history that I have seen and witnessed in my life has been change, altered, and rewritten I find it hard to believe anything that His-Story professes to be true”. The shocking part about this is that it is accepted as truth. Nothing is as it seems – research for yourself and consider the source.

Finally, November 6 marks the 150th anniversary of the election of Abraham Lincoln, which led to the start of the Civil War. So let me warn you that for the next five years will bring a string of commemorations: Fort Sumter, the Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg, and Appomattox that will offer huge opportunities for the confederate sympathizers to continue to rewrite this sad history until the anniversary of the war’s end.

So get ready for the lies from the revisionists because the conscience dictates that they will not tell the truth.

JUST A SEASON – the novel

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Only in America

I’ll start this “Thought Provoking Perspective” with God Bless America. I ask for this blessing because there are those forces among us who want to turn back the hands of time. You know the party of “No”, who want to take over the government again to use their power to further rape the country. The characters that have emerged in this movement, I believe, are scary enough for us to ask for help from someone greater than ourselves. Of course some of these people who want to take back their country are saying the same thing - in the name of God, which is frightening too. These are the same folks who want us to believe in the false assertion that America is now a “Post Racial” nation and it is them who are now being discriminated against.

Back in the day, there were the George Wallace’s, Bull Connor’s, Strom Thurman’s and today we have a new breed; Glenn Beck, Andrew Breitbart, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh – to name a few. Their rage, from sea to shining sea, infects their followers who create conspiracies and assume false motives regarding everything that quite neatly put the country into a place of perceived fear. This place they envision or want back was not all that great, I know I was there; elitism, white privilege, and America’s racial codes were the foundation for segregation, cruelty, and amoral agenda’s. So I suppose the new complexion of America is freighting to those who stole the country in the first place.

Let’s face it; it had been a pretty good run, about 400 years, with little sign of any serious trouble challenging their superiority. The system was working and humming along as they came up with new forms of government so that all people of their hue, particularly men, benefited. They controlled or occupied just about every branch of government for more than two centuries and had sole possession and leadership of its executive branch, where the symbol of power is the White House.

Today, that streak has been broken; a non-white president accepted the oath of office and they went crazy or at least the right wing faction. Hatred came forth through the likes of Former House majority leader Tom Delay who suggested that instead of a formal inauguration, Barrack Obama should "have a nice little chicken dinner and we'll save the $125 million,". The chicken thing is a clear code when white folks referred to black people with a subtle gesture of bigotry.

Then there are those who say the president was not born in the United States; therefore, ineligible to be president. His father was Kenyan and he was born in Hawaii, which they barely consider part of the United States. His mother was white and after the Kenyan guy left, she married a guy Indonesian, before coming back to Hawaii. Meanwhile, the man who looks black was brought up largely by his white grandparents. Oh, he says he's Christian, but he has a Muslim-sounding name. He's not black, he's not white. . . . Is . . . is he even human? Tea baggers and many Republicans believe in their hearts that the president is the antichrist. Pure psycho drama!

They believe the devil has taken over the country and for the first time in American history, those who controlled every endeavor for so long [government, finance, politics, business, education, the arts, ect.] are devastated. The man the rest of America voted in office has somehow stolen something from them. The fear of losing their power or being replaced by young brown and black kids is neither the America they know nor the way it is suppose to be. Facing the fact that 40 percent of the nation's population under 18 is already non-white, with that number significantly higher in the Southwest. By 2023, that number of young non-whites will be an outright national majority.

I read an article last week where the author used this parable: Its "Like tectonic plates, these slow-moving but irreversible forces may generate enormous turbulence as they grind against each other … At some point, when tectonic plates build up enough tension, that destructive energy gets unleashed in a major earthquake.” Actually, this is a pretty good metaphor for what happened the day a black man got elected president. The conservative movement thought the world ended.

Naturally, these people are not thinking about how distressed the economy was when Mr. Obama took office or the two wars of which neither was implemented properly or being fought with clear goals. This is to include the housing markets that resembled a war zone, a health system crippled with costs, and an auto industry in the tank. This, one would think should be reason enough to be strong Americans and pull together to fix this mess, right? No….

Let’s take a look at what they have been doing. They vilified the community organization ACORN, which was a nonprofit that organized voter drives and worked for improved wages and housing for poor, and worked for mostly non-white Americans. Because of who they organized, they became public enemy No. 1 in the eyes of certain people not so thrilled with black folks registering to vote in large numbers. Therefore, the majority of Republicans believed that ACORN had stolen the election for Obama. So they feel justified in reaching into their bag of dirty tricks and lies.

Enter a prankster named James O’keefe a veteran at creating videos to make blacks look greedy and stupid. He spent the summer driving around the country with his accomplice making videos in ACORN offices asking for advice about avoiding tax troubles with prostitution money dress as a broke down pimp. O'Keefe had carefully edited his tapes and left out, for example, that he was decked out in college preppie clothes, not pimp-wear. At least one ACORN office threw him out, and at least two knowingly played along with his ruse. The San Diego office called the cops after he left, and the Philadelphia office filed a police report. The upshot was that after his edited tapes became public, Congress quickly voted to strip ACORN of all federal funds. The organization effectively went out of business before the case could be thrown out of court.

Months later, O'Keefe was arrested by the FBI in a bizarre prank at Senator Landrieu’s office, in which he claims he was just trying to find out whether her phone system worked to help her constituents. Enter the underhanded Andrew Breibart, who picked out another black target with another selectively edited video. This one of a USDA employee named Shirley Sherrod. His editing so mischaracterized Sherrod's words and intent that the fallout, in the words of Frank Rich, "could not only smear an innocent woman but make every national institution that touched the story look bad. . . The White House, the NAACP and the news media were all soiled by this episode."

This is what they do. They lie and distortion the information. Let’s add a few more bogymen to the mix like immigration. They have made Hispanics and others from sweltering southern destinations enemies of the American Dream. Yet, their slave labor is acceptable. As a result, they took extreme measures by passing Arizona’s S.B.1070, a law that would force its residents to carry identity papers with them at all times. Now, jurisdictions around the nation are salivating to copy suit.

Then there are the other brown skinned people - the Muslims. When an imam who had done diplomatic work for the Bush administration put together plans to build the Muslim version of a Jewish Community Center a few blocks from Ground Zero but farther away than an off-track betting joint, a strip club, and the very financial institutions that had detonated the economy, these people freaked out. They argued that Muslims could never understand the impact of 9/11.

Finally, enter Laura “N-word” Schlesinger and the great white outpouring of support following the bizarre flameout of her radio show. There was a time when even a bigot thought before calling an African American the N-word. Schlesinger used the word to a black woman on air, like twenty times in a minute. Then she implied that she did not want to be NAACP-ed, whatever that means.

I am just pointing out what appears to be a tone that does not have our best interest or America’s. For those that can remember segregation and its horrors listen carefully at the words being used by those of the extreme. I can only suggest that we use democracy the political process – VOTE!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The First Lady of Civil Rights

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was the greatest, most distinguished African American Woman Civil Rights Activist of our time. The woman known as “the first lady of civil rights" was born February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama to James McCauley and Leona Edwards, her parents, a carpenter and a teacher, respectively. Her ancestry was a mixture of African American, Cherokee-Creek and Scots-Irish, which some say accounts for her fair complexion. In 1932, Rosa married Raymond Parks, a barber from Montgomery, at her mother's house.

Raymond was a member of the NAACP, at the time they were collecting money to support the Scottsboro Boy, a group of black men falsely accused of raping two white women. After her marriage, at her husband's urging, she finished her high school studies in 1933 when less than 7% of African Americans had a high school diploma. Despite the Jim Crow laws that made political participation by black people difficult, she succeeded in registering to vote on her third try. It was something in her spirit that was rooted in dignified activism.

At the time, Mrs. Parks was highly respected within the local community and as in many segregated communities it was close knit and intertwined. She was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School which was a Tennessee center for workers' rights and racial equality. Although widely honored in later years for her action, she suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. Eventually, having to leave Alabama for Detroit Michigan, where she found similar work.

Mrs. Parks remarked that it was the horrifying murder of Emmett Till, in August 1955, in which many people both black and white were moved by the brutal murder, was on her mind that day when she proclaimed to be tired of giving in. On November 27, 1955, only four days before she refused to give up her seat, she had attended a mass meeting in Montgomery which focused on this case as well as the recent murders of George W. Lee and Lamar Smith. All of this and the countless crimes perpetrated by southern whites cause her to say “enough”.

After leaving work on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Mrs. Parks, then 42, refused to obey the driver of the segregated city bus system who ordered her to give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her arrest was the catalyst for a bus boycott that would cripple the city of Montgomery lasting nearly thirteen months. This event lead to what many view as the birth of the modern civil rights movement.

Many believe this act was the first of its kind in the rigidly segregated south but it was not the first of its kind. In 1946 Irene Morgan, and in 1955 Sarah Louise, won rulings before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Interstate Commerce Commission, respectively, relating to interstate bus travel. Just nine months before Parks refused to give up her seat, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to move from her seat on the same bus system.

Less we forget that in 1944, athletic star Jackie Robinson took a similar stand in a confrontation with a US Army officer in Texas, refusing to move to the back of a bus. Robinson was brought before a court martial, which acquitted him. The NAACP had accepted and litigated other cases before, such as that of Irene Morgan ten years earlier, which resulted in a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Interstate Commerce Clause grounds. The difference as it relates to the many individuals whose arrests for civil disobedience was that Mrs. Parks’ actions sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Let’s journey back to a time when Jim Crow was the law in America, black and white people were segregated in virtually every aspect of daily life and not just in the South. Bus and train companies did not provide separate vehicles for the different races but did enforce seating policies that allocated separate sections for blacks and whites. School bus transportation was unavailable in any form for black school children in the South.

In Mrs. Parks' autobiography she recounts some of her earliest memories, which are of the kindness of white strangers but because of her race made it impossible to ignore racism. When the KKK marched down the street in front of her house, Parks recalls her grandfather guarding the front door with a shotgun. The Montgomery Industrial School, founded and staffed by white northerners for black children, was burned twice by arsonist, i.e. the Klan, and its faculty was ostracized by the white community.

Before I go any further, on Montgomery buses there was a separation point, the first four rows of bus seats were reserved for white people. Buses had "colored" sections for black people, who made up more than 75% of the bus system's riders, generally in the rear of the bus. These sections were not fixed in size but were determined by the placement of a movable sign. Black people could sit in the middle rows, until the white section was full. Then they had to move to seats in the rear, stand, or, if there was no room, leave the bus.

Black people were not allowed to sit across the aisle from white people. The driver also could move the "colored" section sign, or remove it altogether. If white people were already sitting in the front, black people could board to pay the fare, but then had to disembark and reenter through the rear door. There were times when the bus departed before the black customers who had paid made it to the back entrance.

Parks recalled going to elementary school in Pine Level, where school buses took white students to their new school and black students had to walk to theirs: "I'd see the bus pass every day... But to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world."

For years, the black community had complained that the situation was unfair, and Parks was no exception: "My resisting being mistreated on the bus did not begin with that particular arrest...I did a lot of walking in Montgomery." Parks had her first run-in on the public bus on a rainy day in 1943, when the bus driver, James F. Blake, demanded that she get off the bus and reenter through the back door. As she began to exit by the front door, she dropped her purse. Parks sat down for a moment in a seat for white passengers to pick up her purse. The bus driver was enraged and barely let her step off the bus before speeding off. Ironically that fateful day when you refused to give up her seat, it was the same driver who she would encounter.

After a day at work at Montgomery Fair department store, Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus at around 6 p.m., Thursday, December 1, 1955, in downtown Montgomery. She paid her fare and sat in an empty seat in the first row of seats reserved for blacks in the "colored" section, which was near the middle of the bus and directly behind the ten seats reserved for white passengers. Initially, she had not noticed that the bus driver was the same man, James F. Blake, who had left her in the rain in 1943. As the bus traveled along its regular route, all of the white-only seats in the bus filled up. The bus reached the third stop in front of the Empire Theater, and several white passengers boarded.

It was shortly after the landmark Plessey v Ferguson case that ushered in “separate but equal” in America when Montgomery passed a city ordinance for the purpose of segregating passengers by race. Conductors were given the power to assign seats to accomplish that purpose; however, no passengers would be required to move or give up their seat and stand if the bus was crowded and no other seats were available. Over time and by custom, however, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the practice of requiring black riders to move whenever there were no white only seats left.

So, following standard practice, bus driver Blake noted that the front of the bus was filled with white passengers and there were two or three men standing, and thus moved the "colored" section sign behind Parks and demanded that four black people give up their seats in the middle section so that the white passengers could sit. Years later, in recalling the events of the day, Parks said, "When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night."

By Parks' account, Blake said, "Y'all better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats." Three of them complied. Parks said, "The driver wanted us to stand up, the four of us. We didn't move at the beginning, but he says, 'Let me have these seats.' And the other three people moved, but I didn't." The black man sitting next to her gave up his seat. Parks moved, but toward the window seat; she did not get up to move to the newly repositioned colored section. Blake then said, "Why don't you stand up?" Parks responded, "I don't think I should have to stand up."

Blake called the police to arrest Parks. When recalling the incident for Eye on the Prize, a 1987 public television series on the Civil Rights Movement, Parks said, "When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, 'No, I'm not.' And he said, 'Well, if you don't stand up, I'm going to have to call the police and have you arrested.' I said, 'You may do that.” He did and the world changed that moment.

“People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”