Friday, July 23, 2010

RACISM: Perception or Reality

Have you asked yourself “What is Racism?” Webster says it is a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities, and racial differences that produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. This does not adequately explain or represent the reality of what we’re witnessing in today’s political and social environments. I believe racism is a misunderstood psychology and yes there is a psychology to racism, which is where the confusion exists. Therefore, it appears that racial prejudice or discrimination, which is a prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment is somehow believed to be directed toward the people of the dominate race. To which they claim or they’re calling it reverse discrimination.

The legacy of dependency, apathy, and entrenchment of the American social order from the beginning provides clear evidence of its diabolical intent to bankrupt the souls of African Americans based on an ideology of supremacy. We are the descendents of the stolen souls who bear the burden of a system that perpetrated, in the name of God, the greatest crime known to man. Hence, from the beginning, people of African descent were intended to be a nation of people living within a nation without a nationality.

~ “Law and Order” music plays ~

I read an article, When Racists Speak Their Unspoken Truths by Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., who made a statement that speaks loudly to this issue. “It’s what racists claimed for 235 years, that American society is about rights (mainly theirs, everybody else’s can be stepped on) and not about race. It’s why racists wore hoods and sheets in public, and why their powerful societies that controlled political and economic affairs were always secret. The less you know about what they think, the less you can respond to how they think, even though the social, political and economic outcomes will tell you what they think.” It seems that those who claim racism are active participants in the continuance of this ideology and (in their minds) think they are now subjected to it.

I think we should understand the sub-text of what we are seeing today, at least from a power and political perspective. It is a strategic effort to contain and marginalize a black President, which is consistent with the Republican Party’s objective of marginalizing the Democratic Party because of its large minority support. Now just like back in the days of segregation, its staunchest supporters were Southerners, Mid-Westerners and poor whites, and people now of that mindset didn’t vote for President Obama anyway. They are probably in a state of shock because much of the country overcame their racial insensibilities to elect a black President. So when we see the Sherrod or Acorn cases, which the same guy was behind. We see how far and deep racism is within certain elements of society that we must recognize.

I have added a feature on the new home of “Thought Provoking Perspectives”, The John T. Wills Chronicles, called “The Unspoken Truth. This is a knowledge-based examinations of the African American Diaspora intended to empower by educating people concerning a history that many blacks continue to face today from the untreated wounds of America’s forefathers. As you travel with me though the Chronicles, my purpose is to simply offer explanations causing people to look at and understand the root cause of the asymptomatic behaviors, and that this is the result of conditioning in “certain” communities.

This intolerance or behavior was never unlearned and have been passed down from generation to generation. Over my relatively short lifetime, I have been referred to as Colored, Negro, Afro-American, Black, African American, and worst. All were polite terms assigned to make known that people who of color were not American citizens. Remember the statement in the country’s blueprint that says clearly “3/5 a man” and did not mention women at all.

The concept of African Americans being slaves, physically or mentally, is as old as the nation itself, designed to deprive a people of its culture and knowledge through sustained policies of control. To include the age old practice, that has been very effective, “divide and conquer” because this form of thinking has one purpose; the system is designed to protect the system. Therefore, when you look at the facts of what we have experienced and what they imply relating to this new phenomenon is as far apart as the vastness of the universe.

As tenacious beings, we must understand that there is no such thing as an inferior mind unless you listen to the untruth. To overcome these indignities we must realize that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize the forces that breed poverty and despair. So I say it’s time for an awakening, if for no other reason than to honor those who sacrificed so much in order that we could live life in abundance.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tea Anyone?

I might as well comment on a topic that has for the past week created a huge controversy, much conversation, and a lot of “BS” concerning what most would believe is freedom of speech involving the NAACP’s resolution presented at their National Convention, which I think was an honest conversation about the role of race and racism in the Tea Party. Good for the NAACP.

The push back from the Tea Party, its members, and all five black members made it seem as if we cannot believe our lying eyes to which they say they’re motivated primarily by a right-wing ideology, not by racism. So my question is what does the right-wing ideology, and remarks like “take back our country” mean?

Those of you who read my blog “Thought Provoking Perspectives” know that I speak from what I have seen and know to be true. For example, you have heard the phase “a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing”. The pushback from the Tea baggers was as if they were insulted by the idea of a fair assessment of their behavior since the group was formed. Over the last year or so, we have heard members call the President the biggest threat to America, call him Hitler, argue that the Civil Rights Act should not have been passed, and suggested having literacy tests, while supporting a man who thinks businesses should have the right to deny patrons because of their race. Dare I remind you of the leader who wrote a letter to a dead president saying “We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing.”

Let face it, any suggestion that we need "literacy tests" that were once used to keep African Americans from voting. Or that we should return to a time of “receiving service through the back door” would suggest bigotry. Guess what, if it looks like a duck – it’s a duck.

This guise is as old as America, only this is the remolded version of what was once the Citizen Councils, John Burch Society, or even the Klan. I am old enough to remember segregation and therefore I know what that duck looks like. Let me remind you that a group like this with American Values back in 1896 was behind the Plessey Supreme Court decision that ushered in “Separate but Equal” that lasted a half a century and beyond.

Frankly, all Mr. Jealous was saying, “We've seen the signs, we've heard the slurs, and all we're asking is for you to act responsibly and say there's no space for bigots in the Tea Party." But the pushback continued with the most visible supporter saying "Having been on the receiving end of a similar spurious charge of racism… I know how Tea Party Americans feel to be falsely accused." She went on to refer to "America's past racism," and identified herself with Ronald Reagan, who said it was "a legacy of evil." Yet, the former governor did not denounce them plainly or unequivocally.

“Guilt by association is wrong, but it's legitimate to insist that those who believe in democracy and freedom take forceful steps to disassociate themselves from people in their movement who peddle racism, intolerance and fear. That's what the NAACP is asking” said EJ Dionne Jr.

And I agree!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Negro League Baseball Honored

The Negro League is set to take the baseball field again, only this time via a stamp, on Thursday the Postal Service will honor the organization that gave black players a chance to show their talents before the major leagues were integrated, or as I would rather say - while it was segregated. A pair of 44-cent commemorative stamps will be dedicated in ceremonies at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

Let me be clear, I am proud of the honor that is being bestowed upon the league and such legendary Negro stars that played from 1920 to 1960; such as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, James "Cool Papa" Bell, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and Jackie Robinson, who is credited with breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947.

This is where I have a problem – “Breaking the Color Barrier”. Could it be that this is a polite or a sanitized way of disguising the wretchedness imposed upon a race of people as a result of the Plessey Supreme Court decision that made segregation the law of the land for more than fifty years? This decision was so wretched that Blacks were not allowed to drink from the same water fountain or use the same toilet facilities let alone play a game, and let’s be clear baseball is a game or should I say a business. This is simply what this event was about – business.

A few years after Mr. Robinson, who was not the best player in the Negro Leagues, won the Major League’s most valuable player award, which means he was better than all the white players playing that year. To put this into prospective, the Major Leagues were losing money and the Negro Leagues were flourishing. Therefore, the “scheme” was to take the Negro players and bring them into the Major Leagues and as history shows by doing so it put the Negro Leagues out of business because all the great players followed.

Again, I want to be clear that I take nothing away for Mr. Robinson or any of the greats because they were GREAT, which was why they were marketable from a business standpoint. To prove my point, when was the last time you saw a baseball player successfully steal home in a game, something that Mr. Robinson was able to do and did regularly? I will close by paying homage to the greatest man to be part of the Negro Leagues, its founder Andrew "Rube" Foster whose vision has become little more than a footnote to the Leagues history.

Just a Season

Friday, July 9, 2010

Justice or Just-Us

Today was one of those days where I awoke to hear the disturbing news concerning the outcome of a court case in Oakland California involving the verdict of a police shooting of an unarmed man, which from my perspective was murder. If memory serves me correctly Moses came off of Mount Sinai with two tablets given to him by God that said, “thou shall not kill”, which means murdering a human being is a capital sin. I wonder if there was a subtext on the tablet that says unless you are the police because we see repeated cases where the judicial system places the people who took an oath to protect and serve above the law.

This case involved an “incident” where a former BART Officer, Johannes Mehserle, on the morning of Jan. 1, 2009, fired a fatal shot into the back of Oscar Grant III while he was on the ground being restrained by several Officers. Mehserle is white, Grant was black. The Officers excuse to justify his action was that he was “reaching for his taser”, which by the way happened to be on the opposite side of his body. So the jury was required to second-guess whether the transit-system cop intended to reach for his gun or his Taser.

In this case like many others, i.e., Rodney King that was among the most racially polarizing cases in California where four Los Angeles officers were acquitted, was captured on videotape. In fact, there were at least five videotapes by different bystanders of this shooting incident. Now, in the mind of a reasonable person and what I saw, it looked like murder. Yet, the verdict that was rendered by the jury was clearly different to that opinion. The jury said, felt, believed, and viewed this crime from what they saw “through evidence” as a case that showed an act of involuntary manslaughter and an unintentional accident due to criminal negligence.

Apparently the jurors didn't believe Mehserle acted without regard for Grant's life nor did they believe he was provoked and acted in the heat of passion. Instead, they found that he acted negligently, but without malice resulting in a guilty verdict of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a 2 – 4 year jail term or less depending upon “time served”.

It was a quick verdict. The case was given to the jury on Friday. Monday was a holiday. A juror was sick Tuesday. And then on Wednesday, one juror was replaced because of a previously scheduled vacation, forcing the jury to restart deliberations with a new member. Talks that day were cut short because of another juror's medical appointment. So Thursday was the first time jurors had the opportunity to deliberate for a full day. But by mid-afternoon, they had reached a verdict.

It was reported that this was never a clear-cut case in spite of the overwhelming video evidence we saw “with our lying eyes” over and over again. These same voices said there's an important point to remember here: Reasonable minds could have looked at the evidence from the three-week trial and come to different conclusions. Therefore, with respect for the legal process and respecting the jurors' verdict that might not be perfect in the minds of many, it was a rational outcome concerning a reasoned process. In other words the word ‘guilty’ is not expected to be heard involving cops.

The jury’s conviction on a lesser charge than murder raised concerns of a repeat of the unrest in Oakland that followed in the initial days after the shooting. There were scattered incidents of violence reported Thursday night and unfortunately those fears have been realized. Police arrested at least 83 people in Oakland Thursday night for failing to disperse, resisting arrest, burglary, vandalism and assaulting a police officer. Protesters defiled several downtown smashing windows, sporadic looting, busted doorways and some newly scrawled walls with graffiti.

Let me be clear, laws are necessary as it relates to maintaining civilization and it is required to have law enforcement to insure order or as they say protect and serve. However, every police shooting, particularly those of this nature, is not justified and deaths like Grant's must not be forgotten or tolerated because if history is any indication there are sure to be more in the future.

Let’s not resign ourselves to accept that there is an unwritten code of unfairness and wrong that is engrained within the system of justice that cannot be addressed and corrected. Maybe the comedic genius Richard Pryor was right when he famously said; as it relates to JUSTICE what we get is JUST-US.