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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