Friday, May 31, 2013

Faces Of Dispair


I am a huge fan of America’s favorite past time. You know the game, as they say “happens every spring”. The same could well be said about politics and the conservative’s never ending quest to find some Negro to be virtually the black face of their party. Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly acceptable for any American to partake and join any political party they desire. We’ve seen a long list of black republicans come along who share the values of the extreme. Are they opportunist or as they were called in the Grio “The GOP's black mad men”.

I would not dare compare or reference any of them to the character in the novel Uncle Tom’s cabin because he was actually the hero of the story. Let me just say that all of these intelligent men must be aware the black people still do not have the permanent right to vote and the Supreme Court will soon render a decision that may weaken what exists. I won’t get into either of those now, but every so many year congress has to reauthorize our right to vote and it was last done in 2006. 

One of these so-called republicans a few years ago, remember Mr. 999, preached to black people that they should pull yourselves up by your boot straps! Well sir that is a very difficult thing to do when you don’t have boots. I use this example to express shame on them because the black man who has done just that is maligned for doing just what he suggests.  

I am not going to go back too far because history has shown that there has always been black people in two camps according to Malcolm X. There were the house Negro and the field Negro. To some this may be difficult to understand but the house Negro was someone so loyal to his owner; the slave master that he had no sense of logic and his devotion was insane. On the hand, the field Negro was whipped, raped, beaten, and treated no different than an animal.  

If I could say to them, respectfully, African American’s were not granted any semblance of civil rights until 1965 and that was 100 years after it was suppose to have been granted after the Civil War. Let me add another piece of history; because the voting rights of each of these black republicans remain suspect, you are still 3/5 a man as the Constitution states - less than a man! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Covert Conspiracy Against Tavis Smiley

tavis-cornelThis is one of the few times I will ask for your opinion. What say you???

I am not a hater, by nature, I admire any person of color who is successful and has the courage to champion African America issues. Brother Smiley was one who fell into that category. Then he took a trip to a place I don’t understand. We’ve learned that Tavis believes that he’s so important that the President of the United States is engaged in a covert conspiracy against him. In some of the reports he suggests there’s race at play in the very question and that he, Smiley, sees himself as a political martyr.

Most African Americans know that the president, we so strongly support, has not done too much for black people specifically. We had strong hopes that our issues would finally be corrected by him with the stroke of a pen. Most African Americans can see that he has been the most maligned person on the planet and that there is an element, from day one, who wanted and is doing everything possible to see our president fail. We expect James Crow, Esq. and his follower will do and create conspiracy’s - but not from Tavis!  

There are reports that "Smiley told the Associated Press that members of the Obama administration, whom he didn’t identify, have successfully convinced sponsors to stop funding his ventures, including his anti-poverty initiatives." The great Michael Cottman said in his commentary on black America Web that “the mere fact that Tavis failed to identify exactly who in the Obama administration "convinced sponsors" to stop funding his ventures, and exactly which sponsors he’s talking about, is particularly telling… If he had any evidence whatsoever to support his allegation he’d be holding one of his PBS "gibfests," complete with "expert analysis" by the prince of gesticular verbosity, Dr. Cornel West, pointing his finger at the president, and condemning the people in the administration who were involved.”

I agree with Cottman that if he produced evidence of such a conspiracy or something to support his claim it would be a gift from God to Tavis’s credibility and by not doing so makes a reasonable person wonder “What’s the Deal”. Can you imagine what Darrell Issa could do with something like that in his House Oversight Kangaroo Committee, particularly when the GOP is on a presidential witch hunt?

Could this be something as remote as ego resulting from the president not attending the "State of the Black Union" hosted by Tavis during the presidents first presidential campaign? Or as Tavis has complained all over the media that "For the very first time in my career I haven’t been invited to the White House". Or is it such a huge ego that made him think that he had enough clout in the Black community to challenge the first Black president of the United States.

The fact is Brother Tavis with two wars, the devastating weather events, the economy, the GOP, and frankly running the country; the president Obama hasn’t given you a second thought since he’s been in office. As Eric Wattree wrote, and like just about everyone else in America, at least with good sense, could see that he doesn’t have to. Tavis and his sidekick Dr. West are making themselves look like perfect fools on their own accord, so the president doesn’t have to say, or do a thing.

Eric Wattree also wrote that "Tavis and West have become the new Amos & Andy of the Black community, and their trajectory is identical. They not only fail to represent Black interests, but they've become a major liability and embarrassment to many in the community.” Wattree wrote on another occasion that "The only thing that Tavis and West have to sell is the Black community, and once they lose that, which they’re currently hemorrhaging, they become a liability rather than an asset…”

When was the last time you watched the Tavis Smiley Show? The problem you face Brother Smiley is that you have no agenda and has nothing to offer. In other words you have become irrelevant? And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

What say you???

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Michele Bachmann Quits!!!

6New sources are reporting that Tea Party firebrand Quits. Bachmann said, “rest assured, this decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff.”

This might be clearly understood by Bachmann, but not by the FBI, the Congressional Ethics Office, the special prosecutor in Iowa, the FEC, and all the other agencies that are investigating her 2012 presidential campaign.

The media has taken the same excuse that they crafted for Sarah Palin, that she was an undisciplined conservative star who flamed out, and glued it on to Michele Bachmann. The problem is that in Bachmann’s case it doesn’t fit. It isn’t a surprise that Rep. Bachmann would deny everything surrounding the ethics investigations in her video. That is exactly what she is supposed to do. She is not going to admit that she is quitting because of allegations of misuse of funds, theft, and money laundering, among other crimes.

Michele Bachmann didn’t choose to quit on a whim. She quit as a preemptive strike to stop this scandal from either costing her the election next year, or bringing her down later. All together now -YEAH!!! And that's my Thought Provoking Perspective...


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Justice For Our Child Trayvon

trayvonIn two weeks, June 10, 2013, the second degree murder trial in Florida for George Zimmerman will begin. Today, the defense was in court where the Zimmerman camp asked a judge to delay the trial, which the judge denied. Other issues relating to admissible evidence was also heard relating to the murder of seventeen year old Martin’s past with much of it will not be admissible.

The ruling was among several important decisions by Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson during a two-hour hearing this morning at the Seminole County Courthouse. The judge ruled for the state on several key issues: The defense may not bring up Trayvon’s past marijuana use at trial, his school suspensions or alleged participation in fights, without clearing several legal hurdles and another ruling granting permission.

It is shameful, yet expected that the defense would put the child on trial. When it was Martin who received the ultimate injustice – DEATH - but then we have seen this before! Just remember the Emmitt Till case and the murders of Bunchie Carter, Fred Hampton, James Bird and countless others where justice was denied.

Let’s support the Martin family as we pray for justice. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Whole Truth by Dr. John Henrik Clark

th (5)We are taught or told that the world began, in part, a few thousand years ago. This is simply false teaching concerning what is known as the Modern Era. My words and writing are intended to inspire and empower the minds of mankind. Education, that which has long been denied to most, is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair!

Today’s topic challenges the history of the world and proves what we've learned, much of it, untrue. Listen to the elder, the profound intellectual Dr. John Henrik Clark expose the lies. In my view the greatest mind of our time. We stand on the shoulders of giants – know it and RESPECT IT. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rape Of Juveniles In Prisons

As I travel and browse the world we know as the Internet or find information shared by my social media connections. I come across meaningful, and dare I say powerful, topics and information that speak to issues that most don’t know about or are not widely communicated via the mainstream media.

In this case Leila Mcdowell, a professional journalist, intellectual, activist, communications strategist, and Washington Correspondent posted a powerful story about rape of juveniles in prison. Most know, yet far more close their eyes to, the many dangers on every level concerning the prison industrial complex. However, Mcdowell’s presentation on this topic is worthy of our attention.

It is said, that a picture is worth a thousand words. I’ll say that if you have a child this video is worth a BILLION WORDS. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Courtesy of Leila Mcdowell
Visit and “Like” her Face Book Page

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

One Day We’ll All Be Free

The World MournsMy condolences to the family and loving memory of El Hajj Malcolm Shabazz. I have never been accused of being at a lose for words but I have lost a son and today I feel the family's pain.
Therefore, I would like to suggest that you visit a beautifully written article from the San Francisco Bay View National Black Paper titled "In loving memory of El Hajj Malcolm Latif Shabazz" by Malaika H. Kambon, who did a much better than I could have ever done.

As the struggle continues, Rest In Peace Mr. Shabazz to you, your Grandfather and namesake, as well as all of the ghost of the greats who had the courage to speak truth.  You will NEVER BE FORGOTTEN! And that's my Thought Provoking Perspective...

Official Video Presentation of Malcolm Shabazz Funeral - Oakland California

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

WARNING: This Is Very Disturbing!!!

faceI guess every since there have been black people there have been those who are different. One of my subscribers sent me this chilling video and all I can say is this guy takes different to a whole-nother realm! I’ve been taught and affirmed by definition that “insanity is downing the same thing you’ve always down and getting the same result”. I don’t believe that describes sufficiently to what is going on in the mind of this guy. SMH!!!

VERY DISTURBING!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Monday, May 20, 2013

I Stand Accused

th (2)If you’ve noticed rarely do I post comments on my writings on THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVES. This blog is designed as a potent source of empowering knowledge to broaden the information base with those who share my passion for the written word.

I am, and proudly, a firm believer that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. My goal is to produce thought because most people were like me in the sense that when we attended public school, just like our children today, there was/is virtually no knowledge provided on or about Black History. Except for thirty-days where a few are remembered. for the most part His-Story based upon the victory’s view of his conquest.

We MUST know history and our history because most of what we have been taught as history is skewed at best. Even His-Story tell us that African Americans have been conditioned to be slaves both physically and mentally. Actually, it was not until about 1920 when there was even any of our history recorded positively. More to the point, most “Colored’s” never received an actual birth certificate until about that time. As chattel they were viewed as property.

Most African Americans were taught the only history was that people of Africa ran around the jungle as savages with spears. You remember Tarzan! The truth is Africa is the birthplace of man, created the first civilization, and produced amazing cultures that have been adapted by every other culture in the world. It was there that the first known colleges were established, advanced medical knowledge and surgery. Moreover, the Africans built megalithic structures that can’t be built or duplicated today. I know you have seen the pyramid – right.

So, to those who suggest Thought Provoking Perspectives is about "playing the Race Card” - ITS NOT! To you I say, “I am positive you take great pride in your culture and teach it to your children. So why is it unreasonable to think people of any other culture should continue to be denied the benefit of history untold; particularly, as it relates to the African American Diaspora.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective… 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Birthplace Of Mankind

black prencessIn the beginning there was a place of magnificent splendor was known as Pangaea where mankind was born. It consumed all of the earth’s land mass and was also the birthplace of civilization. Today, we know it as Africa. Since the evolution of its existence there have been many tribes, nations, countries, and cultures to dot its landscape. By virtue of its wealth many of these civilizations of great stature have altered the course of the world.

So for the purposes of this historical narrative exploring succinctly the African American Diaspora I must start at the beginning, in order to take you on a journey that I believe is the greatest story ever told. I will begin at a time that is significant to the African American plight around 500 AD. The region was on the coast of West Africa where there were three might empires that flourished. The empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai had powerful army’s and controlled great wealth that included large quantities of gold, fine manufactured goods, thriving agriculture, and enormous profits from trading.

Their empire's economic strength and centralized political control made it easy to suppress revolts. The rulers of these nations were strong, surrounded by competent loyal government officials, and military commanders who were able to unify empires composed of di­verse peoples with different languages, cultures, and geographic locations.

Ghana's ascent to great power was directly related to its acquisition of gold. The name Ghana meant "warrior king," used to refer to the empire because of its gold. It was written that Ghana's gold was so abundant that the king's dogs wore gold collars. Al-Bakri, an Arab geographer, wrote that the king owned a nugget of gold so big that he could tether his horse to it. At its height of power Ghana had a functioning judiciary system and other institutions to govern the nation’s people. The empire was ruled by a king supported by several provincial governors and viceroys. Ghana dominated the Sudan for three hundred years.

The empire of Mali differed considerably from the Ghana. It became a mighty nation in the sev­enth century when the small Mandingo state on the upper Niger River was transformed by two great African leaders - Sundiata Keita and Mansa Musa. Although Sundiata Keita began to transform the state into a great empire, its growth was slow until Mansa Musa became it ruler. 

Mansa Musa, a devout Muslim, set out in 1324 on a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city for Muslims. His entourage included about sixty thousand persons, including twelve thousand servants. As many as five hundred servants each carried a staff of pure gold weighing six pounds. Eighty camels carried an average of three hundred pounds of gold each. These riches were to be distributed as alms and gifts.

Upon his returned from his pilgrimage, Mansa Musa directed his architect to design buildings in Tim­buktu and other cities under his control. At times, Mali’s empire numbered far more than one hundred thousand people. During this time, Timbuktu itself had a population of more than one hundred thousand people. It was a busy place where merchants displayed their merchandise to local and international consumers. Caravans from distant places frequently came to Tim­buktu to exchange their exotic goods for gold.

Tim­buktu is believed to be the first great university, rising to its highest level of development during the Songhai’s empire between 1493 and 1529. During this time, the University of Timbuktu produced more than forty books on subjects ranging from logic, theology, ethics, mathematics, and rhetoric. Akmed Baba was the last chancellor of the university and was considered one of the great intellectuals of the sixteenth century.

In his thirty-six-year quest to make Songhai the most powerful empire in the world, Askia Mohammed embarked on an effort to expand trade to include European countries. He eventually controlled most of West Africa, an area larger than Europe. The Europeans took notice to its wealth and Askia’s greed or naiveté creating an inhumane partnership of destruction. It is my opinion and would argue this was a pivotal point in the history of our past because it was during his rule that the sale of Black slaves became a major business.

The decline of the Songhai Empire marked the end of the great West African empires. I believe it was as a result of entering into an unholy alliance to participate in the slave trade where millions were sold into bondage - never to return. As a result of this atrocity a new breed of human was created by Europeans that became known as “Negro”. The great history of this people was erased and stolen from their consciousness there by rendering them to a lost people; A nation of people living in a nation without a nationality. This was the greatest crime the world has ever known!

There are others who claim that the collapse came from the collision of two great religions Islam and Christianity. To that point, I would like you to pay attention as we travel through the Chronicles with respect to the roles each of these religions played upon a naive people. Let me ask that you are mindful that there was no word “GOD” in any African language before the coming Europeans nor was there a word “Allah” before the coming of Muslims.

Knowing that this group of people, who has endured so much degradation, now referred to as African Americans, who stand on the shoulders of giants, should unite and stand proud and tall for we are the Alpha and the Omega! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Friday, May 17, 2013

Political Theater

thumbnail (1)
Politics has been so ridicule lately that I have not found it worth the words to render a perspective. For example, congress wastes its time voting to repeal what they call Obamacare - again. Yesterday was the thirty-eighth attempt, as if this time would be the charm. Then there are the concocted scandals with talk of impeaching the president. The conservatives will take ever opportunity to attack the president, whether he has anything to do with it or not.

I read Ruth Marcus’ column this morning and this is what she calls the trifecta of scandals:

Benghazi. With the e-mail chain released, the chief takeaway should be this administration’s remarkable capacity to be its own worst enemy. It has managed to look as if it were executing a cover-up without having anything to cover up. The real scandal of Benghazi remains what previous inquiries concluded — that “systemic failures” of leadership resulted in “grossly inadequate” security.
Internal Revenue Service. With the Treasury Department inspector general’s report released, the chief takeaway should be the bureaucracy’s remarkable capacity for incompetence and stupidity. “My question is who’s going to jail over this scandal?” House Speaker John Boehner thundered Wednesday. Mr. Speaker, I hate to disappoint you, but no one. Unless we’ve criminalized idiocy, in which case, better start building more prisons.
Associated Press leak probe. This one hits close to home, and while the Justice Department insists that it subpoenaed the phone records only after exhausting other avenues of investigation, the net it cast — records from more than 20 phone lines used by about 100 journalists — remains incomprehensibly, chillingly broad. How nice for the president to now renew his call for a reporter’s shield law, having previously worked to water down the proposal. Talk about the horse and the barn.
She when on to say, “bad things happen in second-term presidencies, often in clumps. This is no coincidence; first-term chickens come home to roost in a second term. The inevitable arrogance bred by winning reelection never helps. But this bad run demands perspective.
I agree that after this some perspective is required. There have been real scandals by past presidents like Katrina, Monica Lewinsky, Iran-contra, or Water Gate. I might go further and say what Kennedy did not do while southern justice attacked African Americans for protesting peacefully. It is amazing when there is a GOP scandal they circle the wagon and call it the growing pains of democracy. No big deal when it’s them. For example, the selling of drugs connected to Iran-contra. No big deal.

More recently, the last administration lied to take us to war and wrecked the economy. Not to mention that this congress is the most ineffective congress ever, which they lead. Yet, they waist time with these matters instead of, say, closing GITMO, bring the troops home, filling presidential appointments, passing a jobs bill and I could go on and on.

The issue with Benghazi is that four Americans died, and my sympathy’s go to those families, but can the thousands who died in the wars that I say caused greater damage resulting from their lies in both cost and deathThe last president was able to pass legislation with sweeping intrusions upon our freedom via the Patriot Act but when this president looks into AP leaks to protect the nation, he is chided.

Has President Obama done a good job – YES! He has faced opposition from the right at every turn unlike the last administration. They never mention how bad the republicans screwed up the country prior to him taking the office. Yet, they cry “the American people” at every opportunity. Maybe these folk should realize that their job is not to administer the politics of shame. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Negro League Baseball

The only vestige of Negro League baseball today is remembered in Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. I am and think we all should be proud of the honor bestowed upon the league and the legendary stars who played in the league. 

Such as the great 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. 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, crossed over he 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 the Negro Leagues was put 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?

Let me close by paying homage to the greatest man in Negro Leagues history, its founder Andrew "Rube" Foster, whose vision has become little more than a footnote to the Leagues history. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Voices – Tall, Tan, and Talented

11(2)Some tunes stand the test of time, like “My Girl” and the same can be said about some groups. When you hear the melodies and incomparable classic of the Temptations today you immediately think of the greatest group of voices that ever sang a song.

The Grammy-winning Temptations achieved their legendary fame as one of the most successful acts to record for Motown Records. It’s rare for someone to change the course of time but this group changed the face of music. Often imitated be rarely duplicated! 

The original group included second tenor/baritone Otis Williams, first tenor Elbridge "Al" Bryant, bass Melvin Franklin, first tenor/falsetto Eddie Kendricks and second tenor/baritone Paul Williams (no relation to Otis). Among the most notable future Temptations were lead singers David Ruffin and Dennis Edwards both of whom became successful Motown solo artists after leaving the group. Other members included Richard Street, Damon Harris, Ron Tyson, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Theo Peoples, G.C. Cameron and others.

The history of the Temptations started in Detroit the home of Motown Records around 1961 as the Elgins. Overtime, as members came and went the new members carried the torch with finesse for decades. I would say this was accomplished because of the group’s mantra was “no one member is bigger than the group” and although the lineup frequently changed their impeccable sound did not.

A Motown-centric biography on the Temptations would start pretty glumly. Success eluded the group at first. Working at Motown was a "Dream Come True," but even that song didn't bring lasting fame. In 1963, a violent scuffle between Elbridge Bryant and Paul Williams preceded "Al's" exit. Enter David Ruffin whose weathered tenor injected intriguing angst into the sweetest songs.

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The Temptations with David Ruffin and new tunes by Smokey Robinson was the injection of magic and the just kept coming. The Kendricks led song, "The Way You Do the Things You Do," broke pop's Top 20 and "My Girl," 1964 became their signature. Meanwhile, Ruffin switched off with Kendricks at lead was like nothing that has come before or since.

Norman Whitfield, a rival producer, offered brawnier hits than Robinson's, like "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and "I Wish It Would Rain." By the late '60s, his collaborations with Eddie Holland, then Barrett Strong, had earned him exclusive control over the music of the Temptations.

The group developed its own recognizable style. The Temptations wardrobe ran the fashion gamut: tuxedoes, capes, leather, linen, blues, limes, you name it. But the Tempts always looked sharp and fun in their costumes. Eddie Kendricks held some sway over this easy sophistication.

Under the direction of Broadway hoofer Cholly Atkins, the Temptations became renowned dancers, as well. Daily two-hour rehearsals ensured their movements were precise and spectacular enough to rivet fans from bare stages. Paul Williams’ choreography, including the Temptation Walk, oozed sheer erotic energy.

Onstage, group harmony ruled. Offstage, conflicts abounded, particularly between Ruffin and the others. Too much ego and flakiness cost him his membership in 1968. Though he released his own smash, "My Whole World Ended," solo super-stardom was not meant to be.

th (5)Enter, ex-Contour Dennis Edwards’ convincing vocals, new songs by the Temptations re-emphasized the ensemble. Whitfield's ambitious "psychedelic soul" phase fused denser grooves with sociopolitical observations, helping fans dance and think at once. Commercially, the Tempts stayed put on "Cloud Nine."

In 1971 brought both returns and departures after "Just My Imagination," a throwback to their tender ballads. Exit Eddie Kendricks for a solo career and the disco-esque hits, "Keep on Truckin'" and "Boogie Down." Exit Paul Williams died as a result of suicide. Two new tenors, Richard Street and Damon Harris gamely met the challenge and held their own against the older classics.

In 1975 things shifted from Harris to Glenn Leonard. Then from Dennis Edwards to Louis Price to Dennis Edwards (who'd leave and come back several times). Then from Motown to Atlantic in 1977, then back to Motown in the early '80s. Just in time for a reunion tour with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks!

th (4)Enter the great Ali Ollie Woodson who played an integral part in keeping the Temptations from becoming just a nostalgia act. I would refer to him as the Temptations Temptation. I mean this in the sense that by the early 1980s, the Temptations were no longer posting hit after hit as they had in the 1960s and ’70s with songs like “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “My Girl,” and “I Wish It Would Rain.” The soared once again with Ali!

In 1989, in flesh and in spirit, the six classic members shared the stage once more at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Smooth spokesman Otis Williams, beloved Batman fanatic Melvin Franklin, ethereally elegant Eddie Kendricks, dynamic David Ruffin, and hard-hitting Dennis Edwards all accepted the award post harmoniously for the late Paul Williams.

All I can say is thanks for the spirit of the great men for their contribution to the world. The Temptations will live for all times. Thank you fellas! And that’s my thought Provoking Perspective…

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The One And Only

lenaLena Horne, the electrifying beauty and uncompromising performer, shattered racial boundaries by changing the way Hollywood presented black women for six-decades through a singing career on stage, television and in films.

She is best described in her own words saying “my identity was clear because I no longer have to be a 'credit,' I don't have to be a 'symbol' to anybody. I don't have to be a 'first' to anybody. I don't have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I'd become. I'm me, and I'm like nobody else.”

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born June 30, 1917, in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her father was a civil servant and gambler who largely abandoned the family. Her mother, an actress, was largely absent from Ms. Horne's early life because of work on the black theater circuit. Shifted at first among friends and relatives, Ms. Horne was raised mostly by her maternal grandmother, a stern social worker and suffragette in Bedford-Stuyvesant; then a middle-class Brooklyn neighborhood. Ms. Horne said she was influenced by her grandmother's "polite ferocity."

She was the first black woman to sign a meaningful long-term contract with a major studio, a contract that said she would never have to play a maid. This single act transformed the image of the African American woman in Hollywood. As film historian Donald Bogle said, "Movies are a powerful medium and always depicted African American women before Lena Horne as hefty, mammy-like maids who were ditzy and giggling… Lena Horne becomes the first one the studios begin to look at differently... Really just by being there, being composed and onscreen with her dignity intact paved the way for a new day" for black actresses.

Her reputation in Hollywood rested on a handful of classic musical films. Among the best were two all-black musicals from 1943: "Cabin in the Sky," as a small-town temptress who pursues Eddie "Rochester" Anderson; and "Stormy Weather," in which she played a career-obsessed singer opposite Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. She shared billing with hugely famous white entertainers such as Gene Kelly, Lucille Ball, Mickey Rooney and Red Skelton but was segregated onscreen so producers could clip out her singing when the movies ran in the South.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios featured Ms. Horne in movies and advertisements as glamorously as white beauties including Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable. James Gavin, who has written a biography of Ms. Horne, said: "Given the horrible restrictions of the time, MGM bent over backward to do everything they could. After MGM, she was an international star, and that made her later career possible, made her a superstar."

Ms. Horne appeared on television and at major concerts halls in New York, London and Paris. She starred on Broadway twice, and her 1981 revue, "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music," set the standard for the one-person musical show, reviewers said. The performance also netted her a special Tony Award and two Grammy Awards. She was formidable and the first black cabaret star for white society.

As a songstress her repertoire consisted of sophisticated ballads of Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Frank Loesser and Billy Strayhorn. She loved the music but also said she liked surprising the white audience who expected black entertainers to sing hot jazz or blues and dance wildly. In her singing, Ms. Horne showed great range and could convincingly shift between jazz, blues and cabaret ballads. New Yorker jazz writer Whitney Balliett praised her "sense of dynamics that allowed her to whisper and wheedle and shout."

In 1963, Ms. Horne appeared at the civil rights March on Washington with Harry Belafonte and Dick Gregory and was part of a group, which included authors James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry that met with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to urge a more active approach to desegregation.

Ms. Horne also used her celebrity to rally front-line civil rights activists in the South and was a fundraiser for civil right groups including the NAACP and the National Council of Negro Women. After the triumph of her 1981 Broadway show, she led an increasingly isolated life in her Manhattan apartment.

Over my lifetime I have seen and known giants who have illuminated the world. No star has shined brighter than “The Horne”. Ms. Horne as you take your rest among the ghost of the greats now belong to the ages. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Friday, May 10, 2013

Racism Is Alive

racimHave 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 causes the confusion in the minds of many.

Today we see that racial prejudice or discrimination, which is a prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment is somehow believed to be directed toward people of the dominate race that they’re calling reverse discrimination. Yet, those same people enjoy the wealth built on the backs of those who were truly discriminated against as a result of racism. Case in point, every so many years the Voting Rights Act must be reauthorized so African Americans can have the right to vote. Shouldn’t it be permanent as the founding documents claim that “All men are created equal”!

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 descendants of 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, or not, 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. Let look at, for example, the strategic effort to 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 those people 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 in the first place. We see how far and deep racism is within certain elements of society as a result.

African American’s, and other minorities, must understand that many blacks still bear the scars of a despicable history and the untreated wounds of our forefather’s bondage. As you have traveled with me though my 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 by a system that never viewed us as equal.

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. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Beware: Civil War Facts May Change


The prolific French writer, historian, and philosopher Voltaire made one of the most profound statements in the history of speech. He said, “History is a pack of tricks we play upon the dead”. In other words, rarely will you get truth; rather what you will get is what I call “His-Story”. For example, the soon to be new president of the NRA made a comment a few days ago telling his troops that “Southerners refer to the Civil War as the war of northern aggression”.   
If you are not aware, we have enter into five years of untruths, unreal assessments, and in some cases out and out lies; 2011 marked the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. A critical point in time because a divided nation faced an immoral crisis – itself! 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 with the question of slavery at its core.     

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 a few years ago when the state school board tried to revised social studies standards to increase the 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.    

In Virginia the Department of Education conceded its error in allowing a misleading textbook to be used in classrooms. 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". It is worth mentioning that they allowed 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." 
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. 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 southerners, secessionist, saw it this way. 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 in many quarters. Yes, nearly one hundred-fifty years after the wars end 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 wretched 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.

A captured Confederate soldier was asked while being marched off to prison, "Why are you fighting?" He was said to have grunted, "Because you're here." To him and other who share his views; we are her and we are not going anywhere – “get over it”! and that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…