Category Archives: African-American Experience

I love my country – The African American voice

I defended my country, the country I love, in WWII but when I came home I was denied service at the lunch counter.

I defended my country, the country I love, in the Vietnam war but when I came home they turned the fire hoses on me when I dared to vote.

I defended my country, the country I love, in the Iraq war but when I came home the police still stopped and frisked me for no reason.

I am a person of color and I joined the military and I am veteran today because I love my country.

Yes I love America but America has not treated me fairly. America has enslaved me, segregated me, denied me the right to vote, denied me equality in housing, wealth opportunities and education. It has jailed me at in-proportioned numbers. Slowly I have seen things change, gotten better. But these changes did not happen by themselves I had to stand up to the country I love and demand that it lives up to the promise that it was founded on – All men are created equal. I did not stand up to America because I hate it. I did not kneel in solidarity because I disrespect it. I did it because I love my country and make no mistake it is as my country as much as anyone’s because despite the obstacles I had to and continue to endure I continue to create breath taking masterpieces, inspire others in literature, art and music. Produce life saving breakthroughs in science and medicine. I continue to achieve great things each and every day and with each step I take forward I leave an indelible fingerprint on the very fabric of a country.

So no matter how hard some may try I will not be silenced I will continue to shine a light on social injustice. Continue to demand that America live up to her promise. After all dissent is the highest form of patriotism and I love my country.

 

 

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False patriots are in abundance these days

Today GQ magazine named Colin Kaepernick their citizen of the year and as expected conservatives were up in arms. FOX news contributor Todd Starnes wrote an article calling Kaepernick and those that have followed his lead cowards. Of course one could surmise that neither Starnes or any of his families or friends have been subject to the social injustice that Is the real reason for the protest. I doubt Starnes or any of his families or friends have had to worry when pulled over for a routine traffic stop. His article today showed a complete lack of understanding of what it really means to be a citizen or the very real problems that people of color in this country have to face everyday. His article is an example of what too many Americans would rather do, especially when it comes to race, which is to turn a blind eye to the real problems and instead focus on the false narrative pushed by the President and thus have a reason to hate those who would dare take a stance against social injustice. As Thomas Jefferson said:

It has been a source of great pain to me to have met with so many among our opponents who had not the liberality to distinguish between political & social opposition, who transferred at once to the person the hatred they bore to his political opinions.

Let’s dissect a few statements from Mr. Starnes article today.

Todd Starnes states – Mr. Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, was responsible for starting a national movement to protest the Star Spangled Banner by taking a knee along the sideline.

Wrong – Kaepernick was never protesting the Star Spangled Banner he was protesting police brutality. His exact words “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Todd Starnes states – They said they were protesting alleged racial inequality and police brutality, but it’s pretty clear to most of the country that Mr. Kaepernick and his minions were dishonoring the flag, the anthem and the military.

Wrong – It’s only clear to those who never have to worry about being victimized by social injustices, including veterans of colors who deal with the same issues as any other person of color despite their military service. It’s only clear to people who fallen for the false narrative being pushed by the President. For everyone else it clear that there is still a problem with race and a few members, not the many but the few, of law enforcement who abuse their power. Abuse that has led to the deaths of people of color. Until those few are dealt with they will continue to be a stain on the many good men and women in law enforcement and remain an imminent danger to all people of color.

Todd Starnes states – Apparently, GQ seems to think that disrespecting our military and spitting on our flag is a symbol of heroism and manliness. That’s not citizenship – that’s cowardice.

Wrong – I’ve already disputed the false narrative that the protests have anything to do with disrespecting our military and spitting on the flag. As for speaking out against social injustice at the risk of your own livelihood as Kaepernick has done is far from an act of cowardice. It is in fact the very essence of what a citizen is. As Thomas Jefferson wrote “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent,”

Sadly Todd Starnes appears to another of the many false patriots poisoning our country today. Contend to chant USA and wrap themselves up in the flag while turning a blind eye to the very values of America.

Who’s the patriot

Listening to sports talk radio I heard it over and over again from callers. This anthem thing is disrespectful and I’m done with the NFL I haven’t watched a game all season.

I get it you’re offended by players kneeling you’re all about the veterans and this is spitting in their face – it’s not by the way – even though you probably wouldn’t give up a day off to volunteer at the VA and you wouldn’t sign off on a homeless shelter for veterans going up in your neighborhood.

I get it you’re all about the flag and this is disrespecting America – it’s not by the way – even though you don’t really care about what the flag is suppose to represent embedded right there in our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I get it you’re all about the anthem we should all just stand and be proud of it no matter what type of social and racial injustice may exist in today’s world – by the way we shouldn’t – even though your probably more apt to make that beer run during the national anthem than during kickoff

Protest are suppose to make you feel uncomfortable. Name a time when an oppressed group asked for something and just got it. Those in power will always feel like equality takes away from them. They won’t willingly tune into something that reminds them of their privilege. This country was born out of dissent. As Hubert Humphrey once said “Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate.” Let’s be honest with each other the vast majority of those who oppose the protests are people whose family and friends will never be impacted by the social and racial injustices that the anthem protest were meant to shine a light on. For many the players are only important to them as long as they are running or catching the ball for their entertainment otherwise they should just shut up and be thankful for the paycheck bestowed upon them. As if being paid, and in the process making billions of dollars for those that employ them, should mandate their silence. It shouldn’t, in fact risking millions of dollars to bring light to injustice is heroic. Ask yourself honestly how many of those who are angry at the anthem protest would risk their livelihood to right injustice? I would venture to guess not many. Again one of our founding fathers understood this concept as Samuel Adams said “If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace.”

The bottom line is that NFL players have a unique platform to bring attention to the inequalities that still exist in this country and nothing is more patriotic than asking that this country live up to the principles on which it was founded. If you can’t get behind that maybe you should question exactly what type of patriot you are.

They Don’t Really Care About Us

January 21,2009 an Barack Obama an African American took the oath of President of the United States of America and many declared the end of racism. But after watching that man, despite his grace and dignity, attacked for eight years straight. After watching that man have to prove he was an American. After watching the man who led the charge to discredit his citizenship ride a way of hate and division to the White House in 2016 and his appointment of Jeff Sessions who immediately took up the task of rolling back gains made in the battle for racial equality. After seeing case after case of police brutality go unpunished. After seeing people march through Charlottesville chanting racial epithets it’s clear racism was never over. It was simply simmering underground waiting for the right person and the right time to show itself again. Don’t misunderstand as a country we have made strides and we are clearly in a better place now but we still have a long road ahead of us and there can be no doubt that there is a segment of the population, many who wield power, that really don’t care about us.

I am the victim of police brutality, now
I’m tired of bein’ the victim of hate
You’re rapin’ me of my pride
Oh, for God’s sake
I look to heaven to fulfill its prophecy…
Set me free

Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, the Cleveland, Ohio, police officers involved in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014, were not charged.
Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City police officer who held Eric Garner in a chokehold before his death in 2014, was not charged.

Some things in life they just don’t wanna see
But if Martin Luther was livin’
He wouldn’t let this be

Sept. 22, 2017 Trump called on all NFL owners to “fire” all protesting players . The president also referred to the protesting players as “sons of bitches.”

October 31, 2017 Papa John’s CEO and founder slammed the NFL, blaming the league’s “poor leadership” on the pizza chain’s sales slump. “We are totally disappointed that the NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation

Beat me, hate me
You can never break me

1967 – World champion boxer Muhammad Ali used his worldwide star power to take a stand against the Vietnam War by refusing to enlist in the military.

1968 – After winning gold in the 200-meter sprint at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Tommie Smith raised his fist in the air alongside his teammate and bronze medalist, John Carlos. As Smith explained to ABC Sports announcer Howard Cosell, “My raised right hand stood for the power in black America. Carlos’ raised left hand stood for the unity of black America. Together they formed an arch of unity and power.”

2014 – NBA teams broke dress code rules to protest police brutality, wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during warm-ups. The shirts referenced the last words of Eric Garner before he died at the hands of a police officer in Staten Island.

Beat me, bash me
You can never trash me
Hit me, kick me
You can never get me

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 3 1963- Fire hoses and police dogs were used here today to disperse Negro students protesting racial segregation.

Selma, Ala., March 7 1965 – Alabama state troopers and volunteer officers of the Dallas County sheriff’s office tore through a column of Negro demonstrators with tear gas, nightsticks and whips here today to enforce Gov. George C. Wallace’s order against a protest march from Selma to Montgomery. At least 17 Negroes were hospitalized with injuries and about 40 more were given emergency treatment for minor injuries and tear gas effects.

Tell me what has become of my rights
Am I invisible because you ignore me?
Your proclamation promised me free liberty, now
I’m tired of bein’ the victim of shame

When these are the institutions that govern us, when black life is disposable, when black bodies are guilty before and after being proven innocent, when there is no recourse for injustice or even a belief that injustice has been done, when these institutions actively work to push inequality, we are dealing with something much more dangerous than a personal beef with blackness. – Mychal Denzel Smith the New York Times-bestselling author of Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching

The 2016 election was also marked by low turnout, with tens of millions of eligible voters choosing not to participate at all. Yet there has been relatively little discussion about the millions of people who were eligible to vote but could not do so because they faced an array of newly-enacted barriers to the ballot box.  Their systematic disenfranchisement was intentional and politically motivated. In the years leading up to 2016, Republican governors and state legislatures implemented new laws restricting when, where, and how people could vote — laws that disproportionately harmed students, the poor, and people of color. In several instances, lawmakers pushing such policies said explicitly that their goal was suppression of voters who favor the Democratic Party.

All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us

While most of the examples in this post were of African Americans all people of color suffer from the effects of racism and discrimination   While those in the LGBT community also deal with discrimination every day.  It’s November, election season, if you’re not registered go out and get registered.  Protest and calls for equality are nice but only when our voices are heard at the voting booths can we really make a difference to those who really don’t care about us

Lyrics in italics from Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Really Care About Us

Are we afraid or are we fearless

Are we afraid or are we fearless

Are we afraid to admit that we’re Americans and with that comes not only all the good this country brings but the sins of our past, the blood of a uncounted indigenous people, the subjugation of the African American, the continued social injustice faced by people of color to this day.

Are we afraid to confront those sins so we can begin a dialogue in which different cultures, religions and races listen to and work together to make things better tomorrow then they are today.

Are we afraid to make our voices heard through non violent resistance/protest because it would make people who have a differing belief uncomfortable and lash out with at us moral outrage when their value is transgressed even slightly.

Or are we fearless enough to say enough. Fearless enough to say today we confront our past sins. Today we accept that yes there are social injustices in society. Today we reject those who even tough it’s blatantly obvious that if it is wrong would have us accept the status quo. Today we begin to respect each other regardless of race, religion, culture, gender, sexual orientation or other differences. Today we begin the process of working to make our country live up to its unlimited promise. Today we begin to heal.

I choose to be fearless what about you

 

 

Changing the narrative yet again

The narrative has been lost. It was never about the flag or patriotism it was about social injustice and police brutality. But the fact is that topic makes people uncomfortable and no one likes to be uncomfortable, they rather close their eyes or change the narrative then confront the ugly truth and look for ways to improve it. But since our current President has decided to change the narrative, because social injustice is an issue he appears to be squarely on the wrong side of the debate on, and make this about patriotism I thought I remind him of the words of James Baldwin. If he can somehow grasp the meaning of Baldwin’s words then maybe he will understand what it really means to be a patriot.

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