Category Archives: African-American Experience

Things That Make Colin Go Hmmm

‪Guy goes to white supremacist rally
Guy gets photographed
Guy loses job
Guy’s supporters get mad you’re violating his 1st amendment rights they say‬

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The War on Civil Rights has already begun

I was having a discussion with a friend today about the escalating war of words between Washington and Pyongyang. I told him while interested I take it, like most of what is coming out of Washington these days, as fodder for my amusement more than anything else. Now don’t get me wrong I fully understand the angst the citizens of a country like South Korea might be experiencing, though if you were to believe some news stories having lived with the constant threat of Kim Jong Un they don’t take much of what he says seriously at all and of course any threat of launching nuclear weapons whether that threat comes from a mad man with a bad hair cut or a mad man with bad skin color is nothing to laugh at. But the reality is that this threat of a nuclear conflict between the US and North Korea seems to be nothing but white noise as to fill out your 24 hour cable news feed than reality.

The reality is Trump won’t call for a strike and neither will Kim Jong Un, crazy as they both appear to be. Because as Business Insider pointed out both men will get acceptable outcomes without firing a shot. As Business Insider documented this week what North Korea wants is regime security and national power for its propaganda machines to celebrate. North Korea has maintained a formidable concentration of artillery pointed at the 26 million or so residents of Seoul, South Korea for decades, and it’s deterred the US and provided the security they seek.
The US’s real goal is to bolster South Korean defenses and act like a tripwire force to make sure the North never invades the South.

The final resting point of the North Korean conflict is a fully nuclear capable Kim regime being deterred by superior US power. Just like Russia and China are deterred from attacking the US despite differences.

So while any threat of nuclear war should not be taken lightly this dust up between Trump and Kim Jong Un remains more amusement for me like watching two overgrown boys trying to convince the other they have the bigger penis without actually having to pull it out and show it, than a real threat to America or South Korea.

What I am concerned about is something that I wish was only fodder for my amusement and that is the very real dismantling of civil rights going on right now in a country that has a proven history of suppressing civil rights. As Democracy Now stated in their August 10th interview with Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice in the Obama administration. In the last six months under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department has reinstituted the use of private prisons, reignited the so-called war on drugs and indicated it will no longer address systemic police abuses. The department has also obstructed the enforcement of federal voting rights laws and, just this week, sided with Ohio’s voter purge program. And it has defended President Trump’s Muslim travel ban and supported Trump’s attacks on sanctuary cities. Most recently, The New York Times reported the Justice Department is now laying the groundwork to undermine affirmative action policies.

Looking at this through the eyes of a man of color this attempted systematic deconstruction of civil right protections, protections that were fought for and won in many cases through the loss of life, Is a painful reminder that while we have come a long way as a country we have so much further to go.

Now let’s get on the same page before you read any further while an unabashed liberal I am not a liberal who believes that all of the issues that confront people of color in this country have been foisted upon them by the “man” nor am I of the belief that the only way for us to overcome is by waiting for the “man” to save us through entitlements. Rather I am more a disciple of Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) who said

“If the negro in the ghetto must eternally be fed by the hand that pushes him into the ghetto, he will never become strong enough to get out of the ghetto.”

But it would be naive of myself or anyone to think that through the imposition of systems of racism and discrimination, centuries long many of them, systems that the adoption of many civil right laws were meant to address, people of color did not play with and have not continued to have to play  with a significantly inferior hand. A hand that has resulted in generation after generation falling behind both economically and educationally. The resulting subset of problems from emotional inferiority complex to broken marriages to families torn apart has left a indelible scar on the heart of the African-American experience in America. One so pronounced that centuries from now it would not be surprising to see universities offer courses on how the African American not only survived, but went on to thrive in America. But I digress, it would also be naive to believe that without the protections afforded us by the Department of Justice that the abuses seen on the local level as it relates to police brutality, hate crimes, voter suppression and housing discrimination to name just a few would not be more wide spread. Yet here we are in the 21st century with a Department of Justice that appears to not only not want to continue to move forward in the areas of civil rights but is actively taking steps to turn the clock back.

So here we are, facing a crossroads that to be honest many of us felt we would never have to face or for some of us face again. This Administration’s focus on making America great again is a focus on but a small slice of Americana, at the exclusion of many people based on color, gender, religion and sexual orientation. People that have always been here, people who were just a vital as making America great in the first place. As we stare at this crossroad we can choose to take the road of outrage without a voice and by that i mean not voting with our ballots or with our wallets or we can walk the road of meaningful outrage. We can let our politicians on the Federal, State and local level know we will not be pushed aside again, we will not let the hands of time be turned back on us. We remember the blood that was spilled to ensure we are given what is rightfully ours, a fair and equitable way the same way no different than afforded others before us. Make them remember that we will be there at the next election and our voices will count. Let their corporate donors remember we have a choice on where to spend our dollars.

Nuclear war may not be at hand but the war on civil rights has already begun we can not chuckle at that, it’s not being fought for our amusement it is being fought for the soul of America and its time we take notice and begin to fight back.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You Mr. President

Dear Mr. President

I wanted to take this moment to thank you for what you have meant to me and this country. Eight years ago I watched with tears in my eyes as you spoke to the nation from Grant Park as the first African-American President elect. I thought to myself as I watched you and your beautiful family that night, they look like me. I never thought I would say that in my lifetime but they look like me. But you were more than that, you were not just my President, you were a President of all the people as you said that night:

“We rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.”

Sadly many who opposed you did not take heed to those words. Rather from the very start they did everything in their power to see to it that you failed. But you never sank to the depths of their pettiness. You held firm to your principles and worked for the betterment of all people in this country. You carried yourself with dignity and class and as such you were admired not just in America but around the globe. You were a fitting face of America and you made us all proud. You not only showed us what a great leader you were but also showed the world what a true family man looks like. Forever devoted to and respectful of your loving wife Michelle, a doting father to two beautiful daughters, you are the role model to which all men should aspire to. You leave us now, despite all of the push back you had to endure, in a better place than we were 8 years ago. You will be missed but not forgotten. They will try to erase your legacy now but history always remembers and you Mr. President will be remembered as one of the great ones.

Thank you President Obama

Never Forget – Our Four Little Girls

Four days ago we remembered and honored the men and women who lost their lives in a callous and evil terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. One of the mantras of the day was never forget. Why do we remember such sorrowful moments? Because it is part of our history, the events of that day while tragic will forever play a role in who we are today. But it is also so we remember the past so that history does not repeat its mistakes. Fifty three years ago today another horrific terrorist attack shook the very foundation of this nation when on the morning of September 15, 1963 an explosion ripped through the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four little girls, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Carol Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14), were killed in the attack. Like 9/11 we must never forget our four little girls taken from us, simply because of the color of the skin, before they had a chance to live their lives. While it is true in the subsequent 53 years since that tragic Sunday we have as a nation made many strides, so much so that 45 years after Governor George Wallace who just one week before the bombing had stoked the fire of racisms and hatred when he said in a New York Times interview, he believed Alabama needed a “few first-class funerals” to stop racial integration we elected our nation’s first African American President. But there can be no denying we have a long road still ahead. It was only little over a year ago that Dylann Roof walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina and killed 9 people. His motivation? His support of racial segregation in the United States and his intended to start a civil war. Today the NYT released a poll that showed that Donald Trump was in a virtual tie with Hilary Clinton. This is a candidate who has run the most racially divisive presidential campaign in recent history. Whose campaign rallies routinely have supporters who spew racial expletives while wrapping themselves in the American flag. Yes we’ve come along way since that Sunday in 1963 but we still have a long way to go and that’s why we must never forget September 15, 1963 and our four little girls.

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Silence does not equal Patriotism

Love it or leave it. So has gone the refrain from many in response to San Francisco Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest of sitting for the National Anthem. Kaepernick has stated that “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kapernick isn’t the first and he won’t be the last high profile athlete of color to speak out against the treatment of people of color in America and while you can choose to agree or disagree with the matter in which he chooses to protest you cannot voice displeasure with his right to protest and simultaneously say you stand for the principles on which this country was built.

“If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.”— George Washington, first U.S. president

The crux of the public outcry over Kaepernick’s protest centers around his patriotism and as an extension the patriotism of those who support him, especially those in the African-American community. Lost in the uproar of Kaepernick’s decision to sit for the National Anthem are the very real concerns that triggered his decision in the first place, central among them police brutality. Anyone that has read my blog knows that I have the upmost respect for law enforcement and the job they perform every day. You also know that I recognize that the police department is an institution like any other and is therefore susceptible to have with-in its ranks a few bad apples. Regrettably we have seen that the abuses of those bad apples disproportionately impact communities of color. To remain silent or to condemn those who speak out on these issues neither shows bravery nor can be seen as a sign of support to the police departments across the country as silence only emboldens the few evildoers and devalues the good accomplished by the many. In the case of police brutality those among us who do speak up do not do so to see police departments across America dismantled or police officers targeted. Rather it is because we believe that the institution of policing is one that is better than to allow itself to be sullied by those who do not deserve to wear the uniform and when those who abuse their power are allowed to continue that abuse because of the silence of the masses we become despondent at the system in general.

“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
― H.L. Mencken

Now there are those of you who will say – Ok I hear you but sitting for the Anthem? Dishonoring the flag? There has to be a better way to get your point across? To me no matter how you slice it Kaepernick’s actions and those who support those actions are unpatriotic? Maybe one could see it that way until you recognize that the African-American experience in this country is a unique one and patriotism is part of that unique experience. We did not leave our homeland seeking a better life for ourselves and our families rather we were taken forcibly from our home and brought to this “new world” in chains landing on the shores of Jamestown in 1619 as slaves and remaining as such for 246 years until 1865. During that period our history, our language, our culture, our very identity were all stripped from us. Today we cannot look to a specific country and call it home rather we can only look to the African continent as a whole and wonder who and what we once were. With our culture robbed from us we forged a new culture, a new identity here in America. Everything the African American is today is born of this country. One could say more than any other group, save the American Indian, America is OUR country and time and time again we have shown that by putting our lives on the line to defend her. In fact we are the only people to fight for the right to put our lives on the line in defense of this country.

When we were slaves, when our men were beaten, our women raped, and our families ripped apart and sold off as property we fought for this country’s independence.

When we were freed from the bonds of slavery but still denied basic fundamental rights supposedly guaranteed to all men in this country such as education and the right to vote we fought for this country.

When were held down by the institution of Jim Crow and terrorized by groups like the Ku Klux Klan we fought for this country.

We fought and we did so with one simple belief, that despite all we have endured this country, OUR country, would one day live up to its promise, live up to the words on which it was based – that all men are created equal.

“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” – James Baldwin

The subjects of racism, discrimination, police brutality, etc. may make some uncomfortable. Some may want to quietly turn a blind eye to them. But there will always be the brave who rather than standing for the status quo will use the freedom of speech afforded to them in this country to push America to live up to her promise to treat all men and women as equals. It is after all the patriotic thing to do.

Passing the Baton

The POTUS delivered tonight! Eight years ago I watched as the newly elected Barak Obama his wife Michelle and their two beautiful daughters walked into a Chicago park to celebrate his election. I admit as I watched tears streamed down my face. Why? Because never did I imagine in my life I would live to see an African American President. They look like me I thought and I was so very proud.

In his eight years as President Barak Obama has faced more push back then probably any other President in history. From day one there was no desire to work together, no desire to compromise. The mission was clear from the right, this man must fail. Was some of it political? Undoubtedly so. Was some of it racial? I think the rise of Donald Trump and his message of division answers that. Yet through it all the President remained dignified and pushed on with his agenda. His administration remained scandal free. Time will pass and history will tell his story. If I were to bet I would bet it will be a wonderful story indeed.

Tonight I couldn’t help but see that there was something symbolic in our nation’s first African American President passing the baton to what very well could be our first woman president. Come this November a generation of young women may get to look on as a President Elect Clinton takes the stage to celebrate her victory. She a woman just like me they may think and they will undoubtedly be very proud.

There is no disputing the fact that we’ve come a long way but it is evident that as a country we still have a ways to go in regards to race relations and gender equality. Yet if you watched President Obama and Secretary Clinton together on stage tonight in Philly it’s clear, we are on the right road indeed.

The Black Lives Matter Debate

I have grown tired of the endless back and forth. I have grown tired of having to defend my right to shine a spotlight on the killing of Men of Color without also having to prove I’m not anti-police. I have grown tired of certain segments of society telling me to stay quiet, to not protest, to not interrupt their day to day activities, to simply turn the other cheek and move forward. Yet here I am again today watching the news and there it is predictable as can be, individuals like Sean Hannity and Rudy Giuliani using the tragic events of Dallas to denounce Black Lives Matter. Here I am again today going through my social media feed and seeing an increase in the number individuals posting the hashtag All Lives Matter and while it is true all lives matter we need to be honest and real about why the hashtag All Lives Matter became a counter response to Black Lives Matter.

First by saying Black Lives Matter you are not stating that other lives matter less or don’t matter at all. It never was. What Black Lives Matters does is call attention to an inherent problem and that is the senseless killing of Men of Color by those who have been charged with protecting the public. Now let me be clear, because there are those out there who would jump on that statement and call me anti police, which could not be further from the truth. To be a police officer, to know each day you risk your life so society as a whole can be a safer place takes a special person. However there are always bad apples in any group and even if it’s only 1% of the nation’s police force the spot light must shine on that 1% until that 1% is stripped of their power.

Those who blame the senseless killing of five police officers on Black Lives Matter either don’t get it or don’t want to get it. They are the real race baiters. No person of color who says Black Lives Matter wants to see any officer of the law killed. Communities of color did not celebrate the death of five good men we mourned it. As we mourn however we cannot let individuals like Sean Hannity and Rudy Giuliani take a tragic event like Dallas and through the power of the media attempt to silence our voices against police brutality. It is not about getting over it and moving forward. It’s about this country no longer pretending that there are not very real issues that need to be addressed. It’s about people no longer using the lame excuse that by calling for the end of police brutality you are anti police. It’s about finally having a brutally honest conversation about race relations in this country.

So understand that while All Lives Matter countering Black Lives Matter with All Lives Matter is like bursting into a cancer fund raiser and saying hey Heart disease is a problem too you know. It’s true but it really is missing the point.