Tag Archives: equality

A Day of Celebration

Today we celebrate the 90th birthday of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior and the 10th anniversary of the inauguration of the first African American President of the United States, Barack Obama. Both of these men exemplified class and dignity. They inspired us to treat each other as brothers and sisters and motivated us to be a better person today than we were yesterday. They represented the promise of what America is supposed to be and it is in acting in their spirit that will Make America Great. 

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We’ve come a long way…We’ve got a long way to go.

It is not an intrinsic part of human nature to be intolerant to another human because they differ in some way from you. Intolerance is taught as has been pointed out many times before if you watch two children of different ethnic groups play with each other you will see no sign of racism. These children do not see color and have no preconceived notion of who or what the other one represents other than a playmate. However as the children grow and their minds begin to expand they begin to both consciously and subconsciously pick up on the seemingly human culture of sticking with their own race because it’s comfortable, it’s familiar, Neighborhoods become ‘unintentionally” segregated, as children age their circle of friends becomes more and more homogenous. Job offers are made by identifying a person’s skin color, ethnic group, gender, religion, etc. rather than a person skill set. Intolerance leads to many things, the overwhelming majority bad, from workplace and housing discrimination, pay inequality, segregation, to an irrational fear of the unknown qualities of someone who shares the same basic human DNA structure but simply looks different, has a different belief system or was born on the opposite side of a man made line in the earth defining one country from another.

As we prepare to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this upcoming Monday one can only contemplate that he would no doubt be pleased with the many strides this country has made since his passing. The election of President Barack Obama a fulfillment of his dream that his four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. But as far as we have come as a nation we are still a long way from achieving the America that Dr. King gave his life for.

  • Income disparities have become so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now average more than nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent. Americans in the top 1 percent tower stunningly higher. They average over 40 times more income than the bottom 90 percent.
  •  According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report, as of 2017 there were around 554,000 homeless people in the United States on a given night.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. In 2017, an estimated 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure, equating to 40 million Americans including more than 12 million children.
  • African-American unemployment remains about twice as high as white unemployment. In 2018, black unemployment averaged 7.4 percent, compared to an average of 3.7 percent for whites.
  • In every age group, current trends and policies are widening the ownership gap between African Americans and other groups. This gap reflects two fundamental factors: First, African American homeownership was particularly battered in the housing crisis, sharply reducing household wealth among African American families and dramatically lowering the long-term prospects for recovery for black homeownership at all ages. Second, African Americans continue to lag other races and ethnicities in employment, wages and income.
  •  According to FiveThirtyEight police officers are indicted in fewer than 1% of killings, but the indictment rate for civilians involved in a killing is 90%.
  • According to the Guardian people who are African-American/Black are twice as likely to be killed by a police officer while being unarmed compared to a Caucasian/White individual.
  • According to Mapping Police Violence 69% of the victims of police brutality in the United States who are African-American/Black were suspected of a non-violent crime and were unarmed.

Sadly in 2019 a member Steven King a representative of Congress told the New York Times “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” and King is unfortunately not alone in his ideas. When asked to comment on King’s comments President Trump did not denounce them instead saying he hasn’t been following the story. As Dr. King so eloquently put it: “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” But this should come as no surprise as the President has consistently defended white nationalists; sought to exploit the census to dilute the political power of minority voters; described immigration as an infestation, warning that it was “changing the culture of Europe”; derided black and Latino immigrants as coming from “shithole countries,” while expressing a preference for immigrants from places like “Norway”; and generally portrayed nonwhite immigrants as little more than rapists, drug dealers, and murderers at every opportunity. All this to pander to a base in America that believes to “Make America Great” we need to harken back to a time before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Was even a thought in his parent’s minds.

However I remain hopeful. As I’ve said before I believe this country is headed in the right direction, ever so slowly. It is up to us as a people to raise our voices as one and drown out those who would have Dr. King’s dream become just that a dream and never a reality. We’ve come a long way but still have a long way to go. Let us not lose sight of the finish line and march to it together in brotherhood.

 

America’s Dirty Little Secret – Trump’s shadow base

How was it that Donald Trump, when all the exit polls showed otherwise, was able to capture the Presidency of the United States?

How is it that Donald Trump, when polls show he has one of the lowest approval ratings of all time, able to keep GOP politicians from revolting against him?

Why is it that Donald Trump has made such little effort to expand “his base” and seemingly is unconcerned about it?

I’m here to tell you it’s because of America’s dirty little secret.  You see when we watch one of the many “campaign rallies” Trump held before the election and amazingly continues to hold after, at tax payer cost, we see what many liberals characterize as his base. Low income, poorly educated white males and females. Liberals see a stereotypical person they likely refer to as Billy Bob with a smirk and his wife sporting Make America Great Again hats, spewing hatred and fear against people of color.  It’s why Trump constantly uses the wall and cherrypicks acts of violence and other criminal activities by immigrants in his speeches. Why he throws out lines like shithole countries. Liberals summarize Billy Bob is so poorly educated that he easily fooled by Trump because Trump appeals to their greatest fear. That they are losing a grip on “their” country.

But what Trump and the GOP know is there are a number of well educated, highly compensated, extremely polished individuals who deep down harbor the very same fears. They are Trump’s shadow base. They have friends who are people of color. They’re children play with your children.  They are registered Democrats and they never ever say they like Donald Trump. In fact their social media is likely littered with posts you’ve liked denouncing Trump.  But when they get behind that voting curtain and they are all alone they’re pulling the lever for Trump.

Why? Because way more than “Billy Bob” this was their country. White men of power had a long uninterrupted run of success in this country. They were the majority, ran all the big corporations and controlled the country’s politics. But then census data projected the US will become ‘minority white’ in 2045. More and more people of color began showing up in the executive lunch room and on the country club golf courses. Then the unthinkable happened Barack Obama won the Presidency.  Not only did he win he and his family were looked at with the highest level of respect around the globe. It wasn’t so much about Obama’s politics, tough it would be naive to completely dismiss that, it was looking at a well educated, articulate man of color stand in front of the world as America’s leader. Sure there had been plenty well educated, articulate men and women of color in the spotlight before Obama but none had ever been President. Obama represented a glimpse into the future of this country and for some that was a frightening future

Now don’t get me wrong I don’t think the vast majority of white people are arming themselves and storing canned goods in preparation for the coming brown people apocalypse. In fact I’m more hopeful than ever that this country is headed in the right direction, if ever so slowly, with respect to race relations. But there are still a few dinosaurs out there who hide in plain sight fearful of the future. They’re America’s dirty little secret. They’re Trump’s shadow base and it would be best not to underestimate them again in 2020.

Can You Dig It

I say the future is ours…
…if you can count!
Now, look what we have
here before us.
We’ve got the Muslims…
…sitting next to
the Jews.
We’ve got the Christians …
…right by the Atheists

The Whites up against the Blacks and the heterosexuals back to back with the homosexuals.

Nobody is wasting nobody.

That…
…is a miracle.
And miracles
is the way things ought to be.
You’re standing right now
with nine delegates from every race, nationality religion and sexual orientation
That’s over 7 and a half billion humans.
Now, put that in perspective and you’ll understand there ain’t but a handful of racist, misogynist, intolerant hate filled humans left in this whole world

Can you dig it?
Can you dig it?
Can you dig it?

Now here’s the sum total.
Unity and tolerance could run this world.
We could make it a paradise. Because we got the Earth

Can you dig it?

The problem in the past
has been those committed to hate and division turning us against one another.
We have been unable
to see the truth,
because we’ve been fighting
for 10 square feet of ground,
our turf, our little piece of turf.
That’s crap, brothers and sisters
The turf is ours by right
because it’s our turn.
All we have to do
is see the good in each other
We slowly root out the hate from each corner of the globe
Secure our territory,
secure our turf
because it’s all our turf and this Earth would be a paradise.

Can you dig it.

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What Does it Mean to be American

What does it mean to be American. It means you are part of a diverse community that includes individuals of different races, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, religious beliefs and a host of other differences. That we embrace those differences so together we become greater than the sum of all us. That we educate ourselves on each other’s differences so we may be better understand our fellow Americans. That we rebuke those who believe in dividing us by stoking the prejudices and fears that innately resides in each of us so they can enhance their own power and wealth. That we reject the notion that preaching uniformity will make America great again, as if the continued diversification of this great land made us not great.  That we dismiss those who believe we should isolate ourselves from others instead of showing compassion for those who are suffering from other countries. That we do not simply quote the words All Men are Created Equal but that we actively live them. It is in the melding of each one of us into society as a whole and the embrace of that philosophy that makes us American.

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Black is Beautiful

Drug dealers, gang bangers, fatherless, welfare dependent, prisoners are some of the images that the media bombard us with. When faced with these images on a daily basis many of us begin to accept them and have lower life expectations of ourselves. In essence we are letting the stereotypes of others define who we are rather than defining ourselves. The positive images of African Americans is often that of athletes and hip hop stars implying that their are limited roads to success within the African-American community. Protest against social injustice by African Americans stars is spun as unpatriotic  and done by individuals who are fortunate that society has given them so much. Notice I said given not earned because for many the thought of the African American working hard and earning their position in society is a foreign concept. As Cater G. Woodson said to handicap a student by teaching him that his black face is a curse and that his struggle to change his condition is hopeless is the worst sort of lynching.”

1984 brought us the Cosby Show centered on the lives of the fictional Huxtables obstetrician Cliff his lawyer wife Claire, and their children Sondra, Denise, Vanessa and Rudy, and son Theo. The show was unique in that not only did it depict an upper middle class African American family, we had seen that before on shows such as the Jeffersons, but one that was led by not one but two professionals. They were portrayed as simply a family residing in Brooklyn, not a African American family simply a family. They were not the exception to the rule rather they were just another successful family.  The Huxtables showed us that African Americans can achieve, can be successful, can be a mother and a father who have children who attend college because isn’t that what all kids do when they graduate high school. They were the embodiment of what all American families white and black strive to be.

2008 brought us Barack Obama who against all odds became America’s first African American President. Something many of believed we would never live to see. He was a highly educated man of color and a dedicated husband and father.  While in office some media outlets looked to marginalize his accomplishments, question his citizenship and disintegrate his character but thanks to his magnetic personality and superior oratory skills President Obama was able to overcome media attempts to downplay or mischaracterize him. He represented himself with a class and dignity rarely seen by a politician and won respect and admiration not only from Americans but world wide. His wife Michelle  a strong, educated, beautiful woman of color, so much so that the thought of her running for President today does not seem out of the realm of possibility, was also at times a victim of certain media outlets attempt to paint the Obama’s in a poor light. But like her husband she too possessed a magnetic personality and superior oratory skills which easily allowed her to deflect any negativity aimed at her. The Obamas represented what is possible for all African Americans. No longer was it a fantasy to tell your child they could grow up to be President because it has been accomplished and with accomplished with dignity and class.

2018 brought us the hugely success Marvel movie Black Panther. Movie theaters were packed with people of color young and old, men and women, some who hadn’t been to a movies in years. They left the theater not only entertained by the movie itself but with a pride of their culture. Wakanda after all was undeniably African. Its citizens highly educated, its women depicted as strong and beautiful, its men strong and dedicated to family. Wakanda forever became a calling card of many because the imaged world of Wakanda represented a look at what African Americans could be. That we could fly above the clouds and achieve greatness.

One cannot quantify the impact the positive images of these fictional and non fictional African Americans have had on the African American community as a whole but it has no doubt allowed some of us to dream of possibilities to consider what we can accomplish regardless of the color of our skin.  This begs the question as to what is the responsibility of successful African Americans in giving back to their community. For many successful African Americans success is often measured by moving out of their community into a predominantly white community.  Leaving behind many of those they used to associate with in exchange for new friends who are predominantly white. Rejecting much of the culture they were raised in to better fit their new surroundings. They reject African American businesses citing their supposed inferiority to that of businesses run by others. It as Cater G Woodson said “Negro banks, as a rule, have failed because the people, taught that their own pioneers in business cannot function in this sphere, 

It is ironic that Harlem one of the bastions of African America culture has in recent years seen a renaissance not as the result of successful African Americans returning but to an influx of white people. Unfortunately as this great community strengthens African Americans are pushed out

So is it truly the responsibility of the successful African American to as Lebron James said in his 2017 ESPY awards speech “go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them.” In this writers opinion the answer is an unequivocal yes. As each successful generation serves as positive role models and mentors, invests in the building of a strong and prosperous infrastructure that employs those in the community and affords the children of those adults the opportunity to attain a quality education the foundation is put in place where success is not seen as the exception but the norm. The perception of the African American image within ourselves changes from one that is not worthy and of limited possibilities to one who is exceptional and has unlimited opportunities before them. As Fredrick Douglas said The soul that is within me no man can degrade”

The building of this thought process will not come easy as Carole Mosley-Braun so pointedly put it  “Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face” and as Malcolm X once said “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.”  Simply put the African American can not wait for others to “save” us, to build up our communities, to employ our men and women, to educate our children and most importantly to pass down the history of our many accomplishments. The African American must act from within to achieve these goals. We must set the groundwork so that. each succeeding generation grows up with the belief as the 1970’s slogan said Black is Beautiful. That they shout from the mountain tops what James Brown once sang I’m black and I’m proud. That they define themselves and not let others define them.

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They serve so they could kneel

Without debate, without criticism no administration and no country can succeed and no republic can survive.

John F. Kennedy

Men and Women for centuries have worn the uniform, fought the fight and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our right to peacefully protest. Let no man silence the voice made possible through this sacrifice. Keep America great

Happy Memorial Day 

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