Tag Archives: equality

I May Not Get There With You

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I may not get there with you

Just seven of the four thousand one hundred and seventy-one words in Martin Luther King’s Jr. I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech. That speech would be the last one he ever delivered as he was assassinated the very next day at the young age of 39. There are so many speeches and quotes uttered by Dr. King that have personally motivated and inspired me to be a better person. But those seven words above all others have always had a special meaning to me.

Dr.King delivered those words in a speech to support a strike by 1,300 sanitation workers, mostly African-American men, who were protesting the horrendous working conditions, poverty-level wages, and the refusal of the city to recognize their union, sadly issues that are still prevalent today. With those seven words Dr. King told the world he was aware his own life may very well be cut short because of his crusade to force America to abide by the words on which it was founded.

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.

But he was not afraid to die. Not because he embraced death, not because he wanted to die. Because as he said in his own words our lives begin to end when we stay silent about things that matter. So on that night he refused to stay silent, he told everyone in Memphis, Tennessee that night that now was not the time to turn back out of fear. Now was the time to press on down the path of righteousness even if that path was fraught with inherent dangers. That they could not sit quietly in fear an accept the injustices they were being subjected to, it would be unconscionable to do so.

Today we celebrate his birthday and I ponder what humanity could accomplish, what heights we could reach, where we may already be, if each of us had even a fraction of the resolve and courage that Dr.King had to do what was right despite what it may cost us personally.

I may not get there with you – just seven words but seven words that still resonate loudly today

It’s 2020 and it just a matter of time before we defeat you

I have always identified myself as African-America. I embrace who I am and where I come from.  I proudly tell anyone who listens to me that despite being stripped of our culture, our language, our very identity and sold into slavery, despite Jim Crow, despite the KKK and other groups that hate us, despite the economic and social inequality thrust upon us and a host of other roadblocks African Americans are as responsible as any other people in the shaping of America into the country it is today.

Unfortunately like many African Americans I have been called a nigger, I have had the barrel of a police officer’s gun pointed directly at my face simply for throwing a football in the backyard of a friend who happened to live in an all-white neighborhood. Despite never being in trouble with the law and not really dressing like the mythical stereotypical “threating African American male” I’ve been stopped for driving while black, stopped and frisked for no apparent reason and seen white women cross the street at night when they have noticed me. Yet my story is a little more complicated than just the color of my skin.

Adopted it wasn’t until my late 30s did I discover I was basically half white. A DNA test courtesy of 23 and me confirmed that my DNA profile is mostly Nigerian, twenty seven percent, followed closely at twenty four percent Ashkenazi Jew.  So, for the KKK I’m basically the jackpot, you know lynch one get one free. In totality I’m Fifty four percent Sub-Saharan African and Forty-three percent European. Bottom line is that no matter who my DNA traces back to I’m always going to be who I am and anyone who knows me or meets me should judge me based on my character, not the color of my skin, what religion I practice, my sexual orientation, country of origin or a host of other factors we have invented to separate ourselves from one another.

In the very beginning of the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes Charleston Heston’s character Colonel Taylor wonder if that throughout the thousands of galaxies, millions of stars, if there is only one, a speck of solar dust we call Earth that has been graced or cursed by human life. He wonders if man, the marvel of the universe still makes war against his brother and lets his neighbor’s children starve. At the end of the movie the Dr. Zaius informs Taylor that he has always know about man and that he must be a warlike animal who gives battles to everything around him, even himself.  Science fiction from over fifty years ago or reality from today? Because as we are get ready to usher in the third decade of he twenty first century we are still waging war against each other, still letting our neighbor’s children starve, and still looking to give battle to ourselves. The ending of Planet of the Apes doesn’t paint a bright future for humanity, YOU BLEW IT UP, and it does not take much to suspend belief very much to see our future playing out the same way.

In the last few years America has seen a rise in hate crimes as a percentage of Americans increasingly feel threatened by anyone who does not look, sound, live or worship the way they do. It has always been a simmering but now with an administration that tacitly endorses it, remember a group that walked the streets of Charlottesville chanting the Jew will never replace us was said to have good people, it seems ready to boil over.

Now is a crucial time we as a people must guard against our own prejudices and make no mistake no matter who we are we all have some prejudices dwelling with-in us. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided.  I have heard a few of my Jewish brother and sisters. dismissing Black Lives Matter with comments as if they don’t want to be targeted they shouldn’t commit crimes.  I have heard a few of my African brothers and sisters dismiss anti-Semitic violence as overblown angrily wondering why bigotry is seemingly only deemed a problem when it happens to the Jews and not when it happens to the African American community.  I have heard both groups go after one another over the nonsensical debate about what was worse holocaust or slavery.  I have witnessed African Americans and Latinos who loath each other as they fight over the limited resources afforded to them because of inherent social and economic inequality.  It is precisely these divides that play into the hand of those who preach racism and bigotry. Keep them divided and fighting among themselves they say it makes it easier for us to keep them down.

Yet despite all of this I truly believe as I have said many times in this blog as time goes by those who preach racism, bigotry, sexism, judge people based on their religion or are homophobic are a dying breed and we must not give them any life by falling into their trap of fighting among ourselves.

We are the voice of the many.

We see no difference in each other.

We judge each other for who we are and what we do.

We unite as one people.

We are America!

And we are gaining in strength everyday and it’s just a matter of time before we defeat you.

As long as There is Racism My Voice Will Never Be Silenced

So today someone ask me after reading one of my social media post about Tucker Carlson why am I so angry? We get it there are still people who do things that speak to either blatant or implied racism. Ignore them, let it go, don’t let them consume you they said. Well that may be easy for you I said but I can not mute my voice in the face of any type of racism. I will never allow my voice to become a whisper to their screams simply to make others feel comfortable when it comes to race. As my Jewish brother and sister say never forget and I will never forget that we were forcibly took from our home, stripped us of our culture and told we were not people but property.

I will never forget that sheets were donned, crosses burned and men rode through the night to strike terror into our hearts.

I will never forget our voices were silenced at the voting booths with violence and intimidation.

I will never forget we were turned away at the lunch counter, the doors to the school were locked, the dogs were set free and the hoses were turned on us.

I will never forget that one leader after another was assassinated for daring to ask we be treated as equals.

I will not go quietly into the night because my patriotism to a country I love and my people helped create as much as anyone else is questioned if I dare protest its continued racial inequality.

I will not go quietly into the night as they attempt even to this day to hold us down, strip away our dignity, our pride and our self-worth.

So I told him no I am not mad I simply am one of many of all races, colors, religions, creeds, genders and ethnicities who refuse to be silenced. A group that is rising up now together as one. A group determine to ensure America marches forward and not back even if there are those that believe that was when America was great.

America has no Face – America has many Faces

America has no face.

America has many faces.

How refreshing it was to watch the democratic debate on CNN last night and see so many of faces. White, Black, Latino and Asian; Men and Women; Straight and Gay; Young and Old, Progressives and Moderates.  All vying to be the democratic nominee for President.  Now you can agree or disagree with their politics, but you can’t deny that almost everyone in America could look at that stage and see someone they could personally identify with and that’s what makes America great. We are a country of many different races, ethnicities, beliefs, religions, sexualities, economic levels and social beliefs, an incredible mosaic woven together to form very fabric of America.  It was the founding fathers who imagined this America when declaring independence from British rule proudly stating:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal

At the time it was more of an ideal than something that was practiced, there was still the little issues of slavery and displacing Native Americans from their home land, but it was an ideal never the less of what America could and should be. Today there are still those among us who would have you believe America was at its greatest when segregation was the rule of day, when opportunities for women in the workplace were far and few between, when being gay was meet with societal shame.  That America is no more.  America is changing, some may think not fast-enough, but it is changing. Evolving beyond its past prejudices. We are now the majority, we are the coalition of the righteous. It is why I believe you see individuals who turn a blind eye to alleged corruption by our current President and cling to his mantra of hate and division and a time when as a Americans we were less enlightened time fighting so hard now.  They are afraid of the new America, unwilling to open themselves up to anyone or anything that is different from themselves and what they believe to be right. This is their last stand and they know it, but it is to late momentum is against them, the new America is here, and it is many faces coming together to form one voice and shout:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal

It is after all the ideal that America was founded on.

It’s not injustice until it happens to me

Wow can’t believe some people still don’t get the kneeling during the National Anthem protest. That they still allow themselves to be bamboozled by those who have hi-jacked the real reason for the protest and turned it into a protest against America. Hi-jacked it because it is uncomfortable to address the social and racial inequalities this country still has. Their desire for us to remain quiet on the issue is misplaced as E.A. Bucchianeri states 

“It’s not unpatriotic to denounce an injustice committed on our behalf, perhaps it’s the most patriotic thing we can do.”

For us to do nothing may make their life simpler and more comfortable. Harkening back to a time when “America was Great” and minorities and females knew their place. But trust me we love America as well, maybe more so than they do because after everything America has thrust upon us we are still here fighting to make it a better place.  Doing nothing will most certainly net us nothing. Doing nothing will not force this country to take on the issues that prevent it from being the idea on which it was founded. The idea that all men are created equal and is what is more patriotic than that. As James Baldwin said: Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

For many that have twisted and contorted the real idea behind the flag protests I can only assume the only time they think about injustice is when it happens to them or to paraphrase N.K. Jemisin they never had to fight for the respect that everyone else is given without question.  It easy to wrap yourself in the red, white and blue and scream to the world you are a patriot. It is however difficult to fight for what is true idea of America. 

So while they will continue to scream USA USA at those individuals brave enough to stand up in public to inequality and call them unpatriotic. Remember they are likely doing this as they stand on line for their hot dog and a beer during the National Anthem. 

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.