Tag Archives: RACIAL INEQUALITY

STEP INTO THE GAP

On May 12, 1961 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. John Lewis, an African-American seminary student and Albert Bigelow a World War II veteran and white Freedom Rider were viciously attacked as they attempted to enter a whites-only waiting area. Two days later in Anniston Alabama a vicious mob of about 200 people bombed a Greyhound bus and brutally beat the Freedom Riders as they fled the burning bus. Later that day in Birmingham Alabama a Trailways bus carrying another group of Freedom Riders was meant with a similar fate These Freedom Riders were aware of the dangers they would encounter and over several months they were attacked repeatedly yet they persevered so that the racist practice of segregated bus terminals would come to end and in the fall of 1961 their perseverance bore fruit as the  Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations that prohibited the segregation of interstate transit.

THE FREEDOM RIDERS STEPPED INTO THE GAP.

Liu Xiaobo was a human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate from China who through nonviolent protests fought against communist one-party rule in China. For his efforts he was imprisoned in 1989 to 1991, 1995 to 1996, 1996 to 1999 and 2009 until his release in 2017 after he had been diagnosed with liver cancer. He died less than 3 weeks after his release. Despite his multiple imprisonments he continued to fight until his death for the betterment of the Chinese people.

LIU XIAOBO STEPPED INTO THE GAP.

Razan Zaitouneh was a Syrian Human rights activist who was involved in the Syrian uprising. She acted as a lawyer for political prisoners, was one of the founders Human Rights Association in Syria and the Syrian Human Rights Information Link through which she reported about Syria human’s rights violations. Razan Zaitouneh worked tirelessly for years to bring light to Syria’s oppress regime despite the obvious dangers involved with doing so. On December 9 of 2013 she was kidnapped and has not been seen since, presumed to have been killed.

RAZAN ZAITOUNEH STEPPED INTO THE GAP.

Michael Todd has been getting bullied at his new school since the year began. He would wear the same clothes every day and students at MLK College Preparatory School would make fun of him for it. High school football players Kristopher Graham and Antwann Garrett didn’t just go along with their class mates to be part of the crowd and on September 10, 2019 they surprised Michael with a bag full of bags full of shirts, shorts and shoes and apologized to him for previously laughing at him.

KRISTOPHER GRAHAM AND ANTWANN GARRETT STEPPED INTO THE GAP

Everyday countless number of individuals step into the gap. But sadly many in a position to do the most good lack the courage to step into the gap Last week at church my pastor preached to us from the book Ezekiel 22:30 “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.

In Bible times, cities had walls around them to help defend them from attack. Broken parts of the wall created a physical gap in the city’s ability to protect itself from invading armies.  In this Bible verse, because there is a gap in the wall, God is looking for someone to step in and guard the broken, vulnerable territory.

Today God is still looking for us to step in and guard the broken and the vulnerable. Victims of violence, oppression, discrimination, bigotry.  Those who are denied fundamental human rights such as medical care, food and shelter and education. Yet when we turn our eyes to Washington D.C. we find there are far too many concerned with their own self, maintaining their power and reaping the benefits that come along with it than with stepping into the gap.  We see children, the Lord’s most innocent souls, gunned down in mass shootings yet no action has been taken to enact sensible gun control to protect them. We see mothers and fathers working two and three jobs, sixty and seventy hours a week yet still unable to earn enough money to put a roof over or adequately feed their families. Yet at every opportunity the very social programs designed to help them through these troubled times are slashed, and more and more money is appropriated to building weapons of war.  Racism is unbelievably on the rise again in this country but far too many in power either pretend it doesn’t exist and simply ignore it or worse tacitly give their approval, so they can appeal to a base of unenlightened individuals they believe will allow them to maintain their power. Education budgets are cut and college tuition soars while tax breaks for the wealthy are passed into law. Prescription drugs prices rocket, inflating the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies while the affordable care act remains under constant attack. The gap between the haves and have not continues to expand as CEOs take home millions and workers struggle to survive yet steadfast opposition to raising the minimum wage continues.

We are witnessing the abject failure of the very individuals we have tasked with stepping in the gap. However, it is never too late as a people to change things.  United each of our whispers becomes a mighty roar for change. We can demand that change takes place and we can start at the voting booth. We can educate ourselves on the issues and not let some 24-hour news network “opinion” show host skew our perception of reality. We can protest racism and social injustice and when those in power try to change the narrative and quiet us we can roar louder.  We can rise as one and let our voices be heard.  We can let them know that it is we not them who are the coalition of the many and if they won’t stand in the gap we surely will find someone who will!

Living while Black

Police officers in New York City were doused with water by punks, not black punks, not spanish punks, not white punks.  No, just punks their color does not matter.  They were wrong and showed a level of disrespect to the men and women who put on a uniform everyday and risk their lives to protect us that should never be accepted. They should be arrested and charged to the fullest extent possible. Leaders in the community need to speak out in the loudest possible voice to condemn them.  To let it be known that their type behavior does not represent us and our communities will not stand for it.

With that said let us not lose sight of another issue, those who would use this disrespectful incident to justify police misconduct with memes like ever wonder why the police mistreat you. Stop breaking the law.  Seizing upon the disrespectful action of a few as justification for police misconduct no better than we an entire police force is held accountable for the actions of a few bad officers.  Rather than looking to exploit the issue to create a false narrative it is time we ’s have a real discussion about the disconnect between the communities they patrol and the police.  Lets talk honestly about the issue of police misconduct. Like every single company, government agency, not for profit and church has a few bad apples and those bad apples need to be rooted out.

Sadly if you believe the concept that people of color can simply avoid police misconduct by obeying the law.

I guess:

You never have been pulled over numerous times but never receive a ticket and left to wonder if you were stopped because you were driving while black.

You never been stopped and frisked in a low crime neighborhood while sporting an argyle sweater and matching socks. You didn’t appear to fit the profile of who they were  supposedly looking for unless that profile was simply black.

You never had a gun pointed in your face while tossing a football in a white friend’s suburban backyard because you didn’t appear to belong in that neighborhood because you were black.

You never been a 53 year old African American male whose never been in trouble with the law.  Whose palms get a little sweaty when a police car is following you while black.

All of which have happened to me.

But you’ve never been black.

So lets stop protecting the rotten apples on the police force and applauding punks who disrespect the good police officers and have a real discussion

We Are The Coalition Of The Righteous

GOP politicians are lining up to defend Trump’s racist tweets some going as far as too call them patriotic and informing us that we should just move on from this and get back to the business of governing. 

REALLY? Just move on from it? So now You’re going to tell US what is racist and what isn’t. Is this the same logic you used when you told us Slavery wasn’t racist, segregation wasn’t fine as long as it was separate but “equal”, red lining wasn’t racist. the shooting of unarmed black men of color were justified. 

No we can not simply move on from it.

Now more than ever we have a difficult time ahead of us. But we must shed our fear of it.

Why?

Because we are not here because of the path that lies before us but because of the path that lies behind us. Four hundred years we have endured slavery, racism, sexism, homophobia and the denial of basic human rights and with each step forward we take, with each of our achievement we accomplish it produces fear among those among who still preach hate, who look to divide, do not believe in the brotherhood of all but would rather hold onto the old ways of subjugation and bondage.

But we are rising up now, together as one, race, color, religion, creed, gender and national origin .  We are a coalition of the righteous and we are gathering momentum each and every day. We are going to create a world where color, gender, religious belief and country of origin doesn’t matter. A world without conflicts and killings. A world without borders and boundaries. A world united not divided, ruled by love not hate. A world where anything is possible.

Today we send a message to those who still cling to the past, those who still preach hatred, those who still wish to divide this great nation not on the content of our character but on the the color of our skin. Today we take OUR country back from the racist and bigoted. Today we tremble these amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties from sea to shining sea. Today we remember, this is America where we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and all women regardless of color 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.

Today we make them remember we are still here

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. 

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.

The Alt-Right’s sins against the Lord.

One of the great aspects of American society is the right to free speech. No matter how hateful and divisive it is.  No matter how vile you may take the message to be it is the right of every individual or group to freely voice their opinion.

This weekend exactly one year after Unite the Right, the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, many of the same white-nationalist, paramilitary, and other right-wing groups are planning once again to come together once again — this time, in Washington, D.C.

In many ways it is a good thing that these groups are permitted to use their first amendment right  to hold these rallies as it sheds light on the vile, dangerous and disgusting message of division and hate they preach. A spotlight for the rest of America to witness and be repulsed by, hopefully forcing them to admit there is a cancer in America that needs to be removed.  Discussions about about race and social inequalities can not be swept under the rug any longer but must be confronted head on if we are ever going to move forward as a nation.

These rallies also shines a light on the sins of those individuals who preach hate. The majority of them who call themselves Christians but deny the undeniable, we are all one created in the image of our Lord.

27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27

They presuppose that they are greater than the Lord they claim to worship.  That they have the right to determine which of the Lord’s children are worthy and which are not. A direct rejection of the Lord’s commandment to us. As is written in John  13:34:

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another

The Lord created each of us in His image  He loves each of us unconditionally  He does not play favorites based on the color of our skin or our religious beliefs.

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. – Galatians 3:26-29

Since the beginning it has been the Lord’s desire for us to live together in peace an unity.

1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! – Psalms 133:1

And He warned us to avoid those who would speak differently!

17. Now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. 18. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people. – Romans 16:17-18

So this weekend let us stand at a distance watch and expose to the world those with malice in their hearts, sinners against the Lord.

Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. – Ephesians 5:11

But as with all things with the Lord reject their beliefs but be prepared to forgive those among them who repent their sins and ask for help in finding their way back onto pthe path of spirituality.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. – Galatians 6:1 

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The NFL’s Anthem problem. Whose Wrong or is Everyone Right.

This week the Miami Dolphins made public that any player who participate in a protest during the national anthem would be subject to a four game suspension, although they also said they don’t plan on enforcing it. As an African American I have conflicted emotions regarding this subject. No one can deny that racial injustice and social inequity is a very real thing. Colin Kapernick began this protest movement to bring light to these issues through his celebrity and it cost him his career.  As other joined in the protest President Trump saw that this was the perfect opportunity to appeal to his base by hijacking the issue and essentially changing the narrative to one of a protest against the national anthem and called those who protest unpatriotic. Owners worried that fans would turn away from their game thus hurting their bottom line, and in the NFL nothing is more important than the bottom line, felt the need to draw a line in the sand.  Through it all the original intent of Kapernick message started to get lost. It began to seem as players were protesting simply because they were told they couldn’t and fans had brought into the President narrative that the protest were unpatriotic. After much thought I have concluded that since the NFL is a business and the players are in essence employees of that business, highly paid and famous employees but employees nevertheless less, they should play by the same rules as everyone else. To that end when most of us in society are told we are prohibited from doing or saying something while on duty that the company feels would hurt their bottom line or be perceived as a negative, whether in reality it is or isn’t, we do it.  Failure to follow the rules often leads to termination of one’s employment. As NFL players are “on duty” representing their teams during the national anthem it is not outrageous to say they have an obligation to follow the rules set by the team’s owners.

This however does not mute the player’s voices, they need look no further than their NBA brothers as an example. In a league overwhelmingly African American NBA players stand as required for the national anthem. Are we to believe NBA players are oblivious to the injustices of society around them or that they simply don’t care about issues such as social inequality because they stand instead of protesting. The answer is of course no. But NBA players use their celebrity during their “own” time to draw attention to these issues. Who can forget when LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade teamed up to deliver a powerful speech during the 2016 ESPY  in which they called for fellow athletes to use their fame to heal a country divided by racism, injustice and gun violence.  They referenced fatal police shooting of African American young men they called on fellow athletes call to educate themselves and to speak up and use their influence.  They urged fellow athletes to go back to their communities, invest their time, their resources to help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them. Their message could not be hijack the narrative not changed. No one could question if they were giving the speech because they were told not to and most importantly they showed the power of their voices away from their jobs on the hardwood.

NFL players can follow suit. Hold workshops in the community mentoring young people of color while at the same time calling attention to the injustices those same young people face on a daily basis. Work as a group with local police to meet with and come to a better understanding of the community they are policing. Use public events such as the ESPY awards to speak out and condemn the issues that the protest during the national anthem were intended to bring light to.

This issue is bigger than if players do or don’t have the right to protest during the national anthem. It is bigger than NFL players versus NFL owners and the President. Rather than get bogged down in that fight, rather than provide even the smallest of opportunity for others to change the narrative NFL players should use the multiple avenues available to them on their “own” time to help build and strengthen their communities and to call attention to the issues of social injustice and racial inequality.