Tag Archives: social injustice

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 of Peter 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.

 

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The danger within

A country whose citizens:

Turns a blind eye to social injustice, 

Condones immoral behavior from their leaders,

Believes anything that those in power tell them rather than educating themselves.

Allows their government in essence to be run by and to the benefit of the wealthy few.

Need not worry about its enemies because in time it will be destroyed from with-in

 

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.

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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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.

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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.

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