Jemele

Jemele

ESPN’s veteran sportswriter and co-host of Sportscenter with Michael and Jemele – Jemele Hill –

found herself in the middle of a firestorm this past week after she sent out a tweet in which she wrote: Donald Trump is a white supremacist. This was in response to individuals who had tweeted @ her about any number of race or political related topics. Immediately the righteous indignation began. You know like: “How dare she call him a racist”?! “She should be fired”! “If a white person said something about a black person, they’d be gone”! “ESPN is a liberal organization and that’s why they are supporting her”. Etc. Etc. Etc.

To begin with I am not quite sure what Donald Trump is if NOT a white supremacist? This is a man who along with his father (his father once attended a Klan rally by the way) would not lease apartments to black people. This is a man who essentially castigated and persecuted five black and latino teenage boys (who were clearly suspects simply because of the color of their skin) for a rape of a white woman that took place in Central Park (they were dubbed the Central Park Five). Donald Trump spent EIGHTY FIVE THOUSAND dollars in full page ads in the newspaper calling for their death. It was ultimately found – fourteen years AFTER their conviction – that they 100% did NOT commit the crime based on DNA and a confession by the actual perpetrator. And did Trump ever apologize or admit any wrong doing? Of course not. In fact upon being confronted with the indisputable evidence he inexplicably doubled down – saying he STILL thought they were guilty!

It was Donald Trump who spearheaded a “birther movement” that claimed former President Barack Obama, who of course was the nation’s first black President, was not born in the United States but rather Kenya. And when Obama eventually produced his LONG FORM birth certificate (more indisputable evidence) just to shut everyone up (especially him) and move on – did Donald Trump apologize or has he admitted any wrong doing to this very day? Once again – of course not!

Fast forward to Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency during which he spewed racially charged rhetoric each and every step of the way – culminating with his arm having to almost be twisted off in order to disavow an official endorsement by the KKK. And when he won based largely upon that xenophobic platform he then stepped up onto said platform and hired the likes of now fired Steve Bannon who is clearly a far right-wing fanatic (among other dubious characters in his employ) to help shape his public policy and political ideology. And unfortunately I am not done yet because believe it or not he followed ALL of that up with his recent detached response to the infamous neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville – an event that included a vicious attack on DeAndre Harris and the loss of Heather Heyer who was MURDERED after a white supremacist RAN OVER her with his car – and yet our President could not originally bring himself to unequivocally condemn white supremacy. And after having been pressured into eventually doing so he then subsequently back-tracked to his original stance.

So let’s get something straight. If we lived in a society that did NOT in large part adhere to or accept the tenants of white supremacy (even if many don’t realize they are) – a “Donald Trump” could NEVER (“ever ever  ever” as Smokey from Friday would say) have been elected as President of the United States. I know for some this is a tough reality to accept. And the reason it is hard for some to accept is because our culture – our traditions – our intrinsic American DNA has been completely immersed within the deep and turbulent waters of White Supremacy from 1492 up until this very moment. However, for Black Americans (generally speaking): this truth is as clear as broad daylight because we have borne witness to and been the victims of the derivatives of white supremacy in all of its horrible forms for centuries by now. And it is kind of hard to have delusions of grandeur about liberty and equality when you live in a society that would elect someone to the highest office in our land in 2017 despite the dubious resume spelled out above that covers the entire span of their adult life.

Jemele did not say anything that was controversial or foreign to Black America or other people of color. We knew what Trump was from Jump Street because we have seen individuals with his mindset dating back to ante-bellum. The ONLY difference between now and then is that we can speak the truth without fear of hanging from a tree off the side of some dirt road. That is all that Jemele Hill did…she spoke truth to power. And she did so because she – like many of us – is not only frustrated by an electorate that put someone in place who is so utterly lacking @ all the requisite capacities needed to perform the duties of the office he has assumed – but also due to the fact that he disparaged just about every race other than White America in the process. A fact which is only more disappointing than it is infuriating.

What is particularly sad about all of this is directly connected to what I have been preaching time and time again on this blog. And that is the fact that America does not want to have this discussion and so it simply doesn’t and never has in any substantive form. And this is a prime example of how within the context of a white supremacist culture a TV network must  be careful not to alienate their viewers (many of whom who are white males in this instance incidentally) with an in-depth discussion about race. So some executive at ESPN who probably knows Jemele is dead right about Donald Trump – most likely sat her down and said: “We need you to extend an apology and let the public know in no uncertain terms that ESPN has no part of what you said, etc”. Instead of being allowed to defend her position, Jemele was no doubt forced to lie a few days ago and pretend she is sorry for telling the truth. America will therefore now be able to do what it ALWAYS does which is to deny and avoid the truth about racism in this country.

Until we can have these discussions under the revealing light of voices like Jemele’s which are silenced by white supremacy – we will not make any real progress. And that is precisely why we have a racial divide in this country. Despite popular opinion the divide among us is not due to differing perceptions about issues of race –  it is due to a dominant perception about issues of race. A dominant perception that has roamed the social terrain of our nation unchecked from day one – ruthlessly savaging its prey along the way.

How much longer can America avoid talking about the enormous elephant of white supremacy which is standing right there in the middle of the room? I am thoroughly convinced that that is the single most important question of our time. You know it is quite possible that Donald Trump truly believes that he is not a white supremacist. That’s what white supremacy does after all – it’s why it is dangerous on so many levels – especially after having been left unbridled for centuries: It has normalized to much of White America behavior that is completely unacceptable. And that is the reality that not only Jemele but all of Black America is up against every day in this nation. A nation that though you would not know it in many respects – is not just home to White America – but home to Black America and a beautiful cacophony of many other races as well.

 

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 Oreos to go:  Had the victim of the rape in Central Park been a black woman do you think Donald Trump would have taken such a vested interest in that case?


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

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The Promised Land (Part II)

 

Promise

Want to continue on with the subject matter from Monday and offer an example of a practical means (among others that would have to be employed) or method that can be utilized as we make a final push towards the “Promised Land”. 

In order to effect real change in ANY organization, one must have the ear and support of those who hold the power. This is especially true if they seek a change of culture in an environment in which most of those in power do not see a problem to begin with – or – when certain individuals may in fact prefer things to remain exactly as they are. In situations like that your problem must become their problem in order to arrest their attention, thereby causing them to act – even if they really are only doing so in the interest of self-preservation.

Dr. King knew this all too well. As he ascended to prominence and became the face of the civil rights movement, he preached a non-violent approach to the movement’s demand for equality. BUT, less we underestimate his abhorrence of white supremacy; he was anything but passive when it came to insisting that Black Americans no longer be treated as second-class citizens. He had a leg to stand on and he knew it. The problem, though, was that Dr. King was dealing with authoritative entities and governing bodies that were a little less than sensitive to his cause for any number of reasons; and therefore slow to act on the demands placed before them.

King was sagaciously adept at identifying and then applying pressure to the individuals who had the power to effect wholesale change. He utilized boycotts, marches, sit-ins, and other forms of structured resistance to either disrupt the status quo in a peaceful but effective manner – or – perhaps most importantly to hit the wallets of those who had been readily accepting proceeds from black people while not concerned in the least about violations against their humanity.

We have before us in our present day a need for a second and just as effective civil rights movement (a 3rd Reconstruction) in America in order to enter into the Promised Land. Why? Because while Dr. King and many others were thankfully able to secure basic human rights for the “negro people” as it were, we now need a push for COMPLETE equality that has continually eluded our grasp. And the fight for that elusive cultural shift, as was the case in King’s era, begins at the doorstep of the “powers that be” who we might refer to as “The Administration”.

Whether it is the members of our local governing bodies – as in city councilmen and mayors – or – members of the Federal government on up to the office of the President of the United States; we must organize to construct mechanisms that will prompt them to lend us their ear. And as it relates to the owners and CEO’s of multi-billion dollar corporations and other various entities who are sitting back and enjoying dollars out of our pockets (See: Roger Goodell and NFL Owners @ Colin Kaepernick) or from the fruits of our labor; our voices have gone unheard – ignored – and in many instances altogether dismissed. So we must devise effective strategies that state in no uncertain terms that: “if you continue to turn a blind eye while at the same accepting millions and millions of dollars you will soon find those millions in jeopardy”.

“The Administration” has been derelict in its duty to address the outstanding issues of the day surrounding matters of racial inequality in this country. They have taken for granted the value of entire communities, both from a stand point of their contribution to the very fabric of this nation, as well as the value that those communities offer monetarily speaking. And so now is the time to finish what was started on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, what was started in diners across the old south where brave young men and women executed sit-ins, what was started through the boycotts of the transit systems throughout the country that transported black citizens but in no way valued them, AND what was started with the march upon our nation’s capital where we learned about the dream of a King. We must insist that the United States of America makes good on the tenants of its very own mission statement, which is to say, “that all men are created equal with liberty and justice for all”.

 

A compelling excerpt reads as follows:


“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn. The reality of substantial investment to assist Negroes into the twentieth century, adjusting to Negro neighbors and genuine school integration, is still a nightmare for all too many white Americans. White America would have liked to believe that in the past ten years a mechanism had somehow been created that needed only orderly and smooth tending for the painless accomplishment of change. Yet this is precisely what has not been achieved. [….] These are the deepest causes for contemporary abrasions between the races. Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook. He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash”.

 

-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Where Do We Go From Here; Chaos or Community


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More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

The Promised Land

Promise

When MLK spoke of the “Mountain Top” from which he could see the “Promised Land” he spoke as a prophet. Namely Moses. 

His words – in essence – were the embodiment of the Old Testament tale of the Israelites who had wandered for forty long years in the wilderness after having fled Egypt by way of the parted Red Sea. In what is now a critically acclaimed oration, King had masterfully painted a picture of the moral evil that was White Supremacy as the “Pharaoh” to whom he fatefully cried “Let my people go”! And Black America, with all its travails as a servile class formerly in bondage, and in its current-day status (at the time King was alive) as a people regarded as second-class citizens, therefore personified the “Israelites”. As a moral and divinely appointed leader it was no stretch for King to depict himself as our “Moses” in whose ears God himself had gently whispered careful instructions (vis-à-vis the Ten Commandments delivered upon Mount Sinai). And perhaps most compelling of all was the suspicion Martin Luther King had that he – like Moses – would not be able to go the full distance…his glimpse of that “Promised Land” notwithstanding:

 

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!”

 

Today we are not just obliged to make that final push into the Promised Land we are duty bound. We are called upon by a higher power to rise up together under a “Joshua”, whom God told in ancient times to “be strong and courageous…”. So yes – we WILL be strong. And no – we will NOT lack courage. Despite all of the obstacles that stand before us – our destiny is sure – in fact it is written…“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land…a land flowing with milk and honey”. But, we should not be naive in thinking that the prize will simply be placed into our waiting hands. We must do our part – as brothers and sisters of all races – creeds – and religions if we are to fulfill this fate-filled promise. 

 

W.E.B. DuBois in one of his acclaimed monographs advised that upon securing their freedom:

 

“The mass of slaves, even the more intelligent ones, and certainly the great group of field hands, were in religious and hysterical fervor. This was the coming of the Lord. This was the fulfillment of prophecy and legend. it was the Golden Dawn, after chains of a thousand years”. 

 

It was decades after that period known as the First Reconstruction – that “Moses” rose up from among the people like an oak from the grass of the earth. He was disdained at the plight of the ghettos – the decrepit schools in black neighborhoods – the absence of voting rights and the morally bankrupt laws and policies that had long since depleted the dignity of people of color. And so he pushed and he marched and he demanded that black people receive equitable treatment under the law. He was beaten and he was jailed – and still worse he eventually gave his life up to the bullet of an assassin fulfilling his prophecy that he might not enter that Promised Land. But there was irony to be found in that bullet casing that fell to the ground on April 4th 1968. While it was meant to bring down the house it would in fact become the cornerstone of what is known as the Second Reconstruction via the Civil Rights Bill of 1965.

Over a half-a-century later the dark hearts living among us have once again employed what is by now a tradition of undermining race-related progress. Despite the claims of those who would contend that we are a “post-racial” society – the truth is that a new “wall of Jericho” has been built to separate the “Israelites” from our long sought after push for equality. And let there be no doubt: it is a wall that WILL come tumbling down. Contrary to popular belief White Supremacy did not dissipate with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation or with the passage of Civil-Rights Bill…it has simply evolved. It has adapted to its new found environment and taken on a myriad of forms. Mass-incarceration – defunding of public assistance – gerrymandering – gentrification – an intractable refusal to provide much needed resources to communities of color (even as publicly funded state-of-the-art schools and innovative facilities dot the skyline of suburban communities).

And so it is that we are in need of a third and FINAL reconstruction, dear reader. This will require what is often called “fusion politics”: A cooperation between Americans of all races coming together to form an impregnable coalition. Together we will reconstruct what has been intentionally torn down. And this time we will insert safety mechanisms as a fail-safe against the schemes of our enemies. I know. It sounds lofty…maybe even impossible, huh? I should remind you then that this has already been written. Those courageous souls freed from slavery saw this vision. Martin Luther King saw it despite the dogs and fire hoses both of which were freed from their leash to wreak havoc. And we too must envisage the prophetic word in our own time. We must envision in the face of adversity both where we came from (the people on whose shoulders we stand) and where we are going (that Promised Land that King saw from his perch upon the mountain top). We are the generation who will fulfill the promise. This is our moment. Yes we ARE headed to the Promised Land!

 

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 Oreos to go:  


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

F’ The Police

Police

When the rap group N.W.A. dropped the song listed in the subject line above (with three conspicuous letters attached to the ‘F’ in lieu of the apostrophe)  – all hell broke loose across the political and social landscape of America.

Critics derided the lyrics as inciting violence against law enforcement; claiming that the words encouraged people to harm police officers around the country. Congressmen – and senators – and police chiefs – and FBI supervisors (FBI sent a letter to the group’s record label!) – and even the President of the United States himself at the time came out publicly against the now legendary group that included the likes of Dr. Dre – Ice Cube – and the late Easy-E.

You may be someone who happens to agree to this day that the song is immoral…that it was irresponsible and essentially tantamount to hate speech. I won’t argue (though I could!) what is essentially open to interpretation and I readily admit that the intended message could easily be lost in the volatile lyrics. What I do want to point out today however is that the reaction by many to that song actually highlights a systemic hypocrisy – a double-standard that solidifies that black lives actually do not matter (no pun intended) in America and that an attitude of indifference and racist ideology swims along just beneath the surface of that telling truth.

I’ll start by asking a question: Why don’t senators and congressmen and FBI execs and Police Officers get up at arms when the latest rapper releases a song detailing how he is going to “kill a nigga in the street with his AK”? Shoot him in the head – run up in his mom’s crib – kidnap his “baby mama”? Where is there sense of righteous indignation and moral outrage? Why aren’t the powers that be concerned that black lives are at stake and subsequently posted up in front of a camera on the 6 o’clock news to state as much the same way they did when N.WA. dropped their controversial album? After all, not only are countless songs made that contain those types of lyrics, those actions are actually occurring across America even as we speak. As we speak there is an epidemic – a national crisis transpiring in black and brown neighborhoods on a daily basis (click here for an example from just this week).

I’ll take it a step further. Why are major record labels allowing rappers to release albums with that type of verbiage spewed on every track? Would they allow a rapper to release a track that contained lyrics about killing “Jews or Kikes” – would they let them release a track that detailed the kidnapping and murder of white suburban moms and “peeling the cap back” of “goofy white kids” walking down the street? I think not. If you think about it…the production of countless records that glorify the killing of black people in America has to indicate one of two things: A) These various labels don’t care about black lives…so you can talk about “killing niggas” all day long with impunity – OR – B) They know that the general public doesn’t care about black lives so it won’t lead to a publicity debacle – which of course it hasn’t. Either way it paints a pretty bleak picture of how certain entities in America have the innate desire to protect just about everybody with the exception of people of color – particularly in this case – black men and women.

Now, I already know what some of you are thinking. Why don’t black people  – why don’t rappers – why doesn’t the black community at large for that matter…respect themselves and then maybe others would respect them? Which of course is a lie. Or have you maybe forgotten that America was treating black people like trash LONG before hip-hop was ever invented? And, I am talking about since day one. Who do you think invented the term “Nigger” after all?? It wasn’t black people I can tell you that! Even though we never hear anyone talking about it on NBC or CBS it was the “masters” and slaveholders who coined that derogatory term even as they – themselves – were involved in the greatest crime against humanity ever committed in history. And, by the way, “they” AINT stopped calling us “nigger” ever since – so please withhold all righteous indignation about rappers using the term.

So, if you happen to be one of those who believes that… *in a very proper & stern voice*“the problem of race in America is PRIMARILY about black people taking responsibility for themselves”, you might just want to consider all of the above and the inherent implications it places at the feet of our American society as a whole. A society that never has had the requisite chutzpah to really deal with race – I mean REALLY deal with it – even as black people have always been forced to deal with it due to the oppressive circumstances in which we have always lived. While it is true that Black America certainly needs to consider not supporting records that degrade our community – that we perhaps should boycott albums that contain content which glorify violence or derrogatory images and language; for me the much larger whale in this ocean is that America as whole must admit that she herself has perpetrated all of these sins and more upon Black America from the beginning (centuries before the invention of rap) on up to this day. She has degraded our community – she has committed horrific acts of violence against black people in inventive and creative forms no less – and she has used every conceivable derogatory image and manner of language possible against black people to denigrate and demean a community – and in much more graphic ways than we have even IMAGINED in our own neighborhoods to be sure.

It is within the confines of that culture – an American culture that has never valued black lives – that the admittedly dangerous streets of many black and brown neighborhoods were paved. And therefore the dilemma is now and has always been to date (hopefully this will change soon): How does a people that has been hated and despised like none other (arguably in the history of mankind) supersede not only that backward mentality which is aimed at it by society at large – but also supersede the impediments to progress that that society has placed in our way as a result of that hatred? And in my humble opinion a good place to start is with changing the long-standing narrative that has been posited about black people in America.

Despite the narrative constantly put forth: black people are not animals or inanimate objects – we are not worthless and undeserved of thoughtful consideration by the public at large. We are living breathing human beings who have endured unspeakable atrocities and tragic outcomes for far too long. It is time our country recognized this as a universal truth and that it fosters an environment that validates our voices which have screamed this from the rooftops for centuries – EVEN in songs like the one we discussed today that was forged in the shadow of police brutality. It is this dynamic that would help to create an America in which Black Lives DO matter too. Matter to law enforcement – and record labels and matter to ordinary every day citizens. That would change the narrative not just for Black America but America as a whole.

 

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 Oreos to go:  


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

The “Black Perspective”

Magnify

 

I was recently considering the purchase of a book that was written about a period of time in American history that had to do with the aftermath of the Civil War.

This text was written by a noted black author who is highly revered in many different circles. As I perused through the book reviews I noticed something that I found somewhat strange. Multiple individuals commented how it was “interesting” to read about that period of time from the “black perspective”Speaking of “interesting” I actually found THOSE COMMENTS “interesting” because I have never seen a book written about epochs in American History (for instance I read a book about Abraham Lincoln not long ago), by a white author, for which individuals wrote a review that stated: “Interesting to see this from a white perspective”. In other words, it would appear that a historical text (an honest effort) written by a white author, is a book that is considered simply fact by the majority.

When those aforementioned “reviewers” labeled that author’s work as the “black perspective” it was almost as if they were saying “oh so that’s YOUR opinion, huh?”; as opposed to just accepting the recollection of the facts as an account of what actually occurred. And I guess my point is that a book about history based on verifiable research ought to be viewed the same regardless of whether the author is white or black or latino or asian or – well you get the point. And for me this is an important observation as it relates to issues of race in general because I have noticed that what tends to happen is that when black people speak about issues or events that are a matter or fact and not opinion – and I am speaking of current day social issues now as well – there are some who dismiss their words as just “how black people see it”. Even worse are those who take it a step further and discount the words or experiences of black people as “race baiting” – “pulling the race card” – “wanting political correctness” – “an exaggeration of what happened” – “a one-off or an anomaly”.

The truth of the matter is that there are many instances that are not a matter of objectivity. They are very much subjective as in they are either true or they are not. And a frustrating dynamic that plays itself out every day in America for black people is our voices being silenced or disregarded by the obscuring of actual facts or concrete moral principles that are somehow magically transformed into topics of debate by individuals outside our community. And truth be told if anyone could be accused of distorting the truth about history or modern day race related issues it would be those who have attempted repeatedly throughout the past and present to deny or re-write this country’s history to avoid matters of race and/or personal accountability; and for the most part black people do not fall into that category as a race who has generally speaking been ready to deal with race out in the open since emancipation!

I know that I have brought up in several of my previous posts the recent controversy over the intentions behind the formation of the Confederate Army and its symbols that stand today in public places – but it is a perfect example of today’s topic. There are some who are attempting to say “this is what WE believe about the insurrection that took place and it was not about slavery”. And they also argue that “black people see it THEIR way and we see it OURS” (my recent post about the song “Accidental Racist” is a perfect example of that). But, the historical facts are indisputable! This is not a matter of opinion but rather is connected to a factual account that can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Slavery was the cornerstone of the South for centuries and it was in fact the chief motivation for the South’s succession from the Union.

To argue otherwise (@ the Confederate Army) would be tantamount to a race of people in the U.S. offering up an alternative theory behind the intentions of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. Just imagine if that hypothetical group not only decided to say that the perpetrators had honorable intentions and were fighting for justice and equality (for their rights) – but they then go on to erect statues and flags to honor the pilots who they say “flew the planes with valor” during the terrorist attack. And when, say, White America, speaks out in protest they state: “white people have THEIR opinion and we have OURS”. America would lose its ever-loving mind!! We ALL know that that crime against humanity was an evil act and there is no way to paint it in honorable terms just as there is no way to paint the Confederate army’s action in honorable ones either. And America sure as heck does not want statues of the pilots and ISIS figure-heads planted everywhere so that we can “remember our history” (the very suspect but common defense of confederate symbols). And yet – we have before our very eyes people trying to justify all of that and more when speaking of the Confederate symbols dotting our nation’s landscape.

Let’s focus on finding the truth about race in America – our country’s past – and its present (good-bad-ugly). And regarding the truth there is no room for interpretation. The sky is either blue or it is not. Murder is either right or it is wrong. Are there some areas or subjects within this overall discussion concerning race that are up for debate (?) – of course there are. But in far too many instances we have individuals in our society who avoid the truth by dismissing the most elementary of facts – and in the process of doing so they conveniently alter reality into what they then say is “just a matter of opinion” – which is an immensely profound impediment to progress.

Regarding issues of race – police brutality – inequality & discrimination – economic disparity – disgraceful school systems – mass-incarceration: to posit the idea that white people see it this way and black people see that way is disingenuous and does nothing more than create a stalemate regarding some very serious circumstances. And for Black America that is an enormous problem as a race who has been historically disenfranchised and is bereft of power in many regards due to some of the very same issues of white supremacy that White America dismisses as just “how black people see it”. If that mentality does not change – issues surrounding racial discrimination will not change either. And, NO, that is not just the “black perspective” – that is the unadulterated truth.

 

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 Oreos to go:  Today’s subject matter will require the skill of independent thinking for some to be able to absorb the message. A good place to start is with a critical analysis of the sources from which one draws their philosophical beliefs about race.


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

John Mac’s “Black Friends” Approach

Friends

 

Please watch this short 6 minute video for context before reading post below it:

 

 

The video above came to my attention earlier this week and features a forum in which internationally noted and critically-acclaimed Christian-Pastor John MacArthur

(whose church I attended for a couple years in L.A. no less) answered a question fielded from an audience member concerning the now infamous Charlottesville, VA incident. I decided to share my thoughts on the theory he offered up as being its cause because in my opinion MacArthur’s reaction to and analysis of the individuals – White Nationalists/Neo-Nazis/KKK (whatever you like) – is part and parcel of a particularly harmful type of ignorance possessed by many – even if well-meaning Americans – on matters of race. In a strange and rather unsettling way MacArthur’s perspective is not necessarily his fault. After all, he, like all of us, has been submerged within the tenants of White Supremacy that define our nation.

To begin with MacArthur stated verbatim that: “What Charlottesville simply demonstrates is that fallen humanity is corrupt”. In other words, he is attempting from the onset to steer the conversation away from a RACE issue to a SIN issue – thus the “simplification” in his mind. He further simplifies what occurred by dismissing the individuals as a fringe group of angry men gone rogue so to speak – as misguided men who are a part of that fallen humanity he referenced. From there – and perhaps even more disappointingly – you might have noticed (@ the subject matter from my post on Monday) that he stated in AT LEAST a somewhat  if not altogether dismissive fashion that: “This has nothing to do with Slavery”. “That was two-hundred years ago” as he put it – almost as if on cue @ my previous post!

The funny thing is that the person who asked him the question (nor anyone else in the room for that matter) had not said a single word about slavery! So you automatically get the sense that it was already on his mind and that the very notion that this was even plausibly connected to an in-depth matter of race irked him. Thus he becomes by way of his own words one of those individuals I spoke about in my post on Monday who wants us all to “Get over slavery because it’s long since passed” even while the south to THIS VERY DAY sings with pride a song called “Dixie Land” that begins with these telling words:

 

“Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton,

Old times there are not forgotten.

Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land!”

 

Somewhere within John – even if hidden in his subconscious (in his heart after all ) is a notion that black people are making excuses for ourselves – for our problems – that we are getting carried away over or stuck on something that happened a long time ago. If there were a handbook on “old white guy denial” this chapter would be called “Denial 101”. I do not say that condescendingly or with one iota of bitterness. Nor am I so naive as to think Black America does not have a role to play @ transcending its collective predicament. What I am trying to get at here is that what his defensive or dismissive posture does (“THIS ISN’T ABOUT SLAVERY”) – is it allows him and others who view race through the perspective forged by White Supremacy to placate and circumvent the heart of the issue of race in America so that they might validate and/or appease the mis-guided perception that White America has no role to play as well (a significant one at that) at this point in what they deem to be a “post-racial society”.

While it is true that Charlottesville is not about slavery (though that is not profound because why would it be?): It IS about what produced slavery to begin with…namely…WHITE SUPREMACY. White Supremacy defined our society then (during slavery) and it defines it now in 2017 albeit in a different form by necessity of laws that were once absent. It rears its ugly head in many forms; the Charlottesville march with the tiki torches from the local Home Depot being just one of the more visible ones. And it is only when white supremacy manifests in a manner that is undeniable – as was the case there in Virginia – that evangelical Christians like MacArthur will even attempt to address it – their misdiagnosis of the reason for despicable events like that one notwithstanding.

Another approach he took to answering the question is connected to a separate method of denial that is unfortunately used shamelessly (not necessarily saying he did) by many when discussing race. It is what I call the “I have A LOT of black friends” approach. In other words, because I have black friends or I know black people…I am knowledgeable – I can’t be racist – “I am down” – “I have tried to help black people”. Let me be frank here: that doesn’t mean jack squat unless you are in the fight for equality. You can EASILY harbor racist tendencies – perceptions – and stereotypes about black people even while in their midst or while ostensibly lending a hand to their cause. I have seen some of the most racist and/or ignorant politicians (according to words unwittingly coming out of their own mouth) proclaim “I have advocated for civil-rights all my life”. That means absolutely nothing if you are not implementing or advocating actual policies that make a difference and ones that address the needs of black communities as defined by black communities. And it means nothing if the only time we hear from you is when you are asked a question about race and put on the spot.

In this video… that is essentially what MacArthur does. He lists his credentials concerning his time spent with Martin Luther King… “I was on the balcony” and I ALMOST got shot myself as I clutched my bible and saw the apostle Paul before my very eyes” (I am exaggerating a bit – levity helps sometimes!). That’s all good but what I want to know is where does he stand NOW in regards to the modern day African-American who is catching hell? Why are he and his contemporaries (white-evangelicals) not still standing on the “balcony of justice and equality” alongside us – right in the line of fire in 2017 and speaking out against what remains a culture that produces systemic racism in many forms? I don’t want to hear about how you marched then if you aren’t marching NOW – especially as a person who is a follower of Christ. And, it is my studied opinion that according to its actions – and the agenda focused upon by the White Evangelical church – they are either not concerned about or do not believe the voices crying out in the streets of America regarding issues or race.

In fact as I already mentioned – to the contrary – John MacArthur’s contention is that this is not about race – it is about sin. And in that regard he is only half right because racism is indeed a shameful sin to be sure. But where he is in error is in his attempt to extract race from this equation which is to trivialize what happened and the motives that were behind the march. What he is saying in that sort of “old man voice” (you know the one) is: “I was on the front lines of real racism young man”! “Why in my day we had to walk 50 miles in the snow”...that whole sort of “thing” that all of our grandpas do. But since he took the time to point out how well-versed and experienced he is concerning “REAL” racism – I wonder if he recalls (I’m sure he does) that in King’s day he had nay-sayers (like MacArthur himself in that video) as well – who claimed that racism was not involved in the causes fought for and the issues facing black people that King championed? The consensus among White America at the time was that people like King were merely agitators – thugs who were stirring up trouble. They labled him a “Communist” who was in cohouts with the Russians! He was deemed an “Anarchist” and a race baiter (the same adjectives they use to describe Black Lives Matter by the way). White America (collectively) said ANY and EVERY thing except eight simple words which MacArthur also avoided in this video: “We have a problem of racism in America”. 

 

W.E.B. DuBois once said this of the South:

 

“Here comes the penalty which a land pays when it stifles speech and free discussion and turns itself over entirely to propaganda. It does not make any difference if at the time the things advocated are absolutely right, the nation, nevertheless, becomes morally emasculated and mentally hogtied, and cannot evolve that healthy difference of opinion which leads to the discovery of truth”.

 

Black voices in America are now and have ALWAYS been stifled and smothered by White Supremacy and its tenants. White America has therefore – at each and every stage of the American Experiment – avoided discussions about its sins regarding race. Instead of acknowledging what is APPARENTLY “right” – it adheres to the baseless propaganda DuBois highlights – which is intentionally manufactured to place the blame squarely upon the shoulders of Black America. Today that sounds like this: “Black people are lazy”…”They are Welfare Queens”…”They don’t take care of their kids”. Propaganda that is cooked up and swallowed whole by White America. This is precisely why I abhor White Supremacy…I detest it. Because it obscures the racial lens of even good men like John MacArthur – to the point that they cannot see even the most simple truths about race.

That type of propaganda was devised during the Civil War as well when white people in the south convinced themselves that the black man was responsible for that war by his very presence in America (their barbaric practice of slavery had nothing to do with it) and thus was due no compensation or rights after having been freed from chains with ZERO resources in hand. During Jim Crow…White America fought every phase of integration saying that “niggers” had no place among its ranks and it sucessfully crippled all means of advancement that blacks attempted to employ. And today White America places the blame for the social ills of the ghetto that arrived right on the heels and in many ways DUE to that Jim Crow era solely at the feet of Black America. To date it has been incapable at any point in history of linking black history from the past to the present EVEN as it links “American History” of the past to the present.

White Americans will have bridged that gap – formed that link – when they ultimately learn this: Black history is American history and American history is Black history. Up until now, regarding matters of race, White America (generally speaking) is as DuBois posits, morally emasculated and mentally hogtied – unable to tolerate a difference of opinion that will finally lead to one immutable – irrefutable – and hopefully universally recognized truth. That is to say: White Supremacy has existed from day one in America and must FINALLY be dispensed with – pierced through the heart with the sword of truth – once and for all.

 

 

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 Oreos to go:  Another video in which MacArthur extols his history with black people in the 60s but unlike the way in which he denounces homosexuality – abortion – climate change…he does not come out and denounce racism by name – basically says “we can’t fix the past” which is not the point.

 


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

Black History is Over…Let it Go!

 

Rights

 

Independence Day. Labor Day. Memorial Day. Thanksgiving Day.

All of these holidays are set aside to remember seminal moments long since passed. We remember and celebrate these days with family & friends because they are special – they are revered – they are pivotal moments in our nation’s history that are proudly housed within the hearts of Americans. I wanted to highlight those days because a few questions that I think are worth answering occurred to me as I was contemplating recent events that have transpired in America.

 

First question: Why is it that Independence Day is …but “Emancipation Day” is not  …a holiday set aside to celebrate a declaration by arguably our greatest President in history? 

 

Abraham Lincoln signed into law, on January 1, 1863, a decree that stated that the most heinous and brutal institution in the HISTORY of mankind – an institution that transpired right here on American soil for THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY YEARS – was finally coming to an end. I repeat: Three hundred and eighty years…of slavery… was finally over…and there is no holiday set aside to commemorate that moment? Curious to say the least.

 

Another question: Why is there a Memorial Day but no Union Day”

 

After having fought the bloodiest internecine war in American history – a war in which hundreds of thousands of soldiers were killed – the Confederate Army (the South – General Robert E. Lee) surrendered to the Union Army (the North – Ulysses S. Grant) at Appomattox after four long years of brutal conflict. This was a bitter war to say the least; which was prompted by the succession of several states that had separated from the Union in an act of treason to above all else: maintain and spread the institution of slavery. Were it not for that victory on the part of the Union under the direction of President Lincoln – the United States would have been torn apart – perhaps irrevocably– and black people would have indefinitely remained in chains. And while one might think that the historical ramifications could not be any more profound than the aforementioned – a quote (only in part) from a Union General may just prove to the contrary:

 

“The American Civil War of 1861 – 1865 marks an epoch not only in the history of the United States, but in that of DEMOCRACY, and of civilization itself”. Its issue has vitally affected the course of human progress. To the student of history it ranks along with the conquests of Alexander; the incursions of Barbarians; the Crusades; the discovery of America; and the American Revolution…”It not only enfranchised four million slaves of African descent, but made slavery forever impossible in the great Republic, and gave a new impulse to the cause of human freedom”…

 

All of this and there is no day of the highest distinction to commemorate that Union victory at Appomattox on June 2, 1865 that ended the Civil war?

 

Last question: Why is there a “Labor Day”  holiday but no “Civil-Rights Day” holiday

 

The Civil-Rights bill was signed into law on July 2, 1964 by Lyndon Johnson who had stepped into office for John F. Kennedy after he was assassinated for the stances he had taken (even if his hand had been forced) to ensure that this nation began to live up to its prized mantra: “all men are created equal”. This was a bill that shot through the heart of Jim Crow laws that were so inhumane that blacks  could not enjoy even the most pedestrian of desires like stepping foot into what were deemed “White Only” restaurants or choosing a seat on the “PUBLIC” bus. And when they protested such foul mistreatment in a country that professed and preached freedom to the world they were beaten – spat upon – had dogs “sicced” upon them – were lynched – and found murdered in shallow graves across the South in particular. And yet – there is no day for all Americans to step away from work and celebrate the legislative end to this most inhumane form of treatment in our nation?

I guess I have to now admit that though I asked these questions in a quizzical fashion – they were in fact rhetorical in nature. Because you see for black people in our nation the answer is and has always been clear. America as in institution does not want to re-live its dubious past. And White America as the race who has historically held power in its hands – has ALWAYS been able and wanted to avoid discussions about race outside its own community at all costs. Nonetheless the truth still remains: this country was acquired by dubious means when its land was confiscated from the Native Americans and then built by violent means on the back of slaves. A fact of which has never been dealt with in any meaningful manner. And despite popular belief one cannot just “move on” after so profound an unbecoming history. You can’t just barge right over the victims and pretend none of this ever happened or that it has no bearing on the social ills of today. Which is exactly what this nation has attempted to do at each and every stage of the American Experiment. The result of this avoidance is wide-spread racial tensions and division among American citizens.

Have you ever noticed that while many people in our country are ready to discuss the Revolutionary War (which took place nearly 400 YEARS AGO) at the drop of a hat – when you bring up the vicious legacy of slavery they are quick to say something like: That was 150 years ago…GET OVER IT”. While they are more than willing to recount the events of the Japanese bombing at Pearl Harbor and mourn the soldiers lost there – when you raise the question of Jim Crow laws and their ensuing impact including loss of life – the response you’ll hear from a large portion of Americans is “The past is in the past – it is time to move on”. This type of abject denial & hypocrisy is you might say “a culture” that has unfortunately existed from day one up until the very second you are reading these words. It is a way to both justify and avoid the most basic of truths that to be honest…some people do not WANT to believe despite the fact that they are indisputable.

Let me give you another example: Today we are witnessing an argument over the omnipresence of Confederate symbols (which incidentally includes the names of schools and U.S. MILITARY BASES like Fort Bragg in my home state of NC – Click Here @ bio for Braxton Bragg) around the nation. And in the midst of this debate there are some who are obscuring the intentions of the Confederate Army and its commanders who attempted a mutiny against these United States. Despite what some are trying to portray it is CLEAR by statements made in speeches like one offered up by Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens that the main objective of the Confederate South was to protect slavery. In his speech which was called the “Cornerstone Speech”, as in the foundation or cornerstone upon which the Confederates’ philosophical endeavors or ideology for a new government stood or rested upon, Stephens said in part the following: (there is A LOT more crap but speech is long):

 

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science.

 

To argue that you can separate statements like the one above from these confederate statues in our country and from the confederate flag is heresy. It is simply put: immoral and an abomination of the first order. Basic human decency should compel ALL Americans to denounce their presence and call for their removal like yesterday. These Confederate symbols are obviously not in place for educational purposes but rather to HONOR these men. That is unless – for instance – someone can explain to me how naming ten U.S. Military bases after men who attempted a mutiny against the same flag the army being trained on those bases fights under is educational? The fact that their removal from public places and military places has not happened after what has been decades lets one know just how deep we are STILL submerged within the deep waters of White Supremacy and highlights an appalling denial on the part of way too many citizens of these United States. And for one to think that that mentality stops there and does not also seep into EVERY facet our society is to practice at the very highest levels of naiveté.

Solution: Education and discussion. This type of information is intentionally withheld from our textbooks in this nation. We are taught explicitly about Christopher Columbus and Paul Revere in history class. We read all about the Revolutionary War. But of the insurrection and immoral intentions of the Confederates not a word is uttered in classrooms across America. Which is why I doubt many American citizens know about General Stephen’s little diatribe (and many others like it) referenced above. And that same avoidance of parts of our U.S. history – that same avoidance of the parts of history that let’s be frank – White America is not proud of – has produced a scenario in which individuals believe what their great-grandpa says about history instead of facts which can be found in their local public library or through a simple Google search. This mis-education is extremely dangerous and it is critically detrimental to the fight for equality. It fosters an environment in which vast numbers of Americans are pre-disposed to hypocrisy in regards to matters of race. To the point where they would comfortably honor men who attempted to sack the Union and in the very next breath tell black Americans to shut up about all that “Jim Crow” stuff that was “in the past”.

I really hope the day comes when White America can finally see these truths about White Supremacy – collectively (I realize many already do). When they realize the side-effects of White Supremacy is not just confined to Neo-Nazis marching in the streets.  I hope the day comes when our white brothers and sisters are the ones who are advocating against discriminatory policies and laws – against racist ideology and symbols. I hope the day comes when they are the ones wondering to themselves why so much history is absent from our children’s history books. And I look forward to the day when they wonder how it is that such CRITICAL moments as the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation is not revered and discussed every year on Emancipation Day the same way we revere Independence Day. Because the larger point is – and don’t miss this: The same mentality that has led to avoiding a remembrance of those days and which is a derivative of white supremacy no less – negatively affects the everyday lives of people of color in in many other ways both seen and unseen by the naked eye. In that sense this subject is not so much about changing “a day” for people of color (per se) as it is about changing their lifetime through the eradication of white supremacy in ALL its hideous forms.

 

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 Oreos to go: Some believe @ changes such as having to remove Confederate symbols that they are witnessing the erosion OF America when the truth is they are witnessing the erosion of White Supremacy IN America.


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

Mars Blackmon

Mars Blackmon

 

When I think of Spike Lee my mind always leaps to the classic character “Mars Blackmon”

that Lee played in a series of shoe commercials back in the day featuring the G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan. After some careful analysis Blackmon once theorized @ the explanation for Jordan’s serious hops: “It’s gotta be the shoes”! But, don’t get me wrong though, I am certainly not sleeping on Spike’s tremendous talent as a writer/director. Spike Lee, a savant of the cinema, has brought some of the most important pictures to the silver screen in the modern era. Two films that stand out in my mind are: “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X. The latter of which I will go to my grave wondering how Denzel Washington did not win “Best Actor” for and how the movie itself did not take home “Best Film”. If EVER an actor embodied a character – the incomparable Mr. Denzel Washington embodied Malcolm Little who transmogrified into Malcolm X before our very eyes on the movie screen. This all under the watchful and creative eye of Mr. Lee.

You know I if I am honest I actually do have a feeling that I know exactly why Denzel did not win Best Actor that year and how it is that such a masterpiece did not win best picture. I would submit that the Academy – which by extension – especially twenty years ago – meant an audience of a lighter complexion – did not appreciate a film that depicted a gentlemen who advertised the idea of “black empowerment & militarism”. And despite the many years that had elapsed since the actual events depicted in the film – I suspect it caused uneasiness in the stomachs of those who had been tapped to decide the film’s “Oscar worthiness”. To the point where they could not separate art from what is a very real world of racism – bigotry – and hate (but does that not all the more confirm the film’s brilliance?) Thus, Washington’s incomparable performance was sacrificed on the altar of the “judges'” realm of acceptance.

Malcolm X was outspoken – bombastic – and preached self-defense by “any means necessary”. A far cry from the types of methods that White America condoned and found safe and dignified on the part of the “negro” as black folks were known at the time. White folks back in those days preferred what Robert Kennedy once called “moderate negroes” and what LBJ called “responsible negroes”. And you might say they still do. Anyone who stepped out of these sort of preconceived boundaries at the time – boundaries defined by White America – were tagged by people in positions of authority (politicians and police forces – at federal and state level) as unruly – as hooligans – as thugs. All words that sound mighty familiar even today when protests – peaceful or not – are conducted by Black America.

Once again it’s safe to say that as much as things change they stay the same. When Colin Karpernick took a knee in protest to police brutality he was vilified by certain Americans who suggested that he was disrespecting the U.S. Flag. His approach to trying to bring sorely needed attention to pressing issues is apparently outside the boundaries that White America in particular has theoretically set for black people – as if we need its permission any more than it needs ours. And it appears the NFL owners have followed suit since no one has hired Kaepernick to-date for the upcoming season – meanwhile other QBs with not even half his talent are currently on NFL rosters.

This is a double edged sword @ how bad it is making the owners look because: A) It hearkens back to the Jim Crowe era and the signs at that time that basically said: “know your place” and B) If Colin was coming off a stellar season you can be sure they would have forgone their “principles” and signed him anyway out of pure greed. Which is an indication that the principles THEY and others like them abide by are no more than a house of cards – easily blown down. This is all before we talk about the fact that we are speaking of a league in which 70% of its players are black – and yet not one owner has come out and said “Police brutality is wrong”. Or at the VERY LEAST – “let’s set up a forum to discuss this issue”. A fact which clearly indicates it’s not about human lives – it’s about the brand – the money – the “NFL shield”.

You might be wondering what’s all this got to do with Mars Blackmon?! Last evening a protest of the perceived injustice that is Kaepernick’s treatment in this regard took place at the NFL headquarters. And, Spike Lee a.k.a.  “Mars Blackmon”, lent his support towards the endeavor going back a few weeks now. I would imagine his thought – at least in part is that NFL owners who do not have a lick of talent and without whom the league would go right on thriving – need to have a better understanding of the talent (players) that make the NFL what it is – not the other way around. And they (like much of America) need to be aroused from their calloused slumber of indifference to the ALARM that is the issues facing Black America – as does America in general (INCLUDING a lot of black people). Furthermore, in a dream scenario, this is a prime opportunity for the NFL athletes to be galvinized and say “we aren’t going back to work until you speak out against racial discrimination in this nation”. And maybe just maybe (I am contemplating taking this step myself) people who are friendly to this cause should not watch the NFL as some have suggested. Because just as was the case with Lee’s biopic film “Malcolm X” when Oscar time rolled around back in the day – I think the powers that be have decided Kaepernick is going to be on the outside looking in.

For the record: Taking a knee during the national anthem pales in comparison to the social misery that has been inflicted upon people of color for centuries in this nation. So you will have to excuse us if we are not concerned about encroaching upon the self-righteous sensibilities of individuals who otherwise do not concern themselves in the least about what black people are going through or facing in America every single day across this country. Because the only time we hear from them (including NFL owners) on matters of race is when we cross the imaginary boundaries of a box in which they have tried to keep us trapped since the word “go”. So that even if we are shot down like a dog in the street by people sworn to protect us they do not  speak a mumbling word. And to be quite frank it’s sickening that they could care less due to the disease that is racism and ignorance: a seemingly incurable epidemic in this land. 

Sufficed to say I’m with Mars Blackmon on this one folks. Enough is enough. We cannot allow America – especially those in power to be well adjusted to injustice. The moral conscience of this nation must be re-calibrated. The sleeping dogs of justice must be set loose. Now is the time to finish the fight and pick up the torch handed down from our previous generation. In the words of Malcolm X we need to win this battle by “any means necessary” (non-violent means in our case that is). So let’s do just that shall we? Let’s win.

 

 

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 Oreos to go:  Scene from Malcolm X. No way anyone was better than Denzel in this role:


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

Jimmy Iovine: The Real “Gangster”

 

Jimmy Iovine

 

I recently watched a mini-series on HBO called “The Defiant Ones”, which happens to be an exquisite entrée into the rise of a dynastic empire that is the partnership between moguls Jimmy Iovine and the legendary producer/rapper Andre Young a.k.a “Dr. Dre”. The series begins by reaching back to the days when Iovine “made his bones” if you will – producing records for individuals now in the Iconoclast of the record business (i.e. Bruce Springsteen & The East Street Band – Tom Petty – Stevie Nicks and one Mr. JOHN LENNON!). I get chills even as we speak at the thought that he was sitting in the studio as these masters of sound created albums that will never go out of style.

Then there was Dr. Dre’s days cooking up beats in the lab for N.W.A – for his own debut album “the Chronic” – for Snoop Dogg’s debut album “Doggstyle” – for Eminem’s debut album “The Slim Shady LP” – and the list goes on. The two – Iovine and Dre – were an unlikely pairing – the “yin and the yang” who came together and hit it off famously in large part due to Iovine’s vision and ability to think outside the box. When other labels wouldn’t take on Dr. Dre as he shopped his aforementioned debut album, Iovine (who knew nothing about hip-hop) on the other hand saw something that his contemporaries apparently did not. And boy oh boy was he ever right. The Chronic went on to go “multi-multi-” platinum and is celebrated to this very day in the pantheon of classic hip-hop albums.

Ah, but all the millions upon millions of album sales combined between the two old friends take a back seat to an idea they master-minded in a chance meeting one day on the beach of Southern California. The project: to create ground-breaking headphones which have by now revolutionized the game as they say. “Beats by Dre” headphones are widely recognized as the best of the best in the audio industry. But, don’t take my word for it…take Apple’s instead. After all the technology giant purchased the brand from Iovine and Dre for a reported THREE BILLION (plus) dollars back in 2014. Thus signaling to the world just how highly they thought of the product that Jimmy and his old pal Dre manufactured after what had started off as a novel idea on the beach became a fate-filled reality.

And, this brings me around to my word for the day. I guess it goes without saying that three billion dollars is a lot of money. Iovine and Dre certainly had a reason to celebrate after so profound a monetary score. But, if you notice, and I have, Jimmy Iovine and Dre have worn it well. In fact, Iovine was already doing well long before Beats was ever even conceived. He was in a position to sign Dre among many other artists years ago when Dre and others were looking for a big break. He’s “done been gettin’ money” if you will excuse my slang – and yet –  you will not find Iovine on social media holding a “money phone” (Click here for image) up to his ear. You won’t find him walking around with eight gold-chains around his neck and rockin’ Gucci loafers to – well –everywhere (in the vein of young rappers and other black entertainers/athletes these days). You will not hear him bragging in the many interviews he’s done over the years about the number of digits housed in his bank account.

Mind you now: Jimmy has the nice cars and the nice homes. He has the private jet and all the other accoutrements – it’s just that he is not advertising it every time a camera or microphone is in the vicinity (yes he’s now a little older but the same can be said of Ed Sheeran – Taylor Swift – Harry Styles so slow your roll!). Now, I know Dre is the one (of the two) from the mean streets of Compton and an original member of N.W.A. – a group known for putting “gangsta’ rap” on the map. But @ the way Iovine carries himself in this regard…that’s what I personally consider “Gangsta(er)”.

Do not misunderstand me. Iovine is a businessman who very much intended to do well financially speaking. One might say he pursued the empire he has built with an unadulterated passion as the Defiant One’s documentary makes very clear. I am sure he enjoys the spoils that come with the money accumulated by way of the “American Dream”. However, unlike a lot of individuals in the black community (whom I am aiming today’s post towards) Iovine is not up here “stuntin’ on the gram” or on any other social media platform for that matter. And, what I am simply suggesting to my black brothers and sisters in particular is that we flip the culture or the script so to speak. Yes, by all means, celebrate your success with your family and friends, shoot…go ahead and rock some Gucci loafers from time to time if that’s your thing – but let’s progress to the point where we begin to wear our success along with those loafers…well….shall we?

Well, how to we break free from this neophyte mentality as a culture or community you ask? First, we must learn about real wealth and how to invest and manage that wealth. This starts with vision. Iovine would have never brainstormed the idea for “Beats” if he had thought he’d arrived and focused on flaunting his cash after he became a producer. Second, we must learn to be an original. Learn to think outside the box of the street corners to which far too many in the black community are confined during their/our formative years. I am not knocking the hood’ for one second (though we must find a way out literally and figuratively). What I am suggesting is that while the mentality forged in certain neighborhoods certainly has some positive aspects (toughness – loyalty – a “hustler” mentality – “swagger” and yes LOVE and family despite what many believe) – in many other ways it tends to be limited in scope. Third and final – give back to the community. Let’s invest in ourselves – in education – in innovative ideas; and ones that create new wealth across the board no less. What this does is it creates a different kind of culture than one that is focused on “blingin’ in the streets” and it also fills that void that we are trying to address by flossin’ on Instagram.

Listen: Be understated but not underestimated. Be a leader of the pack and not another young pup who is just a follower. Be proud but not conceded. Be like my man Jimmy Iovine and many others like him who walk lightly but carry a big stick. Now that’s gangster!

 

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 Oreos to go:  These are the types of “Bios”  in video below that I hope will define more black folks than at present – as we evolve from and transcend the sometimes narrow-minded mentality forged from the oppression we have experienced in America:

https://youtu.be/DugaP9HKGqs


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

Racial Code: The “Lesser Man”

Less Than

 

Note: I know on Monday I said I was going to post that day’s intended submission today – however circumstances surrounding our President’s decision to double-down on ignorance compelled me to share the following words instead:


 

The strategy that made Donald Trump’s ascent to the highest possible office in our land was not revolutionary or groundbreaking. Black people in particular knew exactly what he was doing  because we’d seen it COUNTLESS times before. Of George Wallace, reputed racist, who once while governor attempted to disregard a federal mandate integrating schools in Alabama by literally standing in the entrance to a school to block access to black students, a fellow Alabama politician (who was a supporter of his) once said the following about comments he’d made as he ran for the presidency:

 

“He can use all the other issues – law and order, running your own schools, protecting property rights – and never mention the word race. But people will know he’s telling them ‘A nigger’s trying to get your job, trying to move into your neighborhood.’ What Wallace is doing is talking to them in a kind of shorthand, a kind of code.”

 

Not long after that scenario Richard Nixon questioned the civil-rights agenda that had been put forth by then president LBJ as he (Nixon) was gearing up for his own presidential run:

 

“Why have ghetto riots and a rise in crime, welfare dependency, illegitimacy, drug use, and joblessness followed the civil-rights revolution?”…Nixon wondered aloud. 

His answer to his own question: “There is no structural problem of race or class, only excesses on the part of bleeding heart liberalism”. 

 

Once again these were code words aimed directly at racist hearts who were susceptible to vicious lies due to the unbridled ignorance running rampant across the country. Ignorance that dated back to our nation’s inception. Just imagine living at that time and hearing Nixon’s words even as lynching and segregation was an institution. And yet a candidate for the PRESIDENCY had the nerve to say that there was no “structural problem of race” – and even more dumbfounding it worked! Nixon had successfully employed what had come to be known as the “southern strategy”. A strategy to appeal to xenophobic fears and baseless “rationalies” by directing unfounded theories in the direction of White America.

It actually reared its ugly head again when in 1980 Ronald Regan launched his campaign for the presidency at the Neshoba County Fair in of all places Philadelphia, Mississippi – the same town where three civil rights activists had been murdered by racist bigots. It was there that he posited his own form of racial code when asked about enforcing previously instituted civil-rights initiatives: “I believe in State’s rights”. A deliberate message or eye-wink to the old-boy network signaling that he would not let the federal government intervene in the business of states in the south to stop them from doing what they’d always done to that point: abridge and nullify the rights of black citizens. Jesse Jackson while speaking at Harvard Law School during Regan’s administration asked if the students there knew where Regan had opened his campaign and no one in the room had even heard of Philadelphia, Mississippi – much less realized he started off in that town. Jackson responded: “If even the brightest among us do not uncover these signals, who will”?

It’s safe to say Regan – as a former TV star from Hollywood – did not choose a random town in the deep south where controversy over the murder of civil-rights activists had caused a national outcry because of its cosmopolitan appeal and irresistible night life. Nor for its dense population (even today there’s barely 7,000 people living there) of voters whose sheer numbers could boost his campaign. And if anyone doubted his intentions at the time (or doubts them in 2017) and most informed minds did not incidentally – it was kind of hard for his apologists to explain away his refusal to denounce his Klu Klux Klan endorsement for a week’s time – he finally did so only because public outcry forced his hand (sound familiar?).

Jesse Jackson’s (like him or not) point at Harvard Law was a profound one. The southern strategy can only work if its intended audience is unaware (ignorant) – uneducated on issues of race – or simply racist. And for those who utilize or adhere to the argument in 2017 that the “past is in the past” and that we have “moved on from those days”Our current President employed that SAME “southern strategy” in his run for office. And, though no one thought it could work – believing that we are not living in the 60s or even the 80s anymore for that matter – it was obviously successful. Donald J. Trump is our 45th president because he – like Wallace – like Nixon – like Regan – and so many other politicians of all sorts before him appealed to prejudiced and racist idealogy living in the hearts and minds of more Americans than many of us believed still existed.

Of the many highly questionable  statements Trump made on the campaign trail here are just a few:

 

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people”. ( Note he ASSUMED some were good people!).

 

“I would build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me — and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall…”

 

“Islam hates us,” he said in an interview on CNN (drawing little distinction between the religion and radical Islamic terrorism).

After making that statement Trump was subsequently asked if the hate was “in Islam itself,” and said: “that’s for the media to figure out”.

 

These are some pretty polarizing statements. And the question one has to ask their self – that is if they TRULY want to assess the motivation behind these types of divisive words is: who exactly is he speaking to? Because he was trying to win an election after all. And it does not take a rocket scientists to right off the bat exclude Latinos and Muslims. Black people and Asians certainly would not respond to that kind of rhetoric. Indian people? Don’t think so. I can only think of one race – collectively speaking – that this type of racially charged language would appeal to. I don’t even have to say it do I?

And what is particularly disturbing and telling is that when he appealed to White Middle and Working Class Americans – he did so in a way that spoke to the “lesser man” within them. Stoking fear about Mexicans crossing the border to rape, rob, and pillage. Demonizing those of Muslim faith. He also – though not listed above – talked about black people and crime – and how we “have nothing to lose”. It worked – but it is pretty damn lousy if you ask me. And to be honest this is not so much and indictment of Trump as it is one on the American people. Because Donald Trump…the “loud and foul mouthed-apolitically correct-traveling circus” entity – would not have been possible had the electorate who voted him into office demanded better from someone seeking to run this country. You can talk about how he said he was bringing jobs back all day long. Donald Trump the candidate – sans the racially charged rhetoric – would not be our 45th president. After all was said and done THAT rhetoric – that coded language – was his foremost appeal to White-America.

We can demand greatness over mediocrity. We can demand respect over disrespect. We CAN kill the “southern strategy” and any other method that does not appeal to the “GREATER man” who also resides within each of us. Otherwise I fear that we are about to witness a further descent into chaos. Unless we check ourselves as a nation we will witness the proverbial chickens coming home to roost because of the sins of the father. The writing is on the wall. Let’s demand that America becomes the best version of herself – that she come out of denial – and that she supersede and purge herself of  her racist inclinations once and for all.

 

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 Oreos to go:  Steve Bannon recently said he thinks the racial issues that have arisen are good for the President. Let’s you know who and what he thinks about Trump’s base.


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.