Tag Archives: RACE

The Dream

Teach your children, and maybe yourself, some important American history today. Do some reading about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Watch the video of King’s entire I Have a Dream speech.

You might even read the attached article about King.

Click the button for a great article about King. 

 

The Trail Forward

I’ve written lots of words, and read even more, about the ongoing Trail of Tears controversy. I’m going to try to make this the last blog I write on the subject and the topic is how to move it forward, how to help make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Based on what I’ve read in the local newspapers the school’s path forward is to take a couple of class periods and teach the story of the forceful removal of Indians during the early 1800s. This was ordered by president Andrew Jackson, in defiance of a Supreme Court order, and resulted in the tragic deaths of thousands of Eastern Native-Americans.

Additionally the cheerleaders involved met with Hillsboro’s cheerleaders where an apology was offered.

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America Isn’t Post Anything

Look, the simple truth is that most of us have some racist tendencies but we make every effort to whittle them down and try to get better.  There are too many, however, who are openly racists and seem to take some overt pride in it. Then there are those, lots of those, who say and believe things that really are racists but they don’t see themselves as being racists.

I remember being in an pizza parlor in Cincinnati once and a black family came in and sat at a nearby table. My mother, who I never thought of as being racist, said, “Huh, you wouldn’t think those people would like this kind of food.” I don’t think mom thought she was saying anything bad but in my mind she might as well of said, “Shit, I thought all they liked was fried chicken and watermelon.”

Yesterday the nation and world witnessed Kathy Miller, a Trump campaign leader from Ohio, claim that racism in America didn’t exist before president Obama came along. She went on to insist this nation had no racist past, no civil rights movement, no racial riots in Detroit in 1967, or no one named Rodney King was beaten by an out of control pack of Los Angeles cops in 1991.

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Revised – Bullshit of the Day Report

Dave Shoemaker, who writes the Shoeuntied blog, has his “Asshat of the Day” award. His readers send him photos of asshats they see who have screwed the pooch for anyone else finding a parking place. Since he gets hundreds of photos it must be touching a nerve.

I’ve decide to take a lesson from Shoe and create a Bullshit of the Day Report page in which I will post bullshit statements I come across each day. I’ve created a link to the page in the menu bar at the top of each page.

Simply click on the Bullshit Button to read the very first post. To submit your own example email me at greenfieldohio@gmail.com.

I decided to alter the format of posting BS reports. Post will now appear in regular order in the middle of the HOME page as well as in the ASIDE section along the right hand margin of every CGS page. This makes it both more user-friendly and simpler for me to administer.

 

Playing the Card

Seems if everyone has a card to play today. Let a woman complain and it’s said she’s playing the female card, African-Americans play the race card, etc. The problem is that too many times those complaining have legitimate gripes but are accused of “playing” the card as a way of undermining or demeaning the complaint.

But on occasion the card really does get played and the player needs called out for it. Take the case of Connie Brown, Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from Florida. Brown, along with her chief of staff Elias Simmons, were recently indicted on 22 counts of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, making false statements, wire fraud, and more.

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Thugs!

Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, and a boat load of conservative white people have once again gotten their sphincters twisted into a knot. And once again the issue is their refusal to acknowledge that not all Americans are treated fairly and justly.

Nothing seems to stir their wrath more than seeing blacks and Latinos pouring into the streets of America and demanding what the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution promise and guaranteed them; the right to pursue life, liberty, happiness along with the right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to redress government if it fails in its duties.

Well, fail in its duties is exactly what’s behind the Black Lives Matter protest. While minorities in America have been discriminated against for centuries we are supposed to be at a period where we’ve stopped that nonsense. For most of my life I’ve witnessed a civil rights movement that promised to move us beyond the sins of our history.

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Thoughts on Racism

A friend posted a link to a blog about identifying racism. After reading it I have a few comments to share from my personal racismexperiences. First of all I am human therefore I have biases. Sometimes I let the cover define the book, therefore I can be prejudicial. Today I walked into the local Walmart store and my inner voice said, “Damn these people are ugly,” forgetting what I look like in a mirror. Therefore I can be bigoted. All of these are human characteristics and I’m pretty sure we all have them to a greater or lesser degree. I don’t know how we acquire them, just that we have them.

The blog’s author says that claiming to have best friends who are black is a potential sign of being racist. I’ve never made that claim but I do know of examples where such is true. Best I can say is that some of my favorite people are black but I can’t honestly say we are “best” friends. We just seem to like and enjoy each other when our paths cross.

Another thing the blog says is racist is claiming to be color blind. That beneath the skin we are all the same. Well, I don’t know if it’s racist or not but I don’t feel that way. I know enough about people to recognize that we are different. Black people have had a collectively different life experience than what I’ve had. There is such a thing as black culture and some times I don’t understand it nor feel totally comfortable in its presence. But the older I get the more I do understand and the more joy I receive from it. You can’t seek out great barbecue or delve into the history of blues music without coming nose to nose with cultural history that differs from your own. The key is to recognize it as being different, important, and not inferior.

You hear lots of people claim that we begin our lives on a level playing field and if we work hard enough we can overcome and be successful. That simply is not true for blacks or whites. The playing field in America has never been level and still isn’t. The reality is that our chances of success are directly reliant on chance, luck of the draw. The odds for or against our personal futures are directly connected to what family you were born into. If your parents were solidly middle-class or higher, you’ve got a much better chance of being successful than those who are born poor. Whites have a better change than blacks.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard whites defend themselves against being racist with arguments such as, “Don’t blame me, I never owned slaves.” That may be the case but it doesn’t protect one from being racist. In my case my great, great, great-grandfather did own slaves and it took a civil war to remove slave ownership from my family. While being the descendant of slave owners doesn’t cast guilt on me I am accountable to seeing it never happens again. Black culture and attitudes are in great part a consequence of over four hundred years of oppression. I can’t reverse that history but I can work to understand it and better our collective futures.

I’ll finish up with one I heard just this morning, one the blog calls “exhaustion and despair.” “I’m so tired of this and I’m just going to turn my TV off.” I don’t know if this is racist or not but it certainly isn’t contributing to any solution. We as a nation absolutely have to talk about the issues that divide and threaten us. Problems almost never solve themselves. The dialogue has to be both internal and external. We must sit down and have an honest and quiet conversation with our inner being just as we must have honest and open public conversations.

There are no innocents, black or white, because we are all human and display human traits. Our issues are the consequences of history that we didn’t make but have to live with. It is absolutely imperative for us all to understand that history and collectively try to reconcile it in such ways that allow us to be different, to have our differences recognized as being of value, while developing a sense that the doors of opportunity are truly open for all that wish to walk through.

Highland County’s Gist Settlement

I’m probably like many of you, lived most of my life in Highland County, Ohio and never heard of this thing called the Gist Settlement. It wasn’t until moving back to Greenfield in the early 1970s and starting to read some local history that I first became aware of it.

paul turner aThe settlement, which resulted from a wealthy absentee Virginia slaveholder wanting to settle his conscience as he neared death, is located about half way between Careytown and New Vienna on Gist Settlement Road ( Click HERE for a Google Map of the area). I’ve driven by several times and besides a couple of homes, a church, and an old cemetery, there isn’t much to see these days.

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Strange Fruit; The Rest of the Story

Strange Fruit is one of the most haunting and eye-opening songs ever written. The frequent and accepted lynching of Africanstrange fruit tree Americans in the American South was widely unknown to many Americans. That ignorance began to weaken after the song’s release by singer Billie Holiday.

I’ve heard the song performed many times and by many performers but until now I wasn’t aware of its backstory. A friend posted the following article on Facebook and I decided it needed further promoted. It’s a wonderful account of the songs author and the part he played

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The Four Horsemen of rock

In the collective history of rock music there has been millions of photographs taken. A few have become iconic, like the Beatles landing in America in 1964. Being that this is Black History month I came across this iconic photo and it screamed, “SHARE!’ to me.

Legends of blues and rock music; Willie Dixon, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry.
Willie Dixon, Little Richard, Bo Diddley & Chuck Berry…the founding fathers of rock ‘n roll!

Just in case you don’t know who these guys are, Willie Dixon was the bassist for Muddy Waters and wrote many of Muddy’s hits including Seventh Son and Hoochie Coochie Man. Little Richard put the scream in rock ‘n roll, Bo Diddley gave rock its basic rhythm, and there’s hardly a guitar lick that doesn’t have Chuck Berry’s signature on it.

Greenfield & Frederick Douglass

Reading a little Black History and came across a piece about Frederick Douglass. A vague memory about Douglass once having spent time in Greenfield came out of the past so I did a little Googling and came up with the following from the Greenfield Historical Society’s website.

frederickdouglasgreenfield

Saving the blues; instruments & recordings

georgemitchellalbum
Collection of field recordings by blues historian, George Mitchell.

In February of 2009 I attended a blues symposium at Ole Miss in Oxford, MS. The subject was the history of blues field recording and the presenters were mostly people who had been directly involved in preserving the sounds of blues history. One presenter was George Mitchell who recorded such legends as R.L. Burnside, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Huston Stackhouse, and Furry Lewis. The university maintains a library of blues artifacts and one of the items on display was this very old cigar box guitar, currently strung as a diddley bow. I don’t know the history of it but it’s obvious it has seen many incarnations. The diddley bow is the instrument from which Bo Diddley borrowed his stage name. Other field recorders in attendance were Art Rosenbaum, Roger Stolle of Cat Head Records, Sy Oliver, and David Evans. Without the efforts of these men and others like John and Alan Lomax much of our musical legacy would have been lost in the pages of time.

Oldest known African American cookbooks

melindarussell cookbook
Malinda Russell’s 1866 cookbook.

For many decades it was thought that former slave, Abby Fisher, had written the first cookbook by an African-American, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, was published in 1881. In 2001 it was learned that a free black woman named Malinda Russell had published Domestic Cook Book: Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen in 1866.

Much of the food America loves has its roots in the poverty enslaved blacks endured for centuries in the American South. Known today as soul food it made use of those food stuffs the white slave masters saw little value in. Protein came from beans and legumes and the occasional lesser cuts of pork and poultry. If you could still find a small traditional grocery serving a mostly black population in today’s South you’d likely see coolers stacked with ox tail, pig knuckles, tails, ears and feet, salted fat back, chicken feet, necks and rooster combs. Add to that large bags of rice, red beans, and corn meal you’d have the basis for countless recipes that still keep people moving and enjoying comfort today.

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