February marks the beginning of Black History Month. I’ve always found this an interesting time because one, I always learn something new, and two, I find people’s feelings about this recognition to be interesting.
I’ve heard lots of people express resentment that Blacks have their own month like it’s something the government does to pay tribute to what Blacks have given to America. The simple truth is, the government has nothing to do with it. The whole thing is people originated and involves only those who want to somehow take part.
I believe most Americans see nothing wrong with BHM but even among Blacks there are those who don’t want Black History separated from American History. They believe we all would be
The following article appeared on TPM’s website on August 24, 2015 and came from a CBS interview of documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns. It is especially germane given that birtherism and birthright citizenship have become such a central issue in the GOP’s presidential platform. More so since Donald Trump has become the leading GOP candidate in the race for the White House. Here the article as written by Caitlan Cruz followed by the video interview with Burns.
“Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns said on CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday that the birther movement, popularized by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, is a essentially a “more sophisticated” way of using the N-word.
“The birther movement — of which Donald Trump is one of the author’s of — is another politer way of saying the N-word. It’s just more sophisticated and a little bit more clever,” Burns told CBS. “He’s other, he’s different. What’s other and different about him? It turns out it’s the same old thing: It’s the color of his skin.”
America is not a post-racial society because of President Barack Obama’s election, he said.
“All of these tensions have been in place since the very beginning, even before the beginning, but we also notice that race is always there,” Burns said. “We pretend with the election of Barack Obama that we’re in some post-racial society. And of course, you know, we’re not.”
Burns also set the record straight on what started the Civil War, pushing back against the notion that it was about “state’s rights.” He pointed to South Carolina’s Articles of Secession. (South Carolina was the first state to secede.)
“It’s no wonder that Americans have permitted themselves to be sold a bill of goods about what happened. ‘Oh, it’s about state’s rights, it’s about nullification, it’s about differences between cultural and political and economic forces that shape the north and the south,’ ” Burns said. “It is much more complicated than that, but essentially, the reason why we murdered each other … was over essentially the issue of slavery.”
Burns’ documentary “The Civil War” is set to air in ultra-high definition for five nights on PBS starting Sept. 7.
I had a cousin who was South Carolina bred and born and so hated the sight of the stars and bars flying over the capital building, and later on the capital grounds. Today is for her and the millions of others who believe that symbol of insurrection and racism belongs in a museum rather than publicly flaunting all the bad it represented. I just wished she had lived to see it.
Yesterday I became embroiled in a discussion on Facebook about systemic racism in America and what is happening in the streets of Baltimore. As I attempted to understand it all I was perceived by some as being in support of the mayhem and violence that is racking that city. The same thing happened when I tried to openly discuss what occurred in Ferguson last year.
In my life television has brought any number of urban riots into my living room and I have not supported or found justification for any of them. I do not support the violent expression of the rights to peacefully assemble and redress grievances. Rioting is illegal and not protected by the laws of the land.
Remember back to what happened in Ferguson, MO in August of last year. The police shooting of a young unarmed black youth. The protest that ensued, the brutal tactics used by police to suppress that protest and the riots that followed.
Then there was the grand jury investigation in to the police officer that shot and killed Michael Brown and the subsequent failure to indict the shooter.
All this resulted in a great division in America and a huge failure to understand and appreciate the reality of life in this country for blacks and other minorities. The suppressed anger that burst forth following so many unexplained fatal shootings of unarmed blacks by the nation’s police forces.
My French friend, Delbarjo, has a new toy and a new video. An American cigar box guitar builder who builds under the name Hobo 63 made a 3-string custom box for Delbarjo and apparently it just arrived on French soil. While it’s a couple of days late for Black History Month the theme certainly brings to mind a sad part of our nation’s history. To tell the truth, my old ears can’t pick out the words but the pictures tell it all. Whatever the lyrics the instruments sound and its playing are of the highest quality. Keep it sleazy bluesman!
There are at least two histories in America, that which is based in historical reality and that which is based solely on accepted myth.
One of the things that contributed to my becoming a history teacher was taking the required class, US History 101. Fortunately I had a professor that didn’t teach straight from the textbook and loved to expose the accepted versions of history to the historical truths.
A classic example was the age-old story that George Washington cut down a his father’s cherry tree and because he was so honest he openly admitted his actions to his dad. The truth is that a traveling minister named Mason Locke Weems. To supplement his income Weems authored a few short books that he would sell along his travels. Since George Washington was such a famous and popular person Weems wrote a short biography shortly after Washington passed. There is no historical evidence proving that Weems’s story about the cherry tree happened but nevertheless it became accepted history and has been taught to centuries of American school children.
If you’re my age just consider that you know about the Battle of the Little Big Horn or what life was like in Tarzan’s jungle. Then read a book about either and compare the reality with what you learned watching Johnny Weissmuller in the roll of Tarzan.
What prompted this post was having read an article in yesterday’s New York Times about the reality of Muslims in America. Islam didn’t just get off the Boeing 747 at Kennedy International. It got off the boat long before there even was a USA. They have been here forever, they have been here in larger numbers than what you may think, and they are and never have been a threat to this nation or its way of life. What they have become is the most misunderstood and denigrated religion in our history. Just ask the Texas Muslim Imam how he was treated when ask to bless the horses, riders, and military personnel at a Fort Worth rodeo. One comment on social media read, “Outraged at a Muslim prayer at an all American event!” “Cowboys don’t want it!”
Well guess what dude? Muslims were riding herd and punching Texas cattle long before there was a Fort Worth. Furthermore, you cowboys didn’t invent rodeo, you borrowed it.
I’m taking an online course in Southern folk culture and doing some added research about blues music history. With either topic it is impossible to avoid the racism and segregation that’s so closely associated with life in the American South.
Blues singer, Ruth Brown, talked about growing up in a Southern town with strict lines separating whites and blacks. At a local dance function the dancers were literally separated by a rope dividing the dance floor into white and black sections. The band, which was often black, would get to playing fast tunes and in the ensuing dance fury the rope often came down and social divides forgotten until someone would notify the police. Then the music would be stopped, the rope re stretched, and segregation restored.
Strange Fruit is one of the most haunting and eye-opening songs ever written. The frequent and accepted lynching of African 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
FACTOID: By the end of the 2012 election it was clear that a brother couldn’t catch a break. By that time at least 89 Obama bashing books had found their way to the shelves of the nation’s book stores. Obviously there’s money in unmerciful criticism but some historians argue that what Obama has faced was also faced by founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
We were watching a documentary on Thanksgiving Day about Cincinnati’s famous TV personality, the late Ruth Lyons. In her day no one of importance passed through the Queen City without a visit to the Ruth’s program. During the Vietnam and Civil Rights eras Lyons was outspoken about what was going on in the nation. She was especially distraught over the violence being demonstrated against African Americans in the South.
Her’s was a Midwest, mostly white, female audience and apparently she went too far with many of her followers when she ask the black tenor, Arthur Lee Simpkins, to dance with her. According to those in the know Lyons received an incredible amount of phone calls and letters from fans who were appalled with her actions. It was not yet the time or place for what we consider so common today.
There is a certainty that comes with any argument involving race in today’s America. Mention, in any way, that America is still not a nation of racial equality and some Tea Party radical will accuse you of, “Playing the race card.” Somewhere between the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and the election of Barack Obama, much of white America has decided that everything is honkie hunky dory.
Well, it isn’t. Certainly blacks and other racial minorities, as well as women, have made great strides in the past sixty years. But the great ambition of being a nation in which all are created equal and have equal opportunity simply hasn’t been yet achieved and there is no shortage of evidence.
In spite of all the legislation there still exist a huge disparity of wealth between white and non-white America. Men still earn far more than women for performing the same jobs. The children of the educated will have a far brighter future than those of the ill-educated. The children of Norther parents will find it an easier world than those of Southern parents. Income, health, education, social and economic mobility, quality of life, environment and other factors are not the same for people of color, people with different sexual proclivity, women, or people of different geography. For much of the past one-hundred years a goal of the US Government has been to, with great success, narrow these divides.
It has not been without conflict or controversy, however. The conservative right has always opposed using the power of the federal government to correct the ills of our economic and social institutions and that war is being waged today as much as ever. Those who have will always be fearful of those who don’t have, just as they will always use what they have to keep the have-nots in their places. It is the very core of what conservatism means. Progress is measured not in change but in maintaining the status quo.
What sparked this diatribe was an online article containing a variety of charts and graphs showing the validity of what I have thus written. I’ll include two graphs and a link to the remainder. Click each graph to enlarge. For additional information click HERE.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews recently unloaded on the critics of President Obama stating that their criticisms and claims about the president are rooted in racism. While I don’t say that about all his critics I do believe the majority on the far-right are motivated by age-old racial bigotry and bias. So, what do you think? Take the poll and let us know.
I always found it interesting the ways Southern slave owners justified the enslavement of fellow humans. Just as amazing was how willing poor white Southerners were to defend a social and economic system that effectively also enslaved them. Poor whites were fervent supporters of slavery when in fact, many of them were economically far worse off than the average black field hand. Black slaves represented an economic investment for the owner so some degree of concern was shown that was never received by poor whites.
One key to understanding this is simply to consider the social ladder. Years ago a college professor of mine said that as long as there was someone further down the social ladder than poor white trash, poor white trash could be counted on to support the status quo.
What brought this subject to mind was a photo circulating on the Internet. It contained a quote from President Lyndon Johnson that explains the above statements and also why so many Americans often vote against their best interests. Myrl Shoemaker once said that any person who carries a lunch pail should be a Democrat. So if working people are best represented by the Democrat Party why do so many vote Republican? Well, according to Johnson the answer is:
“If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll even empty his pockets for you.”
How else can we explain the continued loyalty of working-class Republicans after the almost total collapse of the American economic system following eight years of Republican leadership at the national level?
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