Tag Archives: RACISM

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.

Continue reading Thugs!

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.

A Story About Black History Month & Jocko Graves

jocko gravesFebruary 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

Continue reading A Story About Black History Month & Jocko Graves

Just another way of saying ni**er!

ken burnsThe 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.

The Day They Brought Old Dixie Down

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.

Riots, you don’t have to like it but you have to…

baltimoreYesterday 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.

Continue reading Riots, you don’t have to like it but you have to…

Shame on Ferguson’s Police

fergusonRemember 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.

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Delbarjo on Racism

hobo 63 delbarjoMy 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!

The Myths of History

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 WeemsTo 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.

muslim cowboyWhat 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.

No Coca Cola Here

I’m taking an online course in Southern folk culture and doing some added research about blues music history. With either topic it is coca cola signimpossible 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.

Continue reading No Coca Cola Here

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

Continue reading Strange Fruit; The Rest of the Story

Obama haters

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.

Arthur Lee Simpkins, Ruth Lyons & Art Baker

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.

Continue reading Arthur Lee Simpkins, Ruth Lyons & Art Baker

The Myth of Post Racial

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.