Tag Archives: beauty

The Aftermath Of Integration

1I recently had a conversation with a group of young people, none of which lived during the age of government segregation. Each had strongly convoluted opinions about the era that were not based in fact. This made me think about how much the current world view has changed the reality of black life, as it relates to a historical perspective.

First, white folk never wanted it and chatted go back to Africa at the time. It was never intended to be fair or equal! I am not suggesting that integration should not have happened, but it did have a negative impact on black life and the future of African Americans in many ways. Two prominent ways were in the areas of family and black business.

One thing that happened, for sure was that the black community stopped supporting the businesses in their own communities. After segregation, African Americans flocked to support businesses owned by whites and other groups, causing black restaurants, theaters, insurance companies, banks, etc. to almost disappear. Today, black people spend 95 percent of their income at white-owned businesses. Even though the number of black firms has grown 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007, they only make up 7 percent of all U.S firms and less than .005 percent of all U.S business receipts.

I took the opportunity to educate these young people that in 1865, just after Emancipation, 476,748 free blacks – 1.5 percent of U.S. population– owned .005 percent of the total wealth of the United States. Today, a full 135 years after the abolition of slavery, 44.5 million African Americans – 14.2 percent of the population — possess a meager 1 percent of the national wealth.

If we look at relationships from 1890 to 1950, black women married at higher rates than white women, despite a consistent shortage of black males due to their higher mortality rate. According to a report released by the Washington DC-based think tank the Urban Institute, the state of the African American family is worse today than it was in the 1960s, four years before President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act.

In 1965, only 8 percent of childbirths in the black community occurred out of wedlock. In 2010, out-of-wedlock childbirths in the black community are at an astonishing 72 percent. Researchers Heather Ross and Isabel Sawhill argue that the marital stability is directly related to the husband’s relative socio-economic standing and the size of the earnings difference between men and women.

Instead of focusing on maintaining black male employment to allow them to provide for their families, Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act with full affirmative action for women. The act benefited mostly white women and created a welfare system that encouraged the removal of the black male from the home. Many black men were also dislodged from their families and pushed into the rapidly expanding prison industrial complex that developed in the wake of rising unemployment.

Since integration, the unemployment rate of black men has been spiraling out of control. In 1954, white men had a zero percent unemployment rate, while African-American men experienced a 4 percent rate. By 2010, it was at 16.7 percent for Black men compared to 7.7 percent for white men. The workforce in 1954 was 79 percent African American. By 2011, that number had decreased to 57 percent. The number of employed black women, however, has increased. In 1954, 43 percent of African American women had jobs. By 2011, 54 percent of black women are job holders.

The Civil Rights Movement pushed for laws that would create a colorblind society, where people would not be restricted from access to education, jobs, voting, travel, public accommodations, or housing because of race. However, the legislation did nothing to eradicate white privilege. Michael K. Brown, professor of politics at University of California Santa Cruz, and co-author of“Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society” says in the U.S., “The color of one’s skin still determines success or failure, poverty or affluence, illness or health, prison or college.”

Two percent of all working African Americans work for another African American’s within their own neighborhood. Because of this, professionally trained Black people provide very little economic benefit to the black community. Whereas, prior to integration that number was significantly higher because of segregation people in the black community supported each other to sustain their lives and families.

The Black median household income is about 64 percent that of whites, while the Black median wealth is about 16 percent that of whites. Millions of Black children are being miseducated by people who don’t care about them, and they are unable to compete academically with their peers. At the same time, the criminal justice system has declared war on young Black men with policies such as “stop and frisk” and “three strikes.”

Marcus Garvey warned about this saying:

“Lagging behind in the van of civilization will not prove our higher abilities. Being subservient to the will and caprice of progressive races will not prove anything superior in us. Being satisfied to drink of the dregs from the cup of human progress will not demonstrate our fitness as a people to exist alongside of others, but when of our own initiative we strike out to build industries, governments, and ultimately empires, then and only then will we as a race prove to our Creator and to man in general that we are fit to survive and capable of shaping our own destiny.”

Maybe this proves that once past truths are forgotten, and the myths that are lies are born with an unfounded reality detrimental to all, but those who seek to benefit. As I have often said, “I firmly believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. We can change the world but first, we must change ourselves.” And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Twitter @JohnTWills

Source: Black Atlanta Star


The Greatest Story Ever Told

462_160In thinking about the times in which we’ve lived I can say without a doubt our history ‘is the greatest story ever told’. I am always reminded of the ghosts of the greats who blazed a might trail for us to walk. Black History Month, as short as it is, should be celebrated and taught all year long! It is our responsibility. I was blessed to have had the good privilege to live during the civil rights era to witness groups and individuals fight to end racial segregation and the unequal treatment of black people, which we should never have had to fight in the first place.

Of all the things I am grateful for; is to have lived long enough to witness something ‘no one living or dead’ ever thought would happen. Which was to witness a Black Man elected to be President of these United States of America! To see him and his lovely family exhibit the style and grace representing black people in an extra exemplary way making us proud.

It would be my hope that all of us take this opportunity during Black History Month to reach one – teach one. Share the stories of our struggle with the children. I have added a few of the many significant events and some of the brave and courageous soldiers in the army that changed America or dare I say the world.

Events in the Civil Rights Movement

Solders of the Civil Rights Movement

I am reminded of Malcolm X who used to say “Make It Plain” which meant in essence to bring forth the knowledge. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


A Thought For The Ladies

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A Queen For Life

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It’s really hard to believe that it has been more than thirty-years since Vanessa Williams, who will always be a queen, broke color barriers and made history becoming the first black Miss America. It happened on September 17th 1983 at a time when racial division was still a divisive issue in America. Just to make the point Reagan was president.

She was not the first black woman to enter or take the stage at a beauty pageant nationally but she was the first to take the crown. Just a few years early, fresh out of the turbulent 1960’s, Cheryl Brown of Iowa, won her state title and made it to the national stage as a contestant. Another beauty, Miss Arkansas Lencola Sullivan was the first black woman to make it to the top five.

Williams was quoted as saying at the time that she never expected the swarm of hate mail and racist comments after being crowned. Adding, “I never imagined I’d be that depressed about being Miss America” she told People Magazine.

Williams, a stunningly amazing beauty, held the title of Miss America 1984 ultimately resigning early due to scandalous unauthorized nude photos published of her in Penthouse magazine. But the scandal didn’t stop her – it only empowered her.

In 1990, she told Ebony Magazine “I’m just moving on, for there is nothing I can do to change that, so I just have to deal with it and move on… If situations arose where I could get revenge, I absolutely would. But at this point, success is the best revenge.”

She broke into the film and music industry creating a lasting career that’s still going strong 30 plus years later. Today, at the age of 52, Williams is as gorgeous and beautiful as the day she was crowned. She has starred on Broadway in “The Trip To Bountiful” and has a number of movies, albums, and awards under her belt.

Vanessa, you are and will always be our queen. We thank and love you for being you – simply amazing. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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For Women Only!

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I came from a time when there was a woman named “Big Mama” and not the clown character in the Martin Lawrence movie. She was the matriarch of the black family. A woman of wisdom, strength, and courage; moreover, a proud woman who understood her role which was to guide, direct, and give love. Her role also included leadership used to teach young girls to be ladies and woman. Oh, do we miss Big Mama today!

I won’t try to teach or tell anyone how to be a woman, but I do have a perspective from a man’s point of view. Just like a woman cannot make a boy a man – I won’t try to tell you how to be a woman. However, I am suggesting for the sake of your daughters that you try to recall the lessons taught by Big Mama. For those who read my writing, you know, I like to use examples in order to make a point.

I once gave a speech and took out a $20.00 bill and to the audience I asked, “Who would like to have this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. Nearly everyone! Then I said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.” I crumpled up the $20 dollar bill and asked, “Who still wants it now…?.” Still nearly all hands were raised. Ok, great! “What if I do this?” I dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with the bottom of my shoe. Then I picked it up the now crumpled dirty bill. “Who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air.

No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions you make with regard to how you appear. The moral of this exercise was a very valuable lesson. The way you appear causes people (men) to want “IT”, but like the money it does not mean they want “You.” The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by who you are, and that comes from your presentation.

I have another profound message Muhammad Ali’s once gave to his daughters. An incident transpired when Muhammad Ali’s daughters arrived at his home wearing clothes that were quite revealing.

Here is the story as told by one of his daughters:

“When we finally arrived, the chauffeur escorted my younger sister, Laila, and me up to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. We exchanged many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day.

My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said something that I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to.

Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell.

Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.”

He looked at me with serious eyes. “Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”

It is not my intent to offend anyone, but you see what I see and if you knew Big Mama – you know better. I believe, if Black America is to redeem it greater glory – ladies it starts with you. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving.

Legacy – A New Season 

AMAZON

Just a Season


The Surge Of The Southern Strategy

10514657_10202131902970802_7641807366571926388_nI can remember an old joke told when I was a child that said, “What has four eyes but cannot see; the answer was Mississippi”. This was a reference to the blatant racism, murder, and lynching of black people was something they could not see. The officials conspired to sweep it under the rug! In what would be viewed as modern times, the joke has been updated to say, “What has two eyes but cannot see; the answer is Missouri!!!” Obviously, it appears, not much different than Mississippi 40-50 years ago. Yesterday’s police press conferences made that painfully clear.

I spent some time in Missouri in the early 1970s, and it was NOT a vacation. I was in the military stationed at Ft. Leonard Wood, and it was so bad that I would have felt safer in Vietnam, which I did go to Vietnam where I did feel safer! From the looks of things, not much has changed. Although, technically, Missouri in not in the south but as Malcolm said, “anywhere south of Canada is south in America.”

I think it’s important to remind you that it was in St. Louis that the Dred Scott case occurred. In the Supreme Court decision, known as the Dred Scott Decision, it said, “There are no rights a Negro has that a white man must respect”. This coupled with what was written in the Constitution that says a Negro is 3/5ths a human. This is to include the Civil War where frankly, there are many who seem to be still fighting it; notwithstanding, the Apartheid system of Jim Crow that followed all of this.

I wonder if some of these people realize that this is not your “Grandfathers America”. I know there are those who want to go back to the days of black and white television, and everything else black and white, meaning “segregation”. After all, it has been said repeatedly – “We want our country back” and as a result racism is up, and human rights are down. It could be said; this is a mandate! There are comments by those from the right, who claim “there is a war on white”. I think, based on the display in Ferguson and from the police – it is a war on black people.

As we witness this sad irony; let’s be mindful that what we see is no different than the Willie Lynch Syndrome at work and until they attacked and arrested the media. All of the info transmitted by the people of authority has been negative, which is to say it is “those people”. Do not fall for the word games played. We saw the war machine on display and remember all of this began, as a result, of the murder of an unarmed young man at the hands of police.

These folks hired a “gang of thugs”, arm them to the teeth, and gave them a license to kill. Therefore, what else could be expected? It think it is a surge of the Southern Strategy or something more ominous as the American way! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

The video is heart wrenching and ends with the caption:

Mike Brown was said to have been jaywalking and mouthing the officer involved. But since when has mouthing and jaywalking been punishable by death?

This isn’t a white vs. black thing. This is a citizens vs. brutality issue.

Ferguson police dump Michael Browns’ body into an SUV.

Here’s the video. The contrast between the neighbors’ raw and deeply emotional reactions and the police officers’ casual cruelty makes it hard to watch… yet hard to stop watching.


Hand’s Up – Don’t Shoot!!!

10514657_10202131902970802_7641807366571926388_nI am one who believes; “I am my brother’s keeper”, and so are you! By that I mean I have a responsibility to mankind as it is the purpose we exist. Having said that, a few days ago I wrote an article, titled “Please Mr. President” suggesting that our president, my brother, was MIA and there was a need for his attention.

Let me say, thank you Mr. Obama for you words in this matter and I am sure black people as a whole welcome your voice and attention in the death of our unarmed black child in Ferguson! As we have seen once the president spoke, the situation, at least in terms of the police aggression, changed immediately.

Further, the moment the President uttered those few sentences every political figure, even a few Republicans, spoke and used their power of redress against the current crop of “Bull Connor’s” for their shameful aggression. Frankly, this should have done from the beginning because we do pay them as tax payers. I stand by what I said in that article and his words did not adequately address the issue. Frankly, it was a weak response in light of the weekly murders of black people at the hands of the law!

I do, however, give him credit for those few sentences whether it was because of the visuals beamed around the world that forced his hand causing him to speak. What we saw a few nights ago surely went against the narrative being sold of America to others around the world. Or maybe it was because the armed and militarized thugs arrested and attacked the media? Either way, it was time for the President to come forward and speak.

What the world needs to know is that African American’s are saying enough is enough!!! Yes, the events in Mayberry, Missouri began with the murder of Big Mike but it’s much bigger than that:

It’s about Eric Garner, choked to death in a confrontation with New York City Police. It’s about Jordan Davis, shot to death in Jacksonville, Florida, because he played his music too loud. It’s about Trayvon Martin, shot to death in Sanford, Florida, because a self-appointed neighborhood guardian judged him a thug. It’s about Oscar Grant, shot by a police officer in an Oakland, California, subway station as cell phone cameras watched. It’s about the grandmother beaten on the highway in California. It’s about Amadou Diallo, executed in that vestibule and Abner Louima, sodomized with that broomstick. It’s about Rodney King and all of the people who are victims of simply being black.

In the 1960s, we saw many riots and each was the result of a negative police action. Is it wrong? Probably, but sometimes it is a last resort and necessary to get attention for those who have been forsaken. I applaud the people of Ferguson for taking a courageous stand in the face of danger to achieve relief, at least some measure of it; the “gang of thugs” are out of control! Please take away their weapons of “mass destruction” and war from these people who are ill-equipped with any sense of respect and the absense of reason. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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