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An American Shame

“Disclaimer: This piece is long but it is knowledge everyone should know.”

2There have been many ways to suppress people over time; unfortunately, African Americans have endured the brunt of these efforts. As we know, the history of America reports that it was not only African American’s who were subjected or affected by these efforts. What I can report is that it was always a minority affected by these laws meant to ensure a permanent underclass.

This ideology began as indentured servants, then slavery, segregation, and now could it be conservatism. In each of these classifications there was a design called laws Black Codes, which I suppose make these immoral sanctions sound gentler. The truth is the sole purpose was to suppression rights. Kinda like the agenda behind the States Rights dog-whistles we hear today.

Black Codes were laws passed designed specifically to take away civil rights and civil liberties of African American on the state and local levels. This is the reason Conservatives desire a return to “States Rights” and speak of taking back their country because at the state level they can be unimpeded in turning back the hands of time.

Although, most of the discriminatory legislation, in terms of Black Codes, were used more often by Southern states to control the labor, movements and activities of newly freed slaves at the end of the Civil War. But as Malcolm X once said, “Anywhere south of Canada was south” meaning wherever you were in America you were subjected to discrimination in terms of the “separate but equal” laws, which was the law of the land.

The Black Codes of the 1860’s are not the same as the Jim Crow laws. The Black Codes were in reaction to the abolition of slavery and the South’s defeat in the Civil War. Southern legislatures enacted them during Reconstruction. The Jim Crow era began later, nearer to the end of the 19th century after Reconstruction, with its unwritten laws.

Then there were sundown laws, which meant Blacks, could not live or be caught in certain towns after dark. In some cases, signs were placed at the town’s borders with statements similar to the one posted in Hawthorne California that read “Nigger, Don’t Let The Sun Set On YOU In Hawthorne” in the 1930’s. In some cases, exclusions were official town policy, restrictive covenants, or the policy was enforced through intimidation.

After the abolition of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prior to that African Americans were considered 3/5’s human. Therefore, all former slave states adopted Black Codes. During 1865 every Southern state passed Black Codes that restricted the Freemen, who were emancipated but not yet full citizens. While they pursued re-admission to the Union, the Southern states provided freedmen with limited second-class civil rights and no voting rights. Southern plantation owners feared that they would lose their land. Having convinced themselves that slavery was justified, planters feared African Americans wouldn’t work without coercion. The Black Codes were an attempt to control them and to ensure they did not claim social equality.

The Black Codes outraged public opinion in the North because it seemed the South was creating a form of quasi-slavery to evade the results of the war. After winning large majorities in the 1866 elections, the Republicans put the South under military rule. They held new elections in which the Freedmen could vote. Suffrage was also expanded to poor whites. The new governments repealed all the Black Codes; they were never reenacted – OFFICALLY.

Many of these things are unknown to the generations of today because these injustices have been erased from our history and very little of it is taught in today’s classroom. For example, a sundown town was a town that was all white on purpose. The term was widely used in the United States and Canada in areas from Ohio to Oregon and well into the South. Even in Canada many towns in Southern Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec, were sundown towns prior to 1982, when it was outlawed. The term came from signs that were allegedly posted stating that people of color had to leave the town by sundown. They were also sometimes known as “sunset towns” or “gray towns”. Let me ask if you have ever been to a million dollar community – sound familiar.

The black codes that were enacted immediately after the Civil War, though varying from state to state, were all intended to secure a steady supply of cheap labor and all continued to assume the inferiority of the freed slaves. The black codes had their roots in the slave codes that had formerly been in effect. The premise behind chattel slavery in America was that slaves were property, and, as such, they had few or no legal rights. The slave codes, in their many loosely defined forms, were seen as effective tools against slave unrest, particularly as a hedge against uprisings and runaways. Enforcement of slave codes also varied, but corporal punishment was widely and harshly employed.

Let me highlight this example: In Texas, the Eleventh Legislature produced these codes in 1866. The intent of the legislation was to reaffirm the inferior position that slaves and free blacks had held in antebellum Texas and to regulate black labor. The codes reflected the unwillingness of white Texans to accept blacks as equals. You do remember “Juneteenth”? In addition, the Texans also feared that freedmen would not work unless coerced. Thus the codes continued legal discrimination between whites and blacks. The legislature, when it amended the 1856 penal code, emphasized the continuing line between whites and blacks by defining all individuals with one-eighth or more African blood as persons of color, subject to special provisions in the law.

Minorities were systematically excluded from living in or sometimes even passing through these communities after the sun went down. This allowed maids and workmen to provide unskilled labor during the day. Sociologists have described this as the nadir of American race relations. Sundown towns existed throughout the nation, but most often were located in the northern states that were not pre-Civil War slave states. There have not been any de jure sundown towns in the country since legislation in the 1960’s was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, although de facto sundown towns and counties, where no black family lives – still exist.

Therefore, we see hints of it in the racism that has raised its ugly head and risen to the surface of society’s consciousness, particularly in this political climate. Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and especially since the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited racial discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing, the number of sundown towns has decreased.

However, as sociologist suggest it is impossible to precisely count the number of sundown towns at any given time, because most towns have not kept records of the ordinances or signs that marked the town’s sundown status. It is important to note that sundown status meant more than just African Americans not being able to live in these towns. Essentially any African Americans or other groups who came into sundown towns after sundown were subject to harassment, threats, and violent acts; up to and including lynching.

As one historian has noted, “Racial segregation was hardly a new phenomenon because slavery had fixed the status of most blacks, no need was felt for statutory measures segregating the races. These restrictive Black Codes have morphed in one form or another to achieve its desired effect to maintain a superior status by the powers that be. I am only suggesting that we know and understand history for it will open the mind to what the future may present.

Frankly, if you don’t know where you came from you will never get to where you are going. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!!!


The Scene Of The Crime

It is a fact that the history of people of African descent was destroyed by government-sanctioned system of slavery. However, I have resurrected our amazing and often horrific journey many times through this blog. I have tried to bring into remembrance some heart-wrenching events and glorious victories resulting from the unimaginable struggles that African Americans have had to endure. Therefore, I would be remiss if I did not start at the beginning with what I call the scene of the crime.

The Jamestown Colony, England’s first permanent settlement in North America, was a marshy wasteland, poor for agriculture and a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The settlement was such a harsh environment that only thirty-two of the estimated one hundred original settlers survived the first seven months. HIS-Story describes this as the “starving times,” but all would change.

On August 20, 1619, the first African “settlers” reached North America as cargo onboard a Dutch man-of-war ship that rode the tide into the shores of Jamestown, Virginia, carrying Captain Jope and a cargo of twenty Africans. It seems strange to me, but history cannot tell us why this mysterious ship anchored off Jamestown. It is believed the cap­tain needed food and in exchange for food he offered his cargo of Africans as payment.

When the deal was consummated, Antoney, Isabella, and eighteen other Africans disembarked. Although they were not the first Africans to arrive in North America, they were the first African “settlers.” Regarded as indentured servants rather than slaves, fifteen were purchased to serve their redemption time working for Sir George Yardley, the Gover­nor of Virginia and proprietor of the thousand-acre Flowerdew Hundred Plantation. In ten years, by the 1630’s, the colony, through the use of the Africans, had established a successful economy based on tobacco.

Slavery was born, and the slave trade became big business. These human souls were acquired in Africa for an average price of about twenty-five dollars each, paid primarily in merchandise. They were sold in the Americas for about one hundred fifty dollars each. As the price of slaves increased, so did the inhumane overcrowding of the ships.

This was the beginning of the worst crime ever inflicted upon a people and the most morally reprehensible agenda the world has ever known. Adding to this injustice and more horrifying was that the perpetrators believed their actions were sanctioned by God with a religious manifestation that justified slavery. The next two-hundred years were a designed systematic effort to destroy millions of lives through indoctrination, brutality, savagery, and terror.

I am always struck by the use of the word civilization in this matter because the root word is “civil” and there was nothing civil about the institution of slavery. To be clear a slave is chattel – a human being considered property and servant for life. The business of slave trading had one purpose – profit. The process would begin with an African being paid to venture into the interior of the continent, capture other Africans, put them on a death march to the coast and sell these captives to Europeans. Now, if stealing and capturing the victims was not misery enough, what was to follow surely was in every sense of the word.

This horrible journey, known as the “Middle Passage,” ended with a lifetime of bondage awaiting the captives at the end of the voyage. A typical slave ship traveling from Gambia, the Gold Coast, Guinea, or Senegal, would take four to eight weeks to reach New England, Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, or the West Indies. Women, men, and children were crammed so tightly in the cargo ships that out of a load of seven hundred, three or four would be found dead each morning. Africans from Senegal were the most-prized commodity be­cause many were skilled artisans. Ibos from Calabar were considered the most undesirable because of their high suicide rate.

Most ships had three decks with the lower two used for transporting slaves. The lowest deck extended the full length of the ship and was no more than five feet high. The captives were packed into tomb-like compartments side by side to utilize all available space. In the next deck, wooden planks like shelves extended from the sides of the ship where the slaves were chained in pairs at the wrists and ankles – crammed side by side. Men occupied middle shelves and were most often chained in pairs and bound to the ship’s gunwales or to ringbolts set into the deck. Women and children were sometimes allowed to move about certain areas of the ship.

A typical slave ship coming directly to the American mainland from Africa weighed about one to two hundred tons, although some were slightly larger. Slave ships were eventually built especially for human cargo. These slave ships could carry as many as four hundred slaves and a crew of forty-seven, as well as thirteen thousand pounds of food. They were long, narrow, fast, and designed to direct air below decks. Shack­ling irons, nets, and ropes were standard equipment.

The competition at slave markets on the African coast grew so exceptionally that historians estimate that as many as 60 million human souls were captured and taken from the continent of Africa to be sold into bondage. It is estimated that as many as one-third of that number did not survive the “Middle Passage” to reach the shores of a place like Jamestown.

Did you know the first registered slave ship was named “The Good Ship Jesus,” and in the name of God the greatest crime the world has known began in this place called Jamestown? The devastating effects of bondage would have an effect on the race of people for centuries.

I will continue to pray that we will be able, one day, to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
 

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IMAGINE

QU601ImagineJohnLennonI can recall a song written by John Lennon, who in my opinion had a depth that few men dared to explore. He caused me to “Imagine”. When you do open your mind you can realize possibilities. A wise man once told me that faith is believing what is unseen to be true. I have always imagined that people could live in peace and the world could live as one. No pain, no sorry, no racism, and above all “study war no more”.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

And that’s my message and Thought Provoking Perspective…

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JUST US!

jail

My message for today comes from a powerful video that you should be sure to WATCH. Every single thing the speaker is saying can be proven without a shadow of a doubt. Just look at the power of the prison lobby and the massive increase in prison population since the 1980’s.

America has MORE prisoners in jail than China or any other country on the planet. How is it possible that we have a higher prison population than China who is extremely oppressive and has four times our total population? The overwhelming proportion of the population are people of color. How can this be when we represent such a small portion of the overall population?

I’m sharing this message with hopes that it is food for thought. Stop dancing to the tomb!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Resurrection

African American remains a nation of people living in a notion without a nationality. Some will say, America has a black president – how could that be? Well, this speaks to the institutions within the context of society that dictates the continuation of the system that exists within the country. It is because of this system, which has been in existence from the founding of America that has caused the demise of people of color.

Let me speak to the concept of leadership according to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who wrote the powerful novel “The Mis-Education of the Negro” in 1933, or there about, challenged his readers to become empowered by doing for themselves.

He said: “Regardless of what we are taught history shows that it does not matter who is in power… those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they did in the beginning.” This speaks volumes.

I believe, if you can control a man is thinking you never have to worry about what he thinks. I will speak for me, no matter how messed up the world is and the minds of man; I am glad God made me! We must take responsibility for ourselves because life demands the survival of the fittest, just like in all other parts of the animal kingdom. As a people, African Americans have waited far too long and become much too dependent on those who are in charge of the system.

Therefore, I say it is time to remove the shackles of bondage that mentally remain in many communities and in the minds of man. Malcolm X once said, “We spend too much time singing and not enough time swinging”. Let me be clear, I did not repeat this statement to advocate violence. Rather to suggest that we have spent centuries believing, following, and listening to the messages communicated to us by those who control our destiny – making us believe that there is a better place for us when we are dead. I say we have a right to live NOW!

I want to propose an idea that could be the answer to our salvation. There is about 38 – 40 million African Americans living in America. If each person contributed one dollar per week; it would add up to forty million dollars. Multiply that time’s fifty-two weeks; that’s over two-trillion dollars annually. We have people who run some of the world’s largest corporations who could manage that money – invest it and make more money and as such many of the problems we face would go away.

Overtime we’ve won many civil rights battles, which should never have had to be fought as human beings. Yet, we still don’t have the necessities we need to survive. So I say, as tenacious beings, it is time for survival and the time is now – if for no other reason than for our children. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Have you worn your hoodie lately?

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Legacy – A New Season 

AMAZON

Just a Season


A Must Read Novel 

Just a Season

Just a Season is a luminous story into the life of a man who, in the midst of pain and loss, journeys back in time to reexamine all the important people, circumstances, and intellectual fervor that contributed to the richness of his life. It is a must read novel that will cause you to see the world through new eyes.

This fictional narrative begins with a grief-stricken father visiting the grave-site if his beloved son who was killed in a tragic accident; a moment that he and no other loving parent should ever have to face. As he sadly gazes at his son’s headstone and reads what is inscribed there, the dates 1981 – 2001 brings about an illuminating discovery.

The tiny dash that separates the years of one’s birth and death represents the whole of a person’s life. So if this tiny dash were to tell his life’s story, what would it say? In Just a Season, the dash of this man’s life is revealed and what emerges from the pages of this book is a legacy of true benevolence and grace. This is not a story you will read, it is a story that you will live as you travel in time through one man’s extraordinary eyes as he vibrantly relives his family legacy. It’s the journey of a lifetime.

AMAZON

Purchase the novel today!!! 

 

Praise for Just a Season

Just a Season is a thought provoking novel by author, John T. Wills. …focusing on various topics such as pain, suffering, love and life. The characters and the plot are captured very well. It is very well written from beginning to end. This is one of those books, where you cannot judge the book based on its title and cover.” Congratulations well done! Afrika Asha Abney

Thank you for your example of tenderness and discipline in what I know is a story of love, delicately shared with readers in a way that says, this life, though brief, is significant. So hold it in highest regard for “the dash” is our legacy to love ones, indeed to the world, which we are blessed to share, albeit, for Just a Season.” Excellent! Sistah Joy, Poet, Cable TV Host

“Author John T. Wills has a remarkable gift for writing, a unique talent for story creation. In his book, “Just a Season”, John carries us wonderfully through the life of a boy who becomes a man with the special guidance of a loving and wise grandfather. His writing grasps us emotionally in the first few pages, and keeps us there as he reflects on and reveals this close, heartwarming relationship between grandson and grandfather. The story takes us into the “growing pains” of a boy-child, the diverse and difficult heartbreaking moments this main character experiences, as well as the many humorous antics of a boy seemingly born to be wild.

However, always hearing his grandfather’s voice pressing into his conscience, whether near or far, he learns valuable, stem and stabilizing lessons that remain with him throughout his life. I see a special “wit”, along with an insightful style as he tells the story in real-time, artfully integrated with history’s most monumental events. You feel as if you somehow become an invisible character in the unfolding of this epic narration. “Just a Season” is enjoyable to say the least, enriching and exciting at its best, and definitely a must-read. Silver Rae Fox, Actress, Model, Radio Personality

“This is the stuff movies are made of… not since “Roots” have I read a story that so succinctly chronicles an African American story! Amazing! Cheryl, Avid Reader

“Wills pulls you in from the very first page… Just a Season is a heart-wrenching story about growing up and believing in yourself. I highly recommend this book to young men in high school, trying to find themselves and feeling like they have nowhere to turn.” Cheryl Hayes, APOOO Book Club

“Not since The Color Purple have I read a book that evoked such emotions. John T. Wills possesses the ability to transport the reader directly into the life and struggles of his main characters story. I was educated in a way that did not afford me the benefit of truly understanding the significance of the historical events taught from a stand alone perspective. This book actually touched my heart and inspired me to increase the equity in my “dash”! Excellent! Tonja Covington

“John T. Wills captures male bonding between generations and lets the reader passively watch as family love and closeness unfold on the pages . . .” Outstanding — A great read! Cheryl Robinson, Host and Executive Producer of Just About Books Talk Show

“JUST A SEASON is laced with thought-provoking commentary on the Vietnam War, the assassinations of the 1960s, the migration of crack cocaine into inner-city neighborhoods, and a myriad of other ills that have rocked America. This is a very good piece intertwined with several history lessons spanning many decades.” Dawn Reeves, RAWSISTAZ Book Club

“John T. Wills particulars each notion so eloquently that you feel that you’re actually right there with him… this is an inflicting history lesson that I believe all African American males should experience.” JUST A SEASON is a pivotal read.” Carmen, OOSA ONLINE BOOK CLUB

“From the first page you are transported into John’s world as if you are there and are experiencing it with him. I am amazed at how John is able to use the events of the time to let you know where you are in time. I felt as if I was teleported… his ability to describe what was going on during that time makes me extremely proud of my heritage. You will come away with a feeling of, now I know why that is. I thoroughly enjoyed “Just a Season”. Mia L. Haynes

“Just a Season is a work of love, respect and honor… A book filled with the wonder of life, and the pain and growth encountered in living it.” Outstanding! Ron Watson, Editor, New Book Reviews.Org

“in the final analysis the tiny little dash represents the whole of a person’s life . If someone, for whatever reason, were to tell the story concealed within my dash. What might they say? A thought provoking and powerful read that will forever resonate within my soul. Speechless! Carron

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Legacy – A New Season 

AMAZON

Just a Season


Our Continued Existence

11

I have written thousands of articles and a few books with the intent to empower minds with the hope of enlightening the consciousness of mankind. For those who follow my words you know I firmly believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. It is the opposition to the system of survival that has been intent on making sure education is limited and poverty in considerable.

 It was the Englishman Francis Beacon, who is credited with being the first to record the phase “knowledge is power”. I am probably not as intelligent as he but I say “knowing what to do with that knowledge is where the power of your strength rest”.

I recently had what you might call an epiphany. I was being interviewed on a radio show for a segment called “For Women Only”. As the conversation progressed, we talked about Big Mamma, the community, the children, and African American issues. For clarity, most refer to their community as a “Hood”. What is a hood? A hood is something you “hide”. So, if “it takes a village”, we must empower the community, that have become non-existent or at least hidden, to rise from its designed despair.

After making that remark the host asked, “what happened to us and John, what can we do to make it right”. If I recall I responded with an answer, something like, it was televisions fault. While in my mind I was feeling the power of the question, which really gave me a chill thinking about the question. “What Happened?”

I will start with the first question, which is sure to be a Cosby moment for many. What happened was us? After the scam called integration, we began to believe we were accepted as equal citizens of these United States. For many African Americans, we forgot about one another partaking in the false reality of assimilation and followed white flight running from our communities. We allowed anyone to come into our community, setup shops, we stopped supporting our own businesses, and let our dollars, some say is nearly a trillion annually, go elsewhere. But the biggest problem was we STOPPED PARENTING!

The institutional aspects are systemic. The unemployment rate is double for blacks than for whites, we’ve lost more homes to foreclosure than whites and we’ve lost more wealth than whites”. To any reasonable person this is not equal! If we had listen to the great minds like Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Dubois told us how to build our community. Marcus Garvey told us how to be self-sufficient and to take care of our own needs. Elijah Muhammad taught us how to carry ourselves with dignity and respect. Dr. King gave us faith and Brother Malcolm told us to do it by “Any Means Necessary!

With that said, I have been troubled, as I am sure many of you as well and struggled with the second question, which was what do we do. We are the most religious people on earth; we marched, prayed, and wait for Jesus to come to our rescue.  I hope you feel my passion here, as tears flow, and it hurts to say this but the problem rests with the person you look at each day in the mirror.

People we are still in slavery, mentally, slaves to our debt, and in slaved within the jails and prisons systems. Now, Ray Charles can see – through death and imprisonment we are becoming extinct! Add to that black women have forgotten and in many cases have no desire for black men as the image of her man has been destroyed. The reality is this: if there are no black men to procreate – we all die!

Maybe the answer to the second question is to be the people we were created to be and when you look in the mirror each day; ask yourself what have you done to benefit someone or the world. You have a choice to live or die, yet more important to continue the species. If not now “when”? If not “YOU”, then who! Well I’ll tell you – “us”! Why, because we are the keepers of the faith.

Therefore, we can change the world but first we must change ourselves! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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