Tag Archives: historical perspective

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


America’s Shocking and Ugly Truth

 A picture is worth a thousand words.

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Enough said, and that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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…


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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Please Mr. President

1549544_10201525536561628_1876359458_nI want to preface this writing by saying I have been one of the most-ardent supporters of the First Black President. I happen to believe that no event in history was more significant than the election of a black man to the office of “President of these United States.” Having said that, I, like many people of color are losing faith in you! You came to office telling us that we have entered an era of “post-racial” America and preached hope. But Mr. President, we see no hope and now feel more hopeless than on your first day as the most-powerful man in the world.

You held a news conference after the Trayvon Martin’s tragedy and told us you know what it’s like to be black; being followed around like a criminal in stores, and that before you got secret service protection women clinched their purses when you came near. We understood and know this to be true because it still happens to most black men, and you statement came from a man raised by a white family. You told us, vociferously, not to worry and that you were the president of all Americans. With all due respect, you do know we are also American people!

We see every other group, particularly those not brown and black, having benefited from your power. Not to mention, people around the world; why not us? As we have witnessed the horrifying atrocities of racism escalate and the blatant killings at the hands of authorities – black people have yet to see this power you hold. If I am wrong sir, I apologize! But African Americans are in the worst position, living or health wise, than any other cultural group in America.

The people in Iraq stuck on that mountain, or anyone anywhere in the world, get your help within hours. In Detroit, the government deprives its citizens of the second most-important commodity needed to live –“water.” You sent million of gallons to the mountain half-way around the world, while you sent no relief to Detroit. Every week, you witness, like the rest of us, murders by the police around the country of unarmed black men. Is this hope we can believe?

I am not expressing my grievance without a solution. With respect to the brutal police actions that are blatantly inflicted upon people living in black communities, and all too often, where people live who look like you. It is this simple: “Instead of sending billions of dollars to Iraq and other places, or sending tanks and armaments from the war to these police forces to occupy these communities. Use your power and that of the Justice Department to order that every police office wear a camera to record their activities and to have every police car equipped with a dashboard camera.”

On the issue of race, I can only recall you talking about it a few times and it saddens me to say, you have done nothing for us and that is troubling. The African American community is only asking that you pay attention to their needs, and these needs are worsening. Policing or the occupation of black communities, when you have the power to intervene is not the legacy of how you should be remembered.

We know the GOP, the right-wing, and for that matter many whites are against you, and they are against us too. But, we have never left you. Don’t leave us! I must respectively ask, is the genocide of the Iraqi people more serious than the genocide of your own black citizens? And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown


The Shooting Of Another Black Man: Presumed Justified

10514657_10202131902970802_7641807366571926388_nA St. Louis PD officer is the latest to shot an unarmed black teenager with what appears to be with no remorse. He is on administrative leave with pay and as it has been reported [CNN] that no city official, mayor or otherwise has visited the mother of this child. One officer was caught on video calling the angry protesters last night – “F-ing ANAMIALS”! As far back as I can remember these same types of atrocities have been inflicted upon black people and their community.

At some point, you would think the government would see there is a problem with the men in blue. The relationship between the police and the black community has always been hostile, no trust, and viewed as an occupying force. This just speaks to justice that in unfairly imposed by this hostile force. And this morning another mother, family, and community grieve.

During segregation, there was the “Ministers of Defense” created to protect black people from the Klan and racists. The unchallenged brutality from the Oakland police was the reason why the Black Panthers were formed to protect the community from the police. The result of these unchecked murders, beatings, and shootings result in riots. I hope you can remember the call of the sixties “Burn Baby Burn”!

Let me say, I am personally opposed to violence and rioting. I would prefer organizing but that is like “praying”; it feels good, but nothing results from it and black people have been praying since we were dragged on to the shores of this place the slaves called “merica.” Need I remind you that “those prayers have yet to be answered.” For four hundred years, people of African descent have been brutalized in unimaginable ways at the hands of those put in place to suppress the race. Make no mistake that is the job of the police, not much different than the slave catcher.

We have seen over and over the lack of value held by agencies from the FBI to the “community watch” folks. Just imagine what it was like before there was video. The brutality was standard operating procedure. Then came Rodney King and the world got a chance to see that it was, in fact real, and the complaints from the black community were too. What did they say to us; “you did not see what you thought you saw.” In every instance, the police use the same excuse; I was afraid for my life and the murder is found to be justified!

Some say; we should march. Marching is a strategy – not a solution! I say we have been marching since Dr. King lead us, and the problem has gotten worse. It seems that each week there is another murder of an unarmed person at the hands of the law. The life of a black person has so little value that the police simply “shot first” and their gang leaders will find away to find it “justified”. This is a crisis!

What troubles me is that as soon as something like this happens. The police grab some chicken pickin so-called lead to tamper down the unrest. This is a huge problem when they run to a house Negro to say “be peaceful and that the police are your friend”. No one in the black community believes that for one minute. They are there as an occupying force, unstable and dangerous. As evidence of the weekly deaths under cover of law that must be addressed; as we said in the late sixties – unrest will ensue!

It is not the role of the police to prosecute nor execute! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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