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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


Never Forget: Strange Fruit

Every day, it seems, there is news of another unarmed black man gunned down simply by the police. These actions are eerily similar to the lynching’s that took place in the early half of the 20th century for pretty much the same reason as those murdered by white police in our society today. Let us remember the fallen and never forget!

The reason could be as simple as the concept of “Manifest Destiny”, which speaks to white  privilege. White America has never accepted African American’s as anything more than illegal aliens, in spite of the fact they captured the race against their will and brought to American in chains. I have repeatedly said, “We are a nation of people living in a nation without a nationality” basically because the Constitutions tells us so. You do remember the 3/5th human phrase.

In the wake of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager who was shot and killed by Zimmerman in 2012, Jordan Davis, who was also unarmed, and all of the daily killings at the hands of the police in the most recent terror upon black men killed because white men claimed they feared for their lives. Eric Gardner who was choked to death. Michael Brown, John Crawford and worst of all the kid murder while playing in the park. All lynched but just by gun!

Let’s also include the murders and shootings by the police, sanctioned by law, against African American’s such as Oscar Grant and countless others. Then there are people like Garrick Hopkins, 60, and his brother, Carl Hopkins Jr., 61, two brothers from West Virginia, who were shot and killed by a white man for what he claimed as trespassing on his land – when, in fact, they were inspecting a shed on their own property.

The attached  video is straightforward yet nuanced. The song “Strange Fruit” tells a story that must be told to our youth. We must never forget because when you forget history it is destined to repeat itself. We know the importance of Billie Holiday’s recording. But this indispensable video vivid imagery the history of the struggle against lynching, something that was very real, and for Black rights with a wealth of common history of African Americans, Jewish Americans, and the American Left. It is part of our history, part of our heritage. Teach your children and learn this chapter in our past.

The song “Strange Fruit” creates immediate controversy. Call it a grim reminder of an unnecessarily painful and ugly chapter in American history. The song retains its force, because the issues it raises about the legacy of racial terrorism in American society still resonate. The story tells a song that compelled its listeners to confront the past, which was genuinely disturbing then, and it is no less disturbing today.

While many people assume Strange Fruit was written by Billie Holiday herself, it actually began as a poem by a Jewish schoolteacher and union activist from the Bronx, who later set it to music. Disturbed by a photograph of a lynching, the teacher wrote the stark verse and brooding melody about the horror of lynching under the pseudonym Lewis Allan in 1938. It was first performed at a New York teacher’s union rally and was brought to the attention of the manager of Cafe Society, a popular Greenwich Village nightclub, who introduced Billy Holiday to the writer.

LISTEN TO THE WORDS AND NEVER FORGET THE TERROR!!!

“Southern trees bear a strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black body swinging in the Southern breeze, strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. Pastoral scene of the gallant South, The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh, And the sudden smell of burning flesh! Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck, for the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, for the sun to rot, for a tree to drop, here is a strange and bitter crop.”

Let’s look at the murder of young black men and boys murdered today as a modern day version of lynchings. The murders an evolution of destruction and black people are nothing more than pray! They tell us not to forget 911 and the Holocaust – know this, we will never forget what you did to black people! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Please Listen: Enough Is Enough

This is a power commentary. Thank you Melissa.


Peace, Love, and Soul

2I wonder how many people realize how much Soul Train meant to our community and what it did for the African American pride. Let’s remember the show appeared less than a decade after society barred “collared music” from being heard on must media through a segregated program called “Race Music”.

So much of what is written on the pages of time is skewed or simply altered to fit His-Story. I have said many times “our story is the greatest story ever told”. We, as a people, have had the fortitude to make something out of nothing. Yes, and I know that is an understatement – but it is true. Through this writing, I want to pay homage to Don Cornelius who made something possible at a time when it was impossible.

I left for Vietnam in 1969. At that time, representation on television as it related to African American’s was basically nonexistent. Of course, there was the baboonery and unrealistic representations of who they wanted us to be or appear to the world. When I returned, a year and a half later, changed as a young man as well as the world I left behind. Thanks in large part to Mr. Soul Train. From the time of my return until the show ended, I devoted nearly every Saturday afternoon to viewing “Soul Train”.

The host of this groundbreaking show was a tall always stylishly dress host in the latest fashion; at least for the time. That man was Don Cornelius an enigmatic mélange of ambition, vision and begrudging affection, who like most old school show biz impresarios. African American’s knew that his rival American Bandstand did very little for the artist or our community at that time. Mr. Cornelius had the vision to create the hippest trip on television and dare I say in America.

Sadly the Soul Train creator ended his own life on February 1, 2012 with a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head that I would reverberated around the world. Mr. Soul Train was not just a great American story of triumph over travail; he was a hallowed symbol to the African American community.

He used his platform to change the world through its outstanding reflections of our pride and talent. The news of his suicide on the first day of Black History Month was a jarring way to enter a month-long celebration of the contributions of African Americas to the vitality and veracity of this nation and the world.

His mission was to shine a light, a bright light, on the African American culture through great music and to showcase the performers who in many cases had no other national platform. This included the known, unknown, and obscure literally making stars of them overnight. Soul Train was the powerful vehicle, and it became the longest running syndicated show on television, a black history fact to remember.

Watching Soul Train made you instantly cool, no matter if you were black, white or otherwise. Where else could you learn the latest dances, hippest fashions, and the next best way to rock that Afro and what products you had to have to keep it looking good? The legendary Soul Train Line was essential viewing. Can you remember those parties you attend on Saturday night’s after watching the show where you used the moves to do your own Soul Train line? It could be said that it raised your “Cool IQ”. Soul Train was a window into a world rarely seen by the world.

Mr. Cornelius stepped down as the host of Soul Train in 1993, but the show continued with a series of new hosts who continued his vision, inculcating a new generation of Soul Train devotees. Soul Train remained the hippest trip in American until it went off the air in 2006.

When Mr. Cornelius signed off on February 1, 2012, it was a tragic end to a long running iconic figure in American music. His contributions will never be forgotten or matched and his legacy will last – I wish him love, peace and soul. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Take Care Of Home

22Every now and then, I have something to say about politics. This political opinion is about something that caused me to want rant a little. Let me say from “jump” that I don’t know much about everything, maybe a little about some things, or not much about a lot of things, but I think I do have some common sense.

African American’s have experienced suffering and the most extreme torment of any people in this country’s sorted history. Even our president has been maligned, compared to Hitler, and recently called a “sub-human Mongrel”, which tell you that, as the Constitution says, Negro’s continue to be viewed as 3/5th human or less than.

Aside from the so-called patriot’s vitriol directed at our president, over the past week or so, we have been told that America is in ‘Crisis”. Yes, and America’s approach to solving it is to send a billion dollars to help the people in Kiev, Ukraine to save the people of that nation. I am no longer dismayed when America can find any amount of money in an instant to send anywhere on earth but not places like Detroit, the Bronx, South Central, Houston, Chicago, or any other place minorities reside often called a “hood”. Maybe it’s because a hood, as the word indicate, is a place that is hidden view.

It’s sorta like that word “Recession” in the sense that as long as I can remember black people were in such a depleted state of economics. Then someone gave it a gentler sounding name when people other than us endure our kind of economic hardships. With that being said, the Republicans, in particular, want to take away all of the safety net programs designed to help the American people. Yet, there is a billion dollars laying around just waiting to help someone somewhere, but it’s just not us!

This speaks to how hypocritical the position America has taken. Frankly, it’s an Oxymoron. Kerry said the Russians are crossing the borders of a sovereign nation to invade this country. He went to say his mission was to protect the ethnic minorities of that country. What would they call African Americans and the poor who live in America?

“LAW AND ORDER THEME”!

Does anybody remember what the Bush Administration did a decade ago in the Middle East? What America did there was based on a lie, cost more than a trillion dollars, thousands of lives, and we are still in those countries. Isn’t that like invading a another country. Actually, two countries! So it begs the question, why is the government involved in this situation? The next question, why are the Neo-Con’s beating the drum for another war?

A Senator said of this crisis that America is no longer feared as the most powerful military in the world. If it was so feared, it seems to me that China and Russia never thought so. If what the senator said was true about America being so feared; please tell me who the military has defeated? Let’s see, hmmm, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea; need I continue!

Let’s be clear, it has nothing to do with physical fear but everything to do with the “who, what, when, where, and how much” can be gained by a select few.  The last thing I want to say, people talk about revolution. Remember that the revolution must first take place in the mind not in the man.

This is a call to consciousnesses! Right now might be a good time to stand up and say to the elected officials that they MUST take care of home! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Beaten for Being Black: A Reward For His Service

Keith pic 2Ladies and Gentlemen, there are times when one of my friends makes me aware of a cause or injustice they’d like to share on Thought Provoking Perspective. This case/situation/event happens all too often to people of color but when it happens to a service man in the military for no apparent reason and by law enforcement it should make us just as concerned as the deaths of Martin and Davis, because it can happen to you too.

Beaten for Being Black: A Reward For Service To His Country
As Reported by Nicole Fa’Lon Garrett

“Serve and protect” seems to have become the new “Catch a Nigger, Lynch a Nigger” as was the case in the years we’d hope was long past. From coast to coast, in this “great land” it is ALWAYS open season on Black men. The days may be gone where whites castrated and hung Black men from trees. But whites will shoot an unarmed Black man and not even plant a gun on him. Whites will tie a Black man to the back of a truck and drag him for miles. Or they’ll just beat the Black man until he stops moving hoping that he never rises again.

Keith Wood is a 25 year old father of two who has dedicated his service to this country by joining the army in order to ensure that all of our God given liberties are preserved.

At approximately 2 am on February 23, 2014, Wood, along with 3 other friends, was walking to the parking structure after leaving a concert at Club Chaos in El Paso, Texas. A group of 12-15 El Paso police officers began following them and one of the officers noticed Wood’s Chicago hat and commented, “You’re from Chicago? I hear you Chicago boys think you’re tough.”

Wood respectfully informed the police officers that he was from Chicago, in Texas serving in the military, and was simply trying to go home to his family. Sensing that the officers were obviously out for blood, Wood dialed 911 for assistance. That was when he received the first blow to the back.

At this point, the officers began viciously kicking and beating him with their nightsticks. Wood loss consciousness three times while being repeatedly hit in the head, face, and back by punches and night sticks.

The officers snatched his earrings out of his ears, his chain off his neck, and dragged his Chicago hat through the dirt. Can you imaging being beaten by several officers with nightsticks? How many other young Black men have already suffered this fate?

Wood was not being disrespectful, loud and ignorant, or obnoxious. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t even facing the officers when they struck him. Wood was taken into custody for public intoxication although he was not drunk. He was released without any charges. But he was left to live with the scars of the injustices that Black men must endure in America. Viciously beaten for being born Black.

Keith pic 1Wood has bruises all over his face and body, has chronic headaches, and a contusion. He has been treated by the military doctors three times and has missed work due to the pain. But his biggest wound is to his spirit. Even as he serves his country to secure our liberties, white men in America still see him as just another nigger. Looks like we need to create a task force to protect the liberties of the Black man in America because their liberties are at the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

Wood has requested a copy of the police report, but has not received it yet, so he does not know the officers names who were involved in this brutal, unprovoked attack.  The officer who struck the first blow to the back was Badge Number xxxx. Another officer wore Badge Number xxxx.

Emmett Till was lynched almost 60 years ago in 1955. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. From the Jordan Davis’ to the Trayvon Martin’s, Black males in America are fair game for anyone who wants to “serve and protect” which is only the new version of “catch a nigger, lynch a nigger.”

How old will your son be before he gets his first blow with a night stick or pistol whipped with a gun? And will your Black male child live to tell about it?

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The information was provided by Nicole Fa’Lon Garrett, author of Double Dippin’, born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s in English from the University of Iowa and Chicago State University respectively. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California where she is a high school English teacher.


Look Into Your Heart

prayinghands2

I had a conversation with a friend over the weekend, where in its conclusion I asked her “to look into a mirror and ask yourself: “Who am I?” This is important because she had no clue as to what life is all about. I suggested that if she were honest she might see a person that is the representative of her life. Let me explain, she was telling me that she loves God, who she has never seen, yet she do not love the man before her who you she can see. All the while, like any good Christian, claims and said she loves God. So I ask how?

I began to think about some, we all have prejudices that you were either taught or came to know they exist within us base upon our experiences. White people in most cases are prejudice against blacks and everyone else. Blacks are prejudice against whites, and blacks. Moreover, every nation on the face of the earth had a prejudice against someone mainly because they are different in some form. I am going to suggest that religion may well cause some of this.

The Bible says, “There will be wars and rumors of wars”. This is very interesting because this speaks to the interest of those who have a vested interest in things they may not understand. I am going to be more specific and relate this to Pharaoh in the sense that he was the entity that was in control of man; then came Mosses with a mission to set his people free with the pledge of leading them to the Promised Land, by the way, has yet to be achieved.

If you think about this and understand that your enemies have invested in your soul, which is a tried and true principle of divide and conquer. I say this specifically to address the issues that exist between the African American male and female. God created us (man and woman) to join in a union to live and to create life in order to continue the species. Now, how is it that we have lost this simple understanding designed by our creator? The war against us is against all of us and the reality of life.

Our hope rests within us – not in what is inserted into us by the enemy. So black women, you’ve been had, hoodwinked, when you distance yourself for the black man. There is a biblical passage that says “you will reap what you sow”. You have a covenant with the black man by virtue of your birth – your children need him and so do you.

Black men, you too must be that man you were created to be. The children you create – need you and their mothers need you. Being black means nothing to anyone but us – I say it’s time to mean something to each other. I will not judge – just saying! While I will remind you that scripture says, “Judge not lest you be in danger of being judged”. The ghosts of the greats who sacrificed their lives for you are watching!

It is time for you/me/us to think differently and make a change – and the time is now! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective on this day of resurrection…

http://johntwills.com


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