Tag Archives: land of oz

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!!!


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…


Young Gun Down

11The most amazing thing happened Tuesday night that marked the first time since 1899 that the House majority leader was defeated in a primary election; and badly I might add. The prevailing wisdom, at least according to the winner, Cantor was too liberal. Fact of the matter, Cantor should be ashamed of his twelve year tenure because he did nothing and was part of the worst congress in the country’s history, commonly known as “the Do Nothing Congress”.

You proclaimed himself one of the “Young Guns” of the Republican Party, which is nothing more than a code-word for the “New Jim Crow”. This guy was in line to be the next Speaker of the House when John Boehner decided he was tired of herding the opposition. The majority leader was the number two man in congress and the third most powerful republican in Washington. He was also an Arden voice against the president, yet he called himself a patriot.

His loss was devastating and a humiliating defeat. It was sweet vindication that the Republican strategy of stoking up faux-populism of just saying no and never proposing a solution to any problem has blown up spectacularly. Because in their gorgeously gerrymandered districts, their own voters felt things like shouting down the government didn’t go far enough. They said; government is the problem to which I would agree because it was Cantor and folks like that is the problem.

Moving on; the problem as I see it, if Cantor was too liberal – what do you think the guy who beat him to take his place will be like. The endpoint of this insane ideology is the election of a Tea Partiers that if like the rest are not interested in governing at all. Rather dismantling government. It is the mission of the institutional Republicans to gamble that obstructionism alone would give them power are seeing their fortunes turn, and their majority become meaningless.

They simple don’t want any government action on any issue. They want the current trend to continue to allow states rights to be the objective where individual municipalities push forward minimum wage laws because the federal government is paralyzed. Meanwhile, the gap between the rich and the poor widens every day, and Republicans have convinced many rural Americans that the problem is the tax rate on the wealthy. He also voted all of the fifty plus times to take healthcare away from American citizens.

We should be very skepticism of anything changing for the better. Cantor’s replacement will bring more of the same – nothing. But if college professor Dave Brat’s upset victory over the House majority leader indeed spells doom will certainly bring more of the same.

Here’s the irony. Cantor’s defeat had nothing to do with immigration, amnesty, or the border. It had everything to do with arrogance and the fact that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely – they realized like his cohorts simply did nothing, but leverage their positions to benefit themselves.

In an even more satisfying irony because Cantor was one of the greatest proponent of not cooperating with the administration on every piece of legislation proposed by the president. He, along with his compatriot Paul Ryan, instead has championed “broadening the tax base,” otherwise known as taxing the poor.

So overnight, he became a political dead man walking within hours of his defeat and resigned from his leadership position. So forgive me for having little joy in my heart, even if it means we get another Tea Partier in the House. For a bit, it feels as though there is some sense of justice for the left. No matter how much power you accumulate, your own monstrous sentiments can come back to bite you. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


You Must VOTE!!!

2Elections are being held all over the nation this year. Most of these elections are on state and local level with issues that have national implications. The issues before voters encompass a wide range of concerns including union rights, voting rights, and women’s rights. Let us not be fooled by the right-wing because nothing about their views encompass the reality we face.

There are and will be issues placed before voters this fall and coming in 2016 that are serious and must not be taken lightly. Consider this, weren’t the rights of workers to organize collectively and negotiate for fair wages and safe working conditions determined long ago? If you like a 40 hour work week, overtime pay, weekends off, sick leave and paid vacations, you have no one to thank, but union organizers who brought workers together to demand these benefits.

The issue of raising the minimum wage for millions of workers and their families must be addressed in this age when “oligarchy” rules. Of course, there are other important issues. But just think about all of the people who sacrificed so much, like those who sacrificed their very lives to ensure that all citizens could exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.

Then there are the women’s issues; isn’t it settled law that women – as full citizens of this great nation – have the right to be secure in their own person – without Republican intrusion into the difficult and personal choices they make in respect to their own bodies?

One of the greatest difficulties we face by living in this democracy, if you believe that’s what this is, we must contend with the assaults from institutional racism. The highest court in the land is against the people; the House of Representatives is not a functional body, the police are combat soldiers, and you know what – it begs the question; who do they serve. Once we were slave, but today we are all slaves on the plantation. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

http://johntwills.com

#jtwills

 THIS VIDEO SAYS IT ALL


Mr. David Ruffin

ruffin

I’ve been blessed to have lived during a time when the music of our culture reached center stage and changed the world. I have heard the voices of many great singers, but none has ever been greater the David Eli Ruffin. I know the Temptation story and not just from the movie.

To tell you the truth I’ve blessed to have had my life enhanced by their music sung by Mr. Ruffin. I have also been blessed to have met several of the group’s members over the years, and one of its lead singers was a good friend, whom I admired and miss dearly. I hear his voice almost daily in song. I wish that friend was Mr. Ruffin, but I am too young to have had that good fortune.

I simply want to pay homage to this man whose music was a huge influence upon my life, particularly my young life, to which I am grateful. I once watched a documentary where his son was interviewed and something he said struck in a profound way. He said, “My daddy wanted love, but he got fame”. We know from the many talented artists who have left us of late that there is a line between triumph and tragedy. That line is often thin and frequently ends sadly.

David Ruffin walked that line with tragic consequences. Ruffin will always be remembered as the mightiest of all the Temptations lead singers. He was one of “the voices” that made the Temptations a legacy and will live on in the depths of our souls. We will always remember that sexy, gritty voice, those trademark glasses, and that stage charisma that sums up the one and only David Ruffin, and even that little crack in his voice was ok, well it wasn’t ok, but that was David Ruffin.

His songs were like windows into his soul, exposing his greatest fears as a lover and a man. Even “happy” songs like “My Girl” brought out vulnerability in his voice. His relationship with the Temptations was a stormy one, but the marriage produced defining moments in 1960’s soul music explosion. His voice inspired just about every singer who sung to include the likes of Rod Stewart, George Michael, Daryl Hall, and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few – his influence is everlasting. We’ll never know how good he might have been, but we can rejoice in what he left behind.

Born Davis Eli Ruffin, on January 18, 1941 in Whynot, Mississippi. A sickly child, inflicted with both rheumatic fever and asthma. His mother died in childbirth, and he was raised by his father, a Baptist Minister. He was a complex man and master vocalist with a gospel trained voice that would gain him the affection of several generations of listeners, but Ruffin had more than a voice – he had a persona.

In the best of his music, there was a dark, terrible, tragic, and a personal beauty. A good example would be in his self-penned composition “Statue of a Fool”, written when he was just 18 years old, in which he sees himself as a “man who lets love slip through his hands.”

My favorite line in that tune was “On his face, a gold tear should be placed to honor every tear he shed. And I think it would show, and everyone would know, concealed inside is a broken heart.” This was a powerful statement that spoke to the depth of his soul. However, as history would record he would share his most private pain in the Temptations’ biggest hits. Songs like “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and “Since I Lost My Baby”, and the chilling “I Wish It Would Rain.

All of these songs were rooted in gospel where David first began singing in The Ruffin Family and The Spiritual Trying Four with his father, his sister Rita Mae, older brothers Jimmy and Quincy. David left home at 13 following his father’s footsteps to practice the ministry, but was sidetracked, singing in Memphis talent shows where he met a young Elvis Presley. He later sang with the gospel group The Dixie Nightingales out of Memphis, Tennessee, and toured with likes of The Womack Brothers, The Swan Silvertones, The Staple Singers, and the Dixie Hummingbirds.

It was with these gospel groups that Ruffin would develop his stage personality, dropping to his knees and doing splits, just like the late Jackie Wilson before him, and David’s show stopping performances within the group would be enough to get him noticed on the secular side.

Then in 1964, when problems arose between the Temptations and group member Elbridge Bryant, David would be invited to join the group. Shortly after David’s arrival, the group would record “The Way You Do The Things You Do”, a Smokey Robinson number with Eddie Kendricks on lead. Gone for a three-week gig in Saginaw, Michigan, the group would return home to find themselves with their first hit. It is said that when David saw the chart standings, he sat down on the long chaise lounge in the Motown lobby, took off his glasses, and cried like a baby.

Ruffin would turn out be an electrifying and dynamic force, when soon after he would bring them their first universal #1 hit, “My Girl”, recorded just before Christmas in 1964, a tune that would turn the group into a household word and legends. The group began turning out one hit after another, and when David took such up-tempo hits as “(I know), I’m Losing You”, to the stage, he became a magnetic field of charisma. His greatness would then shine, and his permanent mark on the pages of history was sealed.

It is reported that Pop Star Michael Jackson paid for his funeral, and numerous celebrities were in attendance at his home going service, including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, members of the Temptations, the Four Tops, and the Miracles. At the service, Stevie Wonder told the audience: “We’re confronted with a problem that touches every one of us. We’re confronted with the most devastating slave owner of all times.” Minister Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, who spoke told the mournful audience, “In David there is a lesson. We should not clap our hands and mourn, for he is out of trouble now. You are still in it.”

It is not my intent to rewrite history or to re-tell a story that we all know. Rather to simply say, thank you Mr. Ruffin and to say you are gone – but not forgotten? And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

 DAVID RUFFIN GETS PERSONAL


                                           

“Just a Season”

http://johntwills.com


Phoenix Rises

 
2Deep breath.
You cannot cry,
Cannot scream,
Cannot break,
 
Deep breath
Think of a calming rhythm that rivals the
dangerous hum of impending disappointment.
Think of a “happy place.”
            Such a joke
            Such a lie
 
How is any place happy?
When frustration
When sheer anger festers within one’s own self?
Breeding a new being unrecognizable to the kind soul that once cradled an equally as kind person
Doesn’t that make the idea of a happy place void?
Impossible to attain?
A wish on a star that you know you will never reach.
 
But if you could,
if you could have the experience of the bliss of flying,
would you ever make it to that star?
If you could feel the wind race past your ears,
and experience the weightlessness of Space,
would you not perish from the lack of oxygen,
perish from the reality of a lack of necessity.
 
Deep breath
It is simple.
You cannot survive on hopes alone.
They do not feed you.
They are not the necessity, right?
And yet you fantasize about making the impossible possible.
 
For no good reason.
Nothing outside of.
I know it can be done….
So on the off chance that you can make it,
That you manage to reach and to touch that ever bright star…
will you sear your outstretched fingers upon contact?
Admit defeat as you blister and bubble under the white hot failure?
 
Deep breath.
Such is the nature of hope,
            Of wishes,
            Of dreams.
 
You can work to succeed,
Succeed to achieve,
Come within your bated breath of accomplishment-
And it could all be for naught.
That’s what happens when you get too close.
When you dare to cross the lines Fate has set as boundary for you.
 
It can all burn,
Returning back to the ashes of the previous failure upon which it was born.
All the hard work thrown directly into what seems to be
the merciless, incendiary clutches of Hell itself.
You’re left without options and decide to try to regain self.
These are dark, bottomless thoughts and you cannot fall.
Calm yourself.
 
Deep breath
You are the foundation for others with seemingly silly dreams
            With endless hopes
            With starry-eyed wishes
And you are not yet heartless enough to tell them that
It is never what it seems.
That it may all have started as and may become again-
nothing.
 
Deep breath
You cannot be seen crying
You cannot crack before Them.
Try once more.
Wake to your new dawn
Just as the Darkness again loses its eternal battle with the Sun,
Dust off  your own dreams
            Hopes
            Wishes.
Renew them upon this bright nothing.
A new start at something old.
A fresh take on something worn,
And continue to inspire.
 
Breathe deeply
You need not cry.
You need not scream.
And his is no time to break.
Think of your calming rhythm.
The day is yours.
 
This daily phoenix rise to your sense of purpose,
Is your “happy place”. Make a home here.
Where your People can take their own calming breaths,
And thrive.
2

By Kathryn Sabir-Beach


The Father Of Black History

2Carter G. Woodson was the most thought provoking African America of the last century. He is credited with the father of Black History and the founder of the Journal of Negro History. I honor him because he had the foresight of thought or maybe a vision to create what we now know as Black History Month. I think I speak for all African America’s when I say we are grateful that he had the vision to bringing our community information about our people through what was then called Negro History Week. It evolved during the 1970s to what we now know as Black History Month.

His-Story will prove true that until 1918 there was virtually no information about black people recorded because white America claimed Negro’s had no history. Thanks to Dr. Woodson, he proved that was a lie and changed that impression and showed us that we had a mighty past. Of course there are those who will disagree but His-Story is clear that “Colored’s” given a birth certificate until about 1900. Before then it was recorded via a “Bill of Sale”.

Aside from the concept of introducing Black History to us Dr. Woodson’s most enduring legacy was the novel “The Mis-Education of the Negro” originally published in 1933. When I read it many years ago, it was an amazing experience because I realized that the message remains relevant today. I feel this book should be mandatory reading for all African America’s – young and old.

I am still struck by the fact that we have not understood the powerful message contained within its pages. The thesis of Dr. Woodson’s book is that Negro’s of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools or not taking advantage of education period. This conditioning, he claims, causes African Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. This assertion is clearly evident nearly eighty-years later.

He challenged his readers to become empowered by doing for themselves, regardless of what they were 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.”

Today with all the advantages concerning educational opportunities, business exposure, and social networking we are in the best position to succeed than at any time in our history. So the question is “why are we not networking and doing business with each other?” Every other ethnic community takes advantage these options to strengthen and empower themselves – while robbing our communities in the process. We will let anybody setup shop in our communities and take our money.

My point is: We must learn to do business with each other in order to gain wealth by keeping the money in our community. Some say we spend TRILLION’S annually and nearly all of it leaves our community within 15 minutes. Let me remind you that the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. We can change the world but first we must change ourselves.

Here is a quote from the “The Mis-Education of the Negro”:

2“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

That schools have set aside a time each year to focus on African-American history is Woodson’s most visible legacy. His determination to further the recognition of the Negro in America and world history has inspired countless scholars. Woodson remained focused on his work throughout his life. Many see him as a man of vision and understanding. Although Woodson was among the ranks of the educated few, he did not feel particularly sentimental about elite educational institutions.

Woodson’s other far-reaching activities included the founding in 1920 of the Associated Publishers, the oldest African-American publishing company in the United States. This enabled publication of books concerning blacks that might not have been supported in the rest of the market. He created the Negro History Bulletin, developed for teachers in elementary and high school grades, and published continuously since 1937. Woodson also influenced the Association’s direction and subsidizing of research in African American history. He wrote numerous articles, monographs and books on Blacks. The Negro in Our History reached its eleventh edition in 1966, when it had sold more than 90,000 copies.

His friend, Dorothy Posrter Wesley, stated that “Woodson would wrap up his publications, take them to the post office and have dinner at the YMCA.” He would teasingly decline her dinner invitations saying, “No, you are trying to marry me off. I am married to my work”. Woodson’s most cherished ambition, a six-volume Encyclopedia Africana, lay incomplete at his death on April 3, 1950 at the age of 74.

To the many who read my blog know “I believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair”. So I say it’s time to know where you came from to know where you’re going, if we are ever going to ever get there. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

MEDIA KIT


%d bloggers like this: