Tag Archives: people

The Peril’s Of Justice

We as African Americans understand, as Richard Pryor famously said, when it comes to justice what we find is JUST-US! This statement could not be more profound today as it relates to some of the news stories that involve African Americans, namely the recent murder of the young child Trayvon Martin.

Frankly, this case takes me back nearly sixty-years when another young black child was murdered where the culprits did not receive due justice. I wonder if the story would be different if the victim was white and the shooter was black. I think we know the answer to that!!!

But I read a piece today written by Mr. Jonathan Capehart and like him I had the same questions that he asked in this article. First, he asked, what was Zimmerman’s relationship with the Sanford, Fla., police department? Then he asked why was Zimmerman portrayed as a volunteer neighborhood watch captain when he was not part of a registered neighborhood watch program? Further he asked, did the Sanford Police Department ever warn him about his activities in this unofficial capacity?

When you consider that Zimmerman was known to have placed, as it was reported, 46 calls to that department between Jan. 1, 2011, and the Feb. 26 shooting; did the Sanford police have specific orders on how to deal with him? Did they have a file on him? Did they have him on any kind of special watch list?

To these questions, the Police Chief said, “we don’t have the grounds to arrest him.” Yet, Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense was sufficient justification to not arrest him. My next question was why did Chief Lee accept Zimmerman’s self-defense plea on its face? Did the police run a background check on Zimmerman? Did his previous arrest, for resisting arrest without violence, raise any red flags with police? Did Lee attempt to establish probable cause? How did he go about it? Was Zimmerman tested for drugs or alcohol? If not, why not? Was Zimmerman’s gun confiscated? Was it tested? Where is that gun now?

These are all valid questions that demand answers.

Now, here are a few questions that come to mind with respect to the crime scene. What did police do with Trayvon’s body at the scene? What did police do with Trayvon’s body once taken from the scene? Why was it tested for drugs and alcohol? What did police do with Trayvon’s personal effects? Where is his cell phone? Did police try to contact Trayvon’s 16-year-old girlfriend, who was talking to him during the initial moments of the confrontation with Zimmerman and who tried several times to call him back? Hmmmm!

So as you can see there are many more questions than answers and frankly a thorough investigation would have answered these questions. Thankfully, the Department of Justice has decided to review the case to ensure that some of these questions are answered – maybe. There is such a thing as right and wrong; some things are right and some things are wrong. When you look at the aforementioned questions in this case that are unanswered – it stinks of wrong. Oh, and for sure racism!!!

There are so many more questions than answers and I pray we get them answered, and justice is served. With that said, I would suggest that you compare this to little Emmitt Till and recall the Peril’s Of Justice.

And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!

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ROBBER BARON’S OF TODAY

There was a time at the end of Reconstruction and at the turn of the 20th century when a few men controlled all the wealth of America. Sounds like today right.

These guys robbed everyone because slavery had ended but it didn’t mean greed was removed from their hearts. You see, in a capitalistic society greed is a necessary component of the system. What most fail to realize is that “the system is designed to protect the system”, which means there MUST be a permanent underclass for it to work.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Little attention is being paid to the unraveling of a public policy in the United States for more than a century, which emerged in stages between the 1890s and 1930s. During this period they called it an institutional framework to balance the needs of the American people with the vast inequalities of wealth and power fashioned by the triumph of industrial capitalism. What I am talking about is the efforts to design policy for the benefit of the wealthy.

Their scheme then was originated in the widespread apprehension that the rapidly growing power of the railroads robber barons, national corporations (the Rockefellers) and banks (like J.P. Morgan’s) was undermining fundamental American values that threatened democracy. What the MIGHTY did was strangling the MEEK or crucified mankind upon a cross of gold much like Wall Street is doing today. A hundred years ago a commented a programmatic and radical group took a stance for labor. They were the American Federation of Labor and their convention delegates who in 1894 advocated nationalizing all major industries and financial corporations. If you missed that “they were called Unions”.

I am one who would argue that, like a century ago many, this form of capitalism needs to be replaced with some form of “cooperative commonwealth”, meaning that large corporate enterprises should be broken up or strictly regulated to ensure fair competition, limit the concentration of power and prevent these interests from overwhelming the public good. Now, before you go all Tea Party on me this is simply a “progressive” view of the system today.

I am well aware that such views, in most instances, will be vehemently and sometimes violently opposed by the more conservative political forces. And you know who they are! Therefore, we need to remember that it was political pressure from anti-capitalists, anti-monopolists, populists, progressives, working-class activists and socialists led, over time, who accomplished a lot for the working class people. Moreover, the state, meaning a government for the people should service and promote private enterprise. Thereby, fostering growth and this illusive ideal called the American Dream.

In exchange, the federal government should adopt a series of far-reaching reforms to shield and empower citizens from these powerful entities safeguarding society’s democratic character. Such as real regulations for business and banking to protect consumers, limit the power of individual corporations and prevent anti-competitive practices.

It was my understanding that these principles were the underlying measures and the reasons for the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890), the Pure Food and Drug Act (1906) and the Glass-Steagall Act (1933) — which insured bank deposits and separated investment from commercial banking — was that government was responsible for protecting society against the shortcomings of a market economy. As we can clearly see the profit motive cannot always be counted on to serve the public’s welfare.

I believe the government should guarantee workers’ the right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining. The core premise of the 1914 Clayton Act and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 was that individual workers lacked the power to protect their interests when dealing with large employers. For the most poorly paid, the federal government mandated a minimum wage and maximum hours.

With these guarantee’s every American citizen should be entitled to social insurance: Unemployment insurance (1935), Social Security (1935), and, later, Medicaid and Medicare (1965) were grounded in the recognition that citizens could not always be self-sufficient and that it was the role of government to aid those unable to fend for themselves. The unemployment-insurance program left unrestrained employers’ ability to lay off workers but recognized that those who were jobless through no fault of their own ought to receive public support.

These measures shaped the contours of U.S. political and economic life between 1940 and 2000: They amounted to a social contract that, however imperfect, it does preserve the dynamism of capitalism while guarding citizens against the power imbalances and uncertainties that a competitive economy produces. These gains in the area of humanity have been and are under attack by conservatives and the attacks have been escalating today. We need to take a stand because the rich and wealthy are not going to give you anything. All of these gains like Civil Rights were fought for and many died so we can have a reasonable work day or a vacation.

The conservatives decried regulation for business now, just as they did in 1880, as unwarranted interference in the workings of the market: Regulatory laws (including antitrust laws) are weakly enforced or vitiated through administrative rule-making; regulatory agencies are starved through budget cuts; Glass-Steagall was repealed, with consequences that are all too well known; and the financial institutions that spawned today’s economic crisis. This thinking creates the reckless behavior predicted by early-20th-century reformers and fight against further regulation tooth and nail.

Private-sector employers’ fierce attacks on unions since the 1970s contributed significantly to the sharp decline in the number of unionized workers, and many state governments are seeking to delegitimize and weaken public-sector unions. Meanwhile, the social safety net has frayed: Unemployment benefits are meager in many states and are not being extended to match the length of the downturn. When in fact the real value of the minimum wage is lower than it was in the 1970s.Today the Republicans are taking aim at Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and Obamacare.

To a person who knows history, the agenda of today’s conservative’s looks like a bizarre effort to return to the Gilded Age, an era with little regulation of business, no social insurance and no legal protections for workers. This draconian agenda calls for the destruction or weakening of institutions without acknowledging why they came into being.

In a democracy, of course, the ultimate check on such campaigns is the electoral system. Therefore, I say all we have is the vote – we must use it because the Titans of industry may wield far more power in the economic arena than average citizens, but if all votes count equally, the citizenry can protect themselves through the political arena. Just look at what Republicans across the nation are doing. They have sponsored ID requirements for voting that are far more likely to disenfranchise legitimate and unprivileged voters than they are to prevent fraud.

Last year, the Supreme Court, reversed a century of precedent, ruled that corporate funds can be used in support of political campaigns. Some Tea Partyers even want to do away with the direct election of senators, adopted in 1913. These ideas are rooted in the Gilded Age when Jim Crow was the law and society was unjust. It is time to stand up! Take a stand and fight for our rights! VOTE…

Parts of this blog were captured as a result of reading Alexander Keyssar the Stirling professor of history and social policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School. And this is my THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVE thanks to the professor.


What Happened to the BLACK FAMILY? You’re Thoughts…

I posted the first part of this commentary last week where I provided excerpts from several research papers submitted by a group of students I once taught. As powerful as the dozen points outlined where I believe the root cause or the real issue we face, as a community, was not fully addressed. Most of us know that many of these issues were handed down from America’s forefathers creating this mental conditioning and yes it is mental.

There have been many legal obstructive systems imputed upon African American life designed to destroy our culture and families. We know that and our ancestors overcame the horrors of slavery. So what is our excuse? I am going to cut right to the chase; we must take responsibility as Black men, step up and be the head of the family, which is a necessary component to the whole concept family. Moreover, ladies – he must be allowed to guide, direct, and lead. As simple as this sound, it is the single most contributor to our demise.

We can all agree that there is no one, 5, or 12 reasons for our plight. My point is this is more significant than all others and should be at the top of the list. The dynamics between black men and women, full of anger and resentment, continue to weaken our families. Of course, the centuries of mistreatment has had a lethal impact on the health of our people and it would take many books to list everything that we’ve survived. I don’t need to retell the story; we all know that since 1619 Black people have been in this land, now the USA, for centuries as indentured servants, slaves, property, 2nd class “citizens”, the list goes on.

Generational transference of tactics from slavery that indirectly taught our children to suppress or minimize personality traits not conducive to survival in a society aimed at their destruction. Traits like compromise, trust, acceptance, conflict resolution, pride in accomplishment is communally absent. During slavery, we were taught thru examples of violence to downplay our children’s accomplishments for fear of calling attention to them and thus making them a target for racial discrimination. For example knowing how to read was shrouded in secrecy, which had validity to some degree and a dramatic effect on self-confidence that we are still paying the price for today.

We have created a form of mental slavery whereby reason is of the abstract. We know slavery was horrible but we are taught and perpetuate everyday in subtle and not so subtle ways that somehow slavery was not as horrible as the conditions we now face. They say segregation has ended, which means the horrors of Black Wall Street, American before Brown v Board of Education, Rosewood and frankly all of our American history never existed because of integration. We seem to have forgotten what Malcolm said, “anywhere south of Canada was south” and by extension caused a separation of unity within the black family structure.

Let me be clear, integration was necessary to short circuit the INSTITUTIONALIZED system of “separate but equal” but it diluted the focus on economic independence in our communities. Therefore, the unintended consequence of this was to further separate our people. Cognitive dissonance is the root of all of this, in my opinion. This conflict in reality coupled with what we are taught has caused far reaching mental and emotional issues that we do not face or deal with as a people. We fight, blame and mistrust each other because of this and do not focus on the true issues.

We don’t fight for proper condolences, recognition or respect for those who died and fought for our rights to be “human” in America. It is obvious because we can see the impact and the symptoms as we point the collective finger at each other when the big pink elephant of our denial hugely sit in the room. To correct this we must start with the complete acceptance of the facts and until we are all ready to look to each other and seek viable resolutions or the solution will continue to elude us. I attribute this to the extreme stresses of an oppressive social system that keeps large numbers of people in poverty or near-poverty conditions, and to the widespread ghetto mentality, which all stem from trying to cope with those oppressive living conditions.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you are one who believe the black family is “broken”; implying that it wasn’t before. We then have to first identify the time(s) when these families were “whole”. Was it during slavery, when a child could be ripped from its mother’s arms and sold to another owner in the same manner as dairy calves? Was it during the era of lynching, when a successful business owner could be dragged from his home and hung from a tree, leaving behind a family? Perhaps it was soon after desegregation, when Blacks were no longer forced to support the local black-owned business in the community and could shop at the better, whiter stores, so long as it wasn’t their shop that went under with the exodus of patronage?

Segregation was really an impetus to support Black communities (schools, residences, economies, etc.). Once Blacks were no longer forced to support each other…we didn’t; and why should we? Blackness was/is considered other, ugly, and less than, something one did not willingly associate with. It’s no coincidence that the mantras “Black is beautiful” and “I’m Black and Proud” were coined soon segregation ended. We needed to be convinced that we were indeed beautiful and worthy of pride, and continue to be. I think it’s fair to say that since the Civil Rights movement, the only tie left that connects black folks to each other are our collective experiences with present-day racism.

The very thing that plagues us is the one thing that we can all still identify with on some level. We don’t listen to each other long enough to determine or recognize what is necessary for us to survive. We base our perception on what our peers and mass media says as opposed to the issues concerning our collective salvation. In an ideal world, Blacks shouldn’t be forced to or even need to “stick together” to make our families stable, loving, and satisfying. But we’ve been broken down, systematically, as an entire race, which I believe we have to build ourselves back up as an entire race.

At the end of the day, regardless of how we choose to identify ourselves, we are not afforded all of the privileges to which we are entitled in this country simply because of our complexion, which is used as the power to divide and compartmentalize people. Therefore, it requires action from the person you see in the mirror to understand that it requires responsibility and unity to do what our forefathers did, which was to continue the species. “We can change the world but first we must change ourselves.” And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective.

What do you think???

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What Happened to the BLACK FAMILY? CONTINUED…


A few weeks ago, I posted the first part of this commentary where I provided excerpts from some research papers submitted by a group of students I once taught. As powerful as the dozen points listed where they did not fully address, what I believe is the real issue and that is the root cause is mental conditioning. I believe that this conditioning was handed down from America’s forefathers. Black men MUST step up and be the head of the family, which is a necessary component to the whole concept family. Moreover, he must be allowed to guide, direct, and lead. Therefore, lets step into “the now” and realize that we are (ourselves) huge contributors to the demise.

I think we can all agree that there is no one, 5, or 12 reasons but there is one more significant and should be at the top of the list. The dynamics between black men and women, full of anger and resentment, continue to weaken our families. Of course, the centuries of mistreatment has had a lethal impact on the health of our people, and it would take books and books to list everything that we’ve survived. I don’t need to retell the story; we all know that since 1619 Black people have been in this land, now the USA, for centuries as indentured servants, property, 2nd class “citizens”, the list goes on.

Generational transference of tactics from slavery that indirectly taught our children to suppress or minimize personality traits not conducive to survival in a society aimed at their destruction. Traits like compromise, trust, acceptance, conflict resolution, pride in accomplishment is communally absent. During slavery, we were taught thru examples of violence to downplay our children’s accomplishments for fear of calling attention to them and thus making them a target for racial discrimination. For example knowing how to read was shrouded in secrecy, which had validity to some degree and a dramatic effect on self-confidence that we are still paying the price for today.

We have created a form of mental slavery whereby reason is of the abstract. We know slavery was horrible but we are taught and perpetuate everyday in subtle and not so subtle ways that somehow slavery was not as horrible as the conditions we now face. They say segregation has ended, which means the horrors of Black Wall Street, American before Brown v Board of Education, Rosewood and frankly, anywhere south of Canada caused a separation of unity within the family unit. Let me be clear, integration was necessary to short circuit the INSTITUTIONALIZED system of “separate but equal” but it diluted the focus on economic independence in our communities. Therefore, the unintended consequence of this was to further separate our people.

Cognitive dissonance is the root of all of this, in my opinion. This conflict with reality and what we are taught causes far reaching mental and emotional issues that we do not deal with as a country. We fight, blame and mistrust each other because of this nor do we focus on the true issues. We don’t fight for proper condolences, recognition or respect for those who died and fought for our rights to be “human” in America. It is obvious because we can see the impact and the symptoms as we point the collective finger at each other when the big pink elephant of our denial is in the room.
The end of this has to start with the complete acceptance of the facts and until we are all ready to look to each other and seek viable resolutions. The solution will continue to elude us. I attribute this to the extreme stresses of an oppressive social system that keeps large numbers of people in poverty or near-poverty conditions, and to the widespread ghetto mentality, which all stem from trying to cope with those oppressive living conditions.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you are one who believes black families are “broken”; implying that they weren’t before. We then have to first identify the time(s) when these families were “whole”. Was it during slavery, when a child could be ripped from its mother’s arms and sold to another owner in the same manner as dairy calves and their mothers? Was it during the era of lynching, when a successful business owner could be dragged from his home and hung from a tree, leaving behind a family? Perhaps it was soon after desegregation, when Blacks were no longer forced to support the local black-owned business in the community and could shop at the better, whiter stores, so long as it wasn’t their shop that went under with the exodus of patronage?

Segregation was really an impetus to support Black communities (schools, residences, economies, etc.). Once Blacks were no longer forced to support each other…we didn’t; and why should we? Blackness was/is considered other, ugly, and less than, something one did not willingly associate with. It’s no coincidence that the mantras “Black is beautiful” and “I’m Black and Proud” were coined soon segregation ended. We needed to be convinced that we were indeed beautiful and worthy of pride, and continue to be.
I also want to say, since the Civil Rights movement, the only tie left that connects black folks to each other are our collective experiences with present-day racism.

The very thing that plagues us is the one thing that we can all still identify with on some level. We don’t listen to each other long enough to determine or recognize what is necessary for us to survive. We base our perception on what our peers and mass media says as opposed to the issues concerning our collective salvation. In an ideal world, Blacks shouldn’t be forced to, or even need to “stick together” to make our families stable, loving, and satisfying. But we’ve been broken down, systematically, as an entire race, so I believe we have to build ourselves back up as an entire race.

At the end of the day, regardless of how we choose to identify ourselves, we are not afforded all of the privileges to which we are entitled in this country simply because it is the color of our skin, which is used as the power to divide and compartmentalize people. Therefore, it requires action from the person you see in the mirror to understand that it requires responsibility and unity to do what our forefathers did, which was to continue the species.


What Would Jesus Say???

I’d like to offer a few thoughts concerning the current political discourse revolving around the health care bill. I’ve often asked myself; how can man/people love God who he/they cannot see, but cannot love the physical being of a man who he can see?

If we were about to witness the Second Coming of our Lord, another question would be; what would Jesus say? Believing and knowing that his life was lived in service of the least of thee and also died for our sins – I wonder if he would react much in the way he did with the thieves in the temple.

Today, we will witness something that all moral peoples of other nations provide for their citizens – the ability to afford medical treatment when they are sick. We know that we are being poisoned by the food we eat, air we breathe and probably everything else we encounter in our environment that many think is by design because it allows the cartels to profit. However, we have a great president who has won the Nobel Peace Prize and now will accomplish something that no administration has done since the idea of health care reform was first introduced over a hundred years ago – Sheppard the passage of a health care reform bill.

I’ve watched the outrageous antics displayed during town hall meetings where the opponents of something as morally correct as helping the sick be able to afford the cost of staying alive – “act a fool”. Many of these folks are Republicans, it’s safe to assume, who believe in the sanctity of marriage, call themselves compassionate conservatives or Christian Conservatives, and believe in the right to life. Yet, they display such outrage and bigotry over an issue that would greatly benefit lives so many human beings.

These are, many of them, the same folks who don’t believe our current elected president is the president. In this democracy to be qualified for the job one needs to be born in America to which most reasonable people would agree Hawaii, where records clearly indicate President Obama was born, is part of America. Then of course one must be elected by a majority of voters, which he was and by some accounts a “Landslide”. These same folks are all for bringing democracy to countries around the world but they apparently are not willing to accept it when it works here unless it is financially beneficial to them. I suppose this is the hypocrisy of democracy.

While watching television coverage of a protest rally my thoughts were, I’ve seen this before – like in 1960 when black people were begging for civil rights. At one town hall event a news report covering the issue asked someone attending the rally; what are your concerns? She said, “We want our country back”. As if the country was overthrown. The elderly woman went on to say “she wanted to restore the country back to what the founding fathers wanted in the Constitution”.

I looked at her wondering if she was aware that the Constitution was signed in 1887 by all white men excluding everybody but them. The founding fathers she referred to lived in a time when they owned human beings as chattel and women had no rights whatsoever. Nonetheless, she was correct in that the Constitution affords us the right to free speech no matter how ridiculous it might be.

In her rage, she also said she does not want the government in her life making medical decisions for her. Hmmm – like the insurance company’s and HMO’s are doing now, if you are lucky enough to have insurance or can afford it. She went on to say that “Obama wants the government to kill old people, socialize medicine, and take away our Medicare”. The lady who looked to be in her seventies and was wearing a t-shirt that said support the troops obviously did not understand that both entities are government systems providing medical services that are socialized. I’ll bet receives and takes advantage of Social Security. To be respectful, this lady was surely among the low information crowd.

Standing near her in the frame of my television screen were people carrying signs with an erratic horary of issues. The most disrespectful was a sign that had the president looking like Hitler, arguably the worst man to every live. This might just be the reason for the Nazi remarks that could very well be a codeword for N- — (n word) much in the way they throw around words like communist or socialist when referring to our president. Let’s be clear, the real issue is the face of what America looks like; a black President, a Jewish Chief of Staff, newly appointed Latin Supreme Court Justice, a woman Speaker of the House of Representatives – faces of ultimate power that are no longer all white men.

I don’t have to go back thirty or forty years because these people are the same ones we saw last summer attending rallies held by President Obama’s campaign opponent. However, I am old enough to remember the Jim Crow era when bigotry was a way of life and segregation was the law of the land. The problem is, I think, most African Americans have forgotten what it was like to be “Colored” and in spite of wanting to forget it I believe we are witnessing a “Columbus Experience”. By that I mean, we are discovering America or at least that segment of the “Real America” the now former Governor decried during the presidential campaign. Because the actions of these people are eerily similar to the racism of a time I’d hoped to never see again.

I am an avid history buff. I just love knowing about the past because to know it and understand it allows you a glimpse into the future. For example, I can recall somewhere around 1860 when there was a movement by many states with a perverse idea called “secession”, which occurred and the United States split into two countries. The reason, as we all know, was about money and the profits gained from the institution of Slavery. Today the issue has again been raised for the same reasons – money, profits, and race.

I heard a recent interview with the Republican Party Chairman, a colored man, who agreed with the “Tea Party Folks” that the country is going in the wrong direction. I suppose this was to symbolize the Boston Tea Party where the colonists were planting the seed of revolt. It is the same thing that was done in 1860 – revolt. I wonder if this guy realized that he would have been chattel at the time he was referencing or maybe he is now. Before I go on, let me say that these people seemed to forget what course the nation was on during the last eight years.

The actions of these people and let’s not leave out the radio commentators they listen to, who want the president to fail, spew their venom are creating a very dangerous environment reminiscent of a time that should be long past. Surely there are a lot of mean spirited evil people in this world and evil is not usually associated with Jesus. Let’s make sure we understand all of this is about money not health care because there is no money in the cure. Therefore, I think we know what Jesus would say.

But today we witness history as a Health Care Bill will pass and of that I am sure.
Thank you Mr. President!!!

Just a Season


Prayer Saves – Help Haiti !!!

The pain that comes with living makes the journey seem almost impossible at times, and as we witness the devastation inflicted upon the country of Haiti is unimaginable. This tragedy makes it very clear that life is a fragile state of existence that most can’t fathom in its totality. In our daily lives we often take for granted how fortunate we are with the many blessings and comfort that we enjoy. The emotions I feel, not unlike yours, watching people who look like me in such misery and helplessness from this natural disaster that was unexpected and beyond their control is heart-retching.

I have always believed unless and until you suffer enough pain, then and only then, will you reach deep inside and feel the breath that God has breathed into your soul coming eye to eye with your destiny. This may or not prove to be true in this instance but I understand the meaning of faith, which is believing what is not seen and knowing it to be true. Many times I’ve pondered that remark along with many other reflections of those valuable lessons taught to me during my early Sunday school days. Therefore, I will begin this post with something I have not done via this blog – a scripture.

Colossians (3:12-15) comes to mind, “as God’s chosen people, hold and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called …” It is this call that each of us must answer for the benefit of others.

I know you have been watching the network news, listening to radio, and reading newspapers where today all eyes are on Haiti – but the question is “for how long”. It will take years and maybe generations to restore some semblance of life the Haitians once knew, which was far from wonderful to start with. We must remember that this is the place that the celebrated criminal Columbus landed in 1492 and historical records tell us from that day to this Haiti has suffered. I want to rebuke and say regardless of what that old senile pastor said, they did not make a deal with the devil. (VIEW THIS CLIP)

Haiti has a long storied history and therefore retains a very rich culture. Haitian culture is a mixture of primarily French, African elements, and native Taino, with some lesser influence of Spanish culture. The country’s customs essentially are a blend of cultural beliefs derived from the various ethnic groups that inhabited the island of what was once know as Hispaniola. In nearly all aspects of modern Haitian society European and African elements dominate.

Haiti is a largely Christian country, with Roman Catholicism professed by 80% and Protestants make up about 16% of the population. Haitian Vodou, a New World Afro-American Diasporic faith is unique to the country and practiced by roughly half the population. Religious practice often spans Haiti and its Diaspora as those who have migrated interact through religion with family. Haiti’s regional, historical and ethno-linguistic position is unique for several reasons.

Under French rule they enacted the Code Noir (Black Code) ratified by Louis XIV established rigid rules on slave treatment and permissible freedom. After years of brutality, Haiti became the first independent nation in Latin America, the first post-colonial independent black-led nation in the world, and the only nation whose independence was gained as part of a successful slave rebellion – the first of its kind. The success of the slave rebellion caused the newly elected Legislative Assembly in France to realize it was facing an ominous situation. In order to protect France’s economic interests, the Legislative Assembly needed to grant civil and political rights to free men of color in the colonies. The decision was confirmed and extended by the National Convention in 1794 when they formally abolished slavery granting civil and political rights to all black men in the colonies.

The Haitian Slave revolt model then spread throughout the hemisphere bringing about liberation to people in New Granada (now Colombia), Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and Peru. America also benefited GRATELY as a result because it was the Haitian defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte that he sold most of France’s land holding in the central United States known as the Louisiana Purchase for penny’s an acre. So in spite of the country’s sorted and often difficult history that followed these events, this is a country largely forgotten by most world powers while these events changed the face of the world.

Yes, this country has had many brutal dictators, disasters, and strife. It is near the top of the world’s poorest nations but in spite of its problems over time nothing compares to what Haiti faces today. Therefore, with all good conscience and anyone who has any compassion for humanity? “HELP THE HAITIAN PEOPLE”.
If you are not able to or in your mind you think you cannot do anything to help I would suggest something very simple – PRAY!!! I believe prayer saves.

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The Snake

My Granddaddy told me fascinating stories designed to make me a man. In fact, he would tell me every day that “I raised you to be a man and as a man, you don’t know what you may have to do but when the time comes, you do it.” He said it so often throughout my youth that it was embedded into my mind. To this day a warm smile appears “when I have to do it”.

I have to admit, I loved this wise man more than life itself. I knew, even then, his teachings were an inspired declaration of his celestial will or more simply put – his vision that shaped my destiny defining my purpose. Pop’s would teach me lessons, often times, like an Aesop Fables to make me think and it was my job to figure out the moral of the story.

This is my favorite:

The way the story was told to me, Granddaddy’s friend, Mr. Bob whose job was to offer a prayer every Sunday morning at church during the service prior to the preacher’s sermon, a job he had held for years. Sunday was a special day for the community, and for him to have a position where he would have the attention of everyone was a big deal. More accurately stated it was a platform for him to perform. He would have been a great entertainer.

Mr. Bob would walk to church every Sunday morning, rain or shine, from his home. The trip was several miles up and down hills and around curves, and he would be dressed in his best suit for the morning service. During the walk he would practice his part for the service, the prayer, with the intention of making it a show complete with screams and tears. This show would sometimes last thirty minutes. There were many Sundays one would wonder how one man could have so much to ask of the Lord and maybe say, please, let somebody else get a blessing.

On his way to church this particular Sunday, Mr. Bob came across an injured snake. In what he perceived as divine intervention, God said to him, help this poor creature. He realized he did not have a prayer for that day’s service, so he thought, wow, if I help the snake I can pray for us to have the strength to help all of God’s creatures. Since the snake is the lowliest of all creatures, this would really inspire the congregation and hopefully give them the encouragement to do the same at least until next Sunday’s message. So he picked up the badly injured snake and placed him in a safe place until he could return from church.

With great energy, and now inspired, Mr. Bob went on his way. He planned and practiced his prayer as he marched on to church. After he arrived and exchanged a few greetings, the service began with a joyful noise, as they say, meaning full of song. Then it was his turn to pray. He began to pray with a powerful tone, full of emotion. He asked God to give each person within the sound of his voice the strength to reach out and help all God’s creatures, from the loving dove to the lowly snake. His message had many in the tiny church standing with shouts of Amen. He felt he had done his job as he closed, asking God to bless the church and said Amen. In his usual style this took about a half hour.

To his surprise, the pastor also chose a sermon nearly identical to his message which took about another hour and a half, talking about helping all of God’s creatures. What a great day it was, Mr. Bob thought. Normally after the service ended everyone hung around and fellowshipped as it was one of the few chances they had to socialize. Mr. Bob would not hang around on this day  he had a mission and left church in a hurry. He rushed back to the spot where his injured snake was placed hoping it would still be there. He was very excited when he arrived to find it was where he left it. He put his snake in a burlap bag he had gotten from the church and took the snake home.

Over the next several weeks Mr. Bob cared for this creature, desperately trying to save the snake and nursing it back to health. About three weeks later he thought it was time to take his snake back to where he found it, thinking it was well enough to be set free. The following Sunday, he put on his best suit and started his journey to church with snake in hand. As he arrived at the spot where he had found it, he thought, what a wonderful thing he had done. He was sure to receive God’s blessing for this act of kindness.

He rubbed the snake gently and said goodbye. However, when he reached into the bag to grab it, suddenly the snake raised his head and bit him. Then bit him again and again. Mr. Bob cried out, “Why would you bite me after all I’ve done for you? My God why?” I guess he was expecting an answer from God, but none came. He repeated his cry once more. Then the snake stuck his head out of the bag and said, “I am a snake and that’s what we do.”After hearing this story over and over again, I finally figured out what it meant. It was a lesson that would prove to be invaluable.

Be careful in your dealings with people because people, just like the snake, will hurt you  that’s what they do.

Taken from the phenomenal novel Just a Season
© 2007 All Rights Reserved


Could this be???

I heard a radio pundit recently scold his listening audience about the condition of our minds. He was talking about what he called the “Tim Man Syndrome” that many are experiencing in our culture. I must admit, I was a bit confused as to the point of his commentary until I made the connection to the Wizard of Oz where the Tin Man need a heart and the Scarecrow who was lost, searching for a brain, and wanted the Wizard to give him one, respectively, when in fact each had a heart and brain all along. The pundit’s closing statement was profound and hit me like a brick. He said, “People we are locked up in our minds”.

This was all I was able to think about on this day. At some point, I remembered reading an interview featuring the amazing Sojourner Truth shortly before her death. She was asked by a newspaper reporter, “Do you know how many slaves you saved through your efforts conducting the Underground Railroad?” Her response was simple and to the point. She said, “I could have saved a lot more, if they had only known they were slaves.” Consumed by this profound thought I tried to conceptualize how this was possible. Who was responsible and how so many remain psychologically imprisoned?

To accomplish this I decided to start, not at the beginning, but where it’s widely believed the strategy to enslave us was devised. As the story goes, a British slave owner from the West Indies was invited to the colony of Virginia sometime during the year 1712, to teach his methods to slave owners there. Willie Lynch was the name of the man credited with a speech delivered on the banks of the James River. It is noteworthy to mention that the James River was named for the illustrious King of England, who was the same guy responsible for the twenty-eighth version of the cherished Holy Bible.

This man Lynch brought with him, as he put it, a foolproof method for controlling black slaves that will last for a thousand years. Consequently, it is believed the term “lynching” was derived from his last name as a way to pay homage to him for delivering this ingenious approach. The name Willie Lynch is interesting because it may be a simple play on words. For example, Will Lynch or Will he Lynch. Whatever the reason, it no doubt has significant psychological implications that played heavily on a naive race of people.

Lynch began his historic presentation with a warm greeting: “Gentlemen, you know what your problems are; I do not need to elaborate. I am not here to enumerate your problems. I am here to introduce you to a method of solving them. In my bag here, I have a foolproof method for controlling your black slaves. I guarantee every one of you that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least three hundred years. My method is simple…The black slave after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self re-fueling and self generating for hundreds of years, maybe thousands…”

The seeds of devastation were planted and the process of destruction was underway for the making of a race into slaves. In the speech, Lynch outlined a number of differences among the slaves. He stressed to his audience that they should take these differences and make them bigger. These differences included such things as age, color, intelligence, fine hair vs. coarse hair, tall vs. short, male vs. female. However, these tactics were not new. They were more than likely put together collectively for this specific purpose for the first time as keys to control.

This short eight-paragraph speech was profound in that it was the embodiment of the cruelest demoralizing agenda ever imposed upon a people since the days when the Romans crucified our Lord. As Lynch closed his speech that day, he said, “They must love, respect, and trust only us.” This is the key to producing a successful strategy. Whether this story is true or not is cause for much speculation. However, as history demonstrates, a manufactured plan was developed by someone to achieve these results that continue to this very day.

Let’s suppose the Lynch story is a myth. How could the ruling authorities, or anyone for that matter, justify an evil system that sanctioned murder, among other atrocities, as a way of building and maintaining a government, and controlling the minds of a people. I know most of us were taught the same HIS-STORY as I was taught in high school and growing up. Knowing this, I recalled how our government through legislative sessions passed laws to ensure that our bondage was sustained. Further, this wicked system was also sanctioned by the church. Therefore, what is important to understand, when the church endorsed slavery and the vehicle that drove it, this meant, in the eyes of the system – God himself authorized this immoral travesty and affirmed what they believed was manifest destiny.

I painstakingly walked through history from the perspective of the oppressed people – from Lynch through slavery, the Civil War into Reconstruction, through the Jim Crow era and segregation to the present. It is extremely important for African Americans, especially young men, to understand our heritage and be proud of it. We must know our past, the true past, in order to participate intelligently in the productive affairs of our future or we are certain to remain psychologically imprisoned. This history, which others have tried so diligently to erase, causes our mental bondage to place us on the verge of being a nearly extinct species – particularly black men.

As I reexamined our past that day, I was forced to remember this very important message. Your thoughts are the precursor to your words. Together they will translate into actions and your actions become habits. These habits will in turn become the foundation of your character and the content of your character will decide your destiny. The task ahead of you is never as great as the strength of the power behind you. As soon as the enslaved minds understand this concept, they will realize this is the only way they will live what God has breathed into their souls and not just live a life manifested by the likes of a Willie Lynch or dare I say, continue the “Tim Man Syndrome”.

“Free your mind and you’re ass will follow”.

A brilliant and renowned scholar once shared with the world – “to compromise on principle is to betray yourself, which will cause you to lose the fabric of your soul”. Underscoring that theme – “if you don’t know where you’ve come from then you will never know where you’re going or how to get there.”

Source – Just a Season
© 2007 All Rights Reserved


HOW SOON WE FORGET

I was the keynote speaker for a Black History Month luncheon – invited by an organization of prominent successful African American business people. It was less than a month after President Obama had been sworn in as the first Black American President. During the speech I said in spite of this “we are still a nation of people, living within a nation, searching for a nationality”. A lady seated near the front spoke out, loudly I might add, saying “I am an American – I know my nationality”. I looked in her direction, noticing not only was she rude, but that she appeared offended by the remark.

It seemed as if the entire room of several hundred people in this very elegant downtown Washington, DC hotel emptied and there was only the two of us in the room. I moved from the podium in her direction and said, “You know, in my lifetime I have been colored, a Negro, Afro-America, Black, African American, and many things I won’t repeat. Nonetheless, thank you for making me aware that we are now Americans. Would this be the result of having entered an era that’s being called post racial?” She replied “Yes”. Hmmm.

I asked her, “Can you meet me later, say about ten o’clock, in front of this very building and let’s try to catch a taxicab to go to your neighborhood?” In this city that some would describe as the capital city of the free world; you will find out very quickly how much of an America you are when the cabbie refuses to pick us up. I assumed this black woman, as well as many black people believe that just because we have a black president that somehow something magical has happened where racism has ended and all is right with the world.

Now, fast forward to last Friday when I received a twitter message about an incident where Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested for trying to break into his own home near Harvard Square. Dr. Gates is a renowned Harvard University Professor, a preeminent African-American scholar, editor-in-chief of TheRoot.com, and one of America’s foremost authorities on race – among many other accolades. More importantly, he is the very best of us – not the least of us. Therefore, I was drawn to this story immediately.

Details about the story were slow to become available, at least for a few days, but as the story began to unfold, as with any situation that involve “Black and White” there were two distinctly different accounts. The officer was there because of a call from a neighbor reporting “a black man breaking into a home” in the white neighborhood of Cambridge, Mass. According to the policeman Dr. Gates was screaming the word “racist” for no apparent reason other than he was a white cop who showed up at his home. The officer also indicated that Gates told him, when asked to step outside, “I’ll speak with your mama outside” and threatened to go after his job. Before I go any further, this incident occurred in one of America’s northern most cities and not Mississippi. However, in America “anywhere south of Canada is in the south”.

According to Dr. Gates, the cop mistreated him because he is black man. The professor asked the officer for his badge number and identification, which is his right as a citizen. Published accounts say the police officer refused to comply with this citizen’s request. At this point both agree that Dr. Gates did produce a driver’s license and his Harvard University ID, when asked by the officer clearly indicating that this was indeed his home. And yet, the police officer arrested Dr. Gates for disorderly conduct because the officer felt threatened, (wink) which is the all too familiar theme or codeword used for justification.

Dr. Gates is a 58-year-old slender built black man who requires a cane to walk. The officer, from the pictures I’ve seen, is a substantially larger and younger individual with a gun and a license to kill. The officer claims that had no choice but to use the four worst words in the English language to a black man “you are under arrest” basically for being home and black. Many people of the other hue are saying the officer’s story must be true because he is the police and Gates shouldn’t have said that to the policeman, who was only doing his job. In addition, they say that Gates’ position as a college professor with no criminal record should not be a factor at all in the story. Wait a minute, haven’t we seen this movie? It’s called, “The Uppity Negro Syndrome” where the black man has not committed a crime but has a big mouth.

By Tuesday, the charges of disorderly conduct against Professor Gates were dropped. The police and Dr. Gates issued a joint statement calling the incident “regrettable and unfortunate.” Because the charges were dropped tells me that once again overreaching by law enforcement was the reason – otherwise Dr. Gates would have to appear in court to face the charge. It also tells me (MESSAGE) that no matter how much education you have as a person of color, you still can’t escape institutional racism making us keenly aware of how many people every day experience abuses in the criminal justice system; a reality for many people of color and black men in particular.

We might be able to understand the reasoning for this philosophy that is the foundation for institutional racism from someone who knows; a well-known cable TV pundit Pat Buchanan. On the Rachel Maddow Show last week he was talking about the Senate Judiciary Committee GOP members who opposite to the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor. Although it was a different topic, it is the same basic theory used to reinforce institutional racism and their inner sense of racial superiority that is viewed systematically as their God given right. And I quote:

“White men were 100% of the people that wrote the Constitution, 100% of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, probably close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country built basically by white folks, who were 90% of the nation in 1960 when I was growing up and the other 10% were African-Americans … That’s why. Damn straight! And what were all those black people doing at the time when heroic white people were setting about the important business of founding this great nation of ours? You guessed it! Hanging around fields, picking cotton, like bone idle jerks! None of that ever contributed anything to the common weal, of course! I mean, what is “cotton?” Not exactly THE FABRIC OF OUR LIVES, right?”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/17/rachel-maddow-takes-on-pa_n_237146.html
– Source (Huffpost)

I wonder if the lady from the luncheon, wherever she is today, is aware that this incident, aside from the many others tragic and unnecessary situations that happen to African America’s everyday is a reminder that for all the racial progress she feels the country seemed to have made with the election of President Obama – not much has changed in the everyday lives of most people in terms of race relations.

To be continued – I am sure…


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