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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


Remembering: The Legendary Sam Cooke

th (23)The music of Black America that we called soul music, born in the Church, has produced many great artists. There were groundbreakers who paved the way for other entertainers to follow. History reposts that none was better than the singer, songwriter and entrepreneur Sam Cooke, who was considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music. Sam Cooke was commonly referred to as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocal abilities and influence on the modern world of music.

Cooke’s pioneering contributions to soul music led to the rise of greats such as Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and the Godfather of Soul James Brown. Cooke was also among the first modern black performers and composers to attend to the business side of his musical career. He founded both a record label and publishing company as an extension of his careers as a singer and composer. He also took an active part in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

Sam should be recognized with great pride and as a pioneer, he was one of the first black artists to break away for from the traditional artist role of the music industry of the day. Where black artists were being robbed of their music, had no ownership rights or control of the masters, and use as slaves for the white labels. Sam started his own label, which was prospering and a threat to the major label and in my view was the reason he was killed.

On December 11, 1964, Cooke was fatally shot by the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California at the age of 33. At the time, the courts ruled that Cooke was drunk and distressed, and the manager had killed Cooke in what was later ruled justifiable homicide. Since that time, the circumstances of his death have been widely questioned.

My question: Why has there not been a bio-pic of this man’s story? “A Change is Gonna Come,” which became an anthem for the civil rights movement. Sam Cooke is the man who invented Soul Music and most would agree he was often imitated but never duplicated. In other words, one of a kind! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

The legendary Sam Cooke
“It’s been a long time coming but a change going to come.” 

The War On Whites: A Myth

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Life is an interesting thing and by that I mean, I thought I had lived long enough to have seen and heard it all, but I must admit I was wrong. I say this because there is breaking news, at least according to Fox News and the GOP echo chamber that there is a “War on White Peoples.” Wait, before I continue, I want to go on record and say this is the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard. The right-wing nuts have proposed and made some far-fetched and insane remarks, but this one – “DAMN!”

Law and Order theme!

Let me put this into perspective; the GOP, Tea Party, and so-called conservatives have proffered the most inflammatory, bigoted, and racist remakes about every non-Christian, minority group and woman. Yet, they have the nerve to make such a statement. This sounds a lot like the Klan talking to me.

This kind of talk only proves that the GOP cannot continue to be competitive in national elections if they continue to alienate everybody but white voters. This is a truth so self-evident as to have been adopted by their own party itself in what they call an “autopsy” report after the 2012 election. Nonetheless, their bigotry continues to raise its ugly head.

A popular radio host said, “This is a part of the war on whites that is being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It’s a part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things.”

It seems funny that these folks cannot remember recent history. For example, when public officials used fire hoses and attack dogs against black children who were peacefully trying to integrate the whites-only lunch counters in the South. Or when white terrorists acting in the name of white supremacy bombed a historic African-American church, killing four little girls. How about the time when demonstrator’s marching for voting rights were savagely beaten by police and vigilantes as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Further still, what about the Civil War!

I would like to think this guy can remember the white-imposed Jim Crow laws that segregation and divided America by race. The myth of victimhood is not new. Long after it was understood that slavery was morally wrong, Southern whites justified its perpetuation by citing the fear that blacks, once liberated, would surely take bloody revenge against those who had held them in bondage. Now that there is a movement called black lives matter, these same folk has deemed it a “Hate Group”! But they think the KKK is a social and Christian organization.

It was the GOP that invented the Southern strategy, the Citizen’s Counsel [the Klan’s political arm], birtherism and all sorts of atrocities under cover of law. Most recently those voters were last seen standing at the border screaming at terrified Guatemalan kids and talking about building a wall. These folks have inflicted terror on every non-white citizen and had the nerve to say “war has been declared upon them [whites]. God help us!

If something does not arrest its present trajectory, “White Power,” the GOP seems destined to shrink into a regional party with appeal only to older white voters. Could it be a fear that the nation’s white voters will soon cease to be a majority, and this speaks to their fear that racial and cultural resentments will have less power to sway elections? In other words, the gig is up, and that should concern the GOP brain trust. In fact, it should concern us all.

There are reasons, why the myth of white victimhood is gaining strength — economic dislocation, rapid immigration from Latin America, changing demographics that will make this a majority a minority in this country before mid-century. Therefore, it is because of this – they have waged a war on black people and everyone else!

The fact is America, white folk, declared war on black people in August of 1619 and it rages on strong today. Nonetheless, I can’t help feeling that Obama’s race heightens the sense of being under siege. Or maybe, it is as simple as Trump!!! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


America’s Shocking and Ugly Truth

 A picture is worth a thousand words.

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


Brother Dick Gregory Speaks

2Today, I wanted to do something a little different and share a message from our elder statesman Dick Gregory. You don’t have to watch it but I would strongly suggest that you listen. Truth, in many respects, have always come from comedy. Brother Dick’s comedy educates and empowers but you have to listen this thought provoking perspective…

 


Please Mr. President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown


The Shooting Of Another Black Man: Presumed Justified

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tricky Dick

3There has been a lot of talk about Richard M. Nixon, AKA Tricky Dick, as we remember the upcoming anniversary of his resignation for crimes committed during his presidency. I remember that time well and thought his six years in the White House was pivotal in American military, diplomatic, and political history. Let me be clear, based upon my recollection of that time and the tremendous amount of information released since he resigned to avoid impeachment and possibly prison was that he was a crook. Plain and simple!

Nixon’s presidency was for Nixon – not America, which is why it was cut short by Watergate and his many crimes. Nixon was no doubt “complex” and often “contradictory”. Some scholars view him as liberal, others as moderate, and many more say conservative; all can find ample evidence for each label and conclusive evidence for none of them. As President, Nixon was only as conservative as he could be and only as liberal as he had to be. This was a President, who meant to move the country to the right, and he did. Maybe this is why his personality caused him to be a transitional political figure.

Nixon’s most-celebrated achievements as President was the nuclear arms control agreements with the Soviet Union and the diplomatic opening to China that set the stage for the arms reduction pacts and careful diplomacy that brought about the end of the Cold War. Likewise, the Nixon Doctrine of furnishing aid to allies while expecting them to provide the soldiers to fight in their own defense paved the way for the Reagan Doctrine of supporting proxy armies and the Weinberger Doctrine of sending U.S. armed forces into combat only as a last resort when vital national interests are at stake and objectives clearly defined.

While his slow withdrawal from Vietnam appeared to be a practical application of the Nixon Doctrine, his secretly recorded White House tapes reveal that he expected South Vietnam to collapse after he brought American troops home and prolonged the war to postpone that collapse until after his reelection in 1972.

The Nixon years witnessed the first large-scale integration of public schools in the South. Nixon sought a middle way between the segregationist Wallace and liberal Democrats, whose support of integration was alienating some Southern whites. His hope in doing this was doing well in the South in 1972; he sought to dispose of desegregation as a political issue before then. Soon after his inauguration, he appointed Vice President Agnew to lead a task force, which worked with local leaders, both white and black, to determine how to integrate local schools. This became known of his “Southern Strategy.”

By September 1970, less than ten percent of black children were attending segregated schools. By 1971, however, tensions over desegregation surfaced in Northern cities, with angry protests over the busing of children to schools outside their neighborhood to achieve racial balance. Nixon opposed busing personally but enforced court orders requiring its use. In addition to desegregating public schools, Nixon implemented the Philadelphia Plan in 1970; the first significant federal affirmative action program. He also endorsed the Equal Rights after it passed both houses of Congress in 1972 and went to the states for ratification.

In light of his loss of political support and the near-certainty of impeachment, Nixon resigned the office of the presidency on August 9, 1974, after addressing the nation on television the previous evening. The resignation speech was delivered from the Oval Office and was carried live on radio and television. Nixon stated that he was resigning for the good of the country and asked the nation to support the new president, Gerald Ford. Ford was conveniently chosen as his replacement to pardon him for his crimes, meaning “he got away” with all crimes.

His downfall was the result of the Watergate break-in and the tapes recorded by Trick Dick himself. He said, I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, while famously saying “I am not a crook.” Nixon’s speech received, generally, favorable initial responses. However, it was an unprecedented humiliation as he was the first American president to resign the office.

Ultimately, the White House tapes did shape the assessment of Nixon’s impact and legacy. They ended his presidency by furnishing proof of his involvement in the Watergate cover-up, fueled a generation’s skepticism about political leaders, and today provide ample evidence of the political calculation behind the most important decisions of his presidency. They make his presidency an object lesson in the difference between image and reality, a lesson that each generation must learn anew.

In my opinion, his worst crime and shameful legacy was his initiation of the “War on Drugs” that was the beginning of the mass incarceration of black people. Frankly, his presidency is responsible for the prison industrial complex that has destroyed millions of lives and families. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Brownsville: Georgetown In Washington DC

2As you travel with me on this journey exploring the rich history of those African American communities that have become little more than footnotes in the annals of time. These segregated communities were the result of an unholy system imposed upon people of color commonly referred to as “Jim Crow” and every city or town in America had such a place.

This leads me to the next examination of a “Brownsville” – Georgetown in Washington DC. The entire world knows that DC is the capital of the free world with its avenues of grand marble structures that are more or less a crystallization of magnificence for tourist to admire. These magnificent architectural marvels are symbols of the power associated with America’s wealth. This area downtown is known as the Federal Triangle because it is an area established for federal government entities.

However, there is a hidden Washington that some have called a tale of two cities. Just blocks for these symbols of opulence live the disenfranchised, downtrodden, and neighborhoods of the forgotten. Prior to 1967, the city was run by and under federal control, which is why it is called a District – i.e., the District of Columbia. It was President Johnson who appointed Walter Washington, an African American, as the city’s first ever Mayor-Commissioner in an effort that came to be known as home rule.

The city has always been predominately African American with no real authority over its direction. The “District” as many locals call it was at that time a sleepy southern town not much different from any town in South Carolina or Mississippi as far as African Americans were concern. It was run by Dixiecrats to this point, and the Dixiecrats were worst than what we know today a Conservatives or Republicans. What you may not know, even today Washington has no voting representing in Congress making the capital of the free world, which is basically a plantation.

Washington has many African American enclaves that have long storied histories, but did you know Georgetown, one of Washington’s most renowned upscale communities, was once one of them. It is probably best known today as the home of Georgetown University and its championship basketball teams coached by the legendary John Thompson, and now by his son, or the many luminous sports figures produced by the institution. You may also know Georgetown because of its world-renowned nightlife, shopping or maybe a place home to famous people. One of its most famous residents was a young John Kennedy and his new bride Jackie, who called Georgetown home prior to moving into the White House.

It is also worth mentioning that many notable African American figures resided in communities around town such as the great orator Fredrick Douglass, who owned a home in Anacostia. Carter G. Woodson the creator of the concept “Black History Month” also owned a home in the city. These great men and all prominent African American politicians, artists, entrepreneurs, scholars, athletes and socialites were relegated to live in a town divided by the harsh separate but equal laws of the day.

Georgetown began as a Maryland tobacco port on the banks of the Potomac River in 1751. When Congress created the District of Columbia to be the nation’s capital in 1791, its 10-mile square boundaries were drawn to include this port town, as well as a very similar Virginia tobacco port of Alexandria just across the river. Alexandria was given back to Virginia in 1846, but Georgetown remains as one of Washington’s most lively urban neighborhoods.

Georgetown historically had a large African American population, including both slaves and free blacks. Slave labor was widely used in the construction of new buildings in Washington just as they were used to provide labor on tobacco plantations in Maryland and Virginia. Let me be very clear, slaves and their labor was the workforce that built the White House, Capital, and most of the grand marble structures of opulence.

Georgetown was also a major slave trading depot that dates back as early as 1760, when John Beattie established his business on O Street and conducted business at other locations called “pens” around Wisconsin Avenue and M Street; with both locations being just a short distance from the White House. Slave trading continued until the mid-19th century, when it was ended on April 16, 1862. Many former slaves moved to Georgetown following their freedom establishing this thriving community.

When African American’s settled in Georgetown the free men established the Mount Zion United Methodist Church that remains today, which is the oldest African American congregation in Washington. This feat due to their strong religious convictions was a testament to their fortitude after experiencing the horrors of slavery. Mount Zion also provided a cemetery for free burials to Washington’s earlier African American population. Prior to establishing the church, free blacks and slaves went to the Dumbarton Methodist Church where they were restricted to hot, overcrowded balcony.

I’m sure a sense of extreme prided was evident in Washington at the time because it became the home of Howard University. Although not in Georgetown, this preeminent university was established for Blacks in 1867 with the aid of the Freedmen’s Bureau. It was named for the commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, General Oliver Otis Howard. The Freedmen’s Bureau was intended to help solve everyday problems of the newly freed slaves, but its most widely recognized achievement was its accomplishments in the area of education. Prior to the Civil War, no southern state had a system of universal, state-supported public education for “Coloreds” but Washington now had an advanced school of learning.

In the early twentieth century, new construction of large apartment buildings began on the edge of Georgetown. The eyes of the elite became trained on the area. John Ihlder led efforts to take advantage of new zoning laws to get restrictions enacted on construction in Georgetown. However, legislators largely ignored concerns about the historic preservation of Georgetown until 1950, when Public Law 808 was passed establishing the historic district of “Old Georgetown.” The law required the United States Commission of Fine Arts to be consulted on any alteration, demolition, or building construction within the historic district. As you can imagine, this proper and official sounding solution was not designed to benefit the African American citizens living in Georgetown.

Georgetown began to emerge as a fashion and cultural center of the newly identified community. While many “old families” stayed in Georgetown, the neighborhood’s population became poorer and more racially diverse; its demographics started to shift as a wave of new post-war residents arrived, many politically savvy, well-educated, and people from elite backgrounds took a keen interest in the neighborhood’s historic nature for their own benefit. It was during this time that the Citizens Association of Georgetown was formed. It is my understanding that the Old Georgetown Act was really a polite, or maybe not so polite, way of saying gentrification.

I am not implying nor suggesting that the Act was designed to remove African American’s and poor residences from the community (wink), but it did create an environment where people of low to moderate income could no longer afford to live there. High-end developments and gentrification have revitalized the formally African American neighborhood and what was viewed as a blighted industrial waterfront.

Some say what happened in simple terms, according to the thinking of the day; someone decided to trade a penny for a pound, and very effectively. In other words gentrification!!! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Remembering Trayvon Martin

On this day, a year ago, a coward was acquitted in the murder of Trayvon Martin. Everyone PLEASE take a moment to remember the injustice of this child’s murder as he is now a symbol of injustice, alongside of Emmett Till and others. Next time, it could be your child… God bless you Trayvon.

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