Tag Archives: South Africa

A Fearless Freedom Fighter

3I have been blessed to have met and known many people over the years; from the infamous to the famous; the great and not so great, and many honorable souls. I have been in the presence of a few presidents, shaken the hand of Nelson Mandela, met Muhammad Ali, famous Motown stars and many entertainers… on and on! However, none have impressed me more than this amazing woman I was allowed to call “Winnie” when I had the pleasure of meeting her.

The former wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela–Mandela, is a South African activist and politician; in addition to holding several other government positions. She’s been the head the African National Congress Women’s League and a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee. I can’t count all the women I’ve known in my life, but I can honestly say that none rise to the level of this amazing woman, who has endured suffering far beyond that of any woman.

I am not trying to rewrite her story, rather give my impression of her from my encounters with the former Mrs. Mandela. Think about this for a moment; her husband was imprisoned for twenty-seven years, she was imprisoned, exiled, financial hardships, her home was bombed, endured attempts upon her life, and years of unthinkable horrors. What I find amazing is that she did this unselfishly for millions of South African’s she has never met. Most of the women I know would leave you for anyone of the above mentioned or as little as the common cold.

She was a controversial activist, yet popular among her supporters, and referred to as the ‘Mother of the Nation’. However, she was reviled by some South African’s while trying to help them achieve freedom. The ANC called her politically and morally accountable for the gross violations of human rights. We know from what our government did to Dr. King and Malcolm X, so personally; I am suspect of any of the public charges brought by the Apartheid government of South Africa.

She met the lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela in 1957. They married in 1958 and had two daughters, Zenani (born 1959) and Zindzi (born 1960). Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1963 and released in 1990. The couple separated in 1992, and their divorce was finalized in 1996 with an unspecified out-of-court settlement.

I want to be clear when I say some will, I’m sure, take issue with my opinion concerning my view of her late husband, who as I understand it divorced her for political reasons. He could forgive his oppressors and jailers, yet could not forgive the woman who sacrificed so much and stood by him for all those years.

It is true that her reputation was damaged by such rhetoric as that displayed in a speech she gave in Munsieville on 13 April 1986. Where she endorsed the practice of necklacing (burning people alive using tires and petrol) by saying: “With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.” Further tarnishing her reputation were accusations by her bodyguard that she ordered a kidnapping and murder.

On 29 December 1988, a bodyguard, who was the coach of the Mandela United Football Club (MUFC), which acted as Mrs. Mandela’s personal security detail, abducted 14-year-old James Seipei (also known as Stompie Moeketsi) and three other youths; the four were beaten to get them to admit being informers. The body of one of them was found in a field with stab wounds to the throat. In 1991, she was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault in connection with the death of Seipei. Her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal.

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During South Africa’s transition to democracy, she adopted a far less conciliatory and compromising attitude than her husband toward the white community. Despite being on her husband’s arm when he was released in 1990, the first time the two had been seen in public for nearly thirty years and their thirty-eight year marriage ended two years later.

Ms. Mandela’s legal issues are in the public domain, and it’s your choice to Google if you like. What I will say from my perspective: “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” Lastly, I will say having the opportunity to be in her present was a life changing experience and will say proudly that I have yet to meet another woman who impressed me to such a profound degree. I know of no other woman who sacrificed so much for so many unselfishly. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Incarceration Nation

09One of the most pervasive problems facing America today, other than racism, is the explosive incarceration rates that only benefit the subsidized private interests. This injustice is as old as the country’s government sanctioned “Jim Crow” system. The incarcerate rate in the United States of America is the highest in the entire world. We have lived and been taught that America is the land of the free and the place that respect the human rights of it people.

Those who follow and read Thought Provoking Perspective understand that I use this blog as a potent source of empowering knowledge to broaden the information base on issues that affect mankind. This particular issue is one that is much like slavery in that the perpetrators of this injustice believe, like the slave master, that there is nothing to see here, and it’s not a problem.

Numbers don’t lie, as of 2009; the incarceration rate in America was 743 per 100,000 of the national population (0.743%). In comparison, Russia had the second highest, at 577 per 100,000, Canada was 123rd in the world at 117 per 100,000, and China had 120 per 100,000. While Americans represent about 5 percent of the world’s population, nearly one-quarter of the entire world’s inmates are incarcerated in its prison system.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 201, which is about 0.7% of the adult resident population. Additionally, 4,814,200 adults at the end of 2011 were on probation or on parole. In total, 6,977,700 adults were under correctional supervision be it Probation, parole, jail, or prison in 2011amounting to 2.9% of adults the resident population. The report also states that there were 70,792 juveniles in juvenile detention in 2010.

The BJS has released a study which finds that, despite the total number of prisoners incarcerated for drug-related offenses increased by 57,000 between 1997 and 2004, the proportion of drug offenders to total prisoners in State prison populations stayed steady at 21%. The percentage of Federal prisoners serving time for drug offenses declined from 63% in 1997 to 55% in that same period. In the twenty-five years since the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, the United States penal population rose from around 300,000 to more than two million.

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that U.S. State prison population growth rate had fallen to its lowest since 2006, but it still had a 0.2% growth-rate compared to the total U.S. prison population. When looking at specific populations within the criminal justice system, the growth rates are vastly different. In 1977, there were just slightly more than eleven thousand incarcerated females. By 2004,,, the number of women under state or federal prison had increased by 757 percent, to more than 111,000, and the percentage of women in prison has increased every year, at roughly double the rate of men, since 2000. The rate of incarcerated females has expanded at about 4.6% annually between 1995 and 2005 with women now accounting for 7% of the population in state and federal prisons.

The United States has a higher percent of imprisoned minorities than any other country in the world. In Washington D.C., three out of every four young black men are expected to serve some time in prison. In major cities across the country, 80% of young African Americans now have criminal records.

This brings me to the “unspoken truth” or the elephant in the room – RACE!  According to the BJS non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population. In 2009 841,000 black males and 64,800 black females out of a total of 2,096,300 males and 201,200 females were incarcerated. According to the 2010 US Census Bureau blacks, including Hispanic blacks comprised 13.6% of the US population.

Hispanics (of all races) were 20.6% of the total jail and prison population in 2009. Hispanics comprised 16.3% of the US population according to the 2010 US census. The Northeast has the highest incarceration rates of Hispanics in the nation. Connecticut has the highest Hispanic-to-White ratio with 6.6 Hispanic males for every white male. The National Average Hispanic-to-White ratio is 1.8. Other states with high Hispanic-to-White ratios include Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York.

As the Hispanic community is not monolithic, variations are seen in incarceration rates. Among the Hispanic community, Puerto Ricans have the highest incarceration rate. Located primarily in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, they are up to six times more likely to be incarcerated than whites, which may explain the higher incarceration rates for Hispanics overall in the Northeast region. Illegal immigrants, usually Mexican nationals, also make up a substantial number of Hispanics incarcerated.

Black majority cities have similar crime statistics for blacks as do cities where majority of the population is white. For example, white-majority San Diego has a slightly lower crime rate for blacks than does Atlanta, a city which has a black majority in population and city government. During the 1980s and 1990s drug and non-violent crimes filled Americans prison with “Three Strike Laws” and mandatory minimum sentences of 25 to life lead to the prison population explosion for all minorities groups.

So how free are we or does that only apply to those of privilege? It is well-known in the minority community that justice is unjust, the police do not protect or serve, and often times what we find when it comes to justice is JUST US! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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A Look Back MMXIII (2013)

2Life dictates that nothing lasts forever and as it is with all things 2013 has come and gone. If we look back at what we’ve witnessed over the past year it shows the good, the bad, and now that 2014 is upon us we will most likely see more of the same in the coming year. Let’s take a look at some of the more significant events of the year that was, and maybe I’ll offer a prediction as to what may lay ahead in the New Year.

The year began on a high note with President Barack Obama being re-inaugurated for his second term as president of the United Sates. The widow of slain Mississippi Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers, Myrlie Evers-Williams, was invited to offer the invocation and it was a proud moment. Of course, this was the worst thing that could happen from the conservatives, GOP, and the Klan-wing of the party commonly known as the Tea Party, point of view.

We witnessed an event that had not happened in more than six-hundred years. Eighty-five year old Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation citing health concerns claiming it made international travel impossible. My question is how does the Pope send a resignation letter to God, but with all of the difficulties the church have endured of late – his time had come. The white smoke appeared, and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He took the name Pope Francis and the new bishop of Rome was the first Latin American ever selected for the office, as well as the first Jesuit.

In what might be described as a miracle, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers to win Super Bowl 47. Ok, I digress! The year was full of extreme weather events all over the world causing trillions in damages. Detroit filed for bankruptcy. The voting rights act was gutted ushering in an era of voting rights discrimination – officially sanctioned by the Supreme Court. This is also to include a multitude of shootings and tragic events across the nation.

The most horrific event was the horrible bombing that took place during the Boston Marathon where two bombs were detonated near the finish line killing three people and injuring 183. Two brothers, the alleged terrorist, planned the event under the nose of everyone. One was killed, and the younger of the two was caught days later after a massive manhunt.

The Boy Scouts of America voted to change its current policy, allowing openly homosexual youth to become members. The decision was controversial among evangelical Christians, and the Southern Baptist Convention at its 2013 annual meeting encouraged Southern Baptist Church members to explore scouting alternatives to the BSA. The Gay Rights movement became huge in the national debate over gay marriage and gay rights. Exodus International, the world’s oldest Christian ministry, reached out to individuals with same-sex attractions and announced in June that it would be closing.

On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage was released. In a 5-4 vote, the Court struck down portions of the Defense of Marriage Act mandating that homosexual couples are entitled to federal benefits. The Court also refused to weigh in on California’s Proposition 8 debate, which means that, for the time being, same-sex marriage will be legal in California, despite two voter referendums that defined marriage as between a man and woman.

On the legal front, Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife were sentenced to prison for political crimes. Kwame Kilpatrick was also convicted and given a long prison term. Yet, the killer in Florida was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. While Kilpatrick received nearly thirty-years in prison the guy in Florida got away with murder and given his guns back, to possibly bring more harm to the citizenry. In fact, this man has been arrested and has had several encounters with law enforcement with guns involved since he got away with murder. This case, in my view, is strikingly similar to what happened to Emmitt Till in 1955. However, the accused became the poster boy for Stand Your Ground Laws by the gun rights nuts.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and her husband, Prince William welcomed a baby boy, Prince George of Cambridge born to be the future King of England. Here in American there was a war taking place over the Affordable Care Act as the new government healthcare legislation, nicknamed Obamacare began to take effect. This coincided with a temporary government shutdown, resulting from Democratic and Republican elected officials failing to agree on a budget. This was a sad state of affairs just as Unemployment Benefits were cut for 1.5 million Americans out of work.

November and December will be remembered as a time when many notable people died. On November 30, Paul Crouch, famous for being the co-founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network, died at age 79. Nelson Mandela, the Former South African President described by the Chicago Tribune as a “civil rights giant”, passed away on December 5 at age 95. Mandela, elected in 1994, was South Africa’s first black president. On December 14, Peter O’Toole, best known for his role in Lawrence of Arabia, passed away at age 81. Joan Fontaine, a classic movie actress, best-known for her roles in Alfred Hitchcock films such as Rebecca and Suspicion, died on December 15 at age 96. Fontaine is survived by her older sister, actress Olivia de Havilland, who is 97. On December 16, classic country artist, Ray Price passed away at age 87. Price is known for his hits such as “For the Good Times” and “Heartaches by the Number”.

I only named a few of the greats we lost but it was not to neglect the memory’s of all those that transition during the year. My prayers go out to the families of all that we lost. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


The Backward Duck

2I have watched the sad commentary of Phil Robertson, star of A&E’s backwoods reality TV show, “Duck Dynasty” evolve and sadly play out. I don’t know why anyone should be surprised because bigots have always disguised racism around Christianity. Since it seems this lunacy is not going to die and “conservatives” have made him a hero, I thought I would jump into the controversy.

I am old enough to remember what it was like in the Apartheid southern states of America. Frankly, during this period, anywhere south of Canada was “South”. Let me remind you more specifically of a “little case” called Plessy v Ferguson that ushered state sanctioned discrimination across America. In fact, it was there in Louisiana where it was born. So the Duck saw, and he claims nothing, was the law of the land. Frankly, those who owned slaves said the same kinds of thing – “My Darkies are happy!”

A lot of “good boys” have rallied to support the Duck making him the face of their views. One politician went so far as to compare him to Mrs. Rosa Parks. WOW! Now, I will be honest and tell you that I rarely agree with Jesse Jackson but in this instance, he said something that was on the mark; he likened the “Ducks” words to what the driver of Rosa Parks’ bus more likely said.

Jackson states in a release, “At least the bus driver, who ordered Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person, was following state law… Robertson’s statements were uttered freely and openly without cover of the law, within a context of what he seemed to believe was ‘white privilege’…   It is unacceptable that a personality who has been given such a large platform would benefit from racist and anti-gay comments.

I’m sure we remember the famous Klan’s Man David Duke, a Louisiana native, and other extremist from this so-called wonderful land in the Deep South, who are well known for bigotry. Mr. Duck I can tell you with certainty “black people were not as happy as you profess. In fact, they were singing the blues and if memory serves me correctly; it was there that the blues was born, and there was a reason for it.

What bothers me is his claim: “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person… Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them… They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’— not a word… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Before the civil rights movement of the 1950s, Jim Crow laws enforced a system of subjugating African Americans in the South by upholding racial barriers for years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The cultural climate in the Southern states was one of “disenfranchisement, segregation and various forms of oppression, including race-inspired violence,” History.com notes.

I applaud the Human Rights Campaign and the NAACP’s joint letter to the president of A&E, expressing deep concern over Robertson’s remarks:

We want to be clear why Phil Robertson’s remarks are not just dangerous but also inaccurate. Mr. Robertson claims that, from what he saw, African Americans were happier under Jim Crow. What he didn’t see were lynching and beatings of black men and women for attempting to vote or simply walking down the street. And his offensive claims about gay people fly in the face of science. In fact, it’s important to note that every single leading medical organization in the country has said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being [lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender] — it’s not a choice, and to suggest otherwise is dangerous.

Robertson called homosexuality a sin and juxtaposed it with bestiality. After his homophobia made news, A&E released a statement announcing Robertson’s indefinite suspension from “Duck Dynasty.” The network emphasized that his beliefs are in contrast to those of the network. Yet, they announce that he would appear in the season when it starts the next season. This was stated in spite of the Duck saying, he stands by his remarks. Hmmm!

I have never seen the television show, but it must be enjoyable to see Rednecks in their natural habitat. Lastly, it might be a good idea for all sane people to do two things. (1) Boycott Cracker Burrell and (2) turn off A&E! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

 


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