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I spoke with some of my peers and friends and you would not believe how many of them told me they had not voted in Tuesday’s elections. While the outcomes that many anticipated for some of the most high-stakes elections were successful, those outcomes still do not excuse those of us that did not vote.
Did you know Black Codes, laws designed to indirectly enslave Black people once the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, were enforced and directly tied to voting in an act of defiance by Whites against the passing of the 15th Amendment (1870)–the amendment that made it possible for Black males to vote? Did you also know that Black Codes, and the remix, Pig Laws, changed the face and meaning of criminalization in America, a form of criminalization that appears to be tattooed in our penal system today (if you do not own Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, you must go out and purchase it)? In this video below Dr. Muhammad, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, explains the laws better here:
In modern acts of defiance, we witnessed the shutting down of our government by a small faction of elected officials with a heavy impact on our political and economic outcomes, and even then some people still had the nerve to not invest an insignificant amount of time to commit the significant act of voting.
This morning while getting dressed for work, NBC’s Today Show featured an interview of President Obama by Chief White House Correspondent for NBC News, Chuck Todd, in which President Obama was asked, around the 2:21 mark, regarding Obamacare: “Do you feel like you owe these folks an apology–for misleading them…?” here:
From an effort to provide America’s people with adequate and suitable health care, President Obama now has to answer questions about how he can absolve the skepticism people will have of him and his administration on this issue and on future promises. And, as a responsible leader President Obama apologizes.
Perhaps the real people who should be sitting on the “hot seat” are those defiant pseudo-citizens that believe they are the only “citizens” entitled to government programs. I have yet to hear any of the smaller faction offer up an apology for shutting down our government, unnecessarily burdening the people, and not working as hard as advocates to provide for the American people as they have been in stroking their defiant egos and stoking their agendas.
People, it is time to trim the fat weighing our government down. You have to vote, and you have to vote responsibly. Defiance only ostracizes and leads to the unfair treatment of people. While some of these Tea Party members and people who identify with the politics of the Tea Party feel that they should have all of the entitlements, there can never be a time in which perceived minority groups take a perimeter approach to the operations of this country.
Let’s vote people.
Today, August 20th, 2013 is an Anniversary that we never acknowledge. For the capitalist it could easily be marked, “Reversal of Fortune” Day. For the humanitarian, however, it is easily marked “The Day the Oracle Bones Spoke.” On this day the first Africans were kidnapped by British pirates in the Atlantic Ocean, and brought to Jamestown, Virginia—to be enslaved in the Western Hemisphere’s enterprising system of chattel slavery, the system that bound persons in servitude as the property of a slaveholder or household, primarily for economic gain.
Today is for them. There were 19 in total coming from the Congo and Anglo in Africa. We have forgotten them. But we must remember who we are and not the label Europeans used to identify what we were while pursuing their interests.
Today and forever we stand on their bones, not just their shoulders. We stand in their light, not in their darkness. We are their reflections; and, they are not simply a part of our past. We are their children, the “posterity” the Preamble refers to—we are their future generations and we have inherited their same resilience, intelligence, and honor. But, we have to remember who we are.
On the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, we will walk the same paths our ancestors walked, molding our feet to match the imprints of their footsteps. And, for the [Community] Organizers of the March on Washington of 1963, they walked the same petrified paths of those that came before them where the footprints are no longer visible, but where bones lie underneath the protected Earth to be returned to a forgiving universe and the comfort of the Almighty’s spirit.
Every question we have about the challenges we face has already been answered by our ancestors if we just remember who we are and acknowledge that we stand on their bones.
Did You Know?
The largest maximum security prison in the United States is called the Louisiana State Penitentiary, formerly known as Angola. Check out this article: http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2013/07/angola_prison_conditions_inhum.html
The African Burial Ground is a great place to visit to learn more about the discovery of a cemetery of enslaved men, women, and children in the Wall Street section of New York City. For more information or to visit, go to www.nps.gov/afbg/. There is also an African burial ground in Portsmouth, NH that you should check out: http://www.africanburyinggroundnh.org/
You can learn more about the Jamestown, VA slave trade from this 2006 article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/02/AR2006090201097_2.html
 Oracle Bones were used by the Ancient Chinese as a way to communicate with the ancestors. They were inscribed with questions that would later be revealed as answers once the oracle bones were heated and inspected.
Ever since the Trayvon Martin tragedy happened, I have been consumed with articles about race that have either been “discovered” by me or ones that I have strolled upon in my Twitter time line. The article that is the subject of this post appeared in my time line courtesy of Van Jones (@VanJones68). You must know who he is; he wrote the best seller: Green Collar Economy. He is also the President and Co-Founder of Rebuild the Dream, an organization focused on helping people to help fix our economy using various innovations. In addition, he attended Yale Law School, and he is a [good-looking] Black man.
What intrigued me most about this article is the role that science, according to this article, plays in how race is understood, carried out and applied in our daily lives. Every article I have read has given some sort of excuse for the stain of racism–I have read history, socio-economic, and now scientific explanations. And, the biggest thing is that they are all viable explanations.
Click on the link BELOW and please READ THIS ARTICLE.
From Anderson Cooper 360 to every major media outlet and blog site on the planet, race is finally getting the attention it deserves. But perhaps all some of us can see are shades of red through the rose-colored lenses that need to be removed. From the name calling (race-baiters) to the sheer naïveté and untruth that we are color blind (“racially” color blind people stay away from me!) in relation to seeing one another, there is so much work to do around the issue of race; and, we have merely bitten off of the tip of a lethal cartridge, that when fired, will explode indiscriminately if we are not careful in our discourse and sensitivity in addressing this often quieted and retreated from topic.
Just why race is such a taboo subject in America is pretty hard to comprehend. It is almost laughable. Historically, this country has never been shy about applying race to everything that matters with regard to inclusion: voting, citizenship, marriage, places of public accommodation, rights, and human dignity and worth. They are all contrary to Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (belonging, love, self actualization, etc…). If we have been adamant enough, from the very beginning of America’s conception, to openly practice and embrace racial separation, degradation, humiliation, etc, why is race still taboo as a discussion? Because we don’t want to have discussions with people who are reminders of our past and can hold us accountable for wrongdoings based on something as artificial as race.
The private conversations about race by America’s Framers became public implementations on how to use race to maintain superior positions of power. Now, nearly 400 years later, all people need to engage in the discussion to address and take back some of that power. President Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency is the conduit for others to have a seat at the discussion table. The George Zimmerman verdict is what happens when the Framers’ discussion is still the only conversation taking place around race.
Race, a man-made social construct, has never killed a person. It has never destroyed a planet. Race has never been an advocate for good or bad. Race is simply race. Our ideas around race, however, have caused the grave atrocities that have manifested themselves in this country and beyond. Our ideas around who is worthy to be loved, married, and to have a say in our electorate have driven our responses and reactions to race. Race is the catalyst. It is the human mind that has been railroaded with the enzymes of hate and devaluing that have contributed to the incorrect, abhorrent, and vicious thoughts about other human beings. And, after being overwhelmed for so long in so much negativity and depravity, human behavior has adapted to the mind’s malfunction because our thoughts and actions are inextricably linked.
It is time to fix our minds and get sane. While it may not be so easy, we can overcome the levels of psychosis that have nearly paralyzed this country and scores of other countries around the world if we would just make a choice to STOP. Stop thinking the worst of others and their experiences simply because of how we have been brainwashed to believe that one “color” represents one thing and another “color”, something else.
Yes, some of us absolutely share more responsibility for the negative state of past and current race relations in this country and around the world. That has to be owned up to. The Framers stated their interests as being to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity (future generations)…” when they wrote the Preamble of the Constitution. While there is the de facto argument that the Constitution applies to all Americans, it did not when it was written and after the Zimmerman verdict, more would argue that it still does not.
Even still, others of us share culpability in the past and current perpetuation of these thoughts by not being strong enough to resist the pangs of self-sabotage—by believing we are not worthy because of the color of our skin and our socio-economic statuses. Despite it all, each of us can contribute meaningfully to the future of what race relations can become when we first start with a discussion where everyone can finally have their say. The greatest resource any of us has is an idea. It is up to each of us to determine what we will produce from it.Check out some of today’s articles surrounding race by clicking on any of the links to the right of this blog.
What is color blindness? Color blindness means that you have trouble seeing red, green, or blue or a mix of these colors. It’s rare that a person sees no color at all. Color blindness is also called a color vision problem. A color vision problem can change your life. It makes it harder to learn and read, and you may not be able to have certain careers. But children and adults with color vision problems can learn to make up for their problems seeing color.
 Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who stressed the importance of focusing on the positive attributes of people. He also developed the Hierarchy of Needs theory.
The commentary and analysis surrounding President Obama’s impromptu Friday Speech regarding race on July 19th, 2013 continues. Check this out!
Did you see President Obama’s courageous, transparent, and impromptu remarks about the George Zimmerman verdict, his connection to Trayvon Martin, and the gravity of race/racism has had on the existence if Black men in America? You will get to watch what he says in this blog.
Also, who knew that President Obama would be called to “testify” about the impetus of race on the psyche, actions, and reactions of the African American community and African American men in particular?
Who knew Trayvon Martin’s life and death would change the discourse about the rights of private citizenship in regards to self defense?
Who knew that President Obama would have his own Emmet Till-hot-summer–consciousness-inducing-humbling moment to contend with?
Who knew this moment would come in the wake of the George Zimmerman NOT GUILTY verdict as he is pushed to lead this nation to a greater understanding and charge on how to be better people while we commit to unpack our racial baggage?
I don’t think many of us expected President Obama’s statements on Friday. Too many times we get comfortable with the status quo of where we stand racially. And, thankfully there are people like Tavis Smiley, consistently pushing for more leadership from President Obama on tough issues.
Trayvon Martin’s young precious life is going to continue to morph into more than just that of a 17 year old innocent person–it will represent the conversation piece around race and the catalyst for individual and societal growth and change. We cannot embrace change fast enough.
Remember where you were when you heard the worst possible news?
“Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, has died” Tilden Avenue. Brooklyn, NY
“The incomparable Whitney Houston was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel room.” IKEA’s showroom floor in Elizabeth, NJ
“George Zimmerman found not guilty” was captioned on the bottom of the television screen. I read it and it seemed to smear across the television screen like fingerprint swipes.
I was in Bellevue Hospital in NYC on 28th and 1st Avenue where I had driven my dear friend and brethren to be admitted because of a 104.3 degree
fever. He’s 31. Young. Black. Male. And, he’s battling Liver Cancer.
….there are so many questions and thoughts in my mind and [I feel] so much weight in my shoulders–I tell Trayvon Martins everyday that they can go so far in this world. I kind of feel like a liar. Now I need to advise them against Florida…
I can’t look these young Black men in the eye as I walk by on the NYC streets.
That’s what I’m thinking…
I’m still shocked!
That’s another thought.
So many thoughts in these times and places.
The New York Post is under heat…again! This time is no different than all of the last times; racism as a practice of journalism is always the accusation, and from what I have witnessed, the accusation has always been right (I’ll be honest—when the Post printed that heinous cartoon insinuating President Obama was a crazed chimpanzee being shot down by the hands of the police, their fate was sealed for me—they wouldn’t be getting my readership. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/18/new-york-post-chimp-carto_n_167841.html).
This time around sports writer Phil Mushnick rhetorically asks, “Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N——s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B—-hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way! “ in reference to the fact that the newly honed Brooklyn Nets has a new logo, new jersey colors and they were all crafted and heavily influenced by its minority owner, Jay-Z.
Arguably and obviously, this is not the best choice of words and Phil Mushnick should really work on wrangling this type of emotional manipulation so that it does not continue to spew from his laptop, further jeopardizing his journalistic integrity—if there is any left to salvage. But, the real issue here is not the racism that can be printed on the pages of the New York Post under the protection of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and the right of the press, it’s the blinders that the rest of us have placed over our eyes towards Jay-Z and the vicious way in which he continues, with his celebrity, to solidify the Black man’s identity around the world as the ‘N’ word.
From your musical catalog, I’ve ridden with you through the streets of Brooklyn, learned the ins and outs of the drug trade, learned how I should treat my friends and “frenimies”, and I definitely understand the bottom line you’ve taught that the acquisition of money is all that matters in this life. I may not agree, but I get your lesson. Now get mine.
On September 24th, 2009 you appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show. You discussed a cadre of milestones, but the most sensitive topic had nothing to do with your relationship with your father, post- Rihanna beating advice, or your rough upbringing in Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects. The tension came when the infamous ‘N’ word was debated; and, you refused to abdicate it from your word arsenal and Ms. Oprah refused to accept this word as the nouveau endearment moniker you had described it to be. Realizing that you were not going to change your tune, the decision was reached to “agree to disagree” by Ms. Oprah. I was let down because I had figured you were going onto the Oprah Show to garner new fans and to show the world better about Hip Hop, to make your message more far-reaching, but more importantly to learn the “code” of billionaires and resilience, especially Black billionaires, since this is the path you’re on and the status you’re chasing. Ms. Oprah tried to clue you in, but your Culturally Relevant Aptitude couldn’t figure it out and that’s just “CRAy.”
Jay-Z, even if your wife never rendered a word about your intelligence in her million songs dedicated to you, we all know you’re smart; don’t think for one minute that your intelligence has ever been questioned. But, what is being called into question is your sense of judgment. On your latest project, Watch the Throne with Kanye West, you both consciously labeled one of your tracks, “N—as in Paris.” As two of the most influential men of the 21st Century this is the best you can do? Well thanks to you, French presidential hopeful Francois Hollande now has your theme song to help him capture the Black vote and that of the disenfranchised Parisians that Sarkozy can’t seem to embrace. Insulting! Do you think for one minute President Obama would have ever used “Jigga my N—a” as your walking music down the many red carpet White House appearances you’ve made? Absolutely not!
It’s time for you to get the lesson. As long as you reduce who you are to a racial epithet you will never feel comfortable at the table with Warren Buffet and his friends and you’re going to always feel you have more to prove. Take the pressure off. Get it?