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Happy Father’s Day!
“Well you can tell everybody…I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man.” Aloe Blacc
Happy Father’s Day from The PolidayReport!
Father’s Day has been met with considerable controversy almost since its inception. According to History.com, Father’s Day underwent major challenges with naysayers feeling that fathers did not have “the same sentimental appeal” as mothers. Case and point, Father’s Day became a national holiday 58 whopping years after Mother’s Day at the hand of President Richard Nixon in 1972!
Fathers, today we salute you. Our culture often pokes fun at wanting “half” from a man’s means, but the truth of the matter is that every person on this Earth has half–half of a father’s genes that created us into the people we are today.
Father’s Day is about the celebration of the chromosomes fathers have contributed to walking, talking beings that matter–it is about the love they have shown, the care they have provided, the lessons they have taught, the sayings they have rendered, the strength they have shown, the embraces they have given, the masculinity they’ve presented, the security they have ushered, and the examples of manhood that they are.
Father’s Day is as much about a dad’s smell as it is about the fleeting memory of what it used to be. It’s as much about his having an education as much as it is about his lack of one. It’s about fathers’ game-time rituals and living room chairs and barbecuing skills and obnoxious laughs. It’s about those barely talkative dads that always share a lot, but in a few powerful, potent words…or gestures. Father’s Day is about those dads that work day in and day out to support their families and the ones that are only home on weekends so they become virtual strangers to the households they build.
Father’s Day is about men.
Father’s Day is about men some of us never got the chance to know, but think about the possibilities of the encounters especially on Father’s Day. It is about that unfamiliar face morphed into the reflections that stare back at us when we look in the mirror. It is about anomalous personalities we inherited from Fathers, gone too soon, that other family members don’t quite understand.
Father’s Day is as much about the jail house visit as much as it is about sitting on the church pew holding dad’s hand or sitting on the floor of the musalla next to dad before salat or prayer begins.
Father’s Day is about love!
Father’s Day is not about single mothers taking care of children for whom they are obligated.
It is not about finding every discrepancy and fault in fathers who have yet to embrace fatherhood.
It is about finding forgiveness.
Happy Father’s Day!
The Brothers of Masjid William Salaam–Norfolk, VA, The Brothers I’ve looked up to in the W.D. Muhammad / Nation of Islam ummah (community/ nation), Brother Karim–stepped up/ stood in, Kasib Azeez–The Provider, Chad Mensah–brother-friend, LaMonte Bullock–everything, Eddie James–Brother-in-Law. My male teachers: Mr. Bonds–elementary school principal, Mr. Cook-middle school science teacher, Mr. Foley-middle school math teacher, Mr. Riddell–middle school band teacher, Mr. Elston Fitzgerald–high school band teacher, Mr. Roosevelt Moseley–high school history teacher, Mr. Bob Davenport–high school world history teacher, Coach Conley–high school gym teacher / track coach, Mr. John Edwards–high school assistant principal / saw my oratory potential, Professor Gary Baker–VSU Political Science Professor /friend, Dr. Wallace McMichael–VSU Political Science Professor / friend, Dr. Murel Jones–VSU Political Science Professor, Dr. Raymond Griffin–Graduate School Professor, Dr. Clarence Penn–Graduate School Professor, Superintendent Ruffa–Graduate School Professor, The men of Virginia State University, Mr. Tavis Smiley, Mr. Alphonso Tyre–colleague / friend, President Obama, all of the heroic, historical, honorable old and young men I love-past, present, and future…
May today, June 15th, 2014 be the start of an extra-special Father’s Day for each and every father. Today we celebrate you!
President Obama Makes History All the Time!
Tuesday night, June 10th, 2014 I hopped into a cab. As part of my cab riding ritual, I always make it a point to find out the country from which my driver comes. On this particular ride, my driver was Sindhi and when I asked him where he was from, he responded, “Sindh.” I was confused.
Initially, I believed he was from Pakistan so I asked him if he spoke Urdu. He replied, “No. I speak Sindhi.”
He proceeded to explain the Sindhi’s journey to sovereignty to me and even handed me his iPhone 5 to show me a picture of his daughter wearing a traditional Sindhi cape. My driver informed me that he was an anesthesiologist in his country, but what gave him a huge inflection in his voice was when he reflected that one day his country would be a sovereign nation again with its own leader.
“If America can elect Obama as its President, there is hope for Sindhi people, too.” NYC Sindhi cab driver
Beyond the fact that our 44th President, Barack Obama, will forever go down in history as America’s first African American president, he is still inspiring others with hope and making more history.
This Friday, June 13th, 2014, President Obama became only the fourth sitting American President to visit a Native American Reservation–The Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Former Presidents Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929, 30th
President), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932-1945, 32nd President), and William “Bill” Jefferson Clinton (1992-2000, 42nd President) all made visits to Pine Ridge or the Cherokee Nation.
America’s relationship with Native Americans has been very little of beautiful and a whole lot of ugly: through the displacements and massacres and simply not acknowledging the existence of Native Americans through unequal treaties and the American Constitution, it is great that President Obama’s visit can represent a sign of the times to come.
There is so much prophecy in the fact that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are visiting this reservation as the leaders of our nation considering Black America’s sordid past of being enslaved by Native Americans in the United States of America.
In these changing times it is great to see President Obama serve as a bridge linking our past, present and future. President Obama’s presence is the beginning of a long overdue conversation, a much-needed intervention of two marginalized groups that need a whole lot of healing, and a nation in need of reckoning.
It is always great to see good history being made–the kind that has the potential to heal old wounds. Way to go President Obama!
Check out the MSNBC article below written by Trymaine Lee as he further explains President Obama’s Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation trip.
Life and Death: The National Guard and [Student] Activism
Update: For the past 10 days, the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri have been at odds with local Ferguson Police Department after a six-year officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed 18 year-old Michael Brown in a barrage of at least six bullets on Saturday August 9th, 2014. In the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown, the citizens–many of them students– have taken to the street to mostly peaceful protest against police brutality, and the local police has been anything but understanding of the citizens’ frustrations. The police has not been forthcoming with information, it has launched an excessive use of force and intimidation on the people to include the use of military tanks, assault rifles, and tear gas in the midst of claims of citizens throwing molovtov cocktails, shooting, and looting. Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon has had to intervene by first, holding a press conference to announce his appointment of Missouri Highway Patrol Captain, Ron Johnson, and now he had deployed the use of the National Guard. In America’s most volatile times, the National Guard has been sought as the solution. Some times it has worked and other times, it has further exacerbated the problems.
On May 4th, 2014, we remember the horrendous killing of four students and the wounding of nine by the bullets of the National Guard on the campus of Kent State University on May 4th, 1970.
Students at Kent State protested President Nixon’s announcement that the United States would invade Cambodia in the midst of America’s already unfavorable Vietnam War. In an attempt to stop the students from protesting and rallying, Kent State University’s administrators decided to cancel the students’ rally so they began passing out flyers saying that the rally was canceled. To no avail students showed up anyway. Some of Kent State’s faculty appealed to the students to abandon the rally upon realizing the Ohio National Guard had been called to disband the student assembly and knowing that eventually these students could become victims of the National Guard’s aggression. As the National Guard began closing in, the students maintained their position and continued rallying. Before anyone knew what happened, one of the officers opened fire which resulted in other National Guard officers opening fire on unarmed students.
We remember the students of Kent State that lost their lives. We also reflect on the role the National Guard has served in protecting and escorting our most vulnerable groups for the past 378 years. Lastly, we are called to question the price of student activism or lack thereof in America’s schools today.
Check out CNN’s photo slide show here: Kent State Shooting in Photos
In the 1950s and 1960s, the National Guard was used by President Eisenhower in 1957 to help admit nine African American students into Little Rock Arkansas’ Central High School–The Little Rock Nine. When the state of Arkansas refused to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision in the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling to integrate schools “with all deliberate speed,” the final resort for President Eisenhower was to enforce the ruling through the use of the Arkansas National Guard, a symbol of protection and an escort for nine young people attempting to be educated and bravely walking into the pit of racism’s hell for it to happen.
Check out the Eyes on the Prize segment here:
In 1963 President John F. Kennedy also used the National Guard to escort and protect two students into the University of Alabama, Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood, when the notoriously defiant and racist Alabama Governor George Wallace denied them entry into the school.
Click on this 2003 NPR link to hear Vivian Jones’ words about this time period here:
NPR and the University of Alabama, 1963
As the decade of the 60s progressed, the National Guard intervened in even more campus conflicts, but they no longer appeared to serve, protect, and escort maligned groups in our nation. As America changed presidents and became embroiled in more international conflicts such as the Vietnam War and Cambodia invasions, a commitment to Civil Rights became a thorn in the side of our nation, and the National Guard seemingly became the escort of the nation’s resentment. And, its purpose became riddled in contradictory aggression and death.
On the campus of the renowned HBCU North Carolina A & T University, the National Guard, in reaction to the idea of Black Power, used deadly force to quell student protests in May of 1969. The students of the local James B. Dudley High School turned to the college students of NC A & T to assist them in the issues they faced in electing the student of their choice to represent their student body. As a result of the students of Dudley High School not feeling their demands were being met, and as a result of the superintendent’s decision to remove the Black principal and replace him with a white one, the students protested and picketed. During the student protest, the police used tear gas to stop it. The police presence and actions exacerbated the students’ behavior resulting in nine student arrests and rioting. Dudley High School students further enlisted the help of North Carolina A & T’s Student Organization for Black Unity, a group feared to be operating under the Black Power Movement. Some of the student activists organized a march to support the students of Dudley High School, but in the midst of the march, a group of young white youth orchestrated a drive-by shooting into the crowd of the A & T students; and, in response, the A & T students began defending themselves. How they defended themselves has long been a source of debate. The National Guard was called in to suppress the reactions, and once again the situation was exacerbated. As result of the National Guard’s presence, student Willie Grimes, 22, was shot and killed. The campus erupted and what ensued was the declaration of a state of emergency,
the raiding of Scott Hall, a male dormitory, approximately 300 students were held in prison for the day, more than 60 rounds of ammunition were shot into the dorm’s walls by the National Guard, a campus-wide curfew was put into effect, and ultimately 3 operable firearms were located.
In the aftermath of the Dudley High School / A & T fiasco, students lost their lives, had their college experiences marred, and came face to face with the brutality of the National Guard, an entity that 12 years prior had served to extend civil rights to vulnerable African American students looking to be educated in a racist, forced-integration system in Arkansas.
The National Guard’s motto is “Always there, Always ready.” There are countless men and women that serve in the National Guard every day, assisting America in its time of need and we appreciate them. In America’s most volatile, racist times the National Guard has been there, and in the most tumultuous decade of the 20th Century, the 60s, the National Guard was there, but we have to live with the record of knowing that it also executed some very poor and deadly decisions. The lives of the students in the schools mentioned in this post have forever been changed–some for the good and some in the worst ways imaginable.
Today, we live in a time where very little activism takes place on our college campuses and within our schools; students’ rights are violated on a continual basis, their voices are silenced in almost every regard, and yet we persistently wonder why younger people are so silent. There is a history not too far into the past that has frowned on students’ activism more than it has protected their rights. There has been no real major sustainable movement of young people protesting injustices on college campuses in recent years. Perhaps the greatest amount of noise in recent years has come from African American students like Sy Stokes on UCLA’s campus upset about the school’s lack of diversity, the seeming abandonment of affirmative action, and feelings that Black Male student athletes are only regarded because of their athleticism.
Check out his video here:
And, we cannot forget Brooke Kimbrough and her rally against the University of Michigan for not being accepted and the subsequent US Supreme Court ban on affirmative in Schuette vs. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.
Maybe our students are worried that their First Amendment right to assemble will be compromised by the National Guard if it is called to suppress their protests; or, maybe our students are afraid to chance that the National Guard’s motto will actually work in their favor like it did with the Little Rock Nine. So, students remain silent.
Either way, student activism in our institutions will always come down to a matter of life and death.
A Super Bowl Salute
It’s here! This Super Bowl moment is the day some fans have “waited” for “since 2006 (David Cheek on Facebook)!!!”
Heralded as the “Big Game” Super Bowl fever has been swept all over New Jersey, the state in which the game is going to be played, and New York, the state in which tourists, visitors, and diehard fans are going to spend all of their money and time.
Not much of a football fan, I sometimes don’t understand why some people would actually want to sit in a cold stadium and watch big, burly, lean, fit, strong, virile men shuffle up and down a grassy field with the objective of getting a leather ball from one end to the next. But then again, we are talking about watching beautiful men using football to serve a far greater purpose than the entertainment of the stadium spectators. These men are beautiful because most of the NFL players suit up to save their lives and the lives of others; while the armor they wear may be uniform so as to identify the teams with which they play, each player’s uniform is his own distinct Super Hero costume. When the players are in the personal huddles of their minds, they discuss the worries of their lives that include the loss of loved ones and the obligation to financially and emotionally support their family members. Some of them repeatedly, and in flashing moments, run through how they could have handled a high-profile, public situation differently. They also use the game as the one medium they can use to access incarcerated friends and family. Suddenly the “Big Game” comes with high stakes so I tune in to watch the players navigate these plays in life.
During this Black History month, I’d like to salute the NFL for hosting a profitable and accommodating space for Black players to engage in these personal life huddles, and for providing the means for them to be able to financially solve some of these issues. While money cannot fix every player’s problems as is evident in the suicide deaths of players like Paul Oliver and Javon Belcher, many of the NFL’s Black players are able to experience life completely different from what any of them ever could have imagined. They have greater access to being better people because of the notoriety that comes along with the game. I don’t doubt, however, that many of these players would do philanthropic and humanitarian gestures even if there were no paparazzi lights.
I salute these players even more for seizing the opportunity, through prayer, hard work, and talent, to use the NFL as tool to enrich their lives and the lives of others.
There will always be arguments about the treatment of Black players in institutions like the NFL and NBA like what the fantastic Mr. Bill Rhoden laid out in his book $40 Million Dollar Slaves. Generally, there is no institution without its share of setbacks and marginalization. According to USA Today, Black players
are 10 times more likely to be arrested than White players. The kryptonite that effects some of these Black players (Black players make up approximately 65% of the NFL according to reports by William Rhoden and others) are societal ills like profiling, racism, and a lack of humanity. Through it all, they persevere most times by rising above these issues and committing to the excellence of taking their teams to the Super Bowl.
In 1933, there were 2 Black players and the NFL did not have any more Black players until after World War II. Today the level of sportsmanship, athleticism and notoriety that Black players have added to the NFL makes it hard to believe that football could even have been a sport without them.
Happy Super Bowl Sunday and here’s a Super salute to the NFL’s Black players!
Kwanzaa: Ujima / Collective Work and Responsibility
“Am I my Brother’s Keeper?”
It’s Kwanzaa, day 3, and according to the principle of Ujima (oo-gee-ma), which translates into collective work and responsibility, yes we are!
All across America there existed all Black, well-developed communities, with “well-developed” being the operative phrase. In such communities, there were grocery stores, doctor’s offices, schools, banks, etc; whatever facilities and cultural aesthetics that were necessary to create thriving communities were included in these communities. Not that these communities were anomalies, they were created out of necessity and by the rules of Jim Crow, but some functioned far better than others; and, the residents worked together to maintain and sustain these communities by taking responsibility for them, investing their monies in them, and working together to help them thrive.
Hollywood made a movie about one, Rosewood, an all Black community in Rosewood, Florida.
Renowned Harlem Renaissance writer and member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Zora Neale Hurston, set many of her vernacular-based stories in the all Black town in which she grew up and her family served, Eatonville, Florida.
Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree and famed attorney, the late Johnnie Cochran, worked for justice to be served for the survivors and relatives of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District often referred to as “Black Wall Street”–calling for the survivors to be awarded reparations as a result of the racial violence that destroyed this thriving community. A documentary called, “Before They Die” was made by Reggie Turner in 2008 chronicling the last living survivors (www.beforetheydie.org).
We are our brother’s keeper.
The idea of sororities and fraternities do a really good job in reinforcing this idea. In Black communities, there are certain aspects of it that will always prevail: good food, in the South, football games, and the familiarity of fraternities and sororities. For students that have attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and for students that have attended “traditional” schools where they are active members of their Black Student Unions (BSUs), a great number are members of the Divine Nine, the nine historic sororities and fraternities that collectively make up the PanHellenic Council: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. Membership in these organizations helps students to work together in service initiatives for the sake of contributing to the communities in which the organizations serve; and, all of the PanHellenic organizations have service at the helm of their principles where all of the members come together out of love and obligation to serve. We are our brother’s keeper.
When confronted by tasks, events, or phenomena that may take place within our communities, but in which we are not directly involved, we may often ask, “What does that have to do with me?” In the words of Stevie Wonder, “Everything! ‘Cause we all play a part in each other’s existence. (“Take the Time Out”–Conversation Peace).”
In the spirit of Ujima, I am my brother’s keeper.
Political Lingo: Repealed!
Obamacare, really known as the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 and constitutionally upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012. The Republicans have made numerous attempts to repeal (to remove or reverse a law) this legislation to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. These are the same elected officials that claim our government is squandering money and whining about making our government smaller. They claim to be fiscally conservative, but only when it comes to fighting for special interests.
The important things you need to know about Obamacare are explained to you in a video created by, of course, The White House!
Lastly, did you know that the Eighteenth (18) Amendment was ratified in 1919 and repealed in 1933 by the Twenty First (21) Amendment?
Alcohol became a horrible evil in America during the Progressive Era, a period of social activism and political reform. Women claimed their lives and families were being destroyed due to the drunkenness that caused their husbands to be physically abusive and financially irresponsible. Organizations like the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement were major leaders in lobbying for a Prohibition Law. John D. Rockefeller pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars to support Prohibition as well.
In 1919 the Eighteenth Amendment was passed to ban the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcoholic beverages in the United States and it territories. It did NOT, however, prohibit the purchase or consumption of alcohol. Since businesses couldn’t sell it, people started making it. All hail to the bootleggers and moonshine lived to shine even brighter during this time!
By 1933, industries had enough of the [pseudo]sober life, wanted to get in on some of the booze profits, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the sale of beer and wine because of their low alcohol content. States convened and the Twenty First Amendment was ratified.
I’m sure the alcohol and beverage industries were raising their glasses to drink to that!