A discussion of race, politics, media and the like… What I see is what you get.

Race

Frederick Douglass speech: The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro


A must read by ALL on July 4th. This was written before the end of slavery…over 150 years ago…

Contextually, while some things have changed since July 5, 1852, I am struck, every year when I re-read it, at how the themes he discusses apply to myself and my community even today.

I would love your thoughts on this piece once you have read it…

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too Ñ great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory….

…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame man leap as an hart.”

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.ÑThe rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.”

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America.is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery Ñ the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, “It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, an denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed.” But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Amercans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their mastcrs? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival….

…Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. “The arm of the Lord is not shortened,” and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from “the Declaration of Independence,” the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. — Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.

The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, “Let there be Light,” has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. ‘Ethiopia, shall, stretch. out her hand unto Ood.” In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:

God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o’er!
When from their galling chains set free,
Th’ oppress’d shall vilely bend the knee,
And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom’s reign,
To man his plundered rights again
Restore.

God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood,
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good,
Not blow for blow;
That day will come all feuds to end,
And change into a faithful friend
Each foe.

God speed the hour, the glorious hour,
When none on earth
Shall exercise a lordly power,
Nor in a tyrant’s presence cower;
But to all manhood’s stature tower,
By equal birth!
That hour will come, to each, to all,
And from his Prison-house, to thrall
Go forth.

Until that year, day, hour, arrive,
With head, and heart, and hand I’ll strive,
To break the rod, and rend the gyve,
The spoiler of his prey deprive —
So witness Heaven!
And never from my chosen post,
Whate’er the peril or the cost,
Be driven.

The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, Volume II
Pre-Civil War Decade 1850-1860
Philip S. Foner

International Publishers Co., Inc., New York, 1950Africans in America/Part 4/Frederick Douglass speech.

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Mark Halperin: The point of it all…


I just can’t say or write it any better than this!! Race, racism, white privilege & entitlement, and supremacy is written all over this incident. The implications are long and deep. Hopefully, not just those who are victimized by this type of behavior and thought will speak on it. For it is those with the power that must work to change themselves and their effects on those they victimize.

Racism = Prejudice + Power… Do the Math!

If you understand nothing else, know this. To be Black in America means “we can’t do what they do.” A dear friend spoke those words to me over 20 years ago and I have never forgotten them. Forget making derisive remarks about others in the public square, the fact is we aren’t allowed to get angry or show disappointment openly. To be labeled “difficult” or “angry” is to be marginalized. For African American men and women the vicious stereotypes around what is deemed “aggressive” for us but standard behavior for others is often the difference between a paycheck and the soup line.

“Who do you think you are?” I’ve been asked. “You think a lot of yourself,” the same boss said. I collected myself and quietly left his office that day. I ain’t nobody’s saint but, like Obama, there was nothing I could say without getting frog-marched out of the building.

So Obama will say nothing. He will never address the malicious attacks on his character by respected journalists or side-show carnival barkers. He can’t. He cannot say a nary word about how utterly indecent it all is.

There is something to be said about what we’re becoming. Or maybe it’s about what we’ve always been. A nation with two sets of rules. Mark Halperin may as well have called the president an “uppity Negro.” We’ve been here before. – Goldie Taylor

Mark Halperin: The point of it all… « The Goldie Taylor Project.


Them That’s Not Shall Lose


Without coalescing around some type of political power, legislators too often don’t give those most in need top priority. The poor don’t “butter their bread” so they fall down the list of important constituents…

It is in that context that I am forced to assume that if Washington politicians ever knew the sting of poverty then they have long since vanquished the memory. How else to qualify their positions? In fact, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, nearly half of all members of Congress are millionaires, and between 2008 and 2009, when most Americans were feeling the brunt of the recession, the personal wealth of members of Congress collectively increased by more than 16 percent. Must be nice.

Poverty is brutal, consuming and unforgiving. It strikes at the soul.

You defend yourself with hope, hard work and, for some, a helping hand. But these weapons grow dull in an economy on the verge of atrophy, in a job market tilting ever more toward the top and in a political environment that would sacrifice the weak to the wealthy. – Charles Blow

via Them That’s Not Shall Lose – NYTimes.com.


Obama Breaks Vow with Jobless Blacks


A legitimate critique…

“Today’s economy has made it easier to fall into poverty. … Every American is vulnerable to the insecurities and anxieties of this new economy. And that’s why the single most important focus of my economic agenda as president will be to pursue policies that create jobs and make work pay,” Obama said that day to his mostly black audience.

At that time, the nation’s overall unemployment rate was 4.7%. Whites had a jobless rate of 4.2% while the black unemployment rate stood at 8.1%. Today, the black rate is 15.5%, nearly double that of white job-seekers.

I don’t blame Obama for the economic conditions that are responsible for so many blacks being out of work. The seeds of this problem were planted long before he moved into the Oval Office. But I do fault him for not doing more to fix this problem.

The poor in urban America, he said in that 2007 speech, “suffer most from a politics that has been tipped in favor of those with the most money, and influence, and power.” And then he asked rhetorically, “How can a country like this allow it?” To which he answered, “We can’t.”

But so far, under his leadership, he has allowed it.

Finding work for the jobless is the best anti-poverty program this nation can mount. But while the Obama administration spends $608 million during the first 17 days of its involvement in Libya’s civil war — it can muster neither the money nor the will to combat black unemployment. – DeWayne Wickham

via Column: Obama breaks vow with jobless blacks – USATODAY.com.


Drug Bust


Great article from Charles Blow of the New York Times. I couldn’t agree more. To me this just shows how policies wrapped up in racially coded language and executed in a racist manner, where politicians only weigh what is politic rather than what is right leads us to where we are now. Say nothing about the prison-industrial complex and the prison lobby that manages to privatize prisons for profit and pay to influence legislatures.

I guess you get what you pay for…

And no group has been more targeted and suffered more damage than the black community. As the A.C.L.U. pointed out last week, “The racial disparities are staggering: despite the fact that whites engage in drug offenses at a higher rate than African-Americans, African-Americans are incarcerated for drug offenses at a rate that is 10 times greater than that of whites.”An effort meant to save us from a form of moral decay became its own insidious brand of moral perversion — turning people who should have been patients into prisoners, criminalizing victimless behavior, targeting those whose first offense was entering the world wrapped in the wrong skin. It feeds our achingly contradictory tendency toward prudery and our overwhelming thirst for punishment. – Charles Blow

via Drug Bust – NYTimes.com.


Slam-Dunking Racist Ads During NBA FInals


FYI….

The Zookeeper Ads
The title role of The Zookeeper is played by Kevin James. No coincidence. No relation to LeBron James (Uh, actually I don’t know about that. Consult your nearest white anthropologist.) Zoos have lots of animals. Yet, during this showdown against LeBron James, the the commercials featured only one animal consistently. Yep. A gorilla. Said beast is shown thumping to hip-hop in one commercial with the white zookeeper and playing basketball with him in another.

I kid you not.

This is very serious comedy for Racist Man—and for Racist Woman; who is seen dancing cheek to cheek in a bar with the gorilla while the zookeeper looks on.

Planet of the Apes Ads
The Planet of the Apes commercials don’t clown nearly as much. These really just emphasize and amplify the threat of apes that have, finally, gotten smart. This part is not complicated. And, that’s what makes both films so fun and funny to white people. No need to whisper or hide these messages. As we have yet to get smart, a fun past-time for white people is to check the tweets on the commercials and then forward them to their friends for a high-five belly-laugh. Here’s a tweet by a black person that likely made the rounds on the droids of some white people: “I can’t wait for this to drop so I can take my nieces and nephews to see it.”

If you go to see either of these films, please don’t take little victims with you. Here is my recommended method of viewing the film if you decide to pay for it: Go with a more informed black person. Sit in the middle of the theatre and turn to each other at every racist punch line.—- When white people sitting in the rows in front of you deduce from the quietness of those behind them that there is a smarter black person in their midst, the theatre will start sounding like a Lutheran church funeral. Then, when the film is over, be the last to leave the theatre to bask in the bizarre silence that confirms that you’ve taken some enjoyment out of practicing racism for white people. It might make the film less profitable for them in more ways than one. Now, that’s good fun.

*GWH =great white hope.

—————————————————————————————–
Postscript: If I could write the screenplay to this Bosh-James-Wade drama, the Heat would win the championship and all three would retire at the main news conference following the series with no explanation given.

Post-postscript—Because there is no logical placement for this observation it clumsily appears here. There is an AT&T commercial that appears during the series showing intermittently a gorilla climbing a skyscraper. At the end of the commercial, there is a black male with a hardhat standing at the top of a skyscraper that is under construction. There is no relationship of the gorilla to the product or narrative of the ad. It’s just raw racism (white supremacy). Grab your women. Grab their women. The black male is loose and climbing. Stop him. – http://cree7.wordpress.com/

Slam-Dunking Racist Ads During NBA FInals.


Why it’s Never About Race


Honestly, I’m not sure I know of an instance where someone Black has brought up race illegitimately. Race is everywhere. The notion that Blacks play the race card to gain advantage is silly to me. Considering race is used against Blacks and other minorities on a daily basis by the majority culture in power with impunity, how can minorities play the race card “for advantage” at all? We are, consistently, disadvantaged…

There’s a reasonable debate to be had here, even if many Americans don’t want to hear it.

Instead, we continue to insist on taking a dispositional, personality-based view of racial bias. Only “racists” exhibit bias, we think. Therefore, to admit that race could have played a role in a given decision is to paint the decision-maker in the broad brushstrokes of hopeless bigotry. And we’re hesitant to do that since most of the decision-makers in question don’t look to us like out-and-out bigots. Instead, we assume there must be a reasonable race-neutral explanation:

• Most employers aren’t racists, so racial disparity in a company’s hiring tendencies must result from other factors, like there simply not being enough strong applications from qualified minority candidates.

• Few attorneys or judges are bigots, so what look to be racial differences in say, how they evaluate potential jurors must result from other, race-neutral considerations in their jury selection calculations.

• The arresting officer used to run diversity training sessions for his colleagues, so race couldn’t have played a role in his decision to arrest the Black professor who was legally inside his own home–the professor must have been a disorderly jerk who warranted arrest.

• Race has nothing to do with it; we just don’t believe that the dark-skinned president with the funny name was born in this country (or that many of his supporters are “real Americans,” for that matter).

The ready availability of race-neutral explanations for any given decision allows us to stick to the party line that “this one isn’t about race.” But the aggregated data tell different stories. Résumés with Black-sounding names get 50% fewer call-backs than résumés with White-sounding names. The same juror background is seen more positively by a prosecutor when the juror is White than when the juror is Black. And so on. – Sam Sommers

via Why it’s Never About Race | Psychology Today.