When Despair Wins

There is a community of young, black activists in Columbus, Ohio, which is mourning today.

They are mourning and they are in shock because one of their foot-soldiers, MarShawn McCarrel, apparently killed himself yesterday. The report say that he killed himself on the steps of the Ohio State House, a location from which many marches have begun.

MarShawn was a poet and an activist, who was fierce about fighting for the dignity of black people. Up close, he was shy and unassuming, polite and well-mannered. To think that he is gone is almost too much to bear.

As I listen to GOP politicians talk about Americans being angry, I am angered because in their dialogues about anger, they do not consider the anger and frustration and sense of despair of black people. Many older black people have learned to manage their hopelessness, but the young people, those in the streets and in the malls and in the courthouses demanding dignity and justice…have not.

Not a single GOP candidate has bothered to mention that the despair of black people is valid. It is a despair with which we have lived for generations. Not Trump, not Rubio, not Cruz, not Christie…none of them seem to give a horse’s ass about what black people go through because of white supremacy.

Not a one of them (of the ones I mentioned) have voiced concern and/or outrage over the lead-filled water given to people in Flint, Michigan, but I would bet that all of them will, in the future, be on some bandwagon to do something with black kids who have behavior problems – forgetting that lead affects people in horrific ways for years. Lead poisoning affects everything from IQ to the ability to have a healthy body. Not a one of these candidates, and too many white people – care about that. They say that they are pro-life, but they only want life for unborn fetuses and for white people.

They want their country back, a country marked by racism, sexism, homophobia and an economy which puts way too many people on the bottom, without thought of what poverty does to people.

They don’t think about what black and brown kids feel when they go into schools that are shoddy and broken, where heat doesn’t work in the winter and air conditioning doesn’t work in the summer. They don’t think about or care about what it must feel like for little black children to see their white counterparts with fine, fancy schools and they are given the worst facilities imaginable.

They don’t care that in many urban schools, the toilets don’t work, the windows are broken, and the books are old. They don’t think that these little children have feelings, and grow up believing they are inferior because they are treated as though they are inferior, like they do not matter.

The kids, the young people, who have taken to the streets, are tired and angry. They are tired of being ignored. Tired of being marginalized. Tired of being shot down or shot at. Tired of being labeled. Tired of getting second best. But none of the GOP candidates talk about that anger. It is only the anger of white people who feel like perhaps they are losing control of their grip on America that seems to matter.

My heart is breaking today because this young man is said to have committed suicide. He fought until he couldn’t fight any longer. His anger turned inward, where it morphed into depression and finally into despair. He went to the place where unjust laws are made, and he killed himself.

Those running for president should care about the despair about all people, not just their base. White anger is no more sacred than is black anger. And black anger in America has a history grounded in the policies and practices meted out because of white supremacy.

In the Bible it says that God will turn our mourning into dancing. I guess God didn’t get to MarShawn soon enough.

A candid observation…

 

 

Wanting America Back

I was in a high-end restaurant, waiting to have a meeting with a friend, and arrived before he did. I was led to our table, which had already been reserved.

Our table was next to one at which four white women were already sitting. They were older, looking to be in their late 70s and/or early 80s. It felt like they were engaging in a “girl’s day out” kind of time. They were laughing and sharing, talking about their husbands, their children and grandchildren, their charity work, and their professions, from which they had all retired.

I couldn’t help but hear everything they were talking about, and found myself chuckling from time to time at some of the things they shared. Privacy was not an option or a concern for them.

So, when they started talking about politics and the current slate of GOP candidates, the fact that they were sharing their views for all to hear was not surprising. They were Republicans, committed Republicans, that was for certain, because they said so, out loud.
The GOP candidates were interesting, they said. Carly “what’s her name? Is she still in the race?” Fiorina didn’t impress any of them, nor did Jeb Bush. They never mentioned Ben Carson, and kind of skated through their opinions of the candidates who have now left the race, including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Rand Paul.

But then they got to the meat of their discussion: the top three candidates, according to the polls, plus Chris Christie. Trump, they said, was OK. Rubio was not; he was in favor of “bringing all those immigrants, or letting all those immigrants” come into or stay in this country. “Oh no, no immigrants,” said three of the women in response to the now-emerged spokeswoman for the group. One woman weakly tried to say that the immigrants who have been working here should be allowed to become citizens, but she was shut down.

Chris Christie should not be president, said the “louder-than-the-rest” woman because “he hugged Obama. That did it for me. He hugged Obama after Hurricane Sandy.” She said it in such a way which indicated she wanted everyone to know that yes, she said it, and yes, she absolutely meant it.

Obama, she said, was evil. Someone mentioned that Obama had visited a mosque, and had reported that Muslims were “good people.”

“Of course,” the ringleader said, “he would say that because he is a Muslim. Everyone knows that. He doesn’t go to church. He…is…a…Muslim.”

There was a pregnant pause while everyone pondered her pronouncement of “truth.,” but then the women got back to the other GOP candidates. With Trump being a little too over the top, and Rubio being in favor of keeping immigrants here and letting more come in, the only viable candidate, said the ringleader, with the other three women nodding their heads in agreement, was Ted Cruz.

“He is honest and loving and believes in the Constitution,” said Ringleader. “He is our only hope.” And then she said, quietly, “We have lost our beloved America. Our children’s children will never know the America we knew.”

Ah, the “give us our country back” sentiment took center stage. If Cruz could help bring sexism and racism back, and put all of the “isms” back in their places on the shelves of  American values, then he would have to be elected president. If Cruz could get rid of Obamacare with no thought of how millions who now have health care would feel or survive, then he would have to be elected president. If Cruz could make it so that police could have free reign with arresting and brutalizing people, then he would have to be president. If Cruz could get the military up and running like a good American military should run, and “bomb the hell out of ISIS,” as Donald Trump has said, then Cruz would have to be elected president.

I sat there, not surprised at what I was hearing, but a tad irritated that they talked so loudly so that everyone would have to hear their political discourses. They were bemoaning the threat they and many white Americans feel from forces larger than them and their remembrance of an America where bigotry and privilege went unchallenged. They were bemoaning the fact that being “politically correct” means respecting people of different religions (Islam) and colors and nationalities. They were tired of it. They wanted the voices of white people to be heard again, loudly and clearly, putting everyone and everything that wasn’t white in their proper places.

To heck with this being the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” They were not interested in living into that pronouncement and they sure were not interested in nurturing the American value called pluralism.

I heard that in their discourse. I don’t think I was wrong. I wish I were…

A candid observation…

Water

The water situation in Flint, Michigan, where residents have been receiving lead-filled water resulting in serious effects on people, especially children, has brought to light a troubling thought: that water, or the restriction or, as is the case here, the compromise of quality of water given to poor people, is too often used as a weapon against them.

Everyone knows that in order to live, humans must have water. We are told from a very young age that people can survive longer without food than they can without water. Dehydration can cause a person to die a painful death. Water is a necessary element in order for there to be life  …and yet, governments, here and elsewhere, are using their power to restrict or compromise the supply of water to people whom they do not value.

In this country, it is no secret that black, brown and poor people are not highly valued. Some of the entitlement programs, which Republicans want to pare down, were put in place precisely because black and brown and poor people were suffering because of policies designed to limit their capacity to thrive in these United States.

But as this Flint water crisis has unfolded, it becomes clearer than ever how water is being used to compromise the lives of marginalized people here and elsewhere. In Palestine, the Israeli government, which is occupying Palestine, restricts the amount of water Palestinian people can receive. They do not supply water to Palestinian villages, while they readily supply water to Israeli settlers. Palestinians must buy their water on a scheduled basis, and their water is held in black tanks which one can see atop their houses. The Israeli government is in total control of whether or not they get the water they need in order to live.

Even if a Palestinian village is closer to a water treatment plant than is a newly formed Israeli settlement, the pipes supplying fresh water have been laid so that they bypass the village and go straight to the settlements.

It is appalling.

It is no less appalling that an emergency manager in Michigan, who had power over the local government to make decisions, decided to redirect the water supply for Flint residents from Detroit to the Flint River – to save money. It is highly troubling that no such diversions were ordered for people who live in wealthy suburbs. Flint is reportedly has a sizable black residency – over 50 percent. That, apparently, in addition to the fact that Flint was financially strapped, was enough to make the emergency manager decide that the residents of Flint could survive with water coming from a different source, which was cheaper than the water they had been using for years.

The lives of the people who would be affected by the water switch didn’t matter. It was all about the money.

In Israel, it is about the Israeli government, wanting its own homeland, compromising the lives of the Palestinians.

In Flint, insult has been added to injury as the government has continued to charge residents for water they cannot use or drink, and which has already irreparably damaged their children.

The city of Flint, and other cities in this nation, are violating the basic human rights of people by sending them poisoned water and making them pay for it. The Israeli government is as well compromising the human rights of the Palestinian people, making them pay for water in their own land while freely supplying Israeli settlers as they move into Palestine to start a new life. The restriction of water is basically being used as a weapon against poor people. http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/26/us/flint-michigan-water-crisis-race-poverty/)

The situation is so sad, so wrong and so indicative of the depth of racism that pervades not only this country but this world, that it is hard to write about.

But we need to look at what is going on, and, in the case or Flint, get water to the people and filters even as we press for justice, making the local government back away from its insistence on charging people for poisoned water.

It is the least we can do.

A candid observation …

Whose God is the God of the Evangelicals?

I am sick. Not because Donald Trump is leading the pack of GOP candidates, but because he has such a large following, presumably including a large swath of “white evangelicals.”

I am sick because white religion has always seemed estranged from the Gospel that I read, and I am sick because it is those religious people who are crying out for the America that “used to be.”

Why do I say they have seemed estranged? Because it has been white evangelicals who, historically, have supported white supremacy. They have not fought for justice for black people; they have, instead, supported policies that kept black people marginalized. They have fought to keep black people confined to the lowest economic rungs of this economy. They fought to keep segregated schools; they fought to suppress the right to vote from blacks, and in fact, worked hard to keep them from voting. They required that black people defer to them; they would not support laws that prevented lynching (an anti-lynching bill has never been passed in this nation.) They have supported mass incarceration. And yet, they worship the God who had a son named Jesus, who required believers to do good “to the least of these.”

Ironically, many white evangelicals have pooh-poohed the idea that they have treated black people poorly. They point to the fact that there is welfare to help the poor (though they want to eliminate welfare and say that black people are lazy, completely ignoring that it has been white people who created policies and practices that kept black people from securing gainful employment.) As a sort of the sick reasoning that had white slaveholders saying that slavery was “good” for black people, the economic policies of today, which keep black and poor people in debt represent a sort of extension of that mindset, and are looked upon as “gifts” to a people who many religious white people think are dumber and less capable than white people.

They are opposed to diversity; I read a story that said that many white people believe diversity is genocide directed against white people. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2015/01/12/racists-struggling-raise-money-white-genocide-billboard) They seem not to care about the abject condition of urban schools; they seem not to care much about the fact that so many black, brown and poor people cannot make a living wage.

And they, they go to church and say they believe in Jesus.

They are supporting Donald Trump because they want the country to be like it was: openly racist, a place where whites could stomp on the lives, the rights, and the dignity of black people with little pushback. They want the country back that relegated black people to the lowest rungs of life, even as they squeezed labor out of them for the most paltry of wages. Many of them believe that God intended for this country to be “the white man’s country,” and they worked to support and spread segregation. (See Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1975, by Carolyn Renee Dupont, p. 92)

There are too many people of color in this country now, they believe; there are too many changes going on, and white evangelicals are afraid and resentful. White evangelicals resent the granting of rights to members of the LGBTQ community, and they are outraged that same-sex marriage is now the law of the land. They likewise revolted when the United States Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” was unconstitutional, and ordered that public schools be integrated. Many municipalities closed their public schools rather than integrated. But the changes …they are troubling to white evangelicals who believed they knew and know what God wants. That’s why they don’t care that Donald Trump really isn’t “religious.” They don’t care that he knows so little about the Bible that he can say “two Corinthians,” belying his ignorance of the Bible. They don’t care that he said he has never asked God for forgiveness, when forgiveness is a central tenet of Christian belief. (http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/18/politics/trump-has-never-sought-forgiveness/)

In the 60s, white evangelicals in the South fought those who worked for civil rights, be they white or black. In Mississippi,  white evangelical Christians “arrested local activists, stalled voter registration, intimidated black citizens by bombing their homes and churches.” (Mississippi Praying, p. 183) White ministers who tried to support the efforts of blacks to gain basic human rights were called out …by the evangelicals …who said those ministers were not ministers but were outside agitators…”

The history of white evangelicals when it comes to granting dignity and equity to black people simply has not been good.

And now, many of them are Islamophobic; they support the building of a wall to keep Mexican immigrants out; they believe in the rightness of mass incarceration and are dismayed that their “values” are being trounced over.

Who needs values like that, values that demean and diminish the right of all of God’s people to live with dignity? And whose God do they worship? Whose God allows such hatred and such a capacity to marginalize fellow human beings? The Rev. CT Vivian, of whom I am writing an authorized biography, posed that question in a sermon he preached. “Whose God is God?” he asks. I now understand why he asked it..

It doesn’t matter much that Donald Trump is as he is; it is troubling that people who purport to read the same Bible as do I, who talk about the “love of the Lord Jesus” are so capable of doling out that love as they wish, leaving the apparent will of God behind.

Or so it seems.

A candid observation…

Trump and Farrakhan

A friend of mine said something to me last week which has kept me thinking. He said, “Why do you think the media lets Donald Trump say anything he wants, but has basically censored Minister Louis Farrakhan? Why do you think it’s OK for Trump to say hateful, racist, sexist things, and it’s not OK for Farrakhan?”

I didn’t know. I had honestly never thought about it.

Both Trump and Farrakhan “tell it like it is” according to their followers. Both men have a penchant for speaking to the hearts and spirits of people who are mostly ignored, groups of people who feel marginalized and forgotten, and who are angry about it.
Both men are angry, and make no bones about it.

But Trump gets a pass; the media pretty much looks the other way and refuses to call him to accountability for what he says, while Farrakhan has been vilified and marginalized.

Nothing Trump has said has made the media act like responsible journalists. Most of those who interview him seldom really challenge him and when they do, they allow him to talk over them. They cannot get a word in edgewise.

There have been exceptions. Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, who dared challenge Trump on the statements he has made about women has not backed down. Her challenge caused him to go ballistic, and to attack her in a most disturbing way. As a public figure, seeking the presidency, he had no right to say, in response to her questioning of him, that she had blood “coming out of her whatever..” ((http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/08/10/megyn_kelly_blood_coming_out_of_her_wherever_comment_in_cnn_don_lemon_interview.html) Trump is so bothered by Kelly that he now says she should not participate in an upcoming debate, saying she is biased. (http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/01/23/donald-trump-says-megyn-kelly-should-skip-debate-fox-says-shell-be-there/) What she seems to be is determined not to let him bully her.

George Stephanopoulos also challenged Trump (http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/12/20/george-stephanopoulos-calls-out-trump-for-makin/207619) and Trump was questioned when he said he saw Muslims dancing in the streets after 911 (http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/23/politics/donald-trump-new-jersey-cheering-september-11/)

But little stops this man and his rants. Not even his latest statement about being able to go in the middle of 5th Avenue in New York and shoot someone and still not lose supporters has garnered a full blown challenge. (http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/23/politics/donald-trump-shoot-somebody-support/) Anchors have been giggling and have been shaking their heads, but they have not been willing to really challenge him. It is troubling to watch and to listen to.

Trump has been disparaging against women, Mexicans in general and illegal Mexican immigrants in particular. He has put down John McCain as a war hero. He has proposed to ban all Muslims from this country. He talked disparagingly about fellow GOP presidential rival Carly Fiorina, saying, “look at that face!” He likened Dr. Ben Carson, also in the GOP race, to a child molester. When journalist Tavis Smiley challenged the media for not challenging Trump, Smiley got a dose of “Trumpitis” as well, as the presidential contender called Smiley a “hater and a racist” after Smiley said that Trump was a “racial and religious arsonist.”

None of what Trump has said, in person, in front of cameras or via Twitter has been enough for the media to turn away from him.

Farrakhan, on the other hand, has been soundly sanctioned by American media. The head of the Nation of Islam has been unabashed about his disgust with white supremacy and Jewish people. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Farrakhan “… is an anti-Semite who routinely accuses Jews of manipulating the U.S. government and controlling the levers of world power. Farrakhan blames Jews for the slave trade, plantation slavery, Jim Crow, sharecropping and general black oppression.” (https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/louis-farrakhan)
In 1996 in Chicago, Farrakhan said, “”And you do with me as is written, but remember that I have warned you that Allah will punish you. You are wicked deceivers of the American people. You have sucked their blood. You are not real Jews, those of you that are not real Jews. You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell. But I warn you in the name of Allah, you would be wise to leave me alone. But if you choose to crucify me, know that Allah will crucify you.”)

Clearly, Farrakhan’s words and beliefs are anti-Semitic, and he clearly hates white supremacy, but are his words and beliefs any more or less toxic than Trump’s? Is Farrakhan’s dislike of racist white people and Jewish people any worse than Trump’s dislike of Mexicans and Muslims? Is Trump’s virtual silence on issues that affect black people in this nation any less an indication of racial hatred against black people than Farrakhan’s open dislike of Jewish and racist white people?

Aren’t both men Xenophobic? Is Xenophobia coming from a white man less toxic than Xenophobia coming from a black man?

What is up with America’s media? (another friend of mine pointed out that it is not just the white, mainstream media that ignores Farrakhan, but the black media does as well.) Is the fact that Trump is a wealthy white man, a celebrity, who brings ratings up for any media operation the reason he is basically given a free pass? Is the fact that he says what he wants and by and large gets away with it due to the fact he is running for president? Shouldn’t the fact that he is running for president hold him to a higher standard?

It is all very troubling. People have compared Trump to Hitler, and he doesn’t care, or he has said he doesn’t care. This man may very well win the presidency of this nation, and only God knows what will happen to the country should that happen. The support of Trump has shown the widening underbelly of America, an underbelly which is racist at its core. Evangelicals and fellow Conservatives have been largely silent as he has bellowed his racist and sexist rants; it’s only as he has attacked fellow candidate Ted Cruz that there has been a Conservative backlash against him.

But on letting there be free speech and giving vent to those who “speak their minds” when it comes to racism and sexism, there is a clear double standard between whites and blacks. Trump is free to say whatever and Farrakhan is not.

In the land of the free and home of the brave, what is up with that? America’s double standard for white and black people …is showing itself in living color.

A candid observation…

The Pied Piper of America

There is a children’s story about a town that had a plague of rats. There were so many rats that it was unbearable. A man came to the town – Hamelin, located in Germany, dressed in brightly colored clothing. He listened to the people who were, of course, distressed about the rats and he offered to get rid of them if they would pay him. They agreed and he took out a musical instrument and began to play and the rats followed. He led them to a body of water and they all jumped in and died. The Pied Piper of Hamelin did what he said he would do …and the people were overjoyed …but they reneged on their promise to pay him. He left the town, angry.

But he returned a short time later, dressed differently, and began to play his musical instrument again. This time, there were no rats, but his music enticed the children to come. About 130 children followed him, laughing, skipping, singing …and none of them were ever seen again. Two children were spared, one, because he was deaf and could ot hear the music and another because he had left the group to go back to his town to get his coat and just couldn’t catch the group.

I thought about that story as I have reviewed the growing following of Donald Trump. The rats are the economy, the immigrants, the establishment …and the people who have for too long felt marginalized and ignored are feeling the power of this man Trump who has come into a mythical Hamelin to get rid of the vermin. They want their lives back. They want to stop worrying and fretting and they want to be heard. Donald Trump has come wearing a cloak made of golden threads that the people see as threads of hope for them. He says he will fix everything, and all of the people will be better off. He needs no help from anyone; like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Trump has his pipe, or flute, from which comes music smacking of sexism and racism and homophobia and Islamophobia, and the people are elated. The “vermin” of American society, at least in their eyes, will be driven out by the  Piper Trump. They promise him their votes as he rids them of the vermin which are stealing their capacity to live the American Dream. He will get rid of the Mexicans, the Muslims, he will put the Black Lives Matter folks in their place, and make sure there are no ridiculous background checks, which he says is a violation of the Second Amendment. He is going to get rid of health care for all Americans, made possible by the Affordable Care Act, he is going to bomb ISIS out of existence, he is going to build a wall between Mexico and the United States and make Mexico pay for it.

The people are elated! The vermin will be gone. America will be great again!

The people will pay up, at least the first installment. If they don’t vote in the primaries, he will humiliate them and call them traitors and stupid or worse …They will vote. His opponents will continue to tiptoe around him for a while longer …but even when they get more bold and go after him as he has gone after almost everyone, the people of Hamelin (aka America) will support him, because they want their country to be great again and it just cannot be great with all these …outsiders …and changes going on. They will pay up…but they’re going to make him mad, or if he is elected president, the Congress will make him mad, or maybe the Supreme Court, or maybe Russia or maybe North Korea or maybe Syria or maybe even Israel …and then, watch out.

The Pied Piper will seek vengeance. The question is …who will he lead into oblivion as he lives out his tantrum?

America, America, can’t you see it? We have our own Pied Piper.

A candid observation …

Obama and the Issue of Race

I cringe every time I hear someone say that “racism is worse” or that “the country is more divided than ever”  since Obama became president.
I cringe because it is not true. What is true is that Obama’s election brought the dormant racists out of hiding.
It seems that many white people think that racism is “gone” or is “ok” as long as we do not talk about it or deal with it. It is OK for there to be substandard living conditions for black people. It is OK for there to be excessive police violence wielded against black people. It is OK for the infant mortality rate among black people to be higher than any other ethnic group…It is OK.
America treats its big secret, its growing, metastasizing tumor, like anyone treats a secret. America, white America primarily but some blacks too, believe that talking about “it” is the big problem, not the “it” itself. Racism is like America’s ghetto, or like any poverty-ridden neighborhood in the midst of a posh vacation resort. If you cannot see it, you don’t have to talk about it or deal with it. It simply does not exist.
When Obama was elected, people said we were a “post racial” society. That was a foolhardy sentiment from the beginning. Just because some white people voted for a black man was not an indication that racial hatred and bigotry were gone. His being elected was supposed to be enough, evidence that racism was gone. He had to distance himself from his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, in order to prove that he was the president of all people. People were glad. Our dirty little secret was no more.
Except that it was. The reality of the secret, our deep-seeded racism, was there, agitated from hibernation because this black man was in the White House. How dare this happen in this land which was programmed, via the United States Constitution, to be a white man’s country? Some white people were glad and hopeful, but many were not. They were angry and insulted. There was a group of lawmakers who met the day of Obama’s first inauguration to strategize on how to make him a ‘one term president.” (http://www.boston.com/news/politics/gallery/073009_beer_summit_obama/). He might have gotten into office, but by God, they were going to make him suffer for it and if they had their way, they were going to make him so miserable that he would not even want to run for a second term. They would fight him and challenge him on every turn.
Post-racist, indeed.
Obama was dared, almost, to say anything about racism. When Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman, and Obama stated a truth, that “if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon,” the “resenters” got busy, claiming his words were dividing the country. The fact that Zimmerman apparently profiled Martin, followed him in spite of being told not to, and then killed him didn’t matter. Obama had better not say anything that indicated that this tragedy happened largely because Zimmerman believed a black child was out of place.
When Harvard Professor Skip Gates was arrested at his own home by police and Obama made mention that the incident was …just wrong…he was again jumped on and accused of dividing the country. The president ended up calling for a “beer summit” where he, Gates and the officer sat down together and “talked.” It seemed like Obama was trying hard to show people who had no intention of accepting anything he said or did …that he was a regular guy …and had no animus against white people or police officers, no matter how wrong their actions might have been. (http://www.boston.com/news/politics/gallery/073009_beer_summit_obama/)
It seems that the only way some white people can survive within this racist system is to act like it doesn’t exist, to ignore it and not speak about it. Obama ended up backing away from most things racial …because he knew he would be skewered for it. In the meantime, too many white people, angry that he was in the White House as the President and not as the butler, angry that their attempts to destroy him politically had failed, seethed. They began to talk more about their resentment; they insulted and degraded Obama at every turn. Obama didn’t make them racist; this system did. The president could not change their hearts, though, hearts and spirits that had been nurtured for decades by a system which revered and protected white supremacy.
When Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump say that the country is more divided (racially) than ever, it makes one wonder what they would do? None of the current GOP candidates, save one, have said anything about the injustice of the Tamir Rice case. None of the candidates are admitting that our justice system is seriously racist and has been for a long time. Nobody is jumping on Donald Trump for his outrageous racism and racist comments. America’s racism is front and center in the GOP candidates, and, frankly, it is sickening.
This country is divided not because of Obama. This country is a mess racially because this country has avoided the issue of its rabid racism for generations. This country is divided because it has created and implemented policies and procedures which are at their root devised to protect the control white people have had over black people since black people were brought here from Africa. This country is divided because our very Constitution, and our country’s institutions, indicated that black people were not human, and were not ever to be considered “equal” to white people. Staying quiet about “the secret” does not make the secret any less abhorrent, powerful or damaging.
The divide which is ours …will remain. There are too few people who are willing to look this Leviathan in the face and do the work needed to destroy it. Perhaps Obama was willing to try doing that, but his enemies would never have allowed it.
Our core is rotten because of our racism, and the core was planted long before Barack Hussein Obama was even thought about.

A candid observation …

What Tamir’s Denigration Means

What does a people say when a nation, its own nation, continually denigrates them and lets them know that their lives really do not matter?

There has been a grave travesty of justice – yet again – in the decision of the Grand Jury in Cuyahoga County to not indict the police officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice within two seconds of driving up on him as he played with a pellet gun.

How can any intelligent group of people not agree, not see, that those officers murdered a child?

People always want justice when they have been aggrieved; it is human to seek it. The parents and loved ones of the four people killed Ethan Couch,  a wealthy teen who was driving drunk, were outraged when he was given probation instead of jail time. Any parent would be so outraged.

Think of how you would feel if such injustice, such a decision to not demand accountability for awful crimes, were your norm.

It is the norm for black people in this nation.

It is not the norm when black people kill other black people; those criminals go to jail. But the criminals wearing badges get a free pass. They are almost never held accountable.

It is the norm for black people in this nation.

How can a people, masses of white people, not be incensed at America’s continued violation of the human and civil rights of black people? How can a people who say they are pro-life not care about the families which are being devastated by a justice system which is anything but just?

How can parents not feel the anguish of parents of killed loved ones, their children, who will never see justice rendered against the murderers of their children, because the system …protects…their murderers?

How can a nation not be incensed that officers who have a history of using excessive force, especially against black people, are allowed to stay on the streets? Aren’t they at least as despicable as priests who molest young children and who are allowed to stay in their parishes?

How can any person calling him or herself Christian not be pained to the core of his or her spirit, because the Scriptures, which demand justice and righteousness, are being ignored?

Do not say that we, black people, should trust the system. The system has never protected us, never had our best interests at heart.

We cannot trust the prosecutors, the judges or the juries. They are bedfellows with a largely white police force which knows it can get away with murder. Prosecutors need the support of police unions, so they do what the unions say do. Prosecutors, elected officials, also need to satisfy their base, which is largely white and Conservative, and no friends to black people.

Judges need support from powerful union interests as well. They are too often not interested in justice, but, instead, with satisfying those who pay their salaries and help them stay in office.

The result is a justice system which still lynches black people.

What was done by the Grand Jury in Tamir Rice’s case …was immoral, unjust, but typical of how American justice works for black people.

He was a kid, 12-years old, and he was shot to death within seconds of being driven up on by rabid police officers with no self control.

He was allowed to lay on the ground for a number of minutes, dying, while the police officers wrestled and handcuffed his 14-year old sister.

How can so many (not all) white people not be enraged? What if it had been your son? What would you feel? What does a people say when their own nation continually denigrates them and lets them know that their lives really do not matter?

Has America’s racism, its white supremacy, eroded your very souls, your capacity to feel?

It would seem so.

A candid observation …

White Anger, Black Anger

When Newt Gingrich did his “Contract with America” in 1994, it was said to be the result of the anger of Republicans. They were angry at the way government was going; because of big government, the supporters of the contract said, the “American Dream” was out of reach of too many families. The movement was propelled along by white men who were angry; their reasons were their own.

In the Atlantic Constitution in July of this year, there was an article about angry white men; the reporter of the story, Clete Wetli, wrote that “America is finally realizing the true damage caused by far right religious conservatives and the Republican Party who have spent decades fueling and manipulating the hatred of angry white men.” Wetli writes:
They are angry they lost the “War of Northern Aggression”. They are angry that some people get help from the government. They are angry that ‘Mericuh has a black President. They are angry that people have sex for recreation instead of procreation. They are angry that gays are ruining their third marriage. Heck, they are angry that lawn darts were recalled and that women think they should be paid the same as men… in the army! (http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/06/the_rise_and_fall_of_the_angry.html)

In that article, Wetli writes that white men are angry because “they have to be politically correct and they don’t really know what that means.”

Michael Kimmel, in his book Angry White Men, delves into the reasons white men are angry, noting that much mass violence comes from white men. They feel like history has blindsided them, Kimmel says, and writes:
Today’s Angry White Men look backward, nostalgically at the world they have lost. Some organize politically to restore “their” country; some descend into madness; others lash out violently at a host of scapegoats. Theirs is a fight to restore, to reclaim more than just what they feel entitled to socially or economically — it’s also to restore their sense of manhood, to reclaim that sense of dominance and power to which they also feel entitled. They don’t get mad, they want to get even — but with whom? (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-kimmel/americas-angry-white-men_b_4182486.html)

Much has been written about the anger of white men, and in some ways, their anger is given support and the systems in place which have caused and supported white supremacy lend a sympathetic ear, for the most part.

So, yes, we know that white men are angry, even if we do not understand why, given the fact that in this society, and perhaps in this world, they are the most privileged of all people.

But what about the anger of black people?

Nobody likes to talk about that anger; indeed, it is looked upon as a weakness, or worse, to be angry if you are black. President Obama has been careful not to appear “angry;” Michelle Obama was at one point early in the Obama administration characterized as “angry.” Black anger is deemed to be wrong, unreasonable, misplaced and misguided. Anger at having endured oppression sanctioned by the government has been flicked off, and black people have been told to “just get over it.”

But how can black people not be angry?

The latest assault to the soul of Black America came just yesterday with the Grand Jury in Cleveland refusing to indict the police officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Within seconds, that child, holding a toy gun, was gunned down by trigger happy (perhaps angry) white police officers. He lay on the ground and his sister, who wanted to go to his aid, was roughed up and handcuffed by those same officers.
He was a child, for goodness’ sake, holding a toy gun in an open carry state. The police shot first and asked questions later.

And this has been the history of black people and law enforcement in this country for decades.

Why in the world would anyone think black people should not be angry?

Anthony Ray Hinton, falsely accused and convicted of murder and who spent 30 years in solitary confinement on Death Row, said that when he was arrested, the officer told him he would be convicted, even though he, the police officer admitted that Hinton had “probably not” committed the crime of which he was accused. Why would he be convicted? Hinton said the officer said, “because you are being accused by a white man, because the prosecutor is white, because the judge will be white, because the jury will be white, and because your court-appointed attorney will be white.”

Most black people do not get that kind of up-front, in-your-face admission of white oppression, but it has existed for decades. Black people have endured being treated like objects in this country blacks built – free labor given at the behest of white people – and have endured never being given credit for that same work. Black parents have pushed through and found ways for their children to get a decent education in spite of despicable public schools in their neighborhoods. Black people have endured the humiliation of being sought to fight for this country and being denied basic rights once their service to this country was completed.

Why in the world would black people not be angry?

It is one of the biggest ironies in this nation that angry white people rebelled against their British oppressors because they hated being oppressed, but those same angry white people have not been able to understand or appreciate the anger of black people who are likewise tired of being oppressed.

Is it that black people are still seen as being sub-human, with no capacity to feel pain?

The mother and family of Tamir Rice were already devastated by the fact that he was killed by police …for just being black but being in the wrong place at the wrong time, looked upon as a beast and not a child…but now they have to endure, as have so many black parents, the indignity of this system saying that his death was the result of justifiable force rendered by police. It’s the same song black parents have heard for decades.

This government has not ever protected black people; it in fact participated in thousands of lynchings over the years. It has passed laws that protect the right of white people to oppress black people.

So, why is it a problem that black people are angry?

Could any of the angry white men survive a nanosecond under the kind of oppression that white America has rendered to black people, with government support?

I think not.

Maybe it’s white men …who should get over it.

A candid observation ….

Trump, Wright, the Media and Hatred

When Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, the media played, over and over, two sound bites of the candidate’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright. In one he said, in the context of the sermon which he was preaching, “God bless America? No, no, no, God damn America…”, using the Biblical text from Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is a book of laws.  In it, there are a slew of laws and the expectation that God’s people will be obedient. Throughout the book, the writers list requirements of God’s people, and infractions that will get people and nations in trouble. They, the people and/or their nation, will be “cursed” if they do not obey the Lord. The word “cursed” comes from the Latin “damnare” which means “to inflict a loss,” or “to condemn.” To be so damned, or cursed, usually means that a person or nation is a sinner, guilty of being disobedient. Those who are disobedient stand the possibility of being condemned by God; in the New Testament, that would mean some people get to heaven, others don’t. Jesus’ statement that “not everybody who says “Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven” seems to point to the reality that some of us are “condemned” or “damned” because we are not doing God’s will.

In these chapters of Deuteronomy, the writer says that people will be cursed for some very specific things: people who lead blind people astray, people who dishonor their parents,and people who engage in sexual improprieties are “cursed,”  but as mentioned,  God, Yahweh, wants all of the laws followed. Among the things that God apparently detests:

If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand him over to his master. Let him live among you wherever he likes and whatever town he chooses. Do not oppress him. (Deut. 23:15)

Do not charge your brother interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interests. You may charge a foreigner interest but not a brother Israelite… (Deut. 23:19)

At the end of every seven years, you must cancel debts. (Deut. 15:1)

There should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. (Deut. 15:4) (italics mine). Citing the ways in which the United States has oppressed people here and all over the world, Wright took to the Bible to remind us that we will be cursed for not doing God’s will.

Wright was referring to a very specific directive which came straight from the Hebrew scriptures; his  was a Biblical argument, not a hateful barrage of words.

Trump, however, who says, by the way, that he is a Christian, has been nothing but hateful in his rhetoric – speaking against Mexicans, Muslims, women, and anyone who dares cross him, and the media has been sluggish in highlighting that he is spewing hatred; this same media which skewered Wright is not playing the Donald Trump diatribes repeatedly over their airwaves.

What is that about?

The media is, instead, giving Trump more and more air time. It seems not to mettle them at all that Trump’s words are rousing the racists from their dens.Most of what Trump does is verbally attack people who dare say anything he feels like is an attack on him – and any time one says anything in opposition to Trump, he says it is an attack. Trump comes back with insults and put-downs. He gives very little specific policies that he would implement if elected president.

Isn’t that hate? Isn’t Trump a bully, perhaps hiding his insecurities with this hateful, racist bravado?

What Wright did was let people know that a nation which calls itself Christian but which is not doing God’s will, is in trouble. With its history of oppressing others, Wright preached, America is in trouble. It stands to be “cursed” by a God who demands justice and righteousness.

But Wright was “damned” by the media and much of America, while Trump gets a free pass.  This man who is so rich has spent barely a penny of his own money in getting his message out. The media seems to giggle when he issues yet another one of his hateful statements.

So, “hatred” is OK if a rich white man is the perpetrator? It really doesn’t matter that Trump has put down Mexicans, immigrants and women? (Interestingly, he has said very little publicly about black people.) White nationalist David Duke says that Trump speaks “a lot more radically than I do.” (http://www.rawstory.com/2015/12/white-nationalist-leader-david-duke-trump-sounds-even-more-radical-than-i-do/)

The ex-KKK leader also said that Trump understands “the real sentiment of America.” This, coming from a man whose personal and public positions on who is worthy of dignity and freedom and who is not, is troubling. The KKK’s history of hatred needs no help here. (http://www.rawstory.com/2015/08/ex-kkk-leader-david-duke-backs-donald-trump-he-understands-the-real-sentiment-of-america/)

Does anyone see the difference? Trump is getting a free pass to incite racists who have long been lying dormant, ready to strike. Trump’s words are giving them permission to rise up and be bold in their hatred of so much … And the media seems more than willing to be complicit in the plan.

Wright, on the other hand, pleaded for people of God who knew God’s word to stand up and fight for justice, to remind this nation of God’s blessings for obedience …and curses (damnation) for disobedience.

I hate to put Wright’s name in the same essay that has the names of Donald Trump and David Duke, but the difference in the way Trump and Wright have been treated by the media is stark. The media sought to destroy Barack Obama by playing soundbites that it knew would feed into the dormant racists and others. The sound of an “angry black man” was threatening.  Political strategists knew it and used it. It’s called politics.

But that same media is letting Trump say truly hateful things and continue to give him free air time to spread is hatred. The media is being masterful in manipulating a particular demographic. The media is playing the race card, the white supremacist card, and the fear card… They are not trying to destroy Trump. They like him. Wright bothered them and so he had to go.

I don’t like hockey much but I have heard from hockey junkies that the game is OK but the fights are exciting. I have heard them say that they go to see the fights because they are fun to watch.

It seems like, feels like, Trump and his base are a hockey team, fighting with anyone who dares cross him and them, not on policy issues but on personal, hateful, racist, sexist, and religious issues.

A candid observation …

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