The Long Knives Are Out For Kamala Harris

“Don’t start none, won’t be none!”

They would have left Kamala alone had she been content to stay in the middle of the pack; making no waves, hoping to be in the running for Vice-President once Joe Biden was officially the nominee. Why couldn’t she be satisfied with having raised her national profile, establishing herself as someone to be reckoned with… next time.

It was worrisome to the powers that be when 20,000 people showed up at the Oakland campaign rally which launched her bid to become President of the United States. Then delegate-rich California where she’s a popular Senator and former Attorney General moved up in the Primary process, advantage Harris. Then every time she appeared on television, like when she rattled William Barr during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kamala Harris demonstrated she was going to be a force to be reckoned with. Something had to be done to impede her progress.

Bernie Sanders wasn’t wrong with his complaints the 2016 nomination was rigged to give Hillary Clinton an edge. Democrat Party big wigs had settled on Hillary early and made little pretense as they helped clear the field for her, stacking the deck in her favor. Many of the same faces are back, convinced the need to defeat Trump justifies behaving in the same manner as before. This time wanting a coronation of Joe Biden, while encouraging all the candidates to speak no evil during the process,

Things were going according to plan, Biden had a big lead in the polls and was mostly staying quiet, lest he commits one of the gaffes he’s notorious for. The key to his nomination was his ability to maintain his grip on black voters, particularly black women voters who associate Biden with fonder times when Barack Obama was in office. There were no worries about the first states; mostly white Iowa and New Hampshire.

It was South Carolina with its large black population that offered the first test of Biden’s staying power. Rep. James Clyburn used the first dagger while hosting his famous “fish fry” where over 20 of the Presidential candidates had a chance to mingle with the South Carolina Democrat elite. Clyburn had promised he wouldn’t make any early endorsements, which apparently didn’t prevent him from targeting Harris and Cory Booker for backhanded compliments, intended to drag them down. He said she, “hasn’t spelled out the policy stuff with her vision,” odd since his own candidate was spending much of his campaign in hiding.

“I thought she would be surging a little more than she is.”

The Democrat Party is full of has-been and would-be power brokers salivating at the chance to gain influence with a Biden presidency. Things will be normal, a well-established hierarchy will step into place; unwilling to accept the uncertainty of a newcomer like Sanders or Harris. Not beholden to them for getting where they got. Then the Democrat debates came to Miami and over two hours Harris exposed how vulnerable Biden was and had all eyez on her as Tupac might say. In a telling scene, when the debate was over, a throng of black women crowded around Harris while Biden had none. The call went out, time for those in waiting to earn their keep.

All the opposition research ever compiled against Harris was put into play. Republicans and Democrats alike went on the attack to put the pretender to the throne back in her place. Black Republican strategist Ali Alexander tweeted that Kamala “wasn’t really black” because her parents were from India and Jamaica.

“I’m so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It’s disgusting.”

His tweet was picked up and retweeted thousands of times by Russian bots, and of course, troll Donald Trump, Jr. who later deleted the retweet.

Attacks were made on Kamala’s record as a prosecutor and Attorney General of California. Biden alluded to it during the debate saying, “I was a defense attorney,” others now claiming she wasn’t the progressive prosecutor she claims to have been. Fellow Californian and former Senator Barbara Boxer on an interview on MSNBC quickly pointed out that Harris once feted Biden. Boxer had once endorsed Harris in her winning bid to replace her as Senator but she answered the Biden call.

Right-wing newspapers and blogs are unanimous in their aversion to the possibility of another black President, a woman at that.

“Kamala Harris’ Attack On Joe Biden May Have Backfired “— RedState

“Kamala Harris barked up wrong tree in attacking Biden on race” — Washington Examiner

“Kamala Harris’ Baggage Could Be Just as Big of a Problem as Biden’s” — Vice News

President Trump chimed in saying Kamala Harris got “too much credit” for her debate performance. Forces from all sides are aligning against her, and by all appearances, she can handle it. She didn’t back down against William Barr, not against Joe Biden, and the likes of Donald Trump Jr and his daddy won’t concern her either. Overcoming the smoke-filled rooms of the Democratic leadership may be a hurdle she didn’t anticipate. But the election season is long and much can still happen. The long knives are out, but if you come after the Queen, you best not miss.

Why the 2020 Presidential Election is all about Race (and Abortion).

A nerve was struck during Round 2 of the Democrat debates in Miami, FL when the issue of race was front and center. The prelude to the debate included former Vice-President Joe Biden demonstrating his ability to play well with others by citing his ability to get along with avowed segregationists in his own Party. Biden did his best impression of Donald Trump by refusing to apologize, doubling down by telling Cory Booker he should “know better” in his best “massa” voice.

The topic was bound to come up during the debate. Expectations were that Bernie Sanders would be on the attack but it was Kamala Harris who had Biden wobbly with the one-two punch of addressing how hurtful his comments were and attacking Biden’s position as a Senator opposing school busing ordered by the Federal government. Biden’s excuse could have been delivered by a Klansman when he basically invoked state’s rights, the primary justification for slavery.

These issues are likely to pass after a couple of news cycles but almost every issue influencing voters decisions is tied to race. I’ll concede there are voters who are focused on the issue of abortion where race isn’t part of the equation. Everything else… pretty much race.

Immigration on the Southern border is all about race. The concern is far more about the browning of America than the rule of law. Employers of undocumented immigrants are facing no substantial penalty because it’s understood that workers are required to make America run. The family separation policy would never have been attempted against white immigrants. Trump claims he inherited separation from Obama whose administration separated far fewer children under more humane conditions as a last result. Obama’s immigration policy didn’t have a running death count. Nor did he ban Muslims.

The voters who say their concern is all about the Supreme Court are mostly voting about race. Outside of abortion, the major issues the SCOTUS has dealt with involve race. Pure shame kept the majority of Justices from supporting the racist census question after e-mails came out showing the rationale was to hurt Hispanics and help Republicans. Because everyone knew the Court knew, they ducked the issue and sent it back to a lower court. That didn’t stop them the same day from allowing race-based Gerrymandering and redistricting as long as you pretend the motive is only political. In other words, it’s perfectly acceptable to disenfranchise millions of minorities as long as you don’t admit the real reason.

Public funding for charter schools is very close to a return to segregation, not that it ever completely went away. It used to be if the rich wanted to educate their children in an almost all-white environment, they at least had to pay for it. Now they want the very people they hope to exclude to help pay the freight.

There are millions of immigrants who were brought to America as young children who have never known another home. President Obama initiated the DACA program for “the Dreamers,” but Trump in his racist quest to undo everything Obama tried to end the program. The Supreme Court will take up whether Trump has that right during his next term. I won’t take any bets the court that saw nothing wrong with a Muslim Ban will support DACA.

When we get to the General Election, assuming Trump hasn’t actually shot someone on 5th Ave (the street where he allegedly raped E. Jean Carroll in Bergdorf’s Dept. Store) and is the Republican nominee. We can look forward to him leading chants about “Pocahontas” if Elizabeth Warren is the Democratic nominee. Trump isn’t in the same universe with Warren when it comes to intelligence so he’ll resort to racist taunts. If Kamala Harris is the nominee, the leader of the birther movement will no doubt come up with something to suggest her Jamaican background is suspect? Black Conservative Ali Alexander is already tweeting that Harris isn’t truly black and Russian bots are pumping that theme on Twitter.

Mayor Pete is fighting issues at home in South Bend, IN where a white policeman shot a black man with his body camera suspiciously turned off. His police department is 6% black in a city with a black population of 26%. He said he, “couldn’t get the job done.” There will be questions as to how hard he tried?

It’s hard to say what particular issue involving race will be enough to determine the outcome of the election. Biden entered the race with a large majority of black voters who associate him with former President, Barack Obama. Biden’s announcement video was basically an “I’m with him” statement that included a segment of Obama saying nice things about in. When Kamala Harris had him staggering, he pulled out the Obama card which won’t be enough to get him the nomination. Warren seems to have gotten past attacks on her and her claim of Native American heritage. In full disclosure, my family has always mentioned a Cherokee Indian heritage and while I have no proof, have no reason to doubt it. The one certainty is that 100% of the white supremacist crowd is with Trump. Not saying that all Trump backers are racists, but voting racists are Trump voters.

Joe Biden entered the race with a wide lead in the polls based on the overwhelming support of black voters. Joe thought his civil rights bona fides would protect him from attack from that direction. He may have forgotten his stance on the crime bill which led to an increase in the mass incarceration of black people and his treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. It’s not enough to claim lifetime support of civil rights if not reflected by the record. It will be interesting to watch the ebbs and flows of the election now the debates have begun and primary season nears. The one sure thing is that race will be the issue hiding behind most topics.

Will Trump Order Mueller Not To Testify? What Happens Next?

Donald Trump has already ordered several of his former and current employees to disobey subpoenas and refuse to testify in Congressional hearings. Some of the hearings didn’t even involve Trump, such as the investigation as to whether KellyAnne Conway violated the Hatch Act with her partisan politicking while performing her official duties.

While he was the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller was a Justice Department employee and therefore part of the Executive Branch. Mueller would be no less susceptible to claims of Executive Privilege than any of the others Trump told not to testify(Don McGhan, Hope Hicks, Wilbur Ross, and William Barr). Some of the claims are preposterous and will surely fail in court, an order to Mueller whether from Donald Trump or the Justice Department would be equally ridiculous. Trump is making clear he doesn’t want Mueller to testify and might order him not to do so.

“Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!”

The average Democrat that has been longing to hear Mueller speak about his report. May expect Mueller to defy any Executive Order and testify anyway. What they may be ignoring is that Mueller already didn’t want to testify and may welcome the excuse to get out of it. Mueller feels his report should stand on its own and previously said in his lone press conference; he hoped it would be his last time speaking on the subject.

It took a subpoena to get Mueller to agree to come and he seems willing to grudgingly do his duty. It remains to be seen if he will be accompanied by multiple lawyers (Hope Hicks had five) including some from the Justice Department whose only job is to object to every question.

The truth is, Mueller can do whatever the hell he wants to. While he may say little beyond what he’s already revealed in his 448-page report. He likely knows a thing or two on a few related subjects and may just be tired of Trump’s tweets? On July 17th we’ll all find out what Mueller is willing to say and whether Trump allows him to say it?

Blind Justice: The Racist Census Question

“Is this person a citizen of the United States?”

The Supreme Court is about to rule as to whether the Trump administration can include this question in the 2020 Census. Opponents say and studies have shown that adding this question will lead to a massive undercount in the Hispanic population, reshaping Congressional Districts to give more power to Republicans and lessen the influence of minorities. Trump officials say the request to add the question was necessary to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act. If so, it would be the only action their administration has taken to protect voter rights since taking office. Everything else they’ve done from the hiring of Kris Kobach to head his ill-fated Voter-Fraud Commission to making Jeff Sessions his first Attorney General demonstrated the lack of concern for minority voting rights. A quote from an unnamed Trump senior official during his campaign is as follows.

“‘We have three major voter suppression operations underway, They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African-Americans.”

It was reported by Businessweek that all of the known suppression tactics the campaign used were legal but it doesn’t change the point. To paraphrase Kanye West after Hurricane Katrina, “Donald Trump doesn’t give a damn about black people.” The suggestion he and his administration cares about enforcement of the Voting Rights Act is laughable on its face.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testified to Congress that the impetus for the question was a request from the Department of Justice that the question is added. The administration has insisted the DOJ made the request despite information showing Ross asked the Justice Department to make the request. After the Supreme Court received the case but before their imminent decision has been released. A Senior Advisor to Ross confirmed in testimony to the House Oversight Committee that Ross initiated the request and not the DOJ. Ross has refused to appear after receiving a subpoena and the Committee has recommended he be found in Contempt of Congress

The Supreme Court in oral arguments appeared to be ready to support the Administration despite their lies and intent being common knowledge. Newly surfaced documents show the late GOP consultant Thomas Hofeller was involved in the creation of the question. E-mails between Hofeller and a top Ross aide prove the political nature of the question. Hofeller in the past was heavily involved in redistricting efforts designed to benefit Republicans. The Supreme Court has been asked to withhold its decision based on the new evidence. The lower Federal Court in Maryland plans to reconsider the case. Trump’s Justice Department is appealing, saying not that the new evidence is untrue but that it was obtained illegally.

The question remains, what will the Supreme Court do? Despite the limited information in the record. They cannot help but know the truth behind the creation of the question and the racist motive behind it. The Court historically has a mixed record on issues involving race. They gave us Plessey v Ferguson which upheld segregation and Dred Scott which denied black people any rights. They also gave us Brown v Board of Education which ended school segregation while at the same time muting the decision with the words “with all deliberate speed” which added decades to its implementation. Every Civil Rights Act or Voting Rights Act ever passed by Congress has ultimately been weakened by the Supreme Court, including the 1965 Voting Rights Act the Trump administration now claims to support.

If the Supreme Court sides with Trump, writing a decision supporting their desire to enforce the Voting Rights Act. They will not only be blind but willfully so. They will have shown their partisan bias and total disdain for not only justice but Democracy itself. They have long shed the illusion that they favored the people over corporations. They will have proven that the Republican-appointed Justices answered the call when it came. The Rule-of-Law will have been further diminished by the will of Party. I would like to believe the Court capable of rising to the occasion, history has shown them quite willing to fail their opportunity to do right.

Was Lincoln More Racist Than Trump?

It sounds like a ridiculous question to compare the two. One freed the slaves, the other gave us a huge increase in mass incarceration, banned Muslims, separated immigrant children from their families at the Southern border and proudly calls Elizabeth Warren, “Pocahontas.” It shouldn’t even be a question, right? Let’s take a look at Lincoln in his own words. Those famous Lincoln-Douglas debates give us more than enough reason to look at Honest Abe in a different light.

You might believe with all your heart that Trump feels white people are superior to blacks. Lincoln said it out loud, several times:

“I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.”

Summing up, he had no plans to interfere with slavery, believed that “physical differences” must keep us apart and white people were the superior race. ANd it wasn’t just physical differences. Let’s look at what else Lincoln says:

“I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects-certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment.”

How do you juxtapose this Lincoln with he of the Emancipation Proclamation? Simple, he never cared about freeing the slaves, he was trying to win a war. Emancipating slaves, only those slaves in states that had seceded from the Union, was about hurting the economy from those states and keeping France and Britain from an alliance with the South.

Lest anyone think Lincoln is being taken out of context, during the fourth debate he made himself quite clear in a way impossible to misinterpret:

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

Black people shouldn’t vote, serve on juries, or hold political office. Black people should never achieve social and political equality and never marry outside their race. As much as any other man, he believed in the superiority of the white race.

To be fair, he would not deny the black man everything and said as much:

“I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”

Unfortunately in the same section of his speech he made himself clear:

“I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.”

Lincoln did free the slaves, but what were his plans for them after their manumission. On different occasions, he expressed a desire to send them all “back to Liberia,” or to have them colonize Central America. This is in keeping with his understanding that blacks were not worthy of social and political equality and that he knew of no white person that thought so. Slavery would have gone on unabated throughout his Presidency had the war not required he end it.

“The right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, nothing in the Constitution or laws of any State can destroy the right of property in a slave.”

Lincoln and Trump lived at different times, although one must wonder what era is speaking of when he speaks of making America great again? Perhaps Lincoln was highly enlightened for his day? There’s no suggestion that applies to Trump. Lincoln was assassinated less than two months into his second term. Who knows what direction he might have taken the country given another 46 months in office. Trump in almost 29 months in office has divided America along racial lines. He had a running start having promoted the “birther” theory in attacks on the nations first black President, Barack Obama. There’s no way to make a true comparison of the two men as to who was the most racist. Lincoln isn’t so far out of the running that it wouldn’t be a race.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates (They Were All About Slavery)

The series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A Douglas is held up as a standard of American democracy. Every school child was taught about how great and important they were, mostly without ever knowing what they debated about. The single topic that mattered was slavery and related themes like the recent Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court which said that slaves had no rights whatsoever.

The format was different than the debates we’re accustomed to. One speaker would go first, speaking an hour. The second would speak for an hour and a half, then the first speaker would have a half-hour to respond. Douglas and Lincoln alternated going first at each location. In some ways, the debates were highly recognizable, the first speaker making representations about his opponent, the other calling him a liar.

Douglas tried to paint Lincoln as an abolitionist. Lincoln did his best to let people know that while he was a Republican, he had no love for slaves and didn’t mince words saying so. I’ve critiqued current day Republicans who call themselves, “The Party of Lincoln,” but maybe they’re right after all. I encourage everyone to read the full text of the seven debates. If Lincoln had his way… I’ll let him speak for himself.


“What next? Free them, and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this; and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and sound judgment, is not the sole question, if, indeed, it is any part of it. A universal feeling, whether well or ill-founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We cannot, then, make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted; but for their tardiness in this, I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South.”

“I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.”

“I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects-certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment.”


“ I do not now, or ever did, stand pledged against the admission of any more slave States into the Union.

“ I do not stand to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.”

“ I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave-trade between the different States.”

“ I have never hesitated to say, and I do not now hesitate to say, that I think, under the Constitution of the United States, the people of the Southern States are entitled to a Congressional Fugitive Slave law.”


“ Let me ask you why many of us who are opposed to slavery upon principle, give our acquiescence to a Fugitive Slave law? Why do we hold ourselves under obligations to pass such a law, and abide by it when it is passed? Because the Constitution makes provision that the owners of slaves shall have the right to reclaim them. It gives the right to reclaim slaves, and that right is, as Judge Douglas says, a barren right, unless there is legislation that will enforce it.”


“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.”


“The right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, nothing in the Constitution or laws of any State can destroy the right of property in a slave.”


“I read an extract from an old speech of mine, made nearly four years ago, not merely to show my sentiments, but to show that my sentiments were long entertained and openly expressed; in which extract I expressly declared that my own feelings would not admit a social and political equality between the white and black races, and that even if my own feelings would admit of it, I still knew that the public sentiment of the country would not and that such a thing was an utter impossibility, or substantially that.”


“I never have complained especially of the Dred Scott decision because it held that a negro could not be a citizen, and the Judge is always wrong when he says I ever did so complain of it. I have the speech here, and I will thank him or any of his friends to show where I said that a negro should be a citizen, and complained especially of the Dred Scott decision because it declared he could not be one. I have done no such thing, and Judge Douglas so persistently insisting that I have done so, has strongly impressed me with the belief of a predetermination on his part to misrepresent me. He could not get his foundation for insisting that I was in favor of this negro equality any where else as well he could by assuming that untrue proposition. Let me tell this audience what is true in regard to that matter; and the means by which they may correct me if I do not tell them truly is by a recurrence to the speech itself. I spoke of the Dred Scott decision in my Springfield speech, and I was then endeavoring to prove that the Dred Scott decision was a portion of a system or scheme to make slavery national in this country. I pointed out what things had been decided by the court. I mentioned as a fact that they had decided that a negro could not be a citizen-that they had done so, as I supposed, to deprive the negro, under all circumstances, of the remotest possibility of ever becoming a citizen and claiming the rights of a citizen of the United States under a certain clause of the Constitution. I stated that, without making any complaint of it at all. I then went on and stated the other points decided in the case, namely: that the bringing of a negro into the State of Illinois and holding him in slavery for two years here was a matter in regard to which they would not decide whether it would make him free or not; that they decided the further point that taking him into a United States Territory where slavery was prohibited by act of Congress, did not make him free, because that act of Congress, as they held, was unconstitutional.”

Please keep in mind that throughout these debates, Lincoln was the most favorable towards the elimination of slavery. I have no reason to doubt his claim he was personally opposed to the institution. However, he makes quite clear he was willing to accept its existence in the places it already existed. He agreed the Fugitive Slave Law was constitutional, he acknowledged the Constitutionality of the Dred Scott decision. He thought the slave morally and intellectually inferior and has at various times advocated they might all be sent to Liberia (but for the notion they’d be unable to survive there and would all die) or sent to colonize Central America.

Lincoln did eventually present The Emancipation Proclamation, not out of any conviction it was the right thing to do but to hurt the economy of the South and keep the recently enlightened France and Britain from forming an alliance with the South. The Lincoln-Douglas debates were very informative but have been misrepresented as to their greatness. It was as if George Wallace debated Strom Thurmond on what to do with the Negro. Read Lincoln’s words and let me know how much of a hero he was. It’s probably worth noting that Lincoln lost that Senate race.

The Story on Reparations I’m Not Qualified to Write

Every once in a while I read a story that reminds me of how little I know about subjects I think I’m pretty well versed in. I’m not mad about it, it just reminds me how much more there is for me to learn. The story I wish I could write about reparations requires a comprehensive knowledge of American and world history, knowing how events are interrelated and the intent and impact of laws, court decisions, and even Acts of Congress. Although I have an Economics degree from Fisk University, I am unable to document both the benefits to the nation from 250 years of free labor which literally helped build this nation and the negative impact on slaves AND their descendants as a result of not only slavery but all the laws that replicated slavery as best they could.

Ta-Nehisi Coates set the standard in his June 2014 article in the Atlantic; “The Case For Reparations,” a story he worked on for almost two years. When I read that story five years ago. I recognized I couldn’t have written it in twenty years, I wasn’t qualified.

“ Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”

Felice Leon from, “The Root,” produced a video, “We Built This” documenting the financial impact of slavery and how the very infrastructure of the nation and the economic advantage America had vs. other world powers. I previously knew some of what Felice put together so well, but was missing too much information. I couldn’t have put together this video, I wasn’t qualified.

“According to Cornell history professor Edward Baptist, author of The Half Has Never Been Told,cotton-producing slaves were just 6 percent of the population but created almost half of the year’s economic activity.”

The House of Representatives judiciary subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights, and civil liberties held hearings on Reparations including testimony from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Danny Glover. Republicans were predictably against the concept of Reparations. Black writer Coleman Hughes said, “If we were to pay reparations today, we would only divide the country further, making it harder to build the political coalitions required to solve the problems facing black people today.” Former NFL player Burgess Owens added, “What strangers did to other strangers 200 years ago has nothing to do with us because that has nothing to do with our DNA.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who has demonstrated his willingness to block any manner of legislation from reaching the Senate floor said this, “It would be pretty hard to figure out who to compensate,” and claims “none of us currently living are responsible for what happened 150 years ago.” He makes the case which seems to represent the view of most white Americans. “Why penalize me for something I had nothing to do with?” The primary argument against Reparations is that individuals today shouldn’t bear the brunt of what happened long ago and that enough time has passed since (choose one); the end of the Civil War, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the end of Jim Crow, the end of school segregation… that equality should have been achieved. Although I’m admittedly not qualified to make the case on the overall economic impact of slavery; beneficial to the country and detrimental to the slaves and their offspring. I’m on solid ground when addressing the political response in opposition to Reparations.

The case for Reparations has never been to exact retribution from generic white people for the harm done to slaves in time past. The case is best made against the United States Government, which has been part of every effort to suppress black people since they came to this country until the present day. The much-beloved Founding Fathers provided for slavery in the Constitution. In addition to the widely-known counting of slaves as “three-fifths” of a person. The lesser-known Article 1 Section 9 forbade the elimination of importing slaves for over a quarter of a century, until 1808. The Constitution gave black people none of those “unalienable rights” slave-owner Thomas Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence. They did outlaw the International Slave Trade in 1809 but only to protect and keep up the prices its Domestic bred slaves. They literally supported the slave breeding farms which were the feeder system to Southern plantations.

The government assuaged any guilt it might have felt about slavery by doing what politicians do, they compromised. As the nation expanded they decided in the Missouri Compromise that prohibited slavery in some new states while allowing it in others. It banned slave trading in Washington DC while still allowing slavery. Four years later that was undone by the Kansas-Nebraska Act that let territories decide for themselves. After several states seceded from the Union over the issue of slavery, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This wasn’t from any sense of altruism, he only freed the slaves in those states that had seceded, leaving it in place in multiple states and territories without issue. Lincoln himself at various times was in favor of sending slaves back to Africa or having them colonize Central America. In one of his famed debates with Stephen Douglas, he said:

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.”

The two primary reasons for the Emancipation were to disrupt the economy of the South which was stronger than that of the North and to keep France and Britain from siding with the South in the Civil War.

With the war almost over, in the first recognition that some sort of Reparations were due, General Sherman issued Special Field Order #15 authorizing that 400,000 acres be set aside for the freed slaves, each family receiving 40 acres. Later it was decided the army could loan families a mule which is where 40 Acres and a Mule comes from. After Lincoln’s assassination, Andrew Johnson rescinded the order, returning the land in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, to the original slaveholders. Many slaves had already been transported to the lands and started working in the fields. The government issued Reparations, then took them back.

For those that feel that equality was achieved in 1865 at the end of the Civil war, I submit it was only the presence of Federal Troops throughout the South which helped maintain the peace. Black men at least gained the right to vote and during what was called Reconstruction began a period which arguably saw the freedmen on a trajectory toward equality. They started businesses, owned land, elected local officials and Representatives of Congress. Mississippi elected someone to a statewide office. The year after the war ended also saw the birth of the Ku Klux Klan but the troops partially kept them at bay. After a contested Presidential election in 1876, in yet another compromise, the Republicans were awarded the Presidential victory (Rutherford B Hayes) while the South got what they wanted most, removal of the Federal Troops.

That action, The Compromise of 1877, effectively ended Reconstruction, empowering both Democrats and the Klan to take back all the gains made in the previous decade, primarily through violence. The US Government through its actions and inactions led to the reversion to an underclass, buttressed by the Jim Crow laws that defined the next ninety years.

One might believe that oppression and suppression was a purely Southern thing and the North was exempt. The primary means most American families attained wealth was housing. Banking laws, approved by Congress, provided for red-lining and segregated housing. Sanctioned discrimination kept black people in many cases from obtaining loans and otherwise dictated they live in inferior neighborhoods, generating less wealth. While numerous Civil and Voting Rights Acts have been passed by Congress throughout the years. Every single one without exception has been diluted by the Supreme Court which has always found something Unconstitutional to legislate in favor of black people or minorities. Let’s remember that the Constitution gave no value to black people originally so why would any interpretation of it later find differently?

The case for Reparations isn’t one where your white co-worker, or neighbor, or struggling white family that Mitch McConnell is appealing to should sacrifice part of their earnings for a black person that was never a slave. The case must focus on the US Government and its systemic policies that didn’t end with slavery, or Jim Crow, the government that deprived black people of benefits from the G.I. Bill. Discrimination didn’t end under the Federal Housing Act of 1968 or the most recent of Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of the 1960s. As it always has, discrimination simply took another form, not always based on race, sometimes on class like the 2017 Tax Cut.

I wish I were qualified to make the case I really want to. Backed by statistics, laws, and dates. While writing this piece I heard a talking head dismissing Reparations as morally sound but a political loser. That’s the problem with politics that simply doing right is always measured against the potential reaction of those who don’t want to see right done. Maybe, if the government hadn’t reneged on 40 Acres and a Mule, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

When the President Comes to Your Town

The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, is kicking off his 2020 campaign in Orlando, Florida today. I live in Orlando. One of the things I’ve noticed since Trump became President is that people don’t casually discuss politics anymore. If you want to talk politics with someone you don’t know where they stand and feel the exact same way. A literal fight may break out. A general rule in the workplace is don’t mention Trump. No good can come from it.

One of the exceptions to that rule is the traffic. When Presidents come to town they tend to screw up traffic. Besides fouling up air traffic at the 11th busiest airport in the nation, streets are blocked for the motorcade. Trump is coming downtown to the Amway Center where the Orlando Magic play. But for a couple of reasons, traffic will be worse than your average Magic game.


To get tickets for the event. You have to go to a Trump web site and register for no more than 2 tickets per mobile number. Tickets do not guarantee though, it’s first to come first serve. According to Trump (always a questionable proposition), they have received over a hundred thousand requests for an event which can seat 20,000 people. Simple math suggests 80,000 Trump fans who came to see his act live, some from as far away as Georgia and Alabama, will be left outside, possibly in the rain. The first man in line arrived at 2 a.m. on Monday morning, 37hours before the doors open. Some camped in tents, others took turns in line swapping with partners at nearby hotels.


Hard to believe I know, there are people who actually don’t like the President and are making a point of saying so. Orlando has a large Puerto Rican community who haven’t forgotten Trump holding up disaster aid after recent hurricanes and his insults aimed at the popular Mayor of San Juan. A week ago, Orlando noted the third anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting at a gay dance club. A local Republican leader shrugged off suggestions of Trump bigotry.

“For them to say Donald Trump doesn’t like gay people is wrong. For them to say Donald Trump doesn’t like Hispanics is wrong,” said Charles Hart, chairman of the Orange County Republican Executive Committee.”

Mr. Hart may wish to add to his list of people Donald Trump allegedly doesn’t like; Muslims, black people, Native Americans, women, and voracious readers.

Despite the previously mentioned aversion to talking politics during the Age of Trump; in the hours leading up to the event, people did express their concerns. They worried about violence; when Trump’s most ardent supporters meet his equally intense foes, things might happen. Note: For those expecting Trump to cover your legal fees — he didn’t really mean it. People in workplaces throughout, The City Beautiful, demonstrated they could talk politics and ultimately agree to disagree. The vast majority of the 1.5 million people in the metropolitan area will simply stay away, hoping things go back to normal after the event when they can go back to not talking about Trump.


White Nationalist group Proud Boys stopped by police before reaching Anti-Trump protesters. This too will happen when the President comes to your town.

The Value of an HBCU Education

Photo by George Cooper

“Education will set this tangle straight!” — W.E.B. DuBois

When I set foot on the campus of Fisk University, I knew almost nothing about HBCU’s in general or Fisk in particular. When in high school, I performed extremely well on the PSAT Test and was named a National Merit Semi-Finalist. I started receiving mail and offers from hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation. The ones I knew were mainly because of their football or basketball programs. Fortunately, someone in my family was familiar with Fisk and steered me in that direction.

I was well aware of what a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) looked like. In 7th Grade, I attended University High, a private high school associated with and on the campus of the University of Minnesota. It later merged with the public school, Marshall High to become Marshall-University High. I spent six years on the fringe of the University of Minnesota campus, then the largest in the nation. I went to Gopher sports events, our football team played home games in their stadium. But for Stan Humphries, I’d have drowned in the Olympic sized swimming pool in Williams Arena. Not sure I ever said thank you, Stan… thanks!

My friends and I went to “keggers” on the banks of the Mississippi River with U of M students. We joined in anti-war protests and carried signs. When in college and doing a summer internship in Cincinnati, I took a summer school class in Economics at Xavier. I’m not unfamiliar with PWI’s, but I’m so glad I went instead to Fisk.

I’m sure I can make the case that the education I got at Fisk was as good or better than any I could have gotten anywhere. While that’s true at Fisk, Morehouse, Howard, Spelman, Hampton, and others. It might not be universally true, it’s a claim I can’t document. What is universally true of every HBCU is that it gives one space to figure out what kind of black person you’re going to be. You get a four-year respite from being told how to be black, often by those who know nothing of it.

I happened to be on the Fisk basketball team which meant I got to visit dozens of HBCU campuses; Alabama State, LeMoyne-Owen, Stillman, Miles, Alabama A & M, Talladega, Savannah State, Fort Valley, Laine, Paine, and Morehouse among others. We visited PWI’s as well, that doesn’t make me an expert but does qualify me to have an opinion.

At an HBCU, in addition to caring professors, learning our history in addition to theirs. You come away with a sense of self not attainable at a Primary White Institution. Not that black schools turn out a bunch of clones that are black in the same manner. The graduates of HBCUs are as diverse a group as can be imagined, while the majority happen to be black, an increasing percentage of non-black students also attend HBCUs. During that partial time out from the rest of the world. You learn what the black experience has been for others; adopting some views and rejecting others while you determine how you yourself are going to be black. All the while not having to figure out as a teenager, how to fit into a situation where you’re not always embraced and often rejected.

HBCUs aren’t perfect. Almost universally there are complaints about long registration lines and poor cafeteria food. What they do offer is the chance to embrace everything about being black; the music, dancing, history, bid whist, along with encouragement to excel and lead. HBCUs reinforce the responsibility to give back to your community. HBCUs promote a love affair with blackness that doesn’t end upon graduation but lasts a lifetime. When you meet a fellow HBCU graduate at any point in your life thereafter, there is a bond. One that can be tested or broken based on the individual merits but you start out with something in common.

There’s a gospel song performed by John P. Key among others, the lyrics include:

You don’t know my story

You don’t know the things that I’ve been thru

You cannot imagine…

If you went to an HBCU, there’s a part of every graduate’s story you do know. There are commonalities including a willingness to help not only each other but an understanding we have to give back to our community and our institutions. There are those that question the ongoing need for HBCUs for whatever reason. I submit there is no other institution that serves in the same manner. As Prince might say, “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

How the Party of Lincoln Became the Party of Trump?

For those that don’t know, the Republican Party truly has a history of which it can be proud. Its formation came from opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act which would have allowed local determination on slavery as opposed to the previous balance of free and slave states struck under the Missouri Compromise of 1850. You might wonder why it mattered to Democrats whether new territories/states embraced slavery or not? I’ll get to that, but it’s important to know that a lot of profits would be made with the expansion of slavery.

After the Civil War, Republicans became known as, “The Party of Lincoln,” responsible for freeing the slaves. Lincoln was personally against slavery and was President when the slaves were freed. But he would have been quite content to allow slavery to continue in the Southern states and in the territories like Missouri where it existed if it would have prevented war. He would have been equally content to send the slaves back to Africa and once had a plan for them to colonize Central America, never once desiring to see slaves reach social equality with white men.

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races,”

Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January of 1863, not because of his great desire to free the slaves. In fact, the Proclamation did not free slaves in border states Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky. It only applied to those states that seceded from the Union. Even then it was a strategy to keep France and England from forming an alliance with the South who had more to offer in trade (Cotton) and was more financially sound. By abolishing slavery, the North was more in tune with the countries that had recently banned slavery themselves.

Back to the profitability of slavery. The Founders in Article 1; Section 9 of the Constitution, forbade the outlawing the importation of slaves before the year 1808.

“ The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.”

Congress indeed outlawed the International Slave Trade immediately after it was allowed by the Constitution, but not from any abhorrence to slavery. They would have abolished slavery altogether if that were the case. Their action was one of protectionism to ensure higher prices for Domestic slaves. America was now able to produce enough slaves on its own due to the practice of breeding slaves much like cattle on farms in Virginia, Maryland, and a few other states. There came a point where the “crop” of slavery produced more revenue in Virginia than tobacco.

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When the Civil War ended, the Republicans were firmly in power and the role of Democrats was severely diminished. Many of the freed slaves, despite the one-time promise of receiving 40 acres and a mule. Watched almost all land in the South returned to the former owners. Many slaves were forced into agreements to work on their former plantations in arrangements not so different than slavery. Some though, with the protection of the Federal Troops remaining in the South, became politically active, ran for office, opened businesses and purchased land. This was the era called Reconstruction during which the freed slaves were making advances towards equality. As long as the troops were there to protect them.

In 1876, there was a contested Presidential Election which it appeared the Democrats had won. They won the popular vote and were one short of the Electoral votes needed to claim victory with the votes of three states contested, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Ultimately, in the Compromise of 1877. It was agreed that the Electoral votes would be awarded to Republican, Rutherford B. Hayes on the condition that Federal troops would be removed from the South. Once the troops were gone, Democrats and the Klan (often one and the same) erased all the gains of the freed slaves, ended Reconstruction, and implemented Jim Crow which was as close to reinstituting slavery as they could manage. It was the beginning of the Republican decline towards where they are now, as they sold out the former slaves they once championed and began to look away.

Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton

Old times there are not forgotten

Look away

Look away

Look away


Not enough to simply refuse to address the violence and retribution being carried out in the South. In 1878, now President Rutherford B. Hayes gave us the Posse Comitatus Act, ensuring that never again would Federal troops be stationed in the South to protect the black men and women they once purported to champion. You could make a good case that the Republican Party stopped being what they called, “The Party of Lincoln, in 1878.

After the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, women gained the right to vote (including black women) but a concentrated effort including violence ensured that votes of black men and women, especially in the South, barely mattered. Republicans did what they were accustomed to doing, they looked away. They still called themselves the Party of Lincoln, taking credit for acts long ago, that the current Party wouldn’t dream of.

It was the Democrats that helped turn the Republicans into what they are today. With the passage of Civil and Voting Rights Acts in the 1960s. There was a steady flow of “Dixiecrats” from the Democrat to the Republican Party. Dixiecrats included the Klan and the White Councils and the various organizations of White Knights. To be sure, some stayed behind in the Democrat Party, but the majority left and became Republicans. They were embraced with open arms. Democrat President Lyndon Johnson was alleged to have said.

“We have lost the South for a generation!”

It didn’t happen immediately, Democrats did quite well for some time in the South, helping elect two Southern Democrats to the Presidency, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. It took the election of the first black President, Barack H Obama, to remind the South of who they really were. Trump carried the South. Capitalizing on the Southern Strategy popularized by Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips, improved by Lee Atwater for George H. W. Bush. improved by George W Bush, and absorbed by Steve Bannon and Donald J Trump.

Republicans bristle at the suggestion that their party is racist. Certainly, not all of them are. Some of their policies bear a striking resemblance to others from years past. Voter suppression tactics are remarkably similar, the more things change, the more they stay the same. As Republicans have stood by while white supremacists have offices in the White House. They implement Muslim bans, child separation, gerrymandering, redistricting, charter schools which greater enable segregation. When you look at what the leaders and members of the Party do as Trump rolls on. It’s what they’ve done since 1878, they look away.

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