From Thurgood Marshall to Clarence Thomas

I saw the movie “Marshall” on the first day of its widespread release and was assaulted with impressions. I went to a matinee in a dying mall in West Orlando where audiences tend to be mostly black. There were maybe thirty people at this showing, mostly in their 50’s and older, people likely familiar with Marshall at least as a Supreme Court Justice if nothing else.

The movie itself was very entertaining, humorous in parts and revolved around a real trial in Bridgeport, CT where a black man was accused of the rape of a white socialite. My hope is that those who watch the film will not only cheer the heroic Marshall in the film but go on to learn more about the amazing work he and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund did to fight for rights we now take for granted. I want them to read the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Devil In The Grove about the Groveland Boys case in Florida. I wish the film to be a jumping off point to learn more about a history more likely to be whitewashed than brought forward.

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Exiting the movie, I crossed paths with a woman who I recognized from the audience and asked, “How did you enjoy the film?” She said, “I got so mad to think that we went from Thurgood Marshall to Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.” We talked briefly about  Thurgood Marshall, Clarence Thomas, and Ben Carson and then went our separate ways. I am still pondering how we got from a legal giant to the black Harvey Weinstein whose best quality is to speak little lest he reveals himself a fool.

Thurgood Marshall fought in small courtrooms, mostly in the South and often alone. Sometimes the only hope standing between an innocent man and execution. The NAACP and Marshall only took on cases where they believed defendants to be innocent and their arrests based on race. Marshall risked his life that we all might benefit. His work is his legacy of which we can all be proud.

Clarence Thomas can be noted for his singular lack of legal accomplishments. His greatest skill before his appointment to the Supreme Court seems to be his ability to rise within government bureaucracy, rising to the Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He all but discontinued the practice of filing/joining class action suits, instead focusing on individual cases. He complained all black leaders did was, “bitch, bitch, bitch” about President Reagan instead of working with him. His nomination to the Supreme Court was confirmed by the Senate despite riveting testimony from Anita Hill and written statements from other women. Thomas himself claimed he was a victim of a “high tech lynching” and his biographer said Thomas was being attacked, “because he was black.” As a Justice, he’s a reliable vote to uphold police brutality, voter suppression and the end of Affirmative Action. He’s still best known for charges of sexual harassment, his affinity for porn including his fondness for, “Long Dong Silver.”

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As shown I the film Marshall, Thurgood Marshall sacrificed much in the pursuit of equal justice under the law. He served as the first African-American Supreme Court Justice and will forever be a legal giant. Thomas is an embarrassment, ultimately becoming a barrier to progress instead of an example.

Jerry Jones Thinks He Literally Owns Cowboys Players. (Taking a Knee Will Set You Free)

Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys is taking his role of “owner” way too literally. It might give him some great pleasure to think he owns a group of mostly black, strapping young bucks. They might even refer to him as, “my owner” from time to time. But Jerry, you don’t actually own these people!

Listening to his buddy Donald Trump (we saw you when you dropped $1 million on his inauguration) he now says he’ll bench any player that doesn’t stand for the National Anthem. It wasn’t long ago when Jones himself, took a knee, faking solidarity with his players. When Jemele Hill tweeted in response, suggesting what owners like Jones listen to are advertiser boycotts. Spineless ESPN suspended her for two weeks for violating “social media policy.”

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Here is what I hope happens. I wish that every single Dallas player, white, black, and other, refuse to stand for the Anthem and let Jerry Jones forfeit the game if he wants to. There is a great desire in parts of this country including the Oval Office, to be seen crushing black people, movements, and accomplishments. Jones is certainly stepping up to do his part.

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What it comes down to now is, “What are the players willing to do?” The choices are crystal clear, bow down before Jones, Trump, and others of their ilk and demonstrate your submissiveness. Take a knee and reject police brutality, injustice and white supremacy to boot!

Trump Doesn’t Care About Puerto Ricans (Let Them Eat Cake)

Four days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Kanye West uttered the words, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on national television. Bush later referred to that moment as, “the low point of my Presidency.” That says a lot given that 9/11 also happened on his watch. It should be noted that years later Kanye later apologized to Bush. In the heat of the moment in times of great frustration, things get said. To some West’s words will always be the truth, to others, he did a great disservice to “W.”

If one believes actions speak louder than words. Ten days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Donald Trump has had plenty of words. He’s often claimed the Federal response to the double impact of Hurricane’s Maria and Irma as “unprecedented.” It may be the truest statement of all he has made.

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By all accounts, the Federal Government did a good job (along with State and local governments from around the nation) of getting supplies and responders to Puerto Rico. Huge Containers remain stacked on ships at the dock, not unloaded because there are few drivers for trucks to disperse them. Responders huddle in the air-conditioned Convention Center, having meetings or waiting for assignments. Most of the Hospitals are still without power. Nursing homes are unable to feed their patients. The death toll rises each day. While  Trump brags of his excellent response. That the government response would be insufficient was predictable. FEMA and every other Department are woefully understaffed because Trump hasn’t bothered to fill positions or when he has, often with unqualified campaign cronies.

That the government response would be insufficient was predictable. FEMA and every other Department from the State Department to Housing ad Urban Development are woefully understaffed because Trump hasn’t bothered to fill positions. When he has, often with unqualified campaign cronies.

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Initially, the Governor of Puerto Rico and the Mayor of San Juan praised the government response. The Governor, in particular, was effusive but included reservations that more was needed. The Mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, also lauded the initial effort. But as time passed and water and food were not being delivered, she began to speak out. After days of not being heard, she issued a statement literally begging for help while Trump officials talked of their efforts as a “feel good story.” The President himself, unable to acknowledge anything other than perfection. Only spoke of how great he was doing, refusing initially to waive shipping restrictions to Puerto Rico as had been done for mainland locations in earlier hurricanes. This would only increase the cost of goods to Puerto Rico, under pressure he ultimately relented. This he admitted was at the behest of his friends in the shipping industry.

The island is almost completely without power which the bureaucracy of the Federal Government fails to recognize. They want requests by E-mail, printed documents and letters, they want Mayors in remote locations where the roads are gone to come in person to request help.

Unable to show empathy for the Mayor who was pleading on behalf of her people. Trump does what only Trump in that situation would do, he attacked the Mayor. In his tweets, he first claimed: “she’s been told by Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.” Next, he attacked her “poor leadership” and said, “they want everything done for them” adding the Federal workers were doing a “fantastic job.” Mayor Cruz has said literally, “We are dying!” Trump says he’s doing a great job! Trump managed to get his tweets out before his tee time where he’s no doubt “monitoring the situation.”

 

Does Donald Trump care about the American citizens of Puerto Rico?  Trump has demonstrated his disdain for brown and black people in America and around the world. Why would Puerto Rico be any different? Plus they voted for Hillary Clinton.

He’s more concerned about the debt owed to Wall Street Banks than the lives of the people. In many of his tweets, he mentions the debt first and the American citizens as an aside. He’s already talking about how Puerto Rico can “pay back” the cost of relief efforts.

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The Mayor of San Juan responded to Trump’s tweets by refusing to become distracted and focusing on saving lives. Since Hurricane Maria hit the island, Trump has been much more engaged in attacking black NFL players and their mothers protesting injustice,  advocating fines, firings, and boycotts. He’s been focused on the swampish behavior of his Cabinet, spending millions to private and military planes. He’s been working on his golf game. To the dying Puerto Ricans… he sent some water, too bad if they can’t actually drink it.

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Note: After several days, the US Army has been given control of logistics and we pray things will turn around shortly. A lot of good is being done by FEMA, the Red Cross, and fellow Puerto Ricans serving their neighbors. Good is being done, not nearly enough! Trump sums up the situation in his own words:

“This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water”

 

The History of the US Flag in Black America

1776 flag

1776-1777

Articles of Confederation establishes rights for “free citizens.”

1777-1794

1777-1794

The first Fugitive Slave Act is passed

1795-1818

1795-1818

Slaveowner, Francis Scott Key writes The Star-Spangled Banner. He believed blacks to be “a distinct and inferior race” and “the greatest evil that afflicts a community.” The third verse celebrates the death of slaves.

1818-1819

1818-1819

Slaves complete reconstruction of White House

1819-1820

1819-1820

The House of Representatives agrees to the Talmadge Agreement barring slaves from Missouri, this led to the Missouri Compromise admitting them.

 

1820-1822

1820-1822

The Missouri Compromise allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a Slave state.

1822-1836

1822-1836

At Monticello, VA. 130 former slaves and other possessions of Thomas Jefferson were sold at auction.

1837-1845

1836-1845

In Cincinnati, OH, rioters attack blacks and white abolitionists for fear blacks would take their jobs.

1845-1846

1845-1846

Texas enters the Union as a slave state

1846-1847

1846-1847

Missouri allows Interstate trading of black people

1847-1848

1847-1848

The State of Missouri prohibits freed slaves from receiving an education.

1848-1951

1848-1851

Congress passes another Fugitive Slave Act mandating government participation in recapturing escaped slaves.

1851-1858

1851-1858

Under this flag, the Supreme Court overturned the Missouri Compromise and opened up slavery to all the territories.

1858-1859

1858-1859

The Supreme Court in the Dred Scott Case ruled a black man had no rights.

1859-1861

1859-1861

The last slave ship arrives in Mobile Bay, Alabama

1861-1863

1861-1863

New York City draft riots, hundreds of blacks wounded or killed.

1863-1865

1863-1865

Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest orders the massacre of mostly Negro Union troops attempting to surrender, (Hands Up). A 25-foot statue, visible from Interstate-65, exists today on private property in Nashville, TN.

1865-1867

1865-1867

The “black codes” are passed in all Southern legislatures in the former Confederate States. Slavery by another name.

1867-1877

1867-1877

Reconstruction ends when the Federal Government withdraws all Federal troops from the South under a compromise over the Presidential election. It Made Southern Legislatures White Again.

1877-1890

1877-1890

Jim Crow becomes the law of the land in the South

 

1890-1891

1890-1891

Eighty-five black Americans were known to have been lynched in 1890

1891-1896

1891-1896

The Supreme Court legalizes “Separate but Equal” giving rise to Jim Crow

1896-1908

1896-1908

Eight blacks were killed by whites in Wilmington, NC

1908-1912

1908-1912

Major cities implement legalized segregation specifying black and white neighborhoods. These include Baltimore, Dallas, Greensboro, Louisville, Richmond, Roanoke, and St. Louis.

 

1921 US Flag

1912-1959

Oklahoma National Guard troops bombed Black Wall Street in Tulsa, OK

1959-1960

1959-1960

Three days before his trial, Mack Charles Parker is beaten to death in his jail cell for allegedly raping a white woman.

1960-Present

1960-Present

Donald Trump is elected President and appoints Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.

White House Throws Manafort Under The Bus! Who’s Going Down With Him?

The White House and friends are officially throwing Paul Manafort under the bus in hopes that we’ll forget about all the rest that colluded with Russia and committed untold financial crimes.

Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump Campaign Manager, said this, “I think if anybody, and I’ve said this, if Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, or Rick Gates or Carter Page, or anybody else attempted to influence the outcome of the U.S. election through any means that’s inappropriate – through collusion, coordination or cooperation – I hope they go to jail for the rest of their lives.”

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Vice-President Mike Pence said of the man perhaps most responsible for his selection, “We’re just going to let this process go forward.”

Many White House insiders are privately conceding the mountain of known evidence against Manafort is insurmountable and have chosen to disown him, suggesting there’s no way out for him.

The problem for the White House is, Manafort was not an island and often acted with Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner in his Russian dealings and we have no idea at what level the President himself was involved? With Manafort facing indictment (as has been reported widely by multiple news outlets), the question is, who will go down with him?

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Without knowing the man and looking at his proclivity for fancy suits and fine dining. I have no sense at all he’ll do well in jail. I have little doubt that if he has bigger fish to offer up, he’ll do so in a heartbeat. Racing to beat disgraced General Mike Flynn to the witness stand to tell all he knows.

White House insiders are even willing to accept there may have been some degree of collusion with Russia, pointing at Manafort while ignoring the elephants in the room including Donald Trump’s son and son-in-law. The question no longer seems to be “if” someone is going down. But who and how many?

Invisible Once Again

In 1952, Ralph Ellison published the acclaimed novel, “Invisible Man.” It delved into the issues facing African-Americans of the time, especially Black identity and his disillusionment with Political Parties in general and Socialism in particular. It focused on the “social invisibility” of the Black man. Looked at without being seen.

Invisible Again

Photo: buzzfeed.com

The 1950’s was not a unique time in American history in that the Black man was always invisible in terms of rights, self-determination and even viability without some form of interdependence in the greater white society. The Black man in America was regulated first by the slave codes, then Jim Crow, and even now in a general sense by all the ways he is still rendered invisible by those who classify him in a manner so that doesn’t count.

There was a moment in time in America when a Black man wasn’t invisible. The eight years that Barack Obama was President of the United States of America brought a visibility to that Black man that in some ways tore apart this country. It wasn’t his words or deeds, he behaved much in the manner of many American Presidents, doing so with exceeding grace. It was his existence that divided the nation as his omnipresence on the American landscape was more than some could endure.

Every attempt was made to send him back to invisibility, whether it be questioning his birth and eligibility to be President, or obstructing everything he did and denying him a legacy. The election of the current President can be traced to the desire of many to obliterate the memory of Obama and make him invisible again.

Once Trump became President, he set out to destroy every accomplishment of the previous Administration. While failing to accomplish anything legislatively. He’s used Executive Power and agency rule changes to bring back mass incarceration, suppress votes and turn the Federal Government’s back on oppressive police tactics. His perfect world brings back “Stop & Frisk” and would have a policeman on every inner-city block using unrestrained force in a world where only Blue Lives Matter. The Black man would be rendered not quite invisible, but labeled in a manner easily discounted. Thug, animal, criminal…one whose mere presence elicits fear which allows he be shot dead with no recourse while strangely reaching into an empty waistband or sometimes with hands up.

Invisible Again

Photo: twitter.com

White America offers limited visibility to those who excel at sports, entertain, or publicly toe the line. Until such time as they forget their role and their status is revoked. Athletes are revered until they develop a social conscience and then must be taken down. They can represent the best of Blackness unless of course, they get too Black. Entertainers can sing about making it rain in the strip club without fear of backlash but there’s a short leash if they try to exercise political power. Clarence Thomas is a silent overseer, Ben Carson is #Sad. Both perform their respective tasks on cue and go back to the lives compliance affords them.

There is a need to label Black organizations and make them dismissible, and therefore invisible. They fear Black Lives Matter and its potential for upsetting the apple cart. They call them racist and violent and want them seen as a hate group. They fail to recognize that Black Lives Matter, IS the non-violent response. These are the voices they wish silenced while First Amendment Rights for Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists are validated. The President is a White Supremacist, surrounded by the same, like Jemele Hill, I won’t take back saying so.

The Black woman uniquely suffers from invisibility. Attempts at solidarity with her allies in the fight for Women’s Rights often find them tossed aside as the goal nears. She watches her one-time sisters reap the benefits while she gets table scraps. The Women’s Suffrage movement needed Ida B Wells on their side, when it came time for her allies to support her causes, the call went unanswered. Another uneasy alliance is with Black men. Lacking control in most aspects of their own lives, Black men sometimes seek to control that which they could, their women.

In the Age of Trump, racism isn’t really racism as long as it’s justified. Black on Black crime, a high illegitimate birth rate, saggy pants… these and more are the excuses they give to not be concerned with wrongful police shootings, voter suppression and the racist occupants in the White House. I’m engaging in a long-running, wide-ranging conversation online with several that have tried to render me invisible. Their anonymity gives them strength as they attempt to dismiss what I say by discounting the messenger. Amazingly, a turn came when they discovered how much we have in common. We’ve read the same books, and have some similar interests. They tell me of the struggles of their people and for a moment see similarities. Yet when the topic switches back to race I’ll once again be a “self-pitying victim” dwelling on something relegated to the past. I’ll be invisible once again.

We must recognize that making Black people invisible is a strategy, a means to an end. One that ultimately requires our participation to be successful. Invisibility can be defeated by shining a light on it. Ellison said in his novel, “the truth is the light, and light is the truth,” Don’t allow your message to be discounted but insist the actual merits be discussed. Support the organizations that work on your behalf with your time, energy and money. Continue to fight injustice even when the Government temporarily turns its back for that too will change. There is an arc that bends toward justice and making yourself visible despite all the attempts to ignore you will bring that day sooner!

Featured Photo: playbuzz.com

 

I’m With Jemele Hill… And I Hope Trump Sues Her!

On September, 11th, Jemele Hill an ESPN Host, created quite an uproar with a series of tweets about President Trump. She wrote:

The height of white privilege is being able to ✌🏾ignore✌🏾his white supremacy, because it’s of no threat to you. Well, it’s a threat to me.

Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.

Right about then all Hell broke loose. First White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaking from the podium, called for ESPN to fire Jemele Hill. Later the President himself weighed in by attacking ESPN and calling for an apology.
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 I sincerely hope that if Trump is so offended by Jemele Hill’s comments, that he sues her for slander in a court of law. My lawyer friends tell me that an absolute defense to a slander charge is if your statements are true. That Trump is a White Supremacists can be documented many times over by his own remarks, tweets, and actions. His comments about “the blacks”, “the Muslims”, “the Indians””, “the Jews”, Chinese, Koreans, and more make him impossible to defend on that count. Fellow White Supremacists know he’s got nothing but love for him and see the wink on the times he’s been literally forced to say something bad about them.
Has he “largely surrounded himself with White Supremacists.” Let’s see” Bannon, Gorka, Miller, easily come to mind. His sons, Mike Flynn and Mike Flynn, Jr have retweeted Neo-Nazi memes on multiple occasions. Sessions. Case closed on that one.
Is he actually “the most offensive President” of her lifetime, whose rise is “a direct result of White Supremacy.” There’s little justification that he has any other qualification that made him President beside his naked appeal to whiteness and not being Barack Obama.
Besides losing “bigly” (my spell-check refuses to acknowledge bigly as a word) on the merits of the case. It would give Jemele Hill’s attorneys a chance to depose Trump and force him to answer under oath for every word and deed that demonstrated his views which in his rallies he made every attempt to make clear.
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For the record. Jemele Hill didn’t retract any of her statements but did regret her employer being caught up in it. ESPN issued a statement indicating her tweets were against company policy and had been handled internally. Jemele appeared on air for her next scheduled show.