“I See Dead People!”

I’ve been blogging for almost 15 months, beginning on my birthday, March 30, 2016. Because my website host keeps all kinds of statistics, I know I’ve made 317 posts (excluding this one). I’ve written 215 about politics. Three of my granddaughters have worked their way into print.

I’ve written about education, done a few film reviews, given my thoughts on events of social relevance and often wrote about systemic injustice. I’ve begun a monthly series on “Shadow Warriors” to place a spotlight on the good works of others who have yet to receive national recognition. Generally something inspires a thought and it churns around in my head for a brief period until I sit at my computer and write the story.

I generally include multiple photos with my stories to give my words more impact. I often search the Internet and save the photo’s I use to my computer before uploading them to my blog posts. For whatever reason that someone more tech savvy than I could easily correct. The images I save often become a rotating screensaver, popping up after my screen has been idle for a period.

During the day, I rarely pay attention to the pictures. I check my laptop often enough that the screensaver isn’t activated that much and when it is I barely notice. It’s at night that I might be confronted with an image of someone I’ve written about. All too often someone unjustly killed. All too often shot by police under various circumstances. One was a child asleep on a couch, another playing with a toy in a park, several for being BWD (Black while driving). The reasons varied greatly, the one thing in common was the apparent fear for their lives police officers had when confronting these people with no weapons. One did have a weapon which he had a legal right to own. He politely informed the officer he had one and within seconds was shot dead. When I pass my computer in the night… I see dead people.

The first person I wrote about that was taken from us far too soon was Tanya Skeen. “Miss Tanya” was not a victim of police violence but was shot while standing in her own kitchen, an innocent bystander during a shootout. Another bystander, Gino Nicolas, was killed nearby as well. There was great outrage in the community and cooperation with law enforcement.  Like everyone else in the community, I was grateful when the police caught the killers who are nearing trial. Tanya Skeen used to babysit one of those granddaughters I’ve written about. Tanya was always cheerful with an infectious smile. My granddaughter learned what going to heaven is.

Tanya Skeen

Photo: twitter.com

July 2016 brought us the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The police officer who shot Castile had just been told, “Sir, I do have to tell you I do have a firearm on me.” Seconds later the officer shot him four times, in “fear for his life.” He was found not guilty. No justice, no justice, never any justice.

I didn’t write about Tamir Rice at the time of his death but did mention him, including a picture in a piece about Colin Kaepernick in August. The Devil was busy last August which gave us the deaths of Tyree King who allegedly had a BB gun. The three bullets that struck him were in the back. Terence Crutcher was killed outside his car, with his hands up. Keith Lamont Scott in North Carolina was waiting for his son to get out of school. Alfred Olango’s sister called 911 to get help for her brother with mental health issues. He was unarmed but still ended up dead. All were killed by police… in fear of their lives.

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Photo: newschannel5.com

On November 21, 2016. 15-year-old James Means was killed, not by a policeman but by 62-year-old William Pullman who allegedly had been bumped into. Pullman had no remorse. He said, “The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the streets.” After shooting the teenager twice in the stomach, Pullman went home and had dinner. He later hung out at a friend’s home. When he was later arrested he lamented, “I’m going to lose my job and everything!”

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Photo:twitter.com

I wasn’t writing only about depressing murders at that time. Of course, there was the equally depressing election of Donald Trump and his bringing with him Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions and more. I wrote about my daughter-in-law’s attempts to  kill me, with repeated overdoses of cookies. My grandmother, old friends and my high school basketball coach were highlighted in stories. Somehow their pictures didn’t make it into my screensaver rotation.

Being an ex-NFL football player didn’t keep Joe McKnight from being killed in New Orleans. His killer, 54-year old Ronald Glasser who was white, was initially released without charges. The Sheriff, also white was disturbed that, “Everybody wants to make this about race. It’s not about race!”

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Photo: nydailynews.com

Around the same time in South Carolina. The trial of police officer Michael Slager ended in a mistrial for the fatal shooting of Walter Scott. Slager was on video tape shooting the unarmed Scott in the back while running away from him. No justice, no justice, never any justice.

I knew Bernard Bailey. He was a year behind me in college. He was at Tennessee State University while I was a mile down the road at Fisk University. We played basketball in pick-up games. Despite the fact I was paired against him and he played for a rival school, I liked him. We could have become friends. He had been dead 6 years before I even heard about it, killed by the police chief in his hometown in South Carolina. His killer Richard Combs, was tried twice. Each ended in a hung jury. He did lose his job so there’s that. Bernard Bailey lost his life. No justice… you know the rest.

Bernard Bailey

Photo: twitter.com

Somewhere along the line I also wrote about Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin and others. I confess that I now mix up the details of  individual deaths as there are so many. An officer in Cincinnati was acquitted today in the death of an unarmed black motorist. The two things these deaths have in common are people “in fear for their lives” that had to kill them and of course no justice!

It is not lost on me while I catch an unplanned glimpse of someone who needed not die. I was just as likely to see a picture of Trump or Sessions whose policies are likely to greatly increase my gallery rather than slow the pace. They are attempting to undermine the consent decrees entered into by police forces and their communities and promised almost no Federal oversight of police activities. While tempted to delete all the photos so as to no longer be caught unaware. I elect to keep the reminder. I know the work is not done as long as we can be shot and killed with impunity and the guaranteed result is no justice. This post is not anti-police although many of those I see were killed needlessly by them. It is anti  people who have no business carrying a gun shooting my people and walking away free. Until there is an environment where the mere statement of being in fear despite all evidence to the contrary is no longer sufficient to escape justice. I’ll still see dead people.

Featured Photo: vox.com

April 4, 1968

One day when I was twelve, I was playing basketball in the alley that divided my block at my white friend Mark’s house. Mark had a backboard nailed to his garage which served as one of the two “basketball courts” on our block. There were four of us playing that day; Mark, Lyle, Angelo and myself.

I’d already had eaten and generally wouldn’t be required to come back home before the street lights came on which was the universal sign to get inside. During the middle of the game, I noticed my mother walking rapidly towards us and she called my name. She had never interrupted one of our games before. While I’d often seen her walk around the block after a meal, I’d never seen the fast pace before with which she neared.

She yelled for me to, “Come home right now” which immediately made me wonder what I might have done wrong. I was a good student and generally thought of at that time as a “teacher’s pet” although that reputation would change in later years. When I met her half-way, she simply said, “We have to get home right now!”  I followed her silently, easily keeping up but still having to stride quickly to maintain the pace. We passed thru the back gate and entered the back door which she locked behind us.

Instead of letting me know what I did wrong she simply walked thru the kitchen and dining room and sat on the living room sofa facing the TV. She put her hands in her head and quietly sobbed.

“They killed him. They killed Martin Luther King, Jr.”

What Would Martin Luther King, Jr Think About The Age Of Trump?

Many that never knew Martin Luther King, Jr have tried to use his words in a way he never would have intended. Yes, he advocated non-violence but not passivity, acceptance or denial. Martin Luther King, Jr  was a warrior; he did battle on behalf of righteous causes. He was fierce, getting on the nerves and in the face of Sheriff’s, Governor’s and President’s for not making their lives easier by accepting the status quo.

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Photo: Getty Images

The Age of Trump is my name for the current era, seemingly defined by the reaction of many white people to declining demographic sway, loss of privilege and blaming the wrong people for their economic decline. Instead of looking at the top two percent who are amassing all the wealth. They pull down the other crabs in the bucket that don’t look like them.

Most of the tactics being utilized in the Age of Trump are not new. They can’t even be ascribed to Trump who has yet to have an original idea. He is only the blowhard figurehead of a thinly veiled effort to make white people great again at the expense of all others. He openly has no real values or moral compass, shifting with every wind. He stands for white uber alles, and for that reason alone many voted for him with his promise to, “Make America Great Again!”  We now find him on the verge of becoming President. What would Martin think of all this?

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Photo: twitter.com

I think Martin would not find this all new. He would look at Jeff Sessions and see Bull Connor. An Alabama official that advocates voter suppression and warns black people about how to speak to whites would be all too familiar. That an FBI Director would take steps which may have turned the tide of an election would not shock. The Director in his time, J. Edgar Hoover, blackmailed Presidents and legislators and tried to convince MLK to kill himself. The voter suppression of today is far less deadly though perhaps equally effective as when people literally died trying to get the right to vote.

I think he would side with “Black Lives Matter.” He would recognize the categorization of them as “radical” and “divisive” which they did to the SCLC as well. He would knowingly nod at attempts to de-legitimize the messenger because they have no response to the message.

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Photo: youtube.com

What I call The Age of Trump did not begin when Donald Trump received the Republican nomination for President. Not when he announced his candidacy. It began on November 4, 2008 when a black man, Barack Hussein Obama, was elected President of the United States. The following January, while Barack and Michelle Obama were attending inaugural balls. Mitch McConnell and Republican leaders were clandestinely meeting about how to undermine the new President.

While Donald Trump didn’t initiate the movement that became The Age of Trump. He soon became its unquestioned leader, heading up the Birther Movement and making his appeal to the far right and the ultra-white.

Would Martin Luther King, Jr hate Trump?

“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him!”

Would he be afraid?

“We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”

Would he be bitter?

“Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

Would he lose hope?

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope!”

In the Age of Trump, Martin Luther King, Jr would do now as he did then. He would lead. He would organize. He would advance the struggle and prioritize. He would form coalitions and grow the movement. You would not find him at pity parties. Lamenting everything Trump. He would lead. He would organize.

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Photo: nytimes.com

During the Age of Trump, we have seen major protests, some of which resulted in violence. In Ferguson, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Baltimore and Brooklyn. Some would ask, “What would Dr. King think?” Remembering his desire for non-violence. Here’s what he did say after outbreaks in his day:

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”

During the Age of Trump there are many that are unheard. Martin Luther King, Jr would not advocate violence. But he would act. No doubt his life would be threatened now as before. What would he say?

“A man not willing to die for something is not fit to live!”

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Photo: youtube.com

Martin would call out for us to get involved. Each according to their gift. He would not seek consensus, he would mold it. Dr. King is no longer with us. Others must take his place. Maybe him, maybe her… maybe you? The Age of Trump is not the time to do nothing.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter!”

Featured Photo: haikudeck.com

 

 

 

 

Somebody Explain Hotep To Me?

I confess. I’m Hotep illiterate. I think Hotep has something to do with faulty logic, conspiracy theories, staunch support of Black males and maybe some homophobia on the side.

I recognize an Hotep meme when I see one. Now I understand there’s a Hotep Civil War going on? I have so many questions.

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Photo: twittter.com

  1. Does one aspire to be Hotep. Do you pledge like in a fraternity?
  2. Is there a secret Hotep handshake or pin? How do Hoteps recognize each other on the street?
  3. How long has this been going on?
  4. Why?

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Photo: vimeo

I’m dead serious. Can someone sum up Hotep for me ’cause I just don’t understand!

 

Featured Image: twitter.com

The New Racism Shaping America’s Foreign And Domestic Policy

I don’t mean to suggest that racism dictating America’s foreign and domestic policy is a new thing. Almost since the country’s origin, race has shaped many of our policies. Don’t take my word for it. Here are the words of South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun:

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Photo: clemson.edu

“We have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race—the free white race. To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind, of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race…. We are anxious to force free government on all; and I see that it has been urged … that it is the mission of this country to spread civil and religious liberty over all the world, and especially over this continent. It is a great mistake”

Sen. John C. Calhoun – SC

Our country’s borders have been partially determined by white nations agreeing amongst themselves as to how to divide up North America. After the War of 1812, the Canadian border was set as England and America agreed on who shared what. The Louisiana Purchase was our deal with France. The Monroe Doctrine was a deal with Britain to keep primarily Spain and Portugal out of North and South America. Our growth west was guided by Manifest Destiny in which God apparently decided we needn’t be concerned about the existing inhabitants as it was literally “white man’s right” to occupy the land. The concept of American Exceptionalism was introduced in the mid-1800’s which I posit is simply another name for white exceptionalism. As Senator Calhoun noted in quote included above. America elected not to expand into Mexico because there were frankly too many Mexicans there. I mention for no particular reason there’s a statue of John C. Calhoun in Charleston, SC.

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Photo: thinglink.com

Throughout history, the wars we’ve fought, the foreign aid we provided, the atrocities abroad where we either intervened or looked away. All were influenced by race. In the television series West Wing, President Jed Bartlet said to Will Bailey, “Why is a Khundunese life worth less to me than an American life?” Will answered, “I don’t know sir but it is.” The fictional show was speaking of a fictional nation but the idea that foreign lives are worth less than American lives is a real thing. I go one step further in saying that there is a ranking system of foreign nations and the two primary factors are natural resources and race. This is why we can ignore famine in West Africa yet rush to the aid of countries less pigmented.

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Photo: twitter.com

This is the racism of our policies we’re accustomed to. Then we got our first Black President, Barack Hussein Obama. There were certainly those who opposed him for ideological reasons. To be against Obama’s policies because you disagree with them is not racist. To completely overturn your own beliefs to oppose Obama very likely is. It is why a larger percentage of American’s than one would have thought possible are willing to ignore Russian ties in the Trump administration and Russian hacking during the election process. The racial animus of some towards our President is why an Israeli Prime Minister knew he could basically call the sitting President of the United States a liar with no offer of proof and get away with it. It’s why a Congressman could shout, “You lie!”

Netanyahu

Photo: newsweek.me.com

It’s not unusual for America to shape it’s foreign and domestic policy as it always has where race was a consideration. What’s new is the desire to upend every piece of the Obama legacy with a desperate need to wipe out any and every contribution of the first Black President. The sad thing is that many of the people rabidly against the President are the primary beneficiaries of his policies. When they find out they’ve been bamboozled. They’ll probably blame him for that too!

Featured Photo: twitter.com

#Not My Constitution

Many of my blog pieces are inspired by “Morning Joe.” Given enough time, someone on the panel, most often Joe Scarborough will say something so ridiculous I have to respond. In the past few days he’s talked about the number of increased Republican seats in the House of Representatives since President Obama first took office. He presents it as if it were because of Republican ideas and policies as if that were the reason. Not once did he mention Gerrymandering and redistricting, often in Unconstitutional ways according to the courts. Not discussed was the impact of Republican pushed bills suppressing votes wherever they have control. Many introduced the day after the Supreme Court gutted enforcement of the Voter Rights Act. That’s typical Scarborough propaganda and because it’s what he always does. It didn’t stir me to write.

What did get my attention was his assertion that the Constitution of the United States was powerful enough to withstand a Trump Presidency as it has withstood Nixon, Bush and others. It was that assertion that spawned this piece because the Constitution has not now or ever been mine.

There is a misconception that the Constitution considered Black people as three-fifths of a person. The Constitution neither said or did anything to supercede existing State laws which universally didn’t consider Blacks any portion of a person. They had no rights whatsoever and were governed by Slave Codes. What the Constitution did was allot additional Congressional seats to States, primarily in the South where slaves were counted for that strict purpose as being worth three-fifths of  a white person. The Constitution also didn’t recognize at all “Indians not taxed” which was all Indians on reservations or roaming free. It’s not their constitution either. Republicans have made a hero out of the late Justice Antonin Scalia who favored a strict interpretation of the Constitution as “originally intended.” The Constitution originally intended to codify by its silence, the horrors of slavery and the total lack of power for Blacks and Native Americans.

When the Constitution does speak of race it does so indirectly. Apparently race was just as uncomfortable to talk about then as now. It refers to, “other persons” or let the individual states determine who counted with language like, “such persons as any of the states now existing think proper to admit.” Its mention of slavery was couched in terms like, “persons held to service or labor.” There are those who defend the Constitution by saying it did not specifically affirm slavery. They feel it was somehow better to wink and nod at slavery and let the states take responsibility for what the Federal government would not. At best the Constitution ignored the plight of Black people. That’s why I can say it’s not mine.

The Constitution set up three allegedly co-equal branches of Government. The Executive (President), Legislative (Congress), and the Supreme Court. When initially created. Every office in every branch was inhabited by a white male. While a great deal of diversity relatively speaking has taken place since then. Two branches have never ceded that control and the third only for eight years. During those eight years it must be said that the Republicans in the Congress settled on a policy of obstruction and are now about the business of wiping out the legacy of the sole Black President.

You might ask, what of the court? The official arbiter of what is Constitutional and what is not. The Supreme Court is now and forever has been a hotbed of partisan politics. The Court gave us the Dred Scott Decision where Chief Justice Roger B Taney said, “The Founders Constitution regarded Blacks as so far inferior that they had no rights the white man was bound to respect, and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”

When no legal basis could be found to continue segregation in schools in Brown V Board of Education. They decided to desegregate schools but immediately muted their own decision calling for it to be implemented “with all deliberate speed” which set back desegregation for decades.

When the 1965 Voter Rights Act passed. The Supreme Court gutted the enforcement clause and as a result in the most recent election. Hundreds of thousands of voters were unable to vote that could have if not for their action. These are not the sole instances of the Constitution either being ignored or its meaning twisted on behalf of white people. One could make the case that every major piece of Civil or Voter Rights legislation was later weakened by the court. What good is the Constitution when it mostly serves one group? Not my constitution.

In America, the Constitution is revered. Elected officials and our military swear to uphold it. It was originally a compromise that protected the rights of slave states and the Electoral College is a remnant of those days. It acts eerily as it was intended when originally conceived. To provide an unnatural balance of power that serves rural and sparsely populated states and diminishing the power of the heavily populated centers. This is how we get a result where the popular vote doesn’t matter and white votes matter more than minorities.

Back to Morning Joe. The reason he can say the Constitution is strong enough to withstand even our worst Presidents. Is because he doesn’t stand to lose what some other Americans do. He will not be stopped and frisked or have his House of Worship surveilled. He will not see his community flooded with law enforcement, newly empowered to care even less about my life which matters even less than before. He will not lose his healthcare with no plan for replacement. His ability to vote is not at risk. No family member will be deported and hyper mass incarceration was never intended for him. His Constitution is doing for him what it always had. His Constitution… not mine.

I Met A Troll Today!

I met a troll today on Facebook. Like most trolls he wasn’t minding his business in his own neighborhood. He interrupted a conversation between friends to jump in with his two bits. “Mike” wasn’t a drive by troll, he stayed and stayed. He started out with subtle name calling. I’d never been called a snowflake before and had to look it up in an urban dictionary to get it. He offered me cocoa and crayons as if I were a child he could help feel better about the results of the election.

I got curious about Mike and went to his Facebook page to get a feel for him. Mike lives in San Leon, TX. He’s single (imagine that) and he indicates he’s a Wrecker Driver. Throughout his trolling he was clear about how hard he works and how tired he was that his earnings were providing “free money” to others. He wasn’t initially very specific about who was getting the free money. It wasn’t until later it became “You People” that it became crystal clear.

Mike talked about “your Obama care” and was excited about all the extra money he’d have in his pocket as a result of the new administration. I asked him specifically how that would happen? I don’t want to assume anything but Mike didn’t appear like he’d benefit from ending the “estate tax” which primarily benefits the rich. The Trump tax plan has no basis in reality according to everyone that wasn’t Trump and now Mike I guess.

Mike’s Facebook Page suggests he has a real problem with what is considered racist. He singled out Voter ID laws as being quite undeserving of that title despite its obvious racist effect. I would ask Mike to consider if  Voted ID laws were ever introduced without several companion laws that serve no purpose except to restrict minorities and other target groups likely to vote Democrat from having that opportunity. In his home State of Texas, the day after the Supreme Court gutted the Voter Rights Act. Texas implemented highly targeted Voter Suppression laws which were soon found Unconstitutional. The current Attorney General is still fighting that battle saying the legislature had enacted, “common sense voting regulations.” I supposed it was coincidental they primarily affected Hispanic, Black and poor voters. Mike probably didn’t think about that.

Mike shared a negative meme about Black Lives Matter. Mike didn’t say much himself but his friends commented about Black people being lazy, inherently inferior and thieves. Mike apparently shared their sentiment as he “liked” some of those comments.

I tried “real hard” like Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction to follow Mike’s thought process as he trolled. He seemed to get progressively angry as he was mostly mocked by the invited guests on the page. That’s when he got to “you people.” When questioned about the term he clarified it by saying, “Yes you people, racist lefties.” He invoked the racism of others a few times I think as a first strike approach to keeping from being called one himself. It amazes me when people who support racist activities (like voter suppression), maintain relationships with other racists like his friends commenting on his page and troll the pages of Black people can’t imagine for an instant that they themselves are racist. Well Mike, I’m here to tell you. You’re one. Mike completely lost me when he inquired, “Do any of you believe in God?” I’m praying for you right now Mike!

There was another troll interjecting himself in the conversation (coincidentally named Mike as well from which I draw no inference). That Mike only had memes to contribute and when visiting a page typically inhabited by writers. To that Mike I can only say, next time bring your words.