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!”

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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.

FAKE NEWS

We’re surrounded by fake news. Every link we click on the Internet is more and more likely to contain a story that’s completely fabricated. Written to generate hits and ultimately revenue to the author or to influence people, policy or votes. Dispelling Internet myths is a full time thing whether it be Snopes (accused of having a liberal bias and being fake itself) or fact-checkers who are derided as well.

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Photo: CNN

The shame of it all is that Fake News isn’t limited to the farthest reaches of the Internet but that it is basically all that is provided to us. Every attempt at factual reporting is seemingly offset by providing equal time to an opposing view with equal sincerity if not truth. There is almost nowhere you can go to find truth that is not countered by something that waters it down.

Possibly the worst thing that happened to fact based reporting is the 24-hour news cycle. Because there is more time available than real news to report. Networks fill the time with what’s available as opposed to what’s true. The second worst thing to happen to truth is the election season is omnipresence of campaign surrogates. These surrogates go much farther than spinning, they tell any manner of outright lie and mostly go unchallenged. If they are questioned about a statement, they repeat themselves and keep moving on. The lie is allowed to stand.

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Photo: mediatake

 

In addition to the usual suspects, Fox News or MSNBC. Fake news has spread to every source available. It helps not that most of the major media in this country is controlled by few sources who therefore dictate what is news and what’s not. It’s how a Steve Bannon fades from the news cycle. How a Standing Rock can be ignored. Why the police side of a police shooting is broadcast while the victim is “thugged up” by reporting of their past. It’s how we get a Trump.

I watched an interview this morning on Morning Joe with Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence. In it he asserted that the Trump transition team has moved “faster in the past 40-years than any other team.” On their own network, clips had run within the past few hours of President Obama announcing his entire National Security Team on December 1st during his first term. I saw recognition among the panelists that they knew it not to be true but they let the lie stand. Pence was asked about the son of Mike Flynn, Trump’s nominee for National Security Advisor who’d made a number of racist tweets and advanced fake news. Pence looked the camera dead in the eye and said, “Flynn’s son is not involved at all in the transition.” To be clear, Flynn’s son is currently his father’s Chief of Staff. He has a official e-mail address from the transition team. In what passes as journalism these days, that statement was questioned, the answer repeated, they moved on.

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Photo: Peoples World

When the news media allows their guests to lie. They are advancing fake news. When your programming is composed of advancing conspiracy theories (Sean Hannity) and bringing on your regular contributors… knowing they will lie. You are as fake a news source as a teenager looking for hits on the Internet. When you purport that Ben Carson is somehow qualified to lead Housing and Urban Development because he once lived in Detroit and has treated patients from the inner-city. You’ve lessened us all. When you treat Black Lives Matter like a terrorist organization and equivocate them with the KKK. You are a blight on the nation.

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Photo: insider.foxnews.com

It is incumbent on us all, to not trust and verify but verify then trust. We must work a little harder at researching information before we pass it along because it confirms our existing beliefs. There is no need to backup your beliefs with lies when so much truth is prevalent. It’s also important to hold the media accountable when they lie, and when they allow others to lie with their blessings. The media empowers liars and serves as an apologist for the worst of the deplorable, in service to their narrative. Time for a change!

Feature Photo: theweek.com