Posts Tagged ‘Race’

DISCLAIMER
Before I begin my exploration on what I call, “Racism vs. Responsibility ”, let me assure the reader of a few things first. This is not an article dismissing White Racism. I repeat, this is not an article dismissing White Racism. This is also not an article demonizing Black people. This is an article demanding more Black action & more Black accountability. I’m very familiar with racial profiling, Stop & Frisk, 400 years of chattel slavery, 100 years of legal discrimination, 50 years of 2nd class citizenship, the Crack Epidemic, The War on Drugs, & the New Jim Crow. I’m hip to Redlining after World War 2, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, COINTELPRO, the Move bombing in Philadelphia, & George Zimmerman’s acquittal. I’m a Black male living in the South. Experiencing Racism is as natural to me as gnats flying around my face during the summer time. I’ve marched for Mumia & protested for Trayvon. I can’t speak down on the people if I am one of the people. I’m not upper class nor do I drive a BMW. I enjoy Starbucks every other month & I do not watch Tyler Perry. I came from the same hood these people come from…my people come from. I’m simply a man tired of my culture going from one of revolution & progress, to one of stagnation & excuse making…a culture going from “yes we can” to “I cant do dis, I cant do dat”. Of course racism is real…but it is still no excuse for certain behaviors. Ants don’t whine & cry when their hill is destroyed. The ants fight, bite, unite, & get the hill back right no matter how many ants die in the process. This post is on what we can do as Black people, not what has been done to us by White people. With that being said, Revolutionary love.

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“It’s not what they are doing to us, it’s what we’re not doing.”
-Bill Cosby

In the Black community, it seems as if one can’t speak about responsibility without being labeled. For instance, I was called a racist recently when I said, “Don’t invest hundreds of dollars on a pair of shoes for a 7 year old, invest in some school supplies”. I wasn’t calling out Black folks specifically…but being Black, living in the Black community, & with a passion for uplifting my Black people, I just had to be honest. I was called a racist, a classist, out of touch, an Uncle Tom, & just plain ignorant. If being honest is being a racist, I guess I’ll gladly accept that title.

Two other men have taken a similar approach when it comes to “keeping it real” with the Black community & have been met with similar reactions: Bill Cosby & Don Lemon.

Bill Cosby
In 2004, Bill Cosby gave a speech during the NAACP’s 50-year celebration of Brown vs. the Board of Education. Cosby, as the younger generation would say, “went ham”. Cosby lashed out against “people he didn’t know”. Cosby spoke against out of wedlock births, incorrect English, dress, conduct, school attendance, & most importantly, the lack of good, solid parenting. Here are some excerpts from his talk comically named the “Pound Cake Speech” because of an example he used:

*No longer is a person embarrassed because they’re pregnant without a husband. No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the unmarried child.

*Ladies & gentlemen, the lower economic & lower middle economic people are not holding their end in this deal. In the neighborhoods that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on.

*I’m talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was two? Where were you when he was twelve? Where were you when he was eighteen, & how come you don’t know he had a pistol? Where is his father & why don’t you know where he is? Why doesn’t the father show up to talk to this boy?

*Those of us sitting out here who have gone on to some college or whatever we’ve done, we still fear our parents & these people are not parenting. They’re buying things for the kid. $500 sneakers, for what? They won’t buy or spend $250 on Hooked on Phonics.

*But these people (Civil Rights Activists), the ones up here in the balcony fought so hard. Looking at the incarcerated, these are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out & are outraged, “The cops shouldn’t have shot him”. What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand? I wanted a piece of pound cake just as bad as anybody else. I looked at it & I had no money & something called parenting said if get caught with it you’re going to embarrass your mother. Not you’re going to get your butt kicked. No. You’re going to embarrass your mother. You’re going to embarrass your family.

*Are you not paying attention, people with their hat on backwards, pants down around the crack. Isn’t that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up. Isn’t it a sign of something when she’s got her dress all the way up to the crack…and got all kinds of needles & things going through her body? What part of Africa did this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans, they don’t know a damned thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed & all that crap & all of them are in jail. When we give these kinds names to our children, we give them the strength & inspiration in the meaning of those names. What’s the point of giving them strong names if there is not parenting & values backing it up?

*Brown vs. the Board of Education is no longer the white person’s problem. We’ve got to take the neighborhood back.

*It’s right around the corner. It’s standing on the corner. It can’t speak English. It doesn’t want to speak English. I can’t even talk the way these people talk. “Why you ain’t where you is go, uhh,” I don’t know who these people are & I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. Then I heard the father talk. This is all in the house. You used to talk a certain way on the corner & you got into the house & switched to English. Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t land a plane with “why you ain’t is…” You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.

*Where did these people get the idea that they’re moving ahead on this? Well, they know they’re not, they’re just hanging out in the same place, five or six generations sitting in the projects when you’re just supposed to stay there long enough to get a job & move out.

*Now look, I’m telling you. It’s not what they’re doing to us. It’s what we’re not doing. Fifty percent drop out. Look, we’re raising our own ingrown immigrants. These people are fighting hard to be ignorant. There’s no English being spoken & they’re walking & they’re angry. Oh God, they’re angry & they have pistols & they shoot & they do stupid things & after they kill somebody, they don’t have a plan. Just murder somebody. Boom. Over what? A pizza?

*It’s time for you to not accept the language that these people are speaking, which will take them nowhere. What the hell good is Brown V. Board of Education if nobody wants it?

*And then they stand there in an orange suit & you drop to your knees, “He didn’t do anything, he didn’t do anything.” Yes, he did do it & you need to have an orange suit on too.

*All of these people who lined up & done…they’ve got to be wondering what the hell happened. Brown V. Board of Education, these people who marched & were hit in the face with rocks & punched in the face to get an education & we got these knuckleheads walking around who don’t want to learn English. I know that you all know it. I just want to get you as angry that you ought to be. When you walk around the neighborhood & you see this stuff, that stuff’s not funny. These people are not funny anymore & that ‘s not brother & that’s not my sister. They’re faking & they’re dragging me way down because the state, the city & all these people have to pick up the tab on them because they don’t want to accept that they have to study to get an education.

*We have to begin to build in the neighborhood, have restaurants, have cleaners, have pharmacies, have real estate, have medical buildings instead of trying to rob them all.

*Basketball players, multimillionaires can’t write a paragraph. Football players, multimillionaires, can’t read. Yes. Multimillionaires. Well, Brown vs. Board of Education, where are we today? It’s there. They paved the way. What did we do with it? The white man, he’s laughing, got to be laughing. Fifty percent drop out, rest of them in prison.

*You got to tell me that if there was parenting, help me, if there was parenting, he wouldn’t have picked up the Coca Cola bottle & walked out with it to get shot in the back of the head. He wouldn’t have. Not if he loved his parents & not if they were parenting!

*When you go to the church, look at the stained glass things of Jesus. Look at them. Is Jesus smiling? Not in one picture. So, tell your friends. Let’s try to do something. Let’s try to make Jesus smile. Let’s start parenting. Thank you, thank you.

At that, Cosby left the stage with many an opened mouth & nervous people clapping. Had this Negro gone mad? Telling Black people what to do…who does he think he is? Cosby’s list could be summed up as followed:

5) Pull up your pants
4) Speak proper English
3) Don’t forget the sacrifices of our elders
2) Go to school
1) Be a parent

Most met Cosby with anger towards his speech, some even going as far as to write a book asking has he & the Black middle class “lost their damn minds”. People said, “Cosby is out of touch”, “Cosby is just a grumpy old man”, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about”, & some other things I won’t slander the man with. Don Lemon was met with a similar reaction for his “No Talking Points” segment earlier this week.

Don Lemon
Don Lemon, a Black male commentator for CNN, came under fire lately for his “self improvement talk” to the Black community. Lemon has run multiple specials on race in America since the George Zimmerman trial started & didn’t receive much backlash until this segment, one he called “Tough Love for the Black Community”. Lemon started out by agreeing with the following comments belonging to Bill O’Reilly:

“The reason there is so much violence & chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African- American family. Raised without much structure, young black men often reject education & gravitate towards the street culture, drugs, hustling, & gangs. Nobody forces them to do that, again, it is a personal decision”.

Not only did Lemon say he agreed with O’Reilly’s comments, he said, “He doesn’t go far enough”. Lemon then gave the following speech, basically a 5 item recommendation list:

*Sagging pants, whether Justin Bieber or no-name Derek around the way, walking around with your ass & your underwear showing is not OK.

*Stop using the N word. Promoting the use of that word when it’s not germane to the conversation, have you ever considered that you may be just perpetuating the stereotype the master intended…you know, “acting like a nigger”?

*A lot of African-Americans took offense to that, too. I wonder if I gave the right advice, I really did. But confirmation came the very next day on my way home when I exited the subway in 125th Street in Harlem. This little kid in a school uniform no older than seven years old, he was crying his eyes out as he walked down the sidewalk with his mother. I’m going to be honest here, she turned to me & she said, “I’m sick of you. You act like an old ass man, stop all that crying, nigger.” Is that taking the word back? Think about that.

*Respect where you live. Start small by not dropping trash, littering in your own communities.

*You want to break the cycle of poverty? Stop telling kids they’re acting white because they go to school or they speak proper English. A high school dropout makes on average $19,000 a year, a high school graduate makes $28,000 a year, a college graduate makes $51,000 a year.

*Probably the most important…just because you can have a baby, it doesn’t mean you should. Especially without planning for one or getting married first. More than 72 percent of children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock. That means absent fathers & the studies show that lack of a male role model is an express train right to prison & the cycle continues.

Here is Lemon’s list:
5) Stop drooping.
4) Stop using the term Nigger/Nigga.
3) Stop trashing the neighborhood.
2) Stop dropping out of school.
1) Stop having children before you’re ready.

Lemon concluded with this:

*So, please, black folks, as I said if this doesn’t apply to you, I’m not talking to you. Pay attention to & think about what has been presented in recent history as acceptable behavior. Pay close attention to the hip-hop & rap culture that many of you embrace. A culture that glorifies everything I just mentioned: thug & reprehensible behavior. A culture that is making a lot of people rich…just not you…& it’s not going to.

Lemon ended with a clip affirming to his viewers that he hasn’t let the Right off the hook, showing a commentator saying the only time Republicans bring up Black on Black violence is to “stick it” to the Black community. After commercial break, the Internet caught fire. HOW DARE HE, A BLACK MAN, SPEAK ON THE BLACK COMMUNITY!!?? HOW DARE HE!!?? RACIST!!! UNCLE TOM!!!! RACIST!!! BOYCOTT LEMON!!! BOYCOTT CNN!! BOYCOTT TV!!! BOYCOTT CABLE!!!! I might have made up the last two parts but it was simply for theatrical effect. Like Cosby, Lemon was labeled an Uncle Tom & a racist for simply giving advice on how to fix their people’s communities. Well, were they right or wrong? Here’s my opinion.

My Take On Lemon & Cosby
After studying these two men’s recommendations, I don’t see them as racists or Uncle Toms, I see them as moral revolutionaries. Cosby & Lemon are not saying act White or that White people are off the hook, they are simply saying act with dignity & self-respect. These are the topics & issues people should discuss with their community if they want it to succeed. If what they recommended is wrong, I guess what we are doing is right? The slow & deliberate destruction of the Black community is a positive thing? We in the Black community have been sold a myth of Black inferiority & self-hate…& oddly enough, some of us seem to derive some form of pride from it, glorifying it in our thoughts, words, & deeds. You have young men & women so brainwashed in myth of Black inferiority that they have inked their flesh with the term “nigger”…their own unbeknownst slave brand. These people who accept the myth of Black inferiority are the TRUE indoor slaves people, not the people who are saying get out of that mindset. Think about it…would Malcolm X say dressing with your underwear exposed to others is acceptable…would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most powerful Black men to ever step foot on Earth, describe himself as a “real nigga”…would Mumia Abu Jamal say dropping out of school is very positive behavior…would Dr. Huey P. Newton say speak in a language reminiscent to enslaved Africans on a plantation…would Angela Davis say the more kids born to teenagers the better? No…no, no, no, & no.

I believe what people misunderstand the most about Bill Cosby & Don Lemon is that they think they are telling Black people to “behave for Massa & racism will be over”. Speaking clear English & getting a high school diploma won’t end racism, but it will improve a community because the more educated the residents the better. How many Harvard educated lawyers or Hampton educated doctors go around trashing their neighborhoods, calling little kids niggas? Being better parents & telling the kids to pull up their clothes wont end discrimination, but it will lead to less crime & more self-respect on account of a proper upbringing. If one is raised in a healthy environment with two loving parents with jobs & goals, odds are the child wont disrespect his family & community by running away from a store with his pants falling down with stolen pound cake & a Coca-Cola.

Racism is a factor in the ills of the Black community & must be discussed or else I would look like a fool. Yes cops target Black kids for drug arrests more often than Whites…but what if the Black kid didn’t have drugs on him in the first place? That’s racism vs. responsibility. Yes schools in lower economic areas suffer from underfunding…but if the parents can keep up with the NBA, they can keep up with the PTA, demanding changes & staying involved. That’s racism vs. responsibility. Yes Black unemployment is twice that of Whites…but if more Blacks made businesses for employment instead of relying on someone else’s businesses for employment, more of us would most likely be hired. We can’t control White racism but what we can control Black action.  There is a White Power structure…but killing each other in the name of Waka Flocka Flame’s gang affiliation isn’t going to defeat it…it isn’t going to erect a Black Power structure.  Only powerful Black communities can erect Black Power structures.  Strong, revolutionary, non excuse making Black communities.

In closing, if we truly are in the midst of a race war my people, it’s not a smart idea to complain & wait for the “enemy” to lay down the sword…we must ready our troops & form alliances. We must sharpen our weapons…our body, our intellect, & our tongue. We must secure our fortresses…our communities, churches, & families. I assure you, in a war to end racism, a bunch of non-English speaking knuckleheads with pants below their kneecaps & blunts hanging out of their mouths aren’t going to make the best soldiers. The way to create the best soldiers is through discipline & accountability, responsibility & sacrifice. There must come a point in the evolution of the African American people that we switch the blame from Jim Crow & simply just focus more on Jim from across the corner. My challenge to my fellow brothers & sisters in the Black communities is this:

Let’s blame the man less & do for us more…

We need less “Lemon & Pound Cake” speeches & more “Lemon & Pound Cake” action. OUR FUTURE is in OUR HANDS.

All Power To The People

Follow me on Twitter @Professor_Rambo
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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…the chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Hating Hatred Doesn’t Work

 

On April 20th, 2013, my family and I decided to protest a Neo Nazi/Ku Klux Klan rally at the Georgia Capital in Atlanta, Georgia.  The protest changed me deeply, shaping in me a new way of thinking.  This post will focus on race, the protest, and my newfound solution to racism. 

 

Racism Defined

Racism, since the beginning of its conception, has always been a tool utilized by the ruling elites to keep the poor and working class Black and white people separated.  Theoretically, there is no reason why a poor Black person or a poor White person should vote or organize differently since both desire and require the same necessities: employment, education, shelter, food, etc.  The elites know this and understand that there is power in numbers.  To thwart unity, the elites employ their two political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, to keep the poor and working class Black and White people apart for their benefit.  Bob Marley explained it perfectly in his 1979 song Ambush in the Night:

See them (Political Parties) fighting for power
But they know not the hour
So they bribing with their guns, spare-parts and money,
Trying to belittle our
Integrity now.
They say what we know
Is just what they teach us;
And we’re so ignorant
‘Cause every time they can reach us
Through political strategy
They keep us hungry
And when you wanna get some food
Your brother got to be your enemy.

Marley describes political parties fighting for power, using bribes to belittle people’s integrity.  Think of these bribes as universal healthcare, scholarships, background checks for guns, or increased social security spending, things politicians promise yet seldom deliver.   Marley also notes that political parties teach people through political strategies, mainstream media indoctrination basically, leading people to become physically and economically hungry…with their brother, the poor and working class Republican or Democrat, falsely appearing to be in the way of their “food”, which is jobs, security, schools, etc.

Republicans, with their continued use of the “Southern Strategy”, pimp poor and working class Whites with “I may be poor, but at least I aint a nigger” type of rhetoric, promoting strong views on militarism, capitalism, crime prevention, love of a White God, and anti-immigration.  These type of people drive pick up trucks and preach self-reliance with a “take no mess” attitude.

The Democrats on the other end, pimp mostly Black voters, insisting to them that they are “good white folk”, patting them on the head, feeding them with government handouts.  The Democrats teach Blacks that the Republicans are all racist hicks that think they are lazy, ignorant, and prone to violence.  If a Black decides to go Republican, these same “good White folk” Democrats who pat the Blacks on the head, stroking their kinky locks, turns into God, casting the Black Republican out of the “Garden of Eden”, calling THEM the racist.  The irony…

At this, the elites smoke cigars with the Republican and Democrat party leaders and play golf together while their constituents grow more and more resentful towards each other.  Just like in Afghanistan and Iraq, the elites rejoice while the poor and working class fight with a misconstrued feeling of patriotism. 

“Conscious” people, like politicians, also perpetrate racism.  Here are two theories of racism and how they are not accurate.

1.     Black people can’t be racist because they have no power.

2.     Racism is something exerted to others and not self.

First off, anyone who says Black people have no power is most likely a racist. Tell Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Huey P. Newton, Fred Hampton, Cornel West, Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, or Mumia Abu Jamal Black people have no power.  How can the creators of modern civilization have no power?  Black people DO have power, tremendous amounts of it, some just don’t know what to do with it.  Instead of taking their power to college campuses to organize, some take it to White owned football teams to organize…to tackle people.  Instead of taking their power to protest against police brutality, some take it to White owned recording booths to promote Black on Black brutality.  Instead of taking their power to stand outside a state capital for the release of a political prisoner, some take it to stand outside a White owned Footlocker for the re-re-re-re-re-rereleased pair of 180$ basketball shoes that they wont even play basketball in.  Come on man, come on…  Black people do have power, some just don’t collectively aim it in the right direction for true positive change. 

Secondly, self-hatred in my opinion is a form of racism.  Perming one’s hair, whitening one’s skin, killing one’s brother…all this is a form of racism because it entails hating one’s skin and Black characteristics, seeing a brother as an enemy.  If a White person hates a Black person he is racist.  If a Black person hates a Black person he is racist.  We have to start judging ourselves with the same rubric we employ to judge others.  A White man can’t be racist simply because he didn’t vote for Obama yet a Black man is not racist for killing five Black men and injuring three in a shootout.  How can we call the Ku Klux Klan racist if our own brothers are carrying out their dirty deeds for them?  Racism is racism no matter who perpetrates it.  With that being said, lets talk about my family outing to the Ku Klux Klan/Neo Nazi rally.

 

Protest

Butterflies were turning flips in my stomach as my family and I approached the capital.  I was not afraid of the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis because I see racists every day, but to see them out in the open with their views, passionate about their hatred and not ashamed of it was something different..something intimate..something more real.  When I turned the corner, walking past Georgia State Troopers with cocked and ready M-16’s, I found myself face to face with rage and hatred, anger and pride.. grungy looking white men in White robes and militant looking White men in Black military suits, pants tucked into their shiny boots.  Holding my son close, he asked, “Daddy, who are those men?”  I simply replied, “People who don’t want Black people and White people to live together…the same people who hated Dr. King and wants segregation.”  My son nodded in my arms and buried his head into my chest.  The racists were on the steps of the capital, waving flags and holding banners, their apparent leader speaking from a PA system.  The leader was drowned out by screaming from his supporters and noise made by the protesters.  The protesters ranged from young tough looking Black men to old White hipsters.  There were some men wearing V for Vendetta masks as well as a large Jewish presence.  After a while, the leader ended his speech and a long period of taunting began.  The racists spit across the barricade, protesters flipping the middle finger, shouts of “Cracker ill kill you” from the protester side and “You lucky the police are here boy” from the racist side.  Throughout all the pandemonium, the police looked as if they were against the protester side, keeping their back towards the racists, the gun facing us.  In the midst of all the commotion, a protester, a young woman, was grabbed and dragged through the street by the police, apparently for having a sign with explicit words written on it.  I guess freedom of speech is defined as verbal speech, not written?  With protesters playing bongos and snare drums and racists continuing to hurl insults, the atmosphere was similar to that of a playground tussle, all talk and no fights.  After a stand still, the racists decided to end the speeches and head back to their place of gathering.  The protesters stood there in a confused daze, not sure to follow them or continue protesting where they were.  After the racists entered a parking deck where they regrouped, a large group of protesters circled the building and stood on the corner.  The playground fight atmosphere continued, racists screaming down, protesters screaming up, cops screaming at protesters, racists screaming down, protesters screaming up, cops screaming at protesters, so on and so on and so on…  In the end, I looked from protester to racist, racist to protester, and again from protester to racist; but already it was impossible to say which was which*. The battle was a stalemate, a tie between who said the most insults. The crowd started to disperse and people went home. 

* Yes, I borrowed that line from Orwell’s book Animal Farm.

Solution

Police agents assassinated Malcolm X after he worshiped with White Muslims and started to believe in Black/White unity.  Dr. King was assassinated after he began to wean from civil rights to focus more on antiwar/economic rights work, something not simply a Black and White issue but also a Green.  The elites, as I wrote earlier, drive a wedge between the have and the have nots based on money and use race as its scapegoat.  The solution to racism IS NOT advocating a race war.  That is the most ignorant, suicidal thing a “conscious” person can do.  Advocating a poor and working class war would be extremely successful.  I’m not saying a guerilla war in the streets, but a war of public and corporate boycotts, military defections, strikes, peaceful protests, rallies, marches, teach ins, sit ins, mass arrests, occupations, etc, etc…   The real war is No Green Verses Green, Not Black Verses White.  The solution to racism is simply unity.  I never fully understood the meaning of non-violent protest until I witnessed a potentially violent one.  Screaming “F*ck you White trash” isn’t bringing anyone to the table of brotherhood.  Spitting at a protester isn’t getting at the core of why one fundamentally disagrees with one’s thought pattern.  Unity will take a tremendous amount of work because America’s race history is mostly negative.   We as conscious people must understand that at the core belief of racism is classism.  We must come together not as man-made races but as one government made class…the poor and working class.  I will end this blog with a quote from the great Malcolm X.  

“I believe there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice, and equality for everyone, and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation…but I don’t think that it will be based upon the color of the skin, as Elijah Muhammad had taught it”.

A house that is divided cannot stand…

All Power To The People

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