Expert Voices

The Lineage And Mechanism Of The U.S. Constitution

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

The Olympics have been a much-needed distraction from America’s political battle ground, ongoing culture wars and countless social struggles. However, in the midst of all this family drama, are we missing something crucial? Australian attorney and author, James D. R. Philips thinks we are. He points to the global power and impact of the U.S. Constitution and shares his historical, and outside perspective in his book: Two Revolutions And The American Constitution: How the English and American Revolutions Produced the American Constitution.

Philips says to fully understand how America works, you need to understand its system of government and laws, and for that you must understand the Constitution. In his book, Philips highlights the lineage and mechanics of this living document that continues to shape and guide America and the rest of the world.

To purchase Philips’ book, click here 👉 https://amzn.to/37dISQv

The 8th Deadly Sin

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

Humanity’s woe is the 8th deadly sin named, Media.

Simone Biles pulling out of the Olympics is exactly what media wants. And Hoda Kotb, Jenna Bush and the rest of these “talking experts” do their due diligence to speak with double-edged sword tongues, anxiously waiting for a shoe to drop so the real show can begin: riding their media inflicted trauma like the 100 foot wave.

They start with praise; continue with pressure and high expectations, heaping all the weight of the world’s woes and wants on these young athletes. Then when they falter, slip, or aren’t performing perfectly to appease the immense pressure put on them by these “talking experts” … the same “talking experts” benefit. This is what they work for. They benefit from the juicy gossip and lip smacking among the masses that flock to their social media sites to join in and raise their traffic. The ultimate goal of media is your attention. Regardless if the price is the head of their “darling” Simone Biles, a young athlete facing tremendous pressure and scrutiny from the media shredder whose soldiers look like proud dork queen, Hoda Kotb, high-level privileged employee Jenna Bush and the cut-throat, “news” at any price Savannah Guthrie. Desperate to be judged as perfect porcelain and unbothered by Black people’s reality in America, Lester Holt, is equally culpable of inflicting this kind of trauma on people.

Then they all get to post grossly disingenuous images like this IG post from Hoda Kotb feigning support and love for Simone Biles, when all her news crew wanted was this outcome for their own storytelling benefit  and ratings. Not all praise is good praise. Some come with gnashed teeth, salivating for the glory that will come with the downfall of an athletes career.

These media people ride your wave up and then celebrate that they get to tell the world that you didn’t live up to expectations. They get to praise and scrutinize these young athletes into mental disorders without impunity. Recent case in point: Naomi Osaka pulling out of the French Open due to the intense media pressure. What happened next–Naomi Osaka vilified in the press–is simply par for their course.

Media loves this traumatic cycle. It keeps NBC in business, Hoda and Jenna paid and Savannah popular among media bosses and shareholders. The media operates as an enemy of We The People, too. And Simone Biles is yet another example and victim of the media business that functions without responsibility as perpetrator, savior and victim. Media must be held accountable for this destructive practice. Man bites dog makes the news. Not because it’s true, but because it’s sensational. And that’s what sells, unfortunately. They work for ratings, not us. The solution? Turn your TV off and accept that each of us carry a responsibility when it comes to our collective humanity. If we want better, we must do better. It starts with acknowledging humanity’s 8th deadly sin is the media that fuels good and bad for profit.

Philips: U.S. Constitution Key Pivot To The Formation Of The Modern World

Editor’s Note: The views expressed are solely those of the author. James D.R. Philips is an Australian attorney and the author of the new book, “Two Revolutions and the Constitution: How the English and American Revolutions Produced the American Constitution.”
 
 

Australia probably isn’t the first place Americans think of on Independence Day, but it’s important to consider the many ways America’s example has reverberated around the world for centuries. Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, had three great consequences for Australia. First, it prompted the founding of a British colony there. Second, it facilitated Australian independence. Third, it led to the structure of the Australian Constitution. American independence meant that the British could no longer send convicts to its former American colonies. Long-stay prisons in Britain were in short supply. The British needed a new colony to which they could transport convicts. They risked the moonshot of trying to establish a colony on the other side of the world, at Botany Bay (now in Sydney).

The success of the revolutionary war and Declaration of independence taught the British not to resist a settler colony whose people wanted independence. When Australians demanded independence, just over a century after the founding of the first Australian colony, the British did not stand in their way. The independence led to the Constitution. The Constitution (drafted while the First Fleet was hazarding its epic journey from Portsmouth in England to establish the new colony in Australia) had a profound influence on the structure and terms of the Australian Constitution, and therefore on Australia’s system of government.

Of course, a future Australia was not on his mind when Jefferson was drafting the declaration. He and other Founders were focused on protecting their legal and political rights from British predation. The Founders charged King George III with tyranny. They rebelled, left his kingdom and established a republic. Charles I suffered a similar fate, charged with tyranny by the Rump Parliament. He was tried and beheaded in 1649, and a British republic established. The American republic has endured.

The English republic was short-lived. But some 30 years after the end of the English republic, the English had a second revolution, called either the “English Revolution” or the “Glorious Revolution.” The English (with substantial Dutch help) forced James II to flee his kingdom, rather than putting him on trial and executing him. The English Revolution established finally that the monarch was subject to Parliament and to law. During the English Revolution, there were rebellions against English rule in Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland.

The English Revolution was a foundation of the development of pluralistic societies, which enjoyed freedom and representative government subject to law in England and America. The American Revolution further developed and cemented these principles and had a profound effect on the development of the modern world. The Founders believed that they were protecting their existing legal and political rights. Their conception of those rights developed in the British-American colonial period. There was plenty of scope for different perceptions in America and in England as to the extent of British control of aspects of colonial government, and to what extent American rights were subject to the King’s prerogative power or subject to Parliamentary legislation.

When, some 80 years after the English Revolution, George III and his Parliament began imposing taxes on Americans and seeking to increase British control over the colonies, Americans rebelled against Parliament as well as against the king. They believed that Parliament had abandoned its role as the protector of liberties against royal overreach. Most famously, colonial Americans believed that Parliament could not impose direct taxes on them because there could be no taxation without representation, and Americans were not represented in Parliament.

The American Bill of Rights was essential in the minds of many Americans because of the risk that Congress might betray the people, as Parliament had betrayed them. To Americans, the developing British concept of parliamentary supremacy had become a latent source of tyranny. Australia’s Constitution is largely a hybrid of the American and British models, using the American federal and national structure, but establishing Parliamentary supremacy (subject to that structure).

The most famous statement in the U.S. Declaration of Independence is universal in its aspiration: “That all [people] are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Making these rights real and operable for all Americans is a work in progress. Still, it is momentous that the declaration stated in such compelling language that these rights were inherent and that when the British impeded them, Americans had a right to rebel. The declaration is a foundation of America. And it has a profound significance for Australians: It is one of Australia’s founding documents, too.

Op-Ed: Whither Charlotte Scott’s Tribute To Emancipation

Editor’s Note: The views expressed are solely those of the writer, John Parker; Former MPP and Toronto City Councilor.

BY JOHN PARKER

Upon hearing that President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated, a woman who had been freed by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation proposed that a memorial statue be erected in his memory. She established a fund for the purpose and made the first contribution: five dollars.

The project was picked up by the quaintly named Western Sanitary Commission, a philanthropic agency that had been established in St. Louis during the Civil War. Its original purpose was to provide hospital services for sick and wounded soldiers, but over time it also came to provide shelter for the homeless and dispossessed and schools for their children. It largely served those who had been freed or who otherwise had escaped from slavery.

As the country’s centennial year approached a design was chosen and a statue was commissioned. It features Abraham Lincoln standing with the Emancipation Proclamation in his right hand. In front of Lincoln is the figure of a man in a crouched position, looking up, rising, and breaking free from chains of bondage. The model for the casting was Archer Alexander, a man who had escaped from slavery but who was on the verge of being returned to his previous condition when the Emancipation Proclamation secured his freedom in 1863.

The statue was dedicated at a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington in April 1867. President Ulysses S. Grant and members of the Supreme Court were present on the occasion. Frederick Douglass – himself a former slave – delivered the keynote address.

Douglass had been free since 1838. He is known to history as one of the foremost American abolitionists but in truth he was outspoken and courageous in support of a broad spectrum of social reforms, including the rights of women (in 1848 he wrote “In respect to political rights, we hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man.” In 1866 he was one of the founders of the American Equal Rights Association in support of universal suffrage.) Most of all, he is known mostly for being one of the greatest pubic orators of all time.

Running short on patience with regard to his most cherished priority, Douglass had been one of Lincoln’s fiercest critics early in the Civil War. But he came to be one of Lincoln’s most sincere admirers by the end of the war and thereafter. His remarks at the dedication ceremony in 1867 traced the development of his own sentiments:

To protect, defend, and perpetuate slavery in the States where it existed Abraham Lincoln was not less ready than any other President to draw the sword of the nation…. 

In the fullness of time, we saw Abraham Lincoln … penning the immortal paper, which, though special in its language, was general in its principles and effect, making slavery forever impossible in the United States. 

Though we waited long, we saw all this and more.

A plaque on the monument gives it the name Freedom’s Memorial in grateful memory of Abraham Lincoln and reads:

This monument was erected by the Western Sanitary Commission of Saint Louis Mo: With funds contributed solely by emancipated citizens of the United States declared free by his proclamation January 1 A.D. 1863. The first contribution of five dollars was made by Charlotte Scott, a freedwoman of Virginia, being her first earnings in freedom and consecrated by her suggestion and request on the day she heard of President Lincoln’s death to build a monument to his memory. 

Eleanor Holmes Norton, currently DC’s nonvoting member of the US House of Representatives, has decided that the statue should come down. She intends to introduce legislation to that effect in the House. According to her, “the designers of the Emancipation Statue in Lincoln Park in DC didn’t take into account the views of African Americans. It shows. Blacks too fought to end enslavement. That’s why I’m introducing a bill to move this statue to a museum.”

The proposal to remove the statue has the enthusiastic support of a strong contingent of protesters who gathered at the site earlier this week and vowed to return later and get right to work to topple it.

It is demonstrably true that the designers of the statue didn’t take into account the views of African Americans such as Eleanor Holmes Norton as of June 2020 – or those that animate the group that gathered at the memorial this week –, but it also seems clear that her remarks in June 2020 don’t take into account the views of African Americans at the time that the statue was conceived, executed, and dedicated.

It may be difficult for Eleanor Holmes Norton and the protesters to accept, but it is just possible that Charlotte Scott, Archer Alexander, Frederick Douglass, and the emancipated citizens of the United States who paid for the monument had more insight into the views of African Americans alive in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War than they do. And a review of the record would confirm that, contrary to Homes Norton’s apparent understanding, Douglass made particular reference to the role of African American (he called them “dark and dusty”) soldiers in the Union Army in his remarks. It should come as no surprise that he would have done exactly that, the enlistment of African American soldiers in the Lincoln’s army having been one of the causes that he had vigorously recommended to the President at virtually every opportunity when they met and spoke during the war.

If the point of erecting memorials is to lock into place a record of a person or an event that is deserving of enduring memory, the message that Charlotte Scott hoped to deliver to posterity has been overshadowed in the minds of some by the context of more recent events and concerns.

It is a bad time to be a statue these days. If this one comes down, the event will itself be a symbol of the irony of our current day, in which the sentiment that is causing memorials to defenders of slavery to fall will have also also led – almost a century and a half after its dedication – to the destruction of a memorial to the single most important agent in the ending of that slavery, erected by those who, in his time, understood and appreciated his accomplishment and wanted future generations to know it.

Homelessness And The U.S. Census

BY JOHN LENOIR

I came to Austin to work the 2020 census and spend time with family here. Through the census I got an up-close look at the nooks and crannies of the city, and nose-to-nose encounters with Austinites living in its jewels of Westlake and between its toes under highway bridges and behind parking lots.

At the direction of the U.S. Census, my team and I were required to meet with residents and ask the formulaic questions about age, race and whether they owned or rented their homes. Knocking on a door in Bee Cave or Westlake generally involved getting through layers of security gates to reach breath-taking homes with pools, expansive views, or private docks on the lake. I got a lot of “Leave-Me-Alone” responses often couched as “I’m really busy,” and “I’ll do it online.” The underlying dynamic was, “You are uninvited on my property,” and “How did you get past security?”

When we completed the door-knocking count, selected teams focused on finding and counting Austinites in the tortured census acronym, TNSOL (Targeted Nonstructured Outdoor Locations) — in other words, the homeless. It was easy to follow the highways to find the tent and tarp communities under the overpass intersections. More challenging was to locate people disbursed in the woods, behind Walmart dumpsters and wherever they could catch a piece of dry land near an intersection where they could “fly” their cardboard signs asking for money.

We were fortunate to have introductions from support crews such as the Travis County constable, whose Precinct 3 team seeks out the most isolated encampments to deliver food and water. Other church-based and nonprofit organizations provide food and clean water to various camps — lifelines to a population that lives in the margins. Many people we encountered seemed to suffer from addictions and illnesses that they said cost them their jobs and put them on the street in the first place. In the one officially sanctioned homeless encampment on a former state Department of Transportation storage yard, I had expected to see rows of identical tents or temporary structures like the UN refugee camps in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. Here, the hundred-plus inhabitants of Camp Esperanza make their own shelters through a hodgepodge of tarps, tents and cardboard.

With the homeless there was, of course, the quiet ‘Leave-Me-Alone’ posture when we approached. But this was different. There was not the ‘Get Off My Property’ look of the high-grounders and lakesiders. The homeless were acutely aware that they have no right to be where they were and possess absolutely no property to protect. The ‘Leave-Me-Alone’ looks we got behind the iron security gates said, ‘I am where I want to be, doing what I want to do.’ The ‘Leave-Me-Alone’ under Highway 183 meant, I am in a place no one wants to be, subject to eviction, and I am humiliated. Their security moats were fear and despair. But they also seemed to project a sense of small pride in the resourcefulness to have put together enough shelter to stay alive. And as it was particularly dangerous to be alone in the woods, there were touching stories of taking in others recently on the street.

Once the regular follow-up door knocking cases started winding down, a few field supervisors like myself volunteered to take on managing teams counting the homeless population during the fourth week of September. Very few of the original crews opted to switch and take on the TNSOL. I heard concerns about the added dangers of COVID-19 exposure, unfamiliarity with the homeless population and, frankly, no interest in becoming familiar with the homeless camps. The census began recruiting people to work with the homeless; the team members I ended up working with each had a heart for the task. I was proud of them.

They were committed to getting a full and accurate count of the homeless population, and we were able to get through the Leave-Me-Alone defenses behind the tarps by acknowledging the human dignity of the people we were to “enumerate” and convincing them that they were to be counted just like everybody else in Austin, no matter where they lived.

Lenoir is a retired federal prosecutor living in Austin.

An Open Letter To White Jesus And A Call For Amen-Ra’s Return

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

Dear white Jesus,

As a young girl my mother and father baptized me in a Roman Catholic church. My mom always talked about you, consistently reminding all her children of your grace, tolerance and love for the world and all its people. There were many days I called on you for help and mercy. Sometimes for selfish reasons and other times for understanding or on behalf of my fellow man. I never questioned your presence or wisdom. The bible guided my family through many tough times in life. It didn’t take away the severe poverty I grew up with in Suriname but somehow, we made it with help from others. We had land to grow food, chickens to raise, family and community. And, you reaped all the praise for every bit of good that fell on us. “Thank God,” was a common phrase we all used. We accepted our unequal place in the world as our cross to bear. I never questioned it. I simply accepted it like my mother and grandmother did. We are black people. And not just any type of black people. We are tribal black people from the Ashanti and Akan tribes in Africa that have come around to accept our field negro way of life despite our royal beginnings. We thanked you, nonetheless. We praised you in spite of it all.

Hathor, Goddess of Love

The love of two vastly different people led to my being. I was essentially plucked from the fate bestowed on my tribal people by being born to a black Pamaka mother and a white Okie father. I didn’t just look different; I was given a different life than the one many of my people live. I became a house negro. Not by choice, but rather by unjust and brutal circumstances all black people in the world know. Slavery shaped us. Not just culturally but in every human way possible. We fought each other, and we fought hard to right all the wrongs committed against us by Europeans. We struggled and died brutal deaths in mass numbers around the world just to gain a small foothold in the common ideals of humanity. From Africa, the West Indies, South America, to the Caribbean islands and America, we fought hard for our salvation and bits of freedom. And, again, you were given all the glory for the strength to defeat our enemies.

Anubis, God of Death

After 246 years of slave labor in America, that built the most powerful country and democracy the world has ever known, we find ourselves still fighting the same ol’ fight we’ve fought for centuries. I’m exhausted. Having to carry the weight of our ancestors’ struggle, we’re all undoubtedly exhausted. And yet, there’s still no rest for the weary. So, how much longer “God”? How many more of us have to be brutally struck down by hateful racist white people? How many more must be sacrificed to finally bring about the justice and equality any human being deserves? We love our children and want to see them grow. But they can’t because of the indiscriminate hate that comes with the birth of brown babies. We love our mothers but can’t experience their complete love and support as they too are met with violence inflicted on their aging bodies from being mercilessly thrown to the ground by white police officers in Baltimore. We love our fathers, but they can’t protect us from the early graves they meet after being shot in the back when they run from the police in North Carolina. We love our black teachers but can’t gain the wisdom of their teachings or the sweetness of their gentle souls as they are met with hails of bullets while peacefully sitting in their car in Minnesota. We love our black doctors but can’t get their healing as they are brutally detained and mistreated for wanting to help the homeless in Florida. We love our friends but can’t play with them in parks when they meet an officer’s callous bullet for playing with a toy gun in Ohio. We can’t talk on the phone with our young teenagers after their deadly confrontation in their own neighborhood with cowardly bullies aiming guns in Florida. And it’s clear, we can’t run for exercise in Georgia without being lynched by a racist mob who simply traded in their Klan sheets for police uniforms.

Ra, God of the Sun

So, I want to know, dear white Jesus and your father God, how much longer must we fight? How much longer will you allow us to suffer in this world? You see, you can’t be the same God for us, and for those who hate and brutalize us. There’s no way we’re all praying to you. And so, there must be another God that sees us all. I refuse to believe a God that is supposedly all knowing and good, would allow his brown skinned people to suffer so much.

“God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:11). All are equal before Him. Ephesians 6:9 says, “There is no favoritism with him.” And Colossians 3:25 teaches God’s fairness in judgment, “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”

I need to know that your teachings are worthy of my following because of the heavy cross black people have had to bear. So, I’m calling your true name. I’m calling you to reveal yourself to the world. Because I demand justice, once and for all. Because enough is enough. I will not take another step blinded by the bible’s myth of your love, mercy and glory. I will not be lulled to remain stupid with songs, dances or hymns calling and praising you. I reject all that you stand for and allow to happen to black people on earth.

And so, in my hour of bitter anger and deep sorrow over the brutal killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia by a racist mob that are being protected by the local police and politicians, I am reaching all the way back to the first God. The King of All Gods, Amen-Ra.

Amen-Ra, King of all Gods

I am reaching back to all the ancestors, from Africa to Suriname and everywhere black people have roamed, fought and suffered, to beg for strength, justice and healing in this hour of my pain. It is incredibly hard to watch Ahmaud Arbery’s brutal and senseless killing. But like me, we must all bear witness of his death because it tells the never-ending and tragic story of black lives in America. Arbery’s callous killing must be met with swift justice, not just here on earth but throughout the universal holy spaces where our ancestors rest and watch over us. We need healing King of all Gods. But most importantly, we need justice and finally, peace. Once and for all. In Amen-Ra I pray.

How COVID-19 Is Unfolding The Mighty Eagle’s Paper Tiger Experiment

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

Welcome to the new world brought to you by an invisible virus responsible for bringing countries to their knees, forcing people indoors or six feet apart in public to avoid being put six feet underground. We are at war with Coronavirus and the combatants are the common man against their governments and the wealthy corporations politicians are indebted to protect, first. History repeatedly proves gluttony for power and money comes with the license to govern. And it’s been long forewarned our planet has been churning to be in this exact position; a toxically divided space of rich and poor, weak and strong, environmentalists and climate science deniers, the sick and healthy, able and disabled bodies all in their respective corners holding onto the last threat of our common bond; humanity. We just lost our grip on sense and sensibility for fear of taking certain positions. As James Baldwin would put it, we are in the middle of a terrifying senility. To be black in America may be a terrible thing but worse is what America has done to itself as we stew in this disastrous Coronavirus vacuum due to lack of leadership and a firm commitment to human and civil rights.

The American illusion is comparative to a paper tiger. In theory, what this country imagines itself to be is certainly mighty, but tested, our vulnerabilities reveal otherwise. Public health crisis’s like Covid-19, SARS, Ebola and even the 1918 flu pandemic have consistently proven our dislocation to reality and full participation in democracy. As people drop dead without a cure or access to basic equipment and safety items like masks and gloves, Mitch McConnell and the GOP are fully engaged in lobbying on behalf of wealthy corporations and American elites to ensure they get first dibs at the Coronavirus Relief Act or The Cares Act. Unfortunately for those largely impacted by this pandemic, these greedy politicians’ only “Cares” are that the rich, once again, get to feed first from the government trough.

A recent article in The Atlantic, citing the Global Health Security Index—the issuing body of pandemic preparedness report cards for every country—found America holding the world’s highest score of 83.5 percent. So, how is the world’s valedictorian failing so miserably when millions of lives are at stake? Our country is deteriorating under bad management, racism and apathy. When basic human needs during a world crisis aren’t being met, it’s time to face the truth … American agony is American life.

Let’s do some unfolding. Schools are closed. Workers are laid off in mass numbers. Nurses are wearing trash bags to save lives. America doesn’t have enough gloves and face masks, or apparently the green light to mass produce them. We don’t have enough ventilators to help people breathe when they reach the peak of this respiratory disease. The bad blood between the President and journalists serves no good purpose, as their interactions continues to propagate global discontent. Trump is even accusing hospitals and governors of hoarding crucial supplies like masks and ventilators in an effort to smear him and his handling of the health crisis on our hands, surfaces and in droplets in the air. Don’t touch your face!

Honesty, decency, brains and basic trust in government left the White House with Obama, leaving us with a President only capable of passing out PTSD like the paper towels he enjoys throwing into crowds. There’s also the ever present media frenzy to capitalize on the business of tragedy, fueling hysteria and confusion among people they’re “informing.” Healthcare workers are dying from exposure and forced to work long hours to bridge the gap of America’s overburdened, underpaid and exhausted workforce. America needs more than a political revolution to reign in this chaos and breakdown in government. We need a moral and economic revolution to right their wrongs, because we have to exist more than to fill the interests of the rich. James Baldwin said, “Freedom is a dangerous thing but anything else is disastrous.” The sentiment touches the heart of this moment in our history. If our current response to the Coronavirus epidemic isn’t clear evidence we’re confronting it shaped like a paper tiger, the mighty Eagle will continue this trajectory of weakness and never find its way out of our idealistic labyrinth.

10 Ways Trump Is Inadvertently Making America Be Best

By JEANETTE LENOIR

It’s true; America can’t escape the shame of Donald J. Trump. Like an unruly toddler, the 45th president of the United States is marking up the entire planet with a sharpie, as mother nature and most of her inhabitants tightly cross their fingers hoping he’s not using the permanent kind. Nonetheless, it befits us to see the silver lining in our current affairs at the mercy of our Emperor. So, here are ten ways Trump has inadvertently made us a better country:

  1. A Collective Rejection. Even before taking office, Trump forced Americans from all walks of life to reject him and his brand of politics. His birtherism rhetoric targeting former President Barack Obama, his unapologetic prejudice during his testimony in congress concerning Native Americans and his casinos, accusing a Judge for being unable to be impartial because he’s “Mexican,” discriminating against black renters, the Central Park Five case, mocking people with disabilities, boasting of getting away with murder on 5th Ave and grabbing women by the genitals will forever stain the path toward our nations ideals. Nonetheless, Trump forced Americans to stop and look in the mirror to bear witness to what he inadvertently exposed of us. And that is: our freedom is an allusion, economic and otherwise, and racism is still an institutionalized and structural anomaly.The Klu Klux Klan, today with gnashed gums, have risen from our cultural graveyard where they’ve existed as our haunting ghosts, and exposed their secret operation within our entire system of governance and social structure. Nazi’s and emboldened white supremacists, and other hate groups have taken comfort among us. And Russia’s involvement in our political system was not just telling of our vulnerabilities, but also the problem with career politicians and the pay to play operation of congress. The silver lining, you ask. Thanks to Trump being “Trumpy,” he unintentionally helped usher in movements like The Resistance, Women’s March, March For Our Lives, No Muslim Ban Ever, Stop Trump Movement, Need To Impeach, Impeach Donald Trump Now, Organize Against Trump, Indivisible, The New Civil Rights Movement … the list goes on and on. Trump has galvanized and empowered average Americans to rise in defense of the ideals and promise of this country. And that makes America better. 
  2. Exposing Democratic Vulnerabilities. Another important change 45 ushered in takes direct aim at the Democratic Party. Trump exposed a painful truth about the Party, and that is its ineffectiveness, and disregard of the overall sentiments on issues concerning immigration, healthcare and education. Also, the DNC’s lack of accountability for a flawed system fashioned by Clinton Democrats that created the effect that led to Trump. And taking African Americans and other people of color for granted through their use of transactional politics verses relationship politics. The lack of investment in organizing and investing in communities across the country, and not building on the success of Obama’s presidency after more than twenty years of a Republican majority in congress is evident in the ROI outcome; President Trump. Trump, riding his horse to the old white house, weakened the Democratic Party on the way and forced liberal and middle of the road Americans, high on Obama’s legacy, to see our democracy as it really was; flawed and ill-prepared to stop Trump, the GOP and Russia. The three allies are still swinging to the tune of Old Town Road, as they ride to systematically dismantle Obama’s legacy. Trump killed our Barry buzz, man! But he also woke the Democratic Party up, galvanizing leadership to refocus, listen to and invest in the American people and work to resuscitate our collective humanity. After all, raising our collective conscientiousness and civility can only make America better. 
  3. The Era of Social Media Governing. It’s no secret that our president is always plugged in, leading our nation with tweets, hashtags and emoji’s, and even using his social media platform to antagonize everyone he disagrees with. This includes his flippant involvement in highly sensitive foreign relations matters. The world is changing at a rapid pace thanks to the internet and technology. And Trump has jumped on this band wagon, disregarding long standing practices by applying his own brand of boorish engagement. Trump uses social media to mock and threaten hostile nations like North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran, while FLOTUS Melania Trump struggles to make sense of her Be Best campaign to stop cyber bullying. There’s no telling if Trump will abuse the FCC emergency alert system to mass text the U.S. like an unwanted booty call. And it’s arguably only a matter of time before he starts using AI to project himself across our skies in hologram form as Trumpzilla to boost his bloated ego. The silver lining here is a folklore befitting of an Anansi tale. If one is unwise, they will use social media like Trump does, if one is wise, they will not. Thus, canceling Trump makes America better. 
  4. A Renewed Civil Rights Movement. Despite the many movements that have brought us out of our shameful past into the 21st century, Trump, in his relatively short time as President Twitter Fingers, has forced us to take a harder look at the progress of human rights in America. As a nation, Trump reminds us of how comfortable we’ve become at accepting bits of progress to pull African Americans out of the pit they were shoved in after emancipation and expected to climb out of by sheer will and some magical bootstraps. Even though they were dumped into this metaphorical pit without boots after creating massive wealth for a country that enjoys world superpower status today. Trump’s brand of politics has forced our nation’s leaders to seriously address, not only the current state of racism and discrimination in America, but its influence embedded in workplaces, schools, our government, law enforcement, the justice system and other institutions in the country. Indifference of racism was becoming the norm, especially after the election of Obama. In some circles, the mere mention of racism, pointing it out or boldly expecting equality, was met with flippancy and an attitude of disdain and even disgust. Those who turned a blind eye to the reality of racism in America readily used phrases like, “pulling the race card” or “race baiting” to delegitimize or downplay the truth of discrimination and racism. This moment is a significant turning point in the struggle for equality and justice. The deep pain of racism is being acknowledged by more people because of Trump’s character. It is steadily paving a way for a renewed and emboldened civil rights movement in the country. And for that, Trump is making America better. 
  5. Women and Minority Office Holders. Katie Hill may be exiting stage left after a sex scandal, but there are more women office holders in America today, especially in congress. Women make up 24.16 percent of the 116th Congress, an increase of 2.36 percent since the election of Donald Trump, and there’s also been an increase in racial and ethnic diversity among elected officials. It’s safe to say many ran for office to protect the country from Trump and his ilk; out of touch elites, and the heartless Grand Old Party, better known as RxNRA, I mean, the GOP. Gil Cisneros, a proud Latino and new Congressman from California was galvanized to serve in congress after his predecessor voted against Obamacare. Cisneros ran for office even after winning a $266 million lottery jackpot that could have easily afforded him anonymity. And for that, the country is better off. And not just at being more inclusive of the people that make up our identity, but to regard the lessons from our past. Never forget, ignoring red flags is what led to Bush ’41 being asleep at the wheel. 
  6. Noticing The Red Flags. Trump could easily be our second 9/11 moment if we don’t heed the deafening warning signs and see the man in the mirror for what he is; a bona fide threat. It’s hard to admit that the orange fat man is us, but he is. And Trump has no interest in learning how to land either. The president of the United States cancelled a meeting with the Taliban at Camp David three days before the anniversary of 9/11. Reread the last sentence. Welcome to the Twilight Zone. He’s using military dollars to build the wall he shamefully boasted Mexico would pay for and making appearances at rally’s threatening to stay in office longer than the Constitution allows. It’s simply unreal this is our current trajectory as a country. If the 45th G7 summit held in France didn’t give you a clue about our global economic standing, you’re either Diamond or Silk planning to attend the next G7 summit at Doral. Trump appointed all his key players, I mean his best people, to hold high office in his Administration; a handful of individuals worth billions in a country where over half the population is experiences some level of poverty. He’s leapfrogging us into the greedy hands of corporations only interested in their bottom line. The wheels are hard turning toward an inhumane direction the country hasn’t seen since the first American slave ship, the Desire, set sail from Marblehead. Trump gets credit for driving us into a ditch. Will it make America better? Yes. If we fire him, get out of the ditch and work toward a more just Republic. 
  7. The NFL Culture. Trump brought to the surface the ugly truth about the NFL and its longstanding colonial system, including its ever-successful divide and conquer strategy that snagged the voracious snakehead, Jay-Z. Hook, line and sinker. How many black NFL team owners do you know of? Me either. And, it wasn’t that long ago when the president was disparaging NFL athletes, calling a league of mostly black athletes “bastards” and condemning the peaceful and just police brutality protest started by Colin Kaepernick. The president and his supporters’ efforts to turn the aim of the protest into an attack on the flag and law enforcement is disturbingly telling of the harsh truth many don’t want to accept; America is overwhelmingly controlled by a government deeply invested in solidifying and advancing white dominance and white prosperity. The NFL is symbolic of this truth like Obama and Trump are symbolic of the reality of being black or white in America. But change is inevitable, and although the entire Trump family are representative of the sickness infecting our collective humanity, they’re also a reason to hope, because it’s not despair that make successful revolutions as the anti-Trump one seems to prove.  Hope makes America better. 
  8. The Chest Game. The NRA and wealthy corporations’ choke hold on congress is maddening to comprehend in a “Woke” world. Tragedy after tragedy and congress still can’t pry the tight grip of the gun lobby from its neck. It’s no secret they have a running tab that pays for numerous elected officials like Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn to occupy powerful Senate seats. In turn, those feeding at the trough are helping the powerful gun group maintain the status quo on gun laws, blaming the mentally ill for mass shootings all while making money selling their precious guns under the guise of shielding The Second Amendment. The winning move on the board should be sensible and modern gun laws that won’t infringe on a person’s right to bear arms. Trump’s lust for a more white dominant country, a romantic and nostalgic throwback of the past when elites lived comfortably above the laws they wrote, is perhaps why the president and the GOP have shamefully put Party over country by co-signing his behavior and the complete debauchery that his administration represents. Trump ushered in this unfortunate truth and for that, we’re certainly better off knowing the real devil this country is up against is structural racism and a corporate run government. 
  9. The Big Money Grab. Yes, it’s still shamelessly underway since this administration took root. From Ivanka’s Chinese trademarks, billionaire Betsy Devos’s disregard for realistic education standards and needs, to Mnuchin and his wife sycophantic gripping of an enlarged image of the all mighty dollar. This white house loves capitalism and wealth so much, they’ve become experts at spending our tax dollars to enrich themselves. During his last visit to congress Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, was grilled on his knowledge of some backroom dealings involving Senator Mitch McConnell and the second largest aluminum company in the world, RUSAL, owned by Russian tycoon, Oleg Deripaska. Mnuchin denied giving preferential treatment to the company after lifting sanctions 8 months after they were imposed. Coincidentally, and shortly after, RUSAL announced it was investing $200 million into a project in Kentucky. Deripaska is detailed in the Mueller report to have dealings with Paul Manafort who is now in jail. Shirley Graham Du Bois once said that if a country’s economy is controlled by outsiders, it cannot claim to be an independent state, no matter how many national anthems and flags it has. Trump exposed our delusion of economic freedom. From the threat of a recession to our trade war with China, the aftermath of which is still building up like a tsunami for American farmers, we can congratulate Trump’s recklessness for bringing attention to his Administrations’ handling of international trade, and their collusion with Putin to advance his interests in the U.S. Nonetheless, evidence of Trump’s crimes and collusion is half the battle, and impeachment makes clear that America is better than Trump. 
  10. Risking the Intelligence Community. Exposing our intelligence community’s paranoia and dysfunction, even amongst themselves, has dampened the mood in the country like a heavy, rain soaked medieval cloak. From the Clinton email scandal to the Mueller investigation, we’ve uncovered a trove of misconducts, overlooked outrageous and predatory practices from Trump, his brand, his family and now, his Administration. The president and his Attorney General, William Barr, are working to overturn Mueller’s investigation findings. Evidently, they’ve been on a world tour asking foreign governments for help investigating the FBI and CIA. Our intelligence service is under scrutiny from within, showcasing deep divisions and distrust amongst our highest ranked. These are ever changing times, indeed. Today, the world belongs to those who stand to lose it tomorrow. And like Jim Thorpe, we have to do something about it now, regardless of what stands in the way. Thorpe, the first Native American to win a U.S. gold medal despite the obstacles he faced, embodied the spirit of what truly makes America great. And although Trump is the antithesis of this holy Sa ki wa ki man, he serves as a reminder of what America can’t afford to see; a hateful orange fat man in the mirror. And that makes America … Be Best? Don’t try to blame that on the young. It’s time for all of us to be better and the Trump clan is mnemonic of that.  

ABC: Meghan McCain, John McCain’s Daughter, Has A License To Shrill And Flaunt Her Bratty White Privilege

 

By JEANETTE LENOIR

 

“I love Meghan McCain on The View,” said no one ever. McCain, who somehow climbed her way to a seat on the set of The View while most Americans were distracted by the antics of our naked Emperor and his ilk, is wreaking havoc on the daytime talk show. And clearly, ABC has given her a license to shrill, throw tantrums and expose herself as the god awful specimen raised by the late Senator John McCain, something she will never let anyone forget. Little does McCain know she’s telling stories of her family and her upbringing that’s reflective of an ugly truth; obnoxious white privilege. Can you imagine how she treated the hired help her wealthy family undoubtedly had throughout her life? I can, and that image is vomit inducing. Lorraine Hansberry depicted her life in A Raisin in the Sun as the white community; keepers of their white traditions and all white neighborhood. Today, and in this case, McCain, you know, John McCain’s daughter, wants to keep her grip on guns despite their disproportionate impact on minorities and large support for more sensible gun laws. This angry blowhard and female counterpart to Alex Jones is beyond the pale. Can you envision Whoopi Goldberg or any of her other co-hosts emulating her appalling behavior? I doubt the same angry, insufferable bratty behavior would be tolerated by ABC executives or viewers. And yet, her behavior is. Why? A combination of white and rich privilege, oh and she’s John McCain’s daughter.

Not to compare Soledad O’Brien with Meghan Kim Jong-Un McCain, however during her time hosting Starting Point on CNN she was a very tough, even snarky and an in your face kind of host. She lost that gig. The difference is uncomfortably clear: white woman can get away with blatant boorish, bratty and entitled behavior while black woman can’t. Black women are expected to walk on eggshells while white women can proudly and comfortably express themselves—good or bad—in American society. Black women, and men, who show strength and confidence are perceived as aggressive, angry, cocky and not keeping themselves within the boundaries drawn up by American culture. Symbolically, we’re still drinking from separate water fountains, we just can’t speak this ugly truth to power without repercussion.

If moderator Whoopi Goldberg, Sunny Hostin and Joy Behar could speak freely without losing their jobs or face the inevitable backlash that would accompany their truth, McCain would probably feel their wrath like slaves felt their masters whip. And, we see these examples play out all the time these days thanks to technology. McCain, John McCain’s daughter, is no different than Permit Patty, BBQ Becky or Pool Patrol Paula. Sitting high on their entitled white women throne demanding passage of their will simply because they’re white. Thankfully America is also full of white women, and men, who recognize this trait and fight alongside minorities to bring about change. I’m talking about those who continue to benefit from this social disease. Regrettably, McCain has swallowed her entire family’s legacy, diluting all traces of any other McCain that have walked this earth. It’s shameful. But this is the monster they created and that the world—or at least The View audience—must endure.

And, her permanent scowl speaks volumes too, and it’s screaming: I’m better than you. I know more than anyone. I’m the smartest person in the room and no one can tell me anything because I know it all, see it all and have it all. And yet, she remains high on her throne thanks to the network, ABC, who pays her handsomely to project all the seven deadly sins the bible warns of: Lust; her intense desire to be right. Gluttony; one AK 47 just isn’t enough. Greed; for all the attention and air in the room. Laziness; pretends to know so much despite evidence to the contrary. Wrath; her angry scowl says it all. Envy; of her father’s legacy. Pride; her haughtiness is always on display as she occupies the corner of the table opposite Whoopi chomping at the bit to strut like a proud all-knowing naked peacock, unaware that it lost its tail and feathers a long time ago.

The nasty, and I don’t mean the Janet Jackson kind, McCain is a tyrant and ABC is the creator of this white privileged monster we’re seeing on daytime TV. The late Toni Morrison once said, “There is really nothing more to say-except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.” How America will overcome the symbolism of white privilege McCain embodies is a cultural battle still being fought. And although culture is the most difficult thing to change, time never stops, and neither will the fight for a more just and equal world that has no tolerance for the likes of Meghan McCain, better known as John McCain’s daughter. Occupying a powerful seat on The View must come with certain responsibilities external of ratings, especially when it impacts our larger culture.

 

The Trouble With Jay-Z, The NFL And The Larger Struggle For Equality And Justice

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Jay-Z traded his heroes for gold. It’s a strategy that’s worked since white men started dividing the earth for their own gain. And as such, for love of the almighty dollar and power, the former drug dealer turned hip-hop mogul sold his soul to the highest bidder adopting the tried and true approach of divide and conquer as old as mankind’s recorded history. The only difference between him and a slave on an auction block is that he put himself there to gain a bigger room in the master’s house; the NFL.

As America marks the 400th year since the first Africans arrived on her shores in 1619 as slaves, Jay-Z with his NFL money move disregarding the larger struggle for equality and justice, reminds us that the all mighty dollar still turns brother against sister and slave into slave catcher. The adage, money is the root of all evil, applies as it always has, and Jay-Z sits squarely on that throne in the black community. What compounds the hurt of this shameful deal is his relationship with Colin Kaepernick; a bona-fide modern day civil rights icon in the on-going struggle for justice and equality for black and brown people in America. How Jay-Z can sit in a room full of NFL bigwigs who control the big business of sports, teeth grinning and speaking ill of the struggle is an image not easily digested. Kaepernick sacrificed his career, gave millions to victims of police brutality and the less fortunate, took on the Goliath’s in the room Jay-Z just occupied for more gold coins he doesn’t need, and continues to fight to bring about peace and justice for minorities.

I am reminded of Shirley Graham Du Bois’s words when she discussed the plight of black people in Africa and America after the United Nations declared 1960 the year of Africa. Following the independence of Ghana in 1957, the country’s leaders came together to advocate for the independence of other African countries still under the thumb of European colonialism. The All African People’s Conference in 1958 was a movement that directly correlates with Kaepernick’s advocacy for victims of police brutality, while Jay-Z’s money grab represents the imperialists world with an incessant appetite for wealth and power despite how negatively it impacts others, especially black and brown people. In other words, if the money is enough, your injustice doesn’t matter. “We’re passed kneeling,” Jay-Z said ignorantly beaming like “a hateful negro” in a room full of his masters.

You see, it’s clear, Jay-Z forgot about The Reverend Martin Luther King’s words in his letter from Birmingham stating, “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.” He also forgot that MLK taught us that, “justice too long delayed, is justice denied.” Jay-Z, out for self and clouded by greed, forgot that as the world turns wrongs will be righted despite his disregard for others in the larger struggle for humanity, justice and equality. Like Judas, Jay-Z will undoubtedly answer for the betrayal of his people. The ongoing liberation of Africa is similar to the liberation of black and brown people in America but unfortunately, Jay-Z and his ilk will never co-sign to bring about peace and justice for black people unless the loot makes it worthwhile. Even Beyonce turned black when it became lucrative and popular culture. The SNL skit about her being black hit the nail right on the head. And, remember her L’Oreal commercial before she turned black? Back then her “true match” was Native American, French and black. Today, she’s the queen of Africa… Ok?

Shirley Graham Du Bois once said that one can fly a dozen national flags and sing a dozen national anthems but if your money is controlled by outsiders, you’re not free. And, that’s the ultimate truth of Jay-Z’s deal with the NFL and Beyonce’s new black. For the right price both have consistently played into the hands of those whose aim is to stop black progress in any direction. And, it speaks volume that his only supporters are other wealthy, out of touch black people like Sean Combs and Jermaine Dupri. In the meantime, Kaepernick remains resolute in his stance against police brutality and racism in America and for that, hope remains. Lastly, because symbolism matters, Jay-Z did more harm than good with this NFL deal and that symbolizes something far more powerful than all the money he plans on making or distributing when he signed up to be the real life “hateful negro”.