BY JEANETTE LENOIR
The Women’s March in Washington, DC and across the country was another clear message to the current administration: Get Out!
BY JEANETTE LENOIR
The Women’s March in Washington, DC and across the country was another clear message to the current administration: Get Out!
BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Unquestionably, populism has shaped America. Faux populism on the other hand, as explained by author and political analyst, Bradford R. Kane, is dangerously shifting our political landscape in the era of Donald J. Trump, a president who chooses to divide our country for his own self interests. These are unprecedented times.
Kane is the author of, Pitchfork Populism, Ten Political Forces That Shaped An Election And Continue To Change America. In it he examines our past, present and future political landscape, including the impact and dangers of the current administration’s use of populism, dishonesty, racism, hate-fueled and misleading propaganda that has diminished our progressive culture and standing in the world. Even voting, a sacred and hard-fought for right, isn’t immune from attack and intimidation. And if Trump’s campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, isn’t clear enough motive, his actions since taking office should be. This so-called American president is not only dangerous but a clear and present threat to our nation and the common bonds of our ideals, yet to be fully achieved.
We’ve come a long way from the type of American leadership, though flawed, that has steadily inched us closer toward a more just nation rich with diversity. Assessing our political landscape today, one would be hard-pressed accepting that our trajectory has taken us from the depths of slavery to the glory of the presidency of Barrack H. Obama, America’s first Black president. It hasn’t been easy, and we have more hurdles to overcome, especially concerning racial injustice, economic inequality and police brutality. Nonetheless, Kane leaves us with hope for the promised days of a post-Trump era. He foresees a stronger nation reinvigorated to birth a more rational governing culture rooted in the principles of humanity and sanity. He offers us a roadmap to take us from the disenchantment we’re experiencing under this president and his rabid, resentful and resistant to change base, to a more fact-based and inclusive governing structure. We, the people, must be more duty-bound than ever in paving the way from the chaos Trumpism ushered in. And, we must vote in every single election, to make the pavement eternal.
“Anyone can be a barbarian; it requires a terrible effort to remain a civilized man.” – Leonard Sidney Woolf
Kane’s timely, well-written and funny book can be found HERE, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
BY JEANETTE LENOIR
My son didn’t understand why I said it was a lonely feeling grasping the tragic reality of Breonna Taylor. I explained that beyond the hurt and betrayal cruelly delivered as a just outcome in seeking accountability from the officers who violated her human rights, was the face of the Black man, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, handing down the bitterly slanted and backstabbing grand jury decision. I’m surprised he didn’t shout out, “white power!” at the end of his sell-out performance for his caretaker, the despicable and treasonous Mitch McConnell.
“They put your mind right in a bag and take it wherever they want.” — Malcolm X
Taylor’s executioners, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were absolved of any guilt by a man whose family tree—despite his buffoonery and attempts to distance himself from it—flowed down the same bloody river familiar to all Black people before taking root in America. And yet, Cameron saw fit to uphold the racist system that continues to devalue Black lives. I wonder what stares back at him when he stands in front of a mirror… I doubt it’s human, let alone a proud Black man.
“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that 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.” — Malcolm X
Cameron, knowing the state of Black America, stood up to defend the police who failed the basic requirements of their job—making sure the person they’re looking for is not already in jail—and justified Taylor’s murder. Compounding his cultural abandonment and shameful betrayal, he pushed the knife in deeper by only charging the since fired police officer, Brett Hankison, whose bullet missed Taylor. Let that sink in.
“The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” — Malcolm X
As a Black woman fully aware of my assigned place and status in American society, this display of buffoonery and disloyalty reached beyond the place of hurt and settled in a deep despair and loneliness. Black women, separate from the collective Black experience, are abandoned on an island of their own. Adding to this despair and loneliness is that some prominent Black men, Shaquille O’Neil and Charles Barkley, joined the anti-Black woman ban wagon with commentary defending the police … It’s unconscionable. What a sunken place we found ourselves in.
“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” — Malcolm X
The saying, “Not all skin folk is kin folk” never reigned truer for Cameron who stands on top of that symbolic hill waiving a rebel flag. I’m sure he and Candace Owens have enshrined the confederate flag as their solidarity with the KKK and Proud Boys. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cameron is feverishly working to support efforts to dismiss the charges against Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Caucasian who was driven by his mother from Illinois to Wisconsin to engage in combat with BLM protesters and killing two people. Like Dylan Roof, he was handled with white gloves, even getting a standing ovation from Wisconsin Republican lawmakers … for killing two people protesting for humanity and change.
“We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us.” — Malcolm X
The illegal no-knock warrant issued by a judge to go into Taylor’s home without just cause is part of the crime of being Black in America. In this country judges can rubber stamp the paperwork needed to carry out our murders thanks to the Castle doctrine. And because they see our Black bodies as disposable, they simply deal with the consequences of their actions—right or wrong—later. The police and our justice system have an out. A get out of jail free card for violating our basic human rights. This isn’t new. It’s designed to work as it always has. Cameron knows this. He knows the system that uses our Black bodies as battering ramps and yet he stood in place of a hooded Klansman singing Dixie and speaking legalese to protect the men who stole his mind, spirit, culture and dignity. He stood in defense of those who continue to benefit from our brutality and second-class citizenship in a country built under the cracks of whips by his ancestors.
“A race of people is like an individual man; until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history, expresses its own culture, affirms its own selfhood, it can never fulfill itself.” — Malcolm X
Breonna Taylor was shot 8 times while she lay sleeping in her bed. She was a 26-year-old EMT, an essential worker during a pandemic. A judge cleared the way for her execution as part of the larger operation targeting stereotyped poor and Black people. This is how our legal system continues to devalue Black lives. And, as if the cultural symbolism doesn’t matter, they usher out a Black man to dig the hole they’ve put us in a little deeper. This country and its system of governance doesn’t care about us. This reckoning has to take root in our psyche. Voting, our 21st century revolution, is the only way out of this hole we’ve been in for 400 hundred years. There are roughly 3 million voters in Kentucky. 48 percent are democrats. Unfortunately, 1.6 million of them are nonvoting democrats, making it possible for the likes of Cameron to take elected office alongside the henchmen of Black terrorizers.
“If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.” — Malcolm X
Malcom X once asked: Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet? Who taught you to hate your own kind? To most Black folks the answer is clear and historical. But to Cameron, perched with the plantation mindset of a house Negro, undoubtedly will point his finger at his own Black family tree, as he proudly and shamelessly fondles the blond locks of his caretaker’s daughter.
“When a person places the proper value on freedom, there is nothing under the sun that he will not do to acquire that freedom. Whenever you hear a man saying he wants freedom, but in the next breath he is going to tell you what he won’t do to get it, or what he doesn’t believe in doing in order to get it, he doesn’t believe in freedom. A man who believes in freedom will do anything under the sun to acquire . . . or preserve his freedom.” — Malcolm X
History is cyclical. Our brutality is too.
BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Tracey A. Benson and Sarah E. Fiarman have written a timely and important book tackling race and racism in our schools. The book, Unconscious Bias in Schools, A Developmental Approach to Exploring Race and Racism, dives deep into the real issues many young people and educators face in their learning and teaching journey.
It’s an uncomfortable truth and recognition this nation is facing from a different angle and platform. This time. A platform that buoys her children, woke to the harsh realities of the illusions presented by a seemingly secure and protective bosom: the ideals of America. But America has a lot to atone for and this atonement is not just being demanded by those directly affected by the stark inequalities and racism they’ve marinated in since the birth of our nation, but by those who have unwillingly benefitted from the principles that unapologetically and with the blessings of God–manifest destiny–gave more to one by way of brutality and stealing from the other. Are the chickens coming home to roost? Perhaps. Nevertheless, there are those who choose to fight these blatant inequalities in our schools like Dr. King did. Not with violence, but with intelligence adequately designed and explained with a roadmap starting from recognition to management and eventually change we can all finally believe in.
The discussion with Benson, an experienced educator, highlights the focus and intentions of this valuable book presented as a tool to challenge bias, race and racism in schools.
To learn more about Benson’s anti-racism work or to purchase his book click: here.
“The concept of unconscious racial bias helps decouple intentions from actions … Good intentions aren’t being questioned. It’s impact that comes under the microscope.” – Tracey A. Benson
BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Grace. That’s the only noun best suited to describe Chadwick Boseman, King of Wakanda. Boseman left this side of the universe for nirvana, and the world will forever be marked with the glory that only he can wear as a tailor-made robe for a respected King. When rapper and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle died tragically by the hands of another Black man, the Black community was stunned, paralyzed with shock even. Many compared his legacy and impact to that of Jesus Christ. And they took comfort in the shade of an uncomfortable and reluctant understanding that, although he preached peace and humility, he was the Robin Hood of gangsters. He too rose to his rightful throne as a deity for African Americans still saddled with the struggles of simply being Black in America.
Boseman, however, was different. He reminded us of who we truly are as a people: powerful, dignified, worthy of love and goodness and full of grace. He uplifted us without taking a detour on a well-traveled road some Black people know very well in America. Just ask Jay-Z and many like him who sold drugs to their community as a detour to, “Cash, Money, Hoes” as he puts it in melody.
But unlike the Jay-Z’s of Black culture, Boseman avoided the criminal detour and chose to take the long, lonely road to reach his throne as a man for all people, especially Black people in need of a hero. He was the epitome of what it means to be selfless and he didn’t choose to sell drugs to his community to live high on the hog while spitting in his people’s eyes with Jay-Z’s lyrics, “Money cash hoes money cash chicks what, Sex murder and mayhem romance for the street, Only wife of mines is a life of crime...” No. Boseman truly cared about people and the world. That’s why he left it in better standing than he found it. I’m so happy and grateful he came.
Majority of entertainers who make it big love to brag about all the money they have all while negatively impacted those who look up to them. They sell pipe dreams and we buy it like hotcakes. Not Boseman. He is the exemplary of what it means to be a good human being with a platform. One who saw beyond his own needs, desires and power. One that wasn’t distracted or influenced by all the gold thrown at his feet. One that stuck to the true spirit of humanity. One that loved us more than we loved ourselves. One that saw our worth as Black people. He saw us. He valued us. He gave to us. He sacrificed for us through his horrible illness with the dignity and grace only the most enlightened beings can understand. And despite the wide open detours to enrich himself with “cash, money and hoes,” he chose to enrich us with humanity instead. Jay-Z will never understand this grace as he enjoys that fat NFL check he took to throw Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality and racism under the bus. But hey, at least he’s married to Beyonce, the self-appointed Black queen who, despite what many want to admit, only sees dollar signs in this new era of Black empowerment. She’s no different than Melania if Jay-Z was Trump.
And speaking of queens that aren’t self-appointed flip-floppers, money hungry and addicted to fame, it’s no surprise Boseman chose an equally graceful partner, Taylor Simone Ledward, to be by his side to the end of this part of his life’s journey. Tears will continue to fall like raindrops for such a tremendous earthly loss, but we must remember that Boseman has taken his transcendent place where there is no suffering, desires or even sense of self. Boseman has taken his seat next to the Buddha. And like the Buddha, he gave us so much to hold on to—grace, humanity, kindness, strength, selflessness, humility—that he will forever be remembered as our Black King. Wakanda Forever.
BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Let’s talk about sexuality. Recently I stumbled upon the term “cis” or “cisgender” while scrolling through social media. It was a new phrase to me, so I decided to investigate. And according to Wikipedia, “Cisgender (sometimes cissexual, often abbreviated to simply cis) is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.” Okay. So, cisgender is the new label introduced like another jolly ranger flavor that identifies the opposite of transgender. In more unnecessary words, straight or heterosexual people are now referred to as “cis” or “cisgender.” The phrase is more commonly used among the gay community, celebrities, social media culture warriors and hipsters. Another thing I learned is the motive behind the new label. As complicated as the subject of sexual identity is, the aim, according to the gay community and their allies is to eliminate notions of what society views as normal or abnormal.
The term has taken a life of its own in this new gender-bender world we find ourselves in. Oh, and “gender-bender” is another sociological term similar to “cis” that identifies a gender bender as a person who disrupts or bends gender roles. That’s not all. The synonym for “gender-bender” is “genderfuck.” And if you think that’s overcomplicating human sexuality, you haven’t delved into the world of sexuality and identity. For example, the Bugis people of Indonesia view sexual identity on a spectrum and recognize 5 different genders in their culture, including androgyny. And, members of their androgynous community are also revered shamans. In Samoa, Thailand, Oman and other parts of Asia there are those who identify as having a third gender or are nonbinary. In Hawaii, including Tahitian and Polynesian islands in the North and South Pacific Ocean, third-gender or nonbinary people are respected as cultural teachers and even goddesses. Third-gender people are those who identify with a gender that is different from their own, or not. So, are they gender benders? Not according to the concept of the label.
The term cisgender has its origin in a two-part peer review, (1991 and 1998) publication by Volkmar Sigusch, a German sexologist, physician and sociologist. The term, which is frequently being used these days, has caused me to wonder about my own identity as a straight woman. Are women still free to sexually identify as women without enraging the gay community? J.K. Rowling recently took some heat for criticizing an op-ed that labeled women, not as women, but as “people who menstruate.” The opinion piece, aimed at boosting investments in menstruation management for millions of “those who menstruate,” purposely shifts the term “women” to “those who menstruate” as a way to include those who identify as women. It didn’t take long for celebrities, including several Harry Potter actors, members and allies of the gay community to accuse Rowling of being homophobic. They insist transwomen are women. If that’s so, what does that make me? Well, according to the gay community that makes me a cis or a cisgender person. Basically, in order to appease the gay community, women must be stripped of their sexual identity for them to experience human rights, dignity and inclusion. Damn our collective experience being women.
The Kybalion, a book discussing the 7 Hermetic principles describes gender as follows: The principle of gender is manifested on all planes of life, material, mental and spiritual. Gender does not mean sex. Sex is merely a material manifestation of gender. Gender means relating to generation or creation. And wherever anything is generated or created on any plane, the principle of gender must be manifested, and this is true even in the creation of universes.
Let’s put this argument in a larger perspective. Society uses science-backed findings as arguments to support environmental and climate causes, the dangers of tobacco, the opioid crisis, including the current pandemic, but demand that we disregard the same science that distinguish gender. When it comes to sexual identity, we are being programmed to pick and choose science for politically correct arguments to placate the gay community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the agenda is to eliminate what it truly means to be a woman. And those who don’t fall in line are labelled homophobic. Even when it comes to sports, transgender people are taking part in competition with the sex they identify with. Although it’s scientifically proven that in general, men are physically stronger than women, we are being programmed to think otherwise in order to be more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. This persecution of women is reminiscent of times past when we were denied basic human rights and subjected to second class status. And, the relabeling of society reaches beyond the gay community, as it’s even turned Latinos into Latinx. And when it comes to race, Rachel Dolezal who tried passing as a Black woman was mercilessly persecuted for it. Apparently, science only bends for gender.
The gay community is demanding acceptance by way of sociologically bullying others to conform to their view of the world. This is incredibly threatening and a major overreach. Why are women being forced to make room for men who want to be women and others on the spectrum of sexual identity, by denying their own biological makeup and life experiences. Everyone has a right to live in a world that is accepting and tolerant. And that includes women. The gay community deserves acceptance and human rights just like everyone else. But acceptance doesn’t equate to delusion or blatant disregard for science and what it means to be an actual woman. I can accept anyone as they are or want to be, but it shouldn’t require me to deny scientific facts of human sexuality. Transwomen are transwomen. For this not to be so means there’s no distinction between me, (a straight woman) and a transwoman. And that’s clearly not true. People want to be socially woke but asleep when it comes to the science of sexuality.
When we start removing the taboos in basic truths, perhaps we’ll find harmony in sharing the world as diverse people, regardless of where you find comfort on the sexual identity spectrum. There’s no argument gay rights are human rights, unfortunately it’s becoming apparent that it means taking from Patricia to comfort Patrick who wants to be Patricia. Similar to the agenda comparing the civil rights movement to the gay rights movement faced pushback, so must this bullying tactic and audacious overreach to relabel the majority of the human population. To take away our identity as women, or to pass it around like a hat anyone can wear, is to trivialize the experiences of women and our history. Although I’m an ally, I refuse to be a sycophant for the gay community. I am not cisgender. I am not transgender. I am a woman.
BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Are Americans truly free? The simple answer is no because freedom is not free, and oppressors will never be free until all men are free.
The world is changing. George Floyd’s heinous murder was the latest violent incident that forced people from the comforts of their homes to the streets to protest police brutality and an unequal world that is steadily tilting toward normalcy of all kinds of injustices committed against Black people, including harsh economic inequalities that continue to divide us as a nation. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that our president gave a hefty goodie bag to the wealthiest Americans with the Republican crafted Tax Cuts And Jobs Act of 2017, despite the cost—now and in the future—to already struggling Americans. Thanks to him and the elites he serves, poor people and their children for generations to come are saddled with paying the cost of their wealthy lifestyles. They get to keep raking in the dough by paying fewer taxes, while we sink deeper into debt and poverty. The inhumanity staining these political maneuvers helped pave the road to what’s happening all across America today.
Make no mistake. This is a nation’s awakening. And, it’s about time that Americans agree that despite our cultural differences, the emperor and his rich crew of servants and benefactors of our miseries are behaving like descendants of colonial enslavers. “To be a slave is not to be able to determine your own destiny,” said Historian and Pan-Africanist Dr. John Henrik Clarke in his speech, Freedom’s Not Free. He explains that until we control our communities and our destiny, we don’t have sovereignty and no true freedom. That’s the blaring truth this nation is facing in this awakening.
Health care, low paying jobs, housing, the cost of education, including the steady pollution of our environment, especially our waters, have yet to compel those in positions to make a difference to do so and reverse the trend of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Why is this? Are the numbers not clear enough? Are Americans not poor enough, sick enough? Is the brutality inflicted on Black people since the birth of our nation not been heinous enough? Evidently not, just look at what’s happening in Kentucky today. People are banging on polling station doors to be let in to vote. It’s reminiscent of the days Black people were beaten and terrorized with dogs and fire hoses when they tried to vote.
These are ever changing times Aretha Franklin sang, and man is that evident these days. Those with disproportionate power, Mitch McConnell and the GOP, are muzzling voters left and right by closing polling stations, rejecting the option for mail-in ballots, and fear mongering to continue their blatant oppression and power grab, despite the need and loud demand for change. McConnell, determined to honor his lineage of oppressors like those with a death grip on the confederate flag, is no different than the terrorists Fannie Lou Hamer faced during the Mississippi voting rights movement. When Hamer testified before a credentials committee about the brutality she faced in August 1962, President Lyndon B. Johnson, determined to silence her, held an impromptu press conference to note the 9 month anniversary of JFK’s assassination and the wounding of Texas Governor John Connally at the same time she was testifying, knowing he would command the country’s attention at that pivotal moment. He silenced her then but her powerful words and testimony remain, just like her fighting spirit that lives in so many that have taken to the street in protest. Hamer left us with a powerful legacy and a story that matters today. Stories that will help lead us to the mountain top Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned for all Black, Brown and poor people, unless we lose this powerful momentum with misdirected energy fighting each other. The oppressive tactic President Johnson used to silence Hamer is part of the GOP’s playbook. And it’s still being used today to maintain their choke-hold on true freedom and democracy.
Let’s talk about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. How is one man able to hold so much power over a nation that prides itself as a beacon of freedom and hope for mankind? How can one man, part of a nation of millions, single-handedly gag debate and votes on crucial legislation aimed at enacting the change the people are demanding? Police brutality is rampant but Congress can’t vote on matters like Qualified Immunity, or The Bipartisan Background Checks Act, The American Dream and Promise Act, The Equality Act and Securing America’s Federal Elections Act because one man, leading the Senate GOP, refuses to allow it. Our living document, the Constitution, meant to guide us into a civilizing nation is being used to preserve a dying breed of white men who never expected their power would be threatened by the people they govern, including their own children. They didn’t foresee this moment of mass unrest, so McConnell and the GOP are choosing to weaponize democracy and use it like the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper against us: We the People. McConnell already showed us how capable he is in blocking crucial legislation during the Obama administration. So, do not be deceived, he will continue to put party over country if Kentuckians don’t show him the door this November. And, how spiritual and healing it would be if he’s replaced by Charles Booker, Kentucky’s youngest Black state lawmaker who’s predicted to face him in November.
These are trying times. Many of those protesting in our streets, taking down monuments and forcing changes we never thought we’d see, didn’t live through the Jim Crow era. And they weren’t alive during the civil rights movement either. But it’s beautifully evident they grew up holding dear to the ideals of American democracy instilled in them. As we acknowledge this new dawning, they’re right to be angry and demand change from the top of our forefathers heads to the bottom of the feet of those who continue to blindly carry out their exclusive will and vision for America.
“I know what the world has done to my brother and how narrowly he has survived it. And I know, which is much worse, and this is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen, and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it,” James Baldwin wrote in his book, The Fire Next Time. These words, like howling ghosts, are echoing across the land as these protests continue and statues tumble down. Two years ago cities across the country were tiptoeing on the issue of these confederate statues. Today, they’re working overtime to take them down or face the protesters who will tear them down, burn them and throw them in rivers. In many ways, the elders have taught their children well. Who knew they were listening and willing to battle for our nation’s true freedom.
Unfortunately, and like all Black leaders have warned since the abolitionists movement, we are facing a serious threat in these changing times. And that’s the misdirected energy taking place beneath the surface of this just fight. Black writers, civil rights leaders and other influencers are bickering and openly attacking each other on social media. Civil rights lawyers S. Lee Merritt and Ben Crump have been mercilessly attacked for their White House visit for the signing of an executive order calling for more police training to reduce violent incidents, by the likes of Roland S. Martin and even the NAACP in Georgia who went so far to try to untie our fragile Black bond by saying Merritt, who represents the family of Ahmaud Arbery was an, “out-of-state lawyer who does not have deep relationships with our civil rights community.” How petty. This infighting and airing of dirty laundry is the misdirected energy that will undoubtedly derail this opportunity to enact concrete changes and end long standing injustices and structural racism.
Shaun King, a well-known biracial activist, is also being mocked and attacked by other prominent Black writers and influencers. And, according to his recent article, he’s being targeted for assassination by a group of retired law enforcement officials. Just take a trip on Twitter to see how some Black people are treating each other. Michael Harriot and Yvette Nicole Brown and many others are retweeting, sharing and posting about the measure of King’s blackness. The criticism is not new. King has come under scrutiny before and rightfully so. He should be held accountable for his civil rights work, but there’s a difference here and it’s no longer about accountability. It’s about being deserving of his post and the color of his skin, which makes no sense when other light skin figures like Rock Newman and Tom Joyner are easily accepted as Black people in society. It’s a sensitive issue that has always divided Black people. There’s the paper bag test, the good hair measure, and many more divisors that only serves to misdirect us away from what should be a common goal: economic sovereignty and social freedom.
So, it’s not just apathy we must worry about, but the lack of unity among Black people. And, the gap among poor people and other people of color who suffer trauma from racism and white supremacy should also be closed in an all out effort to finally create a world where we all feel good in, not just white people. It’s time to deliberately work toward our collective humanity and fight to end global white supremacy.
Historians have proven time and time again that history is cyclical. And yet, we still don’t learn. If we want to finally come out of this spinning cylinder of repeated events, we have to change our ways. We have to stop fighting each other because it only serves to detract us. It is misdirected energy that is crucially needed in this fight. These protests are real demands for tangible changes in our nation. Change in how the police operate, how American wealth is distributed, how education is achieved, change in housing, access to health care, equality in the workforce, equal pay for equal work, equality for the LGBTQ community, humane immigration policies, and environmental changes. We cannot afford to be distracted by the nonsense of how black King is or whether or not Merritt and Crump belong in certain parts of our country or deserving of the tragic cases they take on. We can’t afford these distractions!
We are at a critical time in our history and the concept of state vs. nation must be considered. Black people have been living in the concept of a state for far too long, and not as part of a nation. If we were part of this nation we wouldn’t need civil rights to be part of American society. This is also about culture continuity and building our economic base. And for that to happen we have to start trusting each other, as Dr. Clarke advised. He said struggle is the highest form of education. Black, brown and poor people must learn through their common struggle. And in that spirit, it’s time to ask the right question. And that is: where do we go from here?
BY JEANETTE LENOIR
George Floyd’s little girl is right, he did change the world.
It’s been nearly a week since America started putting out riot fires ignited by an emotional tsunami when Floyd’s callous murder sent shock waves, still rippling, across the globe. The wails of agony and blind rage at the officers responsible, the racism that fueled his death, the oppressive law enforcement system and discriminatory government structure behind it all, is well known by all marginalized people. Especially Black people. And that’s evident in the different responses and reactions to these protests. Some are expressing themselves with violence, while others are taking a more peaceful and measured approach to address the long festering wounds of racism, police brutality, social and economic inequality. The devastating reality of bigotry and discrimination in America has finally come to a head like a boil ready for lancing.
And Floyd’s tragic death is bringing a broad coalition of protesters together to change the state of American society. Unfortunately, there’s no blueprint or manual for a people fed up to adequately respond to a Military obsessed government, putting protesters at risk of losing focus with infighting and disagreements on how to effectively carry out these demonstrations calling for change. Historians, in discussing the leadership styles of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. frequently talk about the lather not having a cohesive strategy to follow through, a collective plan B, if the civil rights marches and protests didn’t prove effective. Gandhi, on the other hand, was effective in uniting Indians on a common course for autonomy from British Rule and were ready to raise the stakes with a plan B, changing their clothes, in other words, using their collective economic powers to fight their oppressor. If Americans want the outcome of these protests to be fruitful beyond the capital B in the new Black, we will need a similar strategy to address institutionalized racism and reform policing.
The momentum created by these protests must energize grassroots campaigns targeting the specific issues highlighted during former President Obama’s town hall meeting on Wednesday. From stopping the practice of choke-holds, deescalation tactics, to implicit bias training. These policies are already in place for law enforcement communities to implement. A recent article in The Atlantic highlights the groups and independent commissions that have provided specific solutions to address police misconduct in America. “Prior tragedies have resulted in a string of independent, blue-ribbon commissions—Wickersham (1929), Kerner (1967), Knapp (1970), Overtown (1980), Christopher (1991), Kolts (1991), Mollen (1992), and the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (2014)—to make recommendations for meaningful change that could address police misconduct. These groups have developed well-reasoned conclusions and pointed suggestions that are widely discussed and enthusiastically implemented—but only for a time. As public attention shifts, politics moves on and police-reform efforts wane. The cycle continues unbroken.” The solution, like the Ten Commandments has been written, but the resolve of politicians to act is still MIA because they can count on protesters losing their way and their will to keep fighting. It’s become the standard of American uprisings. Or, maybe, the fire next time, as laid out by James Baldwin, is here.
Despite the uniqueness of the global protests sparked by Floyd’s death, the risk of apathy and lack of persistence remains a real threat to real change that’s desperately needed. In addition to police accountability, community action at every level addressing systemic racism, through fostering diverse relationships that lead to creating policies based on real-world experiences is sorely needed. Therefore, change must include a more diverse Congress, as well as state and local leaderships. Marginalized folks, especially Black people, have to run for local offices and community boards, just like Black leaders during the early part of the civil rights movement have urged us to do. Moreover, it’s incumbent on all of us to hold those in power accountable to meet a changing nation’s demand for a better country, because it’s going to take a society-wide approach to address our structural challenges rooted in racism.
“It was absolutely clear that the police would whip you and take you in as long as they could get away with it, and that everyone else—housewives, taxi-drivers, elevator boys, dishwashers, bartenders, lawyers, judges, doctors, and grocers—would never, by the operation of any generous human feeling, cease to use you as an outlet for his frustrations and hostilities. Neither civilized reason nor Christian love would cause any of those people to treat you as they presumably wanted to be treated; only the fear of your power to retaliate would cause them to do that, or seem to do it, which was (and is) good enough,” wrote James Baldwin in, The Fire Next Time.
Black people are the CEO’s of enough is enough dot com. We’ve been in this sunken place for far too long. The difference of this moment in time, is that finally, the housewives, taxi-drivers, elevator boys, dishwashers, bartenders, lawyers, judges, doctors, and grocers have had enough, too. And not just here in the U.S., but across the world. It is our collective belief in American culture and humanity, at least the promise of it, that is forcing this broad coalition of protesters together this time, some with the need to speak with violence. And that is to be expected when our common understanding of right and wrong, our written and unwritten rules of how we treat one another, our human contract, is continuously violated by those with the most power. The 400 year old violation of our humanity has been vicious and egregious, so much so, that our president saw fit to pepper spray his way through peaceful protesters chanting, “Black Lives Matter” to hold up a bible he doesn’t respect for a photo-op he doesn’t need in front of a boarded up church closed to parishioners. Tragic can’t sufficiently capture this posturing.
The only thing that can passably contextualize his strange movements is this passage in The Insane World Of Adolf Hitler by Chandler Brossard, “It is not in the least surprising that Hitler, who, incidentally, had been born a Roman Catholic, had a highly confusing and contradictory relationship with churches and Christian concepts in general. His actions and words denied the existence of a God, yet the fact that he constantly referred to himself as being “guided by Providence,” and “chosen from on high,” indicates that at least in some ritualistic—or opportunistic part of his mind he really did believe in the divinity. Clearly, this motivated his famous assertion, in the late thirties, before a screaming, chanting wild-eyed Munich audience of thousands, “I go the way that Providence dictates with the assurance of a sleepwalker.” Donald Trump surrounds himself with sleepwalkers, steadily building casual racist pressure under the guise of religion, similar to how Hitler used and abused religion to turn his fellow countrymen against each other, leading to the Jewish Holocaust and WWII. We can’t let that happen again.
Malcolm X said Americans must speak the same language in order for us to understand each other. Thus, it’s time to speak with our protests, money, and our votes, similar to what Gandhi did for Indians and what Rosa Parks did for African Americans with the Montgomery bus boycott. Major companies taking bold actions to fight racism by firing bad employees, ending police contracts with private businesses, firing and charging offending officers, creating opportunities for more minority upward mobility, making strong public statements, and following through with measured transformation, are the changes we need to see. The strong anti-racism reaction from Ben & Jerry’s is the modern leadership this moment needs. Calling for the dismantling of the culture of white supremacy is powerful and refreshingly honest. It recognizes long standing Black pain and suffering. And Citigroup, Netflix and Microsoft making strong statements against racism and discrimination, including the global protests in solidarity against Black oppression in America has been deeply inspiring. A hopeful sign that the winds of change are finally blowing again.
This transformational change will build if marginalized people and their allies continue this fight against a common enemy: racism, police brutality, and growing inequality. Senseless violence doesn’t always discriminate or give rise to passionate protests. Even so, little Black girls like Gianna Floyd are the chief victims left behind when Black fathers are murdered by the police, and Black mothers like Wanda Cooper continue to dominate the fields of grief with the disproportionate loss of their Black boys, like Ahmaud Arbery, to racial violence. Black women like Breonna Taylor still fit perfectly into a certain dimension, an unholy space poignantly expressed by Malcolm X when he said, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman, the most neglected person in America is the Black women.” This has to be reversed, too. These sacrifices are changing the world, but it falls on all of us, rooted in a common belief in humanity, to ensure their deaths, and all those who have met similar fates, are not in vain.
And because the media plays a significant role in narrating our human story, a call for sincere adaptable action on their part, must be part of the restructuring of a more balanced and just America. We can start with condemning the Philadelphia Inquirer recent offensive headline, “Buildings Matter, Too.” George Floyd changed the world, his little girl said. Although he didn’t intent to, through these protests and call for racial equality and policy changes, may the goodness and mercy that comes from his tragic death finally make way for all people to dwell in a better world forever.
BY JEANETTE LENOIR
America is under construction. A job mostly taken up by our young people determined to fix an evil system constructed for the set back of an entire group; black folk. We are in the eye of the storm of these protests raging across the country. Unfortunately, the despair of the streets is at risk of turning a just cause—racial justice, social and economic equality, ending police brutality—into a fight for the preservation of white supremacy and the protection of all the worldly possessions of the out of touch elites. Even though economic inequality and racism are the main reasons we’re here.
While our “president” can only call out for more violence against the oppressed from his chicken bunker, rather than lead in a time of crisis, America’s young people are fighting for the world they want to see beyond their phone and television screens and social media. This generation is demanding change rather than accept the obligation to swallow the illusions of America so many of us have for so long. There is no magic cure to end racism. America won’t flip like a pancake. But, these protests and the people showing up for them, is the hope we need to see rise like dough left over night. Because we have bread to break people; with each other. We need a solid strategy and effective policies with T-Rex teeth ready to bite anything that comes between Americans desperate for change and a more just and equal country. And unfortunately, we can’t depend on Donald Trump or his entire losing team to set the table to address the real threat of racism, social and economic inequalities, police brutality and blatant discrimination that has created a zest pool for the drunk rich and ignorant poor that benefit from these societal ills. That includes all the rich and powerful people, CNN’s Don Lemon called out, who can afford to look away as if America isn’t burning in their backyard, too.
“White people gained the world but lost something. And that’s their ability to love their children,” James Baldwin said. The fire next time is upon us. Just like he said it would be without addressing racial inequality. Many of the young people burning and looting are the children of these white people who chose to gain the world by oppressing black people over loving their children and teaching them to love the world and their fellow man. The price tag for greed is humanity’s highest cost. Nonetheless, change is upon us. And it’s up to each and every one of us to work to push our country toward a better trajectory. And what does that look like? We asked.
What does a better America look like to you?
In Part 1, we spoke to Nura from Eritrea. During our interview she was accosted by a lone MAGA supported holding a large American flag in front of the White House. The man yelled, “go back to your country!” You can see the exchange in the video below.
Part 2 of the George Floyd protests in DC shows protesters at the White House. Those we spoke to were asked the same question. What does a better America look like to you?
Part 3 starts when an agitator, the man in a grey t-shirt riding away on his bike, after allegedly telling protesters, “go home little girls.” The video shows him clearly making a get-away after spewing his disdain for the marchers. They gave chase but he was able to get away, but not before passing our camera and saying, mischievously, “I don’t know what they’re angry about.” He knew exactly what they were angry about.
Part 4 are the photos taken at the White House protest.
BY JEANETTE LENOIR
It shakes me to my core when I see these videos. The one of Amy Cooper in New York’s Ramble Park blatantly lying with faux hysteria on the phone with police about being threatened by a black man who simply asked her to leash her dog, and the one of George Floyd being cruelly murdered by a gutless police officer who thought so less of the handcuffed man under his knee, face mushed on asphalt, that he kept his hands in his pocket while crushing his windpipe. When Colin Kaepernick knelt in defense of black people and to stop this type of police brutality he was demonized by many, including the president, and even lost his NFL career for it. And to add more injury to his cause, Jay-Z partnered with the NFL, taking the side of gluttonous greed and wealth over his own people’s fight to end racism and discrimination. He should never be forgiven for making light of the real impact of police brutality. In many ways, he’s a co-signer of Floyd’s murder by abandoning Kaepernick when enough NFL money was put on his table. This is the same reason why Africa lost its attempt to unify as a black continent back in the late 60s and early 70s. Because there’s always a Jay-Z to turn against all for self. Jay-Z wants his money to last multiple lifetimes. Karma will ensure his legacy of greed and following the footsteps of Judas will last longer.
I have to consistently remind myself to avoid the three temptations W.E.B. Du Bois talks about in his book, The Souls of Black Folk. And those three temptations are: 1. the temptation to hate, because hating racist people and white supremacists won’t solve the deadly grip of American racism despite how tempting and easy it can be to answer hate with hate. 2. The temptation to despair, especially when we continue to see black people suffer like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd did. We’ve come too far to not continue our trajectory toward the ideals of America, albeit an arrogant and hypocritical country still reassured by its delusions of grandeur and superiority, despite all the evidence to the contrary. 3. The temptation to doubt. As black people we can’t doubt the dreams of our ancestors. Even though we never got our 40 acres and a mule, doubt is simply not worth entertaining despite how we’re still treated in a country built on the backs of our people. We have too much to lose even though we continue to pay the highest price for the myths of America.
And it’s incredibly hard not to indulge in these 3 temptations as we continue to bear witness to the black Holocaust at our feet. Our brutality hasn’t stopped, despite the many camera angles of it the world witnesses over and over again. It’s easy to become desensitized to it all. Since the founding of American law enforcement, it’s been an endless loop of police brutality inflicted on black people. Day after day, we see black people die by the hands of police, protected by a justice system that backs the violence they inflict on our bodies. Time after time, we’re reminded of the fear black people instill in white society, despite being the victims of their white rage and racism. Season after season we are burdened by the likes of Amy Cooper who use our race as a weapon of black destruction. Cooper is no different than Carolyn Bryant who confessed on her death bed that she lied about Emmett Till accosting her. She’s no different than Susan Smith who callously murdered her own children and blamed it on two black men. Cooper comes from a long line of “Karens” who have weaponized their being. To be a certain white woman in American society, is to cry wolf in sheep clothing, play the victim, blame black people for all their problems, stereotype black men as the boogie man, all while being Rosy the Riveter. Schizophrenic doesn’t even begin to describe the state of America’s Karens. And, unlike black women, they’re protected, allowing them to continue to be…well, Karens.
Although it’s right for Cooper’s victim, Christian Cooper, to speak out against the death threats Cooper is receiving, his opinion that he doesn’t know if she’s racist is a clear example of a man who has lost his black mind. Malcom X spoke of this, too. Christian Cooper may soon be asking Amy Cooper for a hug and forgiveness for exposing her on social media. He clearly knows his place in American society. Despite the stance he took to have her follow the park rules, he’s now coming to her defense. Falling into the long line to protect white women, no matter what. This is how our society functions. Karens can throw stones and then cry that it hurt her arm to do it, making her the victim in the trouble she started. If the world, including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, can call racism, racism … why can’t Christian Cooper? Unfortunately, we can’t count on this bird watcher to address racism honestly.
Perhaps change needs to happen internally, first, in the African American community for the change we desperately need to see in American society. To end racism is to face it head on. Calling it exactly what it is, unapologetically. We can’t wish it away. We can’t hide behind or take academic positions and pretend that it’s not real, or that it’s similar to flatulence; you smell it but don’t know who passed it. We all know what the Amy Cooper’s and her ilk consistently do. And, we can’t be polite about it. Racism is an ugly American truth and legacy. Recognizing this does not signal the end of our American story. And addressing it justly behind the blue wall can only lead to positive change among police and communities. Our delusion of racism is what poses a mortal threat. Acknowledgement of racism and inequality will open our door, fully, to allow real and lasting change to breeze through. Tackling racism honestly is the master key to understanding the American state craft, as even great powers have limitations.