Posts tagged with "america"

The Watts Riot Reminds That History Is Cyclical

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

The “long hot, summer” of 1965 was a year of violent uprisings across the United States due to strained race relations at the height of the civil rights movement. America was on fire. Black people were tired and took their frustrations to the streets during and following the arrest of a Black motorist in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The history of police brutality tells harsh truths of how hate and racism disproportionately impacts the lives of Black people and other people of color. The Watts riot is just one example of a people exhausted from the unrelenting oppression at the hands of their government and the police force they empower to carry out their dominance. The Watts riot started August 11 and ended August 16, 1965. The arrest of Marquette Frye, his mother Rena and stepbrother Ronald sparked the violence that brought Los Angeles to its knees.

The Watts riot was not an isolated incident. 1964 and 1965 recorded similar events breaking out across the country prior to the Watts explosion. The History channel reports, “In 1964, there was a three-day riot in Rochester, NY, leaving four dead; in the New York City neighborhoods of Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant, a six-day riot involving as many as 4,000 people following the shooting of a young Black man; in Philadelphia, a three-day riot following the arrest of a Black couple who had gotten into a scuffle with police; and a three-day riot in Chicago when a Black woman attempting to shoplift alcohol was attacked by the store owner and crowds later gathered to protest.” 

Other events leading to the Watts riot include, the 1961 arrest of a Black man in Griffith Park for riding a merry-go-round without a ticket. That incident resulted in crowds throwing rocks and bottles at police. And in 1962 there was unrest following the police raid on a Nation of Islam mosque that killed an unarmed man.

Two years leading up to the Watts riot, 65 Black people were shot by police, 27 of them were shot in the back and 25 of them were unarmed. During this period in Los Angeles there were 250 demonstrations against living conditions and police brutality. It’s clear why 1965 was named the “long, hot summer.”

The Watts riot was among the worst uprisings in the U.S. due to already strained race relations. 35 people lost their lives during the 6-day rebellion, and more than 1,000 people were injured. Property damage topped $200 million. Although tempting, we cannot forget that the violence ignited by the brutal murder of George Floyd has been par for the course of Black lives in America. History is cyclical. As long as those in power refuse to recognize and adequately address the contributions of Black people in the making of America, their continued brutalization and mistreatment despite their rightful credit for the glory, status and wealth of our nation, or budge to the will of the people and humanity, these violent events will continue. Author, iconic orator and civil rights activist James Baldwin once asked, “How much time does America need for its progress?” Today, the question remains unanswered. My question is: How much more time does America need to progress towards a new world order that honors humanity, paves the way for equality, and finally usher in true liberty for all her people?

Searching For America On Independence Day

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

If you’ve seen the movie Idiocracy, chances are you’ve been experiencing life these past couple of years with a slack jaw, owing to the conduct across the country and especially from the white house and its new inhabitants. From Spicer to Conway, Manigault, Bannon and President Trump, the performances we’ve all witnessed equates to something concocted in a Hollywood studio. Disheartening poll numbers consistently drive home the realization that on her 241st birthday, America is in desperate need of some soul searching and healing.

America is going through a serious identity crisis, and questions addressing and reevaluating our core values and beliefs are certainly warranted now that the shift in civility and governing has taken a specific tone. What kind of people are Americans? Does Trump represent Americans adequately? Have we morphed into an anti-immigrants, anti-refugees and anti-Muslim nation now that Trump is president? Is the “Fake News” label a sign of things to come? Is it open season on journalists, and factual information? Even racism, a long standing social problem in the U.S. that has improved with time, has seen an uptick in discriminatory activities, leaving many wondering if we’re approaching an era of blatant bigotry and intolerance aimed at each other; American against American.

Unfortunately, America is still in the eye of the storm Democrats and Republicans have churned up and thus far, even on the eve of its independence from Britain, can’t seem to calm for the sake of her people. Putting a hideous stamp on this dysfunction that has built up like pond scum is Governor Chris Christie’s recent stunt concerning New Jersey beaches and parks. As if Bridgegate and his boorish behavior wasn’t enough, thanks to a budget standoff, Christie got to flaunt his special kind of audacity for the world to see by brazenly and shamefully going to one of the beaches he closed off for millions of other Americans on this special 4th of July weekend. Christie got to flippantly enjoy the beach while others suffered the consequences associated with the closings, and that’s exactly what his character in this real life unfolding of Idiocrazy does.

A recent NPR, PBS News Hour/Marist poll revealed how far down the spiral we’ve fallen when it comes to trust for politicians, the news media, our justice system and even our intelligence agencies. Some of the questions posed to likely voters concerned the rights Americans deeply value, and those numbers confirm the state of our relatively young country and democracy. The recently released poll by these reputable and respected organizations will undoubtedly be labeled as “Fake News” thanks to a president marching to a beat majority of the country can’t hear or follow. And yet somehow, his staunch supporters, or enablers as some pundits have described them, are behaving like certain guests on the Maury Povich show that swear up and down, “He’s the father!” right before Maury opens his envelope to reveal what’s really going on in the case of Trump and his backers. Regardless, they’re sticking with their man despite the static and skipping CD noise the president’s special beat is blaring in their ears.

When it comes to the president’s job approval ratings, only 37 percent of the population say he’s doing a good job while 51-percent disapprove of his performance. And, 41 percent say they don’t trust the Trump white house. Also, the year when the U.S. gained her independence, only 69 percent of the people answered this question correctly. And, as it pertains to our Intelligence Community, a mere 23 percent say they fully trust agencies like the CIA and FBI. Trump has done his own bashing of our Intelligence Community that has served as a rallying cry for his followers. Trust for America’s courts didn’t fare better during the poll conducted from June 21 to July 25, 2017. Since March, trust in our courts went from 23 to 22 percent. Rightfully, Congress is seeing terrible approval numbers too, with only 6 percent of support tallied. And, only 17 percent of Americans say they wholeheartedly trust that our elections are fairly carried out. Sentiments of an unfair election that put Trump in the white house can still be heard like wind chimes on windy days. The media, like Congress, didn’t do well in the polls either, showing only 8-percent say they trust the media, while 37-percent say they have zero trust in the media.

Many would argue that the negative rhetoric coming out of the white house against the media didn’t help their numbers, as the poll shows a clear mistrust of those responsible for disseminating information. However, when the sitting president is constantly tweeting insults and delegitimizing the news business these numbers shouldn’t come as a shock. Additionally, neither should the poll showing a mere 8-percent of Americans fully trust opinion polls. And, when it comes to the nation’s tone and level of civility in Washington, and comparing Trump and Obama’s ratings, 6-percent of people say civility has improved under the current administration, while the poll conducted in 2009 by USA Today and Gallop during the previous president’s administration, shows that 21 percent of the population thought civility amongst politicians on both sides of the isle had improved. President Trump’s unprofessional and disturbing behavior, during his short time in office, has already taken the twenty-one percent number to a 6… A number more fitting of his female rating system.

The numbers aren’t favorable. They expose a deeply dysfunctional system of governance that has side-stepped normal political operations and discourse. Operations, like the Constitution, that have been shaped and amended along the way by Americans yearning to live with liberties that make us unique among other earth inhabitants. It is these very same systems—which includes a collective belief system—that has kept us united as a nation of one people, despite the pitfalls of wars and civil strives along the way. Even with the bleak outlook these poll numbers divulge, we can’t keep our heads under water like geese in search of underwater snacks, hoping the tide will eventually turn in our favor. The time to bring about positive change is always upon us. As we celebrate this 241st milestone, it’s comforting knowing that America will find her way again if her people continue working towards a common goal for humanity and our culture, and a common love for our great nation.

 

Independence Day