Posts tagged with "racism"

Protests And Policy Is Key Toward Justice In America

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.

(AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

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.

What Does A Better America Look Like To You?

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.

It’s Time To End The Black Holocaust In America

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

The systematic killings of black people in America has turned into a Holocaust. Just count the bodies. All of them. From the start of the African Diaspora, through Emancipation, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights movement. Millions of black people have met brutal ends for no other reason than for being born black. Today, our killings are carried out by racist white supremacists and law enforcement backed by our government. There’s just no other way to describe the ongoing lynching’s and brutality inflicted upon African Americans. Just because we’re not being openly marched to gas chambers or kept in concentration camps doesn’t mean we’re not dying in mass numbers by the hands of police officers emboldened by a government who refuses to recognize our humanity and rightful place in the world, let alone America, which owes its black citizens so much of its glory and might.

Lynchings in America

And Donald Trump and his posse are steadily paving the way for more unjust killings and atrocities only black people seem to know intimately. The “oops, we did it again, wrong house” is played out and starting to look more like a covert strategy to exterminate black people. One by one. Steadily and strategically. I have no more tears  to cry, as I live with pain and grief for the family of the latest victim of police brutality: Breonna Taylor. We are at war with deputized individuals, trained to battle us as if we’re in Fallujah. Taylor was in bed. Never suspecting her brutal demise would be carried out by government officials who took oaths to protect and serve all Americans. Evidently, the three-fifths compromise, the solution to count three out of every five slaves as one person for legislative representation, is still in play when it comes to the number of black people who are killed by the police or vile racists. Today, it could be that killing 3 black people out of 5 that have been victimized amounts to 1 death. Our lives are not valued. This is evident everywhere you look. From small town America to big cities like New York and Las Angeles. While the NYPD is handing out masks to white sunbathers in Central Park during COVID-19, gently warning them to exercise social distancing rules, they’re beating the hell out of black people for the same offense. There truly is no justice. Not yet, at least.

Ahmaud Arbery

Comedian Dave Chappelle discussed the brutal killing of Emmett Till during his show recently. He made some important points about how the tragic event of Till’s death led to the world seeing the brutality inflicted on blacks by whites in America. He said it led to many changes and liberties we as Americans enjoy now, hence his celebrity and packed shows with diverse audiences. He’s right. Times and circumstances have changed. We no longer drink from different water fountains, ride in the back of buses, or hang from poplar trees for no reason other than being black. But Emmett Till had to die a horrible death for some of these changes to happen. Many, many others did too. And, the killings of black people haven’t stopped. Ahmaud Arbery is the latest example of a good ol’ fashion American lynching by some inbred, backwoods hillbillies who hate black people for being…you guessed it, black.

Breonna Taylor

And Breonna Taylor is yet another awful example of our over-militarized law enforcement who kill us like battlefield combatants. If our disproportionate killings are not an active Holocaust, I don’t know what is. According to some historians, the African Diaspora and the subsequent slave trade ended in the deaths of over 30 million black people. Now add all the other bodies onto that pile from Emancipation to today. That’s a lot of black people who have unjustly met tragic ends. The killing methods has changed but not the body count. I understand the point Chappelle was making. But how many more of us need to die to finally bring about lasting change? How many more black bodies does America need to satisfy its thirst for our blood? And racism still shows its ugly head in every sector of our society. Case in point, Senator Mitch McConnell can blatantly lie about the first black president not leaving his successor a pandemic guide and telling him to “shut up” when he’s asked to give his opinion on the Trump administrations’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic without any repercussion or rebuke from his “dear colleagues.”

Lynchings in America

Trayvon Martin

Taylor’s brutal death happened in his state; Kentucky. And McConnell has yet to humanize Taylor because he’s too busy trying to call Barack Obama an “uppity nigg*r” with a dog whistle we all know and understand very well. And yet, despite taking arms to fight countless wars for America, here and abroad, most white people remain idle. Watching. Seeing black people come home from wars to face racist brutality for a country many of them died for, they remain still. Accepting this shameful display of hate and calling themselves Christians. The German people watched and sat idle, too. Today, many just feign shock that in modern society racism still exists. Some take to social media to vent and share their outrage but quickly get back to Netflix and the life they enjoy despite the inequality we all know exists. That police still kill us disproportionately. That we’re still denied jobs, access to adequate healthcare, equal educational standards, curriculum and schools, or even healthy foods and an environment. We continue to bear the brunt of the cost of industrialization when rich corporations are given passage by our government to pollute the areas we live in, allowing companies to burying their toxic and cancer-causing waste in our backyards and pollute our water. Some whites certainly grieve, fight and even die with us for justice and change but clearly, not enough to make a real difference of our unequal American lives. So I have no more tears left to cry for my people, as I continue to bear witness to our systematic killings of which I can only call by its dirty name: a Holocaust.

Emmett Till

George Stinney, Jr.

Rodney King

Lynching in America

Isaac Woodard

Lynchings in America

Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, interviewed Marcus Rediker, author of, The Slave Ship: A Human History, where he discussed, “floating concentration camps and why the black community should never forget.” It’s worth a read. Included in the report was this discussion: “Before he won the Best Picture Academy Award for “12 Years a Slave,” director Steve McQueen accused Hollywood of ignoring the subject of slavery. “The Second World War lasted five years, and there are hundreds of films about that and the Holocaust. Slavery lasted 400 years and yet there are less than 20 films about slavery in North America,” McQueen said, in an interview with the British paper The Voice. “We have to open our eyes and look at it and other people have to acknowledge it.” The black community, he added, must remember slavery in the same way the Jews remember the Holocaust. “They believe in the saying ‘Never forget’ when it comes to the Holocaust, and I think we should be the same when it comes to slavery.”

Rediker was also asked if, “Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day could act as a model for remembering slavery in the United States. And he answered, “I think it would be absolutely impossible in this country, because the majority of the white population is utterly opposed to reparations and would not like to remember slavery in any way that might lead to economic and political conclusions. The difference is that the people who want to remember in Israel are in charge in the government. John Conyers has for many years proposed, at the beginning of each Congress, a bill to study the effects of slavery in American history. And every year, it’s voted down.”

Reuben Stacy lynching

Medgar Evers

American lynchings

KKK lynchings

1925 lynching

Comedians Key and Peele joked about Negrotown, once. I laughed and thought nothing else of the “utopia for black people.” Looking back, perhaps that’s the only solution left for us. Maybe we do need a Negrotown, where the duo joyfully sang, “you won’t get followed when you shop, you can wear your hoodie and not get shot, no white folks across the street in fear, no trigger happy cops or scared cashiers. And loan applications can’t get turned down, [because] you’re always approved in Negrotown.” Art imitates life. But the brutality and killings we experience are real. Perhaps to save our lives and finally stop the Holocaust of African Americans, is to find our way to Negrotown. McQueen’s suggestion to adopt the Jews saying, “Never forget” when it comes to slavery is ideal, but we must first break out of our bondage and finally stop the black Holocaust in America.

The Charlottesville Monster March Is A Stark Reminder Of America’s Shameful Past And Fragile Future

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Did you think the days of Martin Luther King, Jr., marching for freedom and equality were over? And, when you listen to old civil rights movement stories of Medgar Evers, James Baldwin, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and even still living civil rights era leaders and social activists like Rep. John Lewis, Harry Belafonte, Cornell West and Henry Lewis Gates, Jr., were you relatively comfortable in your existence as an American until the Nazis, the KKK and Alt-Right group took their revolting message to Charlottesville, VA? You’re not alone. And, you should be uncomfortable if you’ve taken comfort on the sidelines of history by not participating in the greatest democracy ever known to man. Simply minding your own business, keeping you head down and your mouth shut can no longer be an option. Not when the days of Hitler and Mussolini are once again upon us like a bad reoccurring nightmare, or a street packed with walkers from The Walking Dead. Yes, that’s how bad it feels when racism is in full bloom.

Despite several attempts to put out the racial fires taking place across the country, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, is playing games with American lives and flushing our common values down the toilet. When nearly every major nightly show host like, Jimmy Kimmel, Steven Colbert, John Oliver, Seth Myers and even Jimmy Fallon—who decided to play footsie with Trump during his appearance on his show rather than hold him accountable for his boorish actions and behavior—take a stand against the president’s latest attack on basic human decency…one can’t help but surmise that we are a nation at war with ourselves. We are a nation held hostage by a mad man supported by the most hateful Americans among us. If you don’t believe America is in crisis, you’re not paying attention, you’re not invested in our common ideology that all men are created equal, and your silence equates to support or blatant disregard of the Kraken that’s been released by Trump and the people that support his destructive behavior and administration.

When former Klan leader and white supremacist David Duke, who didn’t miss a chance showing his face at the racist rally in Charlottesville, thanks our president for his support by saying the group’s staunch discriminatory stance represents a turning point in the country, adding, “We’re going to take our country back. We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believe in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump because he says he’s going to take our country back and that’s what he’s gotta do.” …it’s as clear as a cloudless sky, that America is suffering some major social indigestion. So, something has to give, or someone has to go.

 

ITALY – CIRCA 1941: mail stamp printed in Italy showing Hitler and Mussolini, circa 1941

 

A staunch Republican and frequent vocal critic of the president said it best. Ana Navarro didn’t mince her words when she boldly addressed Trump directly on CNN, saying, “Let me talk to Donald Trump and explain to him that as President of the United States, he represents Blacks and Jewish people and Hispanic people and people of every color and every creed. And, it is his job as President of the United States to stand up for each and every American, to stand up vertically against racism and bigotry. Peddling to racism is just as bad as being a racist. So, Donald Trump is either a racists, or he’s peddling to it. And, both are frankly unacceptable and make him unfit to be President of the United States. If you can’t be President, if you cannot stand up and represent Americans, you should not be President.” She also addressed the few Republicans speaking out against Trump’s latest deplorable conduct by asking, “What the hell took you so long? When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them.”

And, she’s right. Where are the collective voices of the president’s own party members and leaders? How can they be silent at this crucial moment in our history? How can these so called American patriots remain silent when our president steadily blows his dog whistle, encouraging the spread of the hatefulness we are witnessing in Charlottesville and elsewhere? Trump can’t help but be Trump. He’s an expert at being who he is; a proven and dangerous liar, bigot and sexist individual. This behavior has worked in his favor his entire life and since making his debut on the world’s stage. This is a man who boldly claims that he can commit a heinous crime and still be comfortable on his perch. So, why do we expect him to be anything other than what he’s successfully been? Albert Einstein is credited for the quote: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It’s a quote we Americans frequently use to describe something or someone we want to lecture, judge or advice. So, why aren’t we as a nation of decent people taking our own advice? Why are we allowing this sore that is Trump to fester?

When South Koreans demanded change after their president, Park Geun-hye—the country’s first democratically elected leader to be forced out of office—was caught embroiled in a cult-like scandal, and accused of abusing her authority, the people took to the streets in massive numbers to demand her ouster. And, it worked. The difference between our two countries lies at the heart of Unity as we know it. We are struggling to remain united, thanks to a single but powerful mad man who refuses to lead our country as a nation of one people beholden to our Constitution and Bill of Rights that has governed and shaped us throughout our relatively young democracy. America is only 241 years old. And, in that time, we have risen from the depths of shame by abolishing Slavery, advancing Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Workers Rights, Voters Rights, and even the LGBTQ movement. We did it together. Hand in hand. We took to the streets and marched on Washington. We crossed the bridge in Selma. We sang songs to stop the lynching of black bodies hanging from poplar trees. We prayed over the bodies of young girls bombed in the most sacred of places; the church. We wept over the sight of Emmett Till. We fought to end segregation. We demanded equality in our schools and elsewhere. We even took our determination to love who we want to love all the way to the Supreme Court in support of Mildred and Richard Love. We hold onto hope for a better tomorrow, singing songs of overcoming…and yet, here we are facing the biggest threat to our precious democracy; President Donald J. Trump, and find ourselves paralyzed.

New York Daily News Columnist and social activist Shaun King didn’t mince his words either when he called upon all Americans united on common goals to take to the streets like the South Koreans did, to oust our destructive and dangerous president. However, it seems that fear of another civil war traps us in our trepidation, like a deer staring blankly into oncoming traffic lights and not moving until it’s too late. If Fox News and the Daily Caller aren’t afraid to post a video basically instructing their followers on how to mow down people that have bravely taken to the streets to fight for our country, we can’t be afraid to meet that message head on. And, even demanding that Laura Ingraham who gave a clear Nazi salute and dog whistle like nod to these bigoted creatures, not be allowed to have her own show on Fox News, as it’s been reported. We have to fight for our beautiful and diverse country. Let’s not get run over. America is our country. America does not belong to Donald Trump, the KKK, the Neo-Nazis, or the Alt-Right Middle Earth-like creatures and haters of humanity. America belongs to all of us that call it home, value who we are and what we stand for and against. The time to stand up for our nobility and virtues is always now. That’s what makes us uniquely Americans. We fight for the rights of all people.