I opened the backdoor of the apartment building to go to work. As I crossed the backyard to my car across the alley I couldn’t help but notice there was a small moving van parked in the alley blocking my way. It was a drag. It would be easier to just go the other way down the alley than to sit and wait for somebody to move the truck.
There was a loud racket coming from the four unit apartment building next door. It had been abandoned just the week before. Suddenly, in one weekend, the three remaining tenets moved out of the building. Two had rental trucks and one had moved their belongings into one of those pods you load your stuff into and somebody just hauls the thing away.
In the short time it had been vacated the building has had a few of its windows broken and somebody had already took its pipes. Somebody left a hot water heater in the backyard next to the backdoor. It wasn’t long before somebody else came along and picked it up. The building had seen better days. The truck was parked in the alley behind that particular house. Hopefully it was somebody trying to repair the house.
The guy next to the van started acting suspiciously. He saw me and then went behind the truck. As I passed by the truck to my car, the guy was now behind the dumpster appearing as if he was looking for something. The people who moved out had left a lot of broken furniture and small appliances behind. It wasn’t unusual to see somebody picking through the stuff. I didn’t think anything about it.
But without asking the man jumped in his moving van and pulled away. People in this neighborhood don’t do much for others. Consideration for others just isn’t a factor. As the van pulled away I looked back across the alley. I had a clear, unobstructed view of the back of the building next door. I saw who and what was making the racket next door. Somebody was pulling one of the refrigerators out. He was doing it without the aid of an appliance dolly. The door jam had been kicked in. The guy banging the refrigerator around came into the alley to see where the moving van had gone.
As I drove away I saw the van came back from a quick trip around the block. These guys were pushing all the wrong buttons. I pulled out my cell phone and dialed emergency. I told the operator that two men were looting the house next door. I gave the operator a description of the two men and a description their van. I didn’t get their license plate. I didn’t want to look like I was trying to study them.
After talking to the operator I called Ms. Peacemaker. She sometimes watches me as I leave in the morning. I wanted to know if she had noticed the men next door. She couldn’t help but notice them with all the noise they were making. She had called the police as well. But she told me the two burglars had been spooked and decided to leave before the police could get there. Oh well, we tried.
Ms. Peacemaker called me at work later that morning. The police had knocked on our door. The police got a report of a burglary in progress and had come by to take a look. Beavis and Butthead left but they didn’t go far. They were sitting and waiting for what who knows just two doors down When they saw a police car pull up they tried to speed away with their back door wide open and a refrigerator sitting inside. The police came by asking anyone if they had seen anyone. Ms. Peacemaker was more than happy to help. She called me at work to see if I could add anymore to the police report.
I have to admit that I may be the last person in the world to compliment the police. Generally speaking I think the police are way too enthusiastic to crack down on black people for things they would turn an eye to if they were happening anywhere else.
But I have to give credit where credit is due. These burglars are two first hand contributors to the conditions in the black community. Instead of using their limited ingenuity to get a job or to go into the refrigerator moving business, they’d rather break into the buildings and cause more problems for the people trying to buy a house in the black community.
So many of the homes I’ve looked at buying have been burglarized with pipes missing and walls trashed and stairways damaged and windows broken just so somebody can steal a little metal. This ain’t fuckin’ Thunderdome where humanity has to scavenge off others to earn a living. And then, these people don’t even have the respect for the people of the neighborhood to keep their larceny under wraps. They boldly go into these houses and do whatever, making all kinds of racket as if they don’t care if the rest of the neighborhood sees them or not.
I don’t like calling the police on anyone. I don’t like seeing anyone going to jail. But more than that, I hate to see someone working to trash the black community. If I had to make a choice between the police and some two bit thugs I will reluctantly dial the emergency operator. These two men didn’t consider themselves members of the black community. They saw the black community and that house as nothing more than suckers to be fleeced. We don’t need that kind of attitude here.
The Hurricane of 1900 made landfall on the city of Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900. It had estimated winds of 135 mph at landfall, making it a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The estimated loss of life with most cited in official reports is eight thousand give or take a couple thousand. The death toll gives this storm the third highest number of casualties of any Atlantic hurricane and is to date the deadliest natural disaster ever to strike the United States. On September 4, the Galveston office of the U.S. Weather Bureau began receiving warnings from the central office in Washington, D.C. that a tropical storm had moved northward over Cuba. Back then, the Weather Bureau forecasters had no way of knowing where the storm was or where it was going. It was through the study of weather and atmospheric phenomenon that hurricane prediction techniques could be developed so that the accuracy of storm path forecasting can be estimated days in advance. Sure, some people probably thought it was stupid to spend good money trying to predict something that defies prediction. A hundred years makes a big difference.
In a speech full of criticism for the stimulus plan, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal singled out volcano monitoring as an example of government spending running amok. Mr. Jindal said that instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, deriding the $140 million appropriated to the U.S. Geological Survey as little more than pork in the stimulus package that tops three quarters of a trillion dollars. That probably doesn’t sound very prudent to people who live down in Galveston, Texas. But to those who live a little closer to the threat of flowing lava, it was a poor example to use.
There are five volcano observatories in the country. They are in Alaska, Yellowstone National Park, Washington, Hawaii, and Long Valley, California. Each has a series of seismic networks and other equipment for the specific purpose of monitoring a number of volcanoes in their vicinity. If a volcano is showing signs of activity, it could be the first signs of an eruption. So scientists follow that up by looking at other data from webcams, radar data and satellite imagery; fly overs from airplanes and etcetera. They pull all of that information together to give people the best information about what’s likely to happen so that people can plan. Sort of like what happens with pending hurricanes these days. Unfortunately, when it comes to monitoring volcanoes, we are more likely closer to the capabilities of weather forecasters in 1900 than weather forecasters of today.
It’s pretty obvious that people who live close to a volcano will be worried about flowing lava and mud. People who live further away can be affected by ash fall, which can typically travel distances measured in hundreds of miles. But many of us have little appreciation for our susceptibility to a full scale eruption from the Yellowstone Supervolcano. Hundreds of millennia ago, scientists believe that the Lava Creek eruption ejected well over two hundred cubic miles of rock and dust into the sky. That’s enough volume to fill a space twenty miles long, ten miles wide, and more than a mile high. Geologists are closely monitoring the rise and fall of the Yellowstone Plateau, which averages movement of plus/minus a little more than half an inch on a yearly basis depending on changes in magma chamber pressure. However, the upward movement of the Yellowstone caldera floor, almost three inches per year in recent years, is more than three times greater than ever observed since such measurements began in 1923. The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory maintains that they see no evidence that another cataclysmic eruption will occur at Yellowstone in the foreseeable future. But the issue is worth monitoring, hence the need for more investment in volcano monitoring.
Not all of the money is devoted to just volcano monitoring. A lot of the money will go towards the maintenance and modernization of monitoring networks and other equipment. Quite possibly the investment may lead to lives being saved. If an evacuation due to eruption is ever needed, civil authorities will call it, but these scientist will do their best to give those authorities the best information so that people can get out of harm’s way. All of this for the low, low price of $140 million. Such spending is like insurance and is worth about one fifth of one percent of the stimulus package. And compared to the investment of $125 billion investment in financial institutions late last year, it’s a relative bargain.
In typical political fashion the Republican Party wants to attack science. These are the same people who wanted to cut stem cell research regardless of the potential for understanding how such cells work. Stem cell research could theoretically lead to procedures that could lead to nerve regeneration, helping the blind to see, the paralyzed to walk, the deaf to hear, and the cure for a whole host of diseases. But who cares about that kind of thing. It’s just pork. Yes it’s nice that we have developed our understanding of hurricanes and such. But we really don’t need to understand much else of our world.
“Slavery, Jim Crow, White supremacists, are almost universally hated by white people, and described as one of the bleakest and most embarrassing times in our country’s history. We don’t need to discuss them in the context of admitting they were right or wrong anymore.
I don’t owe anyone an apology for them. Am I sorry they happened? Absolutely. But an apology is an admission of personal fault. My skin color doesn’t link me to an 1800’s slaver anymore than yours links you to people in Africa trading away other captured peoples for guns or gold. Do you understand how ridiculous that sounds?
Thanks for clarifying Holder’s position. There are whites that need to admit to their racism, and there are blacks that need to admit to white people’s racism. Please excuse me as a wipe the bias flowing out of my computer screen. Cosby talked one side of the problem, one the black community can help themselves with the most.
I live in Atlanta, a city run by a black Mayer, a black police chief, a majority black police department, a black majority period. There are only five members on the city council out of sixteen that are white, and the president of the council is black. Almost half of Fulton County’s superior court justices are black. Tell me, who is the “dominant community” where I live? In the most important financial, law making, and collegiate area of the entire state?
I’m not suggesting black people have been in the position to be as racially cruel as white people. But if we’re talking about racist feelings or tendencies, you’ve really deluded yourself if you think black people have nothing to answer for. Hell my dad is a firefighter inside the perimeter. Do you know how many lawsuits there are over the hiring and promoting in the fire departments surrounding Atlanta?
Maybe it’s because of the area of live in, but there are more race related speakers, seminars, clubs, protests, and just awareness to race in politics and the news than ANY other subject. And I find we are complete opposites in our assessment of the black voice.” – Sean
“Slavery, Jim Crow, White supremacists, are almost universally hated by white people, and described as one of the bleakest and most embarrassing times in our country’s history. We don’t need to discuss them in the context of admitting they were right or wrong anymore.”
That’s good to hear. But when are we as a country are going to correct the damage that these institutionalized macro scaled versions of racial disparity caused to the black community? Slavery ended and black people were told that they were free. Okay. But how were black people supposed to go into the future as free men and women without the resources necessary to be free men and women? Which led to the racial disparity of Jim Crow. Jim Crow ended. But after so many generations of people living with Jim Crow and its brand of racial disparity laws were passed to make the practice illegal. Okay. But how were black people supposed to compete in an environment where white people felt like they were losing their privilege? Which led to the racial disparity of separate but far from equal. And so on and so on.
Every step of the fight for equality for black people, white people fought hard to keep equality a distant goal. These institutions created the environment of disparity that we have today. The nation as a whole has never addressed this disparity and never will. White people continue to benefit from these conditions. But try and say that we need to do something to correct this imbalance and many white people say “I don’t owe anyone an apology”.
Nobody asked you for an apology. I could care less how you feel. To me, you are no different than the Pat Buchanan’s of the world. Your apology doesn’t mean a thing. You are not that important. Do you know how ridiculous you sound? Hey everybody Sean apologized! Racism is over now. You really do have an overinflated ego there. But what is important is for America to address the problems of racial disparity that America has tolerated for so long and continues to tolerate to this day. Too many white people think that the only thing necessary to create an equal environment is that the blatant racial discrimination stops. How do we correct the disparity that the blatant discrimination created and its subtle counterpart continues to create? Hey, back off! I’m not apologizing!
“I’m not suggesting black people have been in the position to be as racially cruel as white people. But if we’re talking about racist feelings or tendencies, you’ve really deluded yourself if you think black people have nothing to answer for.”
I am so sorry that there are bad black people out there who have hurt your feelings. Indeed, there are jerks on both side of the racial line. But guess what? There are black people who hurt my feelings as well. Maybe we can address the affects of mean black people and what led to the fact that so many black people don’t care for white people. Lord knows they think they have plenty of reasons to justify how they feel.
But I’m not referring to the damage of simply hurting white people’s feelings. If we were only talking about black people’s hurt feelings I’d have to say too bad so sad. When I talk about the discussion of racism I’m talking about the general economic, social, political, educational, legal, and other instances of racial disparity that have the majority of the black people on the downside. I have a black Mayor and a black policeman! Well good for you! And? What does that do for the rest of the black community? When did these black leaders use their position of authority to ruin the lives of white people? A lot of white people love to point to a few black well to do people as if that alone justifies our tolerance for racial disparity.
But people never want to point in the other direction as examples of how far we have to go. Where were all these black leaders when Genarlow Wilson was being railroaded into a ten year prison sentence for having sex with a girl two years his junior? He had good grades. He played football. He kept his nose clean. He was never in trouble before. His horrible crime of being a teenager having sex meant that he had to be labeled a sexual predator and needed some prison time. I bet a lot of people felt less safe when he was released after serving two years of his sentence. Lord knows teenagers having sex is just such an unnatural, criminal act. May god have mercy on his soul.
And yes it is true that Bill Cosby and Alvin Puissaint talk about black people helping themselves by protecting themselves and making sure black people adhere to acceptable standards of behavior. Because we know that there is a stereotypical culture against black people that calls for the harshest punishments possible regardless of the crime or the lack thereof. Young blacks being disrespectful to figures of authority is enough to justify the heavy handed practice of law enforcement. It is this piece of the culture that too many black people are afraid to address because of the possibility that they appear too sympathetic to the plight of the black community.
And by the way, Africans never traded for gold. Africans had all the gold they needed. Africans didn’t trade other Africans for white people’s gold. That’s another ridiculous contention from you. Africa had a history of slavery that predates white people. That is very true. When tribes conquered other tribes the conquered people became subject to Africa’s version of slavery. Eventually, the conquered people earned a place of equality in the new larger tribe. African slaves were never in chains and kept separate. African slaves learned the ways of the tribe just like anyone else. African slaves were not kept ignorant and their families were not broken on the whims of some owner. African slaves were never anybody’s personal property and were eventually assimilated to make the tribe stronger.
When Africans traded other Africans away it was for weapons from the white man that they could use to conquer other tribes. The weapons allowed favored tribes to take over other tribes far quicker than the people of the other tribes could be assimilated. The white people offered to take the conquered away so the favored tribe could continue its grab for territory. Africans probably didn’t realize the depths of the new world’s contempt for black people. They probably thought slavery in the white man’s land would mirror the African model of slavery.
Lastly, an apology is not always some admission of personal guilt. An apology is used to convey a sense of sorrow when there is a sense of compassion. People do it all the time. But the idea of somebody like you have a sense of compassion for black people? Not hardly. You talk about wiping the bias off your computer screen when you ought to wiping your ass because of all the bias coming out of it. I do believe it looks like you have a serious case of diarrhea.
I will confess. Last night, when I saw President Barack Obama enter the chambers of the United States Congress, I had a sense of pride that I don’t often feel. I expected a great deal of applause and a great deal of bipartisanship. But I was overwhelmed by my emotions. I had to fight back tears of relief. It’s been a long time since I could fathom any sense of admiration for the man called POTUS. I had not realized how long it had been.
I watched the address on MSNBC. At the bottom of the television display there was a couple of meters that showed how people were reacting to the speech, one for the people who voted Republican, the other for people who voted for the Democrat in the general election for the President. They wavered up and down a little. But they were very comfortably in the favorable side of things. I watched as Ms. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden looked down at Mr. Obama with an obvious sense of joyous pride plastered across their faces. I watched Michelle Obama look down at her husband with what looked like the most genuine admiration. A look that said, hey honey you did it! His glance back looked as if he was correcting her saying I think you mean we did it!
In the coming days I hope to do a bit more detailed analysis of Mr. Obama’s speech. Right now I have to say that generally speaking I received the speech favorably. If I found anything irritating was the compulsion of people to stand up and clap at anything that sounded favorable. There were a lot of heavenly things to hear but the devil is in the implementation of the details. There are a lot of people who clapped for the President with scowls on their faces and contempt in each smack of the hands as if it took every ounce of their strength to stand their and applaud.
After Mr. Obama gave his address, he was eventually followed by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal who many see as the number one contender for the Republican Party’s return to residency in the White House.
Mr. Jindal’s speech sounded like a campaign for political office where he talked about his personal history. He told the story of how his father had to work any job he could find to support his family when the future Governor was born. It was a great story of how personal perseverance can overcome certain obstacles. If the Republican Party is known for any single philosophy it is the belief that hard work can do anything. In fact, Mr. Jindal’s theme for the Republican Party’s response to Mr. Obama’s speech could be summed up as Americans can do anything.
Mr. Jindal went on and eventually got to another story about the efforts of Sheriff Harry Lee who was trying to get help to the people of Jefferson parish in the hours and days after hurricane Katrina. Mr. Lee had assembled volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped by the floodwaters. The boats were ready to go into the maelstrom, but some bureaucrat showed up and told the sheriff that no one could go out unless they had proof of insurance and registration. The sheriff told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and go start rescuing people.
Mr. Jindal went on to explain his lesson in this experience. He went on to say that the strength of America is not found in our government but in the hearts and spirit of our citizens. It was this spirit that got Louisiana through the hurricanes and this spirit will get our nation through the storms we face today.
The irony of Mr. Jindal’s example would have been funny it if wasn’t so serious. Mr. Jindal wants to use the story of a sheriff doing what he could to get help to people despite the best efforts of bureaucrats to stick to rules and procedure instead of helping people. It bears a stark resemblance to the stimulus package where Republicans want to stop an effort to help jump start the economy until we have the best plan available. Mr. Jindal and the rest of the Republicans look remarkably like bureaucrats while Mr. Obama looks like a frustrated sheriff.
It was our Republican Party led government that had no problem stepping up to the plate to create an operating environment with more benefits to corporate America. When Americans were paying four dollars a gallon for gasoline, petrochemicals were earning a billion dollars a week thanks to the energy policies of a government led by two oil men. And when banks and financial institutions started to bite the dust it was a Republican led government that moved with relative lightening speed to shore up these companies coffers enough to allow them to keep the promise made to executives and handout billions of dollars in retention incentives, also known as bonuses.
Mr. Jindal continued to say that the Republicans went along with earmarks and big government spending in Washington. Went along with whom? It was the Republicans who controlled America’s purse strings with a complete government trifecta that included control of the oval office, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. Now that the average American needs help, Mr. Jindal thinks it’s prudent to say enough is enough.
As Mr. Jindal said Americans can do anything. I’d have to agree. This country can do anything when we put our collective mind to it. But instead of putting our collective mind into something that benefits the entire community, our focus is to put our minds to something that will generate profit for a few while the larger segment of the whole continues to do without.
An online dictionary defines greed as an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth. Greed is the self-serving desire for the pursuit of money, wealth, power, food, status, attention, or anything that can be coveted, especially when it denies the same to others. Greed is generally considered a vice. It is one of the seven deadly sins in Catholicism.
Greed is a form of idolatry according to the book of Colossians 3:5 in the Christian bible. A greedy person values money or material possessions more than their spirituality. Another understanding is that greed serves to bring as many things to the greedy person, making him, or her, the center of the world, the one who deserves to be pleased, converting him into his own god and creating pride with a great deal of focus on the development of the ego. So if this is an acceptable definition of greed, when is greed a good thing?
Greed can lead to the dissolving of a community. People who would be working together for everyone’s benefit will start working against each other once greed takes root. And greed can spread like a wildfire through a community. It has become so natural for people in this culture to only help each other for personal profit that we fear anything that we recognize as being socially conscience. Socialism has become the antithesis of the American life. America is built on a solid foundation of greed and a love of money.
In the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko, brilliantly played by Michael Douglas, stood before the crowd at the Teldar stockholders meeting and told everyone that greed is right and greed is good, but good for who is the question. As Mr. Gekko made his millions acquiring and then destroying companies by dismantling them into smaller, more profitable units, everyone who worked at those companies stood to loose. People lost their livelihood, their savings, everything that they worked for to make those companies great, in order to feed one man’s greed. How is that a good thing?
The only time greed is good is when you’re the greedy one that causes everyone else to suffer. Greed works for the billionaire at the bank that got federal money to help the economy. But instead of helping put something back into the economy some of these captains of these industries that have run aground are using that cash to give retention payments that look remarkably like bonuses to a few while the rest of the economy seizes from the lack of flowing capital. But greed is supposed to be so good and so right! Good for whom is the rhetorical question.
We have all seen the affects of greed on the American way of life. The list of companies and individuals who gave into their greed at the expense (pun intended) of their social responsibility is long and grows longer every day. People like Bernie Madoff and Robert Allen Stanford are only the latest in a long list of men who thought there greed was good and right. Millions of people around the world will have a different opinion, I’m sure. What makes their greed so good and so right?
In a socially conscious environment there is no reason for greed. People want to make the claim that the drive for more is a good thing that increases productivity for people. But all it has done is divide us into a society of the people who have and the people who don’t have squat. America has become the land of jaw dropping disparity with some of the richest people in the world and some of the poorest. We’ve been sold a bum bill of goods intended to give us the impression that our lives are only happy if we have many times more items than we could ever use let alone need. And everyday that passes we need to go to jobs that we may not like so we can get more and more and more.
The movie American Beauty portrayed what could be the anti Gordon Gekko, Lester Burnham, well played my Kevin Spacey. Mr. Burnham woke to the realization that consumption for the sake of consumption and earning money for the sake of earning money was not the key to happiness. He got a job at a fast food joint flipping burgers and made the choice to live his life simply with the occasional toke on a joint rolled with herb developed by the military. While Mr. Gekko is rolling around in a limousine trying to find somebody to screw for his next multi million dollar payoff, Mr. Burnham is happy to drive his second generation Pontiac Firebird and flip burgers.
Neither man is perfect. But I understand my life more closely resembles Mr. Burnham that it does Mr. Gekko. I just don’t have it in me to screw people so I can have more money than I could ever spend. If given a choice I’d rather flip burgers, drive a fast car, and smoke joints. It might not sound productive and the type of thing that generates money for money’s sake.
Greed is never good. It is never a good thing to screw somebody over to get more wealth and status. Because every time somebody is able to feed their need to be greedy, somebody else looses. And unless you have the killer instincts of a Gordon Gekko or a Bernie Madoff or one of those alleged Nigerians who wants to give you millions of dollars if you would only help them get their billions out of the country by handing over your bank information, chances are you’re just one of the many being screwed to feed somebody else’s greed.
From what I hear and see on the news, the latest episode of the Oscars was a smash hit. Congratulations to the people who did Slum Dog Millionaire, Sean Penn, Kate Winslet, and the others. And now that the stuff that we as a collective consider really important is out of the way maybe we can get back to the little things like the children who live in abject poverty in places like Gaza.
Because we all know that one menial job is as good as another. Lose your well paying job with benefits at the car company or with any of a hundred of companies cutting jobs like they are nothing more than old documents going through a shredder? Just get a job at the prison or the workhouse or the Wal-Mart! I heard McDonald’s business is actually picking up.
Baba Orunmila has finally given me the reading for the year. If it was anyone else I would have said that it was about time. But like I’ve said before, trying to rush a reading from Baba is like trying to hold back the Iya Osun in her form as the Mississippi River with Lego blocks.
To be honest, I received the reading earlier this week. We decided to give it a title of A Year Of Give And Take. To accompany the reading I chose a picture of a shore line with its waters in a constant rhythm of give and take with the sand. The picture also shows billowing clouds meant to symbolize the fact that this year is going to be a year of great changes just like last year was. And everybody knows last year was a hell of a deusy. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who thought otherwise.
With the wisdom of hindsight I can see that last year was intended to give us all a new perspective of the need for material wealth. A lot of people had their face slapped when they realized their economic security was being pulled from under them like a rug. Many of us stumbled. Some of us stumbled harder than others. Few were untouched.
When I was little I went to Sunday school and we learned that Jesus said that a man shouldn’t build his house on a foundation of sand. So many of us have built our future on an economic foundation based on an entry in some bank’s database somewhere. A magnetic record somewhere tells everybody what we are worth. And people are working like crazy to increase the size of that magnetic bank balance easily wiped by the stroke of a keyboard. If that doesn’t sound like a foundation of sand then I don’t know what does.
This year, we will have another chance to get our focus back on what is important. We need to focus on building our relationships. As Baba said, change is best confronted when we have people around us going through the change with us. Family and friends are key to weathering the coming storms. Anyone who thinks they can face the future without support from others is taking a huge risk. I know I wouldn’t want to try it.
One thing Baba Orunmila said that wasn’t included in this reading is the fact that there will be an addendum to the reading that will be coming later. Honestly, a sequel to the reading is most appropriate in a year described as give and take. So Baba gives a part here. We have no choice but to give Baba the time he wants to come back with the sequel.
In the mean time, we should take heed and do what we can to keep our families close and our loved ones closer. This ride has just begun. I think last year was just the beginning. There is a lot more to come.
And just in case you don’t bother to go and read what Baba Orunmila said for yourself, the Orisa for the year is Baba Obatala. I was taught that Obatala is the Orisa of the mountains and there isn’t much more stable than that. In a year of great changes we will need stability in our lives. Baba is also the Orisa of justice. And what symbolizes justice more than the concept you reap what you sow? And we will have a lot of reaping to do for a long time.
But that’s cool because Baba Obatala, the Orisa of the mountains will be here to help give us a better foundation. We just have to make the choice to take him up on his offer to guide us. And if nothing else we’ll learn to build our future on a rock solid foundation.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the first African American to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, is catching a lot of attention for making the suggestion that people take advantage of Black History Month to begin a dialogue about race and referring to the United States as a nation of cowards for not discussing the country’s history and continued tolerance for race disparity.
In an address to Justice Department workers, Mr. Holder said that they have a special responsibility to acknowledge social limits and to push past them. Mr. Holder told employees that the level of social interaction among people of different races is bleak and that it in many ways does not differ significantly from the country that existed fifty years ago. The fact that within a few short decades, demographic changes will result in no single racial majority only underscore the need for openness and, in some cases, confrontation on issues that separate people. And just like clock work, social conservatives jumped on their soapbox and used whatever resources they could muster to make Mr. Holders attempt at breaching the racial divide an act of American heresy.
I heard that uber conservative Pat Buchanan and one of my favorite peeps on racial matters Professor Eric Michael Dyson were on Hardball With Chris Matthews to discuss Mr. Holder’s comments. I went to YouTube to see if I could find a copy of the show. I really didn’t have time to see it all because if I did, I would’ve been late for work. But, after about fifteen seconds of watching the two guests I had enough to realize that if Mr. Buchanan was any indication, any talk about talking about race would fail because of the conditions the dominant community has defined for black and white relations from the first moment that black people set foot on American soil shackled in white people’s chains.
Mr. Buchanan was outraged that Mr. Holder would call white people cowards. Black people are the ones separating themselves from America. There are the black beauty pageants and the Negro League and the United Negro College Fund and the black caucus and all of these institutions developed for black people. Never mind the fact that these institutions were developed because white people were excluding black people from participating in the standard beauty pageants, baseball leagues, and the like. Black churches were developed because black people were not allowed to pray to white people’s god in white people’s vicinity. These institutions were developed because of white people’s need to keep separate from black people.
There are periods in American history white people were free to put up signs saying white only. Coloreds had to make due with other arrangements. But now black people are the problem. This is nothing new. I’ve written about this a few times before. Many people who are sensitive to the need for racial equality and the many manifestation of racial disparity have written about this subject.
But what was different this time, at least for me, was that Mr. Buchanan admitted that the United States, by default, is intended to be a country of the white, by the white, and for the white unless explicitly stated as something else. Mr. Holder said that the United States is a nation of cowards. Mr. Holder did not say that the United States is a nation of white cowards. Mr. Holder did not say that white America needs to come to terms with race. Mr. Holder never mentioned white people.
However, Mr. Buchanan understands that it is natural to hear the standard and to know that it only applies to the white people in this country. So when we hear United States beauty pageant, we know that this is an institution designed and developed for the white community. When we hear about other integral parts of American culture we know that this as white America as surely we know baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie. The term “all American boy” invokes the image of a young white male, it is implied that this is a reference to the white community.
So when we hear about the beauty contest or the institution for education, we know it is an institution targeted to the white community first and then black people who want to participate and play by white people’s rules.
When we invoke the name America, or the name United States, some people, like Mr. Buchanan, automatically translate this to white only. We are not talking about black people. Black people are excluded. He admitted as much when he said that the term United States is a reference to white only. If black people want to be included, we have to make sure it is understood unequivocally, without the least bit of confusion. Obviously, black people are not the only ones who separate the black community from the United States.
Some have interpreted a New York Post cartoon as comparing President Barack Obama to the fed up chimpanzee that went berserk and was gunned down by police drew criticism from racially sensitive civil rights leaders, elected officials, and others who said the cartoon reflected racist stereotypes of blacks people as monkeys and lower primates by people in the dominant community. The cartoon by Sean Delonas refers to the chimpanzee that was killed by police in Stamford, Connecticut, after it mauled a friend of its owner. Some added the fact that the cartoon suggests that Mr. Obama should be or would be assassinated. Some urged a boycott of the New York Post and the companies that will continue to advertise in it without voicing some kind of outrage.
Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton described the cartoon as troubling given the history of racist attacks on the black people as being synonymous with monkeys. T-shirts portraying Obama as the children’s book character Curious George, a monkey, made occasional appearances among audience members at Republican rallies during last year’s election campaign, and a similar stuffed doll continues to be advertised online.
However, Col Allan, editor-in-chief of the Post, defended the work saying, “The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.”
Maybe Mr. Sharpton is doing nothing but looking for more work because issues of racial disparity have shriveled up like the rest of the economy. But if the American people would take a more sensitive approach towards matter of race then we wouldn’t have this problem. Instead, so many people want to excuse even the most disgusting forms of racial insensitivity as just a prank or a joke or a private matter.
In the recent past we’ve seen people come out the woodwork to defend the bounty hunter who refers to his son’s black girlfriend as little more than a gold digging nigger out to take everything the bounty hunter has worked for. We’ve seen people come out to defend Senators who stand in front of campaign rallies who point to the lone black person in crowd and very publicly used a racial slur in reference to the minority to a roar of applause. People defend white students hanging nooses off of school trees as little more than fun loving scamps. People jump to the defense of the talk radio program host who refers to black women as nappy headed ho’s. And people jump out of this same woodwork to defend portrayals of Mr. Obama as a derivative of Curious George because it is nothing more than the nature of the political campaign beast.
And that’s just the recent racial disparity that we tolerate. There are years, decades, even centuries of racial disparity, racial hypocrisy, racial subjugation, racial inequality, racial caricatures, and so much more that constantly portrays black people as the inferior of white people. We’ve gone through entire eras of institutionalized slavery, Jim Crow laws, separate but far from equal, white only conveniences and facilities, and a very long list of etcetera.
Because we as a national collective choose to avoid issues of race we can never meet the challenges of our racial dysfunction that continues to percolate beneath the surface. Black people can deal with a lack of education and employment and the like. For years, black people have dealt with issues of foreclosure and the lack of employment in the black community. But as soon as these conditions hit the broader, racially generic dominant community so thoroughly controlled by white people then we have to have a stimulus package. What’s good enough for the black goose is never good enough for the white gander.
If we were to ever make an honest, concerted effort to confront our racism head on we could perhaps get to a point where people wouldn’t feel so free to wear their racist fueled social impairment on their proverbial sleeves and others would not feel the need to wear a racially charged chip on the shoulder.
Unfortunately, to even make the suggestion that we should take the time to confront this issue as a nation of people with a common goal for a better future is to invite ridicule. Mr. Obama said as much last year when he gave his first speech to distance himself from Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Mr. Obama’s call for racial healing was met with derision from people like ultra conservative Pat Buchanan who responded that black people should be on their knees thanking white people for our perpetual state of racial inequality. And true to form, people from the dominant community defend other people from the dominant community who defend the racial disparity of the status quo.