Black History, Part 5: Biased Concerns

Look at how black celebrities are constantly maligned by the white gentry. “The Great White Hope” came about in 1910 when black prizefighter Jack Johnson [1878-1946] had attained the world’s heavyweight championship, and a campaign was begun to find another white contender willing to fight Johnson, beat him and take back the crown. The previous champ, Jim Jeffries, never wanted to fight Johnson. “I ain’t gonna fight no dinge!” he kept declaring. What’s the matter? Are you scared? Jeffries had already retired undefeated some years before and did not relish giving up his title to a Negro. After all other attempts failed, Jeffries became their last hope, and he eventually agreed. Maybe the $65,000 purse had something to do with his compliance, too. You think? This fight became a symbol of athletic superiority of the races. As it turned out, Jeffries’ fears proved to be warranted, because Johnson did beat him, too, and retained his title. This caused much protest and rioting for weeks after from outraged whites. Then they went after Johnson on a personal level. If they can’t beat him in the ring, they’ll find other ways to get him. His unrelenting penchant for white women (he was even married to several of them) certainly did not help his popularity and acceptance any. They eventually did get him for violating miscegenation laws and the Mann Act.

Hank Aaron, too, was an object of persecution. Did you know that many white baseball fans were very upset when he broke the homerun record in 1973? He received all kinds of threatening hate mail when he was about to do it. “Dear Nigger Henry, You are not going to break this record established by the great Babe Ruth if you can help it…Whites are far more superior than jungle bunnies…My gun is watching your every black move.” Well, if they are so superior and all that, what are they so worried about? The truth is, maybe Babe Ruth wasn’t all that great. He just hadn’t played with or against anybody that was better than he was, namely, the greater black players! One’s worth can only be determined by comparing them to the people they directly work with. If he had been allowed to play with certain blacks, he probably wouldn’t have set any kind of record at all. I believe that the best or greatest of any human endeavor can never be determined, because, theoretically, there is always someone somewhere in the world that is better. The artists and films that win Oscars every year for “best” achievements are chosen only from the five nominees submitted. They are never really “the best,” necessarily. The best performance of the year most likely was never even put up for consideration.

Here is a damned-if-you-do/don’t situation. When a white guy is trying to pick a fight with a black guy, it’s often difficult to avoid the altercation. “Hey, Boy, didn’t I hear you say that Joe Louis can beat any white man that he comes up against?” Now if the other guy answers in the affirmative, those are fighting words. How dare he say such a thing? But if he denies it and says, “No, suh, I never said that at all,” the response is, “So then, are you callin’ me a liar, Boy?” which then gives them cause to fight anyway. The white guy is not going to let the other one off the hook in either case.

Remember what they put Clarence Thomas through before his appointment to the Supreme Court. Even if he was guilty of the sexual harassment charges against him, I doubt very seriously if he is the first and only Justice in history who ever made an inappropriate pass at a woman. So why was Thomas singled out and made an example of at that particular time? No one can convince me that his being black had nothing whatsoever to do with it. They just needed something to discourage his consideration. I have always suspected that Thomas’ appointment is merely a token gesture anyway. It has been reported that he is not given equal influence or has as much importance as any of the others (I can relate to that), and I have even heard him being referred to as Clarence “Uncle” Thomas!

And of course, everything that the Obamas did was subject to close scrutiny and negative criticism by some people. When they came to New York to take in a Broadway show, there were grumblings about their choice of show to see. “Why did they attend that ’black’ show rather than one of the more lily-white ones that are playing?” Well, duh! Because that is the one that they wanted to see! The Obamas took a trip to London and got to meet the Queen, and somebody took a picture of the First Lady with her arms around the Queen’s shoulders, and people complained, “Ach, how dare ’that woman’ touch the Queen!” What they didn’t see or even cared about was that Elizabeth had first put her arms around Michelle! And it turned out that they were talking about shoes at the time, like two girlfriends! Michelle also received flak from people for being photographed wearing a dress that showed off her bare arms. Our current First Lady Melania Trump posed nude for a photo shoot some years ago, but that’s okay, it seems. I hate this hypocritical double standard used when people set out to discredit somebody.

They constantly made offhand racist comments and then tried to feign innocence when they were called on their shit. Like when Republican Congressman, Doug Lamborn from Colorado, said in an interview that having to deal with the President is like “touching a tar baby.” I’m sure he would not have said that about Clinton or Bush. Throughout Obama’s administration he had trouble getting things done because there were those in his employ who just hated and refused to take orders from a black man. So you see, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you achieve in life, if you’re not all-white, there are those who will always try to put you down. When some John McClain supporters would ask me if I was voting for Obama just because he is black, I admitted to them that indeed I was. And then I asked them, ’Isn’t that the very reason why you are not voting for him?’

Then along came the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who was President Obama’s former pastor and who almost hurt Obama’s candidacy because of his association with Wright and the preacher’s public statements that have been deemed to be anti-American and anti-white. The substance of some of his statements was American racism, criticism of our Government and pointing out the hypocrisy displayed in dealing with world terrorism. Again, we don’t like to hear the truth about ourselves. The media critics didn’t seem to mind, however, when the white evangelists (John Hagee and Pat Robertson) who endorsed John McClain’s campaign for President, likened the Catholic Church to the Nazi regime in their thirst for Jewish blood and blaming Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 attacks on America’s tolerance of gay people.

Then after two years in office, some Republicans, headed by Donald Trump and his Tea Party cohorts, were all concerned about Obama’s questionable American citizenship and bringing his actual birth certificate under public scrutiny. I would think that all of that would have been investigated and proven before his campaign and subsequent election. Martin Van Buren’s first language was Dutch. I wonder if anybody questioned his birthright when he ran for President? I wonder, too, if Donald Trump is one of those two-faced “whited sepulchers” that I cited in another post (Color Issues)? He acts as if he likes black people, but does he really?

What it is with those people who just won’t let it go about O.J. Simpson? I somehow doubt that the murders would have been the big deal it was if the victims had not been white. The ones who still think that he’s guilty just can’t accept the fact that a black man got away with murder and did it through our American court system and was able to hire expensive lawyers to defend him. Even if he really did it, that’s only one case. Consider the vast number of white men (and women, too) who have committed murder over the years and were never convicted or even went to trial, the lynchings for sport of blacks and the assassinations of our black civic leaders. Why aren’t these same people as outraged and unrelenting about that? Remember how the police immediately went after O.J. right after the murders occurred, although they didn’t have any real evidence against him, but when Robert Blake’s wife turned up dead, they waited until more than a year before they even considered him a suspect!

Lana Turner admitted years later that she is the one who in 1958 stabbed to death her lover Johnny Stompanato for which she got her teenaged daughter, Cheryl Crane, to take the rap and was acquitted. The killing was pronounced a justifiable homicide on the grounds that the girl was trying to protect her mother from what she believed had been a threat to her life. I suppose the victim’s being a notorious hoodlum must have helped their case. So you see, I’m sure that whites get away with murder more often than blacks do, especially when the victim is black, and even when they‘re not. Of course, it is wrong in any case; I just don’t like the double standard used.

Eddie Murphy did an HBO comedy special some years ago in which he told, what some considered to be, off-color gay jokes that angered some gay media watchdogs. Those guys were always complaining about queers constantly being ignored and unacknowledged in show business, then whenever somebody does include us in their work, they don’t like what’s being said. Well, they can’t have it both ways. Eddie was all dressed in tight-fitting, red leather pants and shirt and was pacing back and forth across the stage while he was talking. I remember him saying at one point, “I know that you faggots out there are lookin’ at my ass. And the reason that I’m moving around so much is because I don’t know exactly where you’re sitting.” I think that’s funny. He made an innocent observation, even if self-indulgent. What’s wrong with that? He wasn’t wrong either, because I certainly was looking at his ass myself!

He also mentioned that “this AIDS thing is some scary shit” (we didn’t know a whole lot about the disease at that time), and he may have made some wisecracks about it. I suppose that some objected to Eddie’s use of the word faggot, and AIDS is much too serious a matter even to joke about. I didn’t mind any of his comments, and I wasn’t in the least offended. But that’s me. Arthur Bell, however, of The Village Voice tried to launch a campaign to put Eddie in worldwide disfavor, instigating a boycott of his movies, TV appearances and recordings. I thought, Chill out, Arthur! Where is your sense of humor? You want to destroy a man’s career just because he called nobody in particular a faggot? White standup comics always say insulting things in their routines. Comedy is based on making fun of somebody. Joan Rivers, for one, used to and others, too, spout disparaging gay humor all the time, so why did Bell single out Eddie as doing something unique and unforgivable? If he is waiting for gay glorification from the mainstream media, I think that he has a long wait.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X were troublemakers, stirring up dissention amongst the races, so they were promptly dispatched. Okay, so Malcolm was killed by other blacks, but I’ll bet you it was some white men who put them up to it. The movement to make King’s birthday a national holiday was met with much objection and resistance. It took 17 years for them finally to okay it and another 13 before it was acknowledged in all 50 states. I’ll bet that they didn’t fight it when Christopher Columbus was up for consideration. And he was not even an American and a slave trader to boot!

Some years ago many whites disliked Rev. Louis Farrakhan (they probably still do), because he “advocates hatred of whites.” Well, I have heard the man speak on several occasions and I have never heard him say that he hates anybody. It’s just that he speaks the truth about white people and they don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to own up to their faults. He’s just like me in that respect—he calls ’em as he sees ’em. I speak the truth about white people, too, but that doesn’t mean that I hate anybody. That’s not the same thing. I can hate what someone is or does but not hate the person. I wish people would listen with an open mind to what the man is saying instead of always twisting his words and projecting their own pre-conceived ideas of what he’s all about.

I thoroughly enjoyed Farrakhan’s address at the Million Man March in 1995. On the day of the March, before Farrakhan had even said anything, our dear President Clinton had publicly badmouthed the man, warning us about his upcoming message of hate and ill-will. That’s right, Bill, prejudice the whole nation against him before he has a chance to state his position (as if Clinton had any right to judge and criticize anybody). His brilliant speech was not like that at all. It wasn’t even about Whitey. If anything, he was telling the men there that we need to get our shit together and stop blaming others for our misfortunes. It was more of a pep talk, in actuality. I found him to be quite articulate, inspiring, spiritual, empowering and educational.

I have, however, changed my initial defense of the man since I learned that he is probably responsible for killing Malcolm X, but not dismissing the notion that he had help and some encouragement from white men. When Malcolm cut himself off from Elijah Muhammad and Islam, he began making disparaging remarks about his former mentor, which Farrakhan, his new protégé, did not take too kindly to, and he had him subsequently disposed of. Ironically and hypocritically, this aforementioned speech of his in 1995 is practically the same things Malcolm preached about just before he was killed. I guess they had a more common philosophy than they both realized at the time.

Another powerful and influential voice that the Powers-That-Be did their best to try to silence was Paul Robeson [1898-1976]. He was a man of many talents: singer, actor, Phi Beta Kappa scholar, athlete, author and political activist. It was the latter that got him into the most trouble. As a much-sought-after performer during the late forties and early fifties, Robeson made several visits to the Soviet Union, where he was constantly revered and adored and where his color was never an issue, as it is here in this country. When there began rumblings about U.S. Communist infiltration and Russia became a potential war enemy, Robeson appealed to all American blacks that they refuse to go to war against Russia, if it ever came to that. He went on to explain that we shouldn’t have any gripe with them, as the Russian people treat us better than our own countryfolk. Of course, this sentiment was interpreted by some that Robeson was unpatriotic and a Communist sympathizer, resulting in his instant ostracism and blacklisting by Joseph McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover and their cohorts.

Despite all of her money, and probably because of it, Oprah Winfrey was sued for slander and forced into a lengthy court settlement when some white, Texas cattle ranchers accused her of ruining their beef business, due to her so-called great influence on the American public. But the thing is, during her show discussion about mad cow disease, Oprah didn’t tell her viewing audience that they should not eat beef ever again, she was speaking for only herself. Since when was sharing a personal dietary decision with someone a trial-worthy crime? If you or I ever announced on nationwide TV that we were giving up chocolate for whatever reason, could the Hershey people, or would they, sue us because of their declining sales? I rather doubt it. Isn’t Oprah entitled to freedom of speech rights like everybody else? The very trial was so bogus, in my opinion. I think that those crackers did it for the publicity and as a possible means to get some money from Oprah (they were suing her for $11 million) and at the same time defame her dignity. “That Negress is too rich and too uppity for our own good. She needs to be put in her place.” Fortunately, since Oprah is so well-loved, even by most whites, ultimately the charges against her were not convicting. Anyway, how can one black woman be any serious threat to the more powerful white men?

Do you think that singer/actor Vanessa Williams’ little indiscretion, revealed in 1984, was the first and only scandal associated with Miss America? Well, check this out. A Miss America contestant in 1923 was tried and acquitted for killing her husband. Miss America 1926 was discovered to be an adulteress, prostitute and alcoholic child abuser, who shared her highballs with her 2-year-old. Miss America 1937 didn’t even serve her term, because the morning after she was crowned, she ran off to parts unknown with her boyfriend. Miss America 1945 (humanitarian Bess Myerson) was once charged with bribery and arrested for shoplifting. Miss America 1976 admitted to being a pothead, Miss Florida 1982 was arrested for drunken driving and Miss Ohio 1982 was charged with shoplifting. All these charges were dropped and all was forgiven.

But it’s the first black Miss America who was forced to give up her crown because she had previously posed nude for a photographer. Now, come on! What was so heinous about that? You know?—any little thing they could find to discredit her. And you know that somebody was on her case the whole time. Vanessa reports that her victory did not sit well at all with the bigoted South and white supremacist organizations, for one thing. She regularly received death threats and was afraid to appear in public crowd settings because of potential snipers being present. She was also criticized for having an opinion of controversial topics. Interviewers would ask her questions and Vanessa would give intelligent, honest answers. When she was asked to give up her crown, she initially intended to sue, but she was warned that they would dig up her entire sordid past and use it against her in court. She decided that it wasn’t worth it and dropped the law suit. So then, I guess that adultery, prostitution, drug and child abuse, felonies and even murder are all okay, as long as you are white and you keep your clothes on while doing them!

While Fantasia Barrino was competing on “American Idol” in 2004 and viewers learned that she was a teenaged unwed mother, she started receiving hate mail and bad press. She was a disgrace and not worthy of representing American values, they complained. I didn’t hear any similar feelings about any of the white contenders in the same situation. Although Fantasia did consider withdrawing from the competition, she decided to ignore all the negative criticism and went on to win that year, by 65 million votes, I might add. So there!

Some years ago while working for the Psychic Friends Network, they gave my girl Dionne Warwick a hard time, making her out to be a crook and embezzler. But even if she were guilty (I happen to believe and accept her explanation of the situation, however), what, no white folks have ever confiscated any money under false pretext?! Hello?! They who are without sin may cast the first stone.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore; Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me; I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door.”–Emma Lazarus

Now the Government is trying to crack down on “illegal aliens,” not wanting them here because “they take our jobs away and eat up our food.” Come on, if someone is able to take somebody else’s job, then that person must not have been doing it well enough or someone else is better suited for it! In this land of so-called free enterprise, a person is supposed to be able to pursue any work endeavor that they desire, aren’t they? They should be glad that our immigrants want to work. Those who lie around idle and take advantage of our Welfare benefits, these same complainers call lazy and shiftless. It’s another case of damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t. Who are they trying to kid? What about our own citizens who take advantage of our Welfare system? I see it as just another exercise in discrimination. Those bureaucrats in Washington need to visit our Statue of Liberty sometime and read the above inscription on the thing. Accepting foreigners is supposed to be what this country stands for. Everybody here, if not born here themselves, has ancestors that came from somewhere else.

Our dear President Trump, however, is taking issue with Ms. Lazurus’ sentiments and desires to ignore or even get rid of the inscription entirely. You see, he doesn’t want any poor, homeless, huddled masses or wretched refuse gracing our shores, especially if they are not white. You will notice that they target only People-of-Color for restriction and deportation—your Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, Caribbean islanders, for the most part, but now Trump has added people of the Muslim faith, in particular, Syrians, to the list. Some are afraid that their intent is to infiltrate in order to take over the country. Maybe they just want to get away from the terrible situation in their homeland. That’s the reason everybody else wants to come here–for a better life. America has always been populated by foreign refugees. This is nothing new. Two of Trump’s three wives are foreigners. I’ll bet he didn’t try to keep them out of the country!

There are some white separatists who want everybody except their immediate family to “go back to where they came from,” not acknowledging the fact that they themselves also came from somewhere else. They don’t even want people here who were here before they were. Senator Rawkins, a character from Finian’s Rainbow, when informed that Finian McLonergan is an Irish immigrant, exclaims, “An immigrant! Damn! My whole family’s been havin’ trouble with immigrants ever since we came to this country!”

Those pooh-pooh naysayers don’t seem to be as restrictive with white Canadians and native Europeans, however. Look how many native Canadians (like, Celine Dion, Michael J. Fox, William Shatner and Alex Trebek) and Australians (like, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Anthony LaPaglia) in the entertainment field are working constantly in this country. Some have won Academy Awards, and they all have gotten rich, taking good jobs away from our own out-of-work actors. Why aren’t they subjected to prohibition and deportation? The Manhattan clinic and hospital where I receive my health care is loaded with exotic physicians. You should see some of the names on the directory. Not a Smith, Jones or Williams in the bunch. I wonder how much trouble they all had getting into the country? I, myself, am seeing a Hungarian doctor and also one from Croatia.

There was a recent news item about a Nigerian immigrant living in New Jersey, being convicted of “fake identity,” when he took the name of a dead man and worked for over 20 years at the same job with a person‘s name other than his own. He was somehow found out and was subsequently indicted for it. I don’t see how the man committed any kind of crime by using the name of someone who does not exist anymore. Welsh singer Arnold George Dorsey took the name of a dead German composer and has lived his career as Engelbert Humperdinck ever since. British actor Jane Seymour did the same thing. I never realized that changing one’s name was a federal offense. Or is it only so when a non-white person does it? Of course, the fact that the guy is an illegal alien does not help his case any. It seems that they will use any excuse to justify their bigotry. It’s more hypocrisy.

Mexico’s former president, Vicente Fox, got into some trouble a few years ago when he commented publicly that “Mexican men and women are willing to do the kind of work that even black people now refuse to do.” Until he was called on the carpet about it, Fox and some of his associates didn’t even realize that what he said was very racist–at least he said that he didn’t know. Just because at one time blacks were forced or compelled to do certain jobs, doesn’t mean that it was what they preferred to do. He should have said that Mexicans will do the work that nobody else wants to do, including white people, or they wouldn’t be trying to get somebody else to do it for them! Fox’s subsequent apology was not for making the comment itself. He was sorry that certain people were offended and took his remark the wrong way. What?! I guess he still doesn’t get it. TV chef Paula Dean does the same thing. A couple of times now she has been publicly reprimanded for making racist comments and gestures. But instead of apologizing for saying what she did, she is only sorry that some people were offended by it.

If you check it, what is now the southwestern United States (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California) used to be Northern Mexico before the white settlers stole the land away from the natives. The Mexicans are not really immigrating, then. They didn’t come from somewhere else. They were already here. Consider some of these place names: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Fe–and all the other “Saint“ names–Mesa, El Paso, Amarillo, the list goes on and on. Do you honestly think that it was the Anglo Americans who gave so many of these major cities Spanish names because they so wanted to honor their dear, beloved neighbors, the Mexicans?

So who are really the “illegal aliens” here? The term itself seems invalid and unfair. It’s merely a matter of a silly, arbitrary border, some of it is actual land and part of it is a river. It’s as if somebody drew a line in the sand and demanded the inhabitants on either side of the line to stay on their side. Actually, the “U.S.” residents can cross the line whenever they want to, but the Mexicanos have to play “Mother May I” to get permission to cross. Is that fair?

I noticed a hypocritical sign at JFK Airport one day when I returned from one of my trips. It reads, “Welcome to New York City. We are so glad to have you here.“ Who, exactly, is “you”? So I suppose if a Mexican person, for example, somehow obtained a passport and entered the country by plane, it would be all right for them to be here. But we can’t have them sneaking in through the back door by crossing an arbitrary land barrier. If that welcome sign applies to anyone who sees it, it shouldn’t make any difference who they are, whence they came or how they arrive.

Why should it be against the law for any person to venture from one country to another without governmental sanction? I don’t like this whole idea of national borders anyway—needing permission to live in, and even to enter and visit, other countries. Why can’t everyone be allowed to come and go and live anywhere they please? It only perpetuates the idea of terrestrial possession, causing groups of people to cherish their territorialism and to feel that they have the right to keep the “undesirables” out. A person like Bill Gates could live anywhere in the world that he wanted to—I mean, he could even buy the whole country, with his money and his being white and all—who would stop him? But a poor Cuban refugee, for example, does not have that privilege.

And how about those ignoramuses that used to get on the TV talk shows imploring us to help them “keep the white race pure”? I doubt very seriously that there are any pure white persons left on earth. If they go back far enough, they’ll be sure to find some black or Indian or some other kind of non-white genes amongst their ancestors. It’s virtually unavoidable. The same can be said of black Americans. All current generations most likely have Caucasian ancestors, if not directly then indirectly. For myself, my great-great-grandmother, on my mother’s side, was a German woman, and because of my relative, Matthew Henson, I even have Eskimo cousins living in the Arctic!

And of course, to let them tell it, it’s all our doing that the races are all mixed up, when they are the ones who always instigated it. The African slaves did not voluntarily come to this country with the express purpose of mating with white Europeans. It wasn’t our men seducing and raping the white women. I have seen signs carried by white protesters that read, “We will not accept mixing of the races.“ But they are the ones doing it! It’s the white men who impregnate black and other women against their will.

Black pioneer filmmaker, Oscar Micheaux, made a film in 1920 called Within Our Gates, and one scene has a Southern, elderly white man invading the home of a young mulatto woman, and he is about to force himself sexually on her, when he recognizes a hereditary birthmark on her body and realizes that it’s his own daughter that he was about to rape! He apparently had done the same thing to the girl’s mother years before. We are not the ones who invented miscegenation. So now they want to forget about the past actions of their forebears and act like they didn’t do anything, in order to reclaim their pure white status. Well, too late, people. The “damage” has already been done. But so what if there is such a purebred white person? Is that supposed to be some great achievement or special honor? What makes their Aryanism, or whatever the fuck they think they are, superior to someone with multi-lineage and mixed genes? I would think that having more would be better to having less. These folks need to get their minds fixed.

[Related articles: Black History, Part 1–Did You Know?; Black History, Part 2–Slavery and Its Aftermath; Black History, Part 3–Racism via Show Business; Black History, Part 4–Criminal Injustice; Color Issues; Some Racial Observations and Assessments; Stereotyping and Profiling, Racial and Otherwise; Walt Disney, a Racist? Who‘d‘ve Thunk It!?]

Some Racial Observations and Assessments

You should be made aware of the fact that People-of-Color are more in a position to know white people and understand them than they are with regard to us. We always have had more opportunity to observe them, just by watching old movies and television or going about our everyday lives. In many cases, from slavery times and even since, blacks have lived and worked in white people’s homes, cooked and cleaned for them, even raised their children. The opposite situation is much more rare, although currently with regular interbreeding and more diversity in most social situations, the color lines have been mostly obliterated. But still, blacks have come to know white people pretty well, and we have come to know just what to expect from them.

Unless they have been told otherwise, my younger readers, say, 30-years-old or less, may not know that the racial situation that they have experienced in their brief lifetime is not the way it has always been. Being born in 1947, I have lived through seven decades and part of one more, and I have been witness to the progress and changes that have occurred in the last 71 years. I can recall how things used to be, compared with how they are today. Until recently, black images in the media were quite unrealistic. And that’s because white people wanted to represent us the way they imagined us to be or the way they wanted everybody to regard us, rather than asking us how we really feel about something or just letting us do it ourselves. (Check out my Black History, Part 3: Racism via Show Business blog.) Then there are still your white “bleeding-heart liberals,” who are so in touch with the black experience and think that they know more about being black than we do. They tell me how I am supposed to feel and how I should respond to certain things, what I ought to object to or find offensive regarding racial matters. And if I don’t behave or react the way they think that I am supposed to, then there must be something wrong with me, that I have an identity problem or something.

I had a friend named Guy Giumento, recently deceased, who was of Italian descent. He was one of those ethnically-liberal know-it-alls, who had the audacity to tell me once that I was out-of-touch with my black culture. I am an artist. My so-called “black culture” is whatever I make it to be. So how can I be out-of-touch with the very thing that I create myself? Is it because I am not into rap and hip-hop? Was that his idea of the only black culture? And anyway, as a poet, I have dabbled in the rap genre from time to time. It’s just not my primary mode of expression, as it might be for some. I don’t know enough black people either, according to Guy. Whenever we got together, I wasn’t with another black person, so it follows that I must not know any, right? His being a major “dinge queen,” I could have accused him of not knowing enough white people, since all of his closest friends and regular acquaintances are black. This is someone who had known me, at the time, for only a couple of months but acted like he knew everything about me, including my entire background and life’s history. I also have 15 years of life experience over him. And he hadn’t even read my blogs, I don’t think.

Guy once took issue with me for wanting to watch an old Shirley Temple movie because he didn’t like the way Hattie McDaniel is depicted in it, and I should be greatly offended as well. I happen to like Hattie. So I should miss out on Shirley’s performance, too, because Guy is ashamed of Ms. McDaniel doing what they paid her to do? My not watching her movies is not going to change anything. What’s done is done. Practically every movie has something objectionable in it. I am totally against guns and killing, and I don’t like excessive drinking and smoking, so I should avoid any film that has those elements anywhere in it? That wouldn’t leave me much to choose from to watch, would it? People like Guy go so far out of their way to be empathetic and P.C., so as not to be deemed racists, but end up being the very thing that they are trying to guard against! Even with their good intentions, it’s very difficult to avoid it. Racism pervades our society like a cancer. There is just no getting around it.

And don’t let any of us aspire to any type of personal achievement or advancement! If we tried to apply ourselves assertively to better ourselves and gain some respect and recognition from our white peers on an equal or superior level, we were often accused of trying to be white ourselves and referred to as “Oreos.” You know, like the cookie—black on the outside and white on the inside. Or if we ride a white person’s coattails as their “yes-person” and respectfully kiss up to them or are considered to be a traitor to racial causes, then we are called “Uncle Toms.” It’s sort of damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t. These terms, by the way, which never apply to a white person doing exactly the same thing, are used by whites (and blacks, too) as putdowns and are meant to deter us from further achievement and shame us back into submission—you know, to stay in our place where we belong. So if I don’t want to be deemed an Oreo/Uncle Tom, then I had better stay out of the white man’s world altogether and not draw attention to myself.

Some white people think that they own and control all aspects of art and education, and if any of us attempt to pursue certain fields of self-expression, we are accused of treading on white man’s territory. They said it about ballet and even opera in the past, when certain talented black artists first dared to make their interests known. According to them, black girls didn’t have the right kind of bodies or feet to become ballerinas, for example. A black person who does not speak in Jive and can actually utter a grammatically-correct, coherent sentence, is “trying to talk white” or is said to be “articulate,“ as if whites have a monopoly on the English language, too, and are the only ones who know how to speak it properly (who don’t, by the way). But then, if a black person does not speak proper English, we get criticized for that, too. Again, it seems that we can’t win either way. So why don’t we just keep our mouths shut and don’t say anything?!

From whom did we blacks learn English in the first place, incidentally? Since the American slaves were illiterate, they had to pick up the new language aurally, by hearing the white folks around them speak it. So if they learned it wrong, the whites have themselves to blame, for not being better teachers and elocutionists. And you know that Southerners and Americans in general are not the best conveyors of the King’s English. But let’s consider for the moment the probability that the way black people talked in the past and as some still do even now may be a conscious intention and not because we didn’t or don’t know any better. I believe that, in most instances, we use broken English, fractured grammar, Jive and mispronunciations of words because we want to. That’s why I do it. My friends and I enjoy mispronouncing certain words and phrases. But people who know us know that we know what it should be and will get the joke. When I am running to catch the elevator before it leaves, I will cry out, ‘Ho’ de do’! Ho’ de do’!’ For “here it is,” it’s ‘Viola!’ “Who is there?” ‘Sest moy’ (for c’est moi).

All linguistic dialects develop because of the desire of a smaller group or community to distinguish themselves from the mainstream majority. They are like private lingoes, to be used by those in-the-know. If you don’t understand an expression I use, then that says something about you, not that I am too ignorant to use words that you can comprehend. My grandparents, my mother’s parents whom I lived with as a youth, were born and raised in the South and often used certain words that I have never heard anyone else use since. My brother and I would be in our beds at night talking and laughing, and Papa would chide us with, “Y’all stop all that ‘sneeglin’ in there and go to sleep!“ Did he mean “sniggering,“ which is another word for “snickering”? When I contradicted something that my grandmother said, she’d tell me, “Boy, don’t you ‘sploot’ my word!“ Although I understood her completely, it was years later when I figured out that she must have meant “dispute.“ Her word for excrement was “boochie.“ Yesterday was “yesdiddy.”

Even my brother Earl made up his own phrases for things. A real unattractive female was referred to as a “bobatchee babe,” he called records made by Caucasian artists “paddy jams,“ and a Gatling machine gun was a “huh-huh” gun, because of the sound they make—”huh-huh-huh-huh-huh…” My sister Debbie’s word for grinning is “cheesing,” inspired by the practice of saying “cheese” when posing for a picture. “Wow, she is really cheesin’ in that photo.” When she encounters a person whose shoes are in need of a shine, she will squeak out, “Kiwi! Kiwi!” referring to the brand of shoe polish. For the person with real big lips: “Check out the ‘soup-coolers’ on that guy!” The meanings of these specialized words, when spoken in context, were always apparent.

Yiddish can be described as Hebrew-German, created and spoken by the German Jews, Ladino is Hebrew-Spanish, while many Hispanic-American cultures speak a type of “Spanglish,” which combines Spanish and English words. Patois is sort of a bastardized French, spoken by native Haitians and other French-influenced islanders. Gullah, an African-based dialect, is spoken by the inhabitants of the islands along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. Pidgin, a mixed form of simplified English, is acceptable when spoken, and one’s Southern drawl is referred to as an accent. In my experience, I have never heard any of these dialects put down as being wrong or subject to ridicule. So why is Ebonics (the new term for so-called Black English) regarded with such disdain by certain people, even blacks? I think it should be given the same respect and sanction as any of the other world dialects.

Actually, all of the various English-based argots spoken in this country, such as hip-hop, valley girl, surfer dude and the rest, fall under the umbrella language of “American,” which distinguishes itself from British English, which is really a different language altogether. We all use many of the same words, they just have different meanings in each place and with each faction. In this current age of computers and Twitter and the like, the new generations of kids have their own lingo, that at times eludes their uninformed parents. When they speak of hash tags, tweeting, twerking and yolo, what in the hell are they talking about? When I got my very first computer and was reading the manual to learn how to operate the thing, the text appeared to be in English—I mean, they were recognizable English words, but I didn’t have a clue to what anything meant. Bytes, loading, ports, run, save, memory, modems and mouses, oh my! What is all of that?! So, even computer technology has its own American language.

Black people have to over-excel just to get normal recognition from some whites. We can’t just be good at something. We have to be better than everyone else. Realizing that, I would think that they would be more trusting and supportive of blacks in prominent positions. A black brain surgeon in a major hospital, for example, must be a very good one or he wouldn’t be there. But with some white people, nothing we do is ever quite good enough for them. For me sometimes, it feels like an exercise in futility. That’s what racism is, with regard to black people. It’s the gradual, every day, constant wearing down of the human spirit. It’s probably no coincidence that blacks are more prone to develop hypertension than whites are. We seem to control our stress levels better, but the daily restraint manifests itself by eventually giving us high blood pressure.

Racism takes many forms, and sometimes it’s so subtle, it eludes even most nonwhites. But I have become more aware of it since I’ve gotten older. One such form I call “subliminal racism.” I’ll give you a few examples. One day I received in the mail a promotional brochure ad from Reader’s Digest for a Live Longer Cookbook, 500 Delicious Recipes for Healthy Living. Now picture this. The full-color ad had big eye-catching claims like, “Eat well, live longer” and “Eat your way to a longer, healthier life.” But for the nine pictures of people purportedly trying out the recipes in the book, who did the advertising staff use as models? There is a photo of a young, white man eating lasagna, a young, white woman eating chocolate mousse, a young, white boy eating fried chicken, a white woman and her daughter holding a big chiffon cake that they had just made, a young, white man and woman eating breakfast, and an elderly, white man and woman having a candlelight dinner (exclusive heterosexism in evidence, too).

It may look to you all very natural and non-threatening on the surface, but to me, it looks like those ad executives only care that straight, white people eat well and live longer, because that seems to be to whom they are trying to appeal. They apparently don’t give a shit about People-of-Color, let alone gays. Not a dark face or limp wrist in the bunch! I mean, don’t black folks eat fried chicken, too?! How about two Asian men having the candlelight dinner together? Or two Latina sapphists eating breakfast? They might even mix them up racially. They don’t all have to be with their own kind either. You know, they could have as well taken the opposite approach. I expect that more people would be offended by their blatant exclusion from their ad campaign than those that would object to being included. I can’t imagine anyone complaining, “How dare they use human diversity as a selling ploy!” Reader’s Digest certainly did not get my business. I don’t want to order anything from a company that has such an apathetic disregard for my very existence.

Some years ago I received, as a gift, a little book of Angel stickers, put out by Dover Publications of New York. It consisted of 32 depictions of angels in various poses, some bearing fruit and flowers, others were choir angels with hymnals. But every one had a Caucasian face, and except for a few male cherubs, all the rest were female! Maybe it was because they were designed by a white woman, but even so, her designs suggest that, like everything else religious, all angels are white, too.

It was also some years ago, when I renewed my ongoing subscription to TV Guide (it used to be one of my favorite publications), that as a special, complimentary gift, I was given a 2004 calendar of Norman Rockwell reproductions. If you are familiar with his work, you know that it totally reeks of Caucasian, heterosexual Americana. I am dismayed that a magazine of such popular appeal and wide circulation would dare, probably out of sheer thoughtlessness, to promote such white racist propaganda, when we all know that American TV-viewing is far from exclusively a white thing. Rockwell, although a good artist, his works are outdated—antiques, if you will—and not at all a true reflection of modern America. Why not a calendar depicting scenes of cultural and ethnic diversity, something that TV Guide’s large number of nonwhite subscribers can relate to? I actually wrote the company with that very suggestion, and not only did I not get a reply from them, they did not discontinue that little gift item. Maybe they didn’t get my letter or chose to ignore it, because they had the nerve actually to send me another one the following year!

Actor George Clooney apparently has more influence with the publication, when he wrote the magazine to protest the constant omission of Afro-Americans on its covers. While Clooney was starring on “ER,” he and his white costars were frequently featured on the cover, but never Eriq LaSalle or Gloria Reuben, who were part of the ensemble cast as well. His research revealed that TV Guide had featured more cartoon characters on its covers than they had blacks. They finally gave in and did start putting blacks on the cover. So I guess I am not famous enough for them to take my complaint seriously.

White people are quick to say that they are not racist. Most are not aware that they are racist by the mere fact that they are white. Some whites don’t mean to be racist or even want to be, but they can’t avoid it. You see, everyone is regarded by the society in which we live, regardless of what we think about ourselves. What I mean by that is every white person is considered superior by each other and Society in general, so if you are white, you will be treated as such, whether personally you think you are superior or not. By the same token, even if I thought that I am superior to everybody else, Society has decided for all of us that I am not. I am black, so I am regarded as all blacks are. It doesn’t matter what I think of myself. That’s what white racism is, and we are all victims of circumstance; it’s the world in which we live. So then all white people are racist because of the society that their forebears have established for the rest of us. When just about everything is created and geared toward white people, it’s easy for them to take most things for granted. They don’t recognize the fact that racism affects everyone.

Some apparently don’t understand what “institutionalized racism” is, or they would know better than to call People-of-Color racists. I, myself, have been labeled a racist whenever I made an observation that had to do with white folks. When one of my Flirtations colleagues called me a racist on stage one night in front of an all-white audience, for no apparent reason, they seemed as horrified as I was. And that’s a real knee-slapper, coming from the major racist in the group. Maybe he contends that it takes one to know one? But he’s wrong about me anyway. I once casually made the remark that white people, generally speaking, will do anything, and Jimmy called me a racist. I tried to explain to him that I was only making an observation based on my life’s experiences. Since I am almost twice his age, he should at least give me the benefit of my worldliness.

The statement I made is true, as I see it. There are certain things that no black person in their right mind would do, but I don’t think there is anything in the world that some white person somewhere won’t try, especially if there is money involved. The most incredible, ridiculous and stupid stunts found in the Guinness Book of World Records were attempted or accomplished by white people. And they will do anything for money! As it is, they already control most of the money in the world, but will go to any lengths to obtain more. Now, does saying that make me a racist? I don’t think so. I just calls ’em as I sees ’em. People find it easier to disagree with me than to try to prove me wrong. And besides, I also make general comments about my own people as well.

I could never seem to convince Jimmy that it is virtually impossible for me to be a racist. Racism is an institution of power and privilege, and black people (and I certainly) don’t have that power or any granted privileges. Only the group who is in control has them, and right now, it’s still the white, heterosexual males. Now, blacks can be prejudiced, discriminatory, opinionated, they can even hate whites and make bigoted remarks, but that still doesn’t make them racists, because they don’t have the power of their convictions. It’s not the same thing at all. When a white person has a discriminatory notion, they usually have the means and the power to carry it out. Jimmy and others like him don’t seem to understand the distinction, or rather, they don’t want to. They would rather point the finger at someone else than take any personal blame themselves.

I don’t condescend or systematically try to keep white people down and prevent them from bettering themselves. Even if I could, I don’t deny them jobs, positions and housing, and I don’t discriminate just because they are white. I am not afforded the normal privileges that all white people automatically enjoy just for being white. Therefore, how can I be a racist? Why am I even defending myself? White people discriminate merely because they can. It’s not at all personal. They don’t even have to know the person. Black people react to white people not because they are white, per se, but because of their treatment toward us. Whites are reluctant to acknowledge that our feelings toward them are most likely a direct result of their racism. If certain blacks fear and distrust white people, there is probably good cause. Think about that. Who did what to whom first?

And they are so quick to cry “anti-Semite,” too. Whenever somebody makes a negative comment about a person who happens to be Jewish, especially if they are a public figure, the press will immediately label them as anti-Semitic. They may not hate all Jews, they just dislike that particular Jewish person in question. What, do Jews think that they all have “decrier’s immunity,” or something, that no one can say anything bad about any of them? I have Jewish friends who don’t like many of their soul brothers and sisters, so does that make them anti-Semitic as well? In addition to Hebrews, your Semites include Arabs, Assyrians, other peoples of southwestern Asia and northern Africa, many of which exhibit antagonistic feelings toward one another. What about them? Are they all “anti-Semitic,” too? That would make them self-loathing, wouldn’t it? By the same token (pun intended), racial bigots will not allow a fellow white to extend the slightest courtesy to a single Jew or Person-of-Color without calling them to their face a “kike-lover” or “nigger-lover.” So their hatred applies to everyone, regardless of who they are.

While we are on the subject, I am reminded of another case of cluelessness by the character played by Dorothy McGuire in 1947’s Gentlemen’s Agreement (which won Best Picture that year). Gregory Peck plays a journalist who, so that he can write a piece about anti-Semitism, pretends to be Jewish in order to do first-hand research. Word soon got around, I guess, because one day Peck’s young son (the adorable Dean Stockwell) comes in from playing, visibly upset. It seems that some of the neighborhood children called Tommy a “dirty Jew boy“ and “stinking kike.” So Dorothy, Gregory’s girlfriend who knows about his charade, in trying to console the child, tells him, “Don’t fret, honey. It’s not true. You’re no more Jewish than I am.” Oh, well, then. Of course, Gregory and I both clutched our pearls in disbelief. The bitch doesn’t get it, does she? The boy is not upset because he is a “Jew.” It’s because of how his playmates are treating him. She’s excusing his harassers because they don’t know the truth. But whether he and his dad are really Jewish or not is not the point, is it? It’s all about other people’s perceptions. During the course of his experiment, Gregory finds out further that his beloved fiancée isn’t as liberal and unprejudiced as he had believed her to be. But she eventually gets the message and comes around.

Many whites think that if they don’t purposely discriminate against People-of-Color or commit acts of aggression towards us, then they are not racist. But racism isn’t just about willful aggression. I say that even if one just sits by complacently and doesn’t actively do something to change the way things are, then they are part of the problem. There are too many well-meaning white people in denial. They have to acknowledge that there is a racism problem before they can start to do anything about it. Racism is not a completely hopeless situation. The problem can be solved with proper education. Just as racism is taught, it can be untaught. The concept of white supremacy is, of course, a myth. But everybody in the world, People-of-Color as well as Caucasian people, have to stop believing it. As long as anybody thinks that white people are superior to anyone, in terms of their skin color, there is going to be racism.

In order to cure racism, we need to take action. It’s too easy just to sit back and remain apathetic. Protest when someone does a discriminatory act. Call people on it when they make an obviously racist remark or ethnic slur in public. Non-protest or no comment at all can be construed that you must agree with what is being said or done. So then you are no better than the person who made the actual comment or deed. This is when peer pressure really comes into play, like in the Old South when certain attitudes and injustices towards blacks were tolerated by all of the whites in the community. Even those who thought that some of their actions were wrong, went along with the program so as not to be deemed race traitors, sympathizers, “nigger-lovers” and the like. There were those who would never actively participate in the lynching of a black person, for instance, and found the very practice to be abhorrent, but they also did not do anything to stop it. They might even come out to witness the event. So, those co-dependents who aid and abet and allow the situation to continue are just as guilty as the active aggressors. These same charges, attitudes and solutions can also be applied to matters homosexual.

Of course, the whites could help the situation if they really wanted to. But most don’t want to give up what they have in order to favor the rest of us. It’s sort of the attitude of looking out for Number One—you know, I-got-mine-and-I-can’t-be-too-concerned-about-whether-you-have-yours-or-not. And let’s face it, how many white people would honestly prefer our situations to be reversed, if black men were the rulers and controllers of the world and white people were the downtrodden and disrespected? They don’t want to trade places with us, and who can blame them? They already whine and complain as it is, merely because they have to share earthly space with us, these so-called Aryan groups promoting “White Power” as one of their causes. Now how stupid is that? How much more power do they want?! They already control everything and the country at large. Or did, anyway. But why should any one race or subculture be in charge of everything? The way to go is for no racial group to be better than any other, but where everyone is judged as an individual.

I hope that none of you are naïve enough not to be aware that there is also a definite media bias in this country. With white men running all the major newspapers and magazine publications as well as the major television networks, racism and white supremacist attitudes can easily be instigated and perpetuated. The power that they have is telling the public what they want us to know, and it is unfortunate that most of you tend to believe everything they tell us. If it’s in print or on the TV evening news, then it must be true. I hope you have come to know that that certainly is not the case. With the current Administration, the phrase, “fake news” has cropped up on the airwaves, but it’s nothing new. There has always been accounts of fake news, they just never acknowledged it as such.

But even if they don’t outright lie, they can modify the truth or leave out pertinent information. One tactic used is dwelling upon the negative when it comes to People-of-Color. Why do we only hear about the terrible things that black people do? There are always pictures of black men, and women, being arrested and lead away to jail for something. I hardly ever see blacks receiving some kind of special achievement award or for meritorious service. We are always doing good things for humankind, too, but the news media will seldom ever tell you so, unless it‘s Oprah Winfrey or somebody very famous or on some recognition show like the “NAACP Image Awards.”

When they report statistics, they will tell you, for example, that 20% of black students don’t finish high school. But then that would mean that 80% of them do and even go on to college, but they don’t say that. See what I mean? They tend to emphasize the negative minority information rather than the positive majority. That way it helps to discredit whole groups of people, even though it’s only a small number that’s doing anything wrong. So what happens is, we’re left thinking that the reason they don’t report good stories about black people is because there is nothing good to report. I have even had white friends declare to me that most of the crime in this country is committed by black people, their findings being based on media reports. I would ask them, ‘If that is really the case, why do you think that is? Who is behind it?’ Why are there more criminal convictions for poor and uneducated blacks? They can’t be the ones committing all of the crime in this country! They don’t have the means or the know-how for the really big ones, like corporate embezzlement, extortion, insider trading and hired hits. You must consider who is doing the convicting and the reporting. What kind of verdicts, for instance, do you expect from all-white male juries, especially in the South and when People-of-Color are on trial?

And it’s not just men either. The fastest-growing segment of prison admissions is comprised of women, and black and Latina women at that. In fact, women-of-color are six times more likely to go to prison than white women. Immediately after the end of the Civil War, overnight prisons became the new slave quarters and black women were not exempt. Once convicted, they were sent to crumbling, filthy jails and forced to work, just like men. If they were taught anything, it was domesticity so that they could be paroled into jobs as maids, with little hope of advancing or bettering themselves. If a white woman was convicted of a morality-based crime—promiscuity or alcohol abuse, for example—she went to jail to be punished and reformed. Black women were rarely convicted of morality-based crimes because many whites looked upon any immoral behavior as natural to Afro-Americans.

Although many women are incarcerated for killing abusive husbands and boyfriends in self-defense or performing illegal abortions, the vast majority of women in prison are convicted of nonviolent crimes, or “crimes of survival,” such as petty theft and prostitution. Then even when they got there, blacks were treated worse than the whites. While black women were often sent to the fields or chain gangs, where they were subject to floggings and rapes, the white women worked at easier jobs inside the prison, in the warden’s house or kitchen. According to a recent Health and Human Services Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 93% of drug offense convictions in New York State were for blacks and Latinos. Now consider that whites sell and use drugs at the same rate as blacks and Latinos, yet make up only 5% of drug offenders in prison. If this weren’t a racial issue, then why the disparity?

Incidentally, I dislike the word minority, when it refers to a nonwhite social group. The term, for me, carries a certain racist arrogance with it. It is generally regarded by people to be lesser in content and importance. Minority, by definition, means the smaller in number of two groups constituting a whole. The term can be valid when it is actually referring to the smaller amount of something (as I used it a while ago), but it is used nowadays as a general term to refer to anyone who is not white. “There are more minorities in our country’s prisons…” The phrase “more minorities” is an oxymoron in itself. I heard San Francisco schoolteacher cum mayoral candidate Tom Ammiano once actually say, “90% of the kids in our school system are ethnic minorities.” What? I’m sorry, Tom, but more than 50% of anything is not the minority anymore. Then, too, the other 10% must be white kids, which would make them an “ethnic minority” as well, wouldn’t it? If you mean by minorities, nonwhite youngsters, then say that.

Since the white race is in control of everything, they naturally assume that they must be the only majority as well in all situations, as in “majority rule.” Therefore, everybody else is part of a “minority group,” but never they. That’s more racist propaganda. For instance, how could the American slave population be considered a minority race when there were always at least three times as many blacks as there were whites? I have heard white people criticize black people even today for having so many children all the time. Well, if we are procreating all that much, why are we still in the minority? They are the ones with the unusually large families. There are more Irish- and Italian-Catholic and Mormon families in this country alone, who don’t practice any kind of birth control, than there are black Catholics, for instance.

As a matter of fact (and white people are so reluctant to face this), if one considers the population of the entire world, the Caucasian race is, in actuality, the minority. This was confirmed by a recent radio news report which declared, “The country’s ‘minorities’ actually now make up the majority of people.” Even TV anchorwoman Diane Sawyer reported, “It seems that now minority babies being born outnumber white babies.“ Why don’t they listen to what they are saying? That’s a contradiction in terms then, isn’t it? More of one thing than another is not a minority. If there are more People-of-Color and of mixed heritage in the world than there are pure whites, again then just say that. I know that white people don’t like to hear that, but it’s true.

There is also a certain political buzzphrase that I truly detest. I don’t know who first coined it (it had to have been a white person, though; at least I hope it was), but I wish that everyone who uses it would retire it forever. The phrase is “reverse discrimination” (or “reverse racism”). I think I first heard the term used with regard to the practice of Affirmative Action. When a white person is passed over for a job or position in favor of a person-of-color, they are said to be a victim of reverse discrimination. Now, let me see if I have this right. Apparently, white people have the monopoly on bigotry (like they do everything else). They are the ones who invented it and are the only ones in the world who have the power, or right, to discriminate, okay? So if for any reason, they, in turn, are discriminated against, then it’s reverse discrimination? That is so racist! What’s reverse about it? Discrimination is discrimination, whoever is doing it. It certainly doesn’t need a special designation when it’s directed toward a white person. Even using the term for the particular situation that I cited is invalid, but I have heard it used so often in other situations by people, even by blacks (who should know better), I wonder if they ever stop to think about what they are saying.

Racists have even used the concept of Affirmative Action to justify their bigotry. If a black person aspires to and acquires some position of prominence, they must have gotten there through Affirmative Action. They don’t want to acknowledge that this person could have been the best qualified for the position and worked very hard to get there. A person-of-color gets a scholarship at a prestigious school. Never mind that they are a brilliant A student at the top of their class, they’re only there because of Affirmative Action, you see. That’s what I mean about never being good enough for some people. They will always have some excuse and some means to put us down and negate our true abilities.

But even good ideas can be misused, however. Initially Affirmative Action was a good way to level the playing field—that is, to give everyone an equal chance. It was intended to counteract discrimination in hiring practices, for example. If two people apply for the same job and are absolutely equally qualified but one is white and the other isn’t—add to it that they are wanting to diversify the company which is currently all white—it would behoove them to hire the black guy over the white one, since the white guy with his qualifications could more likely get another job anywhere, while the black one wouldn’t have a chance at all with employers who refuse to hire blacks.

Let’s say now that the two applicants are not equally matched. In fact, the white guy is a great deal more qualified. But the job is given to the less-skilled black guy, just because he is black. That’s when it becomes unfair and racist, an incidence of tokenism. If racism was not a social reality, there would be no need for Affirmative Action, as everyone would excel and succeed on their own merit and abilities rather than being rejected or otherwise receiving special concessions for being a certain ethnicity. Don’t hire me just because I am black, but because I am the best one for the job. I, myself, don’t particularly enjoy being a token, as I have been many times.

I once got a call from a local choral director whom I have worked for many times in the past. His amateur chorus had the opportunity of appearing on a Christmas-themed episode of the CBS news program “48 Hours,” and he asked me to be part of the occasion as a ringer. The pay was fair, so I agreed to do the job. When I got to the taping session, I found that Harold’s young choir was all white, except for me and alto Nicola James, who was also called in for this particular job. The music was simple, traditional carols which they could have easily managed by themselves. They certainly didn’t need us. So why were Nicola and I there at all? Well, this is the visual medium of TV, and it has become PC always to feature at least one person-of-color in all group situations.

It was so obvious to the both of us what the deal was. Nicola told me that Harold had not used her in years for anything, so why was she in such demand now all of a sudden? Wasn’t there anybody else in the City available to do this job? I mean, we both appreciate the work when and wherever we can get it, for whatever reason, and of course, they could have hired someone else less worthy in our stead, but it’s still a case of tokenism just the same. I suspect that some choral contractors even maintain a separate “Black List” of singers that they can consult for these special occasions. I feel justified due to the fact that I am good at what I do, so even if I am hired as a token, that’s better than hiring somebody less competent, just because they’re black.

But what most people don’t realize, or don’t want to, is that the group that Affirmative Action has most benefited is white women. It opened the door for many positions in the corporate world, especially, that were previously denied them. Men, in general, even if they are not white, have always had more opportunities and privileges in life than women ever had. So, you see, Affirmative Action is or was not for just us blacks. White people have used it for their own betterment as well. So there!

Up until January 2009 there had always been a white man in the position of Chief Executive of this country. I even thought that we would have a woman for President before we had a person-of-color. They don’t call it the White House for nothing, you know! But in November 2008 the near-unimaginable happened as a historical occurrence when former Senator Barack Obama was elected President of the United States by a landslide margin. What a courageous and progressive coup for our nation! It looks like we are coming around to achieve true equality between the races. Even if Obama is only half-black, he still qualifies as the first Afro-American to acquire that position. His winning the election has certain social and political implications. For me, the realization is that the groups of white supremacists in this country (the Ku Klux Klan, Skinheads, Neo-Nazis, etc.) apparently don’t wield the power and control that they once had. I don’t expect that any of them voted for Obama, so because John McCain got so many fewer votes must mean that these people are no longer the “Immoral” Majority, and maybe they are dying out or have become enlightened with modern thinking and have come to see the error of their ways.

For whatever reason, enough voters looked beyond Obama’s ethnicity and decided that he was the better man for the job. Of course, there were those who still had their misgivings about him, but I think that he at least did better than the Bush Administration. People were ready for a change. At any rate, Obama’s victory was so inspirational and empowering for young black Americans, as it proves that they, too, can aspire to be anything that they want to be. All they need is the ambition, the confidence, the perseverance and to be properly prepared to do the job at hand. They can no longer blame their failures in life on their color or their gender or even their sexual orientation, but must take personal responsibility for their own shortcomings.

With the prior census taken in 2000, it made me aware of another standard convention that is racist by its mere inclusion. I am talking about the census forms that we all were sent to fill out and all the other forms, documents and surveys out there which ask us to reveal our Race. Why is that important to know? Nowadays the term “race” is becoming more and more vague and indefinite. With so much mixed-breeding occurring, most Americans do not fit into any one race classification. Who is pure Caucasoid, Mongoloid or Negroid anymore? And those are not the only three divisions. With whom do your Hispanic/Latino people affiliate themselves? Most of them consider themselves a separate category, as do Pacific Islanders. With so many people now checking the “Other” box and then having to explain their various ethnic make-ups, what’s the point in even asking? What do they plan to do with that information?

I was sent a Juror Qualification Questionnaire a while ago that asked me to designate my race, with this explanation. “Information on race is sought solely to allow the court system to monitor the juror selection process to ensure that no discrimination is occurring in that process and that jurors are being randomly selected from a fair cross-section of the community.” Pardon me, but if they intend to remain fair and random, wouldn’t their knowing what our race is create the very situation that they claim to be guarding against? Random selection means whoever turns up, regardless of who they are. If their picks turn up more of one ethnic group or race, and they pick some from other groups to even things out, then it’s not random anymore.

When there is an issue of race, even on a seemingly-innocent survey or questionnaire, that makes it, by definition, a racial issue. We are all members of the same race, after all, the human race. And that is what I put down now when they ask that question. What else do they need to know? If we all are supposed to be created equal and liberty and justice is purportedly granted for all, then our individual ethnic delineation should not matter for anything. Our human identity distinguishes us from a robot or a dexterous monkey, perhaps. When I first encounter a person, I regard them as a human being, just like myself. So I deal with them on an individual basis. Their skin color, nationality, physical appearance, station in life and other personal factors are only incidental. I initially treat everyone the same way, that is, with courtesy and respect.

Once during a consumer survey conducted over the telephone, I was being asked about what food brands and products I buy. Then for the demographic questions at the end, the guy on the phone asked me what my racial classification is. I, in turn, asked him why he needed to know that? Why was that important? He explained that it would help them to determine what products were used by what percentage of people, ethnically-speaking. I let him know right then that such a statistical finding was totally pointless and unreliable besides. I always have some kind of pasta in the house. So does that mean I must be Italian? I buy Goya beans on a regular basis, so then am I Puerto-Rican? I also buy Kretchmer’s Wheat Germ, so what racial category does that put me in? There is a black-owned and run soul food restaurant in the Village, called The Pink Teacup, that is patronized by as many white people as there are black. How can any valid statistic be based on what certain people eat and buy? Consumerism is in the public domain. I hope that my objection impressed him enough to effect the necessary change in subsequent surveys, but probably not.

On an episode of the TV sitcom “Gimme a Break,” housekeeper/nanny Nell (Carter)’s boss, the Chief of Police, asked her to prepare a great meal for the Mayor, whom he was trying to shmooze to get him to commission a new squad car, or something, for the department. When the Chief asked Nell what she was serving for dinner, she offered things like shrimp cocktails, cavier, paté foie gras, lobster, filet mignon, you know, real highfalutin haute cuisine. He must have expected Nell to prepare a “soul food” menu for the Mayor, his being black and all, you see, because he asked her, “Do you people like that kind of food?” Nell replied, “Honey, when we can get it, we love it!”

I have a few questions about Whitey. Of course, you can’t answer me directly, but it’s something I would like you to think about. Why are white people, by their own admission, mind you, so afraid of us blacks? We are the ones who should fear the whites. In fact, you whites should be afraid of yourselves! While we were minding our own business, which of us were taken by force from our homeland, brought against our will to a strange country to work (for no pay!) for over 400 years as slaves? Which of us were repeatedly raped, beaten, branded (!) and tortured by our masters and overseers, had our families split up by our children being sold away? Which of us have been hunted down and lynched for sport, have had crosses burned on our lawns, our houses and churches torched and bombed, with us in them? Which of us is more likely to be detained, harassed, beaten up, even murdered by white police officers for no reason or when we are caught in neighborhoods that we should not be in? But they are afraid of us! Who denied whom proper education, employment opportunities and residential choices?

Your Klansmen are white. Your Skinheads and Nazis are white. I don’t know of any Black Supremacist organizations or black vigilante groups anywhere who are anti-white. Besides, black people are not that organized. It’s the whites who are always plotting and scheming in secret. Most of your rapists and other sex offenders are white and usually known by their victims. But it’s the black male strangers that white women fear and avoid and cower to when in our presence. Most of your serial killers and other mass murderers are white, and the reason that they are so successful in their crimes is that people trust them just because they are white. It’s not likely that those same murdered victims would have let me into their house while they were there alone or accepted a ride from me on a deserted road. But see there? They would have been safe with me! With all the terrible things that we have seen whites do to everybody and each other, why are they still trusted so implicitly by most people? They must never lie, and everything that comes out of their mouths is the absolute truth, because you all apparently believe everything that they say.

In the 1990 psycho-thriller Pacific Heights, a young couple, played by Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine, buy a house in San Francisco, fix it up and rent out two of its apartments. When a young, black man (Carl Lumbly) first comes to take one of the apartments, they cautiously but politely dismiss him with a “You must fill out this application, and we need to check out your credit history. We’ll get back to you. We have other people we want to see.” Yeah, right. Someone white, preferably. So then they let psychopathic, nutbutt Michael Keaton just move in without any credentials and no application. He gave them some song-and-dance about his money being tied up in some private trust, and Matthew believes everything he tells him. Even when the bank tells him that they don’t know anything about this guy, he tells them that they are mistaken and incompetent. This charming, white man can’t possibly be a con artist and crook, now can he? It’s that black applicant that they needed to be wary of. They’re the ones who’s always trying to get over on you. Keaton just takes possession of the property and now is protected by tenant’s law. The owners cannot even evict him. Not only do they not receive a single penny from him the whole time he is there, he destroys the property and makes all their lives a living hell besides. When they go to the police to report Keaton’s misconduct, the lieutenant assigned to their case is none other than Lumbly, who they had previously turned down! I love it when he tells them, “I guess now you wish that you had rented to the black guy.” (::Snap!::)

This is a true story. A young, single, black woman moved into an all-white neighborhood of Philadelphia with her two daughters. The very next morning after she had moved into her new house, she found graffiti scrawls of “Get out, Nigger!” and “Go back to where you came from!” on her house and front steps. When she ignored the messages and did not readily comply, a few days later she received a death threat by anonymous letter which warned her to leave or she and her children would suffer the same fate as her black predecessors. The woman did move out then, in fear of her life. Now they didn’t know this woman or anything about her, but when the neighbors were questioned about why they didn’t want this woman in their midst, they replied that they were afraid. Afraid? Afraid of what? That woman had not done anything to any of them. Why aren’t they afraid of their own white neighbors who relinquish hate and make death threats to their other innocent neighbors for no reason? I think that they are directing their fear at the wrong people! They shun the innocent black woman but readily accept the white terrorists who live in their community.

Consider, too, the underlying message of “Go back to where you came from.” Bigoted whites don’t want People-of-Color ever to better themselves or to improve their living conditions, but rather they should all stay in the ghetto slums where they belong. It’s the same objection they have to busing and integrated education. If we are allowed to attend the better schools, we might learn something, and therefore they’ll lose their control over us. Knowledge is power and it fosters pride, self-esteem and confidence.

When Malcolm Little (aka X) was a youngster in elementary school in Lansing, Michigan, he mentioned to his white teacher that he wanted to be a lawyer when he grew up. The teacher told him, “Malcolm, you’re a nigger. That’s an unrealistic goal for you. A nigger could never be a lawyer. Why don’t you think about becoming a carpenter instead? Jesus was a carpenter.” Not that there’s anything wrong with manual labor, but how dare a teacher limit a bright student’s higher aspirations and ambition in life because of their own bigotry. Teachers are supposed to be encouraging and try to instill confidence in their pupils. Fortunately, none of my teachers ever said such discouraging things to me, not that it would have deterred me from my goals. Well, there was that Dr. Winold asshole at I.U. (he wasn‘t even my teacher), who suggested that I should get out of music, but I didn’t pay him any attention either.

And what is this nonsense about blacks lowering property values when they move into predominately-white neighborhoods? Since it is the white landlords and real estate agencies who establish the so-called property values in the first place, they must be the same ones who lower them then. How can we be blamed for that? We don’t make or control the standards and rates. There they go again! The whites move away to avoid the unwanted infiltration, the landlords resell or re-rent the property for a lower amount, I suppose, to make it more affordable for the new tenants. Who told them to lower the price? Then they say that it’s our fault that the property is not worth what it used to be. Why not? It’s the same property. They love to pee on you and try to convince you that it’s water. If a black person can afford to move to an affluent area, then they deserve to live there.

Once upon a time the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem was all-white. Then the blacks starting moving in and took it over, and most of the whites moved away. Now the whites are rediscovering the area and even admire what many black residents have done with the community. They are moving back there in larger numbers, which, I guess, has caused the so-called property value to go back up again, since a large part of the area is now quite “high-rent.” So you see, it’s the whites who influence an area’s property value, not the blacks. Even Bill Clinton occupies offices there. There was a time when white cab drivers would not take a fare to Harlem, as if it were off-limits or something. When I go there now on occasion, I see as many white people on the street as there are blacks!

Maybe white people’s imagined fear stems from their own guilt about how they have always mistreated us. So now that we know better and tend not to take any more shit from them, maybe they are paranoid that we are all out for revenge against them. Haven’t you noticed that people tend to accuse others of the same things that they are guilty of themselves? In my blog, On the Road with Cliff, I tell about some paranoid Cape Town, South Africa residents who felt the need to have stone walls built around their properties in order to keep out the imaginary, non-existent marauding blacks.

White people are distrustful and suspicious of everybody else because they are a deceitful, vindictive, evil race themselves. Yes, I said evil, and I mean that. Consider the history of the white race—the tyranny, the supremacist attitudes, the persecution, the physical and mental cruelty, the disrespect, the genocide, the greed, the craving for power and complete control at all costs that they have displayed for all time. Among other things, this is a people that would make an enforceable law to deny and forbid certain fellow citizens any formal education, a basic right of every human being. If those are not the manifestations of evil, I don’t know what is. It certainly isn’t godly behavior. I am not saying that every white person is guilty of these qualities and actions, but there still are enough who are to this day functioning practitioners.

So since they are always up to no good, they think that everybody else, especially black people, must be too. There have been times and places in history when black people (American slaves, for example) were not allowed to congregate in groups in public. It was feared by the paranoid whites that they would be plotting rebellion and insurrection against them. They even thought (or think) that our churches are merely a private venue for holding anti-white political rallies, which may be one reason why Southern black churches were (and still are) targeted for torching and bomb demolition. They think this way because their own church services are often, in actuality, Klan meetings. So we must doing the same thing that they are doing, right? You know, get us all before we get them. I often wonder how many whites feel any culpability about the actions of their people and how can they live with themselves?

If a black person does exercise any form of aggression toward a white person, it is most often only a defense tactic. Why is it that the majority of white people can get away with murder, literally, commit every manner of dastardly deed known to Human and still retain their general reputation as fine, upstanding citizens. But let a few People-of-Color do something socially-objectionable, and the entire race gets discredited. A white woman gets mugged by a black youth. Now she regards every young black man that she encounters with suspicion and fear. If that one boy will do that to her, then they all must be like that, right? Most black people, I included, have more reason to distrust most white people, but we don’t.

Some white people think that they can do anything to us that they damned well please, but we had better not dare stand up for ourselves or fight back, because we are always made out to be the aggressors and bad guys. They seem to want to forget that, whatever it is they think we are doing to them, they did it to us first, so whatever we do to them is, therefore, only retaliation. Okay, two wrongs don’t make a right, but are we supposed to keep on letting white people walk all over us and strip us of our dignity and self-respect every chance they get, while we always just turn the other cheek and “stay in our place”?

Now before you get all riled up and bent out of shape, of course I am speaking in gross generalities. I certainly don’t believe that all white people are evil. There are many good ones in the world. Some of my best friends are of the Caucasian persuasion. The point I am trying to make is that by the same token, all black people are not what some think we are either. There is good and bad in everybody, and it is not fair to condemn an entire race for the actions of a few. The claims and assessments that I make about white people are not untrue or inaccurate, however. They just don’t apply to everybody.

I realize that this may be another ethnic generalization, but have you ever noticed that certain Asian cultures, the Japanese, in particular, seem to have a studied fascination with suicide? They just love killing themselves, don’t they?! They can’t stand to be embarrassed or dishonored, or as they put it, “to lose face,” for when that happens, the only self-respecting thing to do then is to off themself. If I had to kill myself for losing face, I would have been dead a long time ago, and many times, besides! I mean, what kind of cultural society would invent ritual methods of suicide, like hara-kiri (or seppuku) and kamikaze missions and consider them to be honorable?

The Japanese troops stationed on Okinawa in 1945 all committed suicide when they were forced to surrender at the end of World War II. Much, if not all, of their kabuki theater ends with somebody killing themself. They use any excuse. In Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Sessue Hayakawa is the commander of a Japanese prison camp, who orders his captives to build a bridge with a certain deadline attached. He tells Alec Guinness in one scene, “If the bridge is not ready on time, I will have to kill myself.“ Hunh?! Why?

In Sayonara (1957) when Red Buttons is forbidden to take his Japanese wife, played by Miyoshi Umeki, back to the States with him, they opt to kill themselves (I’m sure it was her idea) to keep from being separated, just before the edict is changed, in their favor, I might add. If only they had waited just one more day! And then, too, how do they know that they will remain together after death? Maybe we don’t have a choice in the matter. It’s true that in life we always have a choice, but I don’t know if we have the same concession in death. Do we get to decide our fate, where we go or what happens to our consciousness when we die? (Check out my article on Heaven and Hell.) Cho-Cho-San (aka “Madam Butterfly”) does herself in (by hara-kiri, no less!) just because she is jilted by her lover. So just get over the guy and get on with your life! Next! Never mind that she has a young son to raise, she just cannot bear the shame of desertion.

Chinese slave girl Liu kills herself near the end of Turandot to keep from revealing her prince boyfriend’s name before the next dawn. Why would she have to reveal the real name? Stall for time, make up something! “Uh, his name is…Herkimer!” We are supposed to consider her self-sacrifice as an act of love. But what good does that do her dead? Tamate, a female character in Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures, kills herself, as does “Miss Saigon” in her show, too, which is a sort of reworking of Madama Butterfly, but set in Vietnam.

In all these cases, I consider their suicidal actions to be very courageous but their reasons for doing so are quite cowardly, in my opinion. It was explained in Shogun that the Japanese deem death to be merely another phase of life, so when they die it’s not all over for them but just another journey to whatever. So with them, death is not the ultimate end-all as many others consider it to be. I rather agree with that sentiment, although I don’t intend to rush the process along by killing myself.

Have you ever noticed, watching period Japanese films (Sayonara, Shogun, etc.), that all their dwellings were made with sliding doors with no locks on them? They seemed to be more trusting of each other and respected each other’s privacy more than how it is most everywhere else. In addition, the walls and doors of their houses are made of thin paper and held together with glue, no nails at all are used, easily penetrable. They must not be worried about break-ins, burglaries or unwanted intrusions. Of course, there is not much to steal, as I can see. The homes are sparsely furnished. There are no chairs, sofas or tables, as everyone kneels, sits, lies and eats on the floor. Although I have not had the privilege of visiting an actual Japanese home, I would expect their domiciles of the present day to reflect modern times. I did see a Japanese film from 1959, and the houses looked rather similar. They still had the sliding doors and no furniture that I could see. I expect now, however, with the technology of home computers and audio and visual equipment, for example, and the fact that they manufacture a lot of things themselves, they must own and use all those items. But in those period pieces of the past they appeared to live more simply and with a modicum of material possessions. The men, however, kept swords and knives on their person at all times, so I guess they were not so lax and confident about their personal safety.

And there is another mystery about white people that is loaded with more hypocrisy, and that is the contradictory attitude that they display toward people whom they claim not to like. What I mean is that they seem to want to have it both ways, whichever is more convenient for them. They adamantly maintain their racist views and hate feelings toward certain people, while at the same time using these same people for whatever they can get from them. Women, too, are treated much in the same way by misogynistic males.

Fortunately, it’s not as bad now as it once was. Whites didn’t mind a black person serving as their personal maid, cook or chauffeur, but they didn’t want this person’s family to occupy a house in the very neighborhood that they were employed. A white couple would let a black woman care for and raise their children, but this woman’s own children were not allowed to play with or attend the same school as the children she was caring for!

Similarly, restaurants in the South (and other regions, too, I would assume) would hire blacks to work in the kitchen, washing dishes, sweeping the floors and such, but they couldn’t be servers and they wouldn’t let them eat there as customers. But conversely, they would let blacks shop at their stores, and while they don’t mind taking their money, they wouldn’t think of hiring them to work there. Blacks shopping in clothing stores also were not allowed to try on merchandise. If they did not purchase the item after trying it on, it was assumed that no white person would buy it either. But how would they even know, unless they were told? Would the shop owners and clerks deliberately jeopardize a potential sale? But maybe so. “Uh, you don’t want to buy those shoes, ma’am. A nigger tried them on last week.“ At some exclusive country clubs they would not hire blacks at all, for even the most menial of jobs. See how unreasonably fickle and confused white people are? There is no rhyme or reason to their duplicity.

“Please ride the city buses, y’all. We need your patronage. But, I’m sorry, you must sit in the back.” But not only that. The lawful procedure for a black person was to board at the front of the bus, pay their fare, then get off again and re-board through the rear door! Now, how stupid is that? They’re already on the bus, what’s wrong with proceeding to the back from there? Not being able to sit where they want to on the bus was not degrading enough in itself. They had to impose the other inconvenience and indignity for added control and humiliation. There were occasions when bus drivers would drive away before the riders could re-board.

Ironically, it was the southern blacks themselves who turned things around with their year-long Montgomery bus boycott in 1955. Apparently, the larger percentage of people who rode the bus were blacks, and as a result of the boycott, the bus companies practically went bankrupt. In practically any and every situation, it is always about money in some way. If you want action taken, go for their wallet or pocketbook. It was only then that the Supreme Court declared that public transit segregation was unconstitutional. Oh, really? They only just then decided that.

“Sure, blacks are allowed in my movie theater, but you realize, don’t you, that they have to sit in the ‘peanut gallery’?” That’s the balcony—so named because it is reserved for “monkeys.” Another name for the uppermost rear balcony of theaters was “nigger heaven.” (This phrase also became a metaphorical epithet for Harlem in the ‘20s.) Yes, we surely can’t have “them” mingling with your good white folks. It’s evident exploitation and dignity degradation. “Whatever you can do for me to make my life a little easier, I’m all for it, but I still think that you are a subhuman, insignificant being who deserves no respect or compassion. Always remember that I am your superior. Just do what I tell you to, keep your mouth shut and stay in your place.” “Yassah, Boss!”

Another prime example of white racist restrictive control was the separate waiting rooms, restrooms and drinking fountains for blacks and whites in the South. Now I ask you, what in the hell was that all about?! Does that make any kind of rational sense to you? “Of course, you can have some water, uncle. You just cannot get it from the same spigot that I get mine from.” There is a scene in the TV-movie The Rosa Parks Story (2002) in which Rosa (as a little girl) and some of her young friends were in a park where there were two drinking fountains, one for Whites and the other for Coloreds. One of the little black boys was wondering if the water from the white fountain was any different from the colored one. So he switched the “Whites Only-Colored Only” signs then proceeded to drink from the other fountain. He couldn’t discern any difference. Just then an old white man happens along with his German shepherd, stops and takes a drink from the fountain he thinks is the “White” one, then lets his dog take a drink from the “Colored” one, which we know is really the “White” one! He apparently couldn’t tell any difference either. The kids stood there appalled, amused and confused.

In her autobiography Dionne Warwick tells about when she was traveling in South Carolina somewhere in 1963 and encountered a two-sided drinking fountain which displayed “white” and “colored” signs on it. As Dionne bent to take a drink from the “colored” side, a white woman was bending to take a drink from her side, and their heads bumped. Dionne laughed, but the other woman just glared and harrumphed. Dionne then told the woman, “I see that there is one pipe bringing the water to both sides of this fountain, so I hope you realize that we are drinking the same water.” The woman turned red and almost choked. I guess that fact hadn’t occurred to her after all. It did strike Dionne, however, of how stupid the whole thing was. “I realize, too, that you people have to relieve yourselves occasionally. But please do your business in a facility other than the ones that we have to use ourselves.”

Black performers who toured in the South during the ‘50s and ‘60s have reported about the trouble they had finding permitted lodging when they were on the road. They would sometimes have to travel as much as 200 miles out of their way to find a place that would accept Colored. And then it was usually very substandard. Thirties blues singer Bessie Smith was in a car crash in Memphis, Tennessee and died on the way to a second hospital miles away because the first, closer one she was taken to would not admit her. It was a “White” hospital, you see. Moms Mabley used to tell a joke about when she was driving her car in the South, and a cop pulls her over and cites her for going through a red light. In her defense she tells the cop, “Well, I saw all those white folks going on the green light, so I thought that the red light was for us!”

Singer Nina Simone tells that she was turned down when she auditioned for the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She was good enough for Julliard but not for Curtis, apparently. Nina suspected that it was simply a matter of racial discrimination. Well, somebody years later had a change of heart. Just days before Nina died in 2003, she learned that she would be receiving an honorary degree from Curtis. Oh, now she’s worthy! What is she supposed to do with it now? She’s dead!

When composer/educator William Dawson graduated from the Horner Institute of Fine Arts in Kansas City in 1926, he was not allowed to sit with his fellow graduates or receive his diploma in person. He and the other blacks in attendance were relegated to a little cramped balcony for the graduation exercises. He was presented his diploma the next day, in private. Dawson was not even allowed to attend the regular classes at Horner with the white students, so instead the faculty agreed to tutor him privately and after regular school hours, a situation that, ironically, permitted him a one-on-one educational experience, probably better than what the white students got. So, sometimes when they think they are punishing or disrespecting us, they are actually inadvertently doing us a favor!

Their senseless bigotry extends even unto death. “I’m sorry, but you can’t bury that boy here in the White cemetery!” What, segregated graveyards, too? Is there no end to the inanity? I guess they think that black bodies, even when dead, will somehow contaminate or taint in some way the dead, rotting corpses of the good, white folks buried in the same immediate acreage of ground. Can they stop?! There is no sensible reason for any of that. What difference does it make where anybody sits or shits or which water they drink or what plot of dirt they are buried in? It’s all the same. But by enforcing a restriction on certain people and situations, they just want to give a constant reminder that they are “The Boss” and always have to be in complete control of everything. White people can go anywhere they want, sit where they please, do whatever is their option, but the rest of us didn’t, and in some instances still don’t, have the same privilege. They want to decide what is, and we all have to abide by their wishes.

The Afro-Americans of this generation and the last take so much for granted. They don’t realize that the rights and freedoms that they normally enjoy on a regular basis, it never occurs to them that things weren’t always that way. I could not imagine not being allowed to use a certain restroom, sit where I want to or take a drink from any water fountain. Well-meaning whites are always trying to convince us blacks to accept the abuses and disrespect afforded us with the hope that things will be better for us someday. But I am pretty sure that they wouldn’t be so patient and lenient if it were they receiving the same kind of mistreatment. Talk is cheap when it does not affect one personally.

Now while it’s always been okay for white men to pursue, flirt with, have sex with, even rape, women-of-color without any admonition from their peers, a black man had better not try anything with any of their women! Harry Belafonte (of course it was he who got blamed) created an outrageous scandal in the South when he allowed Petula Clark to put her hand on his arm while they were singing a duet on TV in the ‘50s. But never mind the casual touching or, God forbid, actual intercourse, there have been black men who were lynched for merely glancing in a white woman’s direction! You see, their concern is that lust is all a black man ever has on his mind, and his constant preoccupation is to make it with a white woman. The reason that they believe this is because that is what is on their own minds!

Except for your extreme separatists, I don’t think that they hate us as much as they think they do. People you hate, you avoid, don’t you? You don’t want to have anything to do with them. You especially don’t put your very life into the hands of people that you claim you don’t like. Would a white woman, in this day and age, dare call her black cook a dumb, nigger bitch and say that she hates her fucking guts, then in the same breath, ask her to prepare a meal especially for her and her guests? That would take some nerve.

(# …If you don’t like my peaches, then why do you shake my tree? Get out of my orchard and let my fruit trees be!… #) I think that it’s something else. It’s the blue-eyed, or rather, green-eyed monster at work. Come on, are they jealous of us, or what?! In addition to trying to look like us and obtain our skin coloring, white folks are always trying to adopt or imitate our fashion trends, our hairstyles, our facial features, our music and dance, even our manner of speech. I have seen more white people wearing dashikis than black Africans. No respectable white woman would have been caught dead with her hair in cornrows until Ms. white child Bo Derek sported the ‘do in the movie “10” (1979). Then everybody (exaggeration) started doing it.

They have always criticized our thick lips. Now it’s all the rage for white women to pump their lips up with chemicals, to make them fuller. Isn’t that right, Angelina Jolie? It seems that “Soup-Coolers R Us” is the cosmetic procedure du jour for a lot of these women. They are now even making their flat asses bigger. They want to be “bootylicious” like their full-figured black girlfriends. They try to talk like us, sing like us (Michael Bolton, for one example, and all these white rappers around today), and they steal all our dances, our music and mock our mannerisms and gestures. Remember Jim Crow?

There is a film called Swing Kids (1993) which depicts World War II-time German teenagers getting down with the Jitterbug and Lindy Hop. Now, who did they learn that from? Even before then, we most likely taught white people the Charleston, too, a very spirited jazz dance. The docudrama film, Black and White (1999) is about well-to-do, white suburban youngsters who are obsessed with hip-hop. They have adopted the dress, the speech and all that is connected with the movement. I mean, I don’t mind. I guess I should be flattered that they like our styles. So then, they should just admit that they like it, and stop trying to undermine us, and allow us to be ourselves, without their constant criticizing and stereotyping.

But what I am about to say now is more than a white stereotype. It is based on years and years of observation and experience. I won’t go so far as to say that white people don’t have any rhythm and that all black folks do, but the two races do seem to feel it differently. Unless they are really good musicians (like the big bands and the Bee Gees, for example), most whites don’t execute syncopated and tricky rhythms as well as blacks do naturally. To me, they always sound stilted and inaccurate or forced—in other words, “white.” When people try to keep “the beat” in common meter by clapping their hands, black people instinctively clap and snap their fingers on beats 2 and 4, while white folks invariably do it on 1 and 3. Are you aware of that? Now, I don’t mean to imply that the 2 and 4 clap is exclusively ours. Good white musicians seem to be able to grasp the concept without much trouble, and even commoners can do it with our prompting, but the 1 and 3 number is strictly a common white thing, and if they are left to their own devices, that is what they will tend to do naturally. I don’t understand why it is, but it’s a human phenomenon that always amazes and amuses me when it happens.

Who is responsible for all the modern weaponry in the world? White men invented firearms and other weapons of war. They created the atomic bomb and the other forms of nuclear and chemical warfare, for what purpose? To use against each other, apparently. In my article, Black History, Part I: Did You Know?, there is a list of inventions by blacks, and you will notice that all the items are useful gadgets and appliances for the good of humankind. There is nary a lethal weapon in the bunch. Black people, in general, are not preoccupied with violence, murder, mayhem and destruction, as whites seem to be. We use them only as defense measures or when we just get desperate and frustrated.

I realize that some will argue that blacks use guns to kill each other, too, but where do they get those guns? Inner city blacks are into drugs, but who do they get the drugs from? It’s not they who control all the drugs and the weapons cartels. In Straight Outta Compton (2015) Ice Cube and his fellow rappers are being interviewed by a panel of press reporters, who are criticizing the guys about the negative messages displayed in their songs. Cube explains that they did not create the urban situation but are only commenting on it, telling it like it is. “You got weapons that come from Russia and cocaine from Colombia. How do they get here? It’s not us. We don’t even have passports.” The racists want to pit us against each other so that we’ll kill ourselves off and save them the trouble. “Get them involved with dangerous drugs and give them weapons, and they will do our job for us.” Then they can just sit back, using their usual passive-aggressive approach, as if they have nothing to do with it and say, “Just look at ’em! See how they are?” What have I said before? The whites create the situation, and the blacks get blamed for the result.

Of course, I still contend that we should all be held responsible for our own actions, but the suppression of proper education is another tactic employed by whites to influence and control the behavior of misinformed, underprivileged blacks. If you are poor and ignorant, you’re going to believe whatever and do what you’re told, because you don’t know any better. They realize that education carries with it a sense of power, morality and self-worth. An educated person cannot so easily be manipulated. So you see, just as I said from the very beginning, no matter what the situation is, everything comes right back to white racism as the crux of all our social problems.

[Related articles: Age Is Just a Number; Black History, Pts. 1-5; Color Issues; Stereotyping and Profiling, Racial and Otherwise; Walt Disney, a Racist?…]

Black History, Part 4: Criminal Injustice

How often do People-of-Color get blamed for something that a white person has done, because they know of and count on people’s willingness to believe the accusation? Remember Charles Stuart, that white guy in Boston who shot and killed his pregnant wife in 1989 and tried to blame it on a black man? Child killer Susan Smith did the same thing in 1994. Back in 1923 the entire black community of Rosewood, Florida was destroyed by white vigilantes, and two years before that in Tulsa, Oklahoma, there was a bloody race riot that lasted several days. Both of those incidents were instigated by a white woman’s accusing an innocent black man of assaulting her.

In the case of Rosewood, Fannie Taylor was a married woman whose secret lover beat the shit out of her one day. She had to tell her husband something when he got home and saw her bruises and injuries, but rather than getting her boyfriend in trouble or admitting her own infidelity, she decided to say that a black man raped and beat her up.  Actually, Fannie did not say that she was raped. The others added the rape part for their own justification.  Of course, he must have raped her.  That was his goal all along, wasn’t it?  That is what we always do. They all seemed so quick to believe such a preposterous accusation.  Black men in that community were terrified to have any kind of interaction with a white woman and wouldn’t dare attempt anything so blatant. But there was this one who was so desperate to get it off, that he would risk his very life in order to accomplish it? 

Another fact that they didn’t consider was that this was a small town, and everybody knew each other, blacks and whites alike.  Fannie didn’t give an actual name of anybody.  She had to have known who it was.  But just saying that he was black was all those “good ol’ boys” needed to get a willing lynch mob together, go into town and burn down the black residents’ houses and their churches and kill any denizens that got in the way.  There was no investigation and no questions asked.  Everybody just believed what they were told.  It was not even about suspects anymore.  Those men were on a free-for-all lynching frenzy.  

It was days after all the killing and destruction was done that the deceitful bitches finally admitted that they had lied.  But even if someone had been guilty, how can they justify going after an entire group of people for the actions of only one?  They are not so quick to punish their own people en masse when one of them does something bad.

In 1931 two white women from Scottsboro, Alabama, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, falsely accused nine black youths of gang-raping them on a moving passenger train! The women were actually runaways who were afraid that they would be arrested for prostitution, is why they made up the story they did. Never mind that the allegations were utterly ridiculous to begin with; there was no evidence whatsoever against the defendants, physical or otherwise, and they had only the girls’ word for it. The “Scottsboro Boys” were tried and convicted nonetheless by an all-white Southern judge and jury, based on perjured testimony and missing or non-existent witnesses. The boys didn’t have a chance. Their defense attorney was an alcoholic, who was drunk throughout the trial, and the prosecutor told the jury, “Guilty or not, let’s get rid of these niggers”! And apparently nobody objected to that statement, and they all complied.

The boys were granted a second trial a year later, and even after Ms. Bates admitted in open court that she had lied and that the boys were innocent, they were still found guilty and sent back to prison. You see, Ruby’s new testimony was coerced by the defense. Well, so what, if it’s true? So I guess it’s not about their guilt or innocence, is it? All succeeding appeals and trials yielded the same result. Finally in 1937 four of the youngest boys were released and the other five remained in prison. When one of these, Haywood Patterson, was brought up for parole before the governor of Alabama, he was told that if he pleaded guilty (to a crime that he did not commit), he could go free. If not, he would have to stay in jail for the rest of his life. He still would not confess and he died 21 years later in prison.

I would never confess to something that I did not do, no matter what the circumstances, because once you confess, you can never take it back. No matter what transpires later, they will always remind everybody, “But he confessed!“ I have found that people tend to believe a lie more readily than they will the truth. And that is because they choose to believe what they want to believe, regardless of what is the real truth.

Also in 1931 wealthy American socialite, Thalia Massie, living in Honolulu, was brutally beaten by her boyfriend and left for dead by the side of the road. Five native Hawaiian youths happened by, found her, and drove her to the nearest hospital where they dropped her off but did not stick around. Later, when her mother demanded to know who assaulted her daughter, instead of the girl naming the real culprit, her abusive boyfriend, she actually accused the very boys who had rescued her and saved her life. And of course, everybody believed her, and the hunt and the subsequent conviction was on for those innocent boys. This true-life incident was the basis of a very good TV-movie called Blood and Orchids (1986), and starred Kris Kristofferson as a local cop on the case and Jane Alexander as Thalia’s bitch of a mother.  Rosewood was also made into a movie in 1997 and The Scottsboro Boys was made into a Broadway musical, no less, presented as a minstrel show!

When 14-year-old Emmett Till left his Chicago home in August 1955 to visit relatives in Money, Mississippi, his mother adamantly warned him, “If you see a white woman coming down the street, you get off the sidewalk and keep your head down. Don’t even look over her way.” Well, not only did cocky, young Emmett not take his mother seriously, he actually dared to defy her warning by catching a white woman’s eye in the local grocery store and then proceeded to whistle at her! The far-from-flattered, vindictive woman, Carolyn Bryant, told her husband what happened, and a couple of days later Roy Bryant and a friend of his showed up at Emmett’s uncle’s house where he was staying, abducted the boy, took him to the woods, beat him to a bloody pulp, shot him in the face, wrapped barbed wire around his neck and dumped his body into the river.

When Emmett’s mother went down to claim her son’s body, she was told that his corpse was in a sealed box that was to remain closed. But at her unrelenting insistence, it was finally opened for her. One can’t blame her for wanting to see her son, but of course, she was shocked at his appearance. The boy’s tongue and right eye were hanging down the side of his face, his nose and ears were missing, and when she peered into the hole on the side of his head, she could see clear through to the other side! For the funeral, it was suggested to Mrs. Till that the coffin should be left closed. But she said, “No! I want it opened, so that everyone can see what they did to my boy. Let them all share in the horror.“

As a mere formality, the two men were eventually brought to trial but were, of course, acquitted by an all-white male jury (hardly his peers). The verdict was met with public outrage all across the country, and the incident is said to have been the catalyst for the civil rights movement in the South. I was only 8-years-old when this happened, but I remember hearing about it on the news.

So, the United States is so upstanding as a nation and sets the standard for moral righteousness for the world, eh? Among our other despicable acts over the years, how could a so-called civilized society accept, condone and allow the lynching of its fellow citizens and consider it sport and entertainment? In the South, especially, the perpetrators of the practice didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. As in the past with other executions, like hangings and death by guillotine, the lynching of blacks became public, social events. They even posted announcements for them in the local newspapers! People turned out in droves to witness them. Some would pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it. Our Congress took years of negotiations before it would even pass a bill outlawing lynching or regarding it as a hate crime. Oh, yes, we’re innocent and malice-free all right! There is an in-depth discussion about the Atlanta Child Murders in my blog, Conspiracy Theory, Part II: The AIDS Epidemic.

Alas, if this were only a thing of the past. A more recent incidence of racial injustice came to media exposure and discussion a whole year after it occurred. It all started in September 2006 in the small Southern burg of Jena, Louisiana, a town of only 3,000 people. Just outside of the high school, which is racially-mixed but predominately-white, stands a shade tree under which the students (the white ones at least) have been known to sit under during recess and other class breaks.

One day at the beginning of the school year, some of the black students at the high school dared to sit under the tree. They didn’t think that they were doing anything wrong. Besides, they had asked permission from the school principal to sit under the tree (which I find to be ridiculous in itself), and he had told them that it was okay. I mean, it’s a public tree; nobody owns it. Well, the very next morning when the kids returned to school, there were three nooses hanging from the branches of said tree. The message was clear. This has been designated a “white” tree, to be used by them and nobody else.

Thus began a chain of events which eventually escalated into international news coverage. The boys who hung the nooses were given a mere slap on the wrist. This was only an innocent “youthful prank,” after all. The blacks staged a protest sit-in under the tree, followed by harassment by the whites. An eventual altercation resulted in one white boy being beaten up by a group of blacks, which was in direct retaliation, mind you (a black classmate had just before been brutally beaten at a white party), and with only the black youths being arrested and charged with attempted murder. The white kid who was beaten claims that the attack was totally unprovoked. Of course, I was not there, but I find it hard to believe that out of all the students in the school, these boys would single out this one to attack, if he is as innocent as he says. He must have done or said something to them. As is always the case, white people can do and say anything to us, but if we respond, we are the ones who get blamed.

The convicted boys remained in jail for twelve months, because their bail was set so high (as much as $90,000 for one of them), that the families could not possibly pay it. Mychal Bell, the first boy to get an eventual trial, was represented by an incompetent, apathetic public defender and was tried by an all-white jury, DA and judge. Bell’s lawyer at least got his charges reduced to “aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.” The deadly weapon in question? The boy’s tennis shoes! My goodness, if articles of clothing can now be deemed as deadly weapons, then we are all breaking the law! How do they let people get away with such absurdities in the name of so-called justice? Not surprisingly, but still unbelievably, Bell was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison! That is what caused the public outrage and media attention. People couldn’t believe that this sort of thing was still going on in 2007, fifty years since the trouble in Little Rock.

Civil rights and racial equality in this country seem to be at a standstill or regression rather than a progressive actuality. A subsequent appeal at least overturned his sentence, but Bell was not released from jail right away. There are still those who don’t even believe that there is a racism problem. When civil rights advocate, the Rev. Al Sharpton, was called down to Jena to see what he could do, certain white townsfolk were trying to blame him for the negative media attention that they received, saying that he had created the problems that they were having in Jena and that before he came, everything was hunky-dory. What?! Can you believe the naïve denial they always use when it suits their purpose?

Another disturbing trend that has stemmed from all this is the rash of other nooses and swastikas appearing all over the country, proliferating the media airwaves, thus indicating that hate and racism are still thriving. Someone hung a noose on the office door of a prominent black professor at Columbia University, and swastikas have been found painted on synagogues and other Jewish institutions. Even burning crosses still turn up now and then on people’s lawns. President Bush (Jr.) was so concerned about the so-called terrorism in foreign countries that have nothing to do with us directly, when he should have been addressing the definite and blatant terrorism that was going on in this country at that very minute, and has been going on for all times.

The Klan is still very much active, the Nazis, Skinheads and other hate groups are still active, and the Bush Administration did not do a damned thing about it. All he cared about was keeping those stupid wars in Afghanistan and Iraq going and gaining control of their oil in order to keep his buddy Dick Cheney and their supporters financially solvent and in the pink. My constant complaint about our country’s Administration is that I wish they would try to get our own house in order before they go meddling in other people’s affairs.

Don’t think, by any means however, that this type of thing happens only in the South. New York City, for one, has always had its share of racial injustice, too. Take the headlines-making case of the so-called “Central Park Jogger,” the 28-year-old white investment banker named Trisha Meili, who was assaulted, beaten and raped while jogging in the Park in April 1989. This time the woman did not even make a specific accusation as to who had attacked her, because she was unconscious and unable to speak for some time. So why were five innocent black teenagers arrested and accused of the crime? Why is it that whenever a white woman gets raped, or even not, the most logical thing to do is to round up a bunch of black youths, as if that is all we do is to go around raping white women?

I don’t know why these particular boys even were singled out, when there are always hundreds of people in the Park at any given time. There was not a shred of evidence to connect the boys with the crime. None of the boys were even near the victim when it happened. But after more than 16 hours of detention, interrogation and intimidation, the boys falsely confessed (big mistake!) and were convicted, on their confessions alone, and sent to prison. Let me reiterate. If you are ever in a similar situation and you are innocent, don’t ever confess your guilt, no matter what they do to you, because once you do, that’s it. That is the only thing anybody will remember and remind you of.

The news media related the story to the public so convincingly that everybody just accepted the fact that they were guilty. They couldn’t say that if it weren’t true, could they? Of course, we now know that it was all made up. There was no truth to any of it, which proves that you shouldn’t believe everything we’re told, even if it is on the TV news. The news anchorpeople report only what somebody tells them to say, and that could be anything. Just because it’s on the news or in print does not make it true. People, including Donald Trump, were even publicly clamoring for the death penalty. But because the boys were under the age of 18, they had to opt for prison time instead. I have never forgiven Trump for being so adamant in his desired determination to see those innocent boys put to death. If you don’t have the real facts about any situation, keep your damned mouth shut!

Then 13 years later, in 2002, forensic DNA led authorities to the real culprit, Matias Reyes, at the time 17, but by then already serving time for rape and murder. He admitted that he had acted alone in the Mieli case. So even before Reyes’ confession, once it was discovered that there was only one attacker–I mean, by that time, Ms. Mieli must have told somebody what really happened–wasn’t that proof that at least four of the boys convicted must be innocent? The five other guys, grown men by this time, were subsequently exonerated and their criminal records expunged.

Interestingly, the boys’ release from prison and the public knowledge that they were innocent all along did not get half the attention or outcry as their conviction had gotten. There was no apology from the courts or police personnel for their gross mistake. They haven’t even admitted that they did anything wrong. But what if those death petitioners had gotten their way and executed the boys before the truth came out? “Oops, sorry” wouldn’t have cut it.

What galls me to no end, though, is how the police and courts can so casually and apathetically convict innocent people on no evidence whatsoever. But then, too, there are guilty ones who get off when everyone is convinced of their guilt. There have been rape-murder cases, for example, in which everyone knows that the guy is guilty; he pretty much even admits it. But his being white, first of all, a celebrity or the son of a prominent public figure, perhaps, the law needs more much proof before they can do anything. In these cases, mere suspicion isn’t enough to prosecute. They don’t want unnecessarily to antagonize somebody important, you see.

Why can’t we all get that same concession? More often than not, once they target a suspect, they stop looking for anyone else or consider any other possible scenario. It’s this laziness of the police department that allows so many crimes to go unsolved. Either they just don’t care enough or they tend to take the easy way out. You got somebody now. Make the case against them. Why should we do any extra work? It was reported that only a couple of days after those “Jogger” boys were arrested, the officers assigned to the case were seen in a bar celebrating that they had solved and closed the case so quickly. “We got ’em. Next!” Yeah, you got somebody, but are they the right ones?

I recently heard a TV news report that a white youth was videotaped by surveillance camera stealing various articles from a church. The reporter said that the video was taken in May, and now it’s August, and the thief has not yet been apprehended. They don’t even know who he is! I’ll bet you that if he had been black, they would have had somebody in custody long before then, even if it wasn’t the right guy!

It was right here in the Howard Beach section of Queens that three black men were harassed, chased and beaten with baseball bats and crowbars (killing one of them), by a mob of local white youths, when their car broke down in the lily-white neighborhood in 1986. Four of the white boys eventually were convicted, but during their trial their team of attorneys tried to turn all the blame to the black victims by digging up their past indiscretions and trying their best to discredit them. What were they doing there anyway? They must have been selling drugs. (They weren’t, of course, but so what if they were? Whites have never dealt drugs in the black ghettos? From whom do they get them, then?) They even, although unsuccessfully, tried to pick an all-white jury, hoping that it would help their case. But thankfully, justice did prevail this time, and the defendants were found guilty and served prison time. But this is New York, where everyone, regardless of their color, should be allowed to go anywhere in the City as they please. We don’t keep white people out of Harlem, for instance.

A large number of Korean immigrants settled in Los Angeles and opened their own businesses in South Central, which is predominately-black, but there always was animosity and resentment between the races. The blacks didn’t like it that the Koreans were making a viable living in their neighborhood, and the Korean store owners mistrusted all blacks, thinking that they were always up to no good and out to get them. Well, if that’s how they feel, why did they go there? Why not open their businesses in their own section, Koreatown, or in the lily-white neighborhoods? After being told that I am not welcome somewhere, I would take my business elsewhere.

One of those Korean store proprietors created some trouble in March 1991, when Soon Ja Du falsely accused 15-year-old Latasha Harkins of trying to steal a container of orange juice. The teen was approaching the counter to pay for the juice, but when she turned her back for a moment, the other woman shot the girl in the back of her head and killed her. She still had the two dollars in her hand. Ms. Du was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, but instead of her having to serve any prison time, the white judge gave her six months probation and fined her $500. That was it. This prompted some civil unrest, along with the subsequent Rodney King case in 1991, when several Los Angeles cops were caught on videotape beating and kicking and tasing Mr. King repeatedly. King, now deceased, was not completely innocent this time, however. He had been drinking quite heavily and was stopped by the officers for speeding. But still to use such excessive force on anybody is unpardonable. When the officers were acquitted of the charges, it resulted in several riots across the country, the one in L.A. lasting for five days!

In February 1999 Amadou Diallo, a 23-year-old Guinean immigrant, was returning to his home in the Bronx when four policemen, who were not in uniform, approached the young man as he passed by them. The cops claimed later that Amadou “matched the description” of a serial rapist that they were pursuing. (Yeah, that old excuse.) Now from Amadou’s viewpoint, he sees four strange white men coming towards him, so, understandably, he starts running up the steps to his apartment building to get away from them. Just then the boy reached into his pocket, probably to retrieve his house keys, and one of the cops yells out, “Gun!” to his partners, and instead of waiting to see what the object actually was (it was his wallet, by the way), those trigger-happy assholes just opened fire on this innocent, unarmed youth and pumped 41 (!) bullets into his body, just in case, I suppose, that the first 40 didn‘t take. Now I ask you, how can those cops’ actions in any way be justified? Even if he had been “The Guy,” he wasn’t raping anybody at that moment, so shouldn’t he at least get a trial to determine his fate? That was out-and-out murder, no doubt about it. But the cops went to trial themselves and were acquitted of all charges. How do these people live with themselves?

TV commentator Tavis Smiley related this story to Katie Couric on her show one day. When he was attending Indiana University in Bloomington (my Alma Mater) in 1983, Tavis’ black friend, Denver Smith, who was a football star and scholar with no criminal record, was gunned down by four white police officers. They shot him in the back 21 times, then tried to tell everybody that it was self-defense, although the young man was unarmed! Can you believe the audacity? He was said to have had some kind of altercation with the cops. So if you talk back to a cop, it follows that you will most likely pay with your life?! Even without knowing the details, I am pretty sure that the so-called altercation was provoked by those cops. As a rule, blacks don’t voluntarily confront white, stoney police officers for the desired pleasure of starting a fight or disagreement with them. As far as I know, the murdering policemen have yet to be convicted of anything.

Aggressive action towards blacks is often the result of mistaken identity. But it seems that white people hardly ever “match the description” of any suspected criminals. Our trouble is, however, since we all look so much alike, you see, we are often mistaken for someone up to no good. But even so, find out who people are first and wait for an actual threat with a weapon before you kill them! I am not the only one who has said this, but we all are pretty sure that if Smith and Diallo had been white, those cops would have not been so quick to blow them away, no questions asked.

I read that the police force in Salt Lake City has gone through an effective retraining program, and as a result, there has not been a single killing by a cop on an innocent civilian in several years. Minimum force is supposed to be used when apprehending somebody anyway. These cops have to learn not to be so quick to shoot somebody before they know what the situation is. Just because that black man “fits the description” of a reported suspect, does not mean that he is The Guy. “He had a gun,” they always claim. Just because he is reaching into his pocket does not mean that he is going for a gun. Wait and see what it is first before you shoot him. If it does turn out to be a gun, although it almost never is, just shoot the weapon out of his hand. That should not be a difficult thing to do. They all have had weapons training. When someone is running away and the cop shoots them several times in the back, they were no immediate threat to the officer at the time, but he will still claim self-defense just the same.

To let the cops tell it, they are never at fault. “I didn’t have a choice,” they will insist. Sure, you did. You could kill them or you could choose not to kill them. By shooting them, you made your choice. If they are running away, shoot them in the knee. They probably will stop running. Or how about equipping cops with tranquilizer darts instead of bullets, like they do with rogue animals? That way they could stop the fleeing suspect without killing them. Then if the suspect later turns out not to be the right person or not guilty of a suspected crime, at least their life will have been spared.

It’s a frightening notion that human error or misconduct is automatically punishable by death. That means that no one is safe. If you are suspected of any wrongdoing, you deserve to die on the spot. “Oh, he was innocent? Well, sorry, then. My bad.” But even if they are guilty, they don’t have to be killed. Whether a person-of-interest is guilty of a crime or not, if they are killed before they are actually arrested or even accused of anything, they are deprived of receiving a fair trial to determine their innocence or guilt.

And only a cop can get away with this type of cold-blooded murder, which I think is totally outrageous. Policemen should be held up to the same moral standards as everybody else. Commonly, when blacks are involved in some kind of crime, whether they are guilty or not, it’s usually a hands-on offense, like physical assault with bare fists or some kind of blade. You whites tend to take the more cowardly, sneaky approach by planting bombs, starting fires, sniping and infecting people with deadly viruses. If you don’t see them in the actual act, then they probably won’t get accused. You have to prove it first, you see. We blacks don’t get the same concession. As you have learned from the previous accounts, they don’t have to see us do something for us to be blamed. A simple accusation, or sometimes even not, is all that is required to get us in trouble with the law. No actual proof is necessary. In another blog, Stereotyping and Profiling, Racial and Otherwise, I relate some of my own horror stories involving the police, that I am fortunate enough still to be here to tell about.

Our next and more recent case of a white man getting away with murder is George Zimmerman, then 29, who, on February 26, 2012, shot and killed a 17-year-old black youth named Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was acquitted on the grounds of self-defense, although Martin himself had no lethal weapons on his person and was not an immediate fatal threat to the other man. Of course, I was not at the trial, so I don’t know everything that was said or addressed, but it seems to me that certain aspects of the case were apparently overlooked or disregarded altogether. The fact that Zimmerman was carrying around a loaded gun should have been a point of discussion. “Oh, he had a permit for the gun.” So does that give him the right to go around shooting innocent people at will? He was supposed merely to be on neighborhood watch, not appointed vigilante.

The boy was minding his business, on his way to and from the local convenience store, and Zimmerman was following him in his car, because he “looked suspicious,” whatever that is supposed to mean. Undoubtedly, there must have been other white people on the same street. Didn’t any of them look “suspicious” as well? Why was Trayvon singled out? I don’t know what all really went down that day, but the two subsequently got into a fight, with Martin possibly getting the upper hand. I don’t know who started it, but I suspect that it was Martin who was actually defending himself from his aggressor.

The defense attorney told the jury, “My client had no other choice but to kill his assailant.“ I can think of several other choices. Since Zimmerman had a car and the boy was on foot, why didn’t he just drive away if he thought his life in such danger? The fight would have been avoided altogether. Zimmerman had been ordered to remain in his car and not to pursue the “suspect.“ So the fact that he did get out of his car would suggest that he approached the boy and provoked the ensuing altercation. If he didn’t have a gun, Zimmerman would had to have found another way to defend himself, wouldn‘t he? The prosecutor did say, “The defendant didn’t shoot Trayvon because he had to. He shot him because he wanted to.”

Self-defense is protecting oneself from an apparent danger or threat. When people take self-defense courses and classes, they are taught how to defend themselves against molesters or attackers using their own bodies and wits. All the martial arts teach the same methods. The instructors don’t give everybody guns and tell them to shoot anyone who crosses you. I would think that actually killing an opponent would be the last resort. Try anything else except that. And, too, if Zimmerman, a grown man, is unable to defend himself against a kid, then why is he the head of the neighborhood watch? And he shouldn’t be packing a rod anyway! Why does a person carry a loaded gun or any weapon, if he doesn’t expect to use it? “Hmm, I’d better take my gun with me tonight. I might need it.“ That suggests premeditation right there!

After the shooting, 44 days passed before Zimmerman was even arrested! And that was only because of the public’s outrage and protest. The police apparently thought that he was completely in the right. Why make a big deal out of nothing? Then it took another 16 months before his trial. I have been arrested immediately for not doing anything. So it’s not all that surprising that he was let off. It seems that some minds were already made up about his innocence, due to their reluctant conviction. They all tried so hard to avoid making this case a racial one, but I and many others are pretty sure that if it had been a white boy, he wouldn’t have been so quick to kill him, let alone scrutinize and harass him in the first place. If it had been a black man killing a white teenager, for any reason, they would be deciding on his punishment (death or life imprisonment) rather than why he did it. Oh, no, race has nothing to do with it whatsoever. How naïve do they take us to be?!

Did the defense team think that a jury of six women would elicit sympathy for poor Trayvon, their being mothers and all? But as it turned out, their being white, too, they empathized more with Zimmerman, having the same fear of blacks that he apparently has. If the man has any kind of conscience, I think he knows what he did was wrong, and that everything that happened is his own fault. I don’t see much of a future for him either. Is he really free now? He’s now publicly despised. He receives constant death threats, and his own parents have said that they think he should stay in hiding for the rest of his life. Who is going to hire him for anything, and who wants to work with him? He has to watch his behavior and actions from here on out, because I doubt if he would be excused if he harms or kills anybody else. He might be better off in prison after all. By the way, if someone is convicted of vehicular manslaughter, don’t they take their license away and forbid them to drive? Zimmerman has proven to be irresponsible with a firearm, so why was he allowed to keep his gun after his acquittal? So I guess some feel that he still hasn’t done anything wrong.

Then there is the more recent case of poor Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black youth from Ferguson, Missouri, who was shot to death by a white police officer. And although the boy was unarmed, he was deemed a physical threat to the cop and therefore had to be dispatched. The case never even made to trial, as a Grand Jury ruled against any wrongdoing on the officer’s behalf. There was no evidence except for the dead boy! No charges were made and the policeman got off scot-free…again!

These trigger-happy cops always use the excuse that they fear for their lives when they are confronted with potential suspects. Well, that is part of the job. Confronting armed criminals is what they do. They always want to blame the common citizens for their actions. You can’t control human behavior. If you don’t like constantly having to put your life on the line, then maybe you shouldn’t be a cop. Find something else to do. Everyone is not cut out to be a police officer. I wouldn’t want to do that. If a person decides that they want to be a trial lawyer, for instance, but find they are unable to speak in public, then maybe they should confine themselves to a clerical position. How can the police forces of major cities gain the public’s trust when it’s the people themselves who fear for their lives on a daily basis? If we are afraid and don’t like cops in general, it’s probably for a good reason. I certainly have my reasons not to trust them.

[Related articles: Black History, Part 1–Did You Know?; Black History, Part 2–Slavery and Its Aftermath; Black History, Part 3–Racism via Show Business; Black History, Part 5–Biased Concerns; Color Issues; Some Racial Observations; Stereotyping and Profiling, Racial and Otherwise; Walt Disney, a Racist? Who‘d‘ve Thunk It!?]

Black History, Part 2: Slavery and Its Aftermath

Let me say right off that I am forever sickened by the historical realization of those many millions of unfortunate human beings who were forced to endure the centuries-long institution of slavery in Europe and America. Of course, slavery itself was nothing new. There were slaves during Greek, Roman and Egyptian times, as well as certain Asian cultures. I have heard news reports that slavery still exists even today in certain parts of the world, and my sympathies lie with all those enslaved as well, but my discussion here deals with the slavery of Negroes. Similar to my feelings about subjected castration for the sake of music art, only much worse, I just can’t fathom how something so utterly and morally wrong could have been perpetuated and tolerated for 422 years (from 1441 to 1863).

It doesn’t even matter now how the whole thing got started or who were originally responsible, although the Portuguese are accredited with being the first European slave traders. I find it totally inexcusable that such a thing would be allowed to occur at all, let alone for that long a time. In my mind there is simply no acceptable justification whatsoever for it, I’m sorry. Forced slavery is the prime epitome of racial supremacy, that any one group of people, by the mere fact of their imagined superiority, would willfully exercise the right to subject another human being to such malicious cruelty and abject indignity.

The sickness of it all was that most of them thought that they were not doing anything wrong. When the Jews were enslaved in Egypt, at least they were regarded as real people. Negroes are not even people, you see. They don’t feel pain or sorrow like good white folks. They’re even too simple-minded to realize what’s being done to them. The irony of that absurd philosophy is that whites, as a race, consider themselves the more intelligent. Well, we blacks certainly know better than to believe such a notion about anybody, so then, who’s the smarter? Of course, the whites knew better, too, in their hearts. They maintained that way of thinking only to justify their actions and allay some of their guilt.

They used religious justification as well. Most Europeans considered themselves Christian, and since the Africans were not and considered to be savage heathens, therefore conducive to subservient status. They seemed not to want to acknowledge the fact that only a few centuries earlier Christians themselves were the victims of persecution and genocide by the polytheists who were the ones in control at the time. The abolitionists were hated and considered criminals, sinners and traitors to the cause. After all, it was God who set up slavery in the first place, and any anti-slavery sentiments were going against God’s will. Yeah, such brilliant minds all right!

The fact that the slaves were always talking and singing about being free and always trying to escape were indications right there that they knew their lot in life was not a normal or natural situation for humans to be in. Actually, it was this feigned underestimation, on white people’s part, of the Negroes’ intelligence that worked in their favor, with regard to their survival and escape attempts. Just because someone is illiterate, it does not negate their intelligence. Reading and writing are learned skills, while thought processes are inherent.

While the whites were under the common impression that slaves were naturally stupid and feeble-minded, as well as deliriously happy with their station in life, therefore did not need to be watched so closely, the slaves would be out in their shacks plotting and planning and even executing their escape from their captors. Even on the slave ships during the Middle Passage, the African captives were trying to communicate in their various tongues to plan some kind of revolt, and the ship’s crewmen accounted their unintelligible discourse to be “that African mumbo jumbo. They don’t have a real language, just a lot of grunts and groans.” As with animal sounds, if you yourself don’t understand it, then it must not mean anything, right?

There was one controversy that had a positive outcome, and that was the Amistad incident of 1839, when the 53 West African abductees on the Spanish schooner, La Amistad, bound for the U.S., actually rebelled against their captors, then were later brought up on charges of multiple murder and insurrection. Oh, so it’s the abducted captives who are the criminals, huh? Can they stop? Amistad means “amity,” by the way—friendly relations between nations. As if! The local New Haven newspaper reported this headline (from the side of the slaves’ culpability): “Massacre at Sea,” while the abolitionist publication, The Emancipator, read, “Freedom Fight at Sea.” So you see, it all goes to biased point of view. Black people had (and still don’t, in most cases) no right to raise their hand to a white person, regardless of the circumstances. They can do anything they want to us, and we are supposed just to stand there and take it; we dare not strike back. The much-honored action of self-defense, constantly utilized by whites, apparently does not apply to us (I can personally attest to that).

In addition, everybody was trying to claim this particular group of blacks as their own property. Queen Isabella II of Spain thought they were hers, as did both the Portuguese and Cuban ship captains, as well as stateside slave traders. But the court (presided over by John Quincy Adams) justifiably ruled that those captives did not belong to anybody, having been obtained and detained illegally, as slave trading had been outlawed by that time. So the captives were subsequently set free and allowed to return to their homelands. This event is effectively realized in Steven Spielberg’s 1997 docudrama Amistad. The leader of the rebellion, Joseph Cinque, is played by Djimon Hounsou and Anthony Hopkins brilliantly portrays J.Q. Adams.

I found it interesting that the subtext of the Planet of the Apes film series (1968-1973) revealed that the futuristic situation on earth of simian domination over humans is the result of a slave revolt. We finally learn in the third film of the series, Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and further explained in the following installment, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), that a worldwide plague had wiped out all the dogs and cats on earth. And due to people’s need for a household pet, they started to adopt chimpanzees to fill that need. Since primates are infinitely more intelligent as well as more dexterous than a mere dog or cat, the chimps were taught to do household chores, even to cook and clean and do the marketing. They soon became responsible for all the required manual labor, and of course, since they were only animals, their owners didn’t have to pay them anything for their constant hard work. One scene even shows some apes being bought and sold on the auction block!

But as the apes evolved mentally, they eventually became aware of their slave status and began to protest. And it was one particular ape that ultimately took a rebellious stand. When he was ordered by his master to do something one day, instead of their usual non-verbal grunts of disapproval, this time the animal uttered a single word that changed everything forever after. He said, “No!” The recent update of the series, beginning with Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), has a different origin story, but there is a resultant simian revolt nonetheless. This story has allegorical significance as well. The fact that novelist Pierre Boulle made apes the protagonists in his story says something, in that black people have always been likened and referred to by some as monkeys or “jungle bunnies.”

I have often wondered how I would have fared during slavery times. Maybe as a product of the condition, I would be a lot different, but knowing how I am, I don’t think I would have made it as a slave myself. As one who regularly defies authority, I can’t see myself submitting to such indignity and humiliation that was afforded a slave. I am that rebellious chimp from the movie. “Fuck you, Massa! You can’t tell me what to do!” I would probably be killed for my haughty audacity and smart mouth. Either that or I would take the Kunta Kinte approach–display initial stubborn defiance, but eventually I would give in. If you want to change my name, I don’t care. What’s in a name anyway? I know who I am. You can call me anything you want, just don’t hit me. I don’t have to like it, but I would learn to assimilate.

I don’t guess I need to tell you about the terrible conditions of slavery and the mistreatment that slaves received. Watch Roots and read Uncle Tom’s Cabin for some of the inside scoop. There is a Slave Museum in Philadelphia (but there are other locales as well) that has on display the instruments of punishment and torture that were used on insubordinate slaves. There are shackles and restraints and muzzles and whips and all sorts of harmful implements. But a more disturbing, to me, aspect of this industry is that, since we know that the whites of that period didn’t do anything that involved any kind of serious work or manual labor, most likely these implements were manufactured, maybe even designed, by other slaves! “Hey, Massa! Try dis new gadget on ‘im. I’ll bet he’ll bayhave den!”

With exception, however, all slaves were not mistreated. There were many slave owners who regarded their slaves as part of the family. They may have inherited them from their parents, perhaps, and maybe were raised by them as well. The house slaves were basically servants who ran the household. They did all the cooking and cleaning and sewing and anything that needed to be done. The only difference was that they were not paid for their services and labors. Otherwise, this wasn’t a bad situation. They had free room and board, and with no formal education, being let free was not an issue with a lot of them. Where would they go and what would they do with their freedom? They were confronted with that very reality when they were eventually set free.

The masters and traders did realize that slavery was wrong, but that is just the way things were, and they were just a product of their time. They didn’t start it. What could they do about it? Well, here’s an idea. They could have ended the slavery aspect of the situation by just paying the people a decent salary. I am sure they wouldn’t have minded the work if they were getting paid and allowed to come and go as they pleased, own land and property and maintain their own families. I have even heard them say (in the movies, of course), “The niggers are just plain lazy. They don’t want to work.” No, they don’t want to work for no pay. If your paid them, that might create some incentive.

The plantation owners had the money. For what they paid the traders for the slaves themselves, they could have used that money to pay the blacks directly. The whites who supported slavery did so to rationalize their own laziness, selfishness and greed. Rich plantation owners thought that if they had to pay people to work for them, it would cost them more to produce their rum, tobacco, cotton and other goods.

This is what I would have told them. ‘Well, if you don’t want to pay anybody, why don’t you and your pampered wives and children get out there in the field and do all that work yourselves? Did you ever consider that?’ It’s just like the idle rich white people, since slavery times, who employ housekeepers and other servants (usually black but not always) to run the household for them, while they sit on their butts all day and never lift a finger to do anything, as if cooking, cleaning and other housework is so beneath them. But at least they are paying them this time.

And some of your modern, hypocritical bigots have the nerve to call black people inherently lazy! How dare they! After 500 years of back-breaking work, I think that we deserve a little rest, don’t you? The English merchants, too, were against the abolition of slavery because they feared financial ruin for the Triangle Trade and the loss of all their profits. What was more, how could they do without their tobacco and rum and their sugary sweets?! Even during the Great Migration after the turn of the 20th century, when many blacks left the South to go North, with the hope of a better life, it distressed the whites greatly to have to fend for themselves for the first time. “Lawsie, mercy, who is going to cook and clean for us and do all this field work?” Figure it out for yourselves, y‘all. It’s no longer our problem. We are out of there!

The common myth held by most whites that the slaves were content with their life’s situation and too servile and stupid to do anything about it was mere wishful thinking on their part. There were always those who resisted, and runaways were a constant common occurrence. This reality was further exemplified by activist Nat Turner’s brief reign of terror in the South. Turner was born a slave in Virginia and was taught to read and write by one of his master’s children. He became fascinated by religion and eventually became a preacher, known as “The Prophet.” In August 1831 Turner managed to organize a band of 75 renegade slaves, and with firearms and courageous determination they went from farm to farm murdering every white person they encountered. They apparently ignored that Bible passage about “Thou shall not kill.” By the time the militia had been called in, Turner’s gang had killed 60 people, hardly a reciprocal amount, in my opinion. Of course, I don’t condone killing by anybody, but I can appreciate their desire finally to take a stand against their oppressors.

Turner and his cohorts all were eventually captured and disposed of, but it sent a message to those Southern whites that the slaves weren’t as complacent and non-threatening as they had once thought. The incident did inspire stricter pro-slavery laws with regard to education and public assembly of blacks, which stayed in effect until the Civil War thirty years later. You know, they even tried to blame that on us, as if they had nothing to do with it. “If it hadn’t been for that ol’ Emancipation Proclamation and the freeing of the slaves, there wouldn’t have been a Civil War. If those blacks had only stayed in their place!” Well, it wasn’t any of us who drew up the Proclamation or even requested it. Lincoln did. How is the resulting War our fault. like we have so much political power and whatever we request in life is willingly given to us without question or protest?

They never want to take responsibility for their own actions. Racism is perpetuated by a carefully-calculated campaign of operation. Let me illustrate for you how the System works. For the most part, whites create the situations, then they blame the rest of us for the negative results of their actions. Remember, on the slave ship in the first episode of Roots (1977), the African captives were shackled together and forced to lie around for weeks, packed like sardines, in the hold of the ship. The white crew members are complaining to the captain, “Boy, they stink something fierce!” Well, they are not allowed to take toilet or bathing breaks for days on end, so what do you expect? Of course, they stink! But it’s not the slaves’ fault that they stink, as if they like to go indefinitely without bathing. If you don’t like the way they smell, then clean them up! But then they wouldn’t have the need to complain.

This is how they justified the slave trade. “We’re doing them all a favor by bringing them to a civilized country where they can learn Christianity and rid themselves of their heathenism. Plus, we have to tame their savageness. They’re all a bunch of cannibals, you know.” Hunh?! Even if that were true, what business is it of theirs? As long as they are not feasting on you, why should you care what or who they eat?

Before the Emancipation Proclamation, Southern Negroes were forbidden by law, on pena la morte, to learn how to read and write, in fact, denied any educational opportunities whatsoever. In spite of the restriction, however, many slaves did learn to read, but had to keep it on the down-low for fear of harmful disciplinary action. So later on, when the freed slaves were trying to establish a new way of life for themselves, like when they wanted to register to vote, those white oppressors berated and ridiculed them with, “How do you expect to vote, you dumb nigger?! Why, you can’t even read!”—again, as if their illiteracy were entirely their own fault.

The TV series “Picket Fences” did a storyline about forced busing and school integration, which I’m sure was a reflection of the Little Rock, Arkansas experience of 1957. The series takes place in Wisconsin, by the way. The opposing whites warned that there would be trouble if they let blacks into the all-white high school. They were right, but the whites were the ones who made all the trouble, demonstrating outside the school, harassing the black students, picking fights and causing riots. Then these same rabble-rousing hate-mongers complained, “See there? I told you that those coloreds would cause trouble if you let them in!”

The institution of racism operates in pretty much the same way even today. White people still do their best to keep our people down, especially if they are poor and uneducated (and even if they’re not), and then will turn right around and criticize us for being in the situation that they themselves have put us in. They don’t want us to have or to accomplish any more than they do and will try to destroy or take away what little we already have.

With the Little Rock incident itself, even before the chosen nine black students attended Central High School for the first time, they were given a briefing by the School Board about their special restrictions, what to expect and what was expected of them. The only thing they were allowed to do, according to the Board, was attend daily classes. They could not participate in any extracurricular activities and clubs, no sports teams, no band or glee club, no drama club, no dances or social events, nothing. “Of course, if these conditions are not agreeable to any of you,” they opted, “You can always stay at your old school.” Yeah, that’s just what you would prefer, isn’t it?

Even the parents of the black kids warned them to keep to themselves and stay away from the white students. So how is it integration if the blacks and whites are not allowed to associate with each other? That’s supposed to be the whole point of the thing. How are they supposed to learn how to get along if they are kept apart? “Well, we had to let them in by court order, but they can’t make us go along with the program.” Laws don’t change people’s closed minds.

Speaking of Roots again, when David Wolper and the other producers were trying to sell the idea to the networks, many of the white, racist executives complained that the project would “glorify” black people. So what’s wrong with that? The miniseries turned out to be only the most-watched, highest-rated event in TV history. And I’ll bet you that those same pooh-pooh naysayers certainly appreciated the monetary profits that those glorified blacks earned for them!

There was one aspect of slave life that their owners could not control or quell, and that is their culture. They managed to retain and pass down many past traditions and customs and created new ones as well. This is reflected in their cuisine, music and dance, among other things. Many, maybe not all, of the spirituals and other folk songs that the slaves made up and sang around the plantations, and that their masters regarded as mere entertainment for them and a sure indication of the slaves’ contentment, were loaded with multiple meanings and coded messages for each other. And like the American Indians, they used the secret language of drums to communicate with one another.

(# …Steal away home; I ain’t got long to stay here. #) That could mean that they are planning to escape when the time is right. (# …He calls me by the thunder… #)—referring to the beckoning drums, perhaps? (# Wade in the water, God is gonna trouble the water… #) This served as an escape instruction to the runaway slaves, that they find a river or some other body of water to throw off their scent to the hound dogs in pursuit. Did you notice that God is “dog” in reverse? Get it?

(# Deep river, my home is over Jordan…that Promised Land where all is peace… #–# …And go home to my Lord and be free. #) Many of their songs made reference to the River Jordan and the Promised Land as Home, which were metaphors for the Northern states and Canada, in this life, or Heaven, in the afterlife. In either case, they symbolized a place where they would at last be free. (# …Git on board, li’l chil’ren, there’s room for plenty-a more… #) That most likely refers to the Underground Railroad “train.”

(# Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home… #) The chariot is a Biblical reference used as another means of conveyance to Heavenly refuge. (# …Follow the Drinking Gourd… #) They even had some comprehension of astronomy and of the constellations. The “Drinking Gourd” is a disguise for the Big Dipper, of which the North Star is a part—to wit, the way to Freedom. Many of the slaves took strongly to the Christian faith. Religion was an important aspect of their lives. It gave them a sense of hope and purpose. They could relate to Jesus as someone else who was mistreated and was made to endure great suffering.

(# There is a Balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole…to heal the sin-sick soul. #) Being not able to read themselves, the slaves must have paid close attention to the Scriptures when they were read to them. The “balm of Gilead” is mentioned only a few times in the Bible. The slaves not only somehow grasped the meaning of this resinous tree extract used as a general medicament, antiseptic and counter-irritant, they actually wrote a song about it! They even made the Old Testament Bible stories that they had learned from their masters into songs, like “Didn‘t My Lord Deliver Daniel?” “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho“ and “Little David, Play on Yo’ Harp,” to name a few. (# …Tell ol‘ Pharaoh to let my people go. #) “Go Down, Moses” is a direct correlation to the account of Israel in Egypt, which apparently did not escape these slaves’ recognition of their own plight. Just substitute the U.S. President for Pharaoh.

Now consider what went into creating all those spirituals. The beautiful, as well as diverse, melodies, the quite-profound lyrics, and usually with a message, including the ability to rhyme and scan, the rhythmic complexities, the well-organized arrangements of the songs, complete with harmonies and chord progressions, and the ensemble of their performance, are a sure indication of the slaves’ talent and musicianship. They even seemed to understand the concepts of form and tonality in the way that certain songs were composed. There were call-and-response ditties and those made up with verses and refrains. Happy, optimistic sentiments were set in major keys and the sadder-themed ones in minor.

Even the seemingly-innocent activity of quilt-making provided another means of relaying secret messages. Among the intricate patterns and designs on their quilts were signs and symbols that pointed directions and indicated who were participants on the Underground Railroad. So while tens of thousands of these “moronic” slaves made their way to Northern freedom, by their own ingenuity, the “superior-minded” white folks didn’t have a clue as to what was going on right under their noses.

Consider, too, the slaves’ creative acumen in terms of material things. As there were no shopping malls or general stores, everything that they needed they had to make themselves–tools, furniture, appliances, wearing apparel, medicinal items, their meals, everything. Who taught them how? Certainly not their masters, who didn’t know much themselves. And they couldn’t consult any instruction manuals to find out how to put something together. They had to figure it out for themselves. So again, who were smarter?

During these times, it was all right for white men to have sex with their black “wenches,” but they were not allowed to marry them, even if they actually loved each other. You know, “You can screw ’em all you want, just don’t get emotionally involved.” Thomas Jefferson apparently had very strong feelings for his young slave mistress, Sally Hemings, since he had seven children by her (by some reports), two of them while they were living in the White House! The relationship began after Jefferson’s wife Martha died and before he became President, and lasted 38 years, until Jefferson’s death in 1826. Although they tried to keep their affair secret, it was pretty much common knowledge, and they did create quite a scandal. After all, they were living together as husband and wife although they were not married. Why didn’t he just say to hell with everybody and marry Sally for real? I mean, he’s the President! He should be able to change the rules, if need be.

He was all adamant about the institution of slavery being a human abomination when he wrote the Declaration of Independence but was vehemently vetoed. It even caused a rift between the Southern and Northern delegates. A scene in 1776 (1972) shows the members of the Continental Congress arguing about the question of slavery. Jefferson is trying to convince the delegation that in order for America to be a free country, all of its citizens have to be free as well. Someone pointed out that Tom himself was a “practitioner,” and Jefferson assured him then that he had resolved to free all his slaves. But when, Tom? Fifty years from now, after you die? Talk is cheap, you fucking hypocrite!

Of course, Jefferson wasn’t the only one. Most of the signers of the Declaration were slave owners. There were those who fought in the Revolutionary War, which was supposed to be about freeing Americans from British tyranny. Then those same fighters turned right around and became tyrants themselves! So now as President, Jefferson had the power at least to propose abolition, like Lincoln did later on, but he never did. He kept his 187 slaves, including Sally and his own children! He didn’t even acknowledge his children with Sally as his own, although they looked just like him. They all instead took the Hemings surname. Now Sally is living in the White House with Jefferson, so who could those kids’ fathers be, any old Tom, excuse me, Dick or Harry that just happened to pass through there? The two oldest were let go when they reached the age of 21, but rather than officially declare them as free, Jefferson recorded them as “runaways.” Sally and her other children were freed only when he died.

Of course, people had to blame all the family’s woes on Sally. She caused the scandal and the disgrace. She, a mere slave, seduced Jefferson and forced him to have sex with her repeatedly, right? Tom was completely innocent of any complicity. He just couldn’t help himself, poor man! Can’t white people ever take responsibility for their actions? In spite of Jefferson’s genius and great accomplishments, I refuse to excuse, justify or forgive his stubborn hypocrisy.

To thicken the plot, Sally was actually Jefferson’s sister-in-law! She was the bastard child of Martha’s father, John Wayles, therefore her own half-sister. With our present-day strict, conservative standards about “family values” and political figures always having to maintain unblemished, personal backgrounds (consider what they put Bill Clinton through when news of his adultery while in office became public), there is no way that Jefferson would even be considered for U.S. President today. Blatant cohabitation with a Negress, no less! Forget that she’s his teenaged sister-in-law. Tom, don’t you even think about running!

Fortunately, we had some passionate, good white men whose concerted efforts to help abolish slavery eventually paid off, among them being Thomas Clarkson, Thomas Garrett, Lord Mansfield, John Newton (who wrote the lyrics to “Amazing Grace,”), Granville Sharp, Josiah Wedgwood and William Wilberforce, as well as religious groups like the Quakers and the Evangelicals. It was English economist Adam Smith who pointed out that it cost more to feed and house a slave than to hire and pay a free man to do the work, and people eventually began to realize that they could afford to do without slavery. Although Britain did abolish the African slave trade in 1807, it didn’t abolish slavery until 1833, and it took another 30 years and a bloody Civil War in this country before we gave it up completely.

How is this for disloyalty and treason? In addition to the African tribal leaders who sold their own people to the marauding slave traders, during the 1830s there were actually free black men in Northern as well as the Southern states, who owned slaves themselves for a time! Not just a few either. According to the 1830 U.S. Census records, 3,775 free blacks owned a total of 12,760 slaves. So what if most of them eventually relinquished their slaves when offered money for them, I think it’s a shame that they would involve themselves with such a thing in the first place.

Some of the reasons they did it were for commercial profit, prestige or to protect their relatives and friends. There were black men who bought their own freedom and then kept their wives and children as slaves, because if they freed them, they could be kidnapped and sold right back into slavery! And some did purchase slaves in order to be able later to free them. I suppose that is commendable. But there was a double standard, however, because no one, white or black, could make other whites be slaves, no matter how poor they were. They could hire whites to work for them, but they had to pay them something.

And don’t think for a moment that New York City, of all places, has always been a slave-free community. At the time of the Revolution there were more enslaved Africans in New York than in any other city, except Charleston, South Carolina. 40% of New York City’s households owned slaves. They accounted for 20% of the population of the City, compared to 6% in Philadelphia and 2% in Boston. Among the City’s landmarks built by enslaved labor, are Battery Park, the first City Hall, the historic Fraunces Tavern (once frequented by George Washington and his cronies; it’s now a museum) and Trinity Church. They also built the Wall along Wall Street and cut the road that became Broadway. In Washington, DC, too, the White House as well as other city structures were built by slave labor, and ironically and hypocritically, the statue that adorns the top of the dome of the Capitol Building and represents Freedom, was cast by a slave!

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Oh, really?! What idealistic hogwash that is! We all are certainly not created equal, but our differences and worth are not divided along racial lines but by individual factors. I know that I am better than a lot of people in many respects, including and especially some whites. But be that as it may. You should know that laws cannot change the way people think, so that’s why 140 years later, although supposedly free, American blacks—and in the South especially—were still struggling for our basic civil rights, which we were already supposed to have, according to the U.S. Constitution. But therein lay much of the problem, because all references to human rights apparently did not apply to People-of-Color, and especially not to blacks, who were considered non-human entities. “A Negro is not a man” was a common sentiment of the day.

Unfortunately, even today (that’s 575 years after the inception of American slavery), there are certain whites who would prefer that we were all still slaves to them. We still don’t get equal respect, and they act like they own us. Although our life’s situation had changed, white people’s opinions and attitudes about us did not. “Just because I don’t own you anymore, you are still the same person (or rather ‘non-person‘) that you were before.“ So even when slavery was abolished in New York in 1827, blacks were not really free. It’s utterly shameful that 100 years after the abolition of slavery in this country, American blacks, living in the South, still were not allowed to vote. The reason was, of course, if black people voted, they would have a say about how their community is run, the whites thus relinquishing some of their power and control of civic matters. Well, duh!

Now that most of us could read and write, they came up with other obstacles to disqualify the blacks from voting. “Recite the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. You do know what a preamble is, don’t you?” When they did that successfully, then he would ask, “How many county judges are there in Alabama?” “67.” “Name them.” They would keep presenting challenges until they eventually stumped them, then would stamp their application form, “Denied.” I’ll bet that no white voter was ever subjected to the same criteria.

(# …First, it’s 40 acres and a mule, then they want to swim in our swimming pool; pretty soon they’ll be wanting to go to school… #) Well, duh! So after slavery was abolished in the South and the whites could not legally own us anymore, it didn’t really end there. They just modified it a little. They came up with a devious, though ingenious, plan that still gave the illusion of slavery without calling it that. President Andrew Johnson had no use for Negroes. When meeting Frederick Douglass for the first time, he refused to shake the man’s hand.

Johnson subsequently established a system of “black codes,” which required blacks to sign special labor contracts. If they refused to sign, they could be arrested, jailed and imposed a steep fine that they could not possibly pay, so they would have to work off their debt, which most never did. Then they went a step further by taking the children of these indentured blacks to care for them and provide a loving, nurturing home for them, you see. But what they would do is train these kids in farming and housekeeping skills and then put them to work…for no pay! So nothing had changed. They still had their slave labor on which to depend.

Their next new plan of action was segregation, by which they could still control us, but from a safe distance, if you will. And although the country had this imposed law of “separate but equal” on the books, which is merely a hypocritical euphemism for segregation, many state administrations did not even honor that principle. The phrase is a bullshit oxymoron anyway. What’s equal about racial discrimination and social ostracism, especially in terms of educational facilities, which, for blacks, were most inadequate?

In some places, not only were black children made to attend school in backwoods rural areas in rundown, uncomfortable classrooms with raggedy, outdated textbooks, they had to walk to get there. Some trekked as many as five miles each way every day, because the white school board would not provide buses for them. The poor little kids would get to school exhausted. There were as many as 30 buses for the white children, but, to let them tell it, they just could not spare a single one for the blacks. You see, by cutting these youths off from the rest of society, denying them basic school supplies and thwarting their transportation besides, it was hoped that they all would get discouraged and perhaps stop going altogether. Many of them did just that. This would in turn prevent them from learning anything and bettering themselves for their future. Furthermore, this situation taught the children that they were not worth any better and should not expect better for their lives. You know, keep them ignorant and blissful and in their place.

Even at this present day things are not yet equal in regard to educational allotments. There are public schools right here in the South Bronx which get only $8,000 a year for supplies and facilities, whereas schools in your better, or whiter, neighborhoods are awarded $18,000. It wasn’t until August 1965 that the Voting Rights Law for all Americans was finally put into effect by President Johnson. Why in hell did it take so long?!

During the 2007 season of “American Idol” they held a telethon one night to raise money for African children’s relief. But one of the appeals was for the poor and uneducated whites of the Appalachian regions of this country. They couldn’t let us have our own thing without them trying to get a little something for themselves as well. They showed adults who can’t read and their youngsters who somehow were unable to attend school for some reason, therefore were ignorant and illiterate. (Awww!) We viewers were implored to donate money to help these PWTs (poor white trash) get educational opportunities and enough to live on. I’m sorry, but in this day and age there is no valid excuse for anyone to be uneducated, especially anybody white. They have all the advantages of the world at their disposal. Why wasn’t there a telethon for those poor, American black children when they were struggling to obtain some learning but were being denied?

The United States military situation was subject to more separatism and inequality in the early days. This is from a U.S. Army War Study report from 1925: “Blacks are mentally inferior, by nature subservient, and cowards in the face of danger. They are, therefore, unfit for combat.” Isn’t it amazing how well they know us? Oh, blacks were allowed to serve all right. There were freed slaves who fought for the Union in the Civil War, but as they were hated and feared by both sides, it became a convenient way to dispose of them in the guise of battle. If any of them were overtaken, the white troops didn’t allow them to surrender or held as prisoners-of-war. They just killed them then and there. By the time the War ended, 40,000 black soldiers had been dispatched. When blacks were drafted to fight in the first World War, they were made to serve together in all-black platoons and regiments, which were always commanded by white officers. They’re all doing the same thing, they are just doing it separately, you see. So when the soldiers got killed, they at least died among their own people.

For the most part, these black troops proved to be quite capable and dedicated soldiers, but they never received the honor and respect from their white associates as they deserved. They would be sent into combat situations with faulty and outdated equipment, denied supplies and backup support, then when the mission failed, they would be blamed and accused of being inadequate and inefficient. They went in believing that they were defending our country against foreign enemies, but when they got overseas and found the German and French and Italian people treating them with non-prejudice and respect, they began to wonder if they were fighting the right people. They certainly never got this kind of treatment at home. (# How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree? #) Many even decided to stay in Europe after the War ended, but those who did return to the States came back with a new attitude, which was not lost on the Southern bigots especially. They knew that it would be difficult to return these young men to their previous subservient station in life after having been subjected to respectful European hospitality.

Unfortunately, not all Europeans followed a non-racist philosophy. Having heard a lecture about it during my world cruise on the Prinsendam, and then visiting the country in 2005, I now know more about the former Apartheid situation in South Africa. White political control began in 1948 and endured until 1994. My not being there when it all began, I can’t understand how the non-whites in the country would without sufficient protest allow those white men to take over the government and exert complete control over the people and for such a long time. Not only were these European despots not native to South Africa, they were not even in the majority. At any one time there were 19 million black people to only 4.5 million whites. During American slavery times, too, the enslaved blacks greatly outnumbered their white captors. Yet, the whites were always the ones calling all the shots.

The situation in America, particularly in the South, was a form of Apartheid, too. They didn’t call it that—that’s a Dutch word—but our System operated pretty much in the same way. We had Jim Crow, segregation and the denial of certain rights to our black citizens. All blacks had to carry “traveling passes” with them any time they were outside the confines of their home, for example, lest they be taken for a runaway. This longtime compliance rather confirms the fact, for me at least, that blacks, by nature, tend to be of a more peace-loving, pacifist kind of people than your aggressive, constantly warmongering whites. Initially, we tend to submit to and accept a situation that we don’t agree with, rather than resort to defensive retaliation. But then after a while, enough is enough and we finally decide that we won’t tolerate it anymore. Just like those movie apes, even a docile dog, if you keep kicking it, will eventually turn on you.

One of my greatest inspirational heroes is the late Nelson Mandela, the African anti-Apartheid activist, who, in 1962, was convicted of sabotage and treason, which warranted the death penalty. The charge at his arrest was, “conspiring to overthrow the Government using violence.” Uh, isn’t that what you all did when you came in and took over the country, killing a lot of people in the process? So then, why are you all still alive? What hypocrites! The judge at his trial, after he was found guilty, told Mandela that he would temper justice with mercy. So instead of executing him, he sentenced him to life imprisonment! No, we won’t kill you right away. We’ll just let you linger to death in captivity, how ever long it takes. Wasn’t that white of him? Mandela spent the next 27 years (!) in prison on Robben Island, was finally released in 1990, and four years later was elected President of South Africa. I suppose one can’t get a better public apology than that!

Similar activist Steven Biko was not so lucky. When he was arrested in August 1977, he was beaten so badly by the police, that he was dead by the time he reached the prison. During Apartheid American black celebrities were encouraged not to have anything to do with the country, and when tennis great Arthur Ashe was invited to participate in the South African Open, he initially refused. But then it was suggested to him that he should attend if only to show the people there that there are blacks who excel in a “white man’s sport.” It would give hope and pride to many. When he and his entourage arrived, however, they were given permits that designated them as “honorary whites.” They refused to accept that. They insisted that they be admitted on their own terms or not at all. Good for them!

There is one African nation, however, that did not put up with the foreign tyranny for too long. The Kikuyu tribe of Kenya did not welcome or accept this unwelcome infiltration. It is so typical for those lazy, greedy British marauders to take over these people’s land by force and then expect the natives to farm it and maintain it while they just sit back and reap the rewards. In 1952 these tribesmen formed a secret organization which became to be known as the Mau Mau, whose goal was to destroy the white invaders. It is uncertain where the name Mau Mau came from, but somebody came up with a “backronym” for it: “Mzungu Aende Ulaya–Mwafrika Apate Uhuru,” which is Swahili for “Let the white man go back to Europe; let the African attain freedom.“ Part of the notoriety that the Mau Mau received from the public was when they learned about the rituals they performed to become a member. It is said that the men took an oath by drinking a mixture of blood, soil and fecal matter from a goat’s intestines. Then they actually had to fuck a goat!

Although this so-called rebellion went on for only eight years, ending in 1960, the whites got the upper hand yet again. The Mau Mau managed to kill only 32 whites before they in turn began to kill the blacks in retaliation. The casualty count for the blacks during the eight-year insurrection is over 300,000, 26,000 being children under the age of ten! You know, get rid of them while they’re young, lest they grow up to be threatening rebels themselves. And they didn’t just kill them in normal ways, but had to use torture and degrading methods, like sticking broken bottles and gun barrels up the men’s rectums and the women’s vaginas. Of course, the whites managed to justify their actions, as they always do. “Well, we can’t just let them go around killing good white folks, can we?”

Another bit of little-known history involves the most famous scientist in the world, Albert Einstein, and that he was a anti-racism activist. When Einstein fled Nazi Germany in 1930, he came to America and settled in Princeton, NJ. It wasn’t long before he noticed how the black people in the community were being treated, much like the Jews were in Germany. This is New Jersey, and he was appalled to find that life in town was very much like the pre-Civil War South. He found that stores, restaurants, public facilities, many jobs and most schools were off-limits to blacks well into the 1940s.

He started visiting and hanging out in the black neighborhoods and got to know the denizens there. He became friends with W.E.B. Dubois for one, and once when a segregated Princeton hotel would not accommodate Marian Anderson, Einstein let her stay at his home. His friendship and association with Paul Robeson has pretty much been erased from history, including Robeson‘s name being omitted from articles, exhibitions and documentaries. As a result, there is a surprising number of students at Harvard and other prestigious colleges, as well as smart, educated thirty to forty-year-olds who have never even heard of him. Being that Robeson was an outspoken civil-rights advocate, his public and historical exclusion was all too deliberate and intentional.

Einstein was quoted to have said, “The taboo, the ’let’s-not-talk-about-it,’ must be broken. It must be pointed out time and again that racism is America’s worst disease. Segregation is a disease not of colored people but of white people, and I do not intend to be silent about it. The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

Now don’t think for a moment that it’s only blacks who get fucked over by white people. You know the number that they did, and are still doing, on the American Indians. Whereas black people, in general, have managed to overcome a lot of the indignity that white people have afforded us over the decades and even centuries, the whites still hold our Native Americans in very low esteem.

In every “Cowboys and Indians” scenario, the Indians are always depicted and regarded as the “bad guys.” But who did what to whom first, huh? Generally, Indians are gregarious, peace-loving people. But what should their reaction be when someone, without any provocation whatsoever, storms their villages and tribal communities and proceed to annihilate their entire families? Were they supposed just to sit there and say, “Oh, well!” and accept it all? Although I certainly do not condone any kind of warfare, whether it be retaliatory or not, I still hold little sympathy for the pioneers when their wagon caravans and trains are attacked by marauding Indians. So a few of their women and children are killed during the raids, but it’s simply a matter of “Do unto others before they do unto you.” Even if they had lived, it is likely that those women and children would have become Indian killers themselves to avenge the deaths of their husbands and fathers.

I imagine that part of the early settlers’ resentment of our American Indian brothers is that they did not readily comply and submit to the white man’s desire and aggressive efforts to make them into slaves, too, like they had done the African blacks. They probably remember or were told the history of when in the 1500s the Spanish conquistadors did succeed in making some American Indians into slaves for a while. But they treated them so cruelly and brutally beat them, that thousands of them died of starvation and overwork. Those Spanish fortune-hunters didn’t seem to understand that they couldn’t maintain slaves by killing them all off.

I suppose that subsequently the Indians began to resist capture and retaliate, not wanting to repeat the plight of their ancestors. Just because they refused to be bullied and fought back against their aggressors, does not make them all villainous savages. Even if the later white settlers had been able to control and manipulate the Indians, they still wouldn’t respect them, just as they didn’t the blacks.

I recently learned about the Osage Indians massacre by resentful whites. During the 1920s the Osage tribe claimed a large section of land in Oklahoma, which was discovered to be rich in oil. This made this group of settlers the richest people in the country at the time. When certain whites got wind of that, of course, they would not stand for it. Soon members of the head family of the Osage as well as others started turning up dead. Bombs were set off in their homes and some were poisoned.

By 1925 60 wealthy Osage men and women had been killed and their land inherited or deeded off to local white lawyers and businessmen. The FBI, in its early days, but already headed by J. Edgar Hoover, were put on the case to investigate the murders, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they themselves had something to do with it. I don’t put anything past Hoover! There were a few convictions for the media’s sake, but most of the murders have yet gone unsolved.

I don’t blame the Indians either for protesting the use of their tribal and cultural references by White America. Why should they feel honored or flattered to be depicted as college mascots, automobiles and sports teams? The whiteys don’t seem to have any qualms about using the terms “Cherokee” and “Redskins,” but they wouldn’t dare name a car Jeep “Hassid” or a team the Washington “Palefaces.” The disrespect of it all is that I’m sure that these marketers, ball club owners and college sports administrators did not ask anyone’s permission to use these terms. Indians, too, are non-people and their opinions and feelings don’t matter anyway. Moreover, unless the Atlanta Braves, the Boston and Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians and the Kansas City Chiefs are made up entirely of Indians (which, of course, they are not) and those are the names that they gave themselves, what gives these team bosses the right to use such names? That’s like if someone were to name an all-white basketball team the “Watusis.”

I am not so agreeable with referring to any and all American Indians as the only “Native Americans.” Several past generations of my family were born right here, so by rights I could be considered a Native American as well. Native also means “an original or indigenous inhabitant,” but we don’t know for sure that those people have always been here. Some believe that human life began in Africa or at least in Asia. I believe that everybody living in North and South America now came from somewhere else prior. Members of the many tribes who we refer to as Indians are classified as Mongoloids and are believed to have migrated to this continent from Mongolia, hence the name, via the Bering Strait.

But were they really the very first people ever to settle the land here? What about the ancient continental civilizations like the Aztecs and Mayans? Or were they all just different tribes of the same people? It’s just like the eastern settlers who expanded to the West until they hit the Pacific Ocean. Some of these Asian immigrants chose to remain in the northernmost regions of the Arctic and became Eskimos, while those who desired your warmer climes made their expansion southward as far as Mexico, Central America and ultimately, to the southern tip of South America. Still others claimed for their new homes all of the many offshore islands they encountered along the way.

Let me give you the T on “squaw.” Most of the non-Indian, general public think that squaw is simply the term for an American Indian woman or wife. But that meaning of the word has only been perpetuated by the French settlers who introduced it. By some later accounts, squaw is actually an Algonquian word, roughly translated as “cunt.” It is not at all surprising to me that these racist, misogynists would refer to the women with that term. “Hey, squaw (cunt), bring your butt over here!” What happened, unfortunately, is that the term caught on as the word to which to refer to any and all American Indian women, and it has endured until this day. So just remember the next time you use the word or hear someone else use it, how disrespectful you or they are being to women in general. You may say that people are not being disrespectful intentionally, since they probably don’t know what the word really means. But I have always been told that ignorance is no excuse. So now you do know better.

There are some cultural linguists, however, who debunk that derogatory designation of the word and consider it non-offensive, but are still willing to concede to the other camp that the word’s use be in general disfavor. I have since learned that an effort has been made to change all American locales that have “Squaw” in their names. Phoenix, Arizona’s popular Squaw Peak, for example, which I had the occasion to climb when I was there in the summer of 1994, has been renamed Piestewa Peak, in honor of Iraq War casualty PFC Lori Piestewa, the first American Indian woman to die in combat for the U.S.

The poor American Japanese people, too, certainly suffered a raw deal during World War II, at the hands of bigoted, paranoid, white folks in this country. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, it sent much of White America into a panic. Innocent, upstanding, law-abiding, Japanese-American citizens by the thousands were arrested, driven from their homes and relegated to concentration camps, where they remained for the duration of the War. Actor George Takei was a child when he and his parents were victims of this senseless injustice. The white man’s irrational fear was that every person of Japanese descent would choose sides by renouncing their American citizenship and joining the enemy against us, even though most of them had been living here for several generations and were as American as anyone else. Isn’t that absurd? You know, again it’s any excuse they can find to perpetuate their unfair prejudice against nonwhites. They were classified by the Government as “enemy non-aliens.“ But if they were non-aliens, that would make them citizens, right?

At the same time we were enemies with the Germans and Italians, too, but you’ll notice that they didn’t put away any of their American counterparts or accuse them of being Nazis and Mussolini sympathizers. But why not, I ask rhetorically? At least these stateside POWs weren’t all killed, like they did the European Jews. I suppose that the difference was, the Japanese-Americans were a rather docile people who kept a low profile and many of them worked in a servile capacity, so they were no real political threat. Whereas Jews, being white in appearance, owned property, ran their own businesses and had a considerable amount of economic power, therefore more of a social threat, so they had to be eliminated entirely, you see. Of course, later on even the Japanese people’s benignancy didn’t matter when our Government chose to drop two atomic bombs on their former homeland. “That’ll teach ’em to fuck with us!”

So, fifty years later, instead of retaliating with more aggressive warfare, Japan has taken the peaceful approach of attacking our pocketbooks, by buying up the United States bit by bit via our top businesses and corporations. And of course, we are playing right into their hands! So now, who is fucking over whom? And now, too, we seem to be practicing mutual forgiveness on both our parts. Japan is quite open to and greatly welcomes American tourism and vice versa. And just recently with the casualties caused by the devastating earthquake and tsunami on their island, we Americans have been very generous with financial aid and sympathetic support, when only 70 years ago most didn’t bat an eye when the country was destroyed by atomic bomb. Perhaps it’s just remorse.

So, during the ’40s it was the American Japanese people who were persecuted and reviled. Today, it’s any and every person of the Muslim faith. Don’t wait around until one of them does something bad. Keep them out and ostracize them before they get the chance to commit an act of terrorism. We all know that the only reason they want to come here is to take over and destroy our country. That has been the goal of every immigrant for the last 500 years or so. Why should these people be any different? All that nonsense about wanting a better life is merely a ploy to get here and infiltrate us innocent, law-abiding citizens. Of course, I am being sarcastic, although I am not the first and only one who has said that.

President Trump is doing a press conference with the Vice-President at his side.
President Trump: “The lesser immigrants, the better.”
VP Pence: “The fewer.”
Trump: “Shh, don’t call me that in public…just yet.”

[Related articles: Black History, Part 1–Did You Know?; Black History, Part 3–Racism via Show Business; Black History, Part 4–Criminal Injustice; Black History, Part 5–Biased Concerns; Color Issues; Some Racial Observations; Stereotyping and Profiling, Racial and Otherwise; Walt Disney, a Racist?–Who’d’ve Thunk It?]