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Posts Tagged ‘African American’

Phil Robertson And The First Amendment.

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Welcome to the latest installment of What Does The First Amendment Really Mean? Recently, Phil Robertson of A&E’s Duck Dynasty gave an interview in GQ Magazine. In that interview, he made derogatory remarks involving not only the LGBT community, but African Americans as well. He likened homosexuality to bestiality, and claimed that blacks in Louisiana were much happier during the days of Jim Crow.  Naturally, there was an outpouring of outrage, and A&E Network responded by suspending Robertson indefinitely. Of course, the bible thumping Tea Partiers, lead by Sarah Palin (Why is she still relevant?) came to his defense, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated.  I say this with all due respect Mrs. Palin, but you and your ilk are full of hypocritical bullshit.

First of all, Robertson’s rights were not violated. Yes he has a right to his opinion, no matter how bigoted or idiotic it is. He can freely state his hillbilly bible thumping bullshit, without any reprisal from our government. However, his employer has every right to fire or suspend  him for making such statements. For example, I can freely say that in my opinion, Phil Robertson is a prejudiced hateful moron, who deserves to be hog tied,and have a giant rainbow colored duck call shoved up his ass. I can opine this without worrying about any consequences from the government. However, if my employer was to read this post and disagree, they can fire me without reprisal. There would be nothing I can do about that. I can also freely state in my opinion, that I think Sarah Palin is an uneducated coat tail riding twat, and that I wish she was eaten by the very wolves that she enjoys shooting at from a helicopter. Fired by my employer? Yes. Arrested or censored by the authorities? No. This is how the First Amendment works folks. You don’t hear Martin Bashir bitching about his First Amendment rights do you?

Nobody is questioning his right to make racist and homophobic opinions. Has he been arrested for them? He has his right to his opinion. We also have the right to be offended by such comments and speak out against them. We  have the right to reach out to his employer and complain about his conduct. The Tea Party went after Martin Bashir for his inflammatory comments about Sarah Palin, and as a result he was fired by MSNBC. Now that the situation is reversed with one of their own, they’re crying like a bunch of butt hurt little children about his First Amendment rights. You can’t have it both ways.

 

In my opinion, the ass hats of the Tea Party, along with their minion Sarah Palin, need to take a civics class or two. Maybe then they would finally shut their fucking mouths about the First Amendment already. Hell, they need to have the entire Constitution taught to them. That is, of course, once they get through a remedial hooked on phonics class.

I’m not holding my breath though.

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How Many Cops?

I came across this little gem from Anarchist Memes:

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It’s funny, but it’s not funny. You know what I’m saying? I laughed because it’s clever, but yet I was very disturbed because it’s still all too true. The fact of the matter is that if you are a person of color, you’re more likely to be harassed, beaten, shot, arrested, incarcerated, etc, for the simple fact that you are not white. Don’t believe me? Google “Racial Profiling” and see what you come up with. Better yet, try Googling “Cops beating African Americans” or “Cops beating Latinos”.    It’s a disgusting potpourri of articles detailing beat downs and killings of minorities, perpetrated by the very people who are paid to protect and serve.  When you couple this with the fact that the GOP has declared war on everyone but rich white males, it’s no wonder that civil unrest is still roiling just beneath the surface of our society, spewing forth with the eternal consistency of Old Faithful.

 

Bachmann: Black People Were Better Off During Slavery?

Bachmann: Black People Were Better Off During Slavery?.

I thought I would share this article with you before I go back to reading about some psychoanalytical history of Adolf Hitler. Check out this quote from the queen of hoof in mouth disease:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

Ms. Bachmann, you are a giant bag of douche.

Rick Santorum Is Making It Too Easy!

The Ways of White Folks by Langston Hughes, 1934

Image via Wikipedia

I came across this little gem today at ThinkProgress. Rick Santorum, second in America to Fred Phelps in rampant homophobia, has a campaign slogan for his presidential bid.  Mr. Santorum is “Fighting to make America America again.” It’s a great thought; too bad Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes thought of it first. Hughes was a wonderful African-American poet during the renaissance. He wrote many poems that reflected the African-American struggles in white dominated America. He was also a very open homosexual. Hughes was a well spoken advocate for gay rights during a time when being out, particularly black and out, could mean a certain death sentence.

Santorum has stolen borrowed his campaign slogan from a poem of Hughes, titled ” Let America be America again.” According to the article from ThinkProgress, the poem is ” pro-union, pro racial justice, and pro immigrant.” Three issues that I’m sure Santorum holds dear to his heart.

Hmmm, maybe Santorum has decided to remove that massive, gay hating, christian stick from his ass, and is starting to view the world through rainbow-colored glasses. Naaah, it’s more likely he’s never heard of “Let America be America again.” Hell, he’s probably never heard of Langston Hughes. After all, there’s no mention of him in Leviticus.

Where is The Angela Davis of Today’s Generation? She Never Left!

In the spirit of Women’s History Month, I thought author and activist Angela Davis would make a great subject to write about. Angela has been active in many areas of human rights and social change beginning in the early 60’s civil rights movement. For almost 50 years she has been a leading voice in feminism, LGBT rights, prison reform, and racial injustice. In addition, she was under constant watch of the FBI, and was wrongfully imprisoned for two years before she was tried and acquitted for alleged activity involving the kidnapping and murder of a California judge. Without further adieu, I give you the story of Angela Davis! 

Angela Davis was born on Jan 26, 1944 in Birmingham Alabama. The daughter of a car mechanic and school teacher, she was raised in a section of Birmingham nicknamed Dynamite Hill  because of the numerous bombings in the area by the Ku Klux Klan

In her junior year of high school she left with her mother Sally to go to New York City. Her mother had decided to enroll in grad school at New York University, and while Angela was attending high school in New York, she was introduced to communism and socialism through the communist youth group Advance. Through her membership in Advance, she met many teenagers whose parents were leaders of the Communist Party USA, including her life long friend Bettina Aptheker

After graduating high school, she enrolled in Brandeis University in Massachusetts where she studied French. While at Brandeis, she met a major influence in her political and academic life Herbert Marcuse. It was Marcuse, a philosophy professor in Frankfurt Germany who taught Angela “that it was possible to be an academic, an activist, a scholar, and a revolutionary.” Angela’s political ideologies and activism though still in the early stages was already earning her notoriety; after traveling to Finland to attend a communist sponsored festival, she returned home in 1963, to find the FBI waiting to interview her about her attendance at the festival in Helsinki. 

During her second year at Brandeis, the university allowed her to travel to Paris, where she studied French at the Sorbonne. It was during this time of a church bombing by the KKK in her home town of Birmingham. This bombing deeply affected her, due to the fact that she lost many friends in the explosion. Although she remained in school at the time, the tragedy would become a major influence in joining black activist groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panthers in 1967. 

After graduating from Brandeis in 1965, she moved to Frankfurt Germany to teach and study philosophy. After two years, she moved to San Diego, following her mentor Herbert Marcuse. During this time she decided to join the American Communist Party, in addition to the SNCC and Black Panthers. By 1969, Angela was already known as a feminist, political activist, and communist. Because of her affiliations, then Governor Ronald Reagan pressured UCLA where she worked as an assistant professor to fire her. She was later reinstated after taking legal action. 

1970 was a landmark year for Angela Davis; she had become active in political reform and was particularly interested in the case of George Jackson, a man falsely imprisoned for the armed robbery of a gas station in California. Jackson as well as his friend W.L. Nolan started their own chapter of the Black Panthers in Soledad Prison, and in early 1970, Nolan was shot and killed by a prison guard. Soon after, the guard was found murdered and Jackson was indicted. In August of that year Jon Jackson, George’s younger brother broke into a California courtroom taking Judge Harold Haley hostage, demanding that George be set free. While trying to leave both Haley and the younger Jackson were gunned down. This would seriously affect Angela, because she was implicated in the kidnapping. 

Allegedly the guns were traced back to Angela and letters from her were found in George Jackson’s prison cell after he was murdered later in august. Soon after, a warrant was issued for her arrest, and she became the third woman to be placed on the FBI’s ten most wanted list. Angela fled California, but was arrested two months later in New York. She would remain in prison for two years before she was finally given a trial and rightfully acquitted. 

After her acquittal and release from prison, Angela picked up where she left off; she lived for a short time in Cuba with fellow activists Huey Newton and Stokely Carmichael. She returned in 1975, and began lecturing on women’s studies, ethnic studies and prison reform, as well as staying active in the civil rights and feminist movements. In 1980 and 1984, she ran for Vice President on the Communist Party ticket. After 1990, she left the American Communist Party and helped form the Democratic Socialist Party to which she is still currently a member. 

Currently, Angela is a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Syracuse University. She still travels the country speaking out on women’s issues, LGBT issues, racial issues, political activism and prison reform. She has written many books on activism including If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance (1971), Angela Davis: An Autobiography (1974), Women, Race and Class (1981),  Women, Culture, and Politics (1989) ,and Abolition Democracy: Prisons, Democracy, and Empire (2005). 

Angela Davis is one of the few remaining icons for the political activist movements of the 1960’s and 70’s. Nearly 50 years after she became involved in the American Communist movement and civil rights movement, she still remains politically active. Her presence is of vital importance in both the literary and political world. She is a reminder of how important it is to understand what is going on in our society, and to have the courage to speak out against social injustice. Until recently, I feared that political activism on a wide scale was dead. There were no more Ginsburgs, or Hoffmans, or Martin Luther King Jrs, or Betty Friedans who could polarize a generation and get them involved. After getting involved myself in peacefully protesting, and seeing first hand the grass roots movements crying out to make their voices heard, I can still cling to the hope that there may be more Angela Davis’s in the world. Perhaps she is one of your daughters; maybe she is our niece, who accompanied us to march for Planned Parenthood last Saturday. Where ever she is encourage her, educate her, allow her to think for her self. She may just make you proud while leading the next generation of activists. I for one, am clinging to that belief for all I’m worth.

The Deadliest Race Riot You Never Heard of: Greenwood Oklahoma.

Little Africa on fire. Tulsa Race Riot, June 1...

Image via Wikipedia

 As a third year history major, one of my greatest delights is to come across little known accounts of events that have happened in our past. Generally many of these past occurrences detail the ugly side of the American way. They are stories of violence and oppression that are not included in the history books that are read in our schools. The story of Greenwood Oklahoma is such a story. It was not until 1996, when a Greenwood business leader named J.B. Stradford was cleared of the 75 year old charges of inciting a riot in that Tulsa suburb, that the story came to light. 

During the early 20th century, Stradford, the son of a freed Kentucky slave, moved to Tulsa Oklahoma with the same hopes and dreams that many southern African Americans had; to cash in on the oil boom in Oklahoma, and to escape from the Jim Crow south. However, along with the thousands of African Americans who migrated to Tulsa, so came thousands of whites from the south to the city, and with them came old Jim Crow.

Tulsa was split in two; the whites would segregate into southern neighborhoods around the downtown area, while the blacks would settle in to the northern section of town. The northern section would be named after Greenwood Avenue, the heart of the neighborhood because of the mile long stretch of prospering African American businesses located there. Stradford, a businessman and lawyer, was a key contributor to this dynamic neighborhood. 

Along Greenwood Avenue could be found restaurants, stores, doctors and lawyers, in addition to not one but two newspapers. Amidst all the hustle and bustle of what Booker T Washington would call “The Black Wall Street” was Stradford’s 65 room hotel. Greenwood was thriving and Stradford was prospering from the booming business his hotel was doing in the heart of the neighborhood. On May 31, 1921, that all changed. 

While Greenwood was thriving, racial tensions were rising in Tulsa. The cause would very well have been the white’s jealousy of the bustling African American neighborhood, or it could have been fear of the African American community growing so large that the white community would be overshadowed, in addition to the possibility of  losing work in the oil fields to African American laborers. Whatever the cause, racism would rear its ugly head on that spring day in 1921, and Greenwood, or Liitle Africa as the whites called it, would never be the same. 

It started when Dick Rowland, a 19 year old shoe shiner went to use the only bathroom for blacks in downtown Tulsa. The bathroom was located at the top of an office building, which meant that Rowland would have to take the elevator that was run by a 17 year old white operator named Sarah Page. Supposedly the sounds of her screaming drew others to the elevator and Rowland was observed running from the building. Rowland was arrested but never charged with anything. However, the incident made it to the Tulsa Tribune and many whites were outraged. To some, this was an opportunity to wreak havoc on the enclave of Greenwood, and wreak havoc they did. 

Over 10,000 white men conducted an all out assault on the African American community. While some dropped firebombs and shot at blacks from World War I airplanes, the rest stormed the prospering neighborhood and burned it to the ground, killing 300 blacks and displacing another 10,000 in the process. In the aftermath, Stradford along with 69 other black businessmen were charged with inciting the riot. As a result, Stradford fled Tulsa back to his home state of Kentucky. He would never return to the once burgeoning neighborhood that he had helped to build. 

In the meantime, the residents of Greenwood who were left behind reacted in the only way that they could; they rebuilt. By 1942, the neighborhood of Greenwood was restored without any help from the state, and over 200 businesses had returned. What happenend to Stradford? He went on to become a successful lawyer in Chicago, where he died in 1935. It would be 60 years until an investigation by the Oklahoma State Commission would clear Stradford and the other 69 blacks accused of any wrong doing. Meanwhile, what happened that fateful day in 1921 quietly disappeared until the same commission opened an investigation into the massacre. The result of that investigation? A token attempt at reparations was made by offering approximately 300 college scholarships to the descendants of the victims who lived in Greenwood. During that time desegregation of Tulsa and construction of a highway would accomplish what over 10,000 racially motivated terrorists in 1921 could not; the evisceration and disposal of the once proud community of Greenwood Oklahoma. 

What’s the lesson here? For starters, it is yet another tale of the unconquerable American spirit. The African American community not only overcame the onslaught of violence perpetrated against them, they persevered and rebuilt. What’s more important is the fact that Greenwood is  another lesson in what happens when zealousness and hatred are allowed to become the prevailing voice in any society. 

We see it today in the increasing numbers of hate groups who are making their presence felt through their words and their actions. We can see the remnants of Greenwood in the right to lifers who threaten and kill those who would dare practice abortion. We see it in the Tea Party terrorists who routinely spew hate rhetoric against those who oppose them. We see it in the Republican Party, who is desperately trying to make our country a closed society where the only political opinion that counts is theirs. We see it in other fringe hate groups, who physically attack those who are different from them in skin, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. 

Many believe that terrorism is a relatively new threat to America; it isn’t. It’s been here ever since our ancestors set foot on this shore over 400 years ago. Our greatest threat isn’t terrorism from abroad, it’s terrorism from within. Greenwood Oklahoma was living proof of that.

Supreme Failure: How the Supreme Court Stopped the Civil Rights Movement in The 19th Century.

"For Colored" bathroom sign, old Col...

Image by Trevor Huxham via Flickr

February has been a really busy month; among the furor created by the Rethuglicans push to kill union labor and all the rioting in the Middle East and North Africa, I think most of us has forgotten that it’s Black History Month. This post gives a brief (sort of) synopsis of how equality did not come to African Americans for almost 100 years after the Civil War ended. The Supreme Court of the late 19th century managed to abolish or weaken every Civil Rights law passed, which enabled the south to introduce Jim Crow laws and return to their previous years of oppression. Incidentally, these Jim Crow laws were the model for the Nuremburg Laws, German legislation against Jews passed by the Congress of the Nazi Party in 1935. 

When the Civil War ended, over 4 million former slaves were looking forward to the promise of equality and job opportunities. For a brief period, it looked as though their prayers had been answered. By 1870 the Republican Party had managed to pass three constitutional amendments that gave them legal equality and access to public office, as well as the federal courts. 

The 13th amendment, also known as the Civil Rights Act of 1865, abolished slavery. The 14th amendment of 1868 gave blacks citizenship and equal protection under the law. In 1870 the 15th amendment gave blacks the right to vote. Equality it seemed had finally come to the United States. That is if you didn’t count women, Native Americans or Asians, who were still discriminated against. 

The goal was to successfully integrate these 4 million freedmen into mainstream society.However, thanks to President Andrew Johnson, who was infamous for his blatant racism, and the Supreme Court which declared the Civil Rights act of 1875 unconstitutional, as well as giving state and local government the sole power to enforce the 14th amendment, equality for blacks became virtually non-existant.

After the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional, every single southern state would redraft their constitutions to make voting by blacks almost impossible. By 1890, states were passing laws enforcing segregation, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in Plessey v. Ferguson in 1896. It was ruled that “de jure” or “separate but equal” segregation was not a violation of African American civil rights, but was for their protection. 

These Jim Crow laws not only kept blacks in the south from voting and subjected them to segregation. They allowed racism to run rampant in the south with impunity, and reduced the black population to virtual slavery once again. Most blacks could do little more than stay on the land that they were once enslaved to, and scratch out meager livings as share croppers for their previous masters. 

While African Americans would consistently challenge segregation and other Jim Crow laws, it was not until 1948 that he first blow for equality would be dealt. Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981, which desegregated the armed forces. This order would be the flash point that would energize the civil rights movements of the 50’s and 60’s. The next defining moment would be in 1954; the year that Brown v Board of Education Topeka was heard by the Supreme Court. In its landmark decision, “separate but equal” was ruled unconstitutional and struck down. 

When Rosa Parks decided to give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955, her actions would stimulate a long series of boycotts, demonstrations and court battles that undermine Jim Crow. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson would push the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through congress which outlawed discrimination in public places once and for all. Johnson’s Voting Rights Act of 1965 would remove any and all barriers preventing blacks from exercising their right to vote. In 1967 the Supreme Court declared any anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, and allowed blacks inter-racial marriage.

 Thanks to the corruption of government and the Supreme Court, as well as rampant racism across the country, oppression of African Americans would legally continue for another 100 years. While there were countless heroic moments in the Civil Rights Movement, the bitch of it is that we still see the same bigotry and oppression today, thanks to the Rethuglicans and tea party terrorists. Their message is that everyone is equal, as long as you hold power, wealth, and prestige. Otherwise you can go pound salt. Equal rights can never be a dead issue, as long as there are those who constantly try to keep us under foot to further their own agendas, we need to fight on. Maybe some day we really will have equality for all.