Political ‘miracles’ do happen

There’s a story that back in the 1960s when legendary football coach and racist symbol Paul “Bear” Bryant was the coach at the University of Alabama, he was approached by federal agents who told him that he had to integrate his team. Coach Bryant–whose protégé include “Broadway” Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler, among others–resisted the entreaty.

It was Alabama, in the 1960s, The Bear complained. The governor of the state, George Corley Wallace, would have none of it, he insisted. The feds put their foot down. Integration was the order of the day.

But the alumni would withdraw their support, the Bear replied. He couldn’t have an African American player on the Crimson Tide squad, it just wouldn’t be right. It wouldn’t work, he complained and complained. But the feds said, they would at least have to let a Black player try out for the squad.

Finally, Coach Bryant relented. Bring the player and he would let him try out for the squad, he said. When the feds showed up with the player, the coach told him he would first have to return a punt. The Black player awaited the ball all by himself. When the ball was in the air, the coach told all the rest of the players on the team, offense and defense to cover the punt, all of them. “Go get him!” the coach said.

The Black try-out caught the ball and began to run toward the mob. The squad rushed forward. They collided at mid-field in a cloud of dust. Then, as the dust cleared, the Black player broke free and began to sprint toward the goal line.

The coach jumped to his feet and pumped his fist into the air. “Look at that Puerto Rican go!” he shouted. As the story goes, the player made the team. Miracles do happen. Continue reading

Black perception vs. White perception

To say that Black people and White people live in two different worlds when it comes to world view, is an understatement.

Ask any Black person about Nat Turner, for example, and most express admiration for the man who led the bloodiest slave revolt in American history. After all, on Aug. 21, 1831 he led a company of 70 slaves in a rebellion in Southampton, Va. to end slavery.

He was a hero, a bold young captain! He fought for freedom!

Ask most White folks–especially those in Southampton–and they may very well condemn him. Let’s not forget, that during that bloody insurrection, 57 Whites, men, women and children–civilians–were slaughtered, many while they slept.

He was a murdering terrorist!

So it goes. There is a Black perception of reality. There is a White perception of reality.

Last September 60,000 young Blacks marched in tiny Jena, La. to protest racial bias in the criminal justice system down there, Six Black teenagers faced a total of 100 years in jail as adults for their role in a schoolyard fight in which a White student was beaten. But months earlier three White students were given a slap on the wrist as punishment after they hung three nooses from a tree in the schoolyard, a day after Black students had sat under the tree.

The behavior of the Black students in Jena was labeled “criminal.” The behavior of the White students was dismissed as “a childish prank.”

The following Halloween, at fraternity parties all over the country, White students, wearing black-face make-up and Afro-wigs posed for pictures at make-believe lynching parties. (White students seem to pose for pictures which they proudly post on the Internet, in black-face and Afro-wigs at Halloween parties every year.)

There is a Black perception of acceptable behavior there. There is a separate and distinct White perception of acceptable behavior there. Continue reading

President Obama, Vice President Edwards

As unbelievable and fundamentally absurd as it sounds, it may already be inevitable that a Black man will be elected the next President of the United States.

Unfathomable. We have wandered into absolutely uncharted political waters.

President Barack Hussein Obama, with his feather-light political résumé and his heart of pure gold. Get used to it.

Mr. President. And before we get to giddy with exuberance over that idea, we must follow through and make sure former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) is his Vice Presidential running mate.

The unimaginable political popularity of the first-term U.S. Senator from Illinois with–as he says it–the “funny name,” in “Lily White” Iowa and New Hampshire, boggles the minds of political scientists, pundits, and informed observers alike.

Sen. Obama has wisely chosen to cast himself more as a unifier, rather than as one who speaks only for the hurt of Black people. By doing this, with his unique “bi-racial” persona–youthful madrassas in Indonesia and all–he has allowed people to look at him as an icon, a political standard bearer, not because of the color of his skin, but indeed because of the content of his character.

To put President-to-be Obama in Hollywood theatrical terms, he is “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” not starring Denzel Washington, but starring Jimmy Stewart. By not staking his candidacy on the plight of Black people, it allowed other people to recognize their own hurt in his campaign and to see in him as their champion. Continue reading

Conyers: Should Great be the enemy of Perfect?

Since when did “great” become the enemy of “perfect?”

I’ve been pondering that thought since protest demonstrators sat-in in the office of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), a Founder and now the Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The protestors, are angry that Chairman Conyers has not initiated impeachment proceedings against President George W. (for Worst in history) Bush, and his combination brain and gonads, Vice President Dick Cheney–also known as Darth Vader.

Get a life, protestors. John Conyers is a good man, and a great member of Congress, who deserves the respect and admiration of all Americans and all peace loving people on earth.

If you want to get in a lively conversation with lots and lots of opinions, just ask a group of music aficionados, “Who is the most important musician in Jazz?” So, I figured I was on pretty safe ground, when I wrote10 years ago, in a profile in Midwest Arts Magazine, that “John Conyers is the most important non-musician in Jazz.”

His contributions to American Classical Music are monumental; HR-57, the Act of Congress which proclaims Jazz to be an “American National Treasure,” and The American Classical Music. Of course there is the annual CBC Jazz concert which he has sponsored and hosted for more than two decades during the CBC’s Annual Legislative Weekend, and much, much more.

When I told Rep. Conyers about the quote he responded, “what do you mean non-musician?” He reminded me of the bass violin in his office, which he said he still plays. Nobody’s perfect! Continue reading

Mumia Abu Jamal, innocent all along…

It’s hard for me to fathom how people can hate so purely that their loathing goes well beyond the bounds of reason. But so it is, with those who want to see Mumia Abu Jamal executed. The former radio journalist and taxi driver was convicted in 1982, of the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, but Mumia has always maintained his innocence.

Now there is convincing proof that Mumia was right all along. On the eve of the publication of a new book by Mr. Faulkner’s widow, who claims in a new book that she knows Mumia did it, a series of photographs has been discovered and released recently in Philadelphia, adding even more proof that Mr. Abu Jamal is innocent.

We’ve known all along that the jury pool was tainted, stripped of Blacks, that he was framed by a police force, a prosecutor, and a judiciary tainted by racism. But now, these pictures, by freelance photographer Pedro Polakoff taken the night of the shooting, prove that the conspiracy to blame Mr. Abu Jamal began that night at the crime scene, according to Mumia’s supporters.

“These photos effectively refute key elements of the prosecution’s case. And clearly, one picture is worth a thousand words, this is irrefutable evidence,” Linn Washington, a Temple University journalism professor and a member of Journalists for Abu Jamal said in an interview. Continue reading

A front row seat in purgatory

Unless the crooks who the Feds believe stole more than $20 million from the D.C. Tax and Revenue office change their ways between now and the time they eventually get out of the slammer, they will eventually find seats reserved for them in Purgatory.

The same is true for the photogenically-challenged former President of the Washington Teacher’s Union who’s already doing time in the Big House for stealing more than $2 million of her brother and sister union members’ money in her hopeless quest to make up for the gifts Mother Nature denied her, by lavishing gifts of Gucci and Prada and Louis Vuitton on herself.

Yes, there are seats reserved for the cheap thieves in Purgatory, but they won’t be seated in the V.I.P. Section. Sorry, Little Bush League thieves. You will get to transit straight to The Inferno.

No. The V.I.P. Section in the American English-speaking Abyss is already reserved for the Big Bush Leaguers. The Enron founders, and the masters of the Savings & Loan rip-offs, those in the banks themselves and their accomplices in elected office. Continue reading

Republicans: ‘The Dog ate my homework’

I don’t know what it is about Republicans in high office this political season. They are behaving like: “Dumb,” and “Dumber,” and ‘Dumbest.”

First, we had Mr. 2008 Presidential Front Runner, Rudy Guiliani. He goes and nominates this thug with ties to the Mafia to a top Homeland Security job. He didn’t check the guy’s background.

Oops. The dog ate his homework.

Then, here comes Mr. Law & Order himself, Fred Thompson. His good friend for several years and the co-chairman of his presidential campaign is a drug pusher and a bookie. Convicted of selling 11 pounds of marijuana and cocaine, he was. Mr. Fred just didn’t know his BFF had such a sordid past. He’s not an honest man. He just plays one on TV.

It looks like the dog ate his homework too.

Then, here comes the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney. You know, the guy who told Senator Patrick Leahy to: “go f— yourself” on the floor of the U.S. Senate. That’s him, the same guy who shot one of his friends in the face on a hunting trip and his office didn’t tell anybody it happened for 24 hours.

That’s him. Darth Vader himself. He likes to joke about being referred to the Lord of the Dark Side. In fact he dressed his dog in a Darth Vader costume on Halloween. Oh, it’s big fun being the sinister soul of the American Constitution in the Cheney household. His wife even makes jokes about it.

Well, the Vice President went hunting this year at the Clove Valley Gun and Rod Club, which had a 5-foot by 5-foot Confederate flag hanging in its garage. This exclusive country club was located not in the heart of Dixie, where at least folks there claim the Confederacy’s part of some “Southern heritage,” but rather in Union Vale, N.Y.

The Veep says he didn’t see the flag. But somebody saw it and took a picture of it for the evening news. Oops. Continue reading

San Diego-New Orleans: A Modern ‘Tale of Two Cities’

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”

When Victorian-age, British author Charles Dickens wrote those words in his epic 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities, no one could have foreseen that they would so accurately describe the state of suffering and relief endured by Black people and White people in 21st Century America.

But in comparing the response of the U.S. government and state governments to the suffering of mostly middle-class and wealthy White victims of the recent Southern California fires housed for less than a week in the Qualcom Arena football stadium in San Diego, with that of the mostly poor Black victims of Hurricane Katrina huddled for week after week in the New Orleans Superdome football arena, then we should be able to agree, Mr. Dickens was correct: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

And while we know that catastrophic natural disaster and devastation can and does inflict pain without consideration of race or class, we can easily see that the response of governments of men and women certainly do make such distinctions, and when they do it is the non-White, the poor, who are disproportionately afflicted by the decisions made by discerning government bureaucrats. Continue reading

‘El Dorado Gold’ ties bind Blacks Latinos

When I was growing up, before the BMW officially became the “Black Man’s Wish,” it was the Cadillac El Dorado, which was the ultimate male automotive status symbol, bar none! Artist Uzikee Nelson has borrowed on that tradition to celebrate Hispanic culture’s pre-Columbian ancestry.

Uzikee formally unveiled his latest outdoor sculpture–Eldorado Gold–at the Josephine Butler House in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, a Latino residential stronghold. It was unveiled, ironically on Columbus Day–Oct. 12, the anniversary of the date the explorer landed in the Caribbean in 1492, opening up the Western and its indigenous people to genocide and domination by the Europeans to follow. The reason he chose Oct. 12, is because it would have been his father’s 100th birthday.

The two-sided sculpture is an 8-foot-tall weathered steel piece, with gold glass. It was inspired by a visit to Latin America where Uzikee discovered that the use of gold was commonplace, before the Europeans with gunpowder conquered the people and robbed them of their gold. The location: El Dorado. El Dorado Gold. Continue reading

BET: Turning its backside on its people

What with the unmitigated success of Oprah Winfrey, Gwen Ifill, Tiger Woods, Barack Obama, and the Williams Sisters in the “Free Market,” White folks in America must wonder aloud, quite often: “Why are Black people still complaining?”

Well the fact of the matter is that the vast, vast majority of us are still wallowing in the mud of civilization, believing wrongly that the answer to all our problems will be solved if we “get rich or die trying.”

There are others among us whose very access to some of the delights of their lives today, come as a direct result of the Civil Rights Movement. Sadly, some such persons have turned their backs on the very souls on whose shoulders they literally stand.

One such individual is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who expresses total disdain for the Movement and its goals, in everything he says and does on the High Court, despite the fact that in Pin Point, Georgia where he was born, Black men and boys like him were beaten (if not lynched) for committing “Eyeball Rape (just looking),” of the White woman to whom he is now married. So much for “progress.”

Not to be overlooked is the ritzy Cleveland Park neighborhood where Debra Lee, the President of Black Entertainment Television (BET), now lives in Washington. Such addresses were once sold with covenants legally prohibiting them from being sold to Black folks like her parents and grandparents. There was a time when the money of prosperous Black folks was not good enough to buy the home where she now lives.

While Justice Thomas has yet to be reckoned with by the fickle finger of fate, Debra Lee has been getting hers, right in her home stomping ground. Continue reading