‘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

Uncommon Valor from the Mississippi Mud

If there ever was an unsung symbol of courage, bravery–valor–then Lawrence Guyot is just such a symbol, who deserves the accolades and praise of an entire generation. He’s just that special.

It’s not often that you will hear these words together in a sentence: “I am a native of the Mississippi Delta who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, and I lived in the best of both worlds.”

I came to learn two things about my home state that pertain to our honoree, Lawrence Guyot, both of which make me admire him that much more.

The first is that Mississippi is really three states, not one. There are the lush hills of Central Mississippi. There is the Tropical Paradise of the Mississippi Gulf. And there is the flat, hot agricultural Delta region in the north of the state.

But truth be told, everywhere in Mississippi is still Mississippi. There are ghosts of martyred Black men and boys in every pond, in every creek. Continue reading

It takes a thug to know a thug

I can fully understand anyone’s frustration with the inaction of the police most anywhere to solve petty thefts. I had a bicycle stolen more than a year ago, and called the police to report it. The bike has not been seen or heard from since.

But the police did give me a difficult bit of advice to follow. “If you see your bicycle, don’t try to confiscate it yourself. Call the police,” the officer who took my report told me. Good advice.

Still, for months, until I bought a new bicycle, I looked at every bike I saw, straining to see an identifying mark or sign that it was mine. I carried a copy of my police report and two locks with me as I rode around town, thinking that if I saw my bike parked somewhere, I could put a lock on it so it could not be removed while I waited on the slow-as-molasses police response.

I never saw it. Eventually the compelling need to get my old bike back left me.

If that is good advice for me, a civilian, then a 22-year-veteran police officer should know that lesson better than me. In particular to Officer James Haskel.

But I suspect that Officer Haskel and a buddy of his, another veteran officer and instructor at the Police Academy, had something else in mind, when they went patrolling his neighborhood in Southeast D.C. on Sept. 17. I suspect they intended to “roll out” in his big SUV, not just to find the mini-bike which had been stolen from his garage in a gated community, but to also teach some neighborhood thugs a lesson. Continue reading