Dr. King Reflecting on the Journey

Dr. King Reflecting on the Journey
"Infamous, this day in Memphis, city of my demise."

Friday, March 27, 2009

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Four cops killed by an African-American parolee in a city where cops have killed several African-Americans in the past several years and some people actually believe that evens the score? Obviously, the people who feel this way live by the "eye for the eye" Old Testament laws and not the "turn the other cheek" New Testament fulfillment of those laws. If people in Oakland, California, knew anything about Old Testament law, they might not be so quick to sanction mass murder! I realize the killing of Oscar Grant by a BART cop, the fourth such killing in Oakland I believe enrages African-American citizens, but are there people there really glorifying murdering police officers in retaliation? How can anyone really believe it's o.k. to kill people to avenge the death of someone else? It may have something to do with the U.S. being one of only a couple of Western nations that have a death penalty. Or it may have something to do with something else. I don't understand. However, there are some people who seem to have this all figured out according to their own beliefs. Read the following takes on the cop murders and the people killed by the BART cops from the right and left:

March 25, 2009
"Blacks in Oakland celebrate racially motivated murder of four white police officers."
Council of Conservative Citizens News Team(CofCC.org)

"San Francisco Area Black Newspaper praises killing of four white police officers. Calls the killer one of the 'heroes in the human rights struggle for Black people in America.'
The slaughter took place in the Bay Area, the same vicinity as the 1973-1974 'Zebra Killings.' The Zebra Killers and Nat Turner’s band who killed 60 white people in 1831, are among the most prolific serial killers in US history.
The Zebra Killings were carried out by a Nation of Islam splinter group, known as the 'Black Angels of Death.' They awarded points to members for the number of whites killed. The exact number of victims is unknown, but many police officials have put the number at 72.
From View from the Right.
A friend in law enforcement in the Bay Area wrote me,
There were massive parties all over Oakland celebrating the shooting that night. During the interviews on TV there were 20 or 30 people in the background screaming 'F*** the police!' and 'They got what they deserved!' It was everything the officers could do to restrain themselves.
Bay View, a radical rag which calls itself a 'National Black Newspaper,' celebrates the mass murder as 'what some in the Black community see as a day of heroic resistance against the police,' under the headline, 'Police 2, Oakland residents 4.'
A columnist for the paper, Jean Damu, writes, 'When the full story is finally told and, though not likely freely admitted by many, deep within the spiritual thinking of numerous African Americans, an emotional candle will be lit in memory of Lovelle Mixon.'
How many within the black community resonate to these views? More than complacent whites would like to believe, I suspect.
The behavior of blacks in Oakland mimics that of blacks in St. Louis when a black spree killer murdered two cops, three Kirkwood City council members, and the mayor. The killer’s family members defended him on the news and many local blacks openly celebrated the murders."

"Oscar Grant Killed in Cold Blood by BART Cop"
International Communist League
"OAKLAND, January 12—Seething anger against rampant, and routine, humiliation and terror at the hands of the racist cops was ignited in Oakland, California, over the coldblooded execution of a 22-year-old black man, Oscar Grant, by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) cop on January 1. The killing of Grant was a shot literally heard round the world in multiple video clips by other passengers in the station which were streamed online.
'We Are All Oscar Grant,' declared signs and chants at a January 7 protest of more than 700 people—including blacks, Latinos, Asians and whites—outside the Fruitvale BART station where Grant was killed. Pointing to the Zionist military onslaught in the Gaza Strip, other signs called to 'End Government Sponsored Murder in the Ghettos of Oakland and Palestine.' Rage and despair in the face of the tired appeals for 'calm' and deadly illusions in 'police reform' peddled by black elected officials and preachers exploded in the streets of downtown Oakland later that night. The Partisan Defense Committee—a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization associated with the Spartacist League—sent a protest letter demanding that all charges be dropped against the more than 100 protesters who were beaten and arrested by an army of riot-equipped cops.
While his cops fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, black Democratic Party Oakland mayor Ron Dellums promised to bring the Oakland Police Department into the “investigation” of Grant’s murder. That will be a gigantic boost to the cover-up machine that BART has already set in motion. In 2002, three cops from the notorious Oakland police gang, the 'Riders,' which was unleashed as part of the racist 'war on drugs,' were completely exonerated of 60 counts of savage beatings and frame-ups. Meanwhile, the Oakland cops continued to gun down young black and Latino men with impunity. In this case, the BART cop who killed Grant has opted to resign while the Feds and California attorney general Jerry Brown are intervening to try to keep a lid on 'tensions.'
At the Oakland protest, placards from the ANSWER coalition, led by the reformist Party for Socialism and Liberation, called to 'Jail Killer Cops!' In your dreams. The capitalist rulers are hardly going to jail their own police guard dogs. And, even if one cop were charged and imprisoned, it wouldn’t stop police brutality and terror. The cops serve, together with the military and the prisons, as the core of a state whose purpose is the repression of the working class and oppressed by any means necessary. From the December 31 shooting of Robbie Tolan, who had been forced to lie down in the driveway of his family’s Houston-area home, to the killing of Adolph Grimes III, who was shot 14 times—12 times in the back—outside his grandmother’s house in New Orleans on New Year’s Day, racist cop terror runs rampant in capitalist America.
For its part, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has responded to the spate of cop killings under Dellums’ 'stop crime' reign with the argument that: 'Rather than spending millions hiring more inexperienced cops, what would make a real difference in tackling crime would be to hit it at its roots—poverty—by rebuilding Oakland’s crumbling schools and providing decent-paying jobs that would give Black, Latino and poor Oakland residents a real opportunity' (Socialist Worker, 14 August 2008).
The ISO’s cringing faith in the capitalist rulers to provide money for jobs, education and health care at the expense of their repressive apparatus serves only to mask the true nature of this system. Those whose rule is based on exploitation shell out to those they exploit and oppress only what they can realize back in profit. And the racist rulers of America have no use for a whole generation of black youth who were once kept on the bench as a 'reserve army of labor.' Now what U.S. capitalism offers them is jail, a slow death from disease, malnutrition and drugs, or a fast one, gunned down on the streets by the cops or killed in the prison execution chambers of America.
The situation cries out for revolutionary leadership, to organize the social power of labor and unite behind it all the oppressed in a struggle for state power that gets rid of the whole racist capitalist system and opens the road for genuine freedom for all. This is the class-struggle perspective put forward by the Bay Area Labor Black League for Social Defense, which is fraternally allied with the Spartacist League/U.S."

Both sides are stoking the fires of hate and neither, at least in the above articles is being objective. Both are pushing their own political agenda, otherwise, the article written by the right would have also talked about the number of lynchings of blacks by whites and the article written by the left would have mentioned the killing of whites by blacks. I did find an observation made by an African-American citizen of Oakland that mirrors my own views on this latest American tragedy:

"The shootings [of the four police officers] are a tragedy of epic proportions, and should never have happened. Someone wrote that the system failed him [Mixon} and that city leaders failed him, and I suggest his family failed him. I’m a single father, was raised in Oakland and am currently raising a teenage daughter in Oakland. It’s all about personal choices. When he had the choice to use a gun and go to prison or go home to his family, he chose to use that gun and go to prison. He chose to miss a date with his parole officer, which showed he was not a good candidate for parole. I mean what’s a parolee that’s trying to straighten up his life doing carrying an automatic pistol and then firing it at two officers because they pulled him over? And then he runs to his sister’s house and gets an assault rifle and shoots three more cops, wow! He had the opportunity to be educated, but didn’t take advantage of it. (I took my Oakland education and went to law school.) There certainly is a time and place to voice grievances over the behavior of some Oakland police officers, but Lavelle Mixon was no Oscar Grant. As such, he cannot be a martyr for the good black men that are killed wrongly by officers under the color of authority. Oakland has a high crime rate, which Mr. Mixon has contributed to on at least two known occasions. Oakland has a high poverty and a high unemployment rate, but Mr. Mixon didn’t appear to be trying to bring himself and his family out of poverty. In sum, here is a man that shunned educating himself, and instead of trying to get into college, and out of the “hood” decided that being a gangster was more cool, and we all know what happens to gangsters" posted by Cave Man 3/27/09 on NEWS ONE for Black America.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


While in Columbus, Ohio, on business (and to sneak in some "family time" with my mother, two brothers, and sister who live there!), I heard Rev. Jeremiah Wright speak at Ascension UCC, Sunday, March 22, 2009, at 8:30 am.

It was a beautiful, sunny spring day with a crisp morning chill and the promise of warmth later on and I was sharing an experience with my sister, D'Ebrar who has followed in my Baptist father's footsteps and become a minister.

Our father died eight years ago and I recall him saying things as provocative and stinging as the statements made by President Obama's former pastor in those much-played video clips.

Actually, when I was in college serving as editor-in-chief of the newspaper at a state-supported black college that Hugh Downs correctly stated was once called "the Uncle Tom College" when he interviewed its President, I wrote things far more revolutionary than anything said by Rev. Wright or my father in the underground newspaper I published in retaliation for not being able to quote The Last Poets in the school paper.

I wanted to hear and see Rev. Wright in person to affirm what I believed and what the media missed: Jeremiah Wright is no less anti-American than those of us who have believed in and fostered dissent since the birth of this nation.

Was Thomas Payne unpatriotic when he wrote "SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher"? (Payne, Common Sense, 1776)

While Wright's language was strong and considered excessive by many in those video-clips, it was not as strong as the language used by Frederick Douglass in his Fourth of July Speech.

"This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, lowering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin!"(Douglass, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?", July 5, 1852).

Now, if that was all of the speech, I doubt that there would be schools named for this great American. However, these words were also spoken that day eleven years before the start of the Civil War: "Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation's destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost" (Douglass).

Fortunately, this historical speech was recorded in its entirety and those passages that some might find offensive weren't be taken out of context. My task when I went to see Jeremiah Wright was to put into context what the media effectively sliced and diced to create the biggest sensation.

What I saw was a classic black preacher at his finest. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is noted for his oratorical skill as well as his actvism; however, I heard orators as great as Dr. King every time I walked through the doors of a church growing up, especially when I heard my father.

Rev. Wright, who many will always regard as unpatriotic because of one or two statements made to emphasize the "wickedness" of government that used fear to push an agenda that was not necessarily in the best interests of the people, preached a sermon in Columbus. He didn't deliver a revolutionary manifesto or scream hatred from the pulpit as so many believe he does.

His sermon was brief and effective, demonstrating that he is not only a good orator, but a theologian. His text was Isaiah 43:1-5, and he talked about the warnings given by the prophets before the fall of Babylon.

I really believe that regardless of how he may say it, Rev. Wright is only trying to warn us about the dangers of power and corruption - not because he hates his country; but because he loves it.

I am a strong believer in the dissent that I as an American am allowed to express with my government as a constitutional right. Only when such dissent is expressed can we break with policies like the ones put forth by the last administration, which though once popular, were rejected by the majority of American people eventually when it was revealed they were not in the best interest of the people.

Actually, the most unpatriotic statement I've heard anyone make in recent memory was the one made when told that the majority of Americans did not support the war in Iraq, former Vice-President Dick Chaney said, "So?"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AIG, AIG, Bonuses all the Way, Oh What Fun It is to Jump On The Bandwagon Today!

They're all piling on - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike. Everyone is beating up on AIG executives for getting those big bonuses. However, Senator Barack Obama received $101,332 from American International Group in the form of political contributions according to Opensecrets-.-org. The two biggest Congressional recipients of bonuses from the A.I.G. were - Senators Chris Dodd and Senator Barack Obama. So, why is the President and the rest of the pitch-fork-armed mob attacking AIG now? It's not as if they didn't know about the contract guaranteeing bonuses when they handed them billions more in another taxpayer-funded bail-out. The Republicans are not without blame either, since the Bush administration had the same knowledge when they gave AIG the first bail-out, using the same fear tactics they used to start the Iraq War to convince us that our economy would cave in if AIG was not bailed out ASAP. President Obama, who has repeated things his campaign criicized his opponents for saying (Hillary Clinton in the primaries and John McCain in the general election) took his turn playing Chicken Little, too, after criticizing Bush's fear mongering. But to quote the Democrats (and John McCain), fundamentally the economy is sound now that they've been criticized for forecasting too much doom and gloom. I say there's plenty of blame to go around and perhaps all those involved should listen to the wisdom of a simple carpenter who said over two thousand years ago, "He (or she, Speaker Pellosi) who is without blame, cast the first stone." That old adage, "Those who live in glass houses, should not throw stones" may become more than just another cliche as more and more of the hypocrisy of those criticizing AIG is exposed. For instance, our President has asked us not to spend money wastefully, but recently served $100 steaks (imported from Japan) at the White House. We listened for days as the media harped about the Big 3 execs coming to D.C. in thos private jets, but over 300 private jets flew in to the capitol for the inauguration. I fear there are many more examples of extravagance at the highest levels and double-speak (we'll live well while telling all of you peasants to tighten your belts) at the highest levels of our government. So, before we tar and feather AIG's execs, we may want to consider that they aren't the only ones getting "perks" in the midst of this economic crisis.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A few years ago, I wrote a series on domestic violence in the African-American community. After the second story in the series was published, a young woman came to the newspaper office and asked my editor, who wasn't thrilled about the subject, if she chould talk to me. She told me a story of being stalked and threatened by her ex-husband and that she feared her life was in danger. Althought she worked in the legal profession, she knew there was little that could protect her, including the restraining order she'd take out against her ex. Well, she became the fourth and final installment in my series. However, her husband convinced my editor to publish his side of the story, which seemed to justify his mistreatment of his ex-wife and give a lot of excuses for his behavior. Unfortunately, that's how the series ended and it received almost no response from readers except for the estranged couples who did the unthinkable and aired their dirty laundry in the pages of a newspaper. Domestic violence has always been one of those subjects people don't want to talk about, but that there's plenty of gossip about; for example, it's well known that a local public official beats his wife and the police are frequently called out to his house by the battered woman, yet there has been no 'expose' in our local daily which has the distinction of uncovering the whole Tome Noe scandal. In the African-American, a now deceased Baptist minister regularly beat his wife and everyone knew it. But, although it was talked about in hushed tones during during church services and gossiped about in beauty shops, nothing was ever done to help the minister's poor wife. Many people believe women who remain in relationships where they're abused "must like it." However, it's very complicated for women who are often dependent on a husband or partner for economic support, especially when they have children. I used to have an office at the local YWCA where there is a battered women's shelter. Women who come to shelters like the one at the Y have to summon up all of their courage to do so. I once witnessed a woman being dragged across a street from my office window and later found out they were both police officers and she'd come to the shelter to get away from her abusive husband. When he found out where she was, he came to get her. This African-American couple is so typical of those who live (and sometimes die, either the husband killing the wife eventually or the wife killing the husband in self-defense) with this horrible secret. I've heard that police officers are often guilty of domestic violence, which may explain the cover up that's going on in my city that prevents anyone form doing anything about the public official who regularly beats his wife. He's not the only one: his predecessor once beat his ex-wife when she came to his office when he headed a local agency and she had to be carried out on a stretcher; the employees at the office were told not to talk about the incident. Why do men beat women and why do women continue to remain in relationships where they are battered? And why do women like Rihanna go back to a man who's abused them? Is there a culture of violence that breeds this kind of abuse and the acceptance of it? In the case of Chris Brown, I believe that he is not only a product of having seen his own mother suffer abuse from a batterer, but also of the hiphop culture that objectifies women and supports the "gangsta" image of young African-American men. I'd hoped that having a black President with a self-assured wife would have a positive effect on African-American couples. But that's like saying "The Cosby Show" should have resulted in more African-Americans getting married and staying married and having happy families. One's peer culture has a much stronger influence on one than does any iconic image, no matter how positive. Now that a celebrity couple are embroiled in domestic violence, perhaps more attention will be paid to this issue and more will be done about trying to find solutions to a problem that often results in the deaths of one or more of the people affected. I sure hope so.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Pity the poor GOP. Left with no leadership, they put an Uncle Tom at the head of the RNC and radio bully Rush Limbaugh becomes their rock star, filling in the vacuum of leadership. Glad I’m not a Republican right now!

I’m not a Democrat any more either since the party that held its convention the week of the anniversary of women getting the right to vote has failed so miserably when it comes to actually supporting a woman for President or even Vice-President. I’m in that gray area called “Independent,” meaning I’m looking for direction.

I don’t expect to find it from either of the major parties and, although I voted for Green Party candidate, Cynthia McKinney, I’m not sure I’m ready to take on another party affiliation just yet. I do like that Cynthia McKinney, though. She is a true liberal. Too bad she didn’t get ANY press during the election unlike Ralph Nader who siphoned votes off from the Democrats in the two previous “selections.”

We couldn’t have that during the 2008 Presidential Election when the media was in the tank for the Dems and didn’t want anyone keeping their “chosen one” from winning and winning big. Want to know why the banks and Wall Street keep getting bail out after bail out? Watch Professor Griff from Public Enemy being interviewed in an Atlanta bookstore on YouTube.

The interview took place before the election and the rapper talks about who financed Barack Obama’s campaign. I already knew that, but I doubt that most Americans black or white were aware of how much of the Obama campaign’s funding came from the very folks who put us in the economic straits we’re in right now. Why else would Wall Street’s own Tim Geithner be selected as Treasury Secretary? And why else do these banks and AIG keep getting billions of dollars?

It’s not really Barack Obama’s doing. He’s just the front man in the same way that George Bush was the front man for the GOP for eight years. However, we at least knew who was pulling Bush’s strings – the oil companies which were represented by Dick Chaney, formerly of Halliburton (wonder how long it’ll take before he’s back on board raking in some of the millions our government gave Halliburton in those no-bid contracts?); our new President’s ‘handlers’ are keeping a low profile, although I suspect Zbigniew Brzezinski is the Svengali in this case.

This time, at least, the front guy is intelligent and articulate and can actually use something other than “good old boy” charm and charisma to convince us that we’re not being led into the river to drown as we merrily follow the pied piper. President Obama’s speech to Congress is an example of not only his oratorical skills but the kind of intelligence and thoughtfulness he brings to the office of President, which even I have to admit that this is a welcome change from President’s bumbling, fumbling speeches and press conferences.

However, not all the black folks that have “sold out” other blacks have been ignoramuses with their hats in their hands, shuffling their feet and saying “Yessuh.” Many have been well-educated, well-spoken, and well-heeled by their handlers. We had a name for black folks who let white folks pull their strings down south: the one I used for Michael Steele at the beginning of this piece.

Imagine, Stepinfetchit is alive and living large in 2009 and now he wears a suit and tie and has an Ivy League education! I wonder if that watermelon field the mayor in California put in front of the White House with the caption “Guess there won’t be an Easter egg hunt this year” was aimed as a racial jab at the First Family may have been an unintentional warning to African-Americans that things aren’t what they seem. I know that wasn’t the intent of the person who created the screen saver who said he didn’t know eating watermelon is a racial stereotype.

Of course he said he didn’t know it’s a racial stereotype! And people are upset with Attorney General Eric Holder for saying we’re a nation of cowards when it comes to race? What else do you call people who wear hoods and go around terrorizing people, make racial remarks then plead ignorance, or in the case of African-Americans, insist racism is over because there’s a black man in the White house?

In all fairness to President Obama and Michael Steele, there are a lot of black folks doing the bidding of “the master” in the media, in sports, and in the news media. I especially see this in rap music where names words like “Lil” and “Boy” take us back to slavery when male slaves were emasculated by giving them childish names, not allowing them to wear belts because “men wore belts,” and female slaves were made to bend over and shake their naked behinds for the slave masters’ pleasure just like we see the video vixens do in those rap videos, which it turns out are viewed more by young white males (who also by most of the rap music being sold).

I learned this from Coach Alfred Powell when he visited Toledo a couple of years ago and shared this information with a group of local youth, warning them not to be manipulated by corporate music moguls into regressing into a slave mentality. Well, I think some older black folks need to take heed to that advice, as well.
What better way to lull us and the so-called “liberal left” into complacency than to put a black man in the White House and give us false sense of racial equality and acceptance that may or may not actually exist in this country yet?

I don’t think we want to see an intelligent black man as a sycophant (unless he’s a Republican like Michael Steele or Clarence Thomas); however, regardless of whether we want to face the facts or not, if black folks of either party are being used to get us to sign on to an agenda that is not in our best interests, they’re no different than George Bush who sold us a war so he could give billions of dollars in defense funds to his handlers.

Is it any different when Barack Obama does the same thing, giving billions to the financial community that backed his campaign? We just have to do as Professor Griff advises in his video and think about what’s being fed to us. I was very impressed by this young man, who like me, voted for Cynthia McKinney, and didn’t buy the party line when the media manipulated most of the country into Obamamania.

Someone actually said to me recently, “If I was drowning and going down in the water, all it would take to bring me up would be hearing Obama’s voice in the distance.” This was a Christian minister saying this and she said it with the same devotion and eyes-glazed-over look she has when she talks about Jesus!

I don’t agree with those, like Limbaugh, who want President Obama to fail because his failure would be devastating for the nation. I just plan to keep my eyes open and not be fooled into thinking that having a black President means there’s someone in the White House who has my best interests at heart. Wake up, America! Stop drinking fluoridated water and drinking diet pop so your mind can function and wake up!