Freedom Summer Project – those who braved Mississippi burning (a reprise)

Keith has reprised one of his old posts, one that resonates today as much as at any other time. As we wind down Black History Month, this is an important lesson for us to remember. Thanks, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

The following post is a reprise of one I wrote in the summer of 2014. I felt the story needed a new telling during Black History Month.

Fifty years ago this summer, over 700 students from across the country, joined in the Civil Rights battle in Mississippi, where African-Americans had been demonstratively and, at times, violently denied their basic civil rights, especially the right to vote. These students joined together with the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNNC) under the guidance of Bob Moses, who had been slowly organizing SNNC since 1960. These students, were predominantly white, but included all races and ethnic groups.

The fact that many were white helped bring further attention to the ongoing tragedy going on Mississippi, perpetuated by those in power as the young students lived within the African-American community, taught through Freedom Schools young students about African-American history, literature and rights, items that had been…

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One Man’s Quest To Conquer Hate … One Person At A Time

This is a post I originally wrote and published in August 2017, and it is one that I think bears repeating today.  Racist incidents, white supremacy and white nationalist groups, have been on the rise of late, fueled by a racist president and religious groups who somehow think their god prefers pale-skinned people.  Episodes of white police murdering unarmed Black people, for no reason, and getting away with it have become frequent events.  It seems to me we are moving in the wrong direction, my friends.  But one man is doing his part to try to bridge the racial divide, to help people understand that we are all the same, that skin colour does not make a person better or worse than any other.  I have added a few things to the original post, including a Ted-x Talks video that I think you’ll find interesting.


This is the post that I originally wrote for this week’s Good People post, but then I had second thoughts. I had quite an internal debate with myself about whether or not this man actually fit the profile.  In past posts to the category, I have highlighted people who gave of their time or money to help people in a more direct sort of way than this person is doing. I have also tried to avoid conflict, controversy and politics in my ‘good people’ posts. This is where my debate came into play.  I nearly scuttled this post altogether, but it kept nagging at me, and an inner voice told me I needed to write it. Mr. Daryl Davis has not adopted special needs kids, he has not set up foundations to help feed the poor, he has not built homes for people in need. What he has done that qualifies him for the designation ‘good people’ is quite different than the norm, yet I find it timely, in light of recent events.  So, I let my instincts lead the way, and while I have not included him in the ‘good people’ category,  I definitely DO consider him to be a good people, and as such, I want to share with you what Mr. Davis has done and is doing. So, please allow me to introduce to you R&B and blues musician, author, actor and bandleader, Mr. Daryl Davis!

Daryl Davis is a talented blues pianist who has played with the likes of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Percy Sledge and many others of Rock ‘n Roll, Jazz, Blues, and even Country music fame.  While it isn’t his music that is the focus of this post, it was music that opened the door for what he has done.  But first, let us go back just a bit to when Daryl was ten years old.

At age 10, Daryl joined a boy scout troop in Belmont, Massachusetts. He was the only black child in the troop, but that didn’t matter to the other kids, for they had not yet begun to see the world in terms of colour.  One day, young Daryl was proudly carrying the flag, with his troop, in a statewide parade to commemorate the ride of Paul Revere when the crowd began throwing rocks and bottles at him. His first thought was that perhaps the crowd did not like boy scouts.  But then he realized he was the only boy being targeted, and he soon found out that it was the colour of his skin that people did not like. This was Daryl’s introduction to racism, and it sparked a lifetime of curiosity about those attitudes, a curiosity that drove Daryl to do what he did, what he does.  And what, you ask, does he do?

The headline for the article in NPR reads:

How One Man Convinced 200 Ku Klux Klan Members To Give Up Their Robes

For the past 30 years, Davis, a black man, has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. He says once the friendship blossoms, the Klansmen realize that their hate may be misguided. Since Davis started talking with these members, he says 200 Klansmen have given up their robes.

How did it start?  I shall let Mr. Davis explain in his own words:

“I was playing music — it was my first time playing in this particular bar called the Silver Dollar Lounge and this white gentleman approached me and he says, “I really enjoy you all’s music.” I thanked him, shook his hand and he says, “You know this is the first time I ever heard a black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis.” I was kind of surprised that he did not know the origin of that kind of music and I said, “Well, where do you think Jerry Lee Lewis learned how to play that kind of style?” He’s like, “Well, I don’t know.” I said, “He learned it from the same place I did. Black, blues, and boogie-woogie piano players.” That’s what that rockabilly, rock ‘n roll style came from.” He said, “Oh, no! Jerry Lee invented that. I ain’t ever heard no black man except for you play like that.” So I’m thinking this guy has never heard Fats Domino or Little Richard and then he says, “You know, this is the first time I ever sat down and had a drink with a black man?”

Well, now I’m getting curious. I’m trying to figure out, now how is it that in my 25 years on the face of this earth that I have sat down, literally, with thousands of white people, had a beverage, a meal, a conversation or anybody else, and this guy is 15 to 20 years older than me and he’s never sat down with a black guy before and had a drink. I said, “How is that? Why?” At first, he didn’t answer me and he had a friend sitting next to him and he elbowed him and said, “Tell him, tell him, tell him,” and he finally said, “I’m a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

I just burst out laughing because I really did not believe him. I thought he was pulling my leg. As I was laughing, he pulled out his wallet, flipped through his credit cards and pictures and produced his Klan card and handed it to me. Immediately, I stopped laughing. I recognized the logo on there, the Klan symbol and I realized this was for real, this guy wasn’t joking. And now I’m wondering, why am I sitting by a Klansman?

But he was very friendly, it was the music that brought us together. He wanted me to call him and let him know anytime I was to return to this bar with this band. The fact that a Klansman and black person could sit down at the same table and enjoy the same music, that was a seed planted. So what do you do when you plant a seed? You nourish it. That was the impetus for me to write a book. I decided to go around the country and sit down with Klan leaders and Klan members to find out: How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?”

That encounter happened in 1983, and since then Davis has made it his life’s mission to promote understanding, because as he says, “when two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting”. What he does may not seem like much to some, but in my mind, he is doing his part to change the attitudes of the bigots and haters, one person at a time, using words, music and intellect rather than rocks, bottles, guns and cars as weapons.  Think about it for a minute … what if every one of us who believe people should not be judged by the colour of their skin were able to sit down with just one member of a white supremacist group and, through open, honest dialog, help that person to understand that we are all a part of the human race?

In 1998, Mr. Davis wrote a book, Klan-destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan, where he recounts some of his experiences.  For example, the time when one Klansman told Davis that “All black people have a gene in them that makes them violent.”  Davis recalls …

“After a time I said, ‘You know, it’s a fact that all white people have within them a gene that makes them serial killers. Name me three black serial killers.’ He could not do it. I said ‘you have the gene. It’s just latent.’ He said, ‘Well that’s stupid.’ I said, ‘It’s just as stupid as what you said to me.’ He was very quiet after that and I know it was sinking in.”

Before you say what I know you are thinking, no, I am not wearing rose-coloured glasses, am not a Pollyanna.  I realize that the majority of bigots will not be swayed by conversation alone, but I DO think some will.  Often hate and bigotry are based on a lack of understanding, a fear of that which is different.  Mr. Davis has set out to show that people, all people, are really not so different when you get down to the basics. I DO applaud Mr. Davis for the courage to do what he has done, and continues to do.  His approach is the very antithesis of what we see coming out of our own federal government and many of the evangelical churches today.

Mr. Davis was the guest speaker at a Ted-x Talk in 2018, and I’ve included the video here.  Granted, it is a bit lengthy at just over 18 minutes, but I think it is well worth watching … at least please watch the first few minutes.

My initial reason for thinking of Daryl Davis as a good person doing good things still stands … he is doing his part to remove hate from our society, one person at a time.  This is a man whose hand I would like to shake someday.

The Bright Spots in 2020: Yes, There Were Some

The year 2020 will likely go down as one of the worst in the history of the United States, however … there were bright spots!  Our friend TokyoSand has spent hours and hours digging for the best stories from the past year, and she has done one fantastic job of it!  Please take a few minutes to read her wonderful post, reminding us that all was not lost in this year of the pandemic.


year-in-review

We are very close to putting 2020 behind us, but before we do, let’s take one last look back. Now if you’re thinking this is going to be a dreary look at everything that went wrong, you would be wrong. This list is all about the bright spots of light that appeared throughout the year, including some entries I received from my Twitter friends, plus a handful of editorial cartoons I liked. Let’s take a look:

January

The Supreme Court affirmed that cities may not criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of experiencing homelessness.

When Trump authorized the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani (which he may not have had the legal authority to do), anti-war protests were held in over 70 cities and calls from activists poured into Congress. Politicians from both parties, notably in the Senate, pushed back against the administration and passed a resolution to limit Trump’s war powers.

Read TokyoSand’s entire post!

A Few Words Found …

You’ll remember yesterday afternoon when I told you I couldn’t find my words … I think I found some of them, but it seems this batch is smaller than I had on Sunday.  At any rate … I shall see what I can make with the words I do have and perhaps by tomorrow the rest will turn up somewhere.


On a personal note …

My granddaughter Natasha, aka Miss Goose, gave me her Christmas list last week and the very first thing on the list was … a donation to Black Lives Matter.  This kid … she’s 25 now … she just makes me so damn proud of her.  I feel tears welling every time I look at that list.  The next item on the list, of course, is a new computer (that I just ordered, but don’t tell her), followed by a couple of shirts and a long list of books.  But how many people do you know who start their wishlist with a donation to anybody, let alone such a worthy cause?  I just had to give some kudos here to a young woman with a heart of pure gold.


Oil.  Alaska.  Wildlife.  Asshole.

It would appear that Donald Trump plans to leave as his ‘legacy’ a 21st century “scorched earth” policy as he leaves the White House, hopefully forever.  Numerous things have come onto my radar that he and his nasty band of cronies are attempting to enact prior to January 20th.  For starters, the “Trump administration”, aka Donald Trump, announced yesterday that they are planning to rush through the sale of leases to oil companies that would achieve Trump’s long-sought goal of allowing oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

The Wildlife Refuge … REFUGE, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a place that provides shelter or protection”.  Animals, some on the brink of extinction, would be murdered in order for oil companies to make more profit!  According to Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League …

“This lease sale is one more box the Trump administration is trying to check off for its oil industry allies.  But it is disappointing that this administration until the very end has maintained such low regard for America’s public lands, or the wildlife and Indigenous communities that depend on them.”

Disappointing?  No, it goes well beyond disappointment.  Disappointment is when your favourite restaurant is out of fish ‘n chips … this is infuriating, unconscionable, rage-inducing!

The Arctic refuge is one of the last vast expanses of wilderness in the United States, 19 million acres that for the most part are untouched by people, home instead to wandering herds of caribou, polar bears and migrating waterfowl. It has long been prized, and protected, by environmentalists, but Trump has boasted that opening it to oil development was among the most significant of his efforts to expand domestic fossil fuel production.

We. Don’t. Need. The. Damn. Oil.  Somebody please, turn a few dozen polar bears loose on this moron and let them have him for supper!  Truth is, it isn’t and never was about the U.S. needing that oil – it is and always was about the fossil fuel industry and their profits … men who already sit on billions of dollars of wealth, while some of us struggle to put food on the table.  DAMN you, Donald Trump … just DAMN YOU.


How to make the pandemic even worse … hire Scott Atlas!

In just under a week, the United States went from 10 thousand cases to over 11 thousand, and we are on track to hit 12 thousand within a few days.  Yesterday, we had 162,149 new cases, the day before 146,544.  We lead the world in both coronavirus cases and deaths.

Scott Atlas, who I have mentioned before, is the highly un-qualified senior advisor on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, a position that was once occupied by the very well-qualified Dr. Anthony Fauci.  Whereas Dr. Fauci’s entire career has been dedicated to the study of viruses and immunology, Atlas is a neuroradiologist … nothing to do with communicable diseases. Whereas Dr. Fauci cares about human life, Atlas cares only about licking Trump’s boots.

bootlicker

In the absence of federal guidance, states’ governors are taking the virus seriously and doing what needs to be done to keep the people in their state safe … or as safe as is reasonably possible.  One such governor is Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer who, concerned by the recent spike in cases announced Sunday a three-week pause on indoor dining, in-person learning and several other activities.  So, what did Scott Atlas do?  Rather than support the governor in her effort to keep people safe, he tweeted …

“The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp.”

Freedom matters … indeed it does, but somehow, being free once your dead, or lying in a hospital bed hooked up to a multitude of machines, somehow pales in comparison to being alive.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Monday that Atlas’ call to action represented a “grave concern” and warned that it could provoke violence in the state …

“These public health orders are absolutely necessary to preserve human life.  But once again, here you have members of the Trump administration that are so much more hurtful than they are helpful.”

Atlas, a physician with no expertise in infectious diseases or epidemiology, has won favor in the White House in recent months by advocating against coronavirus restrictions and downplaying the disease’s threat.  He has also publicly attacked Anthony Fauci, accusing the nation’s top infectious disease expert of stoking fears about the pandemic for political purposes ahead of the presidential election earlier this month.  One of Trump’s worst choices, one who did not require Senate confirmation, and one who ought to be stoned in the public square for his hideous disregard of our lives, along with his boss!


Well … puff puff puff … it seems I found enough words to make a post, yes?  And now, I think to soothe my own jangled psyche, I will go find a song for this morning’s music post.

Welcome To 21st Century America

Take a look at this picture …

cop-boy

Touching, isn’t it?  Well, before you get all teary-eyed, you should know what really happened.  The boy was not wandering around Philadelphia during the protests — protests of the shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr. by Philadelphia police.  This young boy was, in fact, riding in a car driven by his mother, Rickia Young, when she was confronted by Philadelphia police officers. Her ‘crime’?  She was trying to make a U-turn to get away from the area where the violence between protestors and police was occurring.

According to CBS News …

A video of the incident appears to show the boy and his mother being pulled from their vehicle and being separated. The clip then appears to show the woman being assaulted by officers.

Attorneys Riley H. Ross III and Thomas O. Fitzpatrick, who are representing Young in a civil case, both called out the union. Ross tweeted the photo is “a lie.”

“The only thing that could make what they did out there on that night any more reprehensible than what it already was, was how they followed it up by attempting to use it as some type of propaganda and spin it in through some type of positive thing for the police department,” Fitzpatrick told CBS News.

A short clip taken from a nearby building showed officers swarming an SUV and hitting it with weapons. The video shows officers dragging the driver, who Fitzpatrick identified as Young, out of the vehicle and beating her. The boy is also seen carried out of the vehicle.

Young was detained, released without charges, and reunited with her son that same night. According to Fitzpatrick, both Young and her son suffered physical injuries from the attack, though he said the “emotional trauma of it all” would be “a much longer process.”

The Philadelphia Police Department told CBS News in a statement that the incident is currently being investigated by the Internal Affairs Unit.  Don’t hold your breath for justice …


You may remember reading about Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Black boy who was shot and killed by Cleveland police on a playground in 2014.

tamir-riceOn November 22, 2014, Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann shot Rice within two seconds of arriving at a park where Rice was playing with a toy gun. When Tamir’s 14-year-old sister rushed to her brother’s side, Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback tackled her to the ground, handcuffed her and put her in their cruiser. Tamir Rice died the next day. Neither officer was indicted or fired over the killing.

Loehmann, who had only been with the department for 8 months at the time of the murder, in his previous job as a police officer in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, had been deemed an emotionally unstable recruit and unfit for duty.  He resigned in 2012, knowing that his termination was imminent.  Garmback had been credibly accused of using excessive force against a local woman earlier in 2014 when he “placed her in a chokehold, tackled her to the ground, twisted her wrist and began hitting her body.”  The woman’s crime?  She had called police to report a car blocking her driveway.  Neither of these officers were fit to be law enforcement officers.  And yet, neither one has paid a price for killing a child.

Now, six years later, we find out via a whistleblower that last year the Justice Department led by William Barr quietly rejected career prosecutors’ bid to use a grand jury to investigate the murder.

Although, technically, the civil rights investigation remains open, the decision to forgo a grand jury to compel witness testimony or take other investigative steps essentially puts paid to the case, and with the statute of limitations on one of the charges prosecutors considered most seriously set to run out later this year, there is little, if any, hope that the officers, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, who murdered young Tamir, will ever be punished.


Justice is a funny thing in this country.  The two above situations are not anomalies, not stand-alone events … they are everyday occurrences here.  If you are white, middle-income or better yet, wealthy, you probably won’t be killed by police … you probably won’t even ever be thrown to the ground or placed in a chokehold by police.  If you happen to be Black, or poor … all bets are off.  If you are white and are seen by police driving a brand-new Cadillac, nothing will happen, but if you are Black and are spotted by police driving a brand-new Cadillac, you will be pulled over, and the first question will be, “Where’d you get the car, boy?”

Justice depends on the colour of your skin and it depends on how much money you have.  Plain and simple.  There is a line in the pledge of allegiance that school children are forced to recite that says, “With liberty and justice for all”.  It’s a lie.

Our New Reality

I first read the following OpEd by Dana Milbank in The Washington Post last week, and didn’t give any thought to posting it here.  There were other fish to fry, and I really don’t like raising red flags any more than is necessary.  But, for nearly a week now, the article has stuck with me, pops into my mind at odd times, so this morning I re-visited it.  One big thing has happened since the article was first published that has given it even more perspective than it originally had:  the debate on Tuesday night.  And so, today I am sharing Mr. Milbank’s column for your perusal.


This is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning.

Dana-MilbankOpinion by

Dana Milbank

Columnist

September 25, 2020 at 2:14 p.m. EDT

America, this is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning.

For five years, my colleagues and I have taken pains to avoid Nazi comparisons. It is usually hyperbolic, and counterproductive, to label the right “fascists” in the way those on the right reflexively label the left “socialists.” But this is no longer a matter of name-calling.

With his repeated refusals this week to accept the peaceful transfer of power — the bedrock principle that has sustained American democracy for 228 years — President Trump has put the United States, in some ways, where Germany was in 1933, when Adolf Hitler used the suspicious burning of the German parliament to turn a democracy into a totalitarian state.

Overwrought, you say? Then ask Yale historian Timothy Snyder, a top authority on Nazism and Stalinism. “The Reichstag has been on a slow burn since June,” he told me. “The language Trump uses to talk about Black Lives Matter and the protests is very similar to the language Hitler used — that there’s some vague left-wing conspiracy based in the cities that is destroying the country.”

Trump, as he has done before, has made the villain a minority group. He has sought, once again, to fabricate emergencies to justify greater powers for himself. He has proposed postponing elections. He has refused to commit to honoring the results of the election. And now, he proposes to embrace violence if he doesn’t win.

“It’s important not to talk about this as just an election,” Snyder said. “It’s an election surrounded by the authoritarian language of a coup d’etat. The opposition has to win the election and it has to win the aftermath of the election.”

If not? There won’t be another “normal” election for some time, he said. But that doesn’t have to happen, and Snyder is optimistic it won’t. To avoid it, we voters must turn out in overwhelming numbers to deal Trump a lopsided defeat. The military must hold to its oath. Homeland Security police must not serve as Trump’s brownshirts. And we citizens must take to the streets, peacefully but indefinitely, until the will of the people prevails.

“It’s going to be messy,” Snyder said. “He seems pretty sure he won’t win the election, he doesn’t want to leave office,” and he appears to Snyder to have “an authoritarian’s instinct” that he must stay in power or go to prison.

It’s abundantly clear that Trump plans to fabricate an election “emergency.” First, he claimed mail-in balloting, a tried-and-true system, is fraudulent. Now his supporters are trying to harass in-person voters.

When Virginia’s early voting opened this week, Trump supporters descended on a polling station, waving Trump signs and flags, chanting and forming a gantlet through which voters had to walk. When the New York Times reported that this voter intimidation campaign began at a nearby rally featuring the Republican National Committee co-chairman, the Virginia GOP responded mockingly from its official Twitter account: “Quick! Someone call the waaaambulance!”

Let’s be clear. There is only one political party in American politics embracing violence. There is only one side refusing to denounce all political violence. There is only one side talking about bringing guns to the polls; one side attempting to turn federal law-enforcement officials into an arm of a political party. And Trump is trying to use law enforcement to revive tactics historically used to bully voters of color from voting — tactics not seen in 40 years.

Some of what Trump and his lieutenants have been doing is merely unseemly: using the machinery of government to attack previous and current political opponents, likening pandemic public health restrictions to slavery, or threatening to overrule regulators if they question the safety of vaccines.

But embracing violence to resolve democratic disagreement is another matter. Trump embraced the “very fine people” among the homicidal neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. He embraced as “very good people” armed protesters who stormed the Michigan Capitol to intimidate lawmakers. He embraced his supporter who allegedly shot and killed two people at a protest in Wisconsin. He embraced the “GREAT PATRIOTS” who drove into Portland, Ore., hurling paintballs and pepper spray at demonstrators. He embraced officers who kill unarmed African Americans, saying they simply “choke” under pressure.

Now he’s rejecting the peaceful transfer of power. Worse: Most Republican officeholders dare not contradict him. The Times reported that of all 168 Republican National Committee members and 26 Republican governors it asked to comment on Trump’s outrage, only four RNC members and one governor responded.

In Federalist 48, James Madison prophetically warned that tyranny could triumph under “some favorable emergency.” In 1933, Hitler used the burning of the Reichstag to do just that. Trump now, it appears, is aiming to do likewise.

America, this is our Reichstag moment. We have the power to stop it. Don’t let democracy burn to the ground.

No Justice for Breonna Taylor

March 13th in Louisville, Kentucky.  Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were sound asleep when they woke to the sound of their door being broken down and in the dark, they saw three men with guns pointed at them.  Mr. Walker grabbed his own gun from the nightstand and fired a single shot, hitting one of the men in the leg.  The three men then proceeded to fire no less than 22 shots at Breonna and Kenneth, 8 of which found their target in Ms. Taylor’s body, killing her.

The three men were police officers, men hired to protect the public, but instead they killed a valuable member of the public.

Breonna Taylor was an EMT for the city of Louisville, and she also worked at two local hospitals. Taylor was a full-time ER technician for the University of Louisville Jewish Hospital and she worked as needed for Norton Healthcare.  On her Facebook page, Taylor described her love for helping others …

“Working in health care is so rewarding! It makes me so happy when I know I’ve made a difference in someone else’s life!”

So, why did police murder Ms. Taylor?  They were seeking a man they believed was selling drugs, and who, as it turns out, was already in police custody, who did not even live near Ms. Taylor, and they had no reason to believe they would find him in her apartment.  They had obtained what’s called a “no-knock warrant”, yet later they falsely claimed they had knocked several times, identifying themselves as police, and received no answer.  Breonna Taylor, by the way, was Black.  Take a look at the three officers involved …breonna-officersNotice anything?  Three lily-white officers.  None of the officers were wearing body cams, so there is no video footage to clarify.  Ms. Taylor lived for several minutes after the shooting, but the officers waited five minutes before calling an ambulance and in the interim offered no assistance.

Fast forward to yesterday, September 23rd, when only one of the three officers, Brett Hankison, was indicted on three counts of “wanton endangerment” for firing shots that went into another apartment near Ms. Taylor’s, where a pregnant woman, her husband and their five-year-old child were sleeping. Hankison’s bond was set at a measly $15,000, for which he will only need to cough up $1,500. Not a single one of the officers is to be held accountable for murdering an innocent young woman.  No charges were announced against the other two officers who fired shots, and no one was charged for causing Ms. Taylor’s death.  To add insult to injury, one of the officers, Jonathan Mattingly, stated …

“I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night.”

Say WHAT???  How the Sam Hell does he figure it was “legal, moral and ethical” to murder an innocent young woman? This isn’t the wild west where the motto was “shoot first and ask questions later.”  How different do you think it might have gone if the officers had been Black and the victim a young, white woman?

We the People are sick and tired of this bullshit!  Last night in Louisville, some 100 miles south of my home, there were protests calling for justice for Breonna Taylor.  Unfortunately, two police officers were shot in the melee, and while I am sorry there was violence, sorry the officers were shot, I am not surprised.  Both officers are reported to be in stable condition.

We the People have had just about as much of racist police brutality as we’re going to take without fighting back.  We the People want to see these smug white arseholes held accountable for their actions.  We want to see justice; we want police to be trained in matters of racial tolerance.  Until we make genuine progress, until we can go a year without white cops murdering unarmed, innocent Black people, the protests are going to continue, and some will turn violent no matter how many armed goons Donald Trump sends into a city!

Yesterday, there was no justice for Breonna Taylor, there was only a mockery of justice.  Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder says he fears for the safety of his officers.  If the three officers who murdered Breonna Taylor had been arrested and charged as they should have been, there would be no protests, no violence, and he would not need to fear for the safety of his officers.  Actions have consequences, as we all learned around the age of three when we put our hand on that hot stove.  But for officers Mattingly, Hankison and Cosgrove, the consequences for murder were nil.  Meanwhile, Breonna Taylor is still dead and the world lost a kind, caring human being.breonna-taylor

Words To Ponder …

Ibram-X-KendiMost every one of us would say, if asked, that we are not racist.  We don’t think of Black people as intellectually inferior as our ancestors did, we don’t see them as someone to be feared or hated simply based on skin colour.  We have spoken out for equal rights for Blacks and other minorities, defend equal voting rights, housing rights, and employment rights for all.  But, is there a difference between being ‘not racist’ and being ‘antiracist’?  Dr. Ibram X. Kendi thinks there is, and after listening to him explain last night, I’m inclined to agree.

Dr. Kendi is an author, historian, and scholar of race and discriminatory policy in the U.S.  He currently serves as director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, and previously held the same position at the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at the American University.  I have read one of his books, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and am hoping to read his next to latest, How to be an Antiracist, for which he won the 2016 National Book Award for Non-Fiction.  He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2019, as well as numerous other awards and honours.

In the U.S. today, in light of the recent killings of innocent, unarmed black people by police, the Black Lives Matter movement is more widespread than at any other time.  Unfortunately, it has taken a back seat to such matters as the upcoming election and the coronavirus pandemic, but still, many more people are, it seems, becoming aware of the systemic racism that never went away in this country.  And now, we have a president who would re-write the history of our nation to eliminate such dark eras as slavery, making it more important than ever that we stand up, that we do not allow the darkest days of our history to be whitewashed, but that we own them and learn from them.

I’d like to direct you to the clip my friend Herb sent me last night that I found thought-provoking, and that made me take a closer look within my own self.  This is a 12-minute clip from a June interview of Dr. Kendi with Stephen Colbert, where Colbert steps outside his jokester persona and asks serious, intelligent questions of Dr. Kendi.  Please take the time to watch, listen, and think about Dr. Kendi’s words.

What did you think?  Did it make you stop and ponder a bit?  If you’re interested in Dr. Kendi and his work, please check out his website.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 9/5

I always look forward to TokyoSand’s Saturday cartoonfest. A truly great editorial cartoon should be the “knife-twist of accountability.” While reported articles keep the powers-that-be in check, and opinion and editorial sections help readers make sense of that reporting, editorial cartoons are the jolt that shocks you into caring. These days, there is ample material to keep the cartoonists working overtime, and they have become even more relevant in this age of social media where people’s attention is pulled in so many directions. Thank you for once again giving us a few chuckles on a Saturday afternoon, T.S.!

Political⚡Charge

ByLalo Alcaraz

As a lifelong admirer of editorial cartoonists, I love looking for the cartoons that grab my attention throughout the week and compiling my favorites for all of you. This week, the cartoonists covered the reporting about Trump disrespecting fallen soldiers when he was overseas, the Black Lives Matter movement, the latest with COVID and schools opening, as well as Election 2020.

Trump Disrespects Fallen Soldiers

ByBill Bramhall, New York Daily News

ByClay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

ByMichael de Adder

ByMike Peters, Mother Goose and Grimm

Black Lives Matter

ByMatt Davies, Newsday

ByClay Jones

ByPat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

ByMarc Murphy, Louisville Courier-Journal

ByClay Jones

ByMike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ByMichael de Adder

ByMatt Wuerker, Politico

COVID

ByMatt Davies, Newsday

ByMike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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“Un-American Propaganda”??? Seriously???

Just a few short years ago, this nation seemed like a sane place.  Sure, we had problems … plenty of them.  But we always thought there were systems and safeguards in place to keep any single person or any branch of government from overstepping their bounds.  Never did we dream, say back in 2010, ten years ago, that one person could make such a power grab that the norms would all be shattered within a single administration.

Today, we realize what fools we were … or at least the majority of us realize it.  A madman was elected with a minority of the vote, and nothing has been right ever since.  The Constitution that every president and member of Congress takes an oath to uphold has been shredded by a president who knows no boundaries, who has been enabled by his sycophants in Congress, in his administration, and yes, even in the Courts.  Where are those ‘checks and balances’?  They are only as good as the people who are tasked with enforcing them.

The latest thing to send me into a fit of temper is Trump’s order to Russell Vought, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, to cease the government’s racial sensitivity training.  Trump calls such training “un-American propaganda”.  That’s right, folks … it is un-American to try to teach people not to discriminate, to try to remove the systemic racism that exists within our government and law enforcement community.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  🤬

Does this man understand that Black people are citizens of this nation with the same rights accorded to white people???  Does he understand that we have a huge problem in this nation with racism running rampant throughout our police departments?  Does he realize that we are on the brink of a race war that he will have been responsible for starting?

Trump’s former attorney and ‘fixer’, the man who, for a price, made Trump’s problems such as sexual liaisons just disappear, testified under oath to Congress in February 2019 …

“I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience. I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.”

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He is a racist.  Was there ever any doubt?  Cohen went on to cite some examples …

“He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole.’ This was when Barack Obama was president of the United States. While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way. He told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”

Four decades ago, Trump and his father were sued by the federal government, which accused the Trumps of discriminating against people of colour trying to rent the Trump company’s apartments. Donald Trump was also sued for his mistreatment of black workers in his casinos and, according to a former hotel executive, once said “laziness is a trait in blacks.”

Then there was the Central Park Five case.  A group of African American and Hispanic teens named Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Kharey Wise happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time back in 1989 when a white female jogger was attacked and raped.  The five teens were arrested, tried and convicted on false evidence and coerced confessions, and they served prison sentences until 2002 when the real assailant confessed to the crime.  Donald Trump spent $85,000 placing the ads in local papers calling for the five teens to be executed.  Even though the five young men were exonerated, Trump has since repeatedly reiterated the guilty verdict of the men and has refused to back down or admit his mistake.  What if the teens had been white and the victim Black?  I don’t think Trump would have had a word to say about it.

Yes, Donald Trump is a racist, but are we going to allow him to make this nation even more racist than it already is???  How many more George Floyds, Breonna Taylors, Botham Jeans, Atatiana Jeffersons, and Jacob Blakes do we want?  How many more will it take until the thus-far peaceful Black Lives Matter protests turn into an all-out race war?  We have a serious problem with all forms of bigotry in this nation, but particularly racism, and the very person who should be dealing with it, trying to find solutions for the problem and bring the people of this nation together,  is instead pouring fuel on the fire.  It should NOT be his decision to cancel the training that might … just might be a start toward a better understanding between the people of this nation.

Trump has assembled a long record of comment on issues involving African Americans as well as Mexicans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, women, and people with disabilities.  He is not only a racist, but a misogynist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, and more.  This is a diverse nation with people of every nationality, religion, and ethnicity.  That the nation is led by a person who cannot tolerate any who aren’t white, Christian and male is the ultimate hypocrisy.  Will the people of this nation give him another four years to further our global reputation as a racist nation?  Remember, my friends, we will all carry the stigma of that label, not just those who voted for Trump.  Is this really how we want to be viewed?  Is this really a nation we even want to live in?