On this Thanksgiving Day, 2015, BLACK LIVES MATTER. Of course, all lives matter, but right now it seems like it's open-season on African-Americans of every size, age, sex or occupation. The wholesale murder of African-Americans by police is spinning out of control. All I can say is thank God for the portable video camera revolution! If it weren't for all these cameras, none of these horrific crimes would have ever seen the light of day. In fact, we need more cameras! We need more cameras and fewer guns in this country. Racially-motived killings are a serious problem in the United States and it's a problem that's not going to go away on its own. It will get fixed or it will get worse.
Apparently, the United States of America never intended for its citizens of African descent to be anything other than slaves. This nation was ill-prepared for the end of slavery and we've been struggling with it for a very long time. Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863. That's 152 years to get this right and we still haven't come close. What do you do with millions of people that were previously property? What does a nation do with its human beasts of burden, once it's no longer polite to call them slaves? What do we do with our diversity? Do we ignore the obvious disparities? Or do we work harder to fix them?
Population Distribution by Race/Ethnicity in 2014:
USA: White 62% Black 12% Hispanic 18% Asian 6% American Indian/Alaska Native 1% Two Or More Races 2% Total 100%
Population, 2014 estimate 318,857,056
Only 5 black CEOs at 500 biggest companies
The highest echelon of Corporate America just became even more white.
The Wednesday announcement that Don Thompson will retire as CEO of McDonald's leaves just two CEOs who are African-American in the elite Dow 30.
A broader sample shows an even more dismal diversity picture. A mere five CEOs are black at the nation's 500 largest companies, according to a pro-diversity advocacy group.
"Our numbers are going south on us," said Ronald Parker, CEO of The Executive Leadership Council, an organization that works to boost diversity in corporate America.
That's no better than two years ago when Thompson took the helm at McDonald's (MCD). He became the sixth African-American CEO in the Fortune 500. That number peaked in 2007 at seven, according to Richard Zweigenhaft, a Guilford College professor who wrote a book on the subject.
The numbers are especially startling, given that 13.2% of the U.S. population is African-American, according to the Census Bureau.
Corporate boards, too, lack racial diversity and are overwhelmingly white. That needs to change, too, Parker said, and boards need to be "very, very intentional and methodical in succession planning."
"They need to make sure that there are individuals (in the pipeline) who are getting the proper career experiences that will allow them to have the global perspective" to lead multinational companies, he said.
Intel made a splash this month when it unveiled a five-year, $300 million diversity program to build a workforce that mirrors the level of diversity among tech graduates. CEO Brian Krzanich said the company is "missing opportunities" because its workforce doesn't represent the population.
The Case for Reparations
The Atlantic Magazine
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.
And if thy brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today.
— Deuteronomy 15: 12–15
Besides the crime which consists in violating the law, and varying from the right rule of reason, whereby a man so far becomes degenerate, and declares himself to quit the principles of human nature, and to be a noxious creature, there is commonly injurydone to some person or other, and some other man receives damage by his transgression: in which case he who hath received any damage, has, besides the right of punishment common to him with other men, a particular right to seek reparation.
— John Locke, “Second Treatise”
By our unpaid labor and suffering, we have earned the right to the soil, many times over and over, and now we are determined to have it.
— Anonymous, 1861
I. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”
Clyde Ross was born in 1923, the seventh of 13 children, near Clarksdale, Mississippi, the home of the blues. Ross’s parents owned and farmed a 40-acre tract of land, flush with cows, hogs, and mules. Ross’s mother would drive to Clarksdale to do her shopping in a horse and buggy, in which she invested all the pride one might place in a Cadillac. The family owned another horse, with a red coat, which they gave to Clyde. The Ross family wanted for little, save that which all black families in the Deep South then desperately desired—the protection of the law.
Clyde Ross, photographed in November 2013 in his home in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, where he has lived for more than 50 years. When he first tried to get a legitimate mortgage, he was denied; mortgages were effectively not available to black people. (Carlos Javier Ortiz)
In the 1920s, Jim Crow Mississippi was, in all facets of society, a kleptocracy. The majority of the people in the state were perpetually robbed of the vote—a hijacking engineered through the trickery of the poll tax and the muscle of the lynch mob. Between 1882 and 1968, more black people were lynched in Mississippi than in any other state. “You and I know what’s the best way to keep the nigger from voting,” blustered Theodore Bilbo, a Mississippi senator and a proud Klansman. “You do it the night before the election.”
The state’s regime partnered robbery of the franchise with robbery of the purse. Many of Mississippi’s black farmers lived in debt peonage, under the sway of cotton kings who were at once their landlords, their employers, and their primary merchants. Tools and necessities were advanced against the return on the crop, which was determined by the employer. When farmers were deemed to be in debt—and they often were—the negative balance was then carried over to the next season. A man or woman who protested this arrangement did so at the risk of grave injury or death. Refusing to work meant arrest under vagrancy laws and forced labor under the state’s penal system.
Well into the 20th century, black people spoke of their flight from Mississippi in much the same manner as their runagate ancestors had. In her 2010 book, The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson tells the story of Eddie Earvin, a spinach picker who fled Mississippi in 1963, after being made to work at gunpoint. “You didn’t talk about it or tell nobody,” Earvin said. “You had to sneak away.”
“Some of the land taken from black families has become a country club in Virginia,” the AP reported.
From the 1930s through the 1960s, black people across the country were largely cut out of the legitimate home-mortgage market.
Locked out of the greatest mass-based opportunity for wealth accumulation in American history, African Americans who desired and were able to afford home ownership found themselves consigned to central-city communities where their investments were affected by the “self-fulfilling prophecies” of the FHA appraisers: cut off from sources of new investment[,] their homes and communities deteriorated and lost value in comparison to those homes and communities that FHA appraisers deemed desirable.
Blacks were herded into the sights of unscrupulous lenders who took them for money and for sport.
A national real-estate association advised not to sell to “a colored man of means who was giving his children a college education.”
Black families making $100,000 typically live in the kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by white families making $30,000.
One man said his black neighbor was “probably a nice guy, but every time I look at him I see $2,000 drop off the value of my house.”
White flight was not an accident—it was a triumph of racist social engineering.
The Atlantic Magazine
By Ta-Nehisi Coates
YouTube: YouTube Video
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
In light of recent racially-motivated killings, it's almost a mocking phrase. "-- LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL." How can any non-white citizen ever take that pledge to heart. The lives of so many Americans are lived without any connection to the principles this nation claims to be founded on. Time and time again this great nation fails to live up to its claims. How can our Pledge of Allegiance have real meaning, when more minorities are being killed by cops than Al Qaeda. We can do better. We must do better.
The system we call the United States of America is an interlocking system. Everything in this country is interrelated and very closely connected. If you want to keep the descendants of former slaves as a permanent underclass, if you want to stop them from growing and progressing, it's a very easy thing to do. You simply lock up their parents in huge numbers. By locking up the fathers and mothers of African-American children, you completely disenfranchise the entire community. You have not only denied them the right to vote, you have also denied their children guidance. So these fatherless and motherless children quickly follow their parents right into prison and the cycle repeats and repeats and repeats. So long as you keep this cycle of endless prison sentences going, African-Americans will never attend college in proportionate numbers. They will never vote in significant numbers. They will never form the networks and alliances necessary to lift themselves up. As long as this perpetual cycle of prison, poverty and persecution are allowed to continue, minorities will be forever subject to the ills of poverty, police brutality, drugs, and violence.
It's very easy to see why a group of people that were stolen from their homes, robbed of their culture, their religion and self-image could hate the oppressors who enslaved them. What is far more difficult to understand is the hatred of a racist police officer. Why do white cops hate minorities? What makes the oppressors hate the oppressed? What makes white police officers hate minorities so much? That is the question we need to be asking. WHY? Why do the people of privilege hate the less fortunate? WHY?
What makes a police officer hate anyone so much that he could pull a loaded handgun and shoot a seventeen-year-old boy sixteen times without batting an eyelash and not even have the slightest concern that what he was doing is illegal or wrong. And not one single officer on the scene tried to stop the murder or place the perpetrator under arrest. No one rushed to the child's aide. An officer just kicked the pocket knife away. No one offered any aide. The other officers on scene must be brought up on charges right along with the murderer. Anyone who witnessed that murder and did not attempt to prevent it, failed to report it, or helped cover it up must also be brought to justice.
Where were all the murderers with badges when a Charleston South Carolina white supremacist was taken into custody after slaughtering nine innocent African-Americans in a church? Not one of the arresting officers bothered to empty their clips that day.
Unfortunately, all minorities can do in this country to try and defend their rights is take to the streets in protest. My question is, where are all the white, Native American, Hispanic and Asian protestors? Every American with legs, that saw the video of Laquan McDonald being shot sixteen times by a police officer sworn to protect and serve, should be up in arms! That kind of lawlessness should cause all Americans to rise up in protest, regardless of race. Every parent in America should be outraged and writing their local politicians, demanding a complete overhaul of our judicial system and tighter regulation of law enforcement, because that could have been their child gunned down like a dog in the street!
Why do we let hate fester and grow in the darkness? Why do we allow ignorance and xenophobia to run rampant? Generally, the people living privileged lives do not care about those who are not. The people living lives of privilege do not care because they don't have to care. So long as everything is fine in their world, who cares about small groups of minorities suffering on the margins of society. Let them pull themselves up by their bootstraps! Why should we help them? No one helped us? Right? These are the kinds of things wealthy Americans love to tell themselves. No one helped us. Let them work harder if they want to be successful. The privileged don't care about the less fortunate until their cities are in ashes. Then they start to care, but not until then! Not until it's too late. The privileged are too busy living great lives to worry about those who aren't. Unfortunately, that is just the kind of attitude that lays the groundwork for catastrophe.
We ignore our racial problems at our own peril. If we fail to address them now, we are simply adding more pressure to a volcanic irruption that doesn't have to happen. If we fix this problem right now and address it completely before it gets worse, we will be creating a much brighter future for ourselves and our children. If we keep pretending it's going to go away, that it's no big deal or that it will magically fix itself, our grandchildren will be standing in the ashes of their burned-out cities, hoping and praying that someday there will be an end to the violence.
If you can watch the videos of Eric Garner being choked to death by a police officer over a cigarette, or Walter L. Scott being shot eight times in the back while running away from a police officer or read about an unarmed Amadou Diallo, shot 41 times by police, or watch the video of Sandra Bland, who ended up dead after failing to use her turn signal, or see the bullet riddled windshield of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell without getting sick to your stomach, you have a much stronger stomach than I. If you can look at Mike Brown's corpse lying dead in the street like an abandoned slab of meat, if you can watch 12-year old Tamir Rice get shot down in less than five seconds after police arrive on the scene, if you can watch the Walmart surveillance footage of John Crawford carrying a toy gun, while shopping, get shot and killed by police without wanting to vomit, you have a stronger stomach than I.
As Joseph Nye Welch once said to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, "At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" What kind of human being could listen to Eric Garner screaming "I can't breathe!" and reply with the absolutely dispicable lie, "If you can talk, you can breathe." What kind of human being could listen cold-heartedly to the pleas of handcuffed Linwood Lambert who asked the arresting officers, "Why are you trying to kill me, man?" and continue to ignore him when he added, "Please don't do this to me." Linwood Lambert was tased to death. Officers tased Mr. Lambert over 20 times, resulting in one of the most sadistic and cruel deaths ever captured on video. What kind of human beings could handcuff and shackle Freddie Gray and throw him in the back of transport vehicle, when he was pleading for help and so clearly in need of emergency medical attention? Gray would die in a hospital several days later as a result of severe head and spinal injuries. In the United States of America, are African-Americans seen as some form of highly-developed farm animals, livestock or cattle? In the year 2015, are African-Americans considered human beings? Are we all human beings, created equal before God?
Once again, I repeat the immortal words of Joseph Nye Welch, "At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"
How can this nation long endure, if we do not solve this problem? In just 20 or 30 years, Hispanics will become the largest group in this nation. I think it would be wise to get our house in order long before that event takes place. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to solve this problem now and to make sure it never reappears. Imagine how great this nation will be when African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians, are truly a part of American society. Imagine how wonderful things will be when we no longer suffer from the cancer known as racism. Racism is a cancer and like cancer, you have to surgically remove it while it's small. If you don't, it grows large enough to kill you. Let me repeat that. RACISM IS LIKE A CANCER THAT MUST BE SURGICALLY REMOVED BEFORE IT GROWS LARGE ENOUGH TO KILL YOU.
The Declaration of Independence
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
If we are to live up to the ideals this nation was founded upon, we must solve this problem and solve it right now. We cannot wait. We can't wait until another innocent person dies. We cannot wait for more bloodshed. We must act now. All our leaders and politicians must come together to address this issue and to fix it once and for all.
This great nation was founded in 1776. 239 years ago. We've had 239 years to stop hating each other. We've had 239 years to learn to love each other. We've had 239 years to shun violence and xenophobia. We've had 239 years to say YES to equality and NO to injustice. We've had 239 years to turn away from racism and hate. After 239 years, young African-Americans are still being cut down like dogs in the street. 239 years!
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performing "American Skin (41 Shots)" on opening night concert of their Australia tour - at Perth Arena, 5th February 2014.
41 Shots, by Bruce Springsteen
I think enough was enough about 230 years ago. The Native Americans were decimated and their descendants were provided reparations. Japanese-Americans were put in internment camps and they we given reparations. Slavery officially lasted in America from 1620 to 1865. After 245 years of slavery, African-Americans were given next to nothing. The time has come to do what's right. The time has come to properly address the long-lasting effects of slavery, institutionalized racism, Jim Crow and separate but equal. The time has come to address poverty in this nation.
We may find ourselves morally bankrupt. We may find ourselves unwilling to help the less fortunate. We may find ourselves too selfish to change and we may yet find ourselves deeply embroiled in civil unrest; standing in the ashes of burned out cities covered in the blood of friends and neighbors.
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Other nations do not suffer as we do. We can change. We can reform our justice system and end our social double-standards and make life in America work for all of us. Each and every one of us. We can truly make it work equally for ALL OF US. If we have the courage to stand up and make a change, we can turn our Pledge of Allegiance into something real and true for each and every American citizen. If we have the courage to stand up and make a change, we can finally have LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.
- "The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion." -- Thomas Paine
- "To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right." --Confucius