I want to add my voice to those concerned about the killing of 17 year old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
From what I have heard and read, it appears that this young person was shot and killed for the offense of walking while black or being outside while black.
He also seems to have been killed because of someone else’s improper sense of entitlement and impunity.
Hopefully the so-called justice system will further investigate this matter, and a fair trial will be held for George Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman is the man alleged by many to have shot and killed Mr. Martin.
This case has brought to needed attention the ongoing and seemingly never-ending fact in our nation that you can kill black people and get off easy for doing so.
We are a nation that often seems crazed with violence, and where some lives appear to have less value than other lives.
We need to work for justice and decent treatment of all people in our own lives and in our society as a whole.
The work of freedom and justice is up to each of us.
My friend Errington Thompson at Where’s The Outrage has been posting about the Trayvon Martin issue for a number of days now. Errington has also been writing usefully about race in America in recent days. Please check out his blog.
I read a story in the July 22 USA Today about unfairly fired U.S Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod.
This is the woman fired because a right-wing blogger took comments she made about issues of race out of context.
I often do read USA Today. I’ve been gettiing the paper of late delivered at the door of my hotel room in Seattle. I’m in that hotel room right now writing this blog post.
In the USA Today article, Ms. Sherrod says that the real issue is not about race but “about the poor vs. those that have.”
Damn right. I could not agree more. I wish some of our fellow working people could see the facts as clearly as does Ms. Sherrod.
Here is the weekly round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. The round-up is at the end of this post.
With the round-up this weekend, since Memorial Day tomorrow, is a group portrait of African-American officers taken in Houston in 1918. The names of the men are given as —Lieutenant Benati H. Lee, Lieutenant Harry Murphy, Lieutenant Fred Johnson, Lieutenant Claudius Ballard, Lieutenant Harry Allen, Lieutenant Edward Douglas, Lieutenant Louis Washington, Lieutenant George L. Amos, Lieutenant Samuel A. McGowan, and Lieutenant Frank McFarland, 370th infantry. This picture is at the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress.
I did not know that black officers would have been stationed and trained in a Southern city such as Houston as long ago as 1918.
As it turns out, the fact that these troops were in Houston was a source of tension that led to a riot
“In the spring of 1917, shortly after the United States declared war on Germany, the War Department, taking advantage of the temperate climate and newly opened Houston Ship Channel, ordered two military installations built in Harris County—Camp Logan and Ellington Field. The Illinois National Guard was to train at Camp Logan, located on the northwest outskirts of the city. To guard the construction site, on July 27, 1917, the army ordered the Third Battalion of the black Twenty-fourth United States Infantry to travel by train with seven white officers from the regimental encampment at Columbus, New Mexico, to Houston. From the outset, the black contingent faced racial discrimination when they received passes to go into the city. A majority of the men had been raised in the South and were familiar with segregation, but as army servicemen they expected equal treatment. Those individuals responsible for keeping order, especially the police, streetcar conductors, and public officials, viewed the presence of black soldiers as a threat to racial harmony. Many Houstonians thought that if the black soldiers were shown the same respect as white soldiers, black residents of the city might come to expect similar treatment….On August 23, 1917, a riot erupted in Houston. Near noon, two policemen arrested a black soldier for interfering with their arrest of a black woman in the Fourth Ward. Early in the afternoon, when Cpl. Charles Baltimore, one of the twelve black military policemen with the battalion, inquired about the soldier’s arrest, words were exchanged and the policeman hit Baltimore over the head. The MPs fled. The police fired at Baltimore three times, chased him into an unoccupied house, and took him to police headquarters. Though he was soon released, a rumor quickly reached Camp Logan that he had been shot and killed. A group of soldiers decided to march on the police station in the Fourth Ward and secure his release…. Maj. Kneeland S. Snow, battalion commander, initially discounted the news of impending trouble. Around 8 P.M. Sgt. Vida Henry of I Company confirmed the rumors, and Kneeland ordered the first sergeants to collect all rifles and search the camp for loose ammunition. During this process, a soldier suddenly screamed that a white mob was approaching the camp. Black soldiers rushed into the supply tents, grabbed rifles, and began firing wildly in the direction of supposed mob. The white officers found it impossible to restore order. Sergeant Henry led over 100 armed soldiers toward downtown Houston by way of Brunner Avenue and San Felipe Street and into the Fourth Ward. In their two-hour march on the city, the mutinous blacks killed fifteen whites, including four policemen, and seriously wounded twelve others, one of whom, a policeman, subsequently died. Four black soldiers also died. Two were accidentally shot by their own men, one in camp and the other on San Felipe Street. After they had killed Capt. Joseph Mattes of the Illinois National Guard, obviously mistaking him for a policeman, the blacks began quarreling over a course of action. After two hours, Henry advised the men to slip back into camp in the darkness—and shot himself in the head…Early next morning, August 24, civil authorities imposed a curfew in Houston. On the twenty-fifth, the army hustled the Third Battalion aboard a train to Columbus, New Mexico. There, seven black mutineers agreed to testify against the others in exchange for clemency. Between November 1, 1917, and March 26, 1918, the army held three separate courts-martial in the chapel at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. The military tribunals indicted 118 enlisted men of I Company for participating in the mutiny and riot, and found 110 guilty. It was wartime, and the sentences were harsh. Nineteen mutinous soldiers were hanged and sixty-three received life sentences in federal prison. One was judged incompetent to stand trial. Two white officers faced courts-martial, but they were released. No white civilians were brought to trial. The Houston Riot of 1917 was one of the saddest chapters in the history of American race relations. It vividly illustrated the problems that the nation struggled with on the home front during wartime.”
From these facts—
“More than 350,000 African Americans served in segregated units during World War I, mostly as support troops. Several units saw action alongside French soldiers fighting against the Germans, and 171 African Americans were awarded the French Legion of Honor. In response to protests of discrimination and mistreatment from the black community, several hundred African American men received officers’ training in Des Moines, Iowa. By October 1917, over six hundred African Americans were commissioned as captains and first and second lieutenants.”
The battles we have had to fight have been both at home and abroad.
Here is the round-up—
WhosPlayin notes that the Dallas-Fort Worth area has once again failed to meet its 8 hour ozone attainment, forcing TCEQ to implement contingency measures. Have you had your two teaspoons of ozone today?
Rand Paul explains why Texas Republicans don’t mind pollution, notesCouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme.
Gas and greed divide neighbors in Argyle, TX. A tale of avarice, lies and corruption and civil disobedience in the Barnett Shale brought to you by TXsharon at Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS. Read more »
(12/16/09–Greetings Saintsreport.com readers. You sure do seem defensive over this matter. Maybe it is the long shameful—and still unaddressed—history of race relations in New Orleans and Louisiana that makes you so defensive. I wonder how many of you folks ever have written with such passion in favor of racial and economic justice as you write on behalf of a football mascot? Here is the current day New Orleans you folks commenting below are defending.)
Above is the strange New Orleans Saints mascot Sir Saint.
Why does he have to be white?
29% of players were white in 2008.
Plenty of folks in New Orleans and Louisiana are black.
When this mascot was designed, a decision had to be made if he would be black or white.
Why white instead of black?
With almost two-thirds of NFL players black, maybe he should have been black.
Maybe the Saints could have two mascots.
They could have a white one and a black one who go around the field as loyal teammates.
That is quite a racial disparity.
It is an ugly and brutal story that led to the terrible Jim Crow-era in Louisiana.
You can say that Sir Saint is just a silly football mascot and who cares what he looks like?
Yet in a place with as nasty a racial history as Louisiana and New Orleans, the decision as to what color the football mascot should be implies something. Especially when the mascot does not look like the majority of players on the field.
(Not that the deformed Sir Saint looks like most white players either.)
The Saints should get themselves an odd-looking black mascot as well and the black and white mascots could play catch on the sidelines and team-up to tackle rival mascots. This would show people that black and white folks can get along—-Even in Louisiana.
What would be best would be if the black mascot and the white mascot could get married in a halftime ceremony. Such a ceremony would help the players get in touch with their true feelings with all that physical male-bonding going on in football.
The gay marriage though might have to wait until I own the Saints.
I recently watched a 35 year old episode of All In The Family. I’m up on pop culture as long as I have 35 years to catch up.
In the episode I saw, Archie Bunker unknowingly passed a counterfeit $20 bill to George Jefferson. Archie was picking up dry cleaning from George at Jefferson Cleaners
When he saw that the $20 was no good, George stormed over to Archie’s house, next door to his, and demanded $20 in real currency.
George told Archie that if he did not give him the money that Archie would ”be on the list of the ten most sorry honkies.”
Well—you can just imagine the trouble from that point on.
Life is more complicated than in 1974. In terms of race, America is, in some respects at least, better than it was in 1974.
While there is little to be said for what race relations were in the era of fights over busing and not long after years of urban rioting, the black and white world of Archie Bunker and George Jefferson did make for better television than much of what is on today.
As someone who grew up watching All In The Family, I sometimes have to remind myself that race relations are more nuanced today than in the past. I’ve never quite gotten the sounds Archie and George yelling at each other out of my mind.
One thing I’m reasonbly certain of–A black President named Barack Obama serving at the same time that much of black America still lives in borderline genocidal conditions of urban (and rural) poverty and despair, would not have been a future people would have imagined 35 years ago.
Above is a former Ford auto plant in Piquette Street industrial district of Detroit.
This Piquette Street area is on the list of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Here is information about the Piquette Street Ford plant. Many famous car models were made at this plant.
I’ve been thinking today about how many auto workers moved to the Detroit suburbs without any care about the future of the City of Detroit. Many of them were content enough to leave that city in ever-growing poverty.
I don’t believe in karma, but it does seem that a number of things have caught up with Michigan’s auto workers.
I hope as many jobs stay as possible in the Michigan auto industry. If we don’t care about fellow working people, who will?
Yet at the same time, I’m not going to lose sight of what many of these workers were and are, and the attitudes they have held over the years.
Here is some history of Detroit from two people who clearly spent a great deal of time working on it. It is comprehensive and quirky and well worth a look.
I’m sorry that my late friend, Johnny Castille, a black man and a Democrat, is not here to see Barack Obama on the cusp of winning the Presidency.
Johnny died late last year or early this year. I can’t recall the exact date. He was in his early 60′s at the time of his death.
Johnny was a sacker at my local supermarket here in Houston. He had served in Vietnam and worked at General Motors in Indiana for many years. He was retired from GM and was working at the supermarket until his retirement benefits kicked in. I don’t know if he would have ever seen those benefits given the state of GM.
Johnny was one of the first friends I made after I moved to Houston 10 years ago. He was a loyal Democrat and a good person. He had a sense of humor. While he was at first a supporter of Hillary Clinton, I’m certain he would have moved to Senator Obama as the campaign progressed.
There is a woman customer I talk to at the supermarket who was also friends with Johnny. I mentioned to her last week that I regretted Johnny was not here to see what was taking place. She said she had had the same thought, but she knew Johnny could see what was taking place.
She told me she has prayed long and hard for Senator Obama to be safe in this campaign, and that in her view he was anointed in some way.
I felt some understanding for what she was saying despite not having the same religious faith or skin color as she.
There are three weeks to go in the campaign. In honesty I wish I had a faith that would allow me the relief of prayer. I am tense over the outcome. Senator Obama offers hope that this country is not the country we have lived in for the past eight years.
Maybe we can move past some of the history that holds us back in so many ways. We’ll elect this black person and folks will see that the world does not end.
I never thought I’d see a black person as President of the United States. In three weeks we’ll see how it turns out. Win or lose on Election Day, I’m sorry Johnny is not here today. But I’m made hopeful by what I am seeing. Maybe it is possible that morning will come.
The so-called “Bradley Effect” is a topic of conversation and, for Democrats, concern in the 2008 campaign.
What is the Bradley effect? Who was Bradley?
The Bradley effect is the idea that persons contacted by pollsters lie about support for a black candidate for public office. They tell the pollster they support a black candidate because they don’t wish to be seen as racist. But when they go to vote, they vote for the white candidate in the race instead of the black person they had told the pollster they favored.
A recent Associated Press story suggests that Senator Obama will have to have a lead in the polls of at least six points to overcome this factor on Election Day. This idea is disputed by a leading analyst of poll data. This New York Times article discusses the issue.
The term Bradley effect comes from the 1982 election for Governor of California. Los Angles Mayor Tom Bradley ( photo above), a black man, was leading in the polls over California Attorney General George Deukmejian. Mr. Bradley was a Democrat and Mr. Deukmejian a Republican.
Despite Mr. Bradley’s lead in the polls, Mr. Deukmejian won the election by a small margin.
From the New York Times 1998 obituary of Mayor Bradley—
“Tom Bradley, the sharecropper’s son who became Mayor of Los Angeles and presided over the city for two decades of explosive growth and change, died yesterday..He was 80. Mr. Bradley was Mayor from 1973 to 1993, an era in which Los Angeles was transformed from a collection of suburban neighborhoods to what Mr. Bradley liked to call a ”world-class city,” a place with glittering skyscrapers, a striking new skyline and a vibrant downtown…. His election as the first black Mayor of Los Angeles, which was then the nation’s third largest city and largely white, reflected a significant change in local politics in the United States. For most of that time, Mr. Bradley was an immensely popular figure whose stately bearing and placid demeanor seemed to reassure his increasingly polyglot city….Soft-spoken and self-effacing, Mr. Bradley shunned some of the perquisites that his stature and office might have brought him. Calling it a foolish waste of money, he refused to use a cellular telephone that was installed in his car, a former aide recalled. Still, Mr. Bradley learned to move as easily in the society of the fabulously wealthy as he did in the world of the poor and disadvantaged from which he had come.”
Is the Bradley effect for real? Have we moved ahead in the 26 years since 1982? Will a kind of reverse Bradley effect take place this year where Senator Obama actually gains votes because he is black?
If some unknown number of union members and Democrats don’t want to vote for Barack Obama because he is black—Well, that is a decision that people are going to have to make. I just know that I’d rather lose the election than not have nominated a black candidate because of his race.
I’m not talking here about consistent Republican voters. I’m talking about people who most often pull the correct lever on Election Day.
If after 40 years of voting for George Wallace, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and the Bushes, some blue collar voters still don’t get the idea that these people are not helpful for average working folks, then good luck to them in finding a future for themselves and their kids.
If cultural issues such as guns and gays are the most important things to these voters, that is a call they are free to make. I know the issue here is not God because Barack Obama is a fully believing Christian.
Every election of my adult life–I’m 41– has been about the same stuff. And our national life just seems to get worse and worse.
I’m hopeful good sense and optimism will prevail and that Senator Obama will win this election. But win or lose, maybe we need to look at some new options to make our lives better.
How about a liberal only open-enrollment health plan? Or a liberals only credit union for car loans and college loans? There are millions of us. Enough to make grand plans work. We could work it out so that our organizations donate some amount of fees and dues to liberal causes. Discounts could be offered if you could show proof of a donation to liberal candidates or reliable voting in Democratic primaries.
I’ve wasted enough of my life waiting for people who should know better to come around. I’m not giving up on people. But this is one of those times when we are really going to see what is in some people’s hearts.
Many wonder what effect racism will have on the campaign of Barack Obama. A feeling is that some will not vote for Mr. Obama because he is black.
I see this question somewhat differently.
People have the feelings they have. There are racist people in the United States. But it is one thing to have racist feelings, and another thing to act upon those feelings. It’s possible to have negative impressions of another group of people, and at the same time to realize what you feel may not be the best course to follow in life.
I think there are people who have the chance to do the right thing in 2008 and who will do the right thing. What I mean by this are Democrats, or others willing to consider Barack Obama, but who are disinclined to vote for Mr. Obama because of his race.
There will be some number of people such as I describe above, who will examine their hearts and minds and make the call for Mr. Obama. This even while race is something that matters to them.
I think Harry Truman is an example of a man who knew his own limits, and then gave thought to what his values and actions should be despite those limits. President Truman’s desegregation of the Army is one of the great acts of American Presidential leadership. Who would have thought that this man who formed his identity in late 19th century and early 20th century Missouri, would strike such a strong blow for freedom?
Maybe you know somebody in your own life who thought out a tough question and decided to move past old feelings.
Whether the issue is race or some other concern, is their anybody, including myself, who could not stand to examine their own limits and see where further thought and personal progress is possible?
I don’t know how it will all turn out in November, but I am glad to know that some of our fellow Americans will examine their hearts and minds on Election Day and decide to move forward.
Below is the profile of Ragtime musician Scott Joplin (above) from the book Who’s Who In The 20th Century. This book was published by Oxford University Press. Mr. Joplin lived 1868-1917.
“Born in Texarkana, Texas, Jopin won several local piano contests before turning his attention exclusively to the syncopated piano style known as ragtime. A strong influence on the stride piano style of Fats Waller,ragtime became a precursor of Jazz. The first two pieces called rags were written in 1897-98: two of Joplin’sbest known, “Original Rags” and “Maple Leaf Rag” were written in 1899. The latter was so successful that a publishing company was formed on the strength of it, and a million copies of the sheet music were soon sold, Ragtime became nationally popular and for a time Joplin achieved his ambition of wealth and fame…However, he he aspired to create a more serious school of ragtime composition although the style does not sustain extended forms. He also wrote two operas…and started an opera company based on ragtime. None of these ventures succeed…These failures , the ravages of syphilis and the declining interest in ragtime combined to lead to his early death in a mental house. He wrote about fifty piano rags, of which many are subtle and stylish compositions as well as delightful period pieces.”
For Mr. Joplin, beyond the barriers his skin color presented, he was also hindered by the artistic limits of his music. You don’t have to know much about either ragtime or opera, to wonder about an opera made from rag music.
My guess is that Mr. Joplin did the best he could against the obstacles he faced.
A few days ago I was at the supermarket. In the supermarket parking lot, I saw an interracial couple. One person was black and the other white.
A moment later I saw a white woman get out of her car with a small Asian girl. I don’t know for sure, but I assumed it was her daughter.
When you think that Houston, and much of America, were strictly segregated as recently as 40 years ago, it really is a kind of miracle what we see today.
I know much work is left to be accomplished. I know how hard it was to reach this point. But I sometimes think to myself that, in this respect at least, I’m glad I live in these times and not in a time when these things were not possible.
A new study says that the rate of AIDS in the United States is 40% higher than previously thought and that black Americans are bearing the brunt of this epidemic.
“The rate of new infections among non-Hispanic Blacks was seven times as high as that among whites in 2006 (83.7 versus 11.5 new infections per 100,000 population),” the CDC said. “Blacks also accounted for the largest share of new infections (45 percent, or 24,900). Historical trend data show that the number of new infections among Blacks peaked in the late 1980s and has exceeded the number of infections in whites since that time.”
The CDC acknowledged what activists have being saying all along: More concentrated prevention efforts are needed if the virus is ever going to be contained among African-Americans.
“The continued severity of the epidemic among Blacks underscores the need to sustain and accelerate prevention efforts in this population,” the CDC said. “While race itself is not a risk factor for HIV infection, a range of issues contribute to the disproportionate HIV risk for African Americans in the U.S., including poverty, stigma, higher rates of other STDs, and drug use.”
The following is taken from the Centers for Disease Control report on AIDS as excerpted in Louisiana Weekly—
€ Standing on its own, Black America would constitute the world’s 35th most populous country, but would rank 16th in the world in the number of people living with HIV.
€ A free-standing Black America would rank 105th worldwide in life expectancy and 88th in infant mortality. Blacks in the U.S. have a lower life expectancy than do citizens of Algeria, the Dominican Republic or Sri Lanka.
€ Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, only four countries – and only two in the Western Hemisphere – have adult HIV prevalence as high as the conservative estimate (2 percent among adults) for Black America. Blacks represent about one in eight Americans, but account for one in two people living with HIV in the U.S.
€ Despite extraordinary improvements in HIV treatment, AIDS remains the leading cause of death among Black women between 25-34 years and the second leading cause of death in Black men between 35-44 years.
€ Black women in the U.S. are 23 times more likely than White women to be diagnosed with AIDS.
€ Blacks make up 70 percent of new HIV diagnoses among teenagers and 65% of HIV-infected newborns.
Here’s the bottom line–People of color can die in this country and the majority culture will–in most though not all cases– not care. Black folks themselves are going to have address AIDS. Part of this will be demanding that elected officials tackle this problem.
Another solution will be admitting the problem exists.
In 1994 I was part of a campaign for the Ohio State Senate from an urban district centered on the city of Cincinnati. The candidate I worked for was a black member of the Cincinnati City Council.
This candidate discussed AIDS. He said condom distribution and needle exchange were needed to help lower rates of AIDS. For this message, his Republican opponent and some local black preachers used these assertions effectively against him in the campaign. They said he was promoting immorality. These folks should have been run out of town. Instead, they were listened to as people got sick and died.
A society that does not care if you live or die is given a free pass when you do something self-destructive.
AIDS requires the attention of all people. But it is the folks most impacted who will have do the heavy lifting needed to fight the plague.
A new TV ad by John McCain flashes images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears and suggests Senator Obama is a celebrity and little more.
But that’s not really the story.
The story here is about linking a black man to blonde white women. This is just what Tennessee Republicans did with black U.S. Senate nominee Harold Ford in 2006.
The people who make these ads know what they are doing.
Senator McCain has already said Senator Obama would lose a war in order to win an election. Mr. McCain will say and do anything.
Senator McCain voted against the Martin Luther King holiday. He now says he is sorry.
The McCain campaign could only find two blonde white women to put in that ad?
Reading the polling data, one question did stand out. People were asked what percentage of the country was black.
The Census Bureau reports that in 2006, 12.8% of the American public was black. That number added up to about 38.3 million people.
In the Times survey, 32% of all people said America was between 20% and 30% black. An additional 32% said the number was between 30% and 40%. And 9% of respondents said America was a majority black nation.
Both a majority of black and white folks in the survey got the question wrong.
I guess I should stop being surprised at what people don’t know, but I really don’t see how people can figure the nation is 30% or more black.
Do whites get it wrong out of a fear of being overrun? Are blacks looking for strength in numbers?
In any case, I don’t get what people are thinking sometimes. Don’t folks have any sense of the world around them?