… who gave you life: An Encomium for the Vote

Screen Shot 2020-08-27 at 4.35.32 PMby T. Renée Crutcher

(special to The Dreher Report)

To you who disrespect

those who

gave you

Life:

They lived

for us.

They understood

Life to Life.

People of the earth.

They speak to us

from the ground.

They shed their shackles

from a resurrection spirit

 

The puritanical self-righteous attitudes related to the vote and the disrespect for the generations that gave you birth and life, nurtured you, left you an inheritance of faith, hope, institutions of education, commerce, skills, land, and gave slave names dignity makes this position deserving of Donald Trump and the GOP. Why? Because your ingratitude for the blood spilled over the African diaspora for you to live and to have the rights you enjoy now that you didn’t fight for nor earned matters not to you.

You think the elders are useless.

Go ahead.

Drop the excrement of your disrespect with no regard to the privilege to vote you have that you paid no price for.

Go ahead.

Expect results that you aren’t even willing to fight for because you just give up and refuse to vote.

Our lives are at stake. Don’t you know? You curse the wombs that bore you. You curse the seed that created you when you, as a Black person in this country, decide because Jesus isn’t the nominee you won’t vote. “Oh,” you ask, “what are you talking about?” Here is what I’m saying: You are looking for that perfect candidate. Well, I’ve got news for you: There never will be that candidate.

Unbeknownst to you, our ancestors are still making ways that you can’t and are unwilling to see.

Know this: People and situations evolve. The evolution may not be at breakneck speed and it may be too slow sometimes. Be not dismayed. Every piece of a pace is a gain. Don’t you know to just live is revolutionary? You gotta keep on pushing as Curtis Mayfield encouraged us in the 1960s.

If your decision is to give up and not fight then here is what I have to say to you: Don’t dishonor those who walked the journey for you to be here now—in this moment–and even left you a blueprint for you on how to thrive by speaking their names.

Remember this: Congressman John Robert Lewis and Rev. Cordy Tindall “C. T.” Vivian died on the same day having witnessed the gutting of voting rights, yet both men died with dignity, bravery, and hope for us and for our country.

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Let me tell you. On February 1965, on the steps of the Dallas County Courthouse in Selma, Alabama, C. T. Vivian, with several civil rights activists faced segregationist Sheriff Jim Clark who refused to let him enter. C. T. Vivian warned Clark, “You can turn your back on me, but you cannot turn your back upon the idea of justice. […] you can keep the club in your hand, but you cannot beat down justice. We will register to vote, because as citizens of these United States we have the right to do it.” Sheriff Clark hit him in the face with his club. C. T. Vivian kept on speaking; he was arrested. On August 5, 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. C. T. Vivian died July 17, 2020.

Let me tell you. Congressman Lewis never forgot about us, even on his death bed. On July 30, 2020, the New York Times published his final words of wisdom and encouragement. Before you even get to the general content of his words, he speaks to us in the title, “Together, you can redeem the soul of our nation. Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.” Our Statesman died on July 17, 2020.

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Yet, some of you decide you’re wiser than either of them for not voting because the perfect candidate is not on the ballot. I’ll state it again: there is, never was, and never will be that candidate!

Let me tell you something: Unbeknownst to you our ancestors are still making ways that you can’t or simply are unwilling to see. Why? Because you enjoy the benefits of the sacrificial bravery of those who came before us but disparage their wisdom and knowledge.

Go ‘head …

… wit yo bad self! Raise your hands. Shrug your shoulders. Claim, “it is what is is!”

I write this in all sincerity: Our ancestral heritage does not tell us to be silent over things that matter; not family, friend, nor foe.

As I close, I’m thinking. Maybe, just maybe, we need to stop using the word “woke” ‘cause it’s past tense. In this present moment, we need to wake up and stay awake. Our ancestors and those on whose shoulders we stand gave us life. Let there be an encomium for the most nonviolent gesture in the land they fought for us to have: the vote.

◊ T. Renée Crutcher is the founder, CEO at Sankofa Ministries & Tellin’ Our Story Publishing, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a graduate of the Candler School of Theology, Emory University.

Now is the Time: An Inflection Point to Equal Justice

Screen Shot 2020-06-10 at 2.46.09 PMby Luther J. Battiste, III
National President
The American Board of Trial Advocates
special to The Dreher Report

The American Board of Trial Advocates held its first meeting of 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina, in January.  The keynote speaker during the business session was Judge Richard M. Gergel, a distinguished federal judge in Charleston. He was the South Carolina ABOTA Judge of the Year in 2017 and the trial judge in the case of Dylann Roof, the young man convicted of killing nine church members at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Judge Gergel spoke about his recent book, Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waites Waring. The book is about a young African American soldier returning home in uniform from service in the Pacific during World War II.  Sgt. Woodard was struck unlawfully with a blackjack by a white South Carolina police chief, gouging his eyes and permanently blinding him.  The horrific incident was publicized on the radio airwaves by Orson Welles and others, which resulted in a national public outcry about the inhumane actions of the police chief. It was an inflection point for President Truman and influenced his decision to issue an Executive Order integrating the armed forces.  It also inspired Judge J. Waites Waring, a federal judge and native Charlestonian, to become a champion of civil rights in his rulings.

Screen Shot 2020-06-10 at 2.32.00 PMLast week, a 17-year-old girl captured on video a white Minneapolis police officer with his knee pressed on the neck of an African American man, George Floyd, for almost nine minutes. Despite pleas from Mr. Floyd saying, “I can’t breathe,” the officer and three other officers standing by continued until there was no breath left in George Floyd’s body. This horrific event outraged the world and was an affront to the African American community, which was already grappling with the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on African American communities.

Citizens in this country and the world have exercised their First Amendment right to protest the tragic death of George Floyd.  These protests have brought together diverse groups of people of goodwill to challenge the treatment that these men and women suffered and the systemic problems with explicit bias, racism and policing in this country.

The United States of America was born from protest.  Protesters today are demanding equal justice, which is an American ideal not always practiced.  The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in marble above the entrance to the United States Supreme Court. These words emphasize the Fourteenth Amendment requirement that “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

The United States is at another inflection point in its history.  The people of this country are telling us that it is time, it is necessary for us to address the history of racial injustice and systemic problems with policing and the legal system. They are telling us that it is time to respect the rule of law. We, at this time, in this country, must find a way to channel protest to policy.

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Protestors at the State Capital, Columbia, SC

ABOTA is an organization of members of goodwill.  It is an organization that has a respect for the Constitution and the rule of law.  ABOTA’s Code of Professionalism states that members should “encourage respect for the law, the courts and the right to trial by jury.”  We have a mandate to support change in our criminal justice system and to dismantle the systemic racism that plagues our cities and country and affects how policing is practiced.

We should actively support social justice for all. It should be a bedrock of our ideals, our mission, and our programming.  Our members should engage in dialogue that confronts the issues that divide us.  We should encourage our government leaders to address the root causes of the problems that result in the misuse of police authority. We should advocate for a legal system which ensures proper charging of offenders and a trial that is fair to the accused and the victims.

I have hope that the tremendous outpouring of peaceful resistance in our streets and the demands for changes in our legal system will serve to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.  We should be a country of equality where every person regardless of race, creed, color, religion or sexual orientation can have an expectation of liberty and justice for all.

I have faith that ABOTA members will not be merely observers but advocates for positive change and will seize this moment with enthusiasm, goodwill and open minds by accepting the responsibility to be leaders in creating a better world.

Finally, President Jimmy Carter provided a telling statement about the recent protests nationwide.  “People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say ‘no more’ to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy,” the President said. “We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations.”

Abraham Lincoln knew that the nation could not afford to look away, instilling a sense of duty in all of us, when he said, “Let’s have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do your duty as we understand it.” He later said,“It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong.”

(reprinted from the American Board of Trial Advocates newsletter June 5, 2020 with permission by the author)

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMLuther J. Battiste, III is a founding shareholder of Johnson, Toal & Battiste, P.A. in Columbia, South Carolina. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and Emory University Law School. In 1983, Luther entered the political arena and made history by becoming one of the first two African-Americans elected to Columbia City Council since Reconstruction. He served fifteen years as a member of the Columbia City Council including two terms as Mayor Pro Tempore. In 1998, the City of Columbia dedicated to Luther J. Battiste, III the Monument and Plaza in honor of his dedicated service as a public servant.

 

Omaha: The Intense Power of Whiteness

by Patrick D. Jones
special to The Dreher Report

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMHere is the intense power of whiteness in Omaha:

Omaha Magazine is our city’s version of that glossy local magazine every city has. The kind you find in every downtown hotel room, or on coffee tables and in waiting rooms of the high-minded and affluent community members. A lot of cool people who consider themselves liberal, or progressive-minded, work on Omaha Magazine.

Each year, Omaha Magazine puts out “The Faces of Omaha,” a slick 92-page special edition to “introduce the ‘faces’ of local industry leaders and experts”–you know, much anticipated boosterism for a certain sort of folks.

These professionalized promotional profiles in the city magazine are promised to “span across the community.” The editors emphasize that “Omaha Faces” is an “exclusive” list that “highlights Omaha’s legitimate business leaders,” who, in their opinion, after “considerable time cultivating the list,” are “truly the ‘face of their field.” They conclude, “These are the faces of people who have made Omaha the thriving metropolis that it is today.”

They call it “native advertising,” a “unique form of sponsored content produced by editorial staff in conjunction with advertisers.” So, this is all about promotion and dollars.

So, here is the thing:

In the 2020 issue, over the ninety-two pages of this purportedly prestigious promotional magazine, selected “after careful consideration” by advertisers and the editorial staff, of the roughly 400 people photographed and published in the issue, only about 32 appear to be people of color and the vast majority of those are tucked away in group shots, rather than stand-alone feature portraits. (Take a look at the issue for yourself in the attached link) Last year, if I am remembering correctly, there was a kerfuffle because no people of color were featured. Somebody can check me on that detail.

Quite literally, this magazine is demonstrating that the “face of Omaha,” in their view, is white people. The magazine is, in fact, a documentation of a portion of the white power structure in Omaha and the ways people of color are essentially and systematically invisible and marginalized in all kinds of ways in our city.

It is really pretty amazing to behold, even if at the same time boringly typical. Yet, in the context of what is currently going on in America, the white glare somehow seems even more jarring. As I flipped through, it was almost as if it was a satirical magazine.

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Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMPatrick D. Jones is Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He researches, writes and teaches about the civil rights and Black Power era, America in the 1960s, race relations, urban inequality, social movements, electoral politics, and post-WWII popular culture. He is particularly interested in how meaningful and lasting social change takes place at the intersections of formal politics, grassroots activism and cultural production.

Harvard University published his award-winning book, The Selma of the North: Civil Rights Insurgency in Milwaukee, in 2009. He is currently working on an article about folk singer and civil rights activist, Guy Carawan, as well as a new monograph that explores the contested meanings of Black Power in Cleveland, Ohio.

Where There Is No Law

by Jordan Charlton
special to The Dreher Report

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Where there is no law …
There is no need for cellphone video
There is no need for validation
There is no need for three officers
There is no need for an autopsy
There is no need for third degree
There is no need for nationwide riots
There is no need for boarded up windows
There is no need for a state of emergency
There is no need for buildings to be protected
There is no need for clouds of tear gas
There is no need for rubber bullets
There is no need for the national guard
There is no need for military presence
There is no need for all these speeches
There is no need for getting back to normal
There is no need for any memory of normal
There is no need for a right way to do or feel
There is no need for making anything of this country
There is no need for a knee on a person’s neck

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMJordan Charlton is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a member of the 2020 graduating class, having received his Masters of Arts, with a specialty in Creative Writing. He composed “Where There Is No Law” after Trump’s press conference held on Monday, June 1. “The title comes from one line of his speech where he states, ‘Where there is no law, there is no justice’, says Jordan, “I wrote this poem in jest to the idea that ‘law’ must be the supreme thing we are governed by, especially when we (or at least those in elected power of the people) refuse to acknowledge that this law and its protections do not hold true for everyone.”

No Struggle … No Progress

Screen Shot 2020-06-03 at 3.24.41 PM

Frederick Douglass (c. 1818-1895)

“West India Emancipation” speech at Canandaigua, New York, 1857

by Frederick Douglass
special to The Dreher Report

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMThe general sentiment of mankind is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just. For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others, or put himself to any inconvenience to gain it for others. Such a man, the world says, may lie down until he has sense enough to stand up. It is useless and cruel to put a man on his legs, if the next moment his head is to be brought against a curbstone.

If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

A man of that type will never lay the world under any obligation to him, but will be a moral pauper, a drag on the wheels of society, and if he too be identified with a peculiar variety of the race he will entail disgrace upon his race as well as upon himself. The world in which we live is very accommodating to all sorts of people. It will cooperate with them in any measure which they propose; it will help those who earnestly help themselves, and will hinder those who hinder themselves. It is very polite, and never offers its services unasked. Its favors to individuals are measured by an unerring principle in this—viz., respect those who respect themselves, and despise those who despise themselves. It is not within the power of unaided human nature to persevere in pitying a people who are insensible to their own wrongs and indifferent to the attainment of their own rights. The poet was as true to common sense as to poetry when he said,

Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow.

When O’Connell, with all Ireland at his back, was supposed to be contending for the just rights and liberties of Ireland, the sympathies of mankind were with him, and even his enemies were compelled to respect his patriotism. Kossuth, fighting for Hungary with his pen long after she had fallen by the sword, commanded the sympathy and support of the liberal world till his own hopes died out. The Turks, while they fought bravely for themselves and scourged and drove back the invading legions of Russia, shared the admiration of mankind. They were standing up for their own rights against an arrogant and powerful enemy; but as soon as they let out their fighting to the Allies, admiration gave way to contempt. These are not the maxims and teachings of a coldhearted world. Christianity itself teaches that man shall provide for his own house. This covers the whole ground of nations as well as individuals. Nations no more than individuals can innocently be improvident. They should provide for all wants—mental, moral and religious—and against all evils to which they are liable as nations. In the great struggle now progressing for the freedom and elevation of our people, we should be found at work with all our might, resolved that no man or set of men shall be more abundant in labors, according to the measure of our ability, than ourselves.

I know, my friends, that in some quarters the efforts of colored people meet with very little encouragement. We may fight, but we must fight like the Sepoys of India, under white officers. This class of Abolitionists don’t like colored celebrations, they don’t like colored conventions, they don’t like colored antislavery fairs for the support of colored newspapers. They don’t like any demonstrations whatever in which colored men take a leading part. They talk of the proud Anglo-Saxon blood as flippantly as those who profess to believe in the natural inferiority of races. Your humble speaker has been branded as an ingrate, because he has ventured to stand up on his own and to plead our common cause as a colored man, rather than as a Garrisonian. I hold it to be no part of gratitude to allow our white friends to do all the work, while we merely hold their coats. Opposition of the sort now referred to is partisan position, and we need not mind it. The white people at large will not largely be influenced by it. They will see and appreciate all honest efforts on our part to improve our condition as a people.

Nations no more than individuals can innocently be improvident. They should provide for all wants—mental, moral and religious—and against all evils to which they are liable as nations.

Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

Hence, my friends, every mother who, like Margaret Garner, plunges a knife into the bosom of her infant to save it from the hell of our Christian slavery, should be held and honored as a benefactress. Every fugitive from slavery who, like the noble William Thomas at Wilkes Barre, prefers to perish in a river made red by his own blood to submission to the hell hounds who were hunting and shooting him should be esteemed as a glorious martyr, worthy to be held in grateful memory by our people. The fugitive Horace, at Mechanicsburgh, Ohio, the other day, who taught the slave catchers from Kentucky that it was safer to arrest white men than to arrest him, did a most excellent service to our cause. Parker and his noble band of fifteen at Christiana, who defended themselves from the kidnappers with prayers and pistols, are entitled to the honor of making the first successful resistance to the Fugitive Slave Bill. But for that resistance, and the rescue of Jerry and Shadrack, the man hunters would have hunted our hills and valleys here with the same freedom with which they now hunt their own dismal swamps.

Every fugitive from slavery who, like the noble William Thomas at Wilkes Barre, prefers to perish in a river made red by his own blood to submission to the hell hounds who were hunting and shooting him should be esteemed as a glorious martyr, worthy to be held in grateful memory by our people.

There was an important lesson in the conduct of that noble Krooman in New York the other day, who, supposing that the American Christians were about to enslave him, betook himself to the masthead and with knife in hand said he would cut his throat before he would be made a slave. Joseph Cinque, on the deck of the Amistad, did that which should make his name dear to us. He bore nature’s burning protest against slavery. Madison Washington who struck down his oppressor on the deck of the Creole, is more worthy to be remembered than the colored man who shot Pitcairn at Bunker Hill.

My friends, you will observe that I have taken a wide range, and you think it is about time that I should answer the special objection to this celebration. I think so too. This, then, is the truth concerning the inauguration of freedom in the British West Indies. Abolition was the act of the British government. The motive which led the government to act no doubt was mainly a philanthropic one, entitled to our highest admiration and gratitude. The national religion, the justice and humanity cried out in thunderous indignation against the foul abomination, and the government yielded to the storm. Nevertheless a share of the credit of the result falls justly to the slaves themselves. “Though slaves, they were rebellious slaves.” They bore themselves well. They did not hug their chains, but according to their opportunities, swelled the general protest against oppression. What Wilberforce was endeavoring to win from the British senate by his magic eloquence the slaves themselves were endeavoring to gain by outbreaks and violence. The combined action of one and the other wrought out the final result. While one showed that slavery was wrong, the other showed that it was dangerous as well as wrong. Mr. Wilberforce, peace man though he was, and a model of piety, availed himself of this element to strengthen his case before the British Parliament, and warned the British government of the danger of continuing slavery in the West Indies. There is no doubt that the fear of the consequences, acting with a sense of the moral evil of slavery, led to its abolition. The spirit of freedom was abroad in the Islands. Insurrection for freedom kept the planters in a constant state of alarm and trepidation. A standing army was necessary to keep the slaves in their chains. This state of facts could not be without weight in deciding the question of freedom in these countries.

The national religion, the justice and humanity cried out in thunderous indignation against the foul abomination, and the government yielded to the storm. Nevertheless a share of the credit of the result falls justly to the slaves themselves. […] They did not hug their chains, but according to their opportunities, swelled the general protest against oppression.

I am aware that the rebellious disposition of the slaves was said to arise out of the discussion which the Abolitionists were carrying on at home, and it is not necessary to refute this alleged explanation. All that I contend for is this: that the slaves of the West Indies did fight for their freedom, and that the fact of their discontent was known in England, and that it assisted in bringing about that state of public opinion which finally resulted in their emancipation. And if this be true, the objection is answered.

Again, I am aware that the insurrectionary movements of the slaves were held by many to be prejudicial to their cause. This is said now of such movements at the South. The answer is that abolition followed close on the heels of insurrection in the West Indies, and Virginia was never nearer emancipation than when General Turner kindled the fires of insurrection at Southampton.

Sir, I have now more than filled up the measure of my time. I thank you for the patient attention given to what I have had to say. I have aimed, as I said at the beginning, to express a few thoughts having some relation to the great interest of freedom both in this country and in the British West Indies, and I have said all that I mean to say, and the time will not permit me to say more.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMFrederick Douglass escaped enslavement to become a prominent abolitionist, author, and public speaker. He became a leader in the abolitionist movement, which sought to end the practice of enslavement before and during the Civil War.

 

The Moped

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by Casey Merie
special to The Dreher Report

Casey Merie reflects on a casual afternoon experience in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.49.33 PMWhile walking with my Rocky, my 65 pound pit bull the other day, I stopped on the corner of Oak and Glenwood to allow a man on a moped to keep going after I saw he had his turn signal on; but for some odd reason, he just sat there, staring at me. I again motioned for him to go. Eventually, after a weird amount of time, instead of turning he continued straight instead, and then yelled “Fucking n*gger”. This made me wonder if he was planning to try to run me over.

It was a bizarre and scary moment for me because it happened so quickly. Usually on my walk, I encounter people on foot, and nobody on foot messes with you when you are walking a 65 pound pit bull.

I reflected on this casual afternoon.  Just who is this grungy guy zipping around on a moped? I sensed he was the type of man President Lyndon B. Johnson referred to as “the lowest white man” (probably around the time LBJ was busy calling us n*ggers too). He’s too old to be riding it for fun, I thought. Maybe he has a Johnny Reb flag hanging on his wall at home. If he voted in the last general election, it was probably for Trump. Maybe he would have hurt me, if something hadn’t told me to stay put until he passed me. He called me a n*gger.

This is the practice of white supremacy that we all know to be disgusted about.
It’s direct.
It’s abrasive.
It’s to the point.

It’s the other kind of practice of white supremacy, however, that is really scary to me right now. It’s the kind that is pervasive. Even as the tide of popular opinion turns, and people are coming out to condemn the killing of George Floyd, we still have not developed enough political power to hold the police accountable and make them face consequences regularly when they kill us.

It’s the kind of white supremacy that makes people look at our City Council’s decision to fight tooth and nail to dodge accountability for the murder of Marcus Deon Smith by the [Greensboro, North Carolina] police in 2018, and when reasonable people defend limited public resources. Smith was choked in the street by police officers who used a RIPP Hobble device–a restraint the equivalent of being hooked and hogtied. 

I am scared of the white supremacy that confuses far too many of us into thinking that representation is power.

It’s the type of white supremacy that makes it “reasonable” that when an unarmed Black man is murdered after begging for his life, “protecting the public” means saving a budget from having to shell out money to pay restitution to his family.

I am scared, too. I am scared of the white supremacy that has taken hold in so many minds–liberal and conservative–that says Black people cannot get justice if it costs money.

I am scared of the white supremacy that confuses far too many of us into thinking that representation is power. People applaud, for instance, our Black police chief who, I believe, uses his Blackness as a shield to sidestep dialogues on law enforcement oversight and police accountability in Smith’s death.

I am scared of what this will mean for the safety of the protestors on the highway who, in their righteous anger, are sick of this …

… because if the man who called me a n*gger on his moped had been a cop and had decided to escalate this situation, I know I would have gotten no justice from this city.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.49.33 PMCasey Merie lives in the Glenwood neighborhood of Greensboro with her husband and dog. She has organized around food, immigration, policing, and against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. With roots in New York, South Carolina, Tortola, and Virginia, she made Greensboro her home in 2006. She graduated from Guilford College (BA, Sociology & Anthropology) and UNC-Greensboro (Masters in Public Health). She is the Development Manager at People’s Action, a national network of community organizations.

Uprising: A Black Birthright

by Danielle “Dani” Young
special to The Dreher Report

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Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMI realize this is radical but I have to speak up.

It can be a knee jerk reaction to demonize protestors who react with violence. We, as a nation, criminalize violence and romanticize non-violence. Let us remember the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Law enforcement sent dogs after men, women, and children who peacefully marched. Bloody Sunday, specifically, happened in Selma, Alabama in March 1965. During the sit-in movement of that time, white patrons poured hot coffee, and threw food and condiments on peaceful protesters who asked to be served. And they assassinated Dr. King.

Do not allow a romanticized version of the Civil Rights Movement influence your opinions of the protestors of this day.

Violence does have its place in our society. … and, whether you support it or not, you must have empathy and, more important, some understanding of what has caused violence to erupt in the first place. It must be understood that slavery never ended; it has only changed faces. It must be understood that we, as Black people were never meant to be free. For over 200 years and counting, enslavement, lynching, Jim Crow, segregation, and other forms of mental and emotional terrorism have been practiced here in the United States. Do not allow a romanticized version of the Civil Rights Movement influence your opinions of the protestors of this day. To quote the poet Nikki Giovanni:

“perhaps these are not poetic
times
at all”

Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “A Riot is the language of the unheard”. Uprisings are Black people’s birthright. We have the right to demand justice in unpoetic times. Make no mistake, however, the institution of policing is working just fine. If this is confusing for you please research the origins of policing. There is plenty of information. Read “The Police were created to Control Working Class and Poor People, not ‘Serve and Protect'” by Sam Mitrani.

Protestors are loud. Hear them.

To ask a people to march quietly after watching repeatedly an unjust system’s treatment of its Black citizens is to ask someone to not cry out after you’ve hurt them. People on the ground across lines of race and nationalities, including the police, are doing the work to keep these protests peaceful in spite of the infiltration of those whose only purpose is to compromise that peace. There are people on the ground filming this movement, and the images captured on every phone’s camera are markers of these moments in history. In the words of the actor Will Smith, “Racism is not getting worse. It’s getting filmed.”

Protestors are loud. Hear them. They are bold in every gesture and speech. Watch them. Their cry, however, is for the simplest of things: The right to live. The right to exist. The right to just be. Listen to them. Protect Black Lives. 

Be safe out there. Donate to bail out funds. Take care of your mental health.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMDanielle “Dani” Young is a recent graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is passionate about social justice issues and social justice reform. A freelance photographer, she also writes in her free time.

 

@ 4:52 a.m.

by Dr. Jeannette Eileen Jones-Vazansky
special to The Dreher Report

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Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMBeen up since 4:52 am. In my restlessness I was grappling with two unrelated issues–both which are sources of trauma for me. I will write about the one that has most Black people enraged, sad, exhausted, traumatized, and generally not OK.

I have to get it out.

A people can only take so much.

Some elders used to say, “It’s a wonder we didn’t burn this [insert any explicative] down” after what we went through and go through in this country. Others let us know that one day the chickens were gonna come home to roost. Others told us no justice, no peace. So much prophetic wisdom continues to be passed down to us. I believe our ancestors foresaw this moment and many others that preceded this recent round of protests.

I have lived my entire life in a nation where state-sanctioned and vigilante terrorism against black folks (and other minoritized groups as well) has been the order of the day. For every decade of my life, there have been unarmed black folks murdered by police officers. White vigilantes have murdered black people who were simply going about their business–and they have celebrated for it. Growing up in Queens and Long Island, you couldn’t escape it.

I believe our ancestors foresaw this moment and many others that preceded this recent round of protests.

I will be 50 in August. That’s 50 years for me. But what about our parents, grandparents, [great grandparents], etc.? How did they survive? Some of my folks will tell you “But God.” Whatever your beliefs, something has kept us.

People ask “when is it going to end”? The truth is the powers that be, this racist country, and their acolytes don’t want it to end. If they did, they would dismantle this entire system that delights in and profits off of our death and suffering. Until that time, people will protest and it will not be (and we should not expect it to be) according to some book of “acceptable protest.”

I pray for the lives of the protesters. That’s my fear. That they will lose their lives speaking truth to power. I don’t pray for property or material things of this world. Buildings can be rebuilt or replaced. Insurance covers loss of material possessions. But LIFE. That’s priceless.Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PM

Jeannette Eileen Jones-Vazansky is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a historian of the United States, with particular emphasis in American cultural and intellectual history and African American Studies, with strong interests in race and representation, Atlantic studies, and science studies. She published In Search of Brightest Africa: Reimagining the Dark Continent in American Culture, 1884-1936 in 2010. She is currently at work on her manuscript America in Africa: U.S. Empire, Race, and the African Question, 1847-1919. 

 

That Terrifying Darkness

by Dr. Stefanie K. Dunning

(special to The Dreher Report)

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Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMI was settling pretty nicely into my self-chosen cloister when the news of George Floyd’s murder came to me and then the uprisings across the country. And then, the director on Twitter that “if there is looking, there will be shooting.”

Do I need to tell adult human beings that the destruction of property isn’t violence in this case?

Do I need to say that violence is the murder of people and that murder of people is the real crisis–not what happens to some resource-depleting crap in Target that will end up in a landfill and only worsen our climate crisis?

Do we need a lesson in the difference between a chair and a human being?

I keep coming back to this quote from James Baldwin, that writer, prophet, and seer who has never left my mind and heart once I cracked open Go Tell it On the Mountain all those years ago:

Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.

All of these anti-quarantine protestors are caught up in a grand and complicated projection designed to forestall awareness of the reality of death, whose imminence materialized quickly with CV-19. Denial of the dangers of CV-19 connects to the deeper aspects of this culture so obsessed with youth (evidenced by the cultures of beauty, plastic surgery, dieting, wrinkle creams, hairlessness, and so on).

Do we need a lesson in the difference between a chair and a human being?

Now, as is the American way, all of those anxieties and fears about death will be offloaded onto the necks of black people. It’s as if forcing black people to die allows their white murderers to feel more alive and more firmly rooted in life than in death. But the fact of death, regardless of your skin tone or class status or gender identity or sexuality, cannot be postponed, negotiated with, or made otherwise a reality of living.

My spiritual journey has shown me that what people do is a reflection of what they feel inside. So murderers “feel” dead and can only feel alive in the presence of an actual dead body. People who can only see criminality in another feel guilty themselves because ultimately, there are no others. Everything is a mirror.

I suspect, black people do not behave in the genocidal manner that racist and murderous white people do is because we project what is inside of us–which is life, not death.

I have seen some racist arguments which wonder why black people don’t terrorize white people in armed militias or take up an eye-for-an-eye strategy vis-a-vis police/vigilante shootings. [My daughter] Omi was speaking to a (now former) friend of hers in Sri Lanka who told her that “black people are weak.” Many people whose consciousness is framed by anti-blackness think like this. By this logic, Jesus was weak too.

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A makeshift memorial for George Floyd near the spot where he died in police custody in Minneapolis. 

But the reason, I suspect, black people do not behave in the genocidal manner that racist and murderous white people do is because we project what is inside of us–which is life, not death. As a black person, I have no desire to kill anyone, for any reason. I am too concerned about what I would become if I did such a thing. And, I am too concerned about what I would foreclose in the life of the person I would kill. In other words, if living in this society means becoming a serial killer–I’ll fly away.

 

I’ll close with a prayer:

I pray for
the safety of
each and every one of us.

I pray that
our children
are safe.

I pray that
wisdom and insight
will rain down upon all of us and
the killing can stop.

I pray for
our collective
healing.

Love to you all.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMStefanie Kyle Dunning is Associate Professor of English at Miami University of Ohio. She is a graduate of Spelman College and the University of California, Riverside and a Ford Fellow. Her first book Queer in Black and White: Interraciality, Same Sex Desire and Contemporary African American Culture, was published by Indiana University Press in 2009. Her work has been published (or is forthcoming) in African American Review, MELUS, Studies In The Fantastic, and Electric Literature. and several other journals and anthologies. Her latest project, Black to Nature: Pastoral Return in African American Culture, is forthcoming from the University Press of Mississippi in 2021.

Black Folks Live with a Deadly Virus Everyday

Meet Guest Writer Angela Carr Patterson, Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 10.20.40 PMentertainment executive, entrepreneur, Innovator, CEO, Film Producer, Author, Speaker and Spiritual Thought Leader.  Angela also is the Founder of The Fatherless Daughters Network and The Awakened Beauty Experience, the creator of The Journey to Being Process™ and The Divine Ache™ Life Cycles.

Read Angela’s provocative essay on the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died on Monday, May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMDisclaimer: Let me start by saying that this article is not intended to offend or hurt anyone. But my intentions are to shake some things up…to step on some toes…to punch you in your gut…in your consciousness and to shift and wake up some folks. Most of you see me as gentle, loving and kind. I still am…but at times…I will become a force and voice for change. This writing is one of those times. I will be blunt, direct and perhaps a little harsh. But brutally honest. I truly believe these things need to be said. They have been said by others in other ways…and they will continue to be said until things change.

we believe you reap what you sow.

I grew up in a southern city, Columbia, SC. I remember as a little girl hearing my mom have the talk with my brothers. She would say things like, never run from the police, keep your hand out of your pockets, keep your ID on you. I also remember, my mom telling me as I started to drive to stay away from Forest Acres and West Columbia after dark. She said it was the clan territory.

As I became a mother of two sons, I remember having the same talk with them. I also told them to make sure when they went in a store to hurry and purchase what they went in the store to get. Because browsing simply was not a luxury for them.

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Now that my children are adults, they are now having the same talks with their children. Except now, they have to warn them about walking or jogging through a neighborhood, or be aware when you are having a cook out in the park, or sitting in Star Bucks, or yes…simply sitting in your house watching TV.

Every last one of us black folks have to take a deep breath when we are driving. Because we know that one simple innocent traffic stop of DWB (driving while black) could literally end in our death.

Now those of you who don’t share my same skin color, there’s a little voice in your head that will try to tell you that I am exaggerating. But deep within you…you know that I am not.

I … remember, my mom telling me as I started to drive to stay away from Forest Acres and West Columbia after dark. She said it was the clan territory.

Everyday we leave home could be our last day just because of our skin color. And we can’t wear a mask to protect us. I remember hearing stories from my grandmother about how black folks couldn’t walk down the street without being stopped. Or they couldn’t gather in groups of 2 or more because they could get locked up for loitering.

Black and Brown folks live through our own epidemic and pandemic every single day of our lives. Except our deadly virus is RACISM! It spreads so quickly and if it doesn’t physically kill us, it slowly kills us emotionally. And for some reason we haven’t found a vaccine.

 

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And to add insult to our wounds, we are accused of playing the “Race Card” when tragedy hits us and our communities for simply walking, jogging or driving. What the hell do you call it then if it isn’t RACISM?

Do you have any idea what it feels like to walk in a store with more money in your bank account than the store manager and get followed around like you’re about to rob the joint? Do you know what it feels like to be in a line and not recognized and watch someone else get pulled to the front? And you have to struggle whether or not to say anything because if you do, it could cost you your very life?

Do you know what it feels like walk around daily and be told by groups of people to go back to Africa…when we didn’t ask to come here in the first place?

We’ve learned how to live in a pandemic…called RACISM…a deadly disease that spread quickly…kills and destroys our communities daily.

Do you know what it feels like when even your best intentions are considered suspicious because you are not seen human…or equal…you are seen as subhuman.

Now, we here in the America have to sit and listen to a President who we KNOW hates us. How do we know? He demonstrates it to us daily.

Then to have so called “good white folks” tell us that he’s not racist. Like my mom used to say, “Don’t piss in my face and tell me it’s raining.” Because that’s exactly what it feels like when you defend this man to us. You need to know that’s how we feel EVERY time you defend him to us. It becomes difficult to hear you say you love us and you be okay with how this man treats us.

Now I want to say this. We black and brown folks are some of most brilliant people in the world. In spite of all the odds against us…we still find ways to succeed, to laugh, to win, to live, and to love. We walk tall with our shoulders squared, even when we’ve been beat down on every corner.

 

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We have learned how to code switch and to pivot when we are in your presence because we recognize that our brilliance would BLIND you if we really showed you who we are.

You see, we’ve learned how to live in a pandemic…called RACISM…a deadly disease that spread quickly…kills and destroys our communities daily.

But here’s the secret that you don’t know. The tides will eventually turn. We will rise to the top. And that disease…that Pandemic will eat at the host like a virus that destroys the body.

When you are a racist… or you condone it…you don’t get away with it. You will come face to face with what you have done and you will feel the pain of what you have caused others. It’s call Karma.

It never fails…I’ve seen it happen over and over again. Because we believe you reap what you sow.

So the next time you raise your confederate flag, your MAGA hats and your 2nd Amendment signs…I want you to remember this…

“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.”

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We don’t want your pity…because we are proud people. We don’t want your money because we know how to make our own money…and stretch it to feed our entire community.

We don’t want your respect…because we don’t need it. What we want…what we really want is for YOU to recognize that you are living among some of the most powerful, amazing, strong, courageous, resilient and brilliant people in the land.

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Oops…but you already know this…this is the truth you know and the truth you fear.

 

 

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