Category Archives: Race Relations

Dr. King Would Feel Better

Today marks the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It seems that I make this almost an annual thing on both this blog and my business blog, where today I wrote on the topic of 5 Things Dr. King Wouldn’t Be Happy About. Last year on this blog I wrote on what I saw was a different take on things concerning the date and how little things have changed.

I’m slightly modifying that this year. I’m modifying it because of what’s been going on the last couple of weeks, and how it signifies, in some way, just how things have changed.

I’m talking about the Trayvon Martin case in Florida and all that’s happened because of it. Unfortunately there’s still no real resolution of what’s gone on down that way. The guy who killed him is still out of jail, and police chief has temporarily stepped aside, and the police are trying to make out like this kid was the instigator of his own demise; police will be police I’m afraid.

There’s been a major movement in this country over this case, and what’s fascinating about it is that no one has been killed over it. There hasn’t been any riots. Cities across the country have held some kind of rally in support of this kid, even here in Syracuse. It’s talked about almost every night on the news, both national and local.

Back in 1968, Martin’s story wouldn’t have made the news anywhere. No one put anything about black people on the news unless it was something major. Back in 1968, after Dr. King was killed, people went on a rampage all over the country. The police and military went on alert. For days it was scary, even for us little kids. I lived in the suburbs so I was isolated, but from what I hear things were tense in the city, though I’m not sure if there were riots or not; that had happened years earlier.

People are actually talking this time around. The conversation is about racism in general. The conversation is about guns and the rights of gun owners. The conversation is about youth culture and profiling; come on now, hoodies? The conversation is about the difference between protecting oneself and stalking and provoking someone into action so you can feel justified in killing them. The conversation is about how the police sometimes cover things up. The conversation is about a search for truth, justice, and the American way; yes, I had to work a Superman quote in there.

This is how things should happen. We should all be able to talk about things we don’t like, talk about things that scare us, talk about change, talk about difficult topics in the open. True, it’s not happening everywhere. Goodness, I’m surprised to find so many people who, when I mention it, say “Who?” Now there’s a level of oblivion I’ll never understand.

And it’s in this spirit that I write my Black Web Friday series going right now. It offers the chance for people to get to know each other and open a conversation. It offers the chance for all of us to grow together.

The first link above talks about what Dr. King might not be happy about. I think he’d be happy that for once people are talking peacefully; that’s never a bad thing.
 

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The Lament Of An Old Black Radical

This is one of those posts where I’m not expecting a lot of commentary because it’s going to be hard for a lot of people to relate to it. It’s not a ramble, and it’s not necessarily a rant, though there’s some rant in it. It’s basically a post where I just have to have my say; some people might be uncomfortable with it.

On Tuesday while on Twitter, I retweeted something that was posted stating that there are more black men in prison now than there were people in slavery back in 1850. Within an hour one of my local friends kind of discounted it, at least in my mind, by saying the physical numbers of people are different now than they were back then.

I had a quick flash of anger for many reasons. One, I felt like it was another white person discounting something because it was about black people. Two, I’d been reading about some mess with aged idiot Pat Buchanan, who’s on tour promoting his new book that basically says diversity in America is going to “wipe out white people”; I mean, what the hey? And he had just finished promoting it on a white supremacist radio program, which I didn’t even know existed outside of Rush Limbaugh (yeah, I said it!).

But there’s a three, and it’s a hard one to deal with. I’m going to call it the lament of the old black radical, which is kind of how I feel at times. I’m not as bad a radical as Tavis Smiley and Cornel West have turned out to be (for those who don’t know them, they’re both black radicalists, for lack of a better term, that believe President Obama should be beholden to them and every other black person in America just because we’re all black, yet don’t realize that the reason he’s not giving them the time of day is because they started trashing him even before he was elected president and have both lost some of their most ardent former supporters at this point, which includes me). But I’m holding onto things that I just can’t let go at this stage, late 2011, because I truly believe things haven’t really changed all that much from 1971.

What, 1971? Yup, that’s when I read my first book on black history, the shortened version of a biography of Frederick Douglass. That got me going, and for the next 10 years I read all sorts of books on black heroes and leaders and history and the like. At times I was the angry guy because people I knew kind of wanted to avoid looking at it and wanted to dismiss it.

Early on I was living on an air force base in northern Maine, where I found few people who’d even talk with me about it, and then I moved to Liverpool NY, where the school had more than 3,800 kids but maybe only 50 of us were black. In college my first two years I was the only black kid in my dorm, and I think by my last year there might have been 7 or 8 of us in the dorm. There were so few black people on campus that one of the theater professors, who did happen to be black, put on the play Harriet Tubman yet asked every black student he saw to be in it, including me; wasn’t happening, but I did go see it.

Yet, Oswego State, where I went to college, had an African-American Studies program, and the head of the department was one Dr. Alfred Young. He embodied the spirit of the radical, from the long sideburns to the beard to the long fingers that had that Malcolm X point to them. I took almost every one of his classes, as that was my minor, and we’d debate things in class that no one else ever participated in, probably because I doubt any of them had read the books I’d read before coming to college. It was fun; I had my outlet, I had my statistics, and I was ready to go at anyone who violated my “blackness”, to a degree. I say it that way because if I’d only had black friends in college I’d have been a lonely guy. lol

I had lots of friends, and lots of other people who knew who I was; it was kind of easy to be known by a certain point. I got lots of invites to parties and lots of free food and milkshakes and loved it. I had a white girlfriend I loved, and because the one really hot black girl in college didn’t date black men; go figure. lol

Yet, I got to be the black guy, the one many people came to and asked stupid questions, the one who’d field the stupid statements like “I don’t think of you as black” and think it was a compliment until I set them straight. I was the one who told them how Ronald Reagan didn’t care about black people and how John Wayne had said black people made bad actors because they weren’t all that smart and how Lincoln didn’t free the slaves and Jim Crow laws and many other things.

And then it was a time of many firsts. I was almost always the “first” or only in many things, and it continues even to this day, which seems a bit strange. And as I said earlier, not all that many things have changed when we look at positives, but the moods have changed.

There’s no such thing as a black leader anymore. There’s no such thing as true advocates for black issues. Goodness, in a strange way black people are more of a minority than ever as Hispanics (or Latinos; take your pick) have passed us in numbers; if they ever figure out how to become a true political base many present politicians will be out of jobs.

Black unemployment is the highest in the country; blacks in prison by percentage is the highest in this country. Black educational scores are the worst in this country. Most of the businesses in black communities aren’t owned by blacks. And, just to throw this in, one black Republican in Congress… just saying. Goodness, Clarence Thomas and Herman Cain don’t even want to be known as black; what the hey?

No one really cares anymore; I lament that. When did things pass me by to the extent that it can still be bad, or worse, and on one cares? Why haven’t I been able to let it go? How come I still feel like I have to keep my shields up when I’m in public, not only to make sure I don’t get jumped from behind in a sneak attack but being prepared for that time when someone might say something insensitive that I didn’t see coming?

How do I react with a young white kid pulls up next to me at a gas station with a rap song blaring loudly with a lot of filth, misogyny and the n-word (I was going to actually type it but decided not to go there) being said over and over and then he looks at me? What could that kid be thinking? Is he thinking? And how am I supposed to feel instead of feeling insulted and overlooked and insignificant at the same time?

Goodness, I’m only in my early 50’s and I feel so out of touch sometimes. How is it that I touched a nerve when I wrote my first post on 21 Black Social Media Influencers yet when I wrote the followup 29 More Black Social Media Influencers it barely made a dent? Why is it that some younger black people, even some my age, are now telling me that it’s not up to me to try to save the black race, or to even think about trying to help it out, and that I don’t have to worry anymore about trying to set a good example because no one cares about it anymore? Why is it hospitals talk about diversity all the time yet there’s less than 3% black management, not including C-level positions where the figures even worse, in the entire country? And where do I fit in?

Sigh… as I said, this is the lament of an old black radical; I should have added “tired”. Do I ride off into the sunset? Do I continue to fight the good fight when presented? I don’t know; I don’t have any answers. And there’s no one to talk to about it either; sigh again…
 

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King Assassination Anniversary; A Different Take On Things

Today is the 43rd year after the assassination on Dr. Martin Luther King. I’ve written about it in previous years on two blogs of mine, but I’m kind of going a much different route this year, a bit more controversial and kind of a departure for me. But it seems some things have to be said, some truths confronted, and heck, I’m in the mood to do it.

I have been privy lately to reading a lot of, and participating in quite a few, conversations related to minorities online. The major question has been why there aren’t any minorities recognized as A-list bloggers or gurus online if you will. Of course, that kind of generalized statement always gets challenged by the same people who, when people ask why there aren’t more black millionaires, say “look at all the athletes and entertainers”; please! In reality, 43 years after Dr. King, in the realm of being known by a lot of people minorities in general haven’t broken through online. Many people can name one or two, and that always reminds me of “Hey, I have a black friend.” And trust me, I’m not being sensitive; it happens across the board, even in technology.

The overall reality is that one shouldn’t expect that things will be different online than they are in the real world. For instance, there are only 3 black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies; at least in the past, as I haven’t seen the latest list yet. There aren’t any latinos or Asians at all as far as I can tell. Still, out of 500 there’s not even 10% minority representation; that’s a shame in this century.

Then again, it follows a pattern. The other day new unemployment stats came out saying unemployment went down to 8.8%; however, for black people it went up to 18%. For every other minority it also went up; what the heck is that all about? Well, I know, but I’m not saying right now.

Suffice it to say, there hasn’t been any “overcoming” so far. Yet, for all the laments on things that seem to be going against minorities, we don’t get a free pass on this. Bill Cosby was right; we’re doing a lot of this to ourselves overall. I’m not sure if you’ve heard that Latinos now number 50 million in the United States, which is pretty powerful. Yet, for all that power, they can’t get together to vote as a block and effect any change for their community. If they did, you wouldn’t have all this trash going on in Arizona. And if black people were acting right, you wouldn’t end up with incidences like this abhorrent mess in Cleveland, TX, where an 11 year old was raped and many of the people in town are blaming her; what the heck? And then it happened again in Riverside, CA.

Frankly, there’s a lot of blame to go around, and thus one can’t put all the weight on fixing any perceived or real issues on one group or another. However, I’m irked today, which is why I’m posting the video below, even though I’ve thought long and hard as to whether or not I should do it. In the end, I figure it had to be done, and it had to be said, and I’m just glad it’s not coming from my mouth. It’s from a Boondocks episode where Martin Luther King Jr actually came back to life and got a look at some of the “progress” his trials and tribulations had actually brought us to. I hope overall that this isn’t as good as it gets, but this little “speech” is as truthful as it gets… for now, as I acknowledge year #43:


https://youtu.be/DnSzj3NdCkE

 

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Black History Month – The Wind Down

Yeah, I know. You thought I was done with Black History Month when I wrote my post at the beginning of the month talking about differences in people. Well, I thought I was as well, but there’s always something that seems to bring one back into the fold, even if it’s only for a brief visit. I’ve got a few things to highlight, and I figured this was as good a way as any to do that.


’68 Olympics

I ended up writing about Black History month twice on my business blog. The second post was yesterday, and I’d like to share it because I added 5 videos that show others either talking about the month or black people in general. I thought they were all pretty cool videos, but y’all know I also had something to say before the videos. That post is titled As Black History Month Winds Down….

A couple of weeks ago I heard about an interesting website that does a thing during Black History Month as well. It’s called 28 Days of Diversity. The person who runs the site features a different minority blogger each of the 28 days; not everyone is black on this one, but they are definitely minority. I like the concept, and if I have an issue with it that issue would be that the creator doesn’t link back to anyone. So, the honor is there, but this person is missing out on giving backlinks to the sites. I guess it’s year two, and I went through last year’s crop of folks and it seems at least 25% of those blogs are no longer around. I have an interesting post on this topic coming out on the 2nd, so stay tuned.

I have people that contact me for the strangest stuff; too bad I don’t make any money off any of it. Anyway, there’s this site calling itself Best Colleges Online.net, and for whatever reason someone wrote a post and popped it on that site called 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Black History Month. The bad thing for them is that they didn’t know I minored in African-American Studies in college, so I knew all of their facts. The good thing for them is that I’m sharing the link in case the rest of you don’t know the history. 😉

And finally, out of the blue our friend Mitchell Allen of Morpho Designs, with whom I’m playing email chess against (and losing :-(), mentions someone to me I don’t know, named Marlee Ward. And this month she put together an interesting plethora of thoughts from 31 black bloggers on the topic of What Does It Mean To Be A Black Blogger? I think you should check it out because there are a few people there that I know you know, some who comment on this blog, and of course Mitch is also part of the group. Man, I must be waaaayyyy off the grid! lol

And that’s all I have for the month. I decided it was time to add a little video to the mix, and I’m going with You Will Know by… well, officially the artists were called Black Men United, but in reality it’s a bunch of stars who came together to sing this song for a movie, and the message is motivational for any and everyone who’s struggled to make it in this world. Enjoy.

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Black History Month – Differences In People

Wow, it’s Black History Month and I waited an entire week before mentioning it. Actually, it’s not all that surprising for this blog when I think about it. In the just over 3 years that I’ve had this blog, the only time I ever mentioned a black person by name on this blog during February was the first year of this blog when I talked about Bobo Brazil, the first black wrestler inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.


Bobo Brazil & Muhammad Ali

The funny thing is that I’m old enough to remember when black people were called “Negroes”, and that was the nice word. I’m obviously old enough to remember when we were first “black and proud.” I’m not quite old enough to remember when Muslims like my hero Muhammad Ali used to talk about the “so-called Negroes”, but in retrospect that was an inkling that things were really about to change.

Or were they? Sure, the names have changed. These days we’re called African American, a term I rarely use because, well, I grew up “black and proud”, and African American just has way too many syllables to be effective.

I remember when I was younger this month meant a heck of a lot to me. As a kid, I wasn’t the typical reader. One of the first books I bought for myself was a small book that gave a brief biography of Frederick Douglass. Of course that wasn’t enough for me, so over the next couple of years I would go to the library and request other books on him. I lived in Limestone, ME at the time, but I was on Loring Air Force Base, so they’d take requests and order the books to be sent up there.

It’s hard to put it in your mind in this day and age, but this man taught himself how to read and write, as a slave, when it was against the law. Then he ran away, came up north, went to England, wrote an autobiography, came back, had a lot of people come together to buy his freedom, settled in Rochester, wrote a couple of newspapers and more books, worked with President Lincoln, then later married a white woman and alienated everyone; that was in 1884. He lost the support of his family, she lost the support of hers, even though her family were staunch abolitionists. But in 1888 he actually got a vote to be his party’s representative for president of the United States at the… Republican National Convention. Yeah, it was different back then, the party of Lincoln and all.

Anyway, I was a major fan all through elementary school, high school, and college. I was a major advocate for a number of years. And every year through my early and late adulthood I thought it was still important enough to try to get the word out. After all, there’s a lot of stuff we wouldn’t have now if it weren’t for black people.

Then in 2005 I wrote this post on my other blog, Mitch’s Blog, which is my business blog, called Black History Month – Why Don’t People Care More. And I realized that the month really doesn’t carry any meaning anymore. There are no protests for equal rights anymore. There’s a black president, and lots of black people on TV and in sports and entertainment. People can stay in the same hotels now. There’s interracial marriage without mass protests. Goodness, in some communities people are actually trying to segregate schools now to save money (idiot move, North Carolina).

In other words, the differences are still there, but people just don’t really care anymore. I realized that, in some way, I can only state my piece and go with my opinion on things, but it’s probably an old opinion. I’m asked by younger people “Why can’t you just be yourself totally in public and forget what other people might say.” I say because I remember being the “only” enough times when I was younger and knew that I had to “represent”. I then say because even today I’m often the “only”, and I still have to represent. It’s important enough to me, if not them; that’s a shame. But it proves my point; if young black people don’t care, then I’m not going to force it upon them, nor upon anyone else. I’ll state my piece when I’m in the mood, and then I’ll move on.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to shake things up from time to time. It also doesn’t mean I don’t still want some things to occur. So, in that vein, I present the video below. Elon James White is funny and on the ball and calls it straight. And for once he put out an entire video without saying any bad words, although, well, you just can’t account for the shirt. So, Happy Black History Month; this is all I’ve got for now:

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