It was Rev. Jesse Jackson who gave Coretta Scott King the bad news… But he lied. He did not tell her the truth regarding the severity of the gun shot wound that felled her husband, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Jackson was trying to protect her, to ease her pain. The damage was much worst. The bullet smashed his jaw, and traveled downward into his spinal column. Dr. King was dead.
Fifty years later, African-American Perspective Newsletter publisher Richard James recalls that night… April 4, 1968. “I was in the United States Air Force, stationed at newly computerized radar site in Maine. The commanding officer switched on the TV and asked all the radar operators to abandon their scopes to watch tragic history unfold. My co-workers and I saw the filmed announcement by Robert Kennedy, the Attorney General of the US, brother of slain President Kennedy, tell a crowd that Martin Luther King had been shot and killed. I was paralyzed with sadness but I dared not to cry openly. King, the man with the eloquent voice was gone. Taken away. I was sad. The anger would come later.”
Racial turmoil erupted in the country’s urban centers. The death of a man that promoted non-violent resistance, ironically stirred people to massive random acts of violence. At that time, we did not know that RFK would also be killed by a gunman later that year. Nineteen sixty-eight was a hell of a year.
In honor of Dr. King, let’s do quick review of his life:
Let’s examine her reasons for concocting such a story. She said that she was upset and purposely cut herself with a knife. She realized that her would be angry with her for the self mutilation. So, she decided that an abduction and rape story would take the heat off of her and that she would get compassionate care instead. But what is troubling is the injection of race. She blamed 3 black men. Why?
Such allegations in the past could have gotten black men killed. The story of white women accusing black men of rape is not new. In Alabama, in 1931, nine Black boys (12-18) were accused of raping two White women. They were arrested and convicted and spent several years in prison.
A white woman, an elevator operator, claimed that a black man sexually assaulted or harassed her on May 30, 1921. The white community became enraged and the Tulsa Oklahoma Race Riot began. The black section of town was destroyed by fires set by white mobs and bombed by white pilots. Hundreds were killed and injured.
Susan Smith, a white woman claimed that her car was hijacked by a black man which initiated a massive nationwide manhunt on October 25, 1994. Her children were in the car. She pleaded the hijacker to return her kids on TV. Her children were drowned in a nearby lake (3-years old and a 1-year old). Eventually, she confessed to murdering her children.
Why did these women implicate black men as criminals? Because America is likely to believe them. Since the founding of the country Black Americans have been viewed as less than, the other, or as criminals. Author Ta-Nehisi Coates explains the historical roots of black criminality in a short video, “The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality.”
A revisit to the Trayvon Martin case. On February 26 2012, black teenager Trayvon Martin was walking home on a rainy night through a gated neighborhood in Sanford Florida. He had been deemed as suspicious by an armed neighbor watch volunteer, a white Hispanic man, George Zimmerman. Despite being ordered by police authority not to follow Martin, Zimmerman pursued the teen and an altercation ensued resulting in the death of Martin. Zimmerman claimed self defense and was released. The outraged public demanded that he be held for trail and in 2013 Zimmerman was acquitted.
Most cases of racial prejudice and bigotry – which happens everyday, millions of times a day – are difficult to prove. I have been subjected to racial discrimination many times in my life. But can I prove that I was a victim of racial bias beyond a reasonable doubt? No. But I know a racist bigot when I encounter one, despite their smiling face.
As an African-American, I give all white folks some latitude. I realize that I can make mistakes, or errors in judgement. My perceptions can be false. But, after a series of questionable incidents with an individual I become wary. I let my intuition guide me.
Let me explain: I know a white man that is respected by many and he is well connected socially and politically. He is very friendly. He is a true asset to the community… And I think he is a racist. I could point to several incidents where his behavior towards me seemed to be the product of unconscious bias. I have determined that there is a strong subliminal belief system at work and he is not aware of it. If I told him that I think he harbors racist beliefs, he would deny that he was a racist. He would probably point out that he has black friends or Blacks in his family… etc.
After multiple opportunities to prove myself worthy of his high esteem, I recognized that he is not likely to see me as an equal, as a man. Ever. So rather than waste precious time trying to disprove the basis for his racial bias, I moved on. In my old age I realized that I don’t have to prove myself to anyone, I am not seeking acceptance. Those days are over. Long gone.
And that is what racism is like in contemporary America. It comes in varying degrees of unconscious animosity to outright hatred. Sometimes the racist is a blatant, hostile bigot but most of the time, most racists would deny that they are racist! Their dislike for another group of people are contingent on a range of variables. I believe that George Zimmerman believed that there were good Blacks and then there were the other type, “Fucking punks. These assholes, they always get away.” he said. His voice, recorded by the police dispatcher.
Unfortunately the statement in itself could not be used to establish that his state of mind was racially biased, but it seems clear to me Zimmerman did not see a innocent child walking home from a convenience store… when he pursued, and killed Trayvon Martin. (Would Zimmerman have challenged a white teenage girl under similar circumstances?)
Do Black Lives Matter in the United States? Is a white man’s word his bond? Despite the evidence, law enforcement gave Zimmerman the benefit of doubt. They believe his version of events, seemingly without question.
But there is a greater issue lurking under the scum in the Zimmerman-Martin case: the historical evidence of racial violence directed at Black people over the centuries in the United States. White men have been getting away with murder of Black folk for generations. Just take a gander of the work of the Equal Justice Initiative, the murder of black men by white men who were ultimately acquitted is nothing new. Viewed from the context of hundreds of years of racial injustice, Zimmerman”s claim of self defense did not ring true to some black ears. The Sanford Florida cops’ release of Zimmerman only hours after the killing of Martin seemed head scratching-ly inappropriate.
How the state handled the case is a separate discussion. The issue is the Stand Your Ground law that allows white men to kill black people with impunity across the south…
The situation is bad enough when young Black men shoot and kill each other in da hood. But when state government gives the wink to racists murderers, the Black community is outraged. And rightfully so.
He started out as Malcolm Little and ended up as El–Hajj Malik El–Shabazz but the world knows him as Malcolm X, the fiery orator of the Nation of Islam during the turbulent times of mid-century America. He rose from petty criminal, convicted felon to a national leader of black America.
He called out hypocrisy even when it was unwise and unsafe to do so.
He was a non-believer in non-violent responses to racial brutality but he was an advocate for black unity. And eventually, he evolved into a prophet of universal brotherhood when he was killed.
See the documentary The lost Tapes:Malcolm Xstreamed online, for free, on the Smithsonian Channel. His angry voice of armed self defense advocacy made Dr. Martin Luther King’s call for selfless acts of non-violence very attractive to white Americans. He was scary. They called him a hate monger. But Ossie Davis’ eulogy was an elegant and plain truth about the man that many black people loved,
“There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain – and we will smile. Many will say turn away – away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man – and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate – a fanatic, a racist – who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them : Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.
Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves.”
We stand in awe of Malcolm X’s commitment to truth.
America has been consumed with issues of its racist past and is currently struggling with racial attitudes and how those they have serious consequences in everyday life.
In January 2017, we focused on Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday, then February was Black History Month, then in March we celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the Selma marches for voting rights. Race, race, race. What is a poor racist to do? Enough all ready?
Some bigots are probably saying, “The niggers are taking over!”
Racists point to hip-hop music as a double standard. Blacks use the (N-Word) all the time. So what’s the big deal? Why can’t whites use the word?
Well, I want to go on record as saying, “I don’t think anyone should use it.” ( I use it here, sparingly, in this essay to make a point.)
Black America has a problem. Why do young black men shoot each other with such frequency? I believe it is partially due to a culturally ingrained self-hate. No other American demographic willfully, without hesitation, exerts such levels of violence on its own community. The root of this violence stems from the historical devaluing of black bodies. The N-word was designed to dehumanize individuals that were enslaved. The violence we see on our streets among black young men is the result of accepting that devaluation as fact.
Some will argue that it is okay for black people to say the N-word. Others say that its use causes further separation. Popular comedians and rappers defend its use. The separations are real. Unfortunately, some people refuse to acknowledge the cultural, social, economic racial separations that still exist today. To heal we must first identify and recognize the injury.
Instead, we have young white men appropriating the negative aspects of black culture by mimicking gansta rap. This is crazy. That is like wanting share a poisoned drink.
Black culture is often oppositional to white mainstream culture. Young black students that speak well in class have been accused of being a sell out and “speaking white”. To be hip, to be cool is to use profanity as a kind of currency among low income blacks. That is my background. I learned to speak two dialects. One black, one white. I had to. It was a matter of survival.
The use of the (N-word) has been around a long, long time. In the black community, black people has used the word as a pejorative and as a term of endearment interchangeably for generations. but should white people use it?
Noted author and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates gives a brilliant explanation is this short video:
Also check out Jabari Asim, author of the book, The N-word:
We now live in an era of fake news and Russian bots. What is true? What is false? What is real? What is fake?
The African-American Perspective Newsletter has limited reporting capabilities and we depend on other outlets of news for stories. We will endeavor to screen false reports but we’re sure some things will slip through the cracks. For that reason we state that we cannot verify the veracity or accuracy of stories generated from other publications and news outlets. We will provide links to the source material and we ask readers to judge for themselves.
Secondly, while we take great pains to eliminate pornography from our pages, we are not prudes. It’s that “eye of the beholder” thing. A naked human body might be porn to some and art to others. Our goal is to share the truth of the human condition from our unique point of view. We don’t intend to objectify a woman’s body but if an image stirs debate about sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or improper sexual conduct we might use it. The goal is light, not heat. Don’t expect to see sexual acts on these pages.
And finally there’s the old N-word thing. How should we use it and when? Well, we use the guidelines for obscenities from the Associated Press Stylebook. However, artistic expression is tricky. A rapper’s hiphop expression might use the term “nigger” as part of an art form. Or use of the term might convey its historical context. (Great classic American literature contains the term. Huckleberry Finn or To Kill the Mockingbird are examples reasonable use.) Generally speaking, the publisher, Richard James, thinks the word is derogatory, dehumanizing and refrains from using it personally and professionally. But there is a harsh reality… The word is likely to be around for a long time to come. So, you might see it pop up on these pages. We will handle it when it comes. We reserve the right to refuse to publish any works that contains offensive language.
Conservative Author and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow, Shelby Steele says racism is over, and that American Blacks continue to wallow in victimhood. He says that they have yet to take personal responsibility for their lives. You can view the video here.
I would like to make a couple of points after watching the video.
Steele acknowledges that slavery, segregation, etc. has harmed African-Americans but he denounces Affirmative Action programs. Evidently, he thinks that Blacks did not need remedial assistance after hundreds of years of oppression.
He said that oppression has ended. He said that racism is not a problem anymore. But President John F. Kennedy said, when he addressed the nation regarding civil rights in 1963, “This is not a sectional issue. Difficulties over segregation and discrimination exist in every city, in every State of the Union, producing in many cities a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safety. Nor is this a partisan issue. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics. This is not even a legal or legislative issue alone. It is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets, and new laws are needed at every level, but law alone cannot make men see right.
“We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.”
So, while the government has struck down anti-black laws, America was still a racist country. And there are still nefarious agents who want to reverse the progress earned in the 1960’s. Steele omits the current rise of white nationalism under Trump. He ignores what happened in Charlottesville VA.
And he was wrong when he said that in a segregated America everybody was aware of racism. Not true. At the time, the majority of Americans did not agree with Dr. King’s tactics of direct confrontational non-violence. King was seen as a troublemaker. Most folks did not see the need for fundamental social change. That was the reason for the protest demonstrations in the first place!
He also ignores science. Generational stress has an accumulative effect. Stressed out black mothers pass their negative reactions on to their unborn child. Thus causing high infant mortality rates among black women. Blacks have suffered hundreds of years of beatings, starvations, threats, intimidations, rapes, and murder before and after the civil war, under a white supremacist system, but Steele suggests that with a stroke of a pen the stress of racism was removed and eliminated.
If racism is not a problem anymore, then why does the income gap persist at all levels between whites and blacks? Fifty years after the death of Dr. King, blacks and whites are still not equal in wealth or income. Even high achieving Blacks make less money than their white counter parts. (I suggest that black conservatives make less than white conservatives.)
Finally, why are there so few Blacks like Justice Clarence Thomas or Columnist Thomas Sowell? Because they are the true hustlers of which he speaks. They make their living assuaging white guilt. They let white people off the hook. They tell white America, “The conditions found in Black America are not your problem.” They absolve white America of any responsibility. And white folks love the elixir of exculpation that they are selling.
There is a particular pernicious kind of evil that seeks to persuade victims of violence that they are not victims, especially in light of ongoing attacks.