AFAM News bits – October 2017

QUOTE OF THE MONTH  “Those are wrong who regard the life of a practical politician as degrading. But again they are wrong who treat political power as the highest good.” (By Aristotle)

CONGRATULATIONS TO WARD 4 VOTERS The “prognosticators” should be ashamed for doubting Springfield’s Ward 4 voters who voted in larger numbers than might have been expected for a municipal election primary that didn’t even include a mayoral race. Only 5% of all city voters turned out. Preliminary analysis of the turnout shows that Ward 4 turnout was closer to 8%, which is nothing to puff up about but it was higher than most wards in the city. Ward 7 was predictably the highest at just about 10% and Ward 4 may have been the second highest although Ward 6 and 4 were close. While we congratulate Ward 4 voters for their efforts, we caution them that the November 7th final election will require an even greater effort.  

THE TRUMP EFFECT On Saturday, November 23rd, the monument dedicated to the five African Americans soldiers from the  Winchester Square (now known as Mason Square) area of Springfield who were killed in Vietnam was rededicated in a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War held by the National Association for Black Veterans (see page 39). Beforehand the monument was meticulously cleaned and redecorated in gold leaf by Art for the Soul Gallery Artistic Director Billy Myers (see article on page 33). The ceremony was well attended and moving. Skip Williams, who organized the movement to raise funds for the monument, flew in from California to attend the ceremony. The following Monday morning, I received a call telling me that on Sunday night, just one day later, somebody desecrated the newly rededicated monument in a manner that made it appear racially motivated. I couldn’t help but attribute the cowardly action to the “Trump effect,” which should give people in Ward 4, where the monument is located, even more reason to vote on November 7th.

THE RAMPANT RUMORS The rampant rumors of imminent political demise in the recent Springfield municipal primary elections were rife and viral. The opposition was on the attack. Certain incumbents were rumored to be finished and would soon fall victim to a multipronged political siege by enemies old and new who resist legitimate change or who are simply intolerant of legitimate dissent. Well, I can only tell such folks what the dying King Arthur had to say to his last surviving knight, Sir Bedivere, in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “The Passing of Arthur” (Idylls of the King) as they floated on a barge to Arthur’s final resting place while Sir Bedivere mourned out loud over the loss of the “old order.” Arthur, whose fatal war wounds marked the end of his seemingly unending empire called Camelot, responded by saying: 

“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,    And God fulfils himself in many ways,    Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.     Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?     I have lived my life, and that which I have done    May he within himself make pure.”

King Arthur learned the message the hard way as he struggled to maintain an empire whose time had come. And, when his people loved him no more and rebelled against him, he found himself killing many of them along with his enemies with whom some had allied until he finally succumbed in death. And it was only when his death was imminent that he finally recognized the folly of resisting change whose time had arrived. I suppose one could say that Tennyson’s message might be simple: Anybody can resist change but no one can stop change. Wiser men embrace it.

THAT AIN’T HOW BLACK FOLKS SEE IT The former Black President of the United States is making legitimate post-presidency money and White folks, from Boston Herald’s Jaclyn Cashman to Massachusetts political icon, liberal Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren and more, are whining about it! And they are whining about it as though they don’t know how much money former White presidents have made, which is plenty with no significant blowback. Most Black folks I know hope Obama makes enough money for the extra crap he had to take for being the nation’s first Black president. Not only that. Most Black folks I know want him to make enough money to collect some of the value of our slave labor that was used to build the White House in which our first Black president served and some of the slave labor that built the rest of Washington. Not only that. Most Black folks I know wouldn’t mind if he collected enough to equal the reparations for all the slave labor that built this country and enriched Southern and Northern slave traders. And while he’s at it, he might as well collect the accumulated wages we’ve been denied and the wealth that we have been shut out of and the government handouts that have gone to rich White folks to build their businesses and their wealth while so many complain about guaranteeing universal health care to poor people. Oh! And by the way, let’s hope he earns enough to also match what the current kleptomaniacs running the White House are stealing or are attempting to steal. The nerve of those White folks who fall into the category of those who deny a deserving Black man the right to make money that he has earned the right to make!  

TITO IS TEETERING Boston’s Tito Jackson’s campaign for mayor of Boston just doesn’t seem to gain traction. He can’t raise money; incumbent Mayor Marty Walsh has simply out maneuvered him on most issues, forcing Jackson to place himself in opposition to issues that are clearly good for Boston and he is polling far behind Walsh even among Black voters. (According to The Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi, “Walsh is leading Jackson in the polls by 52-21, with a 3-1 advantage over Jackson with black voters… .”) September 21, 2017. And he increasingly appears to be “tilting at windmills” and nobody seems to be offering him sound advice on a path to victory or a path to a dignified way out. The worst thing that could happen to him is beginning to happen – people are beginning to feel sorry for him. (Walsh won 60% of Tuesday’s primary vote to Jackson’s30%. He won 66 out of 97 precincts with a majority minority population including Jackson’s own District 7 in Roxbury.)

WE SHOULD PAY MORE ATTENTION TO AUGUST 28TH  Not long ago, on August 28, 1955, a 14-year-old Black teenager visiting Money, Mississippi from his home in Chicago, Illinois was lynched in so gruesome a fashion that the horrors of racism would forever remain in the minds and consciousness of Americans and become a catalyst for the modern Civil Rights Movement when his mother decided to have an open casket funeral despite the fact that her son had been so disfigured that his remains were unrecognizable. The anniversary of his death passed in August with only slight mention, including in Point of View where we have since given much thought to how to keep the memory of Emmett Till alive and in the forefront of all Americans, Black and White alike. Given the dangerous awakening of tribal racial differences deliberately aggravated by our president, we believe it is urgent that we somehow keep the focus on how dangerous racial hostilities can become which is why from this point on, on August of each year, Point of View will honor deserving person/persons with the “Af-Am Point of View Emmett Till Award.” Our August 2017 award, although symbolically, goes retroactively to Colin Kaepernick. Further details on future awards will be forthcoming.  

THANK YOU, MAYOR SARNO When asked by the chairman of the state MassHumanities board to recommend someone to speak to the board members at a meeting being held for the first time in some time in Springfield, I immediately thought that Mayor Domenic Sarno would be the best choice. If you’ve heard him speak about Springfield’s progress, you know why I asked him. Even though it was on short notice, the mayor agreed and gave a concise and comprehensive, well-received talk on Springfield’s amazing renaissance. 

BAYOU? I must admit to being among those who always wondered what a “bayou” was without bothering to look up the definition. I can’t count the number of books, songs and news reports that referenced the term, Mississippi bayou, Louisiana bayou, “Blue Bayou.” Recently the bayous that aggravated the floods in Houston, Texas and surrounding communities finally garnered my interest enough to send me to the dictionary and the web. For those who are curious, a bayou is nothing more than a slow moving creek or a river. An article in The Wall Street Journal (September 2, 2017) was very informative. The author wrote:  “The word “bayou” looks and sounds French, but its origin is actually Native American. It is originally derived from “bayuk,” meaning “a small stream in the Choctaw language historically spoken in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Most members of the Choctaw tribe were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma in the 1830s, though about 5,000 Choctaw speakers can still be found in Mississippi….By the time Houston was founded in 1836 at the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou, the term was a common part of the Gulf Coast landscape.” Houston’s network of bayous serve the purpose of helping to drain off water from the flood-prone region but they were overwhelmed by the heavy Hurricane Irma rains and aggravated Houston’s flooding problems, which were also aggravated by its antiquated and inadequate drainage system.  ■

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