AFAM Newsbits – February 2017

“Democrats begin the Donald Trump presidency in sad shape. They lack a clear power base, they’ve got no distinct national leader and party brokers are searching for a formula to counter the new Republican-dominated government and figure out how to win again….
“Outside Washington, Democrats now have just 16 governors and run 14 state legislatures, compared with 33 Republican governors and 32 GOP-run legislative bodies.” (The Boston Globe, January 20, 2017)

I couldn’t have said it better than The Boston Globe’s Renée Graham who wrote: “Obama spoke of hope, but hope is an ephemeral concept for African-Americans. To be black in America often means being disillusioned. It means confronting the incessant message (sometimes sadly internalized) that you’ll never be good enough, and that getting to the door doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed through it. Even if you’re finally given the key, don’t be surprised to find the locks have been changed.” (January 19, 2017)
In the conclusion of her article that spoke so eloquently about Obama’s accomplishments, Graham wrote: “As we approach a new president with an emphatically different way of conducting himself, I’ll remember how Obama, the best president in my lifetime, ran this nation and treated its citizens. Sure, some people for reasons only they can understand, will be happy to see him go. As for me, I’ll recall that for eight years I witnessed something extraordinary that for most of my life seemed well beyond even the grasp of my dreams – a president and a first family who looked like me.” Amen!

Black Wall Street Journal columnist, Jason L. Riley, stumbled into the same intellectual quagmire that entraps so many White folks who seek to chastise Black folks who legitimately criticize one of their own when he wrote, “One of the best examples of liberals using personal attacks as a pretext for policy disagreements is the campaign against retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has been selected to head the Housing and Urban Development Department. The New York Times depicts Dr. Carson as an antigovernment ideologue with a “warped view of housing.” The Daily Beast chides him for criticizing government efforts to help low-income minorities by sprinkling them throughout wealthy suburbs where they couldn’t afford to live without government subsidies…. As a child, Dr. Carson lived in public housing in Detroit and Boston, an experience that he chronicles vividly in his memoir, “Gifted Hands.” …His upbringing doesn’t make him a housing expert, but like the general who knows war and is therefore less likely to venture recklessly into a new one, Dr. Carson’s background does make him better able to empathize with the plight of the poor.” (December 21, 2016)
What a crock of crap! Riley seems to forget that Supreme Court “Injustice” Clarence Thomas came from an even bleaker background as the son of sharecroppers and he has turned out to be the biggest disappointment that ever befell the Black community. In the Black community, Thomas is viewed at the level of Benedict Arnold. As with Thomas, Dr. Carson has made his views known throughout the years and they are clearly not pro African-American. And like Thomas, he appears to be a sycophant of White conservatives who have not a clue of what irks Black folks who are well aware of the disadvantages imposed upon them by White privilege, which is why we don’t trust him with our fate and future any more than we now trust Clarence Thomas, to whom many of us were foolish enough to give the benefit of the doubt. Fool us once, it’s on you. Fool us twice, it’s on us. I have some issues with paternalistic, patronizing White liberals but opposition to Dr. Carson is not one of them, the words of a Black, conservative, Wall Street Journal advocate notwithstanding.

Jason Riley, as a Black man, you should stop being the mouthpiece for bigots. (See The Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2017) We all know that John Lewis represents a very diverse Atlanta district, part of which is very poor with a crime rate that is above average-so don’t many other Black representatives and many White congressmen including my own. That does not make John Lewis “less than heroic,” as you seem to think or as you seem to want your White benefactors to think.

Football great Jim Brown, who by the way voted for Hillary Clinton, has been shopping his anti-gang program around for years with some degree of success. But the emergence of Donald Trump as our first “non” president might infuse his program with new momentum thanks to that silly, Black Ohio minister who sucked up to our new president as though he represented the second coming. I for one was embarrassed watching the Ohio minister delivering Jim Brown up to the media as Trump’s presumptive answer to the needs of Black America. All I could think of was that here we have eight White males owning half of the entire world’s wealth while our new president showcases a billionaire-bulging cabinet of White males to probably help him accumulate more wealth for them and his family, and we approach him hat-in-hand promoting “Amer-i-can!” I’m sorry but I can’t go there. Yes, we need “Amer-i-can just as we need Obama’s “Our Brothers’ Keepers.” But they are not the solution to Black America’s problems. They are programs designed to attack the symptoms in the same manner that so many other post-Civil Rights solutions were deliberately and cynically designed to do to the exclusion of Black economic development. Trump shouldn’t be let off the hook so easily with a time-worn, social worker formula that Black politicians, altogether too often, embraced to shore up their political bases. We need to go to Trump with the same demands that got him elected by disenchanted White folks who are clearly demanding a more equitable share of America’s prosperity. They are demanding good jobs and a share of the wealth and the ability to pass something on to their offspring. They are not asking for handouts but, rather, demanding their fair share of the America that Trump promised. And nor should we settle for handouts. Give us meaningful jobs and we will work. Give us the opportunity to purchase homes, open businesses and accumulate wealth and our communities will thrive. And the need for band-aid programs like Amer-i-can will dramatically decline. Let’s not let Trump off the hook as we have done for so many years with the Democratic Party which, in its own destructive, paternalistic way, has been so “generous.” Hold his feet to the fire and demand nothing less than our share of America and showcase leadership that will shepherd those demands.

I think anybody who knows me agrees that I have the courage to fight. But I don’t have the strength to decline to fight when physically attacked, which is why I could never embrace Dr. Martin Luther King’s passive resistance approach. If I was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge March 7, 1965, when Dr. King led that first march with stalwarts like John Lewis by his side, I would have messed the whole march up by responding to police attacks with whatever meager counterattack I could have mustered. And I recognize that John Lewis is a special kind of person who, for the good of the cause, was able to withstand the urge to retaliate even as he was being beaten and clubbed to the ground. And it wasn’t his first time. And it’s because of him and courageous people like him that Black folks won the right to vote. So, though we also take offense because John Lewis is our living hero, when Trump casts aspersions on his character with innuendo and less than half truths, most of us Black folks and many White folks could care less about how his detractors parse his performance as a Congressman.

Few people understand how easy it is to distort history. In a recent movie filmed in Boston on the Boston Marathon bombing, the Black cop who died at the hands of the bombers was completely left out. The family is rightfully outraged and history was that much more distorted at the expense of Black folks. And why is it that we are just learning about the three brilliant, impactful Black women who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and helped to put the first man on the moon? I never would have known that one of my uncles served in the North Africa theatre and another in the Pacific theatre during World War II if my aunt hadn’t told me because we were taught – in school and out – that World War I and World War II were fought by brave White people. White folks get sensitive when Black folks speak of such omissions that they seem to consider trivial. But historical erasers that demean an entire people are not trivial.

“Through his last full day as President Thursday, Mr. Obama oversaw a 166% gain in the S&P (Standard & Poor’s) 500. Shares went from being dirt cheap to richly valued. The S&P traded at 11 times expected earnings when Mr. Obama took office. Now its forward price/earnings ratio is 17 – less dear than the 28 registered during the dot-com bubble but still pricey.” (The Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2017) ■

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