AFAM Newsbits – March 2017

Not so fast! Before dumping Trump, consider the alternative. Trump is half crazy and a worldwide embarrassment but much more easily containable than Vice President Pence would be as president. So far, Trump and Congress are enjoying a honeymoon with each other that is bound to end soon and they will become checks on each others’ foolishness. But Pence, as president, would result in a full scale marriage and a Republican Congress’s dream as its agenda would sale through without any presidential opposition and all of us would suffer for decades. Better to tough it out for four years with a “nut” than to have the wily Pence in charge.

“SO I HAD MYSELF AN EPIPHANY. Actually, that’s not quite the right word. An epiphany is a moment of sudden clarity, but mine rolled in slowly, like dawn on a crystal morning. I’m not sure when it began.
Maybe it was in 2012 when Trayvon Martin was killed and much of America held him guilty of his own murder. Maybe it was in 2013 when the Voting Rights Act was eviscerated and states began hatching schemes to suppress the African-American vote. Maybe it was on Election Day.
Maybe it was a few weeks later, when a South Carolina jury deadlocked because the panel – most of them white – could not agree that it was a crime for a police officer to shoot an unarmed black man in the back. Could not agree, even though they saw it on video.
I can’t say exactly when it was. All I know is that the dawn broke and I realized I had forgotten something.

I had forgotten that I am black.”
(Leonard Pitts, Washington Post as reprinted in The Republican, February 7, 2017)

“James Baldwin would not have been surprised by Donald Trump’s presidency….unlike tens of millions who expected a different result last November, Baldwin would probably have understood the inevitability of an unstable demagogue rising to the highest office in a nation pockmarked, from its inception, by racism, white supremacy, and the thwarted attempts to permanently eradicate them.” (Renée Graham, The Boston Globe, February 8, 2017, commenting on the upcoming documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” derived from James Baldwin’s unfinished book, “Remember This”)

When I read the title of the above documentary, so many things passed through my mind. It struck an immediate emotional note that jolted the rebel in me. I felt a close affinity for the title and the majesty of what it stood for. It reaffirmed me for myself. I wanted to run outside and yell it out to the universe. I wanted to package it and pass it around for all my weak Black friends to ponder and my strong ones to embrace. I wanted to toss it into the consciousness of my White friends, who often seem puzzled by my hesitancy to embrace their racial overtures, and tell them, “When you truly understand that “I am not your Negro,” and what that means, you’ll probably begin to get a better understanding of who I actually am (we are) and our relationships will begin to grow to new levels.”

Talbert Swan, you must want to erase the pre-election past that found you and a group of your fellow ministers urging your flocks not to vote for Hillary Clinton just days before the election when she needed our support the most. If I recall correctly, your rationale was that you all objected to Hillary’s support of abortion so you were willing to urge folks to sell out their future for what turned out to be a Trump presidency. But, in a recent article in The Republican (January 27, 2017), you came out with a sanctimonious trope against Trump as though you hadn’t helped him get elected. We’re confused! You’re our local NAACP President and you not only jumped ship on us but also on the National NAACP that was solidly in the Hillary camp and vocally opposed to Trump. Now I suppose we are supposed to say nothing as you blithely re-board the ship, through a compliant news article that left your words unchallenged, as though you never abandoned it. Though we respect your right to choose or not to choose whom you please for president, we don’t so much respect your efforts, as a significant community leader, to erase from our minds the consequence of your decision to influence others in the wrong direction and act as though you didn’t try. Just so you know….

Black Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson recently announced his candidacy for mayor of Boston running against a formidable incumbent mayor, Marty Walsh, who has some vulnerabilities that a well-heeled opponent might be able to exploit. “Well-heeled” is the operative term. I fear that Jackson is responding to the sirens of his base while ignoring the shortage of his resources. I could be wrong. I’m only basing my observations on decades of experience. After Jackson announced his candidacy, his already feeble fundraising went down as those who feared offending the incumbent ran for the doors. You can’t win a mayoral campaign in a city like Boston without money unless you have an unusually exceptional game plan. And if Tito Jackson has an exceptional game plan at all, he hasn’t revealed it. What I have observed so far is that he has chutzpa. And he has some press appeal as a rare Black Boston mayoral candidate. But, in the vernacular of the late Mo Jones, Jackson appears to have lots of sizzle and no steak. He should have stayed on the council for a few more terms and built up his political resume including raising plenty of money up front. Keep an eye on him, though. Win or lose, his effort will make for a good college course in Politics 101.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos remain my heroes since they both raised their fists in a Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics as they were receiving their gold and bronze awards after coming in first and third in the 200 meter sprint. They were suspended from the Olympic team and ostracized for years in the sports world and by many Americans who considered them unpatriotic. The two were right and true patriots in the deepest meaning of the word. And although they suffered dearly for their contribution to racial justice in America, today they are icons. Fortunately, our modern Black patriots will suffer little although some will castigate them. I’m referring to the five New England Patriots who have announced they will not attend a post-victory Super Bowl LI celebration at the White House with President Donald Trump. They are Patriots Martellus Bennett who started it all, Devin McCourty, Don’ta Hightower, Chris Long and LeGarrette Blount. They are following in the spirit of the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick, who kneels to the national anthem in protest of killings of defenseless Black boys and men by rogue cops who avoid prosecution and conviction. None of these Black patriots will suffer the economic losses and ostracism suffered by Tommie Smith and John Carlos. But we are just as proud of them for standing up (or kneeling down) for the worthy cause of justice when they could just as easily avoid attention. By the way, I’m still pondering how I will handle the Patriots’ Brady, Belichick and Kraft from here on out. Their love of Trump is bothersome.


“Anyone who disagrees with Trump is dissed, dismissed, or discredited. His supporters, who have already invested too much emotionally to turn away, prop him up and ignore that he will also run their lives into the ground. To Trump, there are two sides – those to be coddled and those to be crushed. This isn’t a presidency. It’s a sycophancy, demanded by a man who would rather be loved and admired than capable and effective. Like the dictators he aspires to emulate, Trump is a man so thirsty for adoration that he will stop at nothing to achieve it.” (Renée Graham, The Boston Globe, February 22, 2017)

Admit it or not, Trump’s presidency is, as much as anything, a product of a visceral White racist reaction to former Black President Barack Obama and, now, our entire nation is paying the price. Maybe, by the end of the next four years, we’ll all be better and wiser for the pain. ■

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