Saturday, June 30, 2012

Frederick Douglass and the 4th of July
"Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future."

"Fellow citizens, pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions. Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart."

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you, that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation (Babylon) whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin.

Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are today rendered more intolerable by the jubilant shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!"

To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.
My subject, then, fellow citizens, is "American Slavery." I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing here, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July.

Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity, which is outraged, in the name of liberty, which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery -- the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate - I will not excuse." I will use the severest language I can command, and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slave-holder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some of my audience say it is just in this circumstance that you and your brother Abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more and denounce less, would you persuade more and rebuke less, your cause would be much more likely to succeed. But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slave-holders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia, which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of these same crimes will subject a white man to like punishment.

What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments, forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read and write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then I will argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver, and gold; that while we are reading, writing, and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants, and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; that we are engaged in all the enterprises common to other men -- digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and children, and above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave -- we are called upon to prove that we are men?

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to understand? How should I look today in the presence of Americans, dividing and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom, speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively? To do so would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What! Am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood and stained with pollution is wrong? No - I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman cannot be divine. Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may - I cannot. The time for such argument is past.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation's ear, I would today pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced.

What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy - a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.

Go search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival."

Frederick Douglass - July 4, 1852

WFSB Channel 3

Why Black Boys Don't Succeed

“Do it. Go ahead. No balls. Oh you’re a tough guy. Hey boss, show me your nine."
Racist teacher talking to three year old

This daycare worker was so certain she could humiliate a child with impunity that she filmed herself doing it and shared the video with at least one other person. Whenever the issue of black success or lack thereof is raised, remember this scene.

Actually the portion of the video shown on WFSB doesn't show the worst part. See text of the confrontation here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Didn’t Vote Today

Today we had congressional primary elections here in New York state and I did something unheard of, for me anyway. I didn’t vote. I am one of those people who always votes in primaries and general elections, so much so that I am then victimized by annoying robocalls and election flyers in my mail box.

My congressman is Charles Rangel. He has been around a long time, more than 40 years. Rangel is one of the longest serving members of the house of representatives and he needs to go. His seniority doesn’t benefit the people of his district, and if we have anything to show for his time in office, he is keeping it a closely guarded secret.

The last straw for me with Rangel was his pathetic defense of Israel as the Gaza freedom flotilla approached that country in 2010. He actually compared it to the Cuban missile crisis. Like I said, pathetic. But for me it was liberation day. It signaled the beginning of the end between me and the democrats.

I know that you can’t raise campaign money in New York unless you bow down to Zion. I know Rangel didn’t believe one word he was saying, but I don’t care any longer. I can’t keep supporting this system which I abhor.

May Rangel live a long life. He is a charming man of the old school and came of age politically before the congressional black caucus was bought off by corporations. He fought to protect Haiti from America’s most recent intervention, and publicly took Colin Powell to task for aiding and abetting the over throw. He deserves credit for that.

But the Obama era has ended black politics and the CBC is a shell of its former self.  Harlem is being gentrified out of existence and Rangel and the rest have done nothing to stop it.

I think he will win his primary and go on to yet another term. But he will do so without my help. I am done with the democrats.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Robert Mangabeira Unger - "Beyond Obama"

"Obama must be defeated."

Unger taught Obama at Harvard. He gets to the heart of the matter at about 6 minutes 10 seconds. The most important point he makes is that a democratic loss is really no big deal any more.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Scars of Stop and Frisk

“When you’re young and you’re black no matter how you look you fit the description.”

So says Tyquan Brehon. He is featured in the short documentary, The Scars of Stop and Frisk, in which he states that he was stopped and frisked at least 60 times in a three year period.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is presiding over the worst police state in the country. Young Mr. Brehon is one of over 600,000 people stopped and frisked by the NYPD last year.
Not only was he stopped numerous times, but he was also locked up at his local precinct when he dared ask why he was being stopped. Brehon was eventually expelled from school when in his anger he began to misbehave as a result of the abuse he surfaced. He is now back in school and hopes to be a lawyer some day. Hopefully his experience will make him a better advocate.
But as for the city policy, it is blatantly racist and is a tool to force black people out. Gentrification is apparently not happening fast enough to suit Bloomberg. More police mistreatment will make the city more attractive to the “hipsters” and Europeans intent on homogenizing New York so that only they and their friends will have a place to live.
Kudos to Brehon for speaking up and to all those who are fighting back.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why the Democrats Lost in Wisconsin

“Political campaigns are pretty much where movements go to die, get betrayed or are stillborn … When movements become campaigns their participants lose their independence and initiative. Instead of being ready and willing to act outside the law, they become its most loyal supporters.”  Bruce Dixon

Republican governor Scott Walker survived a recall vote in Wisconsin not just because he had more money at his disposal. He won because the democrats were incompetent and because they do not want to activate their base.

Why would the democrats choose an opponent who had already lost to Walker? Why would they demobilize the thousands of people who turned out in the state capitol to fight Walker’s union busting?

In last week’s Black Agenda Report Bruce Dixon explained why politics is a sorry substitute for movement building. Michael Smith of Stop Me Before I Vote Again shows us what can happen when movement builders tell politicians what do do, as was the case in Quebec.

Democrats would rather lose than create movements which would supplant their rule. The end result is of course, defeat. We can learn the what to do from Quebec and the what not to do from Wisconsin.

Obama Weighs In On Wisconsin Recall Defeat

Obama to Wisconsin: "I didn't really give a f*ck."

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Still Waiting for Our First Black President

Fredrick Harris is a professor at Columbia University who made news because he did nothing more than tell the truth about Barack Obama. In a Washington Post op-ed Harris explained what we at the Black Agenda Report have been saying for years.

Barack Obama is no friend to black people, nor is anyone else who succeeds in making it to the oval office. Indeed, a black president must by necessity become an enemy of black people. Our desire to see a black face in a high place and the racist foundations of American life are a toxic mix. True, Obama can’t advocate for black people without alienating white people, but that means we should never have wanted to see him or any other black person in the presidency in the first place.

We are left with nothing more than swooning over the sight of Obama presiding over state dinners, meeting the queen of England, or wearing his POTUS jacket onboard Air Force One. The pride in Obama’s accomplishment is akin to wanting a black actor to win an oscar or a black athlete to medal at the winter olympics.

Yet we are talking about politics, and our very survival. Black people have advanced the most when we made demands upon the political system. We are now left with nothing but defending Obama, regardless of his deliberate decisions to do nothing on our behalf.

History will show that the Obama era was among the worst in the political life of black America. In fact, we now have no political life. The combination of the effects of corporate cash on black politics and the Obama stand down have been absolutely disastrous.

I am looking forward to reading Harris’ new book, The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Rise and Decline of Black Politics. Black politics has been in decline for some time and for a variety of reasons, but the Obama election was the nail in the coffin.