Democracy, Negro Spirituals, & Roland Martin

Gay Tagging police and Roland Martin are going to develop a made for TV mutual admiration sideshow….. violence against gays (especially kids) is a serious issue, but there is a fuzzy area where overreach comes into question…. this may be close to one of them ….. or at the very least there should be a mulligan of sorts for a stupid play, but we are at the cusp of morphing into a zero tolerance society where any reference to violence ends in (u guessed it) punishment, with the attendant innocent victims, and missed opportunities for real dialog.

When Roland Martin tweeted  “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him.”[1] during SuperBowl XLVI, GLAAD – Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said the remark advocated violence against gays. CNN subsequently placed him under suspension.

If Giselle Bundchen (wife of Tom Brady), made a Victoria Secrets ad sans wings, and the same comment was made with reference to married men, the tweet would not even have been a footnote ….. anywhere in cyberspace.

The question begs to be asked…. who exactly died and made GLAAD the new keepers of the Kark Rove playbook for connecting the gay dots. Even if one stretched the comment to include gays it seems that there is sufficient reasonable doubt that they were not the only possible target segment. David Beckham has enough of a rabid soccer following, and female audience (think jealous male), to warrant the remark, and if that were not enough it also brings to question whether or not another ‘straight’ guy can admire a male physique without being labeled “gay”…. which would put GLAAD in the unenviable spot of ‘gay tagging’ most guys who buy “Muscle and Fitness”, and “Men’s Health” magazines…. as Wendy Williams would say, “How U doing”.

That was actually the less SERIOUS part (did anyone catch that if I used “funny” instead of “less serious”, then GLAAD could come after me as well)…. It gets a lot tougher from here on in, but there are two decent points.

Martin Luther King Jr. (E1)

First, the Negro Spirituals were a fascinating part of the culture of passive resistance adopted during slavery. The admirable takeaway is that even under the worse of times the African American spirit has endured and found ways to thrive, prosper, and survive. This is no small feat, and though some point to the welfare system as being a bedrock for African American advancement, the fact is that the African American came out of slavery with nothing more positive than the scars on his/her back. Welfare, as much as a progressive tax system, acting at both ends of the economic continuum, stabilizes the economy through good and bad periods. (Society benefits, and of the 40 million Americans in poverty, approximately 10 million are African American and 20 million are White.)[2] These processes are crucial programs in linking, and tempering the needs of a capitalist system with a liberal democratic system. This is the umbrella under which American society provides recourse for the minorities, but a working democracy of this scale is as undefined, unmanaged, and untested as any other ideology in history. It is imperative that minorities continue to be unbiased supporters, and advocates for the clear, and unequivocal development of individual rights.

Through the (say) two hundred years of American slavery (1865), and the 100 more years to the civil rights movement of the 1960s it seems odd that any African American has not learned the lesson that he has not earned the right to offend ANYONE, (although some groups have earned the right to fire everyone, or be recognized as sovereign entities[3]). After arguably being subjected to the worst example of human degradation, evil, and humiliation, devised by a society of any life form known to man, the empathy for marginalized groups, and minorities should be embedded in the DNA of the black diaspora everywhere. If anything, in an ideal world we should all aspire to be drum majors “for justice, peace and righteousness,”.[4]


Legacy of American Slavery, and Deleveraging

The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence provides the backbone for the social fabric that is the enduring American dream.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”[1]

I would argue that the Legacy of American Slavery provides its working conscience, (a twist would be that in “the age of reason”, technically Americans enslaved Americans).

The enablers of slavery leveraged all manner of physical, religious, legal, monetary, and scientific means to justify, differentiate, promote, and build a slave machine that prospered on the blood, terror, and human fear of Africans, and African Americans.

The institution of slavery has cast a long shadow, and the dream of Americans is to be a part of the larger dream,

Martin Luther King Jr. (E1)

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”[2]

To voice such a hope in the Mecca of capitalism is akin to finding a planet called earth in the vastness of the universe. …. but that’s the whole point.  It is that seed of hope, on an unambiguous path that sustains us better than bread, and carries us through the machinations and gerrymandering of profit-mongers.

In the 2007-2008 recession, brought about by the leveraging of “easy credit” throughout the financial markets (the housing industry in particular), one can more easily understand what a deleveraging process looks like. The legal, monetary, and restrictive results have been felt worldwide. This is the easy fix.

A Dream Denied

Dear MLK Jr.,

This may come as a surprise, but almost one hundred and fifty years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Negro still is not free. One hundred and fifty years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred and fifty years later, African Americans wander lost on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of intangible futures, and commodity derivatives. One hundred and fifty years later, the Negro still languishes in the corners of American society and finds himself a second class exile in his own land. [1]
On 10/16/2011 there will be a formal commemoration of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington DC , with a keynote address by President Barack  Obama…. (ok so the Dream isn’t totally lost!)

The Quote : “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal,’”[2] seems less than accurate considering the Annual Unemployment Rates between whites and blacks from 2001 to 2010.

”]What is particularly ironic, actually bordering on the ridiculous, is the hue and cry raised throughout the majority when faced with the same level of unemployment that Blacks have faced from the start of the 21st century.

A year into the recession, the Black unemployment rate increased by almost 4 percentage points while the rate for Whites increased by just over 2 percentage points.

In 2009 the Annual Unemployment rate for Blacks was 14.5% versus 8.5% for Whites, a difference of 7 percentage points.

In 2010 the Annual Unemployment rate for Blacks was 16.0% versus 8.7% for Whites, a difference of 7.3 percentage points.

In September 2011 the Black Unemployment Rate was 15.9% while the White rate was 7.6%, a difference of 8.3 percentage points.

What is clear is that in the bad times the Black unemployment rate increases faster than the White rate, and as the economy improves the Black unemployment rate decreases slower than the White rate. What may not be as clear is the lower standard of living, the lower standard of education, and health care represented by  each percentage point on the Unemployment charts.

[1] adapted from the “I have a Dream Speech”



Killing The Dream – Four easy Steps

 If you feel like the Dream is taking its time to develop into a happy reality, you would be definitely on point. There’s not much to this. I guess people expect to wake up one day, burst into smiles, and find a better America. It’s not going to happen. African Americans and other minorities may want to avoid being part and parcel of the following surefire Dream sinkers.

Step 1 Maintain the status quo… less school, more spending, less saving, less entrepreneurial efforts.

Step 2 Get Arrested…

Step 3 Find a reason to stay unemployed….

Step 4 Repeat Steps 1 through 3 as necessary.

Almost fifty years have passed since the “I have a Dream” speech …. Clearly we are heading in the wrong direction.

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