Archive for September, 2011
“Chilly B” Raps to his Peeps
by Playthell Benjamin
When President Obama spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus it wasall blues and soul, rendered in elegant sermonic cadences. There was a lot of jokin, jiving, and testifying, but he was also droppin science….and signifyin for days! His oratory was informed with so many inside Afro-American cultural references, esoteric nuances and complex allusions to our tradition of struggle, that most of the white pundits who monopolize the commentary on his speech are clueless and miss the point altogether. In one headline after another the corporate media confidently portrayed the event as a pissed off President chastising his ungrateful black brothers and sisters in a “do-nothing” Congress: but it was no such thing!
These were Barack’s oldest and closest political comrades, some of whom mentored him in the art of playing politics in Washington. He knows they share his hopes and dreams for America. They were the ones who never doubted that he could be a great President, and except for the few who felt bound by long-time political alliances to the Clintons, they all wished him well and offered support.
It was in this caucus that Barack had found refuge as the lone Afro-American in the Senate. Watching him speak to his old comrades I saw a love fest, a celebration of Afro-American style, language, humor, verbal virtuosity, and hip body language – all the things that have made us the most imitated people in the world were prominently on display. What I saw was a man who could not only go home again…but return in style to a rousing welcome.
From the moment Barack stepped onto the podium, the audience gave him a boisterous ovation worthy of a hero. The first thing our President said was how he enjoyed visiting “the conscience of the Congress,” a compliment of great generosity and gravitas. He went on to personally thank the leaders of the Black Caucus for inviting him in the most effusive language. These kind accolades are reserved for those whom one holds in highest esteem. When he laid out his jobs program, explaining the moral basis upon which it is designed, ridiculing Republican duplicity and dissecting the shameless sophistry of their arguments, he was repeatedly applauded by the audience.
As he spoke, this master orator and serious student of Afro-American history and culture constantly called upon our traditions to make his point and carry the crowd with him. It was a remarkable performance, an intoxicating blend of highbrow erudition and folksy humor. Once he connected with the audience he held them spellbound; he was part Richard Pryor, part Malcolm X, part Thurgood Marshall and part Martin Luther King.
It was as grand a performance in the Afro-American oratorical tradition – the most dynamic in the world – as I have ever witnessed in a professional politician. At times he reminded me of that silver tongued preacher/politician from Harlem – who also would have made a great President – the Reverend Doctor Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
The comparison was most compelling in his use of irreverent humor to expose the shameless hypocrisy of the Republicans, and his use of repetition to sell a particular idea. His refrain “Pass this bill” reminded me of Powell’s “what’s in your hand” speech when he was imploring black folks to get out and vote.
The President’s speech was at once a panegyric to the heroism of the Afro-American struggle and a sanitized trip through the Dirty Dozens for the Grand Obstructionist Party. The audience was with him every step of the way. When he admonished the crowd to buck up, stop crying and complaining, and join him in the fight; this was not a put down of the audience but a call to battle!
It was another way of saying: don’t get mad get even. Life is not fair but we still got to struggle
and win with the hand we were dealt, and crying won’t help. So don’t tell me your troubles because I’ve got my own. Just put your shoulder to the wheel and keep on pushing: I got yo back! As Barack’s voice rose to a crescendo at the conclusion of his speech, he issued a call to action.
“So I don’t know about you, CBC, but the future rewards those who press on. With patient and firm determination, I am going to press on for jobs. I’m going to press on for equality. I’m going to press on for the sake of our children. I’m going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I am going to press on. I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC! “
The President’s defiant and triumphant tone in the face of adversity was a life affirming pep-talk. It reminded me of what the Black Nationalist firebrand Minister Khalid Muhammad used to say to black audiences down on their luck: “No matter what we are confronted with we will survive! We’re Bey Bey’s kids…we don’t die we multiply!”
Far from a put-down, Barack’s speech was an expression of a love supreme. And the constant applause was proof positive that the audience returned the love. So how could the major media get it so wrong? Except for the right wing press, I believe it was the result of confusion rather than animosity. After all, what do most Euro-Americans really know about Afro-Americans?
The most enlightened think of us as just white people with dark skins, and are quite proud of themselves for it. Most recognize that we are very good at singing, dancing, playing basketball and Jazz. Few understand that we have been the strongest voices in support of the most cherished ideals of American civilization: personal freedom, social equality, democratic governance, innovation and freedom in diversity.
Yet you can hear these values clearly celebrated in our classical music – the quintessential American art of jazz – which realizes these values more successfully than any other American cultural form. When I watched Barack speak to the Congressional Black Caucus, with his soaring lyricism and skillful use of pauses between virtuosic riffs, I was reminded of another Pres, Lester Young, who became world famous as President of the tenor saxophone, during his days with the fabulous Count Basie Orchestra.
When Pres took center stage to speak his piece, the orchestra listened intently and responded to his statements in ways that energized the groove and lifted him higher, until both he and the band were inspired to tackle greater obstacles and attempt heroic things. Some times they hit the notes they were aiming at; sometimes they missed. But they were always inspired to try again… no matter the obstacles. That’s what really happened when Barack gave a shout out to his peeps in the CBC.
Benjimamin is a veteran political journalist out of Harlem NY. His essays can be read on his blog site Commentaries on the Times.
by Allie Freeman
Our son , our brother , our uncle , our cousin , our grandson , a friend
On entering the Pearly Gates , who awaits ?
Dr . King must have greeted you , Malcom X , Medgar Evers , Emmett Till
Did they say Peace Be Still ?
All brothers who faced their struggles
All brothers birthed by a black mother
Then as you looked around there were brothers born before your time
A many lynched , some skinned , some boiled others buried alive
Increaseingly , we have loss many brothers
Enslaved by men ,,greed, hate
When Brother Davis went before the Supreme Court
Your brothers in heaven said , what ?
There sat a brother and we know justice would transend
Surprise ! Surprise ! Plastic does not bend !
Much to our dismay , that court appointment was a rouse
anything but the truth More brothers will face the noose ,
injustice , just-us
But brother Davis , though we are sad ,depressed and often hopeless
Take your rest , sit at the right and enjoy the view
We know your family will miss you
In some way , your day in court will be remembered through the tears for years
Lesson learned ? We yearn for justice but then we know it is just-us .
Take heart my brothers and sisters of the human family
Remember the Middle Passage , we are here
Remember jim crow , discrimination , Willie Lynch ,we are here
Fighting for freedom on every hemisphere ,
We can and we will survive and thrive for we are a mighty people.
Troy Davis is gone from this earth but he is alive !
by Alton H. Maddox, Jr.
In 1857, Chief Justice Roger Taney of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote the decision in Dred Scott stating that “no Negro has any rights that whites are bound to respect”. Our revered ancestors demanded that Congress frame the Fourteenth Amendment to overturn Dred Scott. Blacks also gave their lives on the battlefield to overturn this decision.
In 1873, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote in Slaughterhouse Cases that Dred Scott is still in effect because Blacks have dual citizenship with no rights under national citizenship and arbitrary rights under state citizenship. This means that the federal government can look the other way in Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell.
Blacks, in reliance on the NAACP for guidance, have questioned neither Slaughterhouse Cases nor United States v. Cruickshank. These cases and Plessy v. Ferguson all arose in Louisiana. They all amounted to contrived litigation. Blacks have to depend on whites for legal representation.
By refusing to interpret the Fourteenth Amendment by its clear language, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated Dred Scott under Marbury v. Madison. Even though Black troops in 1812 saved New Orleans, under Andrew Jackson, Louisiana officially ushered in Jim Crow in this country in 1896.
Today, most Blacks have never heard of Colfax, LA. In 1873, former Confederate soldiers slaughtered 280 Blacks for peacefully assembling on the grounds of the parish courthouse. White racists made the courthouse grounds, ironically, a slaughterhouse a day before the decision in Slaughterhouse Cases. The Supreme Court employed Dred Scott to decide that nobody’s civil rights in Colfax, LA had been violated because of the pogrom.
When Republicans talk about “judicial activism”, they should be asked to read the Reconstruction cases. The Supreme Court ignored a constitutional mandate and put its own spin on the Reconstruction amendments. The rights that Blacks won on the battlefield were stolen in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also stole presidential elections from voters in 1876 and 2000. Florida was the culprit in both presidential elections.
There will be an overnight stay at an all-suites hotel, a social hour on Saturday evening and a complimentary buffet-breakfast on Sunday morning. The final session will be a summary of the trip at the historic YMCA in DC. Thurgood Marshall and other Black lawyers would use this venue for an overnight stay and to map a strategy for an assault on Jim Crow which culminated in Brown v. Bd. of Ed. There were Jim Crow public accommodations in Washington, DC in the 1950′s.
Since Black parents and guardians are unable to pay the full cost of an overnight summer camp for two weeks with activities that surpass any white camp, United African Movement must engage in aggressive fundraising activities. The costs are prohibitive. Our children are priceless.
Financial support of Freedom Retreat for Boys and Girls is like buying stock in a corporation. No Shareholders! No Corporation! The dividend is the survival of African peoples. As Frederick Douglass said, “you may not get everything you pay for but you will pay for everything you get.”
When I wrote an op-ed column in the New York Amsterdam News, it was not for my economic health. Truth is outlawed in any mythological colony. Whites will not sponsor our liberation and Blacks will readily finance their own oppression. Profits from newspapers come from its advertisers. A newspaper can be given away.
When I send out an e-mail, comparable to the writings that I submitted free in the Am News, there are no white sponsors. I am writing more today than when I was writing in the Am News. The motive: “[Ignorance] is the Negro’s burden and America’s shame”. Blacks are governed by a Negro morontocracy. It is not a democracy.
On [one of it's] broadcast, ABC News announced that ninety percent of all jobs emanating from the recovery were going to men. Of course, ABC News gave no reason for this phenomenon. It is certain that its listening audience is unable to connect the dots. There must be a frame of reference.
I submit that it starts with the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. This was a secret proceeding. The Illuminati was present. All of the delegates were white males. Only white men with money, land or both could vote. Whites will not allow anyone who refuses to co-sign to these governmental actions to participate in the debate.
1. Why are men the primary beneficiaries of obtaining jobs today?
2. Is there any connection between the 1787 Constitutional Convention and Barack Obama beating any women to the White House?
3. Is there any connection under the 1787 Constitutional Convention between the Fifteenth Amendment being ratified in 1870 and the Nineteenth Amendment being ratified in 1920?
4. Is there any connection under the 1787 Constitutional Convention between Black men being admitted to practice law before any Black woman was admitted to the practice of law.
5. Does the 1787 Constitutional Convention give more credits to soldiers than it gives to pacifists and why did George Washington become this nation’s first president under the U.S. Constitution?
Ghana’s Constitution may be more than what meets the eye. There is a close relationship between Africans in Ghana and Africans in the United States. Ghana is a popular destination for Blacks in the United States. Some Blacks have set up shop in Africa.
Thurgood Marshall may be a contributing factor to this close relationship. It did not hurt that Kwame Nkrumah was Ghana’s first head of state and the colors of the UNIA are prominent in its flag. Nkrumah, like Marshall, also matriculated at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
The experience of the Freedom Party, since 1994, demonstrates that shortcuts fall far short of spelling success. A political party should first pen a constitution. Trying to collect signatures before penning a constitution is like putting the cart before the horse. “Those who fail to learn from the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them”.
In 1994, the Freedom Party collected 53,000 signatures when 15,000 valid signatures would have done the job. The Freedom Party collected 43,000 valid signatures in 2010 and acquired ballot access. Nonetheless, the NYPD and the AP conspired under the New York Election Law to keep Blacks politically voiceless.
If litigation against the New York Board of Elections fails to get airborne, the Freedom Party will hit a homerun in 2014. In the meantime, its supporters will learn how to write a visionary constitution and by-laws starting now. Beforehand, Blacks have never written a constitution for a political party in the United States. This will be a challenge.
Too honest for the White Press and too black for much of today’s Black Press; bullet columnist Alton Maddox upsets the same people and status quo as he did as an uncompromising Defense Attorney. He is also a founding member of the Freedom Party. Contact him at c/o UAM P.O. BOX 35 BRONX, NY 10471
Used Slave Labor to make IPads & IPhones
by Alberta Parish
In the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, stories of how great a man he was is the current headline across the nation. His accomplishments speak to his genius as one of the world’s leading innovators of the IPhone and IPad. This guy even painted himself as a spiritual person. But even in the midst of his own genius, Steve Jobs had a dark soul. As owner of Apple, he was directly responsible for the production of the IPhone and IPad at factories in China where there had been a countless number of suicides among discontented workers during the months of March and April of this year. At several Foxxconn plants where Apple products are made, there have been horrendous policies in place such as workers being forced to work between 80 and 100 hours of overtime, workers being forced to stand on their feet for 14 hours a day, and workers being forced to sign No-Suicide Pacts as a condition of employment. According to the pact, the families of employees have to promise not to sue the company, cause any trouble that would interrupt operations in case an employee commits suicide, or bring any negative attention to the practices of the company.
Steve Jobs’ Orient Express is reportedly a one-way ticket to depression (Photo- Southern Weekly).
In addition, employees are literally crammed into company-owned dormitories. Employees living in a single dormitory room range from six to twenty-two. “Some of my roommates weep in the dormitory. I want to cry as well but my tears have not come out,” one worker told SACOM, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group, which contends that many of the practices that led to more than a dozen workers committing suicide in the months of March and April of this year continues to be perpetuated at Foxxconn factories.
Not the Apple of Everyone’s Eye. Why does MSM play down Jobs’ slave jobs?
As the world sings the praises of Steve Jobs and compares his life to that of a great and noble leader like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who stood for human rights and freedom. Jobs did the opposite of King, and placed wealth and power over human rights and freedom. The last Martin Luther King, Jr. died in 1968, and there will never be another like him. Like the great Africans of our past, there was always someone in every generation that stood against human rights violations and tyranny, and they fought the powers that threatened their very existence as free men and free women.
For thousands of years, African civilizations ruled the world, and stood for freedom and equality among men and women. Africans controlled export and import, trade routes, agriculture, academic institutions, and empires that expanded across the globe. As master builders of the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx, Black Africans were the first monarchs, governors, scholars, professors, judges, doctors, scientists, priests, deities, astronomers, astrologers, geometrists, mathematicians, actors and writers. Today, we are no more than shadows of our former past, and our glory diminished. We are the laughingstock of non-African nations around the world who have not only stolen our riches but also our culture and history. My riches were stolen from me when my ancestors were kidnapped from the interior of Africa and shipped to the New World to be slaves during the remainder of their natural lives.
Although they may have fought back, they didn’t survive the fierceness and brutality of their new owners whom many were the dregs of Europe and were bona fide serial killers, child rapists and murderers. Imagine being kidnapped from your homeland, dragged to a ship, chained and shackled to the bottom of the ship, not having access to quality food and water, and if you survived, you’re under the power of brute beasts who have no regard for human life, and also rape, torture and mutilate children. These are the same brute beasts dressed in casual business suits that are in positions of power and control all over the world. They control Congress and the White House, the United Nations, African nations, the Trilateral Commission, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, the Israeli government, drug cartels, religions and powerful corporations. They are mass murderers and robbers who continue to profit off human slavery today in countries such as Malaysia where slaves are forced to work long hours for very little pay in electronics factories.
One such factory is JCY International, which supplies computer hard-drive equipment to Western Digital and a number of other global electronics giants including Apple. CNN is quiet about Steve Jobs’ facilitation of slave labor in the making of Apple products at JCY. However, hours before Steve Jobs’ death, CNN aired a special featuring factory slaves that work at JCY making electronics devices, and are fighting to return to their homes in Cambodia.
A CNN story of factory slaves in Asia has put the spotlight on young girls that are forced to work 12-hour shifts, often seven days a week just to pay back a debt owed to the agency for which they work. One girl from Cambodia was forced at the age of 17to work as a factory slave in Malaysia, which is illegal. The girl claimed that she was given a falsified passport showing that she was 22 years old. Foreign workers must be 18 years of age to be legal for work in Malaysia. If these girls are caught running away from their employment agencies, they are tortured and often imprisoned.
Americans watch these horrific stories on CNN and other news networks, and they go on with their daily lives, dehumanized and detached from the lives and struggles of others. But what if the roles were suddenly reversed and you found yourself working for $5 a day, often seven days a week right here in the Good Ole USA? What if big corporate giants like Apple decide to pay American workers $2 per hour and force Americans to stand on their feet for 14 hours a day? If chattel slavery in the United States happened once, it can happen again. Never underestimate the nature of the beast, which has robbed Africa of all its wealth and natural resources, and, in turn, is selling stolen resources as well as technology back to consumers. Rubber is one such technology stolen from the interior of Africa by agencies controlled by corporate interest groups. Africa has long been the main source of wealth for Europe and America. Electric energy is a source that can be freely harnessed from the very air itself. Alternative, cheap, and unlimited sources of energy is available for all, but the greedy international bankers, corporate owners, and our own government have planted their greedy hands so deep into our pockets that we would literally have to chop off their hands to stop them from stealing our money.
They have also planted their greedy hands deep into the heart of Africa that you would literally have to chop off their hands to stop them from stealing what rightfully belongs to Black Africans across the globe. According to biblical text, which was written by men, there are references to cutting off the hand of the man who steals. Therefore, cutting off the hands of the Bushes, the House of Windsor, and various other families who have profited from slave labor and the theft of Africa’s resources would indeed be a fair and even exchange.
by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
The sudden demise of Nick Ashford has left us all in a daze of sorts. To say that it was totally unexpected is an understatement in so many ways. To my knowledge, none of us who were devotess of the Ashford and Simpson dynamic duo had any inkling that he was ill.
During my last visit to the Sugar Bar, I and several friends, sat upstairs during their famed Open Mike Night Thursday, with Nick, where we laughed, joked, and watched several hopefuls as they either crashed and burned, or blew us away with their talents.
I remember vaguely regretting not having brought my camera with me that evening because Nick was in rare form.
Valerie sat downstairs as usual, and provided harmony and back up for many of the artistic wannabees, with the able assistance of Kathy Jordan (formerly Sharpton), who was once a featured artist with James Brown. All in all it was a fun evening. Needless to say we closed the down the place in typical New York style – the last ones to leave!
And while they had some great predecessors in terms of dynamic duos are concerned: Marvin Gaye & Tammie Terrell, Peaches & Herb husband and wife duos are indeed rare. Marilyn McCoo and Billie Davis Jr. had some wonderful successes, but eventually faded from the horizon.
However, I can’t remember a time when the Ashford and Simpson team wasn’t successful. When this match made in heaven wasn’t topping the charts with their combined lyrical and vocal stylings, they were writing, styling or backing up other groups. They even performed back up on an early album recorded by Mandrill. Lou Wilson in remembering those days, stated, “Nick Ashford, what a great talent! May he rest in peace. The world has lost a giant in the music industry.” Those days, nearly 40 years ago, each group was in their infancy, finding their way onto the horizon of success.
To my mind Ashford and Simpson was a hit from day one! My first personal introduction to them was when they performed for a gala put together by Essence Magazine during the early days of the Essence Awards (y’all remember those days, right? I totally miss them.) Nick and Val (which was our affectionate names for them) performed, despite the fact that the venue did not have the proper equipment, and things had run behind time. They never complained, and gave us their best as though they were in front of a 5,000 seat audience. That’s when I first began to admire them.
Now of course, Motown Mogul, Berry Gordy thought they walked on water. Writing for Diana Ross, and so many others in the pantheon of that rarified music val halla also put them on the map. It truly was as though there was nothing they couldn’t do, write, or sing. Every thing they did had “hit” written all over it!
On the other hand, while they were rocking the musical realm, they did have a turn at “failure” as well. Do you remember the days when they opened their first supper club, “20-20″, located at 20 West 20th Street? It was an elegant posh venue. They featured the best in entertainment and talent. There was only one tiny little problem: the chef did not understand “soul” cuisine, and had a problem cooking food to the appropriate doneness for the Afrocentric palate. As a result, the club eventually folded.
Nick took it in stride. He admitted that he had learned some valuable lessons from the previous foray into the world or restaurant and entertainment. And what a difference it was. He stated that his investment advisors had meant it as a “tax write-off, but they didn’t realize that Val and I wanted it to be a real gathering place where people could come and enjoy themselves, and the food. I won’t make that mistake again!”
Lessons learned from that early foray were obvious, because The Sugar Bar is a tremendous hit! The African inspired decor in the Sugar Bar was from Nick Ashford’s own creative genius. From the Africentric bathrooms, chairs, railings, bars, the thatched ceiling trim; to his own personal, eclectic collection of artifacts from all over Africa, the place was a delight to the eye. You could not look anywhere and not be inspired by the organic integration of African tradition with African American modernity. I loved it! And so did everyone else. Nick probably had no idea how much time we would spend going over the symbology of the many African pieces he had in the restaurant.
I frequently complimented him on his taste and his eye, and recommended that he do a book on Afrocentric decor or something of that nature. It was our standing joke (well maybe a joke for him, I was serious. I wished I could combine cultures and colors the way he had done). And I wish he had taken me up on doing that book!
It was also evident that the Sugar Bar became an extension of the greater Black community. Nick and Val were as much tied in with what was going with us as they were with the entertainment realm, and made it a point to be involved with issues at various levels. These cultural icons likewise revered other icons in their own right, and hosted an annual tribute to the High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone, reminding us all of the role and contribution this great diva made to us all. They opened their doors and hearts throughout the years to so many who were either on the pathway up, or trying not to slide down the ladder of success.
It goes without saying that from the very beginning of their collaboration, Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson have been a hit and inspiration, an example, and a success to be emulated and admired. Most marriages don’t last as long as theirs had – 38 years! But to have also been married partners, is truly a formula for success that is to be aspired to. Definitely one that many of us have envied. They made it work, without making it look like work. Now there’s an example to follow.
My condolences to you, Val. Metaphysically speaking we say there is no such thing as “loss”, but our all too human hearts strongly beg to differ, because the pain of that loss is palpable nevertheless. To say that Nick is in a better place, that he has made his transition, that he has gone to be with the Lord, are all appropriate at this time, but are cold comfort when you have to reach out and touch him; or turn to make a comment on some thought, or new song that just sprang to mind. It does not help when that ever bright smile of his does not greet you in the morning; or is not the last thing you see at night. There is much to be treasured of the times two you spent together: the fun, the collaboration, the success, the creative exchanges – what a blessing to have had the time together as the most dynamic duo, husband/wife tour de force revered by all of us.
My sincere & heartfelt condolences to you, as well as my blessings to you and your immediate family; and to the many of us who considered ourselves part of your extended family of brothers, sisters to both you and Nick. But also my congratulations to you for having been such a dynamic duo and inspiration to admirers the world over.
I already know that Nick is not “resting”. We know that no spirit ever truly dies, and that creative spirit of his is definitely in full effect carrying forth in the same vibrancy he enjoyed on this plane of action. And so it is!
Stay Blessed &
With Love From
bullet ColumnistGloria Dulan-Wilson Is a veteran New York City Journalist. Her experiences, perspective & sense of history are an invaluable combination. “check out my blog:” www.gloria-dulan-wilson.blogspot.com
by Alberta Parish
I was not even a diehard fan of Michael’s, and had not been an avid follower of his life, music or career in so many recent years, but I am pissed right now after hearing the Michael Jackson tapes. Listening to him talk about the severe emotional/verbal/physical abuse he suffered as a child just really made me sad and angry.
His siblings having gone through a similar ordeal of childhood abuse pissed me off, because the effects of abuse didn’t just stop at Michael. Emotional/verbal abuse did a number on me while growing up, and I also went through child molestation at the age of five. But only at the age of five. I remember everything about that entire experience. I remember what they made me do. Both were in their early twenties. I remember the house in Miami (not my house, but the house of a lady my mom knew) where each incident of abuse happened. The lady didn’t even know about the abuse. I didn’t tell my mom until a year and a half ago.
I can’t imagine having also gone through the type of physical beatings (while being nude with oil all over my body, which is a form of degradation almost similiar to the way a slavemaster would punish his slaves) that the Jackson kids endured, and still be alive to tell about it after so many years because I believe that I could not have lived a normal life. In fact, I think I probably would’ve been dead by now, because I don’t have the strength that Michael Jackson had. I don’t have the strenghth that either one of his siblings have. Also, the Rabbi had mentioned in his Dateline NBC interview on September 25, 2009 Michael’s drug abuse to medicate away his pain. First off, Michael had real problems with chronic physical pain as well as emotional distress which brought about many physical symptoms including insomnia, and should have been given proper medical attention to address his insomnia and other health issues the day before he passed.
He was not a junkie! He had an over-dependency on pharmaceutical/clinical drugs to numb his pain and to also make his body numb to the pain. His doctors should not have been feeding his over-dependency on prescription/clinical drugs, but instead, should’ve sought alternatives to treat his illnesses as well as the physical symptoms associated with emotional pain. They all took advantage of Michael’s physical and emotional state. I don’t believe Michael just threw away his life, as Rabbi Shmuley said. I believe he wanted to live for his children, and this is just based on my observation of his rehearsal footage that I saw on Youtube. I think his children is the only thing that kept him alive as long as he was, and he had decided to do the concerts for his children and for his fans, no matter how the Rabbi tries to make it seem like Michael didn’t care about his music and career. Even if he didn’t want to grow old and wrinkly, according to his own words on the tape, I believe he would’ve found a way or the strength to deal with it for the sake of his children. I believe Michael’s life was negligently and even intentionally stolen from him.
I believe he was betrayed. I am really blown away by some of the comments that Michael Jackson made on those tapes, as I’m also blown away by some comments Rabbi Shmuley made about Michael. I don’t know why I’m surprised by Michael’s comments, because he was a regular guy with a lot of emotions and this is what many people including his fans should realize. Michael Jackson was just a highly emotional person anyway, and to be honest, when he made the tapes talking about how he felt about women, it sounded like he was just hurt as well as disappointed by some of the women who had come into his life, and had said things and done things to him that he felt was totally unnecessary, manipulative, deceitful, etc. He also made note on how he had seen his brothers crying out of frustration because of their wives. He could not get past some issues regarding his marriages. What Michael said about women in the tapes are not uncommon feelings among men so everyone, stop pretending like Michael was not supposed to have these issues. If Michael felt like women use their sexuality to gain control over men or to get things from men, Debbie Rowe validated this for him. I mean, Debbie offered to have Michael’s children while he was still married to Lisa Marie, and of course, it was all about money, even though she claimed she was doing this as a gift to a friend whom she said deserves to be a father. Michael already felt anyway that almost everyone around him sought to use him in some exploitative manner. He felt everyone, not just women wanted something from him. Michael made the tape talking candidly about Lisa Marie in either 2000 or 2001.
Having read somewhere that the two still had a friendly relationship even as late as 1999, it doesn’t surprise me that in 2000 (by the time he began his taped conversations) he was still hurt over Lisa, and not yet over her. Think about that. It’s obvious! Everybody have issues whether they’re issues with intimacy, commitment, trust, being an asshole, being emotionally detached, talking too much, not being trustworthy toward others, being too negative about situations or people, etc. When it comes to trust, I’m like MJ. I don’t readily trust people either. Just like MJ had certain opinions about women, I have certain opinions about men, which is probably why I’m not in a current relationship and haven’t been in a real relationship for years. Deep down inside, I really don’t trust men because I think that most of them are out to get what they can get from a woman. I hate to say this, but it’s true. I don’t think many guys mean half of what they tell a woman many times. But this really shouldn’t be the reason why I’m not dating. I should be, but I’m not and there are reasons; reasons that I don’t want to face. So I keep making excuses for why I’m not interested in dating, or why I don’t seem to be all that interested in men, and I’m not a lesbian.
Michael Jackson was no different from me or anyone else when it came to thoughts about the opposite sex, but the world put this guy to a higher standard, and would not allow Michael to be himself in public or to say how he REALLY felt about anything in public without the press shredding apart everything he says and does. So I get why he made the tapes. You know, Lisa Marie Presley made a statement in an interview a few years ago saying about Michael, “He doesn’t let you see who he is.” Gee, now I know why. I believe Michael, through the taped conversations, wanted to share his story with the public to let people know that this is what happens when you neglect a child, abuse a child in any way, tell a child that he/she is ugly, humiliate a child by stripping him/her nude just before harshly beating him/her, robbing a child of his/her innocence and/or childhood. And the chronic loneliness he felt as a result of his fame. Michael had emotional problems as a result of never feeling that he was loved by his own father, never feeling validated by his own father, never feeling tenderness from his own father, never feeling he was good enough to be loved by his own father, never feeling like he was able to please his own father, and he felt all of this for so many years. I mean, Michael had severe emotional problems all of his life, which is a direct result of the shit he went through as a child, and also growing up in the public eye, and having your every move and all your words disected by a celebrity-crazed press many of whom, in my opinion, hated Michael because he was the biggest superstar in the world, and had a lot of power, and he used his wealth/fame to help common people, many common people all over the world, and also because he did not conform to the norms of American society.
This is a backwards country when it comes to certain things, and always will be. Michael was more loved abroad than he ever was here in his own backyard, and now most of the American public has changed their perception of him since he died. Why couldn’t America truly honor him while he was alive? This also goes for many of his colleagues in the entertainment industry who turned a blind eye to Michael’s plight in 2003, 2004 and 2005, including Oprah Winfrey. Many of them would not and did not say one positive word to the press on Michael’s behalf after he was arrested in 2003 on charges of child molestation, but Hollywood quickly came out in defense of Director Roman Polanski who actually did commit sexual abuse and sodomy against a thirteen-year-old girl many years ago, and had fled America to avoid a criminal trial and prison time. Now, all of Hollywood got words of love and praise for Michael after he’s dead. Now, they say what a great man or wonderful person he was, which is something many of them wouldn’t say or didn’t feel the need to say for the sake of their own careers while he was living. What a bunch of hypocrites? Michael was right about Hollywood, which he also spoke non-positively about on tape.
In conclusion, although Michael wanted these tapes out there in the public eye at the time they were made, I’m still suspicious about the timing of the release of these tapes as well as the book about them being published after Michael’s death. To be honest, the public really doesn’t know whether Michael probably changed his mind about this book being published, even as early as 2001. Only Rabbi Shmuley and maybe a couple of other people truly know whether Michael may have changed his mind about not proceeding with the publication of this book, especially since Rabbi Shmuley said that he ended his relationship with Michael in 2001 or perhaps, was it the other way around? We just don’t know the true details behind why their relationship ended.
Also, Michael began filming on a documentary in 2002. This was months after the Rabbi supposedly cut ties with Michael. The Martin Bashir documentary, Living With Michael Jackson, which was filmed over an eigth-month period. Why do this documentary, which aired in February, 2003 when there were the taped conversations, which could’ve been converted quickly into a published book and released to the public anywhere between late 2001 and early 2002, right before Michael began filming the documentary in May, 2002? Why would Michael do the documentary with Martin Bashir when there were the taped conversations? Think about that. Even with a lucrative contract deal, it doesn’t really take that long for a book to go to print, especially a Michael Jackson book. This is what Rabbi Shmuley said in a recent article he wrote entitled The Destructive Deification of Michael Jackson: “Unfortunately, when Michael was arrested on charges of child molestation in 2003, it became impossible to fulfill Michael’s sincere wish that the book be published. Much as he wanted it, it simply could not be done. The public had little to no sympathy for Michael, even after he was exonerated in 2005.” But the Rabbi stated that he had cut ties with Michael in 2001, at least according to the Dateline NBC interview transcript. Something just doesn’t add up here. These days, I examine what people say before I believe it, because people lie to the press all the time or they overexaggerate the truth, or they tell a half truth and a half lie.
Also, you can’t believe everything someone says about somebody else, because people have a way of making someone appear to be a certain way, or they’re often skilled at twisting somebody’s words to mean one thing when in fact, that’s not what that person really meant or that’s not representative of who that person really is. The context of character A’s comments about character B does not always reflect how character B really feels or what character B is really thinking. Now, I’m alluding to a particular comment in the Dateline NBC interview made by the Rabbi in which he said that Michael had exhibited tendencies of misogyny. The definition of misogyny, according to one website, is a hatred, dislike or mistrust of women. I believe the Rabbi’s statement in which he felt that Michael had exhibited tendencies of misogyny is 99.9% misrepresentative of Michael’s character. I say 99.9% because even though the Rabbi was right about Michael having a mistrust for women, he was dead wrong in his assessing of Michael as it relates to the other half of the definition of misogyny, which is also a hatred of women and also girls. When I heard the Rabbi’s comment, I was like, “Why did he say that about Michael on TV?” So this prompted me to go online and listen to the interview and then read the transcript. It was then when I was actually able to separate what Michael actually said himself as opposed to the Rabbi’s comments about what Michael meant regarding some of his comments.
Really, the Rabbi was giving his opinions about Michael, how he saw Michael as a person. This seems to be a recurring theme throughout Michael’s life whenever he made statements publicly, or when he gave interviews. It happened with the Martin Bashir documentary, and in many other cases. Obviously, tricky editing was at the core of it all, or some reporter taking Michael’s words out of context. When I read the transcript online more carefully, it was then when I realized that nowhere in the audio tape I heard or transcript I read did Michael indicate having any hatred or dislike for women and girls. I did gather from the transcript and tape that he had a certain mistrust for women, that he felt women were manipulative and could be disappointing at times. Michael said, “Women can do some things that make guys very unhappy. I’ve seen it with my brothers. I’ve seen my brothers crying, in tears and pulling the grass out of the lawn out of frustration because of their wives.” I don’t think he was really over Lisa Marie. First of all, they had been still talking to each other even in 1999. She wasn’t fully over him either, because she comes out with an interview in Rolling Stone magazine as late as 2003 talking about her marriage to Michael and the crazy things that went on, and you could tell she had much resentment toward him but she wasn’t yet over him although she tried to pretend she was. I think Lisa Marie Presley is a cool person. I wish she had stayed with Michael. They were good for each other.
by CHARLES M. BLOW
My grandfather spoke to me. That would’ve been unremarkable if not for the fact that he died four years ago.
I had ducked into a movie theater to escape the maddening debt-limit debacle. I chose ”Captain America: The First Avenger.” Surely that would reset the patriotic optimism.
But as I watched the scenes of a fictitious integrated American Army fighting in Europe at the end of World War II, I became unsettled. Yes, I know that racial revisionism has become so common in film that it’s almost customary, so much so that moviegoers rarely balk or even blink. And even I try not to think too deeply about shallow fare. Escapism by its nature must bend away from reality. But this time I was forced to bend it back. It was personal.
The only black fighting force on the ground in Europe during World War II was the 92nd Infantry Division: the now famous, segregated ”Buffalo Soldiers.” My grandfather, Fred D. Rhodes, was one of those soldiers.
The division was activated late in the war, more out of acquiescence to black leaders than the desire of white policy makers in the war department who doubted the battle worthiness of black soldiers. It was considered to be an experiment, one that the writer of the department’s recommendation to re-establish it would later describe as ”programmed to fail from the inception.”
For one, as the historian Daniel K. Gibran has documented, the soldiers were placed under the command of a known racist who questioned their ”moral attitude toward battle,” ”mental toughness” and ”trustworthiness,” and who remained a military segregationist until the day he died. In 1959, the commander commented in a study: ”It is absurd to contend that the characteristics demonstrated by the Negroes” will not ”undermine and deteriorate the white army unit into which the Negro is integrated.”
Sergeant Fred Rhodes. WWII Hero and Charles Blow’s Grandfather.
Yet they did show great toughness and character, including my grandfather. This is how his 1944 Silver Star citation recounts his bravery:
”On 16 November, while proceeding towards the front at night, Sergeant Rhodes’s motorized patrol was advanced upon near a village by a lone enemy soldier. Sergeant Rhodes jumped from the truck and as a group of enemy soldiers suddenly appeared, intent upon capturing the truck and patrol intact, he opened fire from his exposed position on the road. His fire forced the enemy to scatter while the patrol dismounted and took cover with light casualties. Sergeant Rhodes then moved toward a nearby building where, still exposed, his fire on the enemy was responsible for the successful evacuation of the wounded patrol members by newly arrived medical personnel. Sergeant Rhodes was then hit by enemy shell fragments, but in spite of his wounds he exhausted his own supply of ammunition then, obtaining an enemy automatic weapon, exhausted its supply inflicting three certain casualties on the enemy. He spent the rest of the night in a nearby field and returned, unaided, to his unit the next afternoon.”
Astonishingly, his and others’ efforts were not fully recognized.
My grandfather’s actions were the first among the Buffalo Soldiers to be recommended for a Distinguished Service Cross, according to surviving records. That recommendation was declined. In fact, only four enlisted soldiers from the 92nd were recommended for the service cross. They were all denied. It was given to just two black members of the unit, both officers, and only one of those officers received it during the war. The other received it nearly four decades after the war was over because of the investigative efforts of another historian.
As the 1997 study ”The Exclusion of Black Soldiers from the Medal of Honor in World War II” pointed out, by mid-1947 the U.S. Army had awarded 4,750 Distinguished Service Crosses and only eight, less than 0.2 percent, had gone to black soldiers and not a single black soldier had been recommended for a Medal of Honor. (Roughly 1.2 million blacks served in World War II and about 50,000 were engaged in combat.) Until 1997, World War II was the only American war in which no black soldiers had received a Medal of Honor. President Bill Clinton changed that that year by awarding Medals of Honor to seven of the men who had been awarded the Distinguished Service Crosses, the only ones whose cases were reviewed for the upgrade. Just one of them, Joseph Vernon Baker, a lieutenant in my grandfather’s regiment, was alive to receive it.
Even when this news of the Buffalo Soldiers was making headlines in the ’90s, my grandfather never said a word. There’s no way to know why. Maybe it was the pain of risking his life abroad for a freedom that he couldn’t fully enjoy at home. Maybe it was the misery of languishing in a military hospital for many months and being discharged with a limp that would follow him to the grave. Or maybe it was simply the act of a brave soldier living out the motto of his division: ”Deeds Not Words.”
Who knows? But it wasn’t until after he died that I learned of his contributions. My mother came across his discharge papers while sorting through his things and sent me a copy. On a whim, I Googled his name and division, and there he was, staring out at me from a picture I’d never seen and being extolled in books I’d never read. My heart swelled, and my skin went cold. I wanted to tell him how proud I was, but that window had closed.
It illustrates just how quickly things can fade into the fog of history if not vigilantly and accurately kept alive in the telling.
That is why the racial history of this country is not a thing to be toyed with by Hollywood. There are too many bodies at the bottom of that swamp to skim across it with such indifference. Attention must be shown. Respect must be paid.
So as ”Captain America” ended and the credits began to roll, I managed a bit of a smile, the kind that turns up on the corners with a tinge of sadness. I smiled not for what I’d seen, but for what had not been shown, knowing that I would commit it to a column so that my grandfather and the many men like him would not be lost to the sanitized vision of America’s darker years.
This is my deed through words, for you, Grandpa. You’ll never be forgotten.
Charles M. Blow is a New York Times Columnist and nationally-known commentator: “I invite you to visit my blog By The Numbers, join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
by Basil Waine Kong
Mi Hard Man Fi Dead
You can pick me up and lick me down
And I will bounce right back
While death will eventually have its day, I have had a number of near death experiences that has only strengthened my will to live well even as I tempt fate. The lesson I learned from sky diving is that if at first you don’t succeed, it’s not one of those times to try, try, try and try again. This is not for you.
Can you imagine strapping on a parachute, flying to 2 miles up and jumping out of a perfectly good airplane? The moment of terror that lived in my stomach for 7 days is just before the jump. My wife has died a thousand deaths over my decision to go skydiving. She does not complain, however, about the other passionate little deaths (la petite mort) I experience several times per week.
1. Hopping a truck
One of the pastimes in Jamaica is hoping flat bed trucks and getting a free ride. When this skill is perfected, a man can save a lot of time getting from point A to point B by waiting for a truck to come, run along until you are going the same speed preferably up a steep hill when it predictably slows down. They grab onto a side panel, pull themselves up and get a free ride. I grew up watching very skillful boys do this repeatedly without a problem. It actually looked like fun. The opportunity for me came when I was about eight years old on my way to school. As the truck slowed down on the hill next to Johnson’s property, I went through the familiar routine and was feeling proud of myself that I got on without a problem and without the driver even knowing that I was on board. As the school is on a flat road, the truck picked up speed and was now way past my destination. As no one told me how to get down from the truck, in my panic, I just jumped off the truck that was now going about 30 miles per hour clearly expecting to land on my feet. Instead, the landing was a traumatic collision with the ground and I rolled around in the stone gravel. I was battered, bruised, bloody, crying and in severe pain. When I limped to school, Teacher Fargueson beat me and immediately sent me home.
When I got home and told my loving, patient and forgiving Granny, she beat me as well before cleaning me up with an antiseptic (Detol) that turned the water white. She put iodine on the scrapes and scratches and crushed chick weed on the deeper cuts. I then went to bed and slept through the night. The bumps on my head (hematomas) that Jamaicans call “coco” went away after a week when Granny declared that I was as good as new. Did I stop hopping trucks? No. I just leaned that you have to hold on and run with the truck for a while before letting go. The trouble with learning from experience is that sometimes the exam comes before the lesson.
2. The Bees
I grew up loving to eat brains (fish, chicken, goat, and hog)hearing that it would make me smart. The other brain food was bananas. About a year after my road accident, I placed some green bananas in a secret hiding place and then went back a week later to gather my prize. As I stuck my hand in to retrieve the sweet bright yellow bananas, I instead disturbed a wasp nest. They immediately started to sting me about 100 times. Within an hour, my face arms and legs had swollen to four times their normal size. My grandmother merely crushed a cube of “blue” that she would ordinarily use to rinse and brighten white clothes and dabbed it on each bite. In a week, I was as good as new and brighter too. When it got dark one evening, I got my revenge. Because wasps cannot see at night, I poured kerosene on the nest and killed them all. The best part was that I got to eat my slightly over ripe bananas.
3. Running for my life (Usain Bolt was a boy to I-man).
When I was twelve years old, I got into an argument with a bigger boy who I accused of stealing the watch my mother sent for me. When he ran after me with a machete, I knew I was going to die. So, I did things I never thought was possible like jumping over walls, traversing a pond and outrunning someone who was the fastest runner on our Boys Brigade troop. I learned that day that Jamaicans are very sensitive to being called a “tief” and that I could outrun anyone. After that, whenever I wanted to run fast, I would get the adrenalin going by pretending that “Mad Ronnie” was chasing me with a machete. I subsequently became the sports champion on sports day at Springfield All Age School in 1958 as well as set a 400 meter track record at Madison high school in New Jersey which earned me a track scholarship to Simpson College in Iowa in 1963.
4. I was coming around the Mountain
I had just graduated from Simpson College in 1967 and while I was pursuing a master’s degree at American University as well as got my first job working as a juvenile probation officer in Montgomery County, Maryland. I approached my new job with a great deal of optimism. Because I had met and studied Glasser’s “Reality Therapy”. I asked my supervisor to give me all the hard cases because I thought I could turn water into wine and delinquents into productive citizens. One of my innovations was to borrow the Paddy Wagon from the police department and take seven delinquents at a time to a friend’s cabin in the Allegheny Mountains. We would go on hikes, cook and ate together and at night as well as enjoy great fireside chats. One day, I was taking them down the mountain to buy some provisions when I suddenly came upon an unexpected sudden right turn that I was going too fast to maneuver around and the paddy wagon turned over three times before coming to rest against a tree. It all happened in slow motion. My nose was broken and cut, my ear was severed and there were several severe cuts on my neck and arms. I ran around trying to make sure the boys survived the ordeal.
They turned away from me as if I was a hideous creature. It was a good thing that most of them were in the padded police wagon but these tough guys were all crying: “I want my mommy.” We were all bleeding and the problem that we were on a mountain with no telephone, no traffic and no access to help. Fortunately, in about an hour, another camper drove by and was able to go back and get ambulances. My daughter was only a week old and police called my wife and told her that her husband was in an accident. Not knowing whether I was alive or dead, she left Baby Jill with a neighbor and raced up to find me battered and bruised but alive to see another day. Isn’t plastic surgery wonderful?
5. Runaway Bay with Jillian
Jill was about five years old and we were vacationing in a villa in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. When I came back from playing golf, I quickly changed into my bathing suit and ran to the beach to get a quick dip in the ocean to cool off. As I swam out, I heard someone say “gulp” and realized that my precious daughter had followed me into the ocean without my realizing it. In the wide ocean, she was close enough to afford me the opportunity to rescue her. I call this one of my near death experiences because if I had lost her that day, I believe I would have just gone ahead and committed suicide.
6. Ocean City with Melanie
When my oldest daughter Jill was about fourteen years old and youngest daughter Melanie was about eleven, we were living in Columbia, Maryland and took our summer vacation in Ocean City, Maryland. We were very happy to be at the ocean. As soon as we got to the beach, Jill went with her mother to lie in the shade and read while Melanie (the tomboy) and I immediately ran and swam out into the ocean not paying any attention to the warning signs. We were having a glorious time but when I glanced back to shore, we must have been a mile out. A rip tide had carried us out to sea. We tried to swim back and were making no progress. I was exhausted and now convinced that the situation was hopeless, I told Melanie to swim for shore and not to look back. Just when I said my last prayers, I heard a voice yelling: “Grab the ring”. A lifeguard had appeared from nowhere and rescued both of us. He immediately told us to swim parallel to the shore to get out of the rip tide before swimming for shore. When I reached terra firma, I kissed the sand, thanked the lifeguard profusely for saving my daughter and me and went to join Jill and their mother. We decided not to even tell them what happened. About a year later, I got a panic attack as I recalled my daughter Melanie and I and this very close call.
7. The sleigh ride with Aleron
My youngest son, Aleron, was about 7 years old and we lived in York, Pennsylvania. After a lovely snow fall, we used an inflatable raft that we had used in the summer at the pool and went up and down the hill at the Water Commission Property behind our house. When we came home for lunch, I got inspired to tie “Judy Jet”, our huge husky/Labrador mix to the raft and visualized that the dog would just pull Aleron along at a nice pace like he would when we walked him twice per day . As soon as I uttered the word “mush”, the dog took off at about 90 miles per hour through the thick woods with me running behind in a panic yelling to Aleron to jump off. Aleron was holding on to the inflatable raft having a great time and Judy Jet kept running through the trees at speeds that made it impossible for Aleron to roll off the raft. My wife heard my yelling and running after our son and soon joined in the chase running after me with her apron and house slippers. Our older son Freddie, heard his mother and I yelling and he also joined in the conga line running after Judy Jet and the wayward raft. After what seemed like an eternity and the miraculously making it through the woods and going down a very steep hill, Aleron finally fell off the raft giggling and all of us thanking God he was safe. I on the other hand had my life flash before my eyes as I envisioned my son impaled on a tree limb which would have led to my own death– this time at the hands of my wife Stephanie.
8. Upon the roof
After a severe storm that hit Atlanta in 2002, trees were down, the power was out and there were several limbs on our roof. I decided to be proactive and got my long ladder and went up to the roof to get rid of the debris. I did a great job but when I was climbing down, the ladder gave way and I fell to the stone patio in our back yard. My son Aleron heard the commotion and ran out of the house saying: “Talk to me Dad!” and don’t move. I am calling 911. He went on to say that he had seen an episode of ER and when you fall from heights you are supposed to lay still. In my stunned state, I tested my limbs one at a time and everything worked as my son and I waited for the paramedics who rushed us to the hospital. They notified my wife, who left work probably driving faster than the paramedics. When she arrived at the hospital my Xrays showed that nothing was broken and my brain was in tact. I told them that jumping from a truck in Woodlands had prepared me for the fall.
When I walk through storms, I keep my head high and summon courage. There are a whole lot of angels guarding me. That’s why I continue to “walk good”. Don’t worry; I think I still have one life to live.
Bullet Columnist Basil Waine Kong as written several pieces for this journal and especially likes to expound on his favorite subject: his beloved Jamaica. He is a former Atlien (resident of Atlanta GA), and was the CEO of the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) for 22 years before his retirement in 2008 to return to Jamaica. This article is reprinted with his permission from his blogsite; Coming in From the Cold… Bob Marley
These are photos taken from the reunion of what my dad called the greatest family in the world on 9/3/11 and 9/4/11. You can thank the young ladies at the top for the awesome pictures displayed on this page; my beautiful cousins Hazel “Sweetie” and Donna Hickman and myself during the two days of this event. These are just a few of the scenes they captured @ the Yankee Hall Plantation in Pactolus, NC and the picnic on 9/3 was held @ the beautiful Dr. Andrew A. Best Freedom Park in Greenville, NC- Chris Stevenson
That’s a wrap, see you in two years. peace.
Chris Stevenson is a regular columnist for blackcommentator, Political Affairs Magazine, and a syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter, and Facebook, you don’t have to join any of them. Watch his video commentary Policy & Prejudice and The Network for clbTV. Respond to him on the link below.
by Alton H. Maddox, Jr.
The “venerable” New York Times raised this question a few weeks ago. I have not read a single letter from a person of African ancestry chastising this newspaper for raising the question. If I had raised the question, letter carriers would be hiring Wells Fargo to take their wages to the bank.
Recently, I wrote an article entitled “Gil Noble and ‘Like It Is’ are not Synonyms”. A gratuitous reader went off. He accused me of, in effect, kicking Gil while he was in a coma. When he read the article, he was apparently smoking pot. Gil was a “royal guard” and since he has been hospitalized, no one is guarding “Fort Knox”. Blacks, similarly, lost Alexandria in Kemet and its reservoir of books.
While Rev. Sharpton may have “sold out”, an answer to this question is unnecessary. In July 1998, New York, forever, sealed his lips and the lips of C. Vernon Mason in Pagones v. Maddox et. al. A petit jury found that both Sharpton and Mason had defamed Pagones by falsely implicating him in the kidnap and rape of Tawana Brawley. Its erroneous findings are in the verdict sheet, a public record, in Dutchess County Supreme Court.
The same jury refused to seal my lips, in any fashion, however. In fact, Pagones’ attorney admitted that it was a mistake for Pagones to have sued me. The jury found that I had knowingly spoken the truth about Pagones while Mason and Sharpton only told the truth about him. Nonetheless, the Black community is keeping it a secret that I won this legal marathon.
In short, the petit jury found that I had done my homework. Every time I put pen to paper, I make sure that I have done my homework. Writing can be costly. It can be very costly to make a well-founded criminal accusation against a white man. The law is employed as a deadly weapon.
Nafissatou Diallo may be deported for accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former chief of the IMF, of sexually assaulting her. She may also face a vindictive, perjury prosecution in New York. For a Black person, these actions results from having perpetrated seditious libel which is now only prosecuted under the slave codes
In Pagones v. Maddox et. al., Rev. Sharpton found out the drawbacks of losing a defamation trial. This was the longest civil trial in the history of New York. A defamation lawsuit is costly and it can have a chilling effect on free speech. If successful, it will seal lips.
Both Mason and Sharpton had to retain attorneys. Because I was unemployed, I had the shortest pockets but I had to incur the bulk of the common expenses pro se which exceeded $250,000. The Black community chose not to become a surety but Mason and Sharpton did have sureties.
Although I had won the defamation trial, I still lost. Black commercial radio banned me from its airwaves because I could and would continue to accuse Pagones of kidnapping and raping Tawana. After Wilbert Tatum made his transition, Elinor Tatum of the New York Amsterdam News also gave me the boot for my pro bono position of writing weekly, penetrating op-ed pieces. She was unable to handle nor afford the truth.
Instead of simply keeping his lips sealed, Rev. Sharpton has switched hats since People v. Sharpton. He now heads the Madison Avenue Initiative which is a consortium of advertisers. Its mission, among other things, is to censor outspoken radio guests who oppose white supremacy. Because Sharpton has earned an “A” for effort, MSNBC has awarded him with an evening cable program. This is, supposedly, a financial upgrade from his position on satellite radio.
Soon after I was wrongfully disbarred on May 21, 1990 for effectively representing him in a 67-count indictment, Sharpton admitted that his days as an outspoken public advocate had come to a screeching halt. There is no future in public advocacy when a Black person is unable to enjoy competent and zealous legal representation. Sharpton altered his profile on May 21, 1990.
In short, Sharpton said, “if you can’t beat them, join them”. With this advice, he has lived happily ever after. Of course, his final days as an outspoken public advocate happened when the federal government brought Justice Thurgood Marshall out of mothballs and he delivered an ultimatum to Sharpton. No Agitation! No Jail!
Sharpton and Mason both deserve credit for coming to my rescue in 1988. I had the legal knowledge but I needed two competent and courageous communicators to ward off media attacks and to rally the Black community. White supremacists would call them “professional agitators”.
The lesson to be learned is that anyone who speaks for Blacks must have some “heavy”, financial resources. This means a war chest. Neither the Black community nor UAM came close to giving me or them the necessary tools to combat white public officials in New York and also the white media. Blacks must learn that the spokesperson may be the victim but Black people are the target.
In Pagones v. Maddox et. al., it was David versus Goliath. Miracles still happen but Black people must stop being spectators and critics. They must be investors in human rights. Otherwise, our “leaders” will turn against us and become outright Judas goats. They are already inclined to do so. There is no “Alton Maddox” in New York. This is just the simple truth.
When a Black man in 2011 is accused of raping a white woman, white men will arrange for either a judicial lynching or an extra-legal lynching. Black men, on the other hand, readily toss their manhood when a white man is accused of raping a Black woman. In justifying the beating of attorney C.B. King, a local sheriff said: “I am a white man and he’s a damn nigger”.
In Diallo, only UAM, absent some female co-conspirators, and 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care stepped up to the plate. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was indicted by a grand jury and, without legal authority the district attorney moved to dismiss it and a local judge, without legal authority, granted the motion. The Black community made no waves. Something is wrong with this picture.
Blacks must blame themselves. Rev. Sharpton should not be used as a “scapegoat”. When Benedict Arnold betrayed the United States, he had to take flight. When someone sells out the “Black race”" he or she becomes a role model. No other people think this way.
When Charles Barron derailed, among others the dreams of Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin L. King Jr. and Harry and Harriette Moore in 2010, he has now become a hero. Are we sick boss? The United States has a two-part system headed in the same direction. His mission was to undermine political competition.
The voices for the Black community are now limited to myself and 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. I wish I could say UAM en masse or in toto but it is being influenced by “Judas goats”. On the other hand, Rev. Sharpton is being tied-tongued and it is having a chilling effect on all leading Blacks, Black selected officials and grassroots activists. They are eating the king’s meat. The Black community needs an inventory list. Sharpton has an excuse “of sorts”.
Too honest for the White Press and too black for much of today’s Black Press; bullet columnist Alton Maddox upsets the same people and status quo as he did as an uncompromising Defense Attorney. He is also a founding member of the Freedom Party. Contact him at c/o UAM P.O. BOX 35 BRONX, NY 10471