Historical Repetitions (and Other Forms of Seeing for Consideration): a

 

I refuse to live in fear. I’m told about the many frightening things ahead for us because of Trump’s status as president elect. A woman stopped me on the street to give me a stack of her fliers about the new face of fascism. (Until recently the same fliers had Obama’s face on them.) Everywhere I hear alarming news—increased suicides, hate crimes, bigotry. To all of these worries and stresses I say, “I refuse to live in fear.” Elections, public and free, are not worth dying for.

Unfortunately, bigotry has been a very common circumstance throughout my life and professional career. The bigots emboldened to come out of the closet were never invisible to me. And, the problems we face are bigger than openly racist leaders—for many people that has been the reality all along.

Perhaps it makes us uncomfortable to imagine hope packaged in the incendiary language with which Trump ran his campaign. Perhaps it makes us angry to be ruled by people with less education, less polish and less manners than ourselves. On the surface, this seems to be true. We want to ask ourselves how much could we have in common with rural Virginians and Appalachian Whites whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy and have never yet ceased to fly the losing flag. Upon a closer more careful examination, we see the same conditions exist for them today as they did nearly 200 years ago when they lost the Civil War in part because they were starving then too. I often wonder whether their ancestors, many of whom did not hold a single bonded man, woman or child, ate any better than their predecessors do today. Given the evidence that African Americans, who ate poorly, died young and served as free labor in the South embodied the wealth of their slavers, it’s clear that jobs for poor, White Americans have always been scarce.

Nothing has changed.

(Solutions forthcoming.)

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As Seen on TV
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The NRA’s Convenient Gun-Reform Policy

 

Let us recall the words of abolitionist Lloyd Garrison in this process of truth telling: “ I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice.”

I just learned that the NRA’s current stance on gun reform is political far beyond the degree of merely upholding the Constitutional rights of Americans. In a landmark decision, led and advocated for by Ronald Regan, Don Mulford and the NRA, California changed the open carry gun law that had been in place under the Mulford Act in 1967. They did this only after the Black Panther Party started carrying guns in self-defense. By changing the law, the NRA worked strategically with state officials to limit the group’s ability to defend themselves. The Mulford Act changed the laws in order to directly disenfranchise Black American Activists, who were being lynched with impunity in the United States. In many ways, the Black Lives Matter Movement is a continuation of the work they started. (No guns, however.)

Read the history that the NRA has obfuscated from the public for the past five decades in The Atlantic’s “The Secret History of Guns.”

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Plus, here’s a photo of the only confiscated gun returned to the Black Panther Party by the Oakland Police. From the current OMCA Exhibit All the Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50

Well, why not regulate and uphold gun laws in this country so that we are all safer?

 

 

Registries and Other Post-Modern Curiosities

I’m curious what would happen if we create a registry for Muslims we also create a registry for all White Supremacists involved with terrorist organizations like the historic Klu Klux Klan, an organization that has terrorized Black Americans for centuries, and, not just in the South.

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Ancestral Observers: A Tableau

(Ancestors include Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass)

Here’s a photograph of the hooded Klu Klux Klan marching down a main boulevard in Oakland, California circa 1950 from the current OMCA All the Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50 Exhibit:

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Evolving Forms of Entertainment

Thank G-d for television, Netflix, cable, video games and movie theaters. Remember when lynching Black Americans was a form of entertainment? During the days of Jim Crow law, after Emancipation, our government allowed White Americans to kill black people with impunity. Some of them even mailed photographs with family members and friends gathered around the defiled bodies, subverting decency, undermining justice and using the federal mail system to send evidence of their crimes. To be fair, some White Americans were also lynched outside of the formal judicial process, but those murders seldom involved the nudity and corporal mutilation that were common singularities of their Black counterparts.

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Lynching-photos postcards from the book Without Sanctuary

Don’t take my word for it. Learn American History. We have a complex story that needs to be examined, discussed and remembered. Otherwise, we may just repeat the same mistakes.

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                                Thank you for remembering, James Allen, Hilton Als,                                  Congressman John Lewis    and   Leon F. Litwack

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