Monthly Archives: November 2015

An Unnecessary Attack on Christmas

It appears that one of the major goals coming out of the recent Million Man March, labeled “Equal Justice or Else,” was a call for Black America to boycott Black Friday and every shopping day throughout the entire Christmas season. This appears to be another attempt by Minister Louis Farrakhan and his followers to eradicate the celebration as part of the African American culture in this country. I watched and listened to one of the minister’s attacks on the manner in which most Black Americans celebrate the season. In his peroration, he claimed that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wanted to boycott Christmas after the killing of the four little girls in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing in September 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama. He then made the appeal for all us to boycott this year’s Christmas shopping season in the name of Dr. King. “I’m going to ask us in his name (King) to do something he wanted to do when they bombed the four little girls…he wanted to boycott Christmas.”

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For a very long time I did a great deal of research on Dr. King for a course I taught on African American Political Thought at the University of Texas in San Antonio, and I never remember reading from any credible source where it is mentioned that he wanted to boycott Christmas. Since Dr. King was a Baptist minister, who sincerely believed in the teachings of Jesus Christ, I found it rather interesting that the minister made this assertion. Now I am sure that the minister would not make such a claim just to complement his call for a boycott, so if there is anyone who reads this post and can direct me to the passage where Dr. King called for the boycott, I would appreciate receiving it.

Santa-Claus-02-300x300In his speech, Minister Farrakhan continued to disparage those millions of African Americans who are Christians because of the manner in which they celebrate Christmas. According to him, the tradition of displaying a Christmas tree in your home with decorations is comparable to “practicing paganism.” He quoted from the Tenth Chapter of “Jeremiah” as evidence of his accusation. He then referred to gifts that families and friends exchange as foolishness. He claimed that we pay more respect to the “Big fat Caucasian who flies out of the North Pole with a bag full of gifts, and is supposed to come down a chimney that most homes don’t have, than we do to Christ.” The thrust of his message was that we spend money on gifts that leave us in the red after the holiday season, while the merchants make enough money to last them throughout the year.

He then talked about the amount of liquor and dope that is consumed during the holiday. Again, he accused us of placing more importance on the dope and booze than on Jesus. That makes us, according to Minister Farrakhan, part of a heathen and pagan practice.

I guess my question to Minister Farrakhan would be, is this kind of attack on his fellow Black brothers and sisters really necessary? I’m not sure whom he is referring to, but the friends and associates I know consume very little, if any at all, liquor and no drugs. I imagine there are thousands of Black families that celebrate the holiday and consume no booze or drugs.

My family, as is the case with thousands of other Black families, has a tradition of placing a Christmas tree in our home and I really do not appreciate anyone, Black or white, referring to me and all my brothers and sisters who do the same as heathens and pagans. I believe our race has suffered sufficient name calling over the decades that we don’t deserve it from one who considers himself a leader.

Finally, there are millions of beautiful Black Americans throughout the decades who have turned to Jesus Christ for sustenance and salvation, and their worship of Him  is real and necessary for them. Throughout the turbulent years of apartheid, mothers turned to the church and their minister when their husband was lynched or their daughters raped. The minister, in the name of Christ, provided them with the strength to make it through those terrible times. The Christian church has been the pillar of strength for our race since emancipation. The church continues to play that role. So the gifts bought at Christmas are not foolishness, it is symbolic of the love that our people feel toward Christ. It is the giving of the gift that counts, and for that reason it is not foolishness.

If Minister Farrakhan doesn’t believe in celebrating Christmas and doesn’t indulge in gift exchange, we as Christians have no problem with that position. And if the followers of the Nation of Islam want to celebrate Founder’s Day when they pay deference and respect to those held in high regard, we as Christians will wish them well. However, I think it is quite appropriate that we expect the same kind of respect from the Nation when we celebrate Christmas in the manner we choose.

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The Delusional and Irrational Behavior of Certain European Americans

The attitudes and behavior of a certain segment of the European American population in this country becomes absolutely irrational, to the point of delusional when they must confront their relationship with African Americans. It is just amazing how a race of people can accomplish so many outstanding undertakings, but become totally nonsensical and almost obsessed with an aversion toward Black people. History is filled with their inability to accept the fact that they are not superior to others. And because they cannot make that grand leap, it forces them to say the most asinine things as they defend their assumption of superiority. This problem surfaced heavily right after Reconstruction, and with the attempt of European Americans to control the definition of the races. One of the leading scholars on the period, Professor Leon Litwack, captured this deviation from reality when he wrote, “The history to which Black children were exposed in the classroom and the primers made a virtual gospel of the superiority of Anglo-Saxon institutions and ways of thinking and acting. What little they learned of their own history consisted often of disparaging caricatures of Black people as the least civilized of the races—irresponsible, thoughtless, foolish, childlike people, satisfied with their lowly place in American life, incapable of self-control and self-direction.” That statement was blatantly false and not grounded in any factual evidence, other than the need for the European American to feed his own weak ego at the expense of others.

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I can imagine how devastating it was to those people when Blacks began to rack up achievement after achievement over the years. How they must have looked on in amazement as Jimmy Winfield, a Black man, won the first Kentucky Derby. In fact, fifteen of the first twenty-eight Derbies were won by Black Jockeys. And the greatest jockey in the history of the sport was Isaac Murphy, who won three Derby races and 44% of all his races throughout his career. Jack Johnson forced the European Americans to seek out a “Great White Hope,” to save their dignity and preserve their lie of superiority. Jackie Robinson sent tremors throughout the entire European American consciousness, when he proved that Black ball players were equal in skills and often better than their white counterpart.

Black Americans continued to rack up accomplishments not only in sports but science, medicine, and the arts. It finally reached its apex with the election of President Barack Obama and the irrational and delusional behavior could no longer be controlled. It exploded in earnest for the entire world to observe when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared his only goal was to make President Obama a one term President, and that was on the first day of his inauguration. What happened to the traditional “honeymoon period” granted all other Presidents when they first took office? The irrational behavior of a Republican controlled Congress continued after passage of Obamacare, as the House of Representatives introduced over fifty bills to repeal that law, and invited a head of state from Israel to speak to the Congress, an obvious lack of respect for the President. For the past seven years, the President has been accused of being a dictator, a Black Muslim, born in Africa, he hates America, he wants to destroy democracy and shows more respect to the foreign dignitaries in Middle East countries than he does to America’s friends in Europe. That is all irrational behavior by any measurement.

Now as an election year approaches we are witnessing a bunch of Republican candidates, who constantly try to be more irrational than the next one. Their lack of respect for Black America is not quite as blatant as their counterparts in the 19th Century, but it still exists. Their intent is clear, they accept the attacks on President Obama as legitimate. When candidate Carlie Fioriana failed to refute a man’s attack on the President in New Hampshire when he declared Obama to be a dictator, hates America and is a member of the Nation of Islam, she became just as guilty of irrationality and just as delusional. None of the candidates have challenged Donald Trump’s ridiculous charges for years that the President was not an American citizen, and he was hiding some great failure as a college student when he failed to reveal his transcripts.

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This irrational and delusional behavior is not confined to the national level. It exists right here in San Antonio, and has materialized in the struggle to change the name Robert E. Lee from a local high school as well as a statue of the traitor general on the campus. In response to a commentary I did for Black Video News on the subject of Lee, someone wrote, “Blacks so loved General Lee that they stayed on and worked for him after the Civil War.” But for the fact that I recognized this person as one of the European Americans suffering from serious delusions of grandeur, his comment may have angered me. But that is the arrogance that is associated with the irrational behavior. I did refute his statement with a quote from a former slave, George Conrad, who told one of the researchers with the Federal Writers’ Project in 1939, that “Mr. (Abraham) Lincoln was sure a wonderful man. He did what God put him here to do, took bondage off the colored people and set them free. Mr. (Robert E.) Lee sure didn’t leave no such record behind him. They tells me before he died he had a mule and a (slave) brought before him and he told the folks to protect the mule and to keep the (slave) down.”

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I don’t really expect my repudiation of that pro-Lee supporter’s statement will affect him at all. Because he is so far lost in his own delusional thinking that nothing can change his myth of white superiority and his need to be important at the expense of others. It is a sickness that a certain segment of the European population has suffered from since they first invaded the continent of Africa and brutalized the people. And it just won’t go away.

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The Fighting Spirit of Barbara Johns Lives On With Kayla Wilson

On April 23, 1951, Barbara Johns, a sixteen year old girl who was the niece of the firebrand minister, Vernon Johns, summoned all 450 Black students attending R.R. Moten High School in Farmville, Virginia to an assembly in the school auditorium. Against the protest of the faculty, she stood in front of the student body and rattled off a series of complaints about the condition of their school. When the faculty attempted to remove her from the stage, she ordered them out of the auditorium.  Barbara recognized the futility to get adults to do what they should, so she was determined not to let them stop the other students and her from eradicating the evil of racism.

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She told her fellow students that Plessy v. Ferguson was nonsense and the white apartheid system would never comply with the Supreme Court decision that separate must be equal. As early as 1951, it was the youth that made it known they would no longer attend classes in tarpaper shacks, having to wear coats in the winter to stay warm and dodge the rain in the spring that freely flowed from the roof down into the building. They objected to riding in buses that often broke down before arriving at their school, always a long distance from their homes. Barbara further told the students they should be outraged that their history teacher had to drive the bus and had to gather wood and start the fire inside the school in order to keep them warm.

Young Barbara Johns shouted loudly for all to hear that the students demanded their rights as Americans to equal treatment. Since the adults couldn’t get the job done, then the young people would. The white school board had regularly rebuffed the demands of the adults to improve the conditions in the school, and reneged on a promise to build a new high school.  The adults appeared impotent in their negotiations with the whites, so Barbara and her fellow students decided they would strike. They marched out of the school building and downtown, prepared for a confrontation with the power structure.

After their demands were denied, the students then appealed to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for legal assistance. A week later when the officials from the NAACP arrived in Farmville, under the assumption that it was the adults who had made the request, they were surprised when they walked into a room full of students.  The NAACP lawyers informed Barbara and the students that their strike might be illegal, and they could be arrested. Barbara boldly retorted there was too many of them for the small jail in their town. But if arrested, they were willing to be incarcerated in defense of their God given rights and liberties. Eventually, the NAACP agreed to argue their case and ultimately it became a part of the larger lawsuit, Brown v. Board of Education that led to the famous 1954 United States Supreme Court decision ruling separate was not equal, and that schools should desegregate throughout the south.

Sixty-four years later another young Black student, over a thousand miles away from Virginia has taken on the same kind of racism that Barbara confronted. It has been over a month ago that I first wrote about the courageous Kayla Wilson, a student at Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio, Texas. She attends the magnet school for the arts and must go there if she wants to pursue her love for creative writing. In an earlier post, I shared with the readers her outstanding poem titled “Ebony.”

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Kayla’s struggle is with the name of her school. She finds it incomprehensible that the North East Independent School District will not consider her request to change the name from Robert E. Lee.  I have, in the past, written an article for the San Antonio Express News expressing my unwavering support for Kayla’s position. I outlined four basic reasons for the need to change the name.

  1. Every student should always be proud of the high school from which they graduate. Years from now they should be able to shout to the world that I got my degree from and then name a school with no shame. That is not the case with Kayla. She will always be ashamed to call out the name of her high school. And what is really shameful is that the school board doesn’t care enough for Kayla and the other Black students, and also many Hispanic students to change the name.
  2. Kayla and other Black students throughout this country are being taught that slavery was a terrible evil, however, it is long gone and it is time to move on. But how can she possibly move on when everyday she shows up for school, she is reminded of the tragic suffering of her ancestors when she looks at the statue of Lee right out in front of the school.
  3. Kayla and other Black students are taught that loyalty to country is a virtue and that we all must adhere to the dictates of the constitution that guide America. Kayla recognizes the duplicity in these lessons when a statue of a man who was a traitor to his country, stares at her as soon as she walks out of her civics class.
  4. Finally it is hypocritical for that school board to suggest to Kayla and other Black students that the evils of the past are gone forever and they need to move on. They are taught that we are now in a post racial America because a Black man was fortunate enough to be elected President. When the school board and the teachers tell Kayla that racism is now dead, but still retain the school name as well as symbols of racism in a statue, they are being dishonest.

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Kayla Wilson is our own modern day Barbara Johns. Just like Barbara, Kayla has challenged the school board with very little support from the leaders of the community or the civil rights organizations, with the exception of former Mayor Julian Castro who was the first to call for the name change. But just like Barbara, Kayla now needs the legal, political and moral support of her community, and all communities interested in improving the racial climate in this country. The elected officials of the city, the NAACP, the national and local leaders, even the leaders of the Million Man March, should show up in San Antonio and lock arms with Kayla and let her know she has their support. Nothing less than a mass protest is going to force a change in the status at Robert E. Lee High School. This is a case with strong national implications for the future. If the national leaders of the Black community can ask us to boycott Black Friday in November, they can also come to the aid of a seventeen-year-old high school student who is doing the work that the adults throughout the country should be doing.

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