Black Men Promoting Reading and Writing in 2015

Ralph Ellison - Image Courtesy of www.thefeministwire.com
Ralph Ellison – Image Courtesy of http://www.thefeministwire.com

There is an old joke that goes as follows: “If you want to hide a fifty dollar bill from a Black man, put it in the middle pages of a book.” The brunt of the joke being that Black men do not read and, to a certain extent, that might be true. But for the majority of Black men it is false. We do read and we write, also. Using my group of friends here in San Antonio as an example, we are Black men who hold advanced degrees in a number of fields and after graduation have continued our intellectual growth through reading and studying various subjects.

Specifically, three of my closest friends are also my business partners in Prosperity Publications, a publishing company we established in July 2013. Dr. Loren Alves is a local dentist who just accepted a professorship at East Carolina University in their Dental School; Earl Blanche is a Certified Public Accountant and a retired senior executive with 32 years service with the Internal Revenue Service; Dr. D. Anthony Miles (the grandson of John “Mule” Miles an outstanding baseball player in the Negro Baseball League), is the principal partner in Miles Consulting Firm.  Within the next month we plan to bring on a fifth partner, a brilliant young Black attorney and author. Her additional expertise will make our management team one of the very best in the literary community.

What is very unique about our team is that we recognize a greater need to get involved in the problem of literacy confronting young as well as older Black Americans. We have all made a commitment that we will publish works that accentuate the positive nature of the African American culture. Through such publications, it is our goal to introduce strong and positive images of Black men and women in stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

The company’s first two publications, released last year, reflect the quality of works that readers can expect this coming year. My novel, Fires of Greenwood: The Tulsa Riot of 1921 and Attorney Chris Pittard’s creative non-fiction work, The Transmanaut Chronicles are meant to uplift the race and culture. Both books have been discussed on different posts in my writer’s blog. If you missed them, I encourage you to scroll back down the blog and take a closer look at them.

In 2015 you can expect Prosperity Publications to release an anthology of short stories titled, Black is the Color of Love, and a book of essays, short autobiographies, with a special section highlighting many great heroes under the heading “Legacies of Courage,” and titled Black is the Color of Strength. The company will also release an outstanding autobiography, Through My Mother’s Tears. The book chronicles the life of a most phenomenal man, Dr. David Floyd, who graduated from high school reading at the second grade level and before his passing away this past October, received his Doctorate Degree in Accounting.

Presently, I am working on the autobiography of one of the greatest National Basketball Association players in the history of the game. The story of his life and phenomenal career will be released in June 2015. The company is also in the process of contracting with an outstanding leader and educator in San Antonio, Dr. Mateen Diop, to bring his well-written book, Inner-City Public Schools Still Work, under the Prosperity Publication label. And finally it is our goal to publish the city’s top Black Librarian, D. L. Grant’s new novel, The Hundred Dollar Bet, this summer.

As a team, we take exception to the joke mentioned above. And we take great pride in our company and what we have set as our goals. There is no limit to the number of critics who would argue that we are fighting a losing cause. We reject that kind of negativity and ask that you all join us in disproving this serious misperception about our race and our culture. I will see you at the bookstore or the library in 2015!

White Law—Black Injustice

People protest the police shooting death of Michael Brown a week ago in Ferguson, Mo., Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. | Image Courtesy of abcnews.go.com
People protest the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.| Image Courtesy of abcnews.go.com

This past Monday evening, November 24, like millions of other Americans, I was disappointed when St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch read the decision made by the Ferguson Grand Jury not to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of young Michael Brown. I believe I express the sentiment of many, who feel justice was not and will never be given to that young man whose life was taken away from him at the age of 18. I was disappointed but not surprised. We were provided with sufficient foreshadowing by the governor to know what they would do. Coupled with the fact that the National Guard was put on alert, is the fact that Black Americans have never received fair and equal treatment. Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois admonished us to recognize that we lived under rules not designed to benefit Black people when he wrote: “A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.” History supports Dr. Du Bois and his observation. From its inception in 1787 America was conceived as a land of opportunity for those coming aboard the ships and not those stuffed below in holes like animals. Laws written to protect the institution of slavery were not meant to be just, but to benefit one class and one race. And apartheid was not legalized in the South to be just, but to subjugate a race of people to be subservient to that same other class and race.

One of the functions of the police throughout the South, and in many instances the entire country, was not to enforce laws based on equal consideration of all people, but to ensure that the unjust laws were obeyed by those they harmed the most. This was especially applicable to the manner that police treated young Black men. In his historical analysis of the segregated South during the Jim Crow era, historian Leon Litwack observed that: “The use of excessive force by the police underscored the determination to remind Blacks at every opportunity of their vulnerability and helplessness. If the police sometimes singled out young Blacks for punishment, it was a way to check their tendency toward “impudence,” to restrain their restlessness, and keep them in their place.” (Leon Litwack, Trouble in Mind; Vintage Books, New York, 1998, pg. 264)

When McCulloch justified the findings of the grand jury, it was no different than when a jury back in 1955 returned a “not guilty” verdict in the case of the two men charged with the murder of Emmitt Till. McCulloch was also expressing the sentiments of an Augusta, Georgia newspaper editor in 1890 when he wrote: “If a (negro) kills a white man, he is pretty sure either to be lynched or hung. But if a white man slays a (negro), he is in no danger of being lynched, and as to his being hung for the crime there is not much probability.” (Ibid, pg. 253) The violence may not be as blatant today as it was back in 1890 but the result is the same.

In his conciliatory comments after the “no indictment,” President Barack Obama reminded us that the country has made great strides in race relations. However, listening to McCulloch’s reasoning for the grand jury’s findings and acknowledging that another young Black man had been innocently murdered by a white policeman, makes a thinking person question just how far this country has come and declare that it still has a very long ways to go.