Dr. King

~I Can’t See “YOU” With It: Freedom,Equality And Peace

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Sure it can be disputed what black/African American culture is. I personally don’t believe blacks have much of a culture in America anymore, thanks to assimilation. When I hear blacks referring to every and anything as ghetto, ratchet, bad, and hood,…I assume this is the Negro people culture if anything. *Never knowing nothing about themselves, but what they’ve been told by the media and brainwashed blacks.

Most people’s concept of Race relies on an artificial construct of relatively recent invention. Since the human race originated in Africa (ca. 150 – 250 thousand years ago) there have been several sub-species of human. The last was called Neanderthal. They became extinct about 30,000 years ago. Since then, there has been only one race: the human race. We are all biologically identical and interchangeable, yet culturally and ethnically diverse and distinct. This cultural and ethnic diversity has been institutionalized during European global colonization from about the 14th century on as categories of Race.

In the colonies that were to become the United States of America, these racial categories came to be institutionalized on the basis of skin color. People were placed in different groups based on skin color (among other differences such as religion). This was a political arrangement made mostly for economic reasons. Indian land had value. African labor produced value, and so on. Therefore these groups became (racial) social classes. Social Class refers to a person’s economic access and opportunity within a social system.

Since society is made interlocking institutions (systems) that control people’s lives, race and class distinctions have concrete consequences for all involved. For some the color based race system would mean rewards – for others it would mean degradation. To be defined as White (and male) resulted in unachieved preference and power. To be institutionally identified as non-White resulted in degrees of disenfranchisement and unrewarded labor. It is a social history of a racist culture.

Culture is – in part – is the set of assumptions and beliefs about the way the world should work. These assumptions and associations govern individual behavior. As I have said, these peoples coming to the lands that would be called the United States were culturally and ethnically distinct. Sometimes – often, actually – the cultural expectations of a people are in conflict with one or more of the institutions of society. They had differing interpretations of how the world should work. It is just that one of the color-coded racial groups would have the (unearned) power to enforce its vision of exclusivity. If one institutionally confirmed group expected the world should work one way – let’s say enslavement – and yet other groups expected the world should work differently – let’s say freedom – then out of that cultural and institutional conflict emerges the incidents of history. It is the interaction between these three – race, class and culture – that we will use to define Black American history. This interaction drives historical events.

And, all too often, the history of African Americans is taught as if bound in the fetters of enslavement – as if the sole identity of Black Americans is one of tragedy. Instead, this text substitutes the triumph of an enslaved people – a people who – though racialized and marginalized – yet continue to challenge the nature of American Justice.

First, what is an African? Second, what is America? And, also, what do I mean by Black? To be Black and American is an international experience. To overlook that fact diminishes both Africans and Americans. After all, more Africans ended up in other parts of the Americas than the small area we now call the United States. To use the words: Black American – to be Black and American – acknowledges a social and cultural dislocation from both Africa and America. Both Africa and America are continents. Each is made of many nations, cultural traditions and societies. Almost all Americans came from elsewhere – decimating and absorbing the indigenous Americans in the process. Each immigrating group retained an identity associated with their place of origin. Only the African diaspora required the purposeful destruction of national, social and cultural identities. Only the forced relocation of Africans required a people to re-invent themselves – and – in the process of this reinvention – American culture has been reinvented. The politics and economics of the African American experience have transformed America. And, it has transformed Africans into Blacks.

Black Americans are not just African any more than other Americans are just American. But, the cultural genocide of American institutions of enslavement stripped Blacks of this self awareness. “Black” may well be an ironic metaphor for this blank spot in what could have been a truly African American identity. Other Americans can proudly self-assert themselves as Dutch-American, or English-American, from Cornwall, or Jicarilla Apache. African Americans must affiliate with an entire continent. This presents certain unusual problems in understanding African American history and identity. No matter how strongly some Black Americans may wish otherwise – contemporary African Americans may well be the most “American” of us all. The African American search for a useful past upon which to build a present full of possibilities – the Black yearning for freedom and self determination – has defined just what it can mean to be American. And, it will be the future of Black Americans that will define the future of the American Dream.

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Structurally, technologically and culturally speaking, there is no “music industry” any more. There is also no “movie industry” any more. Those two things have been consolidated into a more generic and all encompassing, “entertainment industry.” But that’s not even the kicker. The kicker is that technically, the entertainment industry is now a sub-division of a much larger and more insidious industry known as the “telecommunications industry.” This is the delivery system under which all media and cultural distribution is being consolidated. Some entities to look out for in this telecommunications act generated morass: Google, Apple, and Access One. This shift presents both new challenges and new opportunities. Those engaged in cultural struggle as well as those engaged in labor struggle are currently smack dap up against that.

Firstly: all of you reading this are Africans. To be human is to be African. It is where all contemporary human life originated. Current American culture views African as synonymous with skin color. We do not know whether ancient Africans were Black in the modern concept of Race (capital “B” and “R”), but they were African.

Africa is where most of what it means to be human originated also. The family, language, astronomy, technology, religion, domestication of plant and animal species (and, perhaps, beer): all African. In brief, the biological, social, and cultural source of all human beings is Africa. Therefore, we are all Africans in some more recent or more distant context.

Exhaustive DNA studies have replicated the biologic origin of humanity as being African. Some of the best evidence places the origin of all modern humans in the womb of a single mitochondrial “Eve” in East Africa around 200,000 years ago (Ehrlich: 94-109). It is from her that we are all descended. She was the mother of all humanity. And, she was African.

Our best current scientific data show Homo sapiens – modern humans – first migrated from their African origins into other parts of the world about 100,000 years ago (Fernandez-Armesto: 13). Already, the primary elements of the civilizations we all know and share were part of the human toolkit. Cultural understanding and complex social organization are well documented in many archaeological sites in and near the continent of Africa (Ehrlich: 205-09).

The next step in the human adventure on this planet is called “Civilization.” It, too, is of African origin. Along African rivers such as the Nile, the Congo, or the Niger, Black people would develop all aspects of complex and sophisticated societies. The well known ancient architectural marvel of the pyramids is the only one of humanities Seven Ancient Wonders to survive. But other less well known African civilizations contributed the bulk of peoples that would one day be called African Americans.

Beyond the physical biology, the size of our brains or the types of tools we make, the things that make us all human – that gives us our humanity – are culture and social relationships. These too are of African origin. Language, religion, and abstract thought, are all elemental to the human being. Families, bands, tribes, city-states, and nations are African firsts. The use and control of fire, organized scavenging, hunting, and gathering, the domestication of plants and animals are all part of our African heritage.

The diverse environment represented in Africa also laid foundations for the diversity of human approaches to survival and prosperity. Twa and !Kung hunter-gatherers share the African continent with Bantu agriculturalists and Maasai pastoralists. These modern examples of our collective African heritage stem from an ancient population that generated far more than we see now. Probably the most ancient and certainly the most original human society and culture of all time is African. Even though some interesting modern interpretations assert that it is in the Middle East or that its people were “White,” or that it was a Mediterranean empire, and even though we know it by the Greek name, Egypt was (and is) African.

Cast your Fears Aside: Find The Hero Inside Of You ( Black History)

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Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty, America continues the battle, with 48.8 million people stuck below the poverty line as Congress argues about how much to cut food stamps and stops unemployment checks to millions of the long-term unemployed.

Need and poverty continue to be familiar to many.

“We must now fight to make poverty illegal,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson said in an interview with The Blade last week. “The reason why you have such a radical gap between wealth and poverty [is] we stepped away from the war on poverty and extended the subsidy to the wealthy.”

To fight poverty today, Mr. Jackson said in the telephone interview, President Obama “needs to address income and equality. If you enforce the law of compliance and affirmative action, you’ll have a fairer distribution of resources and contracts. The government itself must enforce its own law of a fair distribution.”

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The Rev. Robert Culp, pastor of Toledo’s First Church of God, one of the largest African-American congregations in the city, said that 50 years ago the fight against poverty and racism was a fight against the system.

“The laws of the land permitted, allowed, almost encouraged racism and the kinds of discrimination and prejudice that happened,” he said. “The real progress of these last 50 years has been primarily changing the law.”

Mr. Jackson agreed: “The key to change is the law. After all, slavery was legal. Jim Crow was legal. Denying people the right to vote was legal. We had to fight to change the laws.”

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty in his January, 1964, State of the Union address a few months after a speech by Dr. King. U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty in his January, 1964, State of the Union address a few months after a speech by Dr. King.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
Mr. Jackson’s work toward economic justice dates from the inception of the war on poverty. An ordained Baptist minister, he is a civil rights elder — one of those closest to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., from 1965 until his assassination in 1968. Dr. King gave a speech in August, 1963, on poverty, and then President Johnson declared war on poverty in his January, 1964, State of the Union address.

The war on poverty “opens in Athens, Ohio, in Appalachia,” with President Johnson speaking there, Mr. Jackson said. That helped to “remove white-based fear. He deracialized the debate,” Mr. Jackson told The Blade, pointing out that President Johnson’s “next speech was affirmative action, to include women and people of color.”

The Rev. Robert Culp, pastor of Toledo’s First Church of God, one of the largest African-American congregations in the city, said that 50 years ago the fight against poverty and racism was a fight against the system.

“The laws of the land permitted, allowed, almost encouraged racism and the kinds of discrimination and prejudice that happened,” he said. “The real progress of these last 50 years has been primarily changing the law.”

Mr. Jackson agreed: “The key to change is the law. After all, slavery was legal. Jim Crow was legal. Denying people the right to vote was legal. We had to fight to change the laws.”

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty in his January, 1964, State of the Union address a few months after a speech by Dr. King. U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty in his January, 1964, State of the Union address a few months after a speech by Dr. King.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
Mr. Jackson’s work toward economic justice dates from the inception of the war on poverty. An ordained Baptist minister, he is a civil rights elder — one of those closest to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., from 1965 until his assassination in 1968. Dr. King gave a speech in August, 1963, on poverty, and then President Johnson declared war on poverty in his January, 1964, State of the Union address.

The war on poverty “opens in Athens, Ohio, in Appalachia,” with President Johnson speaking there, Mr. Jackson said. That helped to “remove white-based fear. He deracialized the debate,” Mr. Jackson told The Blade, pointing out that President Johnson’s “next speech was affirmative action, to include women and people of color.”

Mr. Culp will speak on the topic at 2 p.m. Feb. 22 at the McMaster Center in the Main Library, 325 Michigan St., as part of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library’s Raising Awareness Black History Month celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He is the co-chairman of the Toledo Community Coalition, which, along with The Blade, is sponsoring the “Changing Minds & Changing Lives: Combating Racism” community forums.

Opportunities

“Equal educational opportunity and equal adequate economic opportunity are important,” Mr. Jackson said. Even today, “people feel a sense of desperation, with the scapegoats and people manipulated by fear. Many whites fear if you have affirmative action, your jobs will go from men to women, from white to black.

“Our jobs did not go from male to female, they went from here to yonder. [It’s] because of cheap labor, it comes back to cheap labor abroad. There are products made in those markets and sold back here. The truth is, the largest employer was General Motors. Now it’s Walmart. The shrinking does not come from racial injustice and inequality; it comes from economic forces.”

“I certainly agree that it’s economic,” said Sister Virginia Welsh, director of the Padua Center in Toledo, which, among its activities, works with children in trouble “so they have other options, to keep them in school, keep them educated so they can get a job.”

“There is institutionalized racism,” she said, racism that keeps people of color in poverty. “They can’t get jobs. Education in the center city schools is below par and the kids are not going to get a job, and that keeps them in the cycle of poverty.”

Role of racism

Injustice and inequality are present in racism today, Mr. Jackson said. And, he said “there’s no doubt” that sentiment against President Obama in the country and in the Republican Party is based in racism.

“Some of it is not even subtle, challenging his character, challenging his religion, challenging his birthplace, the attempt to make him marginal, the attempt to deny him legitimacy — ‘You’re not one of us.’ — Of course, it is fueled by race. Look at the states most fervent against him; they were against the civil rights law,” he said.

There is great irony, Mr. Jackson said, in the race-oriented objectors who, he said, “are beneficiaries of the civil rights law. Without the law, you wouldn’t have the New South, high-tech industry [there]. Without the civil rights law, you wouldn’t have the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons. You wouldn’t have had the Olympics in Atlanta.”

“The whole South changed because of success in removing barriers of fear,” Mr. Jackson said. “Now people are living out the new law, and their worst fears were never realized.”

Johnson’s impact

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 changed the law and society, Mr. Jackson told The Blade, crediting President Johnson for leading the legislative effort.

“One must not dismiss Lyndon Johnson. If Dr. King only had the dream, minus the new law, it would have become like vapor, like the wind. Lyndon Johnson fulfilled the dream with the new law,” he said. “His intervention changed the application of racist law.

“We couldn’t rent a hotel room in the Holiday Inn; we couldn’t enter Howard Johnson through the front door,” Mr. Jackson said. “It took us nine years to get to a civil rights law, driven by Lyndon Johnson. King raised the issue of righteous indignation, and Lyndon Johnson brought forth the legislation to match the indignation.”

The battle ahead

Fifty years after the expression of Dr. King’s dream of an equal America, “the real battle presently to me is moral and spiritual,” Pastor Culp said.

“The majority do not realize that racism is in the very fabric of America, and no matter how hard we scrub it, the stain may not be removed — it’s another generation or two ahead of us,” Pastor Culp said. “We’re beginning to really see the source of our American dilemma. We’ve been treating the symptoms. The real deal is racism.”

The Toledo spiritual leader said the issues of race and poverty come down to the nature of man. “He’s got to feel equal or superior to his fellow man, and you cannot deal with that on a legal basis. It has to become the will of man that has to be impacted and changed.”

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