An Open Letter to Teachers Everywhere

Dear Teachers Everywhere,

We enlightened Americans owe you an apology. We have stood idly by while a small group of unenlightened Americans (conservative Republican operatives really) have implemented schemes to make it more difficult for you to teach our children how to be critical thinkers and responsible civic leaders.

The voices of these unenlightened Americans are being heard in local school board meetings all across the country, and just recently, I learned that a small contingent of unenlightened truckers used their 18-wheelers to block traffic on a major thoroughfare between the United States and Canada, all to express their opposition to COVID-19 mask mandates. But we enlightened Americans know what is really going on. Conservative Republican operatives have initiated a campaign on both the micro and macro levels to make us all less enlightened about inconvenient truths.

But long before these conservative Republican operatives started displaying bullish behaviors at our school board meetings and on major thoroughfares, they were railing against the multi-racial and multi-ethnic groups of enlightened Americans peacefully exercising their First Amendment right to march through our streets to loudly proclaim, “Black Lives Matter!” And even though over 90 percent of the Black Lives Matter protests and rallies were peaceful, then president Donald Trump used his high position to falsely designate the Black Lives Matter organization as a hate group. He cited incidents where shady characters embedded within the BLM protests sparked violent outrage from a few of the peaceful protestors by breaking out windows and looting neighborhood retail stores. But when he encouraged his MAGA cult followers to march on the United States Capitol to “stop the steal,” he called these same MAGA cult followers true patriots even after the world watched them break windows, doors, and damage historical artifacts, before illegally entering the U. S. Capitol vestibule and ultimately the House and Senate chamber floors. Unenlightened Americans consider this ballsy on the former president’s part. I consider such behavior unpatriotic, and a permanent stain on our democracy. Why? Because property was damaged, innocent lives were lost.

Conservative Republican operatives railing against CRT
in public K-12 schools

Teachers everywhere, I know you recognize that Donald Trump used his presidency to make it right for White Americans to push back on Black Americans’ ongoing struggle for equity, justice and fairness. When you hear conservative Republican operatives stand before school boards to rail against Critical Race Theory, something that is not even taught in public K-12 schools, you realize that the conservative Republican movement’s play is to generate support for conservative Republican candidates by appealing to White fears and resentments.

White conservative Republicans want White parents to believe that you teachers teaching their White children about all the bad things their White ancestors did to black, brown, red and yellow Americans is another bad thing because it makes their White children (and them) feel uncomfortable. They want White parents to believe that you teachers engaging their White children in discussions about ongoing racism, prejudice and discrimination makes their White children feel guilty about something they’re not responsible for (and have no responsibility for undoing). They want White parents to believe White children being exposed to books by Black writers like the late Toni Morrison and her contemporary Ta-Nehisi Coates causes their White children to be ashamed of their own racial/ethnic identity. Heck, they want White parents to believe that they did not inherit any privileges from their White ancestors systemically trying to crush the hopes, aspirations and dreams of Black Americans and other Americans of color.

Most, if not all of you, have opted to enter a profession that doesn’t pay well, but has the greatest impact on young minds. You are the professionals who set the tone for how our children will think and feel about their obligations to each other as members of the human race. And ever since the 1954 ruling in the Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas case, which stated that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional, you have gone out of your way to encourage our children and adolescents to work together to create a more perfect union, not make America great again.

Let’s be clear: the GOP slogan “Make America Great Again” is nothing more than a dog whistle to White Americans from conservative Republicans that now is the time to make America White again. In short, it is a nod to individuals who falsely believe that White people are the ruling class, and White people more fully exercising their power, influence and control over the masses is the key to keeping America great. But this just isn’t true. Yes, numerous White people have made positive contributions to our country’s greatness, but similar, and sometimes more significant, contributions have also been made by numerous Black Americans and other persons of color, despite the obstacles that the racist Whites have tried to put in our way.

Teachers everywhere, we, the enlightened Americans of this great nation, the United States of America, are depending on you to continue teaching our children how to think critically and lead responsibly. As you well know, critical thinking is the ability to use acquired knowledge and shared experiences to make decisions that positively impact individuals and collectives. Responsible leadership, on the other hand, is the ability to use these same critical thinking skills to work with other patriotic Americans to develop and implement strategies that promote peace not chaos, justice not criminality, truth not lies, unity not division.

We enlightened Americans know that conservative Republican operatives are not making it any easier for you to teach our children critical thinking and responsible leadership skills. That is why more of us are starting to become more committed to countering their false claims about Critical Race Theory with real stories about how White racism, prejudice and discrimination adversely impacts the lives of children of color. That is why more of us are starting to remind school board members and school administrators that representation matters. Our children and adolescents of color must see themselves and their racial/ethnic groups’ contributions reflected accurately in textbooks and supplemental material, which help them establish good habits for lifelong learning.

Teachers everywhere, I implore you to not allow these conservative Republican operatives to normalize ignorance in our society. Enlightenment is what we need, and you are the patriots we’re depending on to help our children become enlightened in the face of the Conservative Movement’s coup to confound their common sensibilities.

Why Authentic Relationships Matter

“White Silence is Violence”

Black Americans have been trying to tell White Americans that Black lives matter since 1619, when the first Black Africans were forcibly removed from their native land to work America’s cotton and tobacco fields with no promise of compensation. Back in 1619, and the decades that followed, the enslavement of Black bodies was a common practice, and had the full support of the British Empire at first and the United States government beginning in 1776. My Black American ancestors did not secure freedom for themselves, and generations to come, until January 1, 1863, when Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. But the date that most Black Americans celebrate as their emancipation date is June 19, 1865, for this was when enslaved Blacks in Texas learned that they had been freed.

We know our bold “Black Lives Matter” proclamation is not falling on deaf ears. More than ever before, we see progressive-minded White Americans marching in the streets alongside us, chanting, “Black lives matter!” as well as singing old time favorites like We Shall Overcome. Seeing these images, experiencing these events, gives people like me hope for a brighter future. But, truth be told, I still can’t shake this sinking feeling that White American conservatives are trying to sink these efforts “by any means necessary.”

White American conservatives are seemingly trying to reverse Black American progress by using our own weapons against us. Exhibit A is their Million MAGA (Make America Great Again) March, which was held on November 14, 2020. Their use of the words “million” and “march” harkens back to Black Americans’ October 16, 1995 Million Man March.

What these White American conservatives fail to realize is the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan and other prominent, Black American Civil Rights icons called Black men to Washington, DC for the purpose of motivating Black men to stand in the gap for their women and children, become leaders in their neighborhoods, communities. The Million MAGA March was more symbolic, lacking any real substance. Donald Trump loyalists, which included White supremacists and far-right extremists, seemingly wanted to send a message to the former president that they support him, his missteps, his misdeeds.

Big difference.

Black lives do matter, and more people accept this fact when we cultivate more authentic trans-racial relationships. Progressive White Americans, when they march alongside us Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color, show us that they are tired of judging others by the colors of our skins, preferring instead to congregate with us in our spaces so they can get to know what the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the contents of our characters. As a result, they are rewarded for boldly taking these steps, for they are now seen as compatriots, or what I like to call White siblings in the struggle. And the more they endeavor to love on us, the more we endeavor to return the gesture.

Authentic, Diverse Relationships Matter

Today’s conservatism has nothing to do with conservative ideology. Conservative ideology used to be about smaller government, less government regulation, and fewer handouts to the poor and downtrodden. But this platform only came into focus for Republican conservatives after former Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater articulated it after his presidential nomination at the 1964 Republican National Convention. When Goldwater decried Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson’s newly signed Civil Rights Act of 1964, and unashamedly said he didn’t want to “give handouts to Blacks,” he was appealing to a White American resentment that falsely claimed Black Americans were taking things from them.

If you’re White and you resent us Black Americans because you think we’re taking things from you, you don’t know what it means to be in relationship with others. You also lack the emotional intelligence to display empathy for racial/ethnic groups that have been terrorized, marginalized, murdered and disenfranchised, all to preserve and expand White Rule. Granted, you may think your relationships with the White Americans who share the same flawed, conservative ideology are authentic, but they’re not. Shoot, you may even have a few Black American conservatives telling you that you’re not racist for standing before the school board to rail against the teaching of Critical Race Theory in public K-12 schools. Buyer beware. These Black American conservatives are nothing more than opportunists trying to gain a semblance of relevancy in your world. These aren’t authentic, trans-racial relationships; these are inauthentic, transactional ones.

These inauthentic, transactional relationships run counter to authentic, trans-racial ones because they are temporary, and their sole purpose is to deter Black Americans from developing a more definitive identity through the learning of their history. These insincere efforts also prevent White Americans from learning more about their ancestors’ mistreatment of Black Americans. In their minds, if White Americans learn the truth about this history, they will undoubtedly want to make amends in the here and now to their Black American siblings. They will begin to understand that Black Americans have never attempted to goad White American’s into feeling guilty and uncomfortable. That’s a piece of coal handed down through the ages by their White American ancestors. Their White American ancestors established protocols that allowed them to commit crimes against other human beings and then avoid the penalties associated with their commission.

The May 17, 1954 U. S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas is what allows non-White American students to learn alongside White American students in public school classrooms. Yes, there was resistance then and there continues to be resistance now, as an increasing number of White American parents are enrolling their children in all-White private schools. But our primary and secondary school children, adolescents and young adults are now allowed to truly see each other, and then make their own determinations on whether they will be racist or anti-racist.

White American conservatives believe giving White Americans’ license to be racist toward non-White Americans is a winning strategy. Making false claims about President Barack Obama not being an American citizen paved the way for Donald Trump being elected U. S. president in 2016. And falsely claiming public school teachers are using Critical Race Theory to make White American students feel uncomfortable is pitting White American parents against Black American ones. The latter example shows that White American conservatives continue to systematically condition the White American populace to show a lack of empathy toward our grievances. But in reality, they are forcing all of us to focus on racial differences rather than human similarities.

It has been said a kingdom divided cannot stand. White American conservatives are exploiting our racial differences because they want to keep us divided. They increase the stakes when they assert that White Americans are predestined to rule over the subjects in this kingdom, and that they shouldn’t be ashamed of what their White ancestors had to do to become America’s ruling caste. But we live in a different era now, one governed by our collective need for fairness, equity and justice for all. And the most definitive dividing line is the one that separates those enlightened about the issues of race and those unenlightened about the issues of race. Once more of us become enlightened about the issue of race, we can continue to address our common problems together.

And let’s face it. All we Black Americans have ever wanted to do is claim a seat at the table and engage in honest dialogue with you, our White American siblings, consuming the meal that we all had a hand in preparing.

We want to be close to you.

We want to laugh with you.

More than anything, we want to wrap our arms around you, tell you how much you’re loved.

You just have to summon the will to love us back by being fully present in the moment and then working with us to continue the movement for fairness, equity and justice for all.

Why ABC’s “Women of the Movement” Gives Credence to the Need for Racial Reckoning

ABC’s Women of the Movement
(aired January 6 – January 20, 2022)

Like many of my Black American brothers and sisters, I watched ABC’s Women of the Movement with a profound mix of sadness, joy and pride. I knew the Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Will Smith-produced drama series about the 1955 murder of Emmitt Till would spark collective action and solidarity within the Black American community, especially at a time when unenlightened members of the Conservative Movement are pressing forward with their nefarious campaign to suppress these kind of stories in the lead up to the 2022 midterm elections. For these unenlightened, White conservatives, Women of the Movement seemingly is nothing more than another attempt by Black Americans to make White people feel “uncomfortable.” But then I got to thinking. Not about the White American fragility that is on full display for all to see. But about how this new series gives credence to a more immediate need for a racial reckoning.

Roots, starring Levar Burton

We haven’t seen anything like Women of the Movement since the January 23, 1977 broadcast of Alex Haley’s Roots. I was only eight years old when this series aired, but my single-parent mother made sure my younger brother, sister and I paid attention to what was being portrayed on our small television set. Because it was a mini-series, we had to pay attention for eight consecutive nights as Kunta Kinte, a Gambian warrior belonging to the Mandinka ethnic group, and his descendants navigated enslavement, war and emancipation to give us a man named Alex Haley, one of the most prolific, Black American authors of my grandparents’ generation.

I am not going to lie; it was tough seeing Kunta Kinte getting his toes chopped off for running off the plantation and refusing to say his new name – Toby – after being commanded to do so by his White enslavers. But according to History.com, Roots was one of the most-watched television events in American history and a major moment in mainstream American culture’s reckoning with the legacy of slavery.

But on the same day that the final episode of Women of the Movement aired, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) uttered the gaffe heard around the world. During a January 20, 2022 press conference, when responding to a reporter’s question about voting access protections for American voters, McConnell said, “Well, the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”

If you’re having a hard time fully processing that last paragraph, let me make it plain for you, based on what McConnell said. Mitch McConnell unashamedly made a distinction between Black Americans and Americans, who, in his world, are undoubtedly White Americans. But we all know that making this distinction is unnecessary, resulting from the fact that Section 1 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (National Constitution Center)

The inconvenient truth here is Black Americans have been the most durable Americans since the first Africans were brought to these shores, against their collective will, in 1619. And Mitch McConnell and other members of the Conservative Movement know this. Truth be told, their Republican Party used to champion causes that supported Black Americans’ citizenship and voting rights. Sadly, their present-day shenanigans are a sign that this support has been rescinded.

THE SHIFT IN BLACK LOYALTY

The Republican Party of today is not the Republican Party of yesteryear. They have shown that their number one objective is to game and rig the system so they can continue to expand a Southern Strategy that allows White citizens to hold onto wealth that was largely attained through the subjugation and terrorizing of Black Americans. This is not governing; this is blatant disdain for a significant portion of their constituency. And they are attempting to do this by conditioning members of the White electorate to respond negatively to Black Americans’ push for more privileges and immunities, life, liberty and property, and equal protection of the laws.

As I watched each episode of Women of the Movement, I conceded that individuals once loyal to the Democratic Party are responsible for the most heinous crimes against Black Americans. The institution of slavery. The rise of the Confederacy. The institution of Jim Crow legislation. The withholding of justice in the Emmitt Till Trial. The denial of Black Americans’ voting rights. All Democratic Party efforts to keep Black people in their place. Consequently, it is no surprise to most why our Black ancestors pledged their allegiance to the Republican Party.

But this loyalty started to shift following the Great Depression, when the New Deal “made the Democrats a beacon for Black Americans deeply affected by the crushing poverty that was plaguing the country” (npr.org). This shift was slow, evidenced by the fact that about two-thirds of the Black American electorate remained loyal to the Republican Party. However, Karen Grigsby Bates offers the following in her npr.org article, “Why Did Black Voters Flee The Republican Party In The 1960s?”. She writes:

Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater (R)

“(Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater) wanted the federal government out of the states’ business. He believed the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional — although he said that once it had been enacted into law, it would be obeyed. But states, he said, should implement the law in their own time. Many white southerners, especially segregationists, felt reassured by Goldwater’s words. Black Americans felt anything but” (npr.org).

According to Bates, Black Americans made an abrupt exit from the Republican Party because Goldwater and the Goldwater wing of the Republican Party opposed not only the Civil Rights Act, but the civil rights movement (npr.org). This opposition became apparent during the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco, California. Peniel Joseph, the Tufts University historian quoted extensively in Bates’ article, said when Goldwater became the Republican Party’s 1964 presidential nominee, he was speaking of a very specific notion of liberty when he told the ecstatic convention “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” Joseph also told Bates that Goldwater advocated for a smaller federal government, one “that doesn’t give handouts to black people. A government that doesn’t have laws that interfere with states’ rights. A government that is not conducting a war on poverty” (npr.org).

These comments, Bates writes, represented a signal that both sides heard loud and clear. “Goldwater attracted the white Southern votes his advisors thought were essential, paving the way for the ‘Southern Strategy’ that Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan would use successfully in later years” (npr.org). However, the employment of this Southern Strategy by Nixon and Reagan is also what ultimately caused the remaining third of black Republican voters to exit the party” (npr.org).

Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam

As I consider this shift in light of the Emmitt Till story, I realize that White racism has nothing to do with party affiliation. All Mamie Till-Mobley wanted for her murdered son was justice, but she didn’t receive it because, in the mid- to late 1950s, White rule made it impossible for Black people to receive the same level of justice as Whites. As the drama series depicted, even though Black Americans were granted voting rights in 1870, with the passage of the 15th constitutional amendment, and were eligible to sit on trial juries, no Black Americans had been seated for the Emmitt Till Trial. Consequently, the men who murdered Emmitt Till were tried by an all-white jury.

The only play that today’s Republican Party has is its appeal to White Americans fears and resentments about Black Americans. They realize Black Americans’ distrust of their party is baked in, so they continue to falsely claim that we gravitate to the Democratic Party because the Democratic Party is giving us handouts. But this is nothing but a dog whistle that elicits conditioned responses from White Americans who feel it is important to protect the gains White Americans have made by subverting Black Americans’ interests and disenfranchising them from the ballot box.

Mamie Till-Mobley’s pursuit of justice for her son, Emmitt Till, was subverted because the vast majority of the White people in Money, Mississippi thought the freedom of two White murderers was worth more than the life of a 14-year-old teenager from Chicago, Illinois.

AN ALL-TOO-FAMILIAR PLAYBOOK

My hope is more White Americans will awaken to the fact that their whiteness is now being used by conservative Republicans to elicit disrespect and disdain for us, their Black American neighbors. These unenlightened White Americans falsely blame Black Americans for making White children, adolescents and adults feel uncomfortable when they call attention to White racism, prejudice and discrimination. But not once do they test the accuracy of these claims, instead choosing to cover their ears and say, “Nah! Nah! Nah!” to prevent themselves from hearing them.

Childish?

No doubt.

But we shouldn’t be surprised by this type of behavior. They did the same to Mamie Till-Mobley. Everyone in Money, Mississippi knew Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam brutally attacked 14-year-old Emmitt before shooting him in the head and sinking his body in the Tallahatchie River. But, again, their White neighbors protected them because they lacked the empathy that most caring adults display toward individuals who have just lost loved ones.

I get that Mamie Till-Mobley wasn’t a Money resident.

I get that Mamie Till-Mobley not being a Money resident denied her opportunities to befriend White Money residents.

But none of that should have mattered.

Bryant and Milam should have received the death penalty for what they did to Emmitt Till. More importantly, Mamie Till-Mobley should have received the closure she deserved.

These days, conservative Republicans are trying to convince the American electorate that providing a fuller account of American History is a bad thing. It’s not. But the fact that so many White Americans are falling in line with this effort to recast White children, adolescents and adults as victims is telling. These unenlightened, conservative Republican politicians only want to enflame their emotions so they can remain in power. But when they are sent home after we reject them at the ballot box, the White American citizens that voted for them will have to explain to Black Americans why it was so easy for them to believe the big lies about Critical Race Theory and 2020 Presidential Election results, and not their Black American neighbors’ and colleagues’ heart-wrenching testimonies about their experiences fighting against White racism, prejudice and discrimination.

None of us can escape the racial reckoning that is sure to come. That’s why it is so important for us to turn to each other, not away, and have the kind of discussions that heal old wounds.

How Black Conservatives Are Failing America

South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott

In my research for this post, I re-read an article written by Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker. The article, titled “Liberals just cannot handle a Black conservative” (April 30, 2021), positions Black Republican Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina) as the face of Black conservatism. Parker praised Scott for leveling “strong and smart criticisms of (Joe) Biden’s agenda for the next four years.” However, she also asserted that Scott being referred to as “Uncle Tim” on Twitter, a “tool of white supremacists,” and a “blind servant of the far right” is what racism looks like in America today.

Parker’s brand of “racism” is purportedly being leveled against Scott by other Black people. However, there is nothing racist about their references, resulting from the fact that these other Black people’s blackness similarly situates them with Scott. Moreover, these other Black people are only calling Scott out for being insensitive and unresponsive to the real needs of his Black constituents.

Parker also misses the mark when she writes that liberals cannot handle Black conservatives. Truth is we liberals don’t feel obligated to “handle” Black conservatives. However, unenlightened, White conservatives seemingly welcome this opportunity. If this wasn’t the case, Scott and other Black conservatives would not have allowed Donald Trump and other unenlightened members of the Republican Party to make disparaging comments and institute divisive practices and policies that strained relations between Black and White Americans during the four years Donald Trump occupied the Office of the Presidency.

Everyone knows Scott is currently the only Black conservative Republican in the United States Senate. We know that he is a staunch defender of conservative values who challenges what Parker calls the “current orthodoxy of systemic racism that pegs Whites as oppressors.” While Senator Scott should be commended for overcoming adversity in his life, the fact still remains that he and other Black conservatives are failing America on a number of fronts because they willingly allow themselves to be handled by unenlightened, White conservatives.

GIVE WHITES LICENSE TO BELIEVE CRITICAL RACE THEORY IS BEING TAUGHT IN PUBLIC K-12 SCHOOLS

Black Conservative Allen West

Most rationally minded people know Critical Race Theory is not being taught in public primary and secondary schools. It is being taught on college campuses, in law schools to be exact. But what you may not know is the letters C-R-T were first used as a racist dog whistle in Southlake, Texas in 2019, when White conservative activists flooded local school board meetings to condition and elicit parental outrage about the implementation of a developed diversity, equity and inclusion plan within the Carroll Public School District. After this conditioned and elicited outrage about CRT proved to be successful, these White conservative activists proceeded to leverage support for and seat at least two of their conservative allies on the school board.

A few days later, Black conservative Allen West suggested to a packed audience that this model could be used in suburban communities all across America to win local, state and national elections. West’s prediction proved to be correct. In November 2021, the big lie about CRT being taught in public K-12 schools was partially responsible for Republican Glenn Youngkin winning the Virginia gubernatorial election. You can rest assured that the CRT Dog Whistle will be blown again in voting districts all across America during the 2022 midterm elections.

But why are White parents so susceptible to believing the CRT lie? Probably because they received license to do so by Black conservatives. On the topic of systemic racism in America, Black conservative opinion matters. And many Black conservatives are seemingly telling Whites that they should not view themselves as unredeemable oppressors. That’s a noble thing to say; however, it drastically improves White conservative politicians’ ability to enflame White fears and resentments about Black and other non-White Americans. The main thing that these White conservative politicians are telling the White electorate is Black and other non-White Americans are taking things from them. In reality, though, nothing is being taken from Whites; the country is just going through the arduous process of righting past wrongs.

Most Black Americans know that our schools do a piss poor job when it comes to teaching Black history. Yes, history teachers will talk about the Transatlantic Slave Trade and slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s, but students rarely hear about the enslaved Blacks who fought to be free. The Black Freedom Fight seems to always be presented in a way that has enslaved and emancipated Blacks working in tandem with benevolent Whites. Additionally, students never hear about the Black kings and queens that inhabited our Black ancestors’ African homeland prior to 1619. I believe this White disdain for Black history is intentional because a critical review and analysis of this history will show that the descendants of enslaved Blacks, more than any other racial/ethnic group in America, are entitled to full reparations for their ancestors’ uncompensated labor.

Black conservatives fail America when they ignore these facts, and allow racially sensitive content (i.e., books written by Toni Morrison or Ta-Nehishi Coates) to be censored or removed from our schools because it makes White public school children and adolescents feel uncomfortable.

SAY NOTHING WHEN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OPENLY ALLOWS WHITE SUPREMACISTS INTO THEIR RANKS.

White Supremacist Group The Proud Boys

While all of the citizens that assembled in front at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 were not insurrectionists, the fact still remains that they were present with one objective in mind: Stop the Steal. We had just completed a routine presidential election, during a global pandemic mind you, and the states had submitted their vote tallies for federal certification. Donald Trump, the former president, told his supporters that the election had been rife with fraud. But when asked to provide supporting evidence, Donald Trump’s lawyers were unable to do so.

With all legal recourse exhausted, Donald Trump and his allies seemingly used outlets like Fox News, Breitbart, Twitter and Facebook to make coded appeals to White supremacists and militia groups. When this occurred, I thought I would hear more of a public outcry from Black conservatives. Heck, I thought we would see more Black conservative defections too. However, these outcries and defections never came, seemingly resulting from Black conservatives being lulled into complacency and complicity by unenlightened White members of the Republican Party.

Any individual or group that welcomes White supremacists into their ranks is not a student of U. S. history. And if you’re a Black conservative who sits idly by as these White supremacists invade the Republican Party, reshaping its identity, it is clear you forgot that the Republican Party used to be the standard bearer for equal rights and protections for all.

When I think about the Republican Party from bygone eras, I think about the Republican abolitionists that worked collaboratively with enslaved Black Americans for their freedom. When I think about the Republican Party from bygone eras, I think of Republican Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation, which granted freedom to enslaved Black Americans. But this contemporary version of the Republican Party cares very little about equal rights and protections for all. These days, its primary focus is to make rich White people richer, by any means necessary.

Black conservatives fail America when they have no problem with Republican leaders embracing support from White supremacists identifying as conservative Republicans. But this selling of their souls seemingly doesn’t come free. I believe many of them are being compensated monetarily by conservative-controlled dark money organizations to participate in activities that undermine gains made during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that these conservative-controlled dark money organizations were paying Black people to vote Republican in local, state and national elections. By failing to speak out against the Republican Party’s full embrace of White supremacists, Black conservatives allow themselves to be used for short-term gains that only pay dividends for themselves and not for members of the Black American Diaspora.

SHUN THEIR OBLIGATION TO AMPLIFY BLACK VOICES AND BLACK CAUSES

Black Conservative Candace Owens

The struggle for Black uplift did not end with the Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954 or the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We Blacks still find ourselves watching helplessly when our unarmed Black brothers and sisters are being gunned down in the streets by rogue police officers, or explaining to our White neighbors why Black lives matter. We also find ourselves battling the Republican Party’s legislative efforts to suppress our votes in mostly Republican-controlled states. In the midst of all this corruption, Black conservatives are seemingly sleeping at the wheel, not countering Republican big lies with inconvenient truths.

Our Black conservative brothers and sisters have forgotten what the struggle for Black uplift is all about. The struggle is all about creating a more perfect union, one in which everyone has an equal chance at achieving the American Dream. Black conservatives believe this day has already arrived. But when the Federal Reserve reports that in 2019 white households owned 85.5% of wealth, while Black households owned 4.2%, you begin to understand how White racism and discrimination has given White people a unique set of advantages, privileges even.

Achieving the American Dream is more possible now than ever before. But when Black people choose to adopt conservative ideology, they seemingly forget to view this conservative ideology through the prism of the Black struggle for equal rights and protections. This struggle only became less of a struggle because so many of our Black ancestors collaboratively used their time, talent, treasure and testimony to demand change within our communities, schools and corporations. Because of their efforts, our communities, schools and corporations are becoming more diversified.

But the same cannot be said about the Republican Party, or the conservative movement as a whole. Black people account for less than 10 percent of their voters, and Black people are rarely seen or heard from in conservative-controlled rooms where consequential decisions are being made. It’s almost as if White conservatives are trying to keep Black people out of these rooms so they can dilute Black influence at the polls without receiving any push back from enlightened, Black conservatives. But when you have unenlightened, Black conservatives like Allen West endorsing and participating in this dilution, you realize some Black conservatives are willing to say and do what unenlightened, White conservatives want them to say and do if these same unenlightened, White conservatives are willing to compensate them nicely for their efforts.

When You Know Better, Do Better

The late Maya Angelou once said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” That’s a profound statement from one of the United States’ most prolific Black writers, but the more I mulled Dr. Angelou’s statement over in my head, the more I found myself questioning our collective ability to get there, to do better.

I have no doubt that most, if not all, of us are doing our best in our personal endeavors. We’re working 9-5 jobs to keep food on our tables, clothes on our backs, roofs over our heads. However, as we struggle to survive and thrive in a world that at times can be so unkind, we find ourselves succumbing to forces that cause us to feel sad, angry and even depressed. The key to overcoming this sadness, anger and depression is to take stock of the thoughts, feelings and events that cause us to feel sad, angry and depressed. But we also must develop routines that decrease our susceptibility, and, more importantly, counter the big lies that make us feel sad, angry and depressed.

And that leads me to the question that is on most citizens’ minds these days: Why don’t Republicans want us to do better, to feel less sad, less angry and less depressed? They don’t want us feeling less of anything negative relative to the state of our union because these feelings fuel cynicism about government operations under Democratic administrations. And as their persistent CRT dog whistle foretells, Republicans don’t want us to do better, to feel less sad, less angry and less depressed, because it makes it easier for them to appeal to White fears and resentments. These unenlightened Republicans goal here is to make White people believe that they have to vote for their Republican candidates because their Republican candidates will prevent non-Whites from taking things from them. But in the final analysis, non-Whites have never endeavored to take things from White people; we non-Whites have only demanded that this country, the United States of America, give us the things that were withheld from us because of White racism, prejudice and discrimination.

Trump supporters participate in a rally Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud. The president is expected to address a rally on the Ellipse, just south of the White House. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

There are some who believe Donald Trump was good for the country because he got things done. That’s a common refrain within Republican circles. But it is easy to make it appear you’re “getting things done” when your party controls the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches with large majorities, and your cult of personality causes you to be surrounded by a bunch of Yes men. The questions we must ask ourselves about what Donald Trump’s administration got done should center around what Donald Trump did to make all of our lives better, not just the lives of the people who voted for him. When we elect individuals to public office, they should be leading efforts to help the country and its people become a more perfect union. Donald Trump and members of the Republican Party did neither. Now, far too many of our neighbors are willing to give them another pass rather than hold them accountable for further enriching the rich off the backs of middle- and working class Americans.

I don’t know about you, but after four years of Donald Trump’s lunacy, I grew tired of being sad, angry and depressed about the state of our union. That’s why I was one of the 81 million plus citizens who voted for Joe Biden to become the nation’s 46th president. And it wasn’t a difficult choice. Donald Trump and Republican legislators showed us through their concerted rhetoric and deeds that building a wall to keep immigrants and refugees out was far more important than building back better for current and future generations. They even balked at the fact that many states were allowing their citizens to vote by mail during the global coronavirus pandemic. Even now, we see Republican governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis making fallacious statements and signing legislation that undermines efforts to get more citizens vaccinated. Who does that? And when they engage in these types of bad behaviors, why are they getting rewarded?

January 6th Select Committee Co-Chairs
Benny Thompson (D) and Liz Cheney (R).

They’re getting rewarded because some segments of our society are all for owning the liberal Democrats, running against any bipartisan bills and legislation they put forth that improve peoples’ lives. That’s what saddens, angers and depresses me the most.

But I pray that these Trump-friendly people segments come to their senses by getting vaccinated so we can finally claim victory over COVID-19.

I pray that these Trump-friendly people segments come to their senses, and start applauding the truth-finding efforts of the Select Committee on the January 6th, 2021 Insurrection.

More than anything, I pray these Trump-friendly people segments come to their senses to gain a better appreciation for the big lies that the Republican Party is spreading about the 2020 Presidential Election results, Critical Race Theory and, most importantly, President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan.

There are a number of things we can do to do better to be better. First, and foremost, we have to counter Donald Trump and Republican legislators’ big lies with shared inconvenient truths. Next, we have to get the vote out (and vote) against the irresponsible Republicans (and Democrats) that are preventing us from doing better as a citizenry. Lastly, we have to treat others the way we want to be treated. If and when we do these things and more, we will restore the admiration and respect that the United States of America previously had in the eyes of other sovereign nations before Donald Trump and his domestic and foreign loyalists stole the 2016 presidential election from Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Case for Recasting the Black Panther Role

Christopher Reeve appeared on the big screen as Clark Kent/Superman from 1978 to 1987.  His iconic role is now in the hands of British actor Henry Cavill. 

Chadwick Boseman only appeared on the big screen in a solo film as T’Challa/Black Panther in 2018.  But when he died of cancer in August 2020, Marvel Studios announced that his role would not be recast. 

WHY NOT?

Many of us loved Boseman’s portrayal of T’Challa/Black Panther, but because the Black Diaspora has long awaited the arrivals of strong Black male and female leads in big budget, superhero films, I think it is a mistake to not cast the role to another young, dark-skinned, Black male actor. 

We can’t bring back the deceased, but we can keep their memories alive by continuing to responsibly tell the stories of the characters they portrayed.

Remember, Reeve and Boseman died. The characters they portrayed did not.  

What’s So Inconvenient about Truth?

Obama: The Historic Presidency of
Barack Obama

If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you’re probably asking yourself, “What’s so inconvenient about Truth?” That’s a good question, one that deserves an answer. But first I need to set the table, establish the foundation for my argument.

I just purchased a book that chronicles the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama, the first Black American to occupy this office. I am not going to use this space to cite quotes from Obama: The Historic Presidency of Barack Obama, but I am going to write about why I purchased it. I purchased this book because I wanted to have something in hand that serves as a reminder about how responsible leaders are supposed to behave.

The Mueller Report

Most of the people I associate with know that Donald Trump won the 2016 Presidential Election because of loyalists here at home and nationals in countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia. Again, I’m not going to use this space to cite quotes from the Mueller Report, but I am going to encourage you to read it. When you do, you will learn that the Republican Party is no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln; it is now a cult whose subjects kiss the ring of Donald Trump, who, sadly, had no plan for governing this country. He seemingly looked at the presidency as a way to enrich himself and his loyalists at truly patriotic Americans’ expense. And while he was United States president, he and members of his party went out of their way to appeal to White citizens’ fears and resentments about non-White Americans. He made them feel proud to be White, and went out of his way to denigrate Black Americans and other Americans of color for making White people feel uncomfortable for exercising their White privilege. But the truth is we non-White Americans don’t want White people to feel ashamed of their Whiteness; we just ask that they focus more on their ancestorial ethnicity rather than their racial designation. When White people shift their focus, they may discover that we have more similarities than differences.

But if you do a critical analysis of the Obama Presidency, you will conclude that President Obama went out of his way to lift all boats. In other words, if you are a United States citizen, the Obama Administration endeavored to institute policies and practices that made our lives better, regardless of our race, ethnicity. One of the first things he did after being elected was pass the Affordable Care Act, which expanded health care coverage to over 40 million Americans. He also signed Recovery Act legislation that saved the auto industry and many other small businesses. More than anything, though, Barack Obama, his wife Michelle, and children Sasha and Malia exhibited the kind of charisma that inspired both young and old to work collaboratively to create a more perfect union. Moreover, they appealed to our best instincts, not our worst.

Barack Obama did not lose the 2016 Presidential Election. He had served his two terms, and now it was time for another civil servant to occupy the Office of the Presidency. Unfortunately, it was Democrat Hillary Clinton who lost to Donald Trump. If she had been elected, Secretary Clinton would have become the first female, as well as the first former First Lady, elected to office.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifying before the House Select Committee on Benghazi (October 22, 2015).

What impressed me most about Hillary Clinton was the way she accepted defeat. She suspected Donald Trump had help from foreign allies in Russia and Saudi Arabia, and she knew Trump used his racist dog whistles to leverage White electorate votes. He referred to Black and Brown countries as shit-hole countries, and even suggested during the aftermath of the Unite the Right Rally that “you had very fine people, on both sides” when trying to make an equivalence between the peaceful protestors and the White supremacists that converged on Charlottesville, Virginia from August 11-12, 2017. And after losing the 2020 Presidential Election to Democrat Joe Biden by over seven million votes, Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to convene in Washington, DC on January 6th to “stop the steal.” His supporters tried, and they failed because there was no “steal” to stop. The bottom line here is Hillary Clinton, and so many other unsuccessful presidential candidates before her, exited gracefully and honorably to unconditionally love on others in their roles as United States citizens.

So, what’s so inconvenient about truth? Well, the answer to that question is it depends on who you ask. But based on what I just presented above, truth is inconvenient when it infringes on one’s ability to hold onto power, influence and/or control. We all must acknowledge that we are not holding our elected leaders accountable for their destructive actions. The Republican Party showed us during both the Obama and Trump presidencies that their only concern is to win congressional seats and the presidency so they can engage in nefarious maneuvers that impede on our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These nefarious maneuvers are being hatched by duly elected leaders within the Republican Party, and their campaign to make it harder for Americans to vote shows they are more concerned about expanding their power, influence and control than meeting their constituents’ needs.

What is so disheartening about their efforts is so many of their supporters, which includes Evangelical Christians, believe their cause is righteous and just. It’s not. How can it be when they are working to restrict access to the ballot box for non-Whites, women, college students and poor people? I get that many of our urban sectors have become havens for progressive-minded voters. And this fact alone makes it difficult for Republicans candidates to win some local, state and national elections. But they can’t say they’re for the people when they are endeavoring to restrict constitutionally protected rights and silence the voices of their constituencies. Our founding fathers intended for this power to rest with the citizenry, not politicians and the lobbyists that work to keep them in office. However, if we allow Republicans’ nefarious maneuvers to continue unabated, We the People should expect a rude awakening, for the power that we hold so dear will rest squarely in the hands of these nefarious Republicans.

Shameful?

Yes.

But my question to you is do we keep electing these villains to office or do we finally say no more?

I look forward to hearing your response when you cast your votes in the 2022 midterm elections.

The CRT Dog Whistle

For most Black Americans, the ongoing attack on Critical Race Theory, or CRT, is something that makes you go, “Huh?” Individuals who are more educated than you and me tell us that CRT is not being taught in K-12 schools, but this truth falls on deaf ears. It seems to fall on deaf ears because so many White parents want to exonerate some of their White ancestors from the crimes they committed against Black citizens and other citizens of color. And they don’t want their White children feeling uncomfortable about the advantages these crimes give them in the here and now. In short, they want to maintain the status quo by convincing the general population that non-White citizens are similarly criminal when they make White children and adults feel uncomfortable with all this talk about White racism, prejudice and discrimination.

But truth be told, America’s non-White citizens have not, and never will be, the perpetuators in this scenario. That’s a dishonor reserved solely for unenlightened, White children, adolescents and adults. Black parents have been complaining for decades about the suppression of Black American history. Study the history curriculum of any public school in America, and you will discover that integration has done nothing to expose White children to the excellence within the Black community. Instead, these public schools present a whitewashed version of this excellence by trying to make it look as if even founding fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did right by their enslaved African Blacks. This historical suppression is what produces generations of White children who lack the compassion to reconcile with Black and other non-White citizens.

If you can’t see through these attacks against CRT, you’re a fool. This constant railing against CRT is nothing but another dog whistle that stirs up White people’s fears and resentments. The fact that it is being blown by conservative Republicans is telling, for it shows the Republican Party lacks plans for the country’s governance.

Like so many in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I shook my head when Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the 2021 gubernatorial election. We must wait and see if Youngkin and members of his administration plan on leading responsibly, for we had just experienced four years of Donald Trump’s irresponsible leadership and were hopeful that another responsible Democrat would succeed Ralph Northam. But it wasn’t to be.

I give Youngkin credit for stiff arming Donald Trump when Donald Trump offered to campaign for him in Virginia. But if the Youngkin administration proves to be as disastrous to the Commonwealth of Virginia as Trump was to the country, the unenlightened, White voters who voted for him must ask themselves why it was so easy for them to fall for the big lies surrounding who won the presidential election and whether Critical Race Theory is being taught in public schools.

Truth be told, the CRT dog whistle was first blown in Southlake, Texas. Based on the information I read, it was a way to derail efforts to promote talks about racial diversity, equity and inclusion in the public schools there. It didn’t matter that these talks were initiated because Black students complained about being the victims of outright racism and microaggressions. By ignoring these complaints, the White parents attending school board meetings to blow the CRT dog whistle have proven to us that they believe their fears and resentments about a manufactured CRT controversy are more valid than Black students’ actual grievances.

We Black people have had to endure this country’s worst, and we’re still standing. Part of me wonders why unenlightened members of the White majority still look down on us with disdain, even after some of us have become similarly situated. I believe it has everything to do with their refusal to get to know us, our daily struggles, as if the closer they get to us, the more we take from them. But the Black people I interact with aren’t trying to take anything from White Americans. We just want to be treated fairly, and not used as proverbial punching bags. And that’s what today’s Republican Party is doing to us, all in its quest to acquire executive, legislative and judicial power. But we have to fight back. And we have to accept the support received from our White allies along the way. We have to acknowledge when some members of the White majority are working with us Black people to get it right. We have to keep believing that true racial reconciliation is possible within our lifetimes.