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.

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.

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.