Gentrification. Segregation. Poverty. And Education

© copyight 2013 Betsy L. Angert BeThink

In 2013 the issue of poverty is pronounced.  It is the cause of great debate and much conflict.  However, the conflict is mostly in interest, self-interest.  The one interest that receives far less if any attention at all is poverty and the extent of poverty. How to effectively end it is a question that few consider.  The conventional wisdom is there is a safety-net which will care for the impoverished. The reality is there are holes in the net.  Equally significant is the notion that we, as individuals, will never be among the poor.  Actually, one in two of us already are.

Perceptions explain why most Americans do not consider themselves poor.  The common belief held by 27% is the poor are lazy and I am not.  Forty-three percent of Americans surveyed said they believe people living in poverty can always find a job if they really want to work. At the same time, 38 percent of Americans have requested some type of help including food or financial assistance from a charity.  Thirteen [13] percent have spent a night on the streets or in a shelter.   Perceptions of Poverty counter reality. Nonetheless, these are notions we hold dear.

Mostly mired in self-survival, people, a large percentage of whom are the low-income working poor,have little time to attend to the poverty of others.  This affects our children and their education.  Not withstanding the desire, “low-income caregivers frequently do not know the names of their children’s teachers or friends. One study found that only 36 percent of low-income parents were involved in three or more school activities on a regular basis, compared with 59 percent of parents above the poverty line (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000).”  Startling as it is, for calendar year 2011 the percentage of children (persons under 18) in poverty was 21.9 percent. The total number  that same year was 16.1 million.

This may be the truer silent and unseen majority.  When we do catch sight of the children, poor and wealthy alike, we perceive healthy, happy, bundles of joy.  Never do we imagine what we would not wish to believe exists, especially to the extent it does.

As Professor John Korsmo, PhD  observed in The Journal of Educational Controversy, Poverty and Class: Discussing the Undiscussible,  “Much like race, religiosity, sex, and a whole host of contrived privilege points in the U.S., poverty and class have remained for the most part don’t-go-there designations; topics that individuals, human service, and educational institutions often avoid openly discussing.”  Our intentional choice not to think about, talk about, or teach the subject of socio-economic privilege associated with class dilutes efforts to eliminate poverty and ultimately, our progress in doing so.  We do not associate with or support those who bear the brunt of income inequality.  Conveniently and again by choice, we drive down safer roads.

The vast majority of us sit in our cars, alone.  We travel on freeways, fast.  Were we to slow down we would still not see what exists behind what we call sound-walls.  We are sealed off and do not, cannot see the circumstances of the other, “those poor souls.”  The barriers we build both literally and figuratively are large and high; best of all for policymakers they hide the truth.  Black and Brown communities are ignored.  The only time we attend to what occurs in these neighborhoods is when we think to convert them. Take a blighted neighborhood, expel the residents, raze the roofs, and build beauty where blight once existed.  Where do we put the poor who once occupied the dilapidated homes?  That is a problem we will set aside, place behind a newer wall and never wonder about again.  Thus, is the situation today in Chicago 2013.

Excuses are made.  Officials invested in Charter Schools and gentrification projects say “Enrollment is down.  Schools are underutilized.”,  Neither claim can be substantiated without skewing the numbers.  Even some  High-performing schools are slated for closures; however only in already neglected Black and Brown communities.  Often children are being forced to travel long distances and cross gang-lines to attend a lower-performing receiving school.  Mostly, the young will walk. Transportation is costly and dollars for such a luxury are scant.   Parents and Principals at the “receiving schools” are perplexed and troubled. Classrooms currently in the “receiving schools” will become fuller,  basically overcrowded entities.  Bad as these concerns are, what is worst is the impending community effect of school closures.  Lifelines will be cut!

For Tzia, a third grader who is on the student council, afternoons at the neighborhood school on Chicago’s West Side are a variety show of ballet and martial arts, hip-hop and cooking class, tutoring and fund-raisers. Five days a week, sometimes past nightfall.

Much will be lost.  Mothers such as mother Shawanna Turner, 30, attended the school she now sends little Tzia to. Her family all graduated from this neighborhood school.  In the communities that face school closures, generations of families came together in their neighborhood learning centers.  Children found freedom and refuge, as did their parents in local public schools.  Events were planned in and executed around school activities. Neighborhood businesses in the surrounding area too were invested in these institutions. Children learned. Moms and Dads took classes too.  Extra-curricula activities expanded minds and supported strong bodies.  From the windows of these schools the winds blew and streets were safer because of the education little learners received.  Now, that solid anchor will be taken away.

Doors will be slammed shut. Windows shuttered. Building will be left to die or be demolished quickly.  We, those who do not wish to see or discuss what we do or what is done in our names will remain silent. That is the American way.  Do we drive by and shoot down all that supports a community?

Chicago is not alone. The difference in what occurs is only in scale.  Gentrification is the complement to segregation.  Segregation is the sister to poverty. Each shows up in our city schools.  Essentially, this is the story of school closures and the fight for education as a human and civil right.

Gentrification. Segregation. Poverty. Each cements the certainty that children of color will be underserved in society and underserved in our schools.  Education, which can be the cure, is hurt by each of these.  Lets us look at the numbers, and then seek out those sweet faces, our fellow Americans who flounder because of what we have done and are doing..

Perhaps, it is past time to tear down sound and sight walls.   Let us acknowledge the pervasive inequality and then, and always take action!  We might begin by thinking more thoroughly about school closings, the cause and effect.  Consider the circumstances in countless cities, Chicago, Philadelphia Detroit and New York…and your hometown. Is there a racial divide, a socioeconomic destabilization, and are children and education lost?

Perchance, if we ensure that education is a human and civil right we will establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, or we can settle or what is and stay silent.  Please ponder the following articles and statistics.  You may be surprised by what has been long blocked from view.


Poverty and segregation: birds of a feather

Posted by Steve Bogira on 06.08.12 at 04:01 PM

Ignoring the misery of the poor is easy because of our separateness.

“It’s incredible that we tolerate for a minute the reality of 6 million of us living on food stamps alone,” Laura Flanders observed last week in a Nation blog post. (Nationally, the average monthly individual food stamp benefit is $134.) “I suspect it’s because we’re experiencing a new kind of segregation,” Flanders wrote. “Somehow, neither policy makers nor opinion makers seem to know enough poor people well enough to feel them, living and breathing.”

Flanders is right that segregation is central to our apathy about poverty; it isn’t really six million of us subsisting on food stamps. But segregation isn’t new, nor is it limited to policy makers and opinion makers. It’s a way of life, in Chicago and many big cities. As we showed last year, most of our city’s African-Americans still live in 21 community areas whose aggregate population is a stunning 96 percent black. The vast majority of Chicago’s high-poverty census tracts are in these areas.

Then there’s our public school system. To look at the percentage of white kids in Chicago’s public schools you’d never know that the city is 45 percent white. The racial segregation of our schools is economic segregation as well: 87 percent of the students in the public schools are from low-income families. With such a concentration of poverty in classrooms, trying to solve the schools’ problems with a longer day or more rigorous testing is naive.

We’re also segregated, racially and economically, where most of us work. And our residential and economic separateness lead quite naturally to segregation when we eat out, and go to movies, plays, concerts, and ball games. White people often don’t even notice how pervasive segregation is, since, for the most part, we’re not the ones being harmed by it.

Becoming aware of how segregated we are won’t by itself change things. But it’s a necessary first step.

Chicago’s growing racial gap in child poverty

Posted by Steve Bogira on 10.04.12 at 10:23 AM

More than one in three Chicago children are living in poverty, according to newly published census data. But a closer look at those figures shows that “one in three” hides a striking inequality.

Fewer than one in 11 white kids here are living in poverty-compared with more than one in two black kids.

The news regarding white Chicago kids, in fact, is good: their poverty rate is significantly lower than the national rate for white kids. But for black, Asian, and Hispanic children, the poverty incidence is higher in Chicago than for their counterparts nationally:


  • Children 17 and younger. Data from American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, analyzed by Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance,/li>

    Moreover, the racial gap in child poverty in Chicago appears to be growing:

    PAUL JOHN HIGGINS

  • Children 17 and younger. Data from American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, analyzed by Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance
  • As the numbers show, child poverty has declined for Asians and gone up modestly for whites since 2000-while climbing significantly for blacks and Latinos.

    References and Resources….

    Not in my backyard



    Explosive OBAMA anger at a McCain-Palin rally!

    copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

    If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

    ~ Bible.  I John 4:20

    Not in my backyard.  Not in my neighborhood.  Not on street corners in my community.  Certainly, not amongst my friends, and never in my family! These are the cries heard ’round America.  In rural regions, in urban boroughs, in the suburbs, and in the city proper the public clamors, “We are not colorblind.”  The defense voiced in earlier days is a thought from the past.  In the United States of 2008, people see shades.  Skin, pitch as coal, casts a shadow.  Deep-seated bigotry is displayed on the surface.  Today, racism is not only rampant; it is visible on every crossroad.  Please consider the campaign trail.  Intolerance is evident in the Presidential Election, 2008.

    Secular humanist intent on political win and pious, religious persons, who think themselves right (or righteous) believe they have reason to fear their brethren.  Presidential hopeful Barack Obama is Black.  The public may have been aware of this without much prompting.  However, chances are the American people would have been polite.  Citizens in this country pride themselves on decorum.  Yet, with a bit of encouragement people in the States can be easily persuaded to forget their etiquette.  

    Individuals and crowds can be coerced to remember their fear for fellow beings.  If “that (other) one” is distinctive, dark, and has a strange name, so much the better.  A person or political campaign can capitalize on the differences.  An exhortation offered can cause an explosion.  Throngs can be inflamed.  Enter Sarah Palin and her confederate John McCain.  The two exclaim when they shriek or speak of their opponent Barack Obama, “Not in my backyard.”  Republican followers concur.  The hordes holler as the Party leaders explain, “He is not one of us.”  The Democratic hopeful, for those who will not vote for a Black man, is the source of hatred.

    The Illinois Senator was not born to be brutalized.  However, people of his brownish-purplish tone are tormented.  Those paler in hue have learned to hate, and work to denigrate.  Pinkish persons are taught to negate the power of a individual who, by birth wears a brown-black veneer.  Persons whose flesh is not light are also engendered to exhibit trepidation; however, in the United States, these individuals may have less authority.  Frequently, Anglos [and African Americans] deny that they have learned these lessons.  However, human as they are, many Americans, are apprehensive when confronted with the unfamiliar.  

    Citizens in the States have acquired conventional wisdom; be scared of someone so unique; the intensity of the disdain felt and expressed is deeper since Barack Obama’s complexion is ebony in color.  

    The reaction to the words Sarah Palin and John McCain emit is as expected.  People abhor what or who is unlike them.  Citizens have been trained to react, to resent, and to express rage when faced with the unknown.  Frequently, the average American is asked by Obama’s political adversary, “Who is Barack Obama?”  Surely, the implication is, he is not one of us.  Senator Obama does not look like those in our neighborhood, in our family; nor is he similar to our friends.  However, this is not said specifically.

    The answers offered by John McCain and Sarah Palin have subtly incited intolerance.  While the Republican Party Presidential nominee delicately dances during discussions of culture clashes, his surrogates, and of course Sarah, stride confidently into dangerous debates.  The reality of racial division is ramped up.  Any statement that might awaken apprehension amongst the white majority masses is fair, and now famously in the forefront of stump speeches.

    At two McCain rallies last week, individuals introducing the candidate referred to the Democratic nominee as “Barack Hussein Obama,” emphasizing his middle name.  Former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating called him a “man of the street.”

    Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, said Obama was “palling around with terrorists,” a reference to his association with the 1960s radical William Ayers, and a turn of phrase that critics said was racially loaded.

    In the age of attacks on the Twin Towers, alarm for any association that reminds Americans of the foreign forces that caused the World Trade Center to fall will be perceived as problematic.  This supposed connection coupled with the whisper campaign that began long ago, Barack Obama is a Muslim . . . even if he is not and never was, has been an effective tool used to annihilate the Democratic Presidential aspirant.  After all, he must be destroyed.  He is not like the friends, family, or neighbors of average American’s.  He is elite, and did the Republican candidates mention, Barack Obama is Black.  The esteemed Illinois Senator will not be seen in the backyards of Joe or Jane Doe.

    However, signs with Barack Obama’s name are displayed in front yards throughout the country.  This alone causes much concern within communities and a campaign scared that a scholar such as Barack Obama might become President.

    One would hope the intent among respectable Republican rivals was to destroy a political promotion and not the man himself; however, there is infinite reason to believe the rough stuff is used to do more than motivate voters to move towards the Republican ticket.  Americans need only listen to the words of the self-proclaimed “pit bull,” Vice Presidential challenger, Sarah Palin.  Days ago, in Florida, the defiant maverick declared her objective and her offense.

    “Okay, so Florida, you know that you’re going to have to hang onto your hats,” Sarah Palin told a rally of a few thousand here this morning, “because from now until Election Day it may get kind of rough.”

    You betcha.  And the person dishing out the roughest stuff at the moment is Sarah Palin.

    “I was reading my copy of the New York Times the other day,” she said.

    “Booooo!” replied the crowd.

    “I knew you guys would react that way, okay,” she continued.  “So I was reading the New York Times and I was really interested to read about Barack’s friends from Chicago.” . . .

    “Boooo!” said the crowd.

    “And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, ‘launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'” she continued.

    “Boooo!” the crowd repeated.

    “Kill him!” proposed one man in the audience.

    Days later, pumped and primed, another McCain/Palin advocate, this time amongst the poised population in Pennsylvania, shouted “Kill him!”  The calls of “terrorist” are frequently heard at Republican rallies each time Barack Obama’s name is uttered.  The venom is vicious, as are actions on American avenues.

    Those who do not have physical access to the dark-skinned Presidential hopeful,  Senator Obama, express their fury in other ways.  Some overtly ferocious; a few covertly cruel.

    Within a somewhat posh population, in south Florida, a fairly prosperous family placed an Obama sign on their lawn.  Proud of the candidate they would cast ballots for on Election Day, the female in the household felt a need to express their conviction.  The affluent adult trusted in a neighborhood such as hers, even those who did not feel as they did would certainly respect their right to revere a well-educated, accomplished, and “articulate” Presidential aspirant.  The woman could not begin to imagine the placard would be burned.  Another incident was reported in New Jersey.

    Obama sign defaced in Montclair

    (by Tanya Drobness

    Montclair Times

    October 02, 2008

    A Montclair woman woke up Sunday morning to find that her Barack Obama lawn placard was spread across her car and defaced with a pile of dog feces.

    Vandals yanked the advocacy sign out of the Montclair Avenue lawn and wrecked it between 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, and 7 a.m. the next day, police said.

    “She just woke up in the morning and noticed the sign had been moved,” said Alex Russoniello, referring to the reaction of his partner, Maryanne Solensky, who has been living in the home for 30 years.

    The sign and one of its metal posts was found on the windshield of a Volkswagen Golf that was sitting in the victim’s driveway, police said.

    The couple removed the feces with a newspaper delivery wrap and washed down the sign.

    They put it back up that same day.

    The Boca Raton resident also re-placed her sign.  In less than a day, Ms Pearson-Martinez positioned a new Obama sign in her yard.  She also painstakingly inscribed a message for the person who maliciously defaced the first banner.  The lovely lady wrote on a placard attached to the bottom of her newer Obama poster, “You can burn my sign, but you won’t stop my vote.”  

    However, it seems some would wish to torch a ballot or a man named Barack.  Few argue that the rage expressed is more fervent for the face of the candidate is charcoal in hue.  It is easier to find enthusiastic hatred for a person whose complexion is dark.  This truth was witnessed, and ignited, in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and other states, near a week ago.  Tempers flared and the Republican candidates fueled the fire.  Unfettered taunts were frequently hard at McCain/Palin events.

    A sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events as McCain supporters see his presidential campaign lag against Barack Obama. They’re making it personal, against the Democrat. Shouts of “traitor,” “terrorist,” “treason,” “liar,” and even “off with his head” have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them. . . .

    When a visibly angry McCain supporter in Waukesha, Wis., on Thursday told the candidate “I’m really mad” because of “socialists taking over the country,” McCain stoked the sentiment. “I think I got the message,” he said. “The gentleman is right.”

    Is it correct to cruelly condemn a man or a woman; is it proper to stoke a fire or incite fury for a person.  Americans might remember hate is taught.  Humans are not born to disdain.  People learn to love passionately or to loathe avidly.  Differences in appearance can provide a target for intolerance.  Not in my backyard, neighborhood, community, amongst my closest friends, or in my family is the racial retreat, the rant of those who rather be at odds than be united in the States.

    I think that hate is a thing, a feeling, that can only exist where there is no understanding.

    ~ Tennessee Williams [Author] Forward to Sweet Bird of Youth

    If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself.  What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.

    ~ Hermann Hesse [Author] From Demian

    No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion.

    People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love,

    for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.


    ~ Nelson Mandela [President of South Africa] Autobiography

    References to racism . . .

    Black History: Loving vs. Virginia

    © copyright 2008 Storm Bear.  Town Called Dobson


    To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  Black History: Loving vs. Virginia

    From Wikipedia:

    Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court declared Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute, the “Racial Integrity Act of 1924”, unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

    The plaintiffs, Mildred Loving (nee Mildred Delores Jeter, a woman of African and Rappahannock Native American descent, 1939 – May 2, 2008) and Richard Perry Loving (a white man, October 29, 1933 – June 1975), were residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia who had been married in June 1958 in the District of Columbia, having left Virginia to evade the Racial Integrity Act, a state law banning marriages between any white person and any non-white person. Upon their return to Caroline County, Virginia, they were charged with violation of the ban. Specifically, they were charged under Section 20-58 of the Virginia Code, which prohibited interracial couples from being married out of state and then returning to Virginia, and Section 20-59, which classified “miscegenation” as a felony punishable by a prison sentence of between one and five years. On January 6, 1959, the Lovings pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia. The trial judge in the case, Leon Bazile, echoing Johann Friedrich Blumenbach’s 18th-century interpretation of race, proclaimed that


    Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and He placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with His arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that He separated the races shows that He did not intend for the races to mix.

    The Lovings moved to the District of Columbia, and on November 6, 1963 the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion on their behalf in the state trial court to vacate the judgment and set aside the sentence on the grounds that the violated statutes ran counter to the Fourteenth Amendment. This set in motion a series of lawsuits which ultimately reached the Supreme Court. On October 28, 1964, after their motion still had not been decided, the Lovings began a class action suit in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. On January 22, 1965, the three-judge district court decided to allow the Lovings to present their constitutional claims to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Virginia Supreme Court Justice Harry L. Carrico (later Chief Justice of the Court) wrote an opinion for the court upholding the constitutionality of the anti-miscegenation statutes and, after modifying the sentence, affirmed the criminal convictions.

    Ignoring United States Supreme Court precedent, Carrico cited as authority the Virginia Supreme Court’s own decision in Naim v. Naim (1955), and also argued that the case at hand was not a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause because both the white and the non-white spouse were punished equally for the “crime” of “miscegenation”, an argument similar to that made by the United States Supreme Court in 1883 in Pace v. Alabama.

    In 1966, the Presbyterian Church took a strong stand stating that they do not condemn or prohibit interracial marriages. The church found “no theological grounds for condemning or prohibiting marriage between consenting adults merely because of racial origin”. In that same year, the Unitarian Universalist Association declared that “laws which prohibit, inhibit or hamper marriage or cohabitation between persons because of different races, religions, or national origins should be nullified or repealed.” Months before the Supreme Court ruling on Loving v. Virginia the Roman Catholic Church joined the movement, supporting interracial couples in their struggle for recognition of their right to marriage.

    Prior to Loving v. Virginia there were several cases on the subject of race mixing cases. In Pace v. Alabama (1883) the Supreme Court ruled that the conviction of an Alabama couple for interracial sex, affirmed on appeal by the Alabama Supreme Court, did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Interracial extramarital sex was deemed a felony, whereas extramarital sex (“adultery or fornication”) was only a misdemeanor. On appeal, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the criminalization of interracial sex was not a violation of the equal protection clause because whites and non-whites were punished in equal measure for the offense of engaging in interracial sex. The court did not need to affirm the constitutionality of the ban on interracial marriage that was also part of Alabama’s anti-miscegenation law, since the plaintiff, Mr. Pace, had chosen not to appeal that section of the law. After Pace v. Alabama, the constitutionality of anti-miscegenation laws banning marriage and sex between whites and non-whites remained unchallenged until the 1920s.

    In Kirby v. Kirby (1921), Mr. Kirby asked the state of Arizona for an annulment of his marriage. He charged that his marriage was invalid because his wife was of ‘negro’ descent, thus violating the state’s anti-miscegenation law. The Arizona Supreme Court judged Mrs. Kirby’s race by observing her physical characteristics and determined that she was of mixed race, thereby granting Mr. Kirby’s annulment.

    In the Monks case (Estate of Monks, 4. Civ. 2835, Records of California Court of Appeals, Fourth district), the Superior Court of San Diego County in 1939 decided to invalidate the marriage of Marie Antoinette and Allan Monks because she was deemed to have “one eight negro blood”. The court case involved a legal challenge over the conflicting wills that had been left by the late Allan Monks, an old one in favor of a friend named Ida Lee and a newer one in favor of his wife. Lee’s lawyers charged that the marriage of the Monkses, which had taken place in Arizona, was invalid under Arizona state law because Marie Antoinette was “a Negro” and Alan had been white. Despite conflicting testimony by various expert witnesses, the judge defined Mrs. Monks’ race by relying on the anatomical “expertise” of a surgeon. The judge ignored the arguments of an anthropologist and a biologist that it was impossible to tell a person’s race from physical characteristics.

    Monks then challenged the Arizona anti-miscegenation law itself, taking her case to the California Court of Appeals, Fourth District. Monks’s lawyers pointed out that the anti-miscegenation law effectively prohibited Monks as a mixed-race person from marrying anyone: “As such, she is prohibited from marrying a negro or any descendant of a negro, a Mongolian or an Indian, a Malay or a Hindu, or any descendants of any of them. Likewise … as a descendant of a negro she is prohibited from marrying a Caucasian or a descendant of a Caucasian….” The Arizona anti-miscegenation statute thus prohibited Monks from contracting a valid marriage in Arizona, and was therefore an unconstitutional constraint on her liberty. The court, however, dismissed this argument as inapplicable, since the case presented involved not two mixed-race spouses but a mixed-race and a white spouse: “Under the facts presented the appellant does not have the benefit of assailing the validity of the statute.” Dismissing Monks’s appeal in 1942, the United States Supreme Court refused to reopen the issue.

    The turning point came with Perez v. Sharp (1948), also known as Perez v. Lippold. In Perez, the Supreme Court of California recognized that interracial bans on marriage violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution.

    The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions in a unanimous decision, dismissing the Commonwealth of Virginia’s argument that a law forbidding both white and black persons from marrying persons of another race, and providing identical penalties to white and black violators, could not be construed as racially discriminatory. The court ruled that Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In its decision, the court wrote:


    Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

    The Supreme Court concluded that anti-miscegenation laws were racist and had been enacted to perpetuate white supremacy:


    There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy.

    Despite this Supreme Court ruling, such laws remained on the books, although unenforced, in several states until 2000, when Alabama became the last state to repeal its law against mixed-race marriage.

    The definition of a marriage and what constitutes a family was reconsidered by society after the decision of Loving v. Virginia. Following Loving v. Virginia, The Changing Nature of Interracial Marriage in Georgia: A Research Note states “there was a 448 per cent increase in the number of interracial marriages. These numbers are only from the state of Georgia after the Supreme Court ruling, but the numbers and percentages only continued to increase across the United States. However, interracial couples still had to overcome many fears of possibly losing respect from friends, family, and the community.

    Some activists believe that the Loving ruling will eventually aid the marriage equality movement for same-sex partnerships, if courts allow the Equal Protection Clause to be used. F.C. Decoste states, “If the only arguments against same sex marriage are sectarian, then opposing the legalization of same sex marriage is invidious in a fashion no different from supporting anti miscegenation laws”. These activists maintain that miscegenation laws are to interracial marriage, as sodomy laws are to homosexual rights and that sodomy laws were enacted in order to maintain traditional sex roles that have become part of American society. Opponents point out that the United States Supreme Court in the case of Baker v. Nelson, decided just a few years after the Loving decision, summarily affirmed that traditional marriage laws do not violate the Constitution of the United States.

    On June 12, 2007, Mildred Loving issued a rare public statement prepared for delivery on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision of the US Supreme Court, which commented on same-sex marriage. The concluding paragraphs of her statement read as follows:


    Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

    I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

    Birth Of A Notion Disclaimer:


    When I went to school, we were never taught Black History. We never learned about the Black leaders, the long, agonizing history that brought most Blacks to America. Those atrocities were glossed over in favor of mindlessly boring topics like the X Y Z Affair.

    This series of cartoons will review Black history as told from a Black mother to an interracial child. This series will be ugly, course, horrific and truthful. I will mostly abandon the commentary for an article on Black history from open source essays on the web.

    This series is not about Obama or Hillary. I want to you to try to imagine how Black families tell their children of the atrocities their ancestors, all of them, suffered because of the color of their skin. Try to imagine how Black families counsel their children when someone calls them “n*gg*r” for the first time. Can you imagine the bone crushing emotion that must well up? Can you imagine the agony, frustration and anger?

    Can you imagine being the Black preacher who tries to paint a picture of a just God every Sunday? Especially in a country that claims where the notion of racism is a thing of the past, the job is difficult.

    These strips may at times be entertaining and sometimes they may not – mostly not.

    I don’t want you to laugh so hard you cry, I want you to cry so hard you do something about it.

    Birth of a Notion Wallpaper is now available for your computer. Click here.

    Race Relations; Reflections, Realizations, Reactions, and Rejections

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    copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

    “Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.

    Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government.

    Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them.”


    ~ Thomas Jefferson  (Autobiography, 1821)

    It was a Saturday morning, late in June.  The year was 2008.  In the background, radio broadcaster, Scott Simon could be heard.  The host of Weekend Edition offered his Reflections on Race and the Presidential Election. Alexander listened halfheartedly.  It was not that he was not interested in the topic; he is and he was.  Alex was distracted.  The gentleman glanced over at Donna, a young Jamaican woman he knows so well.  Donna’s skin is as Black as pitch coal and as rich as sweet crude.  She gracefully moves across the room.  He thinks of how he loves the way her hips sway to and fro.  Her voluptuous bosom fills the full cup of her brassiere.  As she bends down to feed his ailing cousin Anna, Alex reflects on how lovely the dark skinned woman is.  His sentiment is not sexual in nature.  Alexander is analytical.

    As Alex watches the woman stir, he contemplates human nature.  Recent research fascinates the senior fellow.  For years, Alexander wondered what was the attraction to female breasts and beauty.  He recalled the article he reviewed days earlier, What Women Want (Maybe.) Alexander marveled as he appraised the study.  Rapt by the results as reported, “Looking at a naked man walking on the beach is about as exciting as looking at landscapes,” Alexander wonders of women, men, and how they relate.  How much of what occurs between the sexes is biological?  Are two-legged mammals acculturated?  Do we acquire opinions that then become habits?   Perhaps, had Alex’s attention been elsewhere he would have heard the words Scott Simon uttered as they drifted through the air.  Alexander might have stopped and sputtered as Journalist Simon mused, “How many people can there be who truly don’t know that Senator Obama is black – or care.”  

    Alexander definitely knows Presidential hopeful Obama is African-American; and yes, he does care.  Alex would never express his anxiety as blatantly as thousands have.  Nor would he actually join a fellowship of known fanatics.  This white man, genteel in nature, cannot imagine why extremists react as they do.  For Alex, racial discrimination is not a source of pride.  He wonders if that is why much intolerance is hidden, neatly tucked away in the Internet.

    Hate Groups’ Newest Target

    White Supremacists Report an Increase in Visits to Their Web Sites

    By Eli Saslow

    Washington Post

    Sunday, June 22, 2008; A06

    Sen. Barack Obama‘s historic victory in the Democratic primaries, celebrated in America and across much of the world as a symbol of racial progress and cultural unity, has also sparked an increase in racist and white supremacist activity, mainly on the Internet, according to leaders of hate groups and the organizations that track them.

    Neo-Nazi, skinhead, and segregationist groups have reported gains in numbers of visitors to their Web sites and in membership since the senator from Illinois secured the Democratic nomination June 3. His success has aroused a community of racists, experts said, concerned by the possibility of the country’s first black president.

    “I haven’t seen this much anger in a long, long time,” said Billy Roper, a 36-year-old who runs a group called White Revolution in Russellville, Ark. “Nothing has awakened normally complacent white Americans more than the prospect of America having an overtly nonwhite president.” . . .

    “The truth is, we’re finding an explosion in these kinds of hateful sentiments on the Net, and it’s a growing problem,” said Deborah Lauter, civil rights director for the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors hate group activity.  “There are probably thousands of Web sites that do this now.  I couldn’t even tell you how many are out there because it’s growing so fast.”

    Granted, extremists do not represent the Grand Old Party, John McCain, or Alexander.  Nonetheless, Alex knows the rise in racist rhetoric demonstrates many care about the undeniable.  Our potential President is a Black man.  Alexander admits, he is not surprised by the speed with which the trend towards intolerance increased once Barack Obama become the presumptive nominee.  The lovely mild-mannered man recalls, Senator Obama was placed under the protection of the Secret Service Agency earlier than any Presidential aspirant had been.  This action, this election is unprecedented.

    Alexander recalls the day he read the accounts in the newspaper; the United States Senator from Illinois began his bid for the Oval Office and almost immediately received threats on his life.  It was obvious, Barack Obama and his family were not safe.  Excessive concern for the candidate’s race was expressed.  Bullies observed Barack Obama is Black, and they did not like that.

    Journalist Scott Simon might ruminate; these persons play on the fringe.  Fanatics are peripheral to the population.  However, the more moderate man, Alexander has watched as generations of white people exerted extreme power over Black people.  He was also well aware of how Caucasians hid the emotions that had an effect on their every exchange.  Alexander quietly avows on rare occasions, he too does not reveal what he truly feels when in the company of a person of color.

    His relationship with Donna may illustrate, the illusive nature of race relations in America.  The two are friendly; they spend much time together.  However, neither feels particularly close to the other.  Each understands they are employer and employee.  Encounters occur for there is a need, physical, financial, practical, and personal only in the sense that when two people come together they cannot help but talk.  Still, a genuine emotional connection is forever elusive.  Neither wishes to create what is not comfortable.

    Perhaps, the relationship that exists between Alexander and Donna explains why, the seventeen (17) million persons voted for Barack Obama in the primaries, may not if the realities of racism are emphasized before the general election.  Blacks and whites can come together when the commitment is tentative, but would pinkish persons want their daughters to marry someone that looks like Senator Obama.  Would Anglo Americans wish to place a Black man and his African-American family in the White House.  Could it be that countless who cast a ballot for Barack Obama during the primaries, struggle with the reality that he might become their President and ever so powerful.

    Alexander asserts people can be polite when what they perceive to be a potential threat is less than pervasive.  However, Alex, who with great reluctance, voted for  Barack Obama  early in the election season, understands for possibly millions of American citizens, the idea of a Black man as President of the United States is perilous.  

    He need only consider his own inner turmoil.  Alex understands what apparently escapes Mister Simon; people care what a color a person is.  The possibility that our President may be a Black is reason for concern.  Bethany grasps what her cousin continually contemplates.  She sees and hears that Alexander relates to the fear others express outwardly.  He is just a bit more refined when he articulates his distress.  A Black man, Barack Obama must not become President of the country he loves.  Alexander is not ready for such a radical transformation.  He often muses, “Why change?”  The man who has made much of his life says with a sigh, “What we have here in America is good.”  He does not trust that an African-American will have his interests at heart.

    Alexander battles with what may become a brutal truth, a Black man might lead the nation, indeed, the world!  Animated and with much apprehension and angst, Alex’s wife Mary recounts what she says many assert.  “Barack Obama has an army.”  “I hear it is 2500 strong; maybe it was 25000,” Mary storms.  “You know they are angry people.”  She continues, “You heard what Michele Obama said did you not?” Energized by her own expertise Mary marvels and asks her audience to entertain; “The Obama’s live in a big house.  They have white servants.  Can you imagine that?”  .Implied in her statements, is what Mary says is conventional wisdom.  “Those people are vengeful.”  She reluctantly admits, perhaps, Americans have not treated Senator Obama’s ancestors well.  Nor have our contemporary Caucasian countrymen been kind to people of color.  She then adds, “You know he is Muslim and has ties to terrorist.”

    Bethany wonders and asks aloud, “Where did you read this?”  Mary happily responds, confident her sources are credible, “I read it on the Internet.”  The younger cousin inquires might Mary share her references.  Bethany acquaints Mary with what she “knows” to be true.  However, Mary does not hear her. The want for other information wanes, if it was ever really there.

    Mary, as her husband Alexander, is a registered Democrat.  Neither ever misses a vote.  For decades, Mary proudly worked at her local election polls.  From dawn until long after dusk she monitors what occurs within her precinct.

    Alex does not acknowledge that he agrees with Mary.  Nor does he offer disagreement.  He merely remains absorbed in all that disturbs him personally.

    For months Alex wrestled with the fact that as admirable as the candidate’s education might be, as calm as the demeanor of the aspirant is, even when under fire, Barack Obama is Black.  While Alex may wish to think of himself as colorblind and open-minded, he cannot help but question Barack Obama’s qualifications.  Frequently, in conversation, Alex couches his concern.  “The man does not have the necessary experience.”  However, on occasion, and only when in the company of Bethany, a relative who he fondly thinks of as a very good friend, Alex admits he is biased.

    He has confessed; it is difficult for him to plead guilty to this truth even to himself.  Alex recognizes he is intolerant of those whose skin is dark.  He fears Black persons he encounters on the street.  He suspects, those whose cocoa brown complexion glistens in the light, engage in criminal activity.  Perchance, had Alexander harkened to the words Scott Simon offered days earlier he would have engaged in a conversation in that moment.    He had many thoughts on the topic.  However, when the Journalist spoke Alexander was absorbed elsewhere.  He pondered, who and what is Donna to him.

    Alexander says he does not think of Donna as a servant.  Yet, he recognizes she is an economic slave.  In an abstract way, he is her master.

    Donna is an authentic person, equal to Alex in every way, except for the fact that she is not.  The wondrous white man may never wish to divulge as three (3) in ten (10) Americans did.  He is biased.  In a very recent Washington Post – ABC News poll, people acknowledged a prejudice.  Alexander may be inclined to think the Black women with who he engages, or any person of color, is perhaps less profound than a Caucasian certainly is.  For this carefree chap, who openly chats with many a Black person, the race of an individual creates an impression, although he appreciates this is often unconscious.  

    Alexander assumes, since he frequently converses with people whose epidermis is the color of bittersweet chocolate he knows what it means to be an African-American, Jamaican, Haitian, or just dark in skin tone.  While he may honor an individual Black person who he associates with, none of the labels Alex would apply to this group of people as a whole is good.  Much as he tries to be tempered when he associates with people purplish-brown in hue, some would say Alexander is a bigot, a well-camouflaged racist.

    Most may not see the subtleties of Alexander’s prejudice.  Likely, he does not realize how deep his predispositions are.  Alexander does not think of himself as intolerant.  Perchance, he would be among the fifty-three percent in the Washington Post – ABC News survey who presume race relations in America are superior.  

    In truth, Alex is a bit more realistic.  He realizes there are problems.  He has said himself, prejudice is prevalent.  However, he might quickly add, skin color does not cloud his vision.  Alex believes he is merely selective in his associations. Perchance, he adopted his parents’ opinions, or habits.  Alex is not naïve enough to think nature keeps the races separate and unequal.  He only knows what is and always was, at least as long as he recalls.

    The self-proclaimed aware and astute fellow believes there are a few special persons, no matter the skin color.  He just happens to associate more with those fair of face.  That does not mean he excludes African-Americans from his life.  

    The ones that once worked for him when he owned his own business were wonderful men . . . as far as he could tell.  They were polite.  The delivery drivers did their work.  These burly men, brown as the bark on a weathered oak tree, never complained.  There was Natalie, and Josephine; they nursed his mother to health.  Certainly, Donna is a delight.

    Donna knows her place.  She fills a necessary space in Alexander and Anna’s life.  The purplish hue cast by the beautiful brown complexion of this woman ensures that she will never be seen or treated as a peer, at least not by the cousins who employ her.  When the white man and woman gaze upon Donna, they forever see her as a Black person.  Thankfully, they say, she is not an African-American.  Those people cannot be trusted.

    “Just ask her,” Alex says to his very close “friend” Bethany.  “Donna will tell you.”  “American Blacks are lazy,” he continues.  “They do drugs.”  Donna says, “It is true.  Those Black people born in this country just collect welfare.”  She speaks of her son, Christopher.  “Look at him; he was awarded a full scholarship.”  Beaming with pride, the Health Care Aide reminds everyone in the room, when Christopher was a Senior in High School, he was one of three, nationwide selected to attend a prestigious college.  Her son, she boasts, is motivated.  He is a scholar, not like those “Black boys” native to America.

    Alexander listens and nods.  Donna affirms his opinions are not racist.  He has reason to believe as he does.  “Did you hear what Donna said,” he asks his companion.  “See.  She knows.”  Exasperated and in a desire to prove his point, Alex points to Donna and reminds his confidant, “She is a woman of color!”  

    The conversation began innocently enough.  Alexander wanted to explain why he could not in good conscious cast a ballot for Barack Obama.  The older white man had done his duty in the primaries.  Perhaps, his vote for Senator Obama affirmed he is not a bigot.  Alexander actually did vote for the Senator from Illinois in the Spring of the year.  He hesitantly speaks of how he had to.

    The World War II veteran had no other choice.  No, he did not approve of Barack Obama then.  Nor does he condone crass humor as was exhibited at the Texas Republican Convention just days before Scott Simon made his comment.

    Mr. Alcox said he made 12 of the pins after seeing a comic strip where Barack Obama was standing in front of a sign saying “The White House,” with the building behind him.  Mr. Obama is depicted thinking, “That’s the first thing we’ll change.” . . .

    The offending pin stated: “If Obama is president . . . Will we still call it the White House?” . . .

    “Obviously, it’s been offensive to people. It was not meant to be that way. We’re into humor – not racism,” Mr. Alcox said.

    Regardless of the intent, many were offended.  Bigotry only begets belly laughs from other bigots.  The object of intolerance, if given the opportunity can speak to what eludes the prejudice.  However, in a nation where an esteemed broadcaster expresses a wishful belief as truth, no one “cares” what color Barack Obama, a Black man is, few take the time to probe beyond what they think correct.  Americans are not colorblind as they claim to be.  They are colormute and hence, frequently insensitive.  On the rare occasion when Blacks and Caucasians speak of racism much is resolved, empathy expands.

    (Mr. Alcox) said after having a conversation with a black man who called him about the blog post, he came to understand more about the nerve he had hit.

    Sadly, prior to this incident it seems the vendor did as Alexander does.  While cordial and conversant with people of every color, bias against those of color is not typically, if ever the topic.  He did discuss the elections with Donna.  He even asked her what she thought of Barack Obama.  “You remember Bethany.  Donna thinks Black Americans are worthless.”

    That is why Alexander was able to do as he did in good conscience.  Earlier in the year, Alex went to the polls as a good citizen does and was handed a Democratic ballot.  He is a registered Democrat; however, only in the primaries does he usually vote for someone in his Party.  

    Before, the presumptive Presidential aspirants were assured, Alex was certain he would have, voted for Mitt Romney.  He is white . . . (Did he say that aloud) highly educated; he comes from good stock.  His father and he were successful Governors.  More importantly, each accrued ample wealth.  Alexander is a very affluent man, self-made.  He admires such qualities, that is unless the erudite, esteemed man, or woman is Black, although, Alex is careful never to say that directly, not even when with Bethany.  He is embarrassed by his bigotry.  

    At times, he does softly state what he hopes will remain a secret.  He does not wish for others to know what he is unwilling to acknowledge to himself.  Still, almost inaudibly he has told Bethany.  He has little tolerance for people whose complexions are dark.  Alexander hopes he can trust his truest thoughts and feelings with his cousin and best friend Bethany.  History tells him, with her, he is safe.  The relationship is one of reciprocal reverence.  Bethany shares her heart, soul, and all her stories with Alex.  The two learn of what they never imagined when together.

    They also share a common bond, many in fact.  Most significant in this election season, Alex and Bethany each harbored much disdain for Hillary Clinton.  Neither struggle with the idea of a woman President.  It was only that woman!  Bethany understands why Alex did not vote for the New York Senator.  “Bobby,’ as she likes to be called, could not consider the former First Lady either.

    However, Bobby remains unconvinced that Alexander would chose to cast a ballot for Barack Obama when it counts.  She recalls the day Alexander quietly revealed, “Maybe I am prejudice.”  Bethany had helped Alex to realize what he never considered before.  As a child, she, who is also pinkish in color, was raised with a Black family as much as her own.  She has never felt as though she was Caucasian.  This feminine Anglo American notices what many white persons do not, she is intensely cognizant of color.  Bobby, unlike countless whose skin is light is very aware of what is whispered to her.  What may not mean much to those who think themselves colorblind

    When with a white acquaintance Bobby will feel a tug on her arm.  “Let us cross the street,” the friend says suddenly.  Bobby wonders; why might her colleague seem so distraught.  She looks ahead and the answer is revealed.  A group of Black men appeared up the avenue.

    Bethany hears the hushed tones.  In a casual conversation, when a person of a particular color is identified, clarification is also offered.  “He or she is Black you know.”  This classification is meant to explain why that individual might think, say, do, feel, or be as he or she is.

    A brilliant African-American is not merely a gifted and talented artist, academic, athlete, or author.  He or she is “Negro” first.  Then, the deftness is discussed.  “Actually,” the inference is, “the fact that this individual is a person of color makes them more exceptional.”

    Most of us recall a cavalier comment offered by a prominent, practiced politician little more than a year ago.  Delaware Senator, and former Presidential spirant, said of his friend, Barack Obama, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” Biden said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”  Of, course the remark was followed by an apology. “I really regret that some have taken totally out of context my use of the world “clean.” The sorrowful Senator explained.   “My mother has an expression: clean as a whistle, sharp as a tack.”  Neither the regret, nor revelation, would lessen the blow of bigotry.  If a person is Black, he or she may bow and accept what has become too familiar.  An Anglo may never notice such remarks.  Extremely offensive evaluations make sense when they are all you have ever heard.

    Barbara Trepagnier, Sociology Professor at Texas State University-San Marcos has written much on the subject of Silent Racism.  She speaks of the culture of consciousness that evades many white Americans.  Ms Trepagnier, on the topic of careless commentary reflected on another incident.  She was reminded of Trent Lott and the callous statement he offered at former segregationist Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday celebration.  Then two, the orator offered a defense.  The Sociologist declared . . .

    “I argue when we say things off the cuff, that’s what we really mean,” Trepagnier said. “His comments weren’t taken out of context.”

    Her book contends that “silent racism” fosters routine actions not recognized by an individual as racist, but upholds the status quo.

    Trepagnier says that this form of superiority remains prevalent in American society, and is a major reason African-Americans continue to struggle. Blacks are outperformed by their white counterparts in most social demographics, including factors such as education, employment, and income. She says that whites that deny the existence of racism or dismiss it as unimportant are often protecting white privilege.

    Trepagnier says that some whites become detached from the race issue while others are so concerned with it that they become apprehensive about it, avoiding even the mention of the topic. In both cases, this passive stance silently provides the racist actions of others an endorsement, or worse, encouragement.

    Alexander’s confidant Bethany does not negate what is too obvious to her.  Nor does she mindlessly wish to advance such postures.  Bobby shares her stories and feelings with Alex, if only to further his awareness.  

    When Bethany is accompanied on a dinner date, she feels the stares when her cohort is a man of color.  The conversation with a server differs dependent on her company.  People at the next table are more likely to engage the couple when Bobby is with a white man.  When in a restaurant of quality, Bethany observes if there are many or any Black persons about, they are often the hired help.  Rarely is the clientele shades of purplish brown or Black in hue.  Mostly, people are light; skin tones are parchment in color.

    When in the mall together, strolling down the street, in the bank, or other place of business, Bobby and Alex see numerous African-Americans.  Contrary to Scott Simon’s contention, each of them cares to recognize these persons are Black.  

    Alex intentionally associates with people of color.  He hopes to work through the habitual bigotry that bothers him.  Bethany also engages.  She is aware her personal history shades her sense.  Black people are for her beautiful, inside and out.

    The sensitive gentleman, Alexander, truly feels for those who are not treated as well as he is.  Bobby yearns to build bridges.  For so long she felt alone in her desire to end discrimination.  Frustration with a colormute community consumed her. The two think of what it might mean to those whose skin is ebony in color, black as coal, coffee brown, or cinnamon spice, if Barack Obama becomes President.   What will it mean to Anglos such as Bobby or Alex if Barack Obama becomes the world’s leader.  

    Millions may think the possibility is beautiful.  “I am Black and I am proud.”  A few might be as Bethany,  whose skin may be a sweet pink, but whose soul was joyous soaked in a world of brilliantly rich color.  Millions could be ready to create the change that was once unimaginable.  For billions this possibility is still but a dream, or a nightmare.  Alexander, who has witnessed much history doubts that anyone is indifferent.  

    Much is unspoken.  More is said in a subtle manner.  Reflections on race relations in America are approached and avoided.  People worldwide care and ponder the color of Presidential hopeful Barack Obama.  They just may not chatter freely or have the forum Commentator Scott Simon does.  If we are ever to move beyond bigotry perhaps, we must acknowledge, what is “politically more injurious” is not the insinuation of racism; it is the reality.  Mister Simon, might I suggest, people care about the color of a Presidential candidates skin.

    Post Script . . .

    Dearest Scott Simon . . .

    While many may believe it is disingenuous for Barack Obama to claim the funds raised for his campaign will fight racism in America, it is no more sincere to deny the truth that racial discrimination flourishes.  Might people also consider Senator Obama and others who fear what will be in this campaign season feel they have reason to-reaction to a historical habit they know too well.  I believe, if we are to cure the ills associated with skin color, we must empathically speak to what is pervasive and persistent on this planet.  

    People embrace habits and opinions as though they are facts of nature.  We all do this, whether we are Black, white, brown, red, yellow, olive, or pink.  Republicans, Democrats, and Independents are not exempt.  Greens, I shutter to say, are also two-legged creatures trapped in a prison they think rational and reasonable.  Perchance, it is time for humans to transform.  I wish to support a campaign slogan I believe is strongly needed, “Let change begin with me.”

    References, Reflections, Race Relations . . .

    How Do We Integrate The Poor Into Our Neighborhoods?

    copyright © 2008 Forgiven.  The Disputed Truth

    As someone who lives in a neighborhood going through gentrification I am often at odds with my belief that poor people need to be integrated into mixed income neighborhoods and the fact that many poor people trash the neighborhoods they live in.  We must develop a method of removing poor people from the isolation of ghetto existence, while at the same time protecting the values of the properties we relocate them to.  Unfortunately because of personal decisions, lifestyles, and circumstances many of our poorer citizens have lost either the desire or the ability to respect their environments.  Many will say that this is due to our treatment of poor people and I would not disagree with this, but this does not help in creating situations that will allow them to escape the dangers of ghetto life.

    Developers in some cities are trying to incorporate the same public housing tenants that once lived in the neighborhoods back into them after development through vouchers, subsidies, and grants.  Sometimes when poverty is multi-generational many self defeating habits may be developed, habits which make it difficult to understand the responsibilities of ownership.  I recommend that as part of the voucher and subsidy process we require recipients to attend seminars that detail the responsibilities of the members in an ownership society.  No one is inherently born knowing how to be responsible, we learn these things from our parents and our environments.  The reason many poor people are not more responsible is not because they are inherently lazy or trifling, but because no one has taught them any better.

    The redevelopment of the Arthur Capper and Carrollsburg projects, where Ms. Jackson lived, is the first in the country to promise replacement of all low-income units within the same neighborhood, said Michael Kelly, director of the city Housing Authority.

    “Mr. Kelly is undertaking a great experiment to see if he can turn around distressed neighborhoods and keep the original residents there to benefit,” said Sue Popkin, a housing expert at the Urban Institute.  “It’s a gamble.  We don’t know how to take a terrible neighborhood and make it nice while keeping the same people there.” NY Times

    In Washington DC, they are trying to integrate the former residents back into a neighborhood that has been redeveloped, they are also trying to do similar things in Atlanta.  While this is a risky undertaking it is one that I think must be attempted and allowed to succeed.  So many other cities provide the former residents with vouchers to leave their old neighborhoods.  The problem with this approach is that only certain landlords will accept the vouchers, these are usually slumlords who want to fill up crappy residences.  This only relocates the former residents into scattered pockets of poverty throughout the city, once again surrounding them with other poor residents and bad schools.  It is a difficult situation trying to incorporate former residents into the newer developments.

    I know in my city they have tried to renovate older apartments into more mixed income residences in lower income neighborhoods.  The problem is that placing a mansion next to the projects does not improve the projects or the neighborhood.  It is hard to get higher income people to move into a neighborhood with drug dealers on the corners and violence in the streets.  We have to develop a method of improving the neighborhoods and renovating them while still being able to integrate the former residents.  In DC, they have created committees comprising of residents, city officials, and developers in an effort to create ground rules for integrating the former residents back into the neighborhoods.  I think it is important to allow the residents an opportunity to take part in the decision making, if given the opportunity I believe they do not want the blight, drug dealing, and violence in their neighborhoods either.

    A committee of residents, officials and neighbors decided that any returnees with a serious criminal conviction within three years of the move-in date, and anyone with seriously bad credit, would be excluded.  They will keep their current vouchers or public units, officials promise.  NY Times

    Integrating these former residents will not be easy, but it is something as a society we must continue to do.  If we do not then we are sentencing many of our fellow citizens to a life of hopelessness and strife.  It is a thin line we walk trying to balance the opportunities of incorporating these former residents with the genuine concerns of the new residents for safety, property values, and peace.  I know for me this is a challenge that though I struggle with it, it is one that I must undertake.  We are all better off in my opinion when we are living, working, and learning in a diverse environment.  Not only do we help those who are struggling, but we also help ourselves to be better.

    Many of us believe that wrongs aren’t wrong if it’s done by nice people like ourselves.  – Author Unknown

    Trinity United Church of Christ; Pastor Wright Homilies and Hope



    Audacity To Hope Jeremiah Wright Part 1

    Please review and reflect upon the inspirational text.  Wright’s Sermon – “The Audacity To Hope”

    copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

    The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning.

    ~ Barack Obama [Senator and Potential President] March 18, 2008

    When we are separate, our experience is never equal.  African-Americans mingle among the many Anglos in this country.  However, individuals with dark-complexions do not fully unite or fit into a society that segregates by color.  While Americans have forcibly progressed beyond the laws that allowed for racial discrimination, the bias and bigotry that filled the hearts of many citizens in the United States for centuries still thrives.  While we muse, we love thy neighbor, we react to those whose race is not our own.

    Americans claim they are Christian, inclusive.  Indeed, we are a Judeo-Christian nation.  Yet, Jews are still scorned in America, as are people of any color that is other than a pinkish white.  Amongst Caucasians, the habit of hate has been passed on for generations.  Yet, when those whose skin is pale, hear the words of a Black man, a Reverend, Jeremiah Wright, who has been wounded by racism for all the years of his life, speak of his distress, they react as though they had never uttered a racial epithet in their lives.

    The most respected Americans, white in color proclaim, “I have never heard such vile derisive language in an Anglo church.”  “No preacher, pastor, priest, or rabbi would ever express him or herself in such a loathsome manner.”  Shocked Caucasians inquire as if to invite a shared criticism, “Is this what Black people believe?”  If reasons are presented for such resentment, the response from self-righteous lovers of G-d and man is, “African-Americans are bigoted!”  “How dare they.”  The pink persons declare, “In the House of the Lord only words of love are spoken, at least that is the way it is in white churches, temples, and synagogues.”

    However, this may not be the case.  Hate is harbored on every avenue in America, even in places of worship.  As Barack Obama dared to remind us, on Sundays African-Americans and Anglos who reside in the United States are perhaps more divided than they are on any other day.  The pale persons pray with those whose skin tone is similar to their own.  When we look at only the surface, all whites may appear equal; and they are in the eyes of the Almighty.  Yet, as humans gaze upon each other, they see differences.

    A white man or woman, whose gender preference is unlike those of the self-ordained “absolved of all “sins” congregation may experience discrimination even in death.

    Church learns vet was gay, cancels memorial

    Texas congregation acted out of principle, not malice, pastor says

    Associated Press.  MSNBC

    August 11, 2007

    Arlington, Texas – A megachurch canceled a memorial service for a Navy veteran 24 hours before it was to start because the deceased was gay.

    Officials at the nondenominational High Point Church knew that Cecil Howard Sinclair was gay when they offered to host his service, said his sister, Kathleen Wright.  But after his obituary listed his life partner as one of his survivors, she said, it was called off.

    “It’s a slap in the face.  It’s like, ‘Oh, we’re sorry he died, but he’s gay so we can’t help you,”‘ she said Friday. . .

    Simons said the church believes homosexuality is a sin, and it would have appeared to endorse that lifestyle if the service had been held there.

    “We did decline to host the service – not based on hatred, not based on discrimination, but based on principle,” Simons told The Associated Press.  “Had we known it on the day they first spoke about it – yes, we would have declined then.  It’s not that we didn’t love the family.”

    Love rears its ugly head in many odd ways.  Fondness, in the form of fury and foment, is found on film throughout cyberspace.  As the “average” American bears witness, people, pale in color, have become a community of contempt.  Condescension is what appears in the Judeo-Christian churches throughout the land of the free.  Americans, be they  Jewish, Mormon, Protestant or Christian are calm when they contemplate the G-d and the all that he creates.  People are polite in public; however, when they are in the comfort of their homes they express what they claim is never stated.  The proper and pink teach their progeny to believe as they do.

    The Year In Hate, 2005

    A 5% annual increase in hate groups in 2005 caps a remarkable rise of 33% over the five-year period that began in 2000.

    By Mark Potok

    Intelligence Report

    Southern Poverty Law

    Spring 2006

    Fueled by belligerent tactics and publicity stunts, the number of hate groups operating in the United States rose from 762 in 2004 to 803 last year, capping an increase of fully 33% over the five years since 2000.

    The expansion of hate groups last year, documented by the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, seemed to be helped along by aggressive maneuvers that landed them on front pages and in national news broadcasts.  The National Socialist Movement, for instance, repeatedly made national news with provocative attempts to march through black, inner-city neighborhoods.  Other groups rallied with increasing fervor and frequency, and even undertook sure-to-infuriate campaigns like “Operation Schoolyard,” an attempt in the 2004-2005 school year to distribute 100,000 free racist music CDs to schoolchildren . . .  A growing Internet presence also helped groups’ propaganda to flourish; there were 524 hate sites counted in 2005, up 12% from 468 in 2004.

    Yes, whites individuals and groups do indoctrinate their young.  The practice amid the pink population is as odious as they believe it is among African-Americans.  Whites are as blackened by bigotry as their brethren may be.  

    Sadly, too frequently when we look upon another we see only what appears on the surface.  Just as the oppressed of one color or creed voices words that may be defined as dishonorable, so too do those in the supposed superior sect.  Each of us errors.  We are all emotional beings, complex and never viewed completely.  New York Times Columnist, Nicholas D. Kristof, addressed this truth in his recent editorial, Obama and Race.  The articulate author writes of what goes on within the walls of Trintiy United Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois.

    Many well-meaning Americans perceive Mr. Wright as fundamentally a hate-monger who preaches antagonism toward whites.  But those who know his church say that is an unrecognizable caricature: He is a complex figure and sometimes a reckless speaker, but one of his central messages is not anti-white hostility but black self-reliance.

    “The big thing for Wright is hope,” said Martin Marty, one of America’s foremost theologians, who has known the Rev. Wright for 35 years and attended many of his services. “You hear ‘hope, hope, hope.’ Lots of ordinary people are there, and they’re there not to blast the whites. They’re there to get hope.”

    Professor Marty said that as a white person, he sticks out in the largely black congregation but is always greeted with warmth and hospitality. “It’s not anti-white,” he said. “I don’t know anybody who’s white who walks out of there not feeling affirmed.”

    Mr. Wright has indeed made some outrageous statements. But he should be judged as well by his actions – including a vigorous effort to address poverty, ill health, injustice and AIDS in his ministry. Mr. Wright has been frightfully wrong on many topics, but he was right on poverty, civil rights and compassion for AIDS victims.

    What should draw much more scrutiny in this campaign than any pastor’s sermons is the candidates’ positions on education, health care and poverty – and their ability to put those policies in place. Cutting off health care benefits for low-income children strikes me as much more offensive than any inflammatory sermon.

    Indeed, what is an affront to a person affected by a policy or practice is barely observable to one who will never realize how a political promise or lack thereof can destroy the life of those they love.  When in an impoverished community people depend on the kindness of a culture such as the society Thomas Paine described, one in which the commonweal was more important than the needs of any individual.  The disenfranchised rely on the good will of people who believe in the Lord, practice as Jesus preached, “Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Yet, inside and outside of a religious house, mere mortal man fails to adhere to the principles preached from the pulpit.  We need only remember the plight of a sweet young child, a twelve year old, Deamonte Driver who died of a toothache Sunday, February 25, 2007.

    A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.

    If his mother had been insured.

    If his family had not lost its Medicaid.

    If Medicaid dentists weren’t so hard to find.

    If his mother hadn’t been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.

    By the time Deamonte’s own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George’s County boy died.

    Few in a white American world can imagine such a situation.  Certainly, a Caucasian churchgoer does not subscribe to the belief a child must suffer.  No clergy would caste a little one to the wolves or ask them to endure the burden of a national budget disagreement.  An ordained Minister, Reverend, Pastor, Priest, or Rabbi, a Shaman would not will a poverty-stricken parent, people within an impoverished community, or those not yet empowered, to care for a child without adequate means to assist the young person.  That is unless the religious leader is part of the “Fellowship” or “Family,” who congregates in Washington District of Columbia or other Capitols throughout the globe.

    The Fellowship believes that the elite win power by the will of God, who uses them for his purposes. Its mission is to help the powerful understand their role in God’s plan.

    This group of world leaders, the affluent and comfortable from Congress to the Cabinet, from the White House to the wondrous world of power elite, accepts as part of their mission, that those whose pigmentation is darker, or persons deemed to be of lesser value may be left to die when they no longer serve the “masters.”  This theological order differs from some of the other organized religion.

    The Family avoids the word Christian but worships Jesus, though not the Jesus who promised the earth to the “meek.” They believe that, in mass societies, it’s only the elites who matter, the political leaders who can build God’s “dominion” on earth.  Insofar as the Family has a consistent philosophy, it’s all about power — cultivating it, building it and networking it together into ever-stronger units, or “cells.”  “We work with power where we can,” Doug Coe [Fellowship leader] has said, and “build new power where we can’t.”

     

    African-Americans rarely and barely have authority equal to those of Anglos in this nation.  “Affirmative Action,” a policy established to appease those embarrassed by the actions of their ancestors, is granted and taken away.  Caucasians complain of “reverse racism,” for few can comprehend.

    [B]lacks have not simply been treated unfairly; they have been subjected first to decades of slavery, and then to decades of second-class citizenship, widespread legalized discrimination, economic persecution, educational deprivation, and cultural stigmatization. They have been bought, sold, killed, beaten, raped, excluded, exploited, shamed, and scorned for a very long time.  The word “unfair” is hardly an adequate description of their experience, and the belated gift of “fairness” in the form of a resolution no longer to discriminate against them legally is hardly an adequate remedy for the deep disadvantages that the prior discrimination has produced. When the deck is stacked against you in more ways than you can even count, it is small consolation to hear that you are now free to enter the game and take your chances.

    Chances are opportunities will be scant and tentative at that.  Former Congresswoman and Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro reminds us of this.  For the Clinton cohort, and a former member of the Clinton Finance Committee, Barack Obama, and perhaps all Black Americans are “lucky” to be where they are today.  For Ferraro, another Anglo American who evidently cannot connect to the experience of being poor or purplish-brown in hue, being Black in this country is apparently an advantage.  Perchance, it is a privilege to suffer at the hands of those in power, the people who do not wish to speak of their work or worship.  We cannot know.  For unlike the scenes seen in volumes of video in the worldwide web or in news network libraries, there are no recordings of what occurs in “Fellowship” [Family] meetings.  The “cells” remain cloistered, just as the rich do.

    [T]he prayer groups have become cherished sanctuaries for their members-providing respite, however brief, from the cacophony of political Washington. Speaking about a group is strongly discouraged, and what transpires at meetings is strictly off the record.

    No one will know if these elite powerbrokers express their racial hatred aloud.  One can only determine what is true through the policies these persons enact.  They may say they prayer for equality; however, the laws introduced and passed frequently, further disenfranchise the poor and people of color.

    There is much evidence, anecdotal as the Ferraro affair may be, and research analysis, to suggest Caucasians in this country find it difficult to relate to the circumstances of those whose skin is a darker color.  The predicament of people whose skin gleams a brownish-purplish hue is incomprehensible to those who do not suffer from the effects of racism.

    A Jew can pass amongst gentiles.  An Asian can climb, albeit inch-by-inch.  Hispanics are hindered in their assent; yet, not in the way a Black man or woman is. An African-American is never fully free from the stereotypes.  On screen dramas, depict African-Americans as villains.  The nightly news amplifies this message.  The public presumes if a crime is committed, certainly the lawbreaker will be Black.  

    Our language leads us to believe black is bad.  White is good.  From childhood on Americans are indoctrinated.  Slavery may have ended with the Emancipation Proclamation; however, African-Americans remained incarcerated in caricatures.

    From the introduction of animated film in the early 1900s to the 1950s, ethnic humor was a staple of American-made cartoons. Yet, as Christopher Lehman shows in this revealing study, the depiction of African Americans in particular became so inextricably linked to the cartoon medium as to influence its evolution through those five decades. He argues that what is in many ways most distinctive about American animation reflects white animators’ visual interpretations of African American cultural expression.

    The first American animators drew on popular black representations, many of which were caricatures rooted in the culture of southern slavery. During the 1920s, the advent of the sound-synchronized cartoon inspired animators to blend antebellum-era black stereotypes with the modern black cultural expressions of jazz musicians and Hollywood actors. When the film industry set out to desexualize movies through the imposition of the Hays Code in the early 1930s, it regulated the portrayal of African Americans largely by segregating black characters from others, especially white females. At the same time, animators found new ways to exploit the popularity of African American culture by creating animal characters like Bugs Bunny who exhibited characteristics associated with African Americans without being identifiably black.

    By the 1950s, protests from civil rights activists and the growing popularity of white cartoon characters led animators away from much of the black representation on which they had built the medium.  Even so, animated films today continue to portray African American characters and culture, and not necessarily in a favorable light.

    Perhaps, the portrayals burned into our brains, when we were toddlers, those heard in church, in homes, in movie theatres, and on televisions, helps to explain why Anglo Americans cannot imagine what it like to be Black in America.  Few Caucasians have experienced the pain of prejudice.  Pinkish people cannot comprehend what it feels like to consistently be a victim of avoidance.  An Anglo does not think that their mere appearance might threaten another.  White people walk down the street without a care.  No one crosses the boulevard in order to steer clear of them as happens frequently to a Black man or woman approaching from the other direction.

    Anglos do not know what it feels like to be shunned, snubbed, or scorned because your skin is dark.  Caucasians cannot pretend to know how what some say is a tease is truly a threat.  When Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman smiled and suggested today’s young players should “lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley,” African-Americans did not laugh. A noose in the neighborhood can cause ones’ blood to curdle.  A word as vile as n*gg*r, does not cut to the core of a white man or woman who has never lost a loved-one to brutal aggressions based only on race.  There is much the white world does not realize or rationalize as they sit in their ivory churches.

    To whites, for example, it has been shocking to hear Mr. Wright suggest that the AIDS virus was released as a deliberate government plot to kill black people.

    That may be an absurd view in white circles, but a 1990 survey found that 30 percent of African-Americans believed this was at least plausible.

    “That’s a real standard belief,” noted Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a political scientist at Princeton (and former member of Trinity church, when she lived in Chicago). “One of the things fascinating to me watching these responses to Jeremiah Wright is that white Americans find his beliefs so fringe or so extreme. When if you’ve spent time in black communities, they are not shared by everyone, but they are pretty common beliefs.”

    This thought is not merely a personal opinion, research documents the truth of this assessment.  White Americans don’t truly comprehend racial disparities in our country.  Philip Mazzocco, co-author of the a study titled, Whites Underestimate the Costs of Being Black, and Assistant Professor of psychology at Ohio State University’s Mansfield campus states, “The costs of being black in our society are very well documented.”  “Blacks have significantly lower income and wealth, higher levels of poverty, and even shorter life spans, among many other disparities, compared to whites.”  Researcher Mazzocco avows, “white households average about $150,000 more wealth than the typical black family.” Overall, the total assets for an Anglo family are about five times greater than that of an African-American family.  The disparity seems a constant in American history.  The chasm has persisted for years.  Mazzocco said. . . .

    “When white Americans find it within themselves to say ‘I must be compensated for a past injustice done to me’ but the same logic evaporates when the injustice concerns black Americans, they are staring straight at bias,” Banaji [co-author Mahzarin Banaji, the Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University] said.

    What is good for thou, is not tolerable for thee.  Hypocrisy is a theme we know all too well.  We witness it here in America.  We hear charlatan expressions in our daily lives.  Is this not the concern Caucasians present, when they criticize Reverend Wright?

    Opportunely, those who protest too much forget the numerous groups who hate in the name of G-d, or the “Family” formed amongst the elite.  Nonetheless, pinkish people preach; white worshipers never speak words of woe, or wrath.  The Judeo-Christian clergy, and the congregation, at least when in church, do not speak badly of their brethren.  If only Jesus had known.  The Son of the Holy Father may not have felt a need to warn the hypocrites.

    “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

    ~ Matthew 7:1-5 RSV

    Perhaps, our best teachers, those who see most clearly, understand the complexity that is humankind.  Perchance, a parishioner hears what is truly said.  One with love in his or her heart does not hear the gospel as a reason for grief.  He, or she, the commoners within a congregation may understand the clergyman in a manner consistent with the whole being that stands before them each and every Sunday.  It seems Kennise M Herring, an “average” disciple of Jeremiah Wright lives the lessons of the Lord more fully than those who gather in gentler, kinder  churches.

    I am a member of Trinity United Church of Christ and have been for 17 years.  Interestingly, I’ve never seen Barack in church, which may simply speak to the fact that there are 3 sermons and our family attends a different service than the Obama family.

    I was in attendance in the sermon after 9/11 that has been circulated.  Ironically, I felt soothed following that sermon.  I certainly remembered upon viewing the clips the infamous God Damn America comments, but that is not what stood out for me in that service.  At the start of the service, Reverend Wright spoke poignantly about his fears as he was in New York on that fateful day.  He spoke about the tremendous pain he observed, the evil and horror of the event and of his personal realization that he may never get to tell all of us how much he loved us.  He spoke of realizing that his life with his family was not guaranteed and that he could not take anything for granted.  He made a commitment to tell us at each service that he loved us and I experienced his words-I love you-simply and freely offered as real and soothing.

    Yes-he spoke about policy matters and clearly used strong language but at the time, neither I or my three children or my husband found it the salient part of the talk.  Despite the strong rhetoric, I left church feeling that “there is a balm in Gilead.”  Reverend Wright delivered the eulogy at my aunt’s funeral and it is not hyperbole to say that I was more moved by his words than I have ever been at a funeral.  He was warm, compassionate, empathic, and genuinely sad for as he said repeatedly about my aunt, “this was not ordinary parishioner, this was my friend.”

    Reverend Wright frequently chided those of us too constricted to freely experience the passion often evident in the sanctuary and suggested that we were too educated to show our love for Jesus.  I, being one of the more reserved-ok-constricted ones simply smiled for I longed for the kind of intimate, passionate relationship with God that he seems to have cultivated with God.

    In finishing, I have seen this man on too many occasions do too much that is good and meaningful.  He is imperfect-he will tell you that in a minute but I am certain in my core that he is doing God’s work and he loves God’s children even if he is disgusted by their behavior at times.

    There are two Americas and the one I occupy is often invisible.  How I wish that the peek inside my world had offered a fuller portrait of this man and not the caricature.

    Might the Anglo individuals who dwell in the more visible America, assess their own passion, principles, and preachers.  Might Caucasians consider the hypocrisy that lives within them and their clergy.  Would white Americans be willing to judge one of their own people as harshly as they do Barack Obama or his Pastor, Reverend Wright?  

    Would Anglo Americans condemn one of the most profound and powerful Senators, Presidential aspirant Hillary Rodham Clinton for her affiliation with the “Fellowship?”  Potential President Barack Obama “condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy.”  Yet, Hillary Rodham Clinton, an active participant of the “most elite cell” [their term]  says nothing of the fact that . . .

    The Family takes credit for some of Clinton’s rightward legislative tendencies, including her support for a law guaranteeing “religious freedom” in the workplace, such as for pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions and police officers who refuse to guard abortion clinics.

    The former First Lady, Caucasian Clinton may not have considered how these laws affect those in the Black community.  Certainly, one would imagine that the Senator, a scholar would understand that without birth control, abortions are more likely.  Perhaps, she, as most Anglo Americans is unfamiliar with a life that differs from her own.  

    As an elite, among the “Family” Hillary Clinton may not have experienced the hurt that is an African-American’s life.  Those in Black neighborhoods have limited access to pharmacists and clinics.  The notion that African-Americans might shop around for someone to serve them is absurd.  We need only consider the availability of viable transportation, the cost to travel, and the ultimate truth, the quality of health care services.  Those whose complexion is dark in color remain separate and unequal in an America dominated by the affluent who are lighter in color and pray within a selective Fellowship.

    Perchance, prosperous persons, members of the Family “cells,” people such as Senator Clinton, do not rant and rage as they reflect on racism.  They cannot; they do not relate.  These prominent individuals do not need to discuss their mediation which remains publicly unmentionable.  They to talk of prejudice or the policies they ratify in order to retain power.  Possibly, affluent Anglos and those who merely wish to appear proper do not need to speak of the strife that is their life in church, synagogues, or temples, for their situation does not compare.

    For most Caucasians and for former First Lady Clinton, church conversations are yet to be called into question.  However, we might wonder, what if Senator Clinton’s religious beliefs, her practices, and her pastor are not subjects of scrutiny.  What if all Anglos were subject to such severe scrutiny?  Might the discussion help eliminate the disdain?  Could empathy be the cure for what ails America.  Barack Obama asked us to consider that possibility.  Yet, apparently the request is denied.

    Churchgoers in the white community continue to think they do not speak of cruelties committed against them, few as these may be.  These pious people truly believe they live by the Golden Rule, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Sadly, it seems Anglos do not wish to discuss hypocrisy either.  Perhaps, those with paler complexions should.  From Americans reaction to the topic of racism, it is obvious, parishioners in pinkish neighborhoods still have much to learn of the Lord and the lessons he hoped to impart.



    Audacity To Hope Jeremiah Wright Part 2

    AdctyHp

    Please review and reflect upon the inspirational text. Wright’s Sermon – “The Audacity To Hope”

    Sermons, Sources, A Search for Truth and Hope . . .

    Black History; The Past is Present

    Joseph McNeil (from left), Franklin in McCain, Billy Smith and Clarence Henderson sit in protest at the whites-only lunch counter at Woolworth during the second day of peaceful protest,

    February 2, 1960.Corbis

    copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

    French Novelist, Alphonse Karr offered, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”  ‘Tis too true.  Beginning in the month of February 1976, Americans were given an opportunity to realize how profound the axiom is.  For four short winter weeks, citizens of this country contemplate what was.  We, as a nation honor Black History.  For a moment, countrymen set aside the preeminent prejudices that govern many practices and policies.  As a nation, we ponder how much African-Americans have contributed to this country.  

    Tales are told; triumphs recounted.  Perhaps one of most significant heartfelt stories shared was aired on February 1, 2008.  All Things Considered producers gave the listeners much to contemplate.  Newscaster, Michele Norris introduced an unassuming activist whose personal anecdote brought tears to the eyes of many in the National Public Radio audience.  The Woolworth Sit-In That Launched a Movement, as narrated by one of the Greensboro Four, Franklin McCain reminds us of how often the past is found in the present.

    Franklin in McCain remembered aloud the day he and his fellow classmates entered a Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth Five and Dime Store with intent.  The four students, each from the all-black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College walked into the Drug Store determined to order a meal and dine at the “whites only” lunch counter.

    In 1960, such an act was unthinkable.  Black Americans knew their place, and it was not near pinkish people.  To consider being physically close, or to question the authority of the Anglos in power, was cause for a near certain death sentence.  Nonetheless, after centuries of oppression, the descendants of slaves felt it was time to assert them selves, to peacefully stand strong in support of equal and civil rights.  

    The young men strode into the store, made a few purchases, and then moved toward the stools at the luncheonette.  Each understood that this act was not allowed.  Local laws, regulation imposed by retailers, or societal standards prohibited such an action.

    McCain remembers the anxiety he felt when he went to the store that Monday afternoon, the plan he and his friends had devised to launch their protest and how he felt when he sat down on that stool.

    “Fifteen seconds after … I had the most wonderful feeling.  I had a feeling of liberation, restored manhood.  I had a natural high.  And I truly felt almost invincible.  Mind you, [I was] just sitting on a dumb stool and not having asked for service yet,” McCain says.

    “It’s a feeling that I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to have again.  It’s the kind of thing that people pray for . . .  and wish for all their lives and never experience it.  And I felt as though I wouldn’t have been cheated out of life had that been the end of my life at that second or that moment.”

    The waitress behind the counter refused to serve the four gentle men any food.  The young chaps informed the woman that they had been waited on only moments earlier.  The fellows, Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, Billy Smith, and Clarence Henderson had procured wares in the store before they took seats at the food bar.  The students questioned why could they buy goods, and yet not pay for, and then eat the fodder available for sale in the store restaurant.  Befuddled, the server called her supervisor.

    The retail manager approached the students and told them to leave.  He said the young men could have a meal at the stand-up counter in the basement, but not in the more visible “For Whites Only” luncheon area.  The Executive proclaimed corporate headquarters mandated the policy.  [Later, the four scholars would learn this was not true.]

    After a five-minute dialogue, the manager threw his hands up in dismay and walked back into the kitchen.  Moments passed and a police entered the store.  The law-officer paced back and forth, near the four young men.  He glared and stared at the fellows. None of the college men were combative.  They remained calm.  Then, the policeman pulled out his nightstick.  The law-enforcer slapped the stick in the palm of his hand repeatedly.

    The then academic realized the lawman did not know what to do. McCain recalls the zeal he felt.  The deputy did not sense what he could or could not do.  The bureaucrat was befuddled.  The four college men were not disturbing the peace; indeed, the gents were tranquil and composed.

    A older white woman watched the entire incident.  In a southern town such as Greensboro, North Carolina, circa 1960, one could assume the thoughts of a little old lady were not good.  The female, probably a product of the segregated South stared at the lads throughout the affair.  Franklin McCain imagined she was suspicious and distrustful of the four young men.  His thought was the lady was scornful.  He imagined, were she to speak, she would say, “Shame on you” to the Black “boys” at the counter.

    Eventually, she finished her doughnut and coffee. And she walked behind McNeil and McCain – and put her hands on their shoulders.

    “She said in a very calm voice, ‘Boys, I am so proud of you. I only regret that you didn’t do this 10 years ago.'” McCain recalls.

    “What I learned from that little incident was … don’t you ever, ever stereotype anybody in this life until you at least experience them and have the opportunity to talk to them. I’m even more cognizant of that today – situations like that – and I’m always open to people who speak differently, who look differently, and who come from different places,” he says.

    Two score and eight years later, many people believe they are as Franklin McCain now is, free from stereotypes.  Throughout this territory, citizens of the United States claim to be colorblind.  The accepted conviction is, that in America, life has changed.  White Americans like to think racism is a obsession long past.  Historians turn to accounts such as the tale of the Greensboro four and state, the civil rights movement was a success.

    Journalist Michele Norris expressed as many would, “If you stop somewhere today for a cup of coffee and maybe a tuna sandwich, you probably saw other people at that establishment of a different race. Today, ‘No big deal;’ Back in 1960, in the America south, that scene would have been a very big deal.”  In conclusion, the broadcaster stated . . .

    On that first day, Feb. 1, the four men stayed at the lunch counter until closing. The next day, they came back with 15 other students. By the third day, 300 joined in; later, 1,000.

    The sit-ins spread to lunch counters across the country — and changed history.

    However, life for an African-American in 2008 is still riddled with racism.  The difference is the design is more subtle.  We remember Rosa Parks, the woman who stood up for freedom.  This African-American woman was tired of giving up her seat and her rights to racist whites who believed they were better than she.  When asked to stand or move to the back of a bus, Rosa Parks refused.  In a trolley filled with whites, many witnessed what would not occur today.

    Blacks need not forfeit their place on the bus bench to an Anglo.  Perchance, in part, because few whites use public transportation. Anglo Americans own automobiles.  

    African-American and Latino households are much less likely than white families to own a car, leaving us with those indelible images of people of color crying out from the rooftops [in 2005, during Hurricane Katrina.]

    A great deal of attention in the last two decades has been focused on the “digital divide,” the concern that unequal access to new forms of technology such as the Internet are leaving people behind based on their class and race. But Hurricane Katrina exposed the “internal combustion engine” divide, the alarming disparity in car ownership that literally was the difference between life and death for many Gulf Coast residents.

    A recent report on racial disparities in car ownership reveals that one in four Black households (24 percent) and one in six Latino households (17 percent) does not own a car.  This is compared to one in fourteen white households (7 percent) who are car-less. In the eleven coastal counties with the highest incidence and future risk of hurricanes, people without cars are disproportionately people of color.  These include counties in Houston, Providence, New Orleans, Tampa, New York City, and Miami.  In Orleans Parish New Orleans, for example, over 35 percent of African-Americans, 26 percent of Native Americans, and 27 percent of Latinos don’t own a car, compared to 15 percent of whites.

    Persons with pale complexions are not restricted in their travel; nor are they denied entry to a place of business.  Black individuals are.  Light skinned persons are not relegated to the wrong side of the railroad tracks.  White persons do not worry when they wish to move into a neighborhood.  Sundown Towns do exclude Anglos.  A Caucasian can take residence wherever he or she chooses, with few exceptions.  Only poor credit might lessen the opportunities afforded to a white man or woman.  Early in the Twentieth Century, segregation was blatant.

    Whites simply passed ordinances forbidding black people from buying or renting homes and, in some cases, even appearing on the street after sundown. To advertise their actions, the towns sometimes posted sundown signs on the highway or in the railroad station.

    “There was a contagion of ordinances,” says Loewen. “Many small towns expelled the black population or decreed a policy of not allowing any blacks.” . . .

    In 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, banning discrimination in housing, and the Supreme Court ruled in Jones v. Mayer that housing discrimination was unconstitutional. Since then, Loewen says, “sundown towns have been in retreat.”

    But, he’s quick to add, “there are still hundreds of towns where blacks would risk their mental well-being as well as their physical well-being by living in them.”

    Certainly, Caucasian Americans would like to believe this is not true. Countless offer evidence.  People point to the  Civil Rights Act 1964. White Americans, embarrassed by their history tried to make amends.  An aspect of compensation and atonement was the popular practice of colorblindness.  People who profess not see the color of a persons’ flesh act as though they have great insight.  The bigoted belch, ‘We do not discriminate.’  Then, the tolerant insulate themselves.  

    Prejudiced persons isolate those whose skin is a shade thought less desirable.  Ghettos are hidden from view.  Highway walls seal “us” off from the slums. Americans acknowledge the city streets are not safe.  Thankfully, the suburbs are.  At times, one of “them” slips through the cracks.  Barriers are broken.  These fissures are filled with letters and threats of lynching.

    Bridget Ward, whose recent move to a White neighborhood in Philadelphia was greeted with insults painted on her front door, told reporters outside her home in Bridesburg, “I am going to move. Y’all got your neighborhood. You can have it.”

    The 32-year-old single mother said she will abandon her rented row house in the working-class neighborhood in northeast Philadelphia as soon as she can.

    “The letter is a very serious thing,” said Kevin Vaughan, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. “Bridget has two small kids–very, very good kids–and their safety weighed heavily on her mind.”

    The letter said Ms. Ward’s daughters, Jasmine, 3, and Jamilla, 9, would die if the family stayed in the home, according to police. Agent Bob Norton said the FBI had entered the case.

    The author of the death threat also boasted of having used a homemade bomb to drive a Black woman out of another White neighborhood.

    Neither police nor Vaughan would quote directly from the letter except to say it referred to a group called “the posse.”

    This mob of maligners is not unique.  In truth, racism has simply gone underground.  African-Americans are not run out on the rail, as they once were.  Anglo Americans have become more refined.  In 1982, in America the practice of intentional exclusion was ruled legal. Private clubs restrict persons of color and do not limit membership for those whose skin is light.

    More recently, in November 2006,  a Whites Only Scholarship, was offered to students.  The Endowment created outrage; nonetheless, the policy and practice are still thought reasonable enough to initiate.

    Lest we forget the most recent Supreme slight.  Jurists in the highest Court of the land ruled that schools in the “United” States can re-segregate.  In Parents Involved In Community Schools v. Seattle School District Number 1 Et. Al. . . .

    Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the plurality opinion that “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

    In essence, the Judiciary Branch of our government concluded, racial balance cannot be achieved by artificial means.  If citizens intentionally integrate then color will remain an issue.  Hence, by law it is decreed, the people in this nation must be colorblind and colormute.  Citizens can only hope that naturally mankind will decide to mix and mingle voluntarily, although rarely have they or will they as long as racism remains intact.

    For African-Americans equality, while granted by the Constitution, is but a dream.  Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior spoke of the shared hope in a speech delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington District of Columbia.  While a large crowd listened to the eloquent speaker and cheered, millions more were not moved or changed.

    Appearances may have been altered; however essentially, racism is alive and well in white America.  For the most part, a pinkish person is honored unless or until that Caucasian gives someone reason to react to his or her presence. If a white man commits murder or a Anglo woman neglects her children, people may gossip or scorn that individual.  Certainly, as a group, Caucasians will not be defined by the indiscretion of one individual.

    In the United States teachers, bank tellers, taxi cab drivers, retailers, and even the most reasonable among us, may look at a Black person, a dark-skinned individual and assume the person is lazy, less than brilliant, lacking in awareness, lower in social status than any other person might be.  Sadly, in the United States, some supposed scholars present pseudo science as reason to support such ghastly and inaccurate stereotypes.

    Sadly, or happily, few Americans experience as Franklin McCain did in the dawn of the Civil Rights movement.  Perhaps, if we each worked against the status quo, sat, or stood for equality, a little old lady, a sage of sorts, would approach us.  With her hands resting gently on our shoulders, this wise woman would say, in the most unexpected manner, “I am so proud of you. I only regret that you didn’t do this 10 years ago.'”

    Americans, we can wait no longer.  Rather than recount the history of Blacks in America, let us all make history.  May we finally begin to act on principles, embrace our brethren each and every day.  Holidays do not heal a heart.  Hurts do not fade with pomp and circumstance.  Change does not come when we deem ourselves different.  If we, as a country are to truly revere our brothers and sisters, be they black, brown, yellow, or pink, we must not rely on words.  Deeds tell the tale that Franklin McCain recalls.

    Resources for Racism . . .

    Race Relations in America; Colormute, Not Colorblind

    copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

    It’s never been my interest to run a race-based campaign.

    My message has always been that I want everyone included in a broad coalition to bring about change.

    I want to spend more time talking about solving the problems that people are feeling right now.


    ~ Barack Obama [United States Senator and Presidential Aspirant.  January 27, 2008]

    In any Presidential election year, we hear of the race.  Yet, discussions of “race” are void, or are since a truce was tendered.  Americas would like to think of themselves as colorblind.  We are not.  Citizens of this country embrace “colormuteness, a term coined by Mica Pollock, Associate Professor of Education at Harvard University.  What Professor Pollock observes in classrooms and in the hallways of schools throughout the nation occurs each day on the campaign trail.  Children who wish to achieve excellence in the classroom are restricted by conventions they learned at an early age in our nation’s communities.

    When a young Caucasian child encounters a Black being, if they have never seen a person with a dark complexion, he or she may point, tug at the a parent’s trouser, point, and say, “Mom, Why is his skin so brown?”  A lass might inquisitively exclaim, “Daddy, What is wrong with her complexion?  Characteristically, Mother or Father will say, “Shush!  It is not polite to point.”  Then the parent will pass on the message that they learned at their parent’s knee.  That communication will vary dependent on the family.  Nonetheless, what is true, no matter who the guardian might be, the tone will be hushed.  The tot will learn, we do not discuss the differences in skin tone or facial features.

    What we were taught in our youth resonates in adult life.  We see it on the campaign trail.  Certain topics are acceptable and the one is forbidden.  This etiquette is evident in our most recent election.  Criticism is fine, as long as we do not broach the single most sensitive subject, “race,” as it relates to the color of one’s skin.

    Candidates compete as they sprint towards the White House.  They rack up the votes, and rail against their rivals.  As Presidential hopefuls run for the Oval Office, they find themselves embroiled in discordant campaigns.  Whatever they might say, the electorate will react.  A delicate balance must be maintained.

    Attack advertisements will fill the airwaves.  Hurdles will be jumped in an attempt to make an opponent look or sound bad.  The war veteran is no hero, and the soldier who stayed behind did not truly serve.  In cyberspace, the calculations are conventional.  The conversation can be extremely cruel.  Religion will rule if he or she becomes President.  His or her faith is not “right.”  His wife, her husband is [fill in the blank.]  Can a damsel deliver as Commander-In-Chief, or will a drama result in her distress.  However, the question that is addressed tentatively is, “Is America ready for a Black President?”  

    Americans are intimately familiar with the scandals.  Constituents have witnessed what a little gossip can do.  Within each campaign, people observe divisiveness.  The demise of a fellow Democrat is fine.  A rival Republican can ridicule another with reason.  All is fair in love and war.  While an aspirant may be fond of Party loyalty, in a Presidential campaign, faithfulness and friendship are not generously applied to adversaries.  It is important to focus on differences if a candidate wishes to be the nominee for his or her Party, as long as the variation in skin color  is not mentioned.

    Our countrymen think it vital to understand Mitt Romney is a Mormon.  The public believes it is important to contemplate, Mike Huckabee is a Preacher.  It is grand that Hillary Clinton is a woman, but do we need to say aloud, Barack Obama is Black.  

    Sure, the words are said and the response is consistent.  “It should not make a difference.”  Yet, it does.  No one wishes to be labeled a bigot.  As adults, individuals recall what their parents said, “African-Americans are people too,” or one would hope they were thought to be in the United States.  Still, each citizen of this country understands, Black people fight for parity.  Even when conditions and circumstances improve for African-Americans, a few thrive, most struggle to survive.

    Our Constitution claims “all men are created equal.”  However, in the States it seems that has never been the case.  While Americans are proud of the fact that finally they can choose to vote for someone who is not white, they do not wish to speak of “race,” only of the race.  Ah, how well-trained Americans are.

    Supposedly, citizens have progressed beyond our repressive roots.  However, in truth, racism is rampant.  Just as Americans have done in past Presidential election years, and do each day of our existence, we place one “race” above another.

    Being Black in the United States is a topic discussed among those who are, and balked at by persons who rather believe themselves without bias.  Carefully colormuted Caucasians do not wish to admit that that the sight of a dark skinned person can cause them to tightly clutch the pocketbook that hung loosely at their side.  Anglos do not wish to confess that they feel an the urge to clench a fist, or place keys between their fingers, just in case they need to use the pieces of metal as a weapon when in the presence of a person whose complexion is a purplish-brown.  

    Few white individuals will tell of how they tremble when near an African-American stranger.  Fortunately, many need not think of what they might do if a Black individual was near.  In the United States, numerous neighborhoods are segregated, sometimes subtly, often overtly.

    “Is it true that “Anna” stands for “Ain’t No N*gg*rs Allowed?”  I asked at the convenience store in Anna, Illinois, where I had stopped to buy coffee.

    “Yes,” the clerk replied.  “That’s sad, isn’t it,” she added, distancing herself from the policy.  And she went on to assure me, “That all happened a long time ago.”

    “I understand [racial exclusion] is still going on?”  I asked.

    “Yes,” she replied.  “That’s sad.”

    ~ conversation with clerk, Anna, Illinois, October, 2001

    Anna is a town of about 7,000 people, including adjoining Jonesboro.  The twin towns lie about 35 miles north of Cairo, in Southern Illinois.  In 1909, in the aftermath of a horrific nearby “spectacle lynching,” Anna and Jonesboro expelled their African Americans.  Both cities have been all-white ever since.  Nearly a century later, “Anna” is still considered by its residents and by citizens of nearby towns to mean “Ain’t No N*gge*s Allowed,” the acronym the convenience store clerk confirmed in 2001.

    It is common knowledge that African Americans are not allowed to live in Anna, except for residents of the state mental hospital and transients at its two motels.  African Americans who find themselves in Anna and Jonesboro after dark – the majority-black basketball team from Cairo, for example – have been treated badly by residents of the towns and by fans and students of Anna-Jonesboro High School.

    Towns like Anna and Jonesboro are often called “sundown towns,” owing to the signs that many of them formerly sported at their corporate limits – signs that usually said, “N*gge*r, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On You In __.”  Anna-Jonesboro had such signs on Highway 127 as recently as the 1970s.  In some areas, these communities were known as “sunset towns” and, in the Ozarks, “gray towns.”  In the East, although many communities excluded African Americans, the term “sundown town” itself was rarely used.  Residents of all-white suburbs also usually avoided the term, though not the policy. . .

    The overlooking of sundown towns, stands in sharp contrast to the attention bestowed upon that other violent and extralegal race relations practice, lynching.  The literature on lynching is vast, encompassing at least 500 and perhaps thousands of volumes; at this point, we have at least one book for every ten confirmed lynchings.  Still the books keep coming; Amazon.com listed 126 for sale in 2004.

    Yet, lynchings have ceased in America.  Sundown towns, on the other hand, continue to this day.

    Nonetheless, the threat of such an act looms large in the United States.  In the enlightened era of the Twenty-First century, Americans have discussed or dismissed the appearance of nooses throughout our homeland.  More than a year passed before the mainstream media reported on the appearance of three nooses hung on a tree in Jena, Louisiana.  Naturally, the incident was said to be a Southern phenomenon.  However, weeks after a march on the city, in support of Civil Rights, another hangman’s rope was displayed on the office door of a Black faculty member at the Teachers College at Columbia University.  At a prestigious, Northern educational institution of higher learning, Americans were subject to lessons from the past.  In this nation, Blacks, regardless of their economic status, or social stature are not safe; nor are they respected as peers.

    Granted, the goodly among us will state as Lee C. Bollinger, President of Columbia University, declared, “This is an assault on African-Americans and therefore it is an assault on every one of us;” however, unless we speak of the unmentionable, those not victim to an attack, cannot imagine the wounds.  Niceties do not heal the invisible and deep scars.  Wounds are easily opened for they were never attended to.  Colorblind as Caucasians allege to be, they are not cured of the ills of prejudice.

    Only weeks ago, Americans again observed how easily we move from the topic of racial discrimination to decrees of settlement.  No harm done, no words of division will be uttered.  The offender and the offended do not discuss inequity, injustice, insults, and intolerance; the reality of race relations is left behind.  School grounds, the campaign scene, and the world of sports are as the streets of America, battlegrounds for bigotry.  Yet, in each of these venues, participants replace the actual topic with another.  Apologies suffice.  Our parents would be proud.  Americans can admit when they are wrong and move on, or pretend to.

    When Golf Channel commentator Kelly Tilghman joked on-air during the second round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship that ambitious young players should “lynch (Tiger Woods) in a back alley,” she set off yet another incidence of the stagecraft that passes for racial discourse in this country, with a tragic moment followed by the requisite scenes of accusation, remorse and demands for the protagonist’s head, all backed by a chorus of conflicting voices echoing to the rafters.

    There were plenty of soliloquies but distressingly little dialogue and no catharsis.  For her part Tilghman was held accountable through a public scolding by the punditocracy and a two-week suspension by her employer; but for me, there’s another, far more interesting character in this drama – Tiger Woods. . . .

    Whether Woods likes it or not, the episode serves to remind him, and everyone else, that regardless of how he attempts to transcend race with his accomplishments on the golf course, he can never fully escape his status as a person of color.

    Much the way the fried-chicken-and-collard-greens joke Fuzzy Zoeller made at the 1997 Masters pushed Woods into the role of African-American Golfer, Tilghman’s gaffe reinforces his heritage and its burdens, lumping Tiger in with the estimated 5,000 men who were lynched in America between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s. . . .

    For his part Tiger was quick to forgive and forget, saying through his agent, Mark Steinberg, that the incident was a “nonissue” and later releasing a statement that said, “Regardless of the choice of words used, we know unequivocally that there was no ill intent in her comments.”

    Rarely does the individual who delivers a racist epithet mean to offend.  The child who points does not intend to hurt someone’s feelings.  The parent who speaks in hushed tones purposely attempts not to insult.  For those raised in a world where in the privacy of a home, unkind comments in reference to people of color abound, such assertions seem sound.  Empathy escapes those who are not victim to the wrath of whites.  

    Anglos do not understand how a seemingly innocent statement can slice an African-American  to the core.  

    To suggest that a successful Black man might need to be put in his place, or lynched, is to acknowledge a truth that is always apparent to an African-American gentleman or lady.  A dark-brown-complexioned person who is perceived as one who does not know his or her station can expect to be reminded regularly, he or she is not equal to whites.  

    Decidedly, a dark-skin man or woman may do well in school or in the work place.  A gentleman or a lovely lady may excel beyond all belief.  A few elite Afro-Americans might be invited to live among Caucasians in an all white neighborhood, even in a Sundown Town.  A token or two is always welcome.  One with fame, fortune, and finesse may actually be appreciated.  After all, a community must make a good impression.  No locality would wish to be labeled intolerant, just as a parent, or child, does not desire to discriminate aloud.  Consider cities in the Northern region of the United States.  These humble townships have long maintained a noble image, false as it maybe.

    Outside the traditional South-states historically dominated by slavery, where sundown towns are rare-probably a majority of all incorporated places kept out African Americans. . . .

    Ironically, the traditional South has almost no sundown towns.  Mississippi, for instance, has no more than 6, mostly mere hamlets, while Illinois has no fewer than 456.

    Appearances are a lovely illusion.  Indeed, the presence of a Black person in a white world can be wrought with peril.  Driving While Black is a common crime. Even so, in an automobile, there is some protection for the brownish-purple complexioned person passing through a predominantly Anglo section of town.  If a Black man, or women, were to walk alone in an alley, in an affluent area, or in a slum, unaccompanied by an entourage, his or her life could be in danger.  Tiger Woods, [Michel Jordan, Denzel Washington, Venus and Serena Williams,] in casual clothes, without the cameras, or a gold plated golf club to identify him, could easily become a casualty of racial chauvinism.  Anglos, when alone or amongst an allied group of racists, are not colorblind.  Nor are they colormuted.  Whites will see, and say, as they truly believe.  Indeed, if a successful man or woman, whose facial features, and color, are not characteristic of a Caucasian, they may well find themselves in a position to be attacked.  In all likelihood, a Black person will be assaulted.  

    At times, the barbs will be verbal.  On occasion, physical jabs will be offered.  Perchance, a Black person may suffer a slight.  Most who react to ‘race’ are subtle in their approach.  However, it is rare when a white American does not express the bias that has been building for centuries sooner or later.  What simmers and stews within eventually will come to a boil.  The pain that hate gives rise to will spill out.  As a culture, when we pretend to be colorblind, and act on colormutedness, we give no air to what is real.  Racism has caused us to rot from within.

    Intellectually, Anglos know that to diminish the worth of those whose complexion is a brownish-black, to scorn or snub an African-American merely because their appearance is considered less “acceptable,” or to suggest that someone of color might be lynched is outrageous.  Yet, as long as Americans refuse to acknowledged the roots of racism, and recognize their own bigotry, intolerance will flourish.  If conversations are hushed, as they have been in this year alone, what we have witnessed will continue to burgeon.

    Within days of the Tilghman incident, Golf Week Magazine glorified the schism.  The sportscaster and her employer were the cover story or were meant to be.  So much for these intentions, be they ill-willed or wise.

    Golfweek Noose Elicits Strong Reaction

    By Doug Ferguson

    The Associated Press

    Friday, January 18, 2008; 12:18 AM

    The editor of Golfweek magazine said he was overwhelmed by negative reaction to the photo of a noose on the cover of this week’s issue, illustrating a story about the suspension of a Golf Channel anchor for using the word “lynch” in an on-air discussion about how to beat Tiger Woods.

    “We knew that image would grab attention, but I didn’t anticipate the enormity of it,” Dave Seanor, vice president and editor of the weekly magazine, said from the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla. . . .

    “Look at the executive suites at the PGA Tour, or the USGA, or the PGA of America. There are very, very few people of color there,” he said.  “This is a situation in golf where there needs to be more dialogue. And when you get more dialogue, people don’t want to hear it, and they brush it under the rug. This is a source of a lot of pushback.” . . .

    Asked if he regretted the cover, Seanor paused before answering.

    “I wish we could have come up with something that made the same statement but didn’t create as much negative reaction,” he said.  “But as this has unfolded, I’m glad there’s dialogue.  Let’s talk about this, and the lack of diversity in golf.”

    Golfweek Editor Seanor may have thought the conversation vital; however, the mainstream, the average Joe and Joanna, the persons in power, and those who have none, would rather not discuss the disparity that envelops us.  Remember, etiquette is essential.  Colormuteness and colorblindness are cool.  Those who do not heed these calls are not.  Editor, Dave Seanor was replaced one day after a racially insensitive graphic, a noose, ‘graced’ the cover of Golfweek.

    Any lack of compassion, when public, can cause quite a controversy.  When the same deficit is subtle, there are few problems, that is, if the offender’s skin is pinkish in color.  This contrast is sharply evident in this election season, just as it was in Elementary School.  Our Presidential candidates and political Parties, like Mom and Dad, endorse colorblindness and colormuteness.  The electorate embraces a truce that prohibits colorful conversations.  

    When race relations are discussed, the Democrats wish to appear more compassionate than the Conservatives.  While it may be a tad true that the Democrats did better for Black America than the Republicans have, still, every Administration since America became a nation, did not authentically embrace equality.  The statistics, even when improvement is apparent, reveal an awful truth.

    The Conservative Agenda: Serving African Americans?

    By Tim Westrich and Amanda Logan

    Center For American Progress

    January 17, 2008

    How have African Americans fared since conservatives have been in charge of the economy? Not very well.  Their increases across key economic indicators have been slower under Bush as compared to the 1990s.  Here’s a look at the numbers:

    African Americans’ median income declined by an average of 1.6 percent per year under the current administration.

    In 2006, African Americans’ median income was $32,132, which is actually $2,603 lower than their median income of $34,735 (in 2006 dollars) in 2000. This is an annualized average growth rate of -1.6 percent. In contrast, this number increased at an annual average growth rate of 3.2 percent from 1992 to 2000. And African Americans’ median income is still substantially lower than Whites: In 2006, their median income was $32,132, as compared to $52,432 for Whites.

    Under Bush, the percent of African Americans without health insurance has increased from 18.5 percent to 20.5 percent.

    In 2006, 7.9 million African Americans were not covered by health insurance. The rate of African Americans not covered by health insurance increased by an annual average percent point change of 0.30 between 2000 and 2006. This is a much different picture compared to the 1990s. From 1992 to 2000, the number of uninsured African Americans decreased from 20.1 percent to 18.5 percent, an average annual percent point change of -0.20.

    The employment to population ratio for African Americans has declined faster than that of the Whites under the current administration.

    In 2007, the employment to population ratio – the percentage of the civilian population that is employed-for African Americans stood at 58.4 percent compared to 63.6 percent for white Americans. Between 2000 and 2006, the employment to population ratio for African Americans declined by an average of – 0.4 percent each year after increasing by 0.8 percent on average between 1992 and 2000.  The employed share of the African-American population grew faster than the employed share of the White population throughout the 1990s, but has shrunk faster than Whites since then.

    The increase in African-American homeownership has been slower under Bush than the 1990s.

    The homeownership rate for Whites increased three times faster than the homeownership rate for African Americans between 2000 and 2006. During this time, the homeownership rate for African Americans increased by an average annual growth rate of just 0.1, from 47.2 percent to 47.9 percent, whereas Whites’ homeownership rate increased by an average annual growth rate of 0.3 percent. This trend is in part because African Americans have actually seen their rate decline since 2004. Compare this to the 1990s, when African Americans’ homeownership rate increased by an average annual growth rate of 0.8 percent from 1994 to 2000. Whites’ rate was 0.6 percent during this time (homeownership data by race are not available before 1994).

    More African Americans are in poverty under Bush.

    More African Americans were in poverty in 2006 than in 2000, just after we saw a vast improvement the 1990s. In 2006, 24.2 percent of African-American individuals were in poverty. Compare this to 2000, when 22.5 percent were below the poverty line, a percentage point change of 0.28. Poverty among African Americans decreased substantially from 1992 to 2000, going from 33.4 percent to 22.5 percent, or an annual average percent point change of -1.36.

    The number of impoverished persons of color frequently increases.  At times, it decreases.  On occasion, it remains the same.  Yet, no matter who is in the Oval Office, Americans worry less about the fact that the dark skinned among us are more likely to live in poorer neighborhoods.  African-Americans are less likely to have adequate Health Care.  Doctors discriminate.

    Schools are segregated along racial lines.  Citizens of this country understand that a person who lives on the wrong side of the railroad tracks is probably Black.  Sundown Towns may have begun to allow Afro-Americans in; however, these persons better realize, they have their place.  Dark-skin people are encouraged to believe they are powerless to create genuine change, and Anglo Americans like it that way.

    There was hardly a rumble when the former First Lady, and Presidential aspirant explained, “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Clinton continued. “It took a president to get it done.”  This statement seemed reasonable to those who have deterred the dreams within the Black community.  Rival candidate, and Senator Obama softly declared the comment “unfortunate and ill-advised”; nonetheless, he too was willing to remain colorblind and colormute.  A Black person knows better than to incite a riot.  African-Americans, in the childhood are taught as well as whites.

    In this country, citizens of all colors accept the truth and dare not drastically change it.  It is for this reason the electorate is barely disturbed by statements from a former President, his aides, or allies.  Even prominent Black Americans, grateful for small favors, and Presidential appointments, will stand by the side of a spouse and a former Commander-In-Chief when he states bigotry is believable and logical.

    Voting for president along racial and gender lines “is understandable because people are proud when someone who they identify with emerges for the first time,” the former president told a Charleston audience while campaigning for his wife. . . .

    Bill Clinton said civil rights leaders Andrew Young and John Lewis have defended his wife.  “They both said that Hillary was right, and the people who attacked her were wrong, and that she did not play the race card, but they did,” he said. . . .

    Clinton also told about 100 people in Charleston that he was proud of the Democratic Party for having a woman and a black candidate.

    For the former President, colorblindness and colormuteness helped to heal a division that he now justifies.  In America, racism, and chauvinism, are not only acceptable, these characteristics are considered a source of pride, and not a sign of prejudice.  Americans would rather be smug [and self-important] than address the sad fact people are not treated equally.  

    However, the message is mixed.  On one hand, the Clintons are prideful of the support they receive from the African-American population.  On the other, the two Clinton’s conclude Blacks will automatically congregate around their brethren.  When people do not admit to the color they see and will not hear of it, there is ample confusion.

    The puzzlement continues.  As votes are tallied, the temptation is to discount a rival’s win, or blame it on the color barrier, the one that supposedly does, or is it, does not exist.  When a Presidential aspirant or her husband speaks of the race [to the White House], the implicit untouchable topic of “race,” is tenderly tackled.

    In Charleston [South Carolina, during the 2008 primaries] last week, Bill Clinton said, “They are getting votes, to be sure, because of their race or gender, and that’s why people tell me that Hillary doesn’t have a chance of winning here.”

    Again, Americans must decide, does a person’s race make a difference?  Can people of color perform miracles as an Anglo might? In this country, we still argue whether we have seen this occur in the past.

    Hillary Clinton reminds white Americans of the accepted wisdom, even a great and honorable Black leader, such as Reverend, Doctor Martin Luther King Junior could not “get the job done.”  This prominent person of color needed the white man [or woman] in the White House to achieve what had never been accomplished before.  Senator Clinton’s words help cultivate the belief, a Caucasian, has the power to change the nation or make dreams come true.  Americans cannot know with certainty if this is true for even as some select Black persons climb, the old adage is reinforced.

    “Race doesn’t matter!” the crowd at Obama’s victory celebration in Columbia chanted last night, and when he spoke, the senator elaborated on the theme.  He said his victory disproved those who argue that people “think, act and even vote within the categories that supposedly define us” — that blacks will not vote for a white candidate and vice versa.

    “I did not travel around this state and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina.  I saw South Carolina,” he said.  The election, he said, “is not about rich versus poor or young versus old, and it’s not about black versus white. This election is about the past versus the future.”

    Americans wonder what will the future bring.  Can the United States, as a country, change so significantly.  After all, although voters are older and hopefully wiser, each was trained as a toddler.  Perhaps, we must go back to school, to begin at the beginning.  It may be that what we witness among adults could be quelled in the early years.  Conventionally, in Elementary School, and on into Secondary Schools children were separated or tracked.  In a desire to create a more balanced educational environment, the racial divide can be more apparent.

    Beth C. Rubin, an assistant education professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., describes how a school system’s efforts to end tracking-the practice of grouping students in separate classes by academic ability-inadvertently stigmatized minority students in one high school classroom. In that class, a teacher’s careful efforts to balance student work groups by race, gender, and ability enraged an African-American student.

    “You trying to get all the black kids away from each other, before we cause a nuclear holocaust!” the student exclaimed. Meanwhile, the white students in the class, most of whom were high-achieving, relegated the minority students in their groups to roles that gave them little opportunity to hone their academic skills, according to Ms. Rubin’s account.

    “I guess I’m asking teachers to think about race a little differently, and not so much about having to have kids equally distributed among groups,” Ms. Rubin said in an interview.  “And also,” she added, “to think of group work as skill-building over the course of the year.

    Americans are reminded each day, integration without conversation does little to create balance.  People must not merely live together in neighborhoods, or work with one another in schools, or in offices.  We must learn to be open, honest, and willing to work through our differences.  What we do not understand will destroy us.  

    A word, a look, will be interpreted through our personal background and experience.  If you are Black, a criticism might mean, “Get Back!”  If white, the same statement might be construed as, “It will be all right.”  If we remain colormute and colorblind, if we never bother to learn who each of us is, we can be certain, change will not come.  This is evident in numerous studies.  Our expectations rule.

    Balance is also key to the kind of instructional climate teachers should provide in racially diverse classrooms, [communities or campaigns] according to Ronald F. Ferguson, the director of Harvard’s Achievement Gap Initiative . . .

    Geoffrey L. Cohen, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, recommends that, in offering students critical feedback, teachers convey the idea that the criticism reflects a high standard, and that they believe in the student’s ability to reach that standard . . .

    Mr. Cohen has found that such messages can be more motivating for minority students, who are often wary of the feedback they get from teachers, than when educators overpraise them or give the same feedback to all students.

    “Being a member of a stereotyped group puts one in a sort of bubble in which one can’t be certain whether the critical feedback comes from bias against their group or a teacher’s motivation to help one improve,” Mr. Cohen said in an interview.  “In general, though, whites can enter a school situation thinking, ‘Teachers here believe in me.'”

    For many Black Americans, an educator is frequently another white person who works from a premise of fear or futility.  Too often, a teacher seems pompous or pretentious.  It is not uncommon for an African-American to feel patronized when in the presence of an Anglo authority figure.  A comment meant to express care, can be heard as contrived.  

    Every individual, regardless of color, has a history.  Experience teaches us more than a professional mentor might.  It is hard to trust that a person might be colorblind, if that is even possible, if they are colormute.

    As long as Americans choose to avoid the discussion of diversity, to deny differences, and to reject hat our distinctive appearances enhance our experience, then life will be as it is and was.  Change cannot come.  Admittedly, Anglos are [color] blind.  Apparently, Caucasians, and even Blacks prefer to be [color] mute.  This must end if we are to evolve.

    When Americans, teachers, preachers, or Presidential hopefuls, do not empathetically approach the topic of intolerance then, as a society, we will continue to clash and crumble.  We may wish to hide from what haunts us.  However, there is a price to pay for racial discrimination and the income inequity we accept.

    Economically and emotionally, bigotry is  expensive.   Americans can see the cost of dilapidated schools.  Residents in this Northern region of the globe experience what occurs when students do not have the opportunity to soar.  Employment possibilities are limited.  Without a satisfactory job, homeownership is not feasible.  Even apartment life is not cheap.  In a culture that creates illiteracy, the streets may provide the only shelter.  

    A society that houses hordes of those with dark skin in slums does not truly serve us equally.  Citizens of the United Sates might understand, when a person is poor, as too many Black people are, they cannot afford adequate Health Care.  Hence, everyone, the affluent, and those who struggle but survive, contribute to the costs an ill and impoverished America creates.  

    In this country, in our local communities, during this political campaign, if Americans remain colorblind and colormute, nothing will change.  The possibility that conditions will worsen is one we must acknowledge.

    Barack Obama may be correct.  Differences exist.  However, they need not divide us.  Conversations about colorblindness and colormuteness can make his dream, our shared hope, come true.  Let us imagine that one day, this vision will be ours together.  As one people, united, perchance in time Americans will say . . .

    The choice . . . is not between regions, religions, or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white.

    It’s about the past versus the future.

    It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions, distractions, and drama . . . or whether we reach for  . . . common sense, and innovation – a shared sacrifice and shared prosperity . . .

    When I hear that we’ll never overcome the racial divide . . . I think . . . Don’t tell me we can’t change.

    Yes, we can change.

    Yes, we can heal this nation.

    Yes we can seize our future.

    Anglo-Americans must no longer hold their children tightly when in the company of Black man or woman.  Pinkish people cannot continue to caution their progeny, to tell them they must pretend to be colorblind, and authentically become colormute.  If we are to ever heal, Caucasians in this country must mentor their offspring to believe, colors are beautiful.  Americans need to see the tone of a person’s skin, to speak of an individual’s race, and the realities without criticism.  If this country is going to change, if the United States expects to excel, then, we, the people must truly be, and act as equals.

    Resources For Racism . . .

    The Computer Ate My Vote

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    “The dog ate my homework,” said young Jonathan.  In those tender years, he hoped an authority figure would trust the statement to be true.  As an adult, Jonathan grumbled in frustration, “The computer ate my vote.” The concerned citizen wanted to hear no excuses.  Just as he knew the sweet little pup on his lap never digested the paper he did not write, Jon understood; the central processing system did not devour the votes.  Constituent choices were not read or recorded accurately.  

    In January 2008, Jonathon, a New Hampshire resident, cast his ballot for Barack Obama, as did his wife, and their adult children.  When asked by exit pollsters, Jon’s parents proudly proclaimed, “We each voted for Obama.”  Neighbors on either side were loyal to Edwards.  Colleagues were mixed.  Dennis Kucinich was a favorite for Julie, Helene, and Amy.  The three were outspoken in their support. While sentiments were mixed, very few supported the former First Lady, Senator Clinton.  As Jonathon assessed all he heard and read he believed as  the pundits predicted, Obama would Win by 18-20%.  However, that is not what happened.

    Post Primary Election Day the results in New Hampshire are being questioned.  By an overwhelming majority Barack Obama was expected to triumph.  Clinton would not see her presumed coronation.  People such as Jonathon and the pundits asked, “What happened?” Conspiracy theories abound.  Americans are reminded, in the last three elections, a ballot cast through circuitry may not be a reliable tally.

    Critics, cynics, those who rebuff the idea that any authoritarian agenda might have caused, or effected, the capricious vote count offer evidence that the current system is clean.  Experts evaluate, it is not the method, but the map that produced the unexpected.

    Preliminary analysis from Edison/Mitofsky, however, indicates that the difference between the two types of precincts goes back at least two elections. As Joe Lenski, executive vice president of Edison Media Research, wrote in an e-mail, “unless there has been hidden election fraud in New Hampshire for the last three presidential primaries the ‘evidence’ being used by these fraudsters probably does not hold up to any rigorous statistical analysis.”

    Moreover, attributing all the differences between these townships to their choice of vote-counting procedures misses other potentially important differences among voters (e.g., proportions independent, highly-educated).

    Update: The table below has been updated to reflect new numbers from the Secretary of State.











    Vote By Type of Equipment Used
          Optical scanners Paper ballots
    2008 Clinton 40.09 33.74
    2008 Obama 35.84 39.77
    2008 Margin Clinton +4.25 Obama +6.03
    2004 Kerry 39.52 32.40
    2004 Dean 24.74 34.43
    2004 Margin Kerry +14.78 Dean +2.03
    2000 Gore 50.35 45.80
    2000 Bradley 45.03 49.13
    2000 Margin Gore +5.31 Bradley +3.33

    Reports that substantiate the validity of what is do nothing to diminish or dismiss the underlying veracity of what might also be true.  There are plenty of questions and the rate of replies grows exponentially.  An analysis begs speculation.  Might the optical scanners appear in affluent areas.  In these communities, people may be less dependent on landlines, and more tied to a cellular telephones.  Possibly conventional means for vote computation occurs in neighborhoods where people are home and accessible to canvassers.   It might be that those polled did endorse Obama in greater numbers.  However, even if this theory is accurate, it does not explain the vastness of the gap.

    Jonathon muses, “No one polled me.”  His mother and father were not reached.  Edwards supporters in his neighborhood were not contacted.  Julie, an activist, yearned to offer her opinion to a campaign researcher  She waited for a call.  None came.  Granitite State local Helene wanted nothing more than to declare her support for Dennis Kucinich.  This lovely lady in the “Live Free or Die” state had much to declare.  She and her friend Amy welcomed a call from a pollster.  Indeed, when each was presented with a list of candidates and then asked whom they might vote for, Helene and Amy inquired, “Why was Dennis Kucinich not included in the rooster?”  Many ruminate, the survey amongst voters might reflect more than a margin of error.  Andrew Kohut, President, of the Pew Research Center argues the polls were perfect.  The reviewers are “Getting It Wrong.”

    The failure of the New Hampshire pre-election surveys to mirror the outcome of the Democratic race is one of the most significant miscues in modern polling history.  All the published polls, including those that surveyed through Monday, had Senator Barack Obama comfortably ahead with an average margin of more than 8 percent.  These same polls showed no signs that Senator Hillary Clinton might close that gap, let alone win.

    While it will take time for those who conducted the New Hampshire tracking polls to undertake rigorous analyses of their surveys, a number of things are immediately apparent.

    First, the problem was not a general failure of polling methodology . . .

    Second, the inaccuracies don’t seem related to the subtleties of polling methods . . .

    Third, the mistakes were not the result of a last-minute trend going Mrs. Clinton’s way . . .

    Fourth, some have argued that the unusually high turnout may have caused a problem for the pollsters . . .

    To my mind, all these factors deserve further study. But another possible explanation cannot be ignored – the longstanding pattern of pre-election polls overstating support for black candidates among white voters, particularly white voters who are poor.

    For Andrew Kohut, a man who makes a career of research, those who conduct polls, and calculate statistical information gathered, are not to blame for discrepancies.  The data is flawless.  The people who respond to a survey are the problem.  Kohut claims humans lie to hide their bigotry.  The rift is realized in race relations.  

    That conclusion might be also be disputed.  Indeed, we can hear the quarrel now  Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and their respective spouses spew venom, as they discuss the role of Civil Rights Leader, Martin Luther King Junior   America revisits the achievements of a peaceful African-American leader, and we discover perceptions differ.

    Nonetheless, we cannot negate what has been an obvious concern long before this recent election, electronic elections are not fully certifiable.  The process New Hampshire authorities adopted  is arguably better than the techniques many other States use, still the optical scanners are a less than a secure system.

    Perhaps, we must consider that charts and editorial information furnished, while interesting, do not lessen the need for our shared concern.  For those that think there is a well-crafted campaign to conspire, we are likely to hear, “Hackers would not wish to leave an easily observable trail.”  For those who do not necessarily fear a plot to alter or obfuscate the results, there is a consensus humans are fallible.  Programmers are not perfect.  Nor are locks.

    One brand of machine leads in market share by a sizable margin: the AccuVote, made by Diebold Election Systems. Two weeks ago, however, Diebold suffered one of the worst kinds of public embarrassment for a company that began in 1859 by making safes and vaults.

    Edward W. Felten, a professor of computer science at Princeton, and his student collaborators conducted a demonstration with an AccuVote TS and noticed that the key to the machine’s memory card slot appeared to be similar to one that a staff member had at home.

    When he brought the key into the office and tried it, the door protecting the AccuVote’s memory card slot swung open obligingly. Upon examination, the key turned out to be a standard industrial part used in simple locks for office furniture, computer cases, jukeboxes – and hotel minibars.

    Once the memory card slot was accessible, how difficult would it be to introduce malicious software that could manipulate vote tallies? That is one of the questions that Professor Felten and two of his students, Ariel J. Feldman and J. Alex Halderman, have been investigating. In the face of Diebold’s refusal to let scientists test the AccuVote, the Princeton team got its hands on a machine only with the help of a third party.

    Even before the researchers had made the serendipitous discovery about the minibar key, they had released a devastating critique of the AccuVote’s security. For computer scientists, they supplied a technical paper; for the general public, they prepared an accompanying video. Their short answer to the question of the practicality of vote theft with the AccuVote: easily accomplished.

    The researchers demonstrated the machine’s vulnerability to an attack by means of code that can be introduced with a memory card. The program they devised does not tamper with the voting process. The machine records each vote as it should, and makes a backup copy, too.

    Every 15 seconds or so, however, the rogue program checks the internal vote tallies, then adds and subtracts votes, as needed, to reach programmed targets; it also makes identical changes in the backup file. The alterations cannot be detected later because the total number of votes perfectly matches the total number of voters. At the end of the election day, the rogue program erases itself, leaving no trace.

    Computers, cared for, corrupted, and programmed by people, can be as a compulsively confounding as a poll worker.  A central processing unit, by rote, will remove the excess waste as mindlessly as a human might endeavor to do.  In days of old, poll-workers were the problem.  A misplaced bag of ballots or a box filled to the brim with bogus paper ballots was the reason anxious Americans sought a better system.  Mechanical means were thought to eliminate human error or manipulation.

    Some elections officials next adopted lever machines, which record each vote mechanically. But lever machines have problems of their own, not least that they make meaningful recounts impossible because they do not preserve each individual vote. Beginning in the 1960s, they were widely replaced by punch-card systems, in which voters knock holes in ballots, and the ballots can be stored for a recount. Punch cards worked for decades without controversy.

    Until, of course, the electoral fiasco of 2000. During the Florida recount in the Bush-Gore election, it became clear that punch cards had a potentially tragic flaw: “hanging chads.” Thousands of voters failed to punch a hole clean through the ballot, turning the recount into a torturous argument over “voter intent.” On top of that, many voters confused by the infamous “butterfly ballot” seem to have mistakenly picked the wrong candidate. Given Bush’s microscopic margin of victory – he was ahead by only a few hundred votes statewide – the chads produced the brutal, month long legal brawl over how and whether the recounts should be conducted.

    The 2000 election illustrated the cardinal rule of voting systems: if they produce ambiguous results, they are doomed to suspicion. The election is never settled in the mind of the public. To this date, many Gore supporters refuse to accept the legitimacy of George W. Bush’s presidency; and by ultimately deciding the 2000 presidential election, the Supreme Court was pilloried for appearing overly partisan.

    Partisan politics is perhaps the truer issue.  Even those that do not ascribe to conspiracy theories, doubt their opponent.  The “enemy” in an election may be the corporations, the rival candidate, the government, or anyone who might garner support in opposition to a particular voter.  Jonathon marvels at the foes that lurk in the shadows.  People he does not know and perchance, personally, never will, are those he does not trust.

    In New Hampshire, the electorate attempted to approve the best of both worlds.  Paper ballots are used in every precinct.  Granted, all votes are cast on traceable tallies.  However, recounts, such as the one now proposed by Presidential hopeful, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, may not be possible in the way a verification of the vote once was.  

    Consider the plight of Elections Director Jane Platten, in Cuyahoga County Ohio., At 3 in the morning on November 7, at the “end” of a twenty-two hour workday, the too-tired public service official said, “I guess we’ve seen how technology can affect an election.”  The electronic voting machines in Cleveland were once again a source of trouble, and the reason for more time spent on the job.

    All went well for a while.  Voter turnout was light on that fateful day.  About 200,000 voters strode through the polls, tapped their choices onto the county’s 5,729 touch-screen voting machines, and gladly turned in their electronic memory cards ready for the count.  All security procedures were followed.  Then the fun began.  

    Suddenly, at 10 Post Meridian the server froze, as did all operations.  No votes could be counted.  Technicians gathered.  A young, and well-dressed employee from Diebold, the company that manufactures the equipment used in Cuyahoga elections , entered the scene; yet offered no solutions.  No one could figure out what was wrong. Ultimately, the election workers did what people do.  They cut the power.  The hope was the machine would clear its “mind,” rest a bit, return refreshed, and then begin the calculations anew.

    This seemed to work, until the system crashed a again. Once more, the staff rebooted the computer and resumed the count. Gleefully, the computation was completed.

    Worse was yet to come. When the votes were finally tallied the next day, 10 races were so close that they needed to be recounted. But when Platten went to retrieve paper copies of each vote – generated by the Diebold machines as they worked – she discovered that so many printers had jammed that 20 percent of the machines involved in the recounted races lacked paper copies of some of the votes.  They weren’t lost, technically speaking; Platten could hit “print” and a machine would generate a replacement copy.  But she had no way of proving that these replacements were, indeed, what the voters had voted. She could only hope the machines had worked correctly

     

    As demonstrated repeatedly, the readable receipt may have been altered. The tangible total may not be as accurate as presumed.  Evidence of the discrepancies is everywhere.  

    The infamous Diebold [now Premier election solutions] optical scanner voting machine is used to tally fifty-eight [58] percent of the votes, or 175 of New Hampshire’s 301 precincts ballots.  The AccuVote optical scan machines were the only mechanisms independent-minded New Hampshire residents would accept.  Nonetheless, even this apparatus is troublesome.  Persons such as Jonathon, a man anxious for change, and committed to the democratic process of elections, has had many a sleepless night since realizing his vote may not count.

    Jonathon, his wife, children, parents, friends, and neighbors may need to be contacted, to vote again if we are to establish how they voted.  Even then, others would wonder; will the truth be told?

    Jonathon understands as do many concerned citizens, the Diebold trail, regardless of how secure the equipment is advertised to be, can be diverted.  Diebold itself has done much to redirect the flow of information.

    On November 17th, 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user deleted 15 paragraphs from an article on e-voting machine-vendor Diebold, excising an entire section critical of the company’s machines. While anonymous, such changes typically leave behind digital fingerprints offering hints about the contributor, such as the location of the computer used to make the edits.

    In this case, the changes came from an IP address reserved for the corporate offices of Diebold itself. And it is far from an isolated case. A new data-mining service launched Monday traces millions of Wikipedia entries to their corporate sources, and for the first time puts comprehensive data behind longstanding suspicions of manipulation, which until now have surfaced only piecemeal in investigations of specific allegations.

    In spite of attempts to alter any information available on Diebold, the company continues to garner much attention.  Each election cycle generates greater concerns than the one preceding it.  The New Hampshire primaries are no exception.

    This method is highly vulnerable to error and manipulation; although many may quibble the authenticity of this claim.  Nonetheless, after much scrutiny and many experiments, the truth was told.  Jonathon recalls the news report.

    Election Whistle-Blower Stymied by Vendors

    After Official’s Criticism About Security, Three Firms Reject Bid for Voting Machines

    By Peter Whoriskey?

    Washington Post?

    Sunday, March 26, 2006; A07

    Miami — Among those who worry that hackers might sabotage election tallies, Ion Sancho is something of a hero.

    The maverick elections supervisor in Leon County, Fla., last year helped show that electronic voting machines from one of the major manufacturers are vulnerable, according to experts, and would allow election workers to alter vote counts without detection.

    Now, however, Sancho may be paying an unexpected price for his whistle-blowing: None of the state-approved companies here will sell him the voting machines the county needs.

    “I’ve essentially embarrassed the current companies for the way they do business, and now I believe I’m being singled out for punishment by the vendors,” he said.

    There are three vendors approved to sell voting equipment in Florida, and each has indicated it cannot or will not fill Sancho’s order for 160 voting machines for the disabled. Already, he has had to return a $564,000 federal grant to buy the machines because he has been unable to acquire the machines yet.

    “I’m very troubled by this, to be honest — I can’t believe the way he’s being treated,” said David Wagner, a computer scientist at the University of California at Berkeley who sits on a California board that reviews voting machine security. “What kind of message is this sending to elections supervisors?”

    The trouble began last year when Sancho allowed a Finnish computer scientist to test Leon County’s Diebold voting machines, a common type that uses an optical scanner to count votes from ballots that voters have marked. Diebold Election Systems is one of the largest voting machine companies in the United States.

    While some tests showed that the system is resistant to outside attack, others showed that elections workers could alter the vote tallies by manipulating the removable memory cards in the voting machines, and do so without detection.

    A Diebold spokesman scoffed at the results, and compared them to “leaving your car unlocked, with the windows down and keys left in the ignition and then acting surprised when your car is stolen.”

    State officials similarly played down the results.

    But last month, California elections officials arranged for experts to perform a similar analysis of the Diebold machines and also found them vulnerable — noting a wider variety of flaws than Sancho’s experts had. They characterized the vulnerabilities as “serious” but “fixable.”

    “What he [Sancho] discovered was — oops — that the conventional wisdom was all wrong,” said Wagner, a member of the panel that reviewed the Diebold machines. “It was possible to subvert the memory card without detection.”

    Rather than take responsibility for a system gone bad, voting machine manufacturers would rather not sell to any Supervisor that might question the quality of the hardware or software.  It seems obvious to all, regardless of the excuses, or rationalizations, no matter the method or the map, vote counts are always prone to error.  

    Thus, Jonathon wonders is his will stronger than the way of these machines and the persons who program them.  The villainous touch-screen voting machines, were thought too problematic for New Hampshire voters.  Jon, his friends Julie, Helene, and Amy were among the vocal residents who expressed a need for caution.  However, these activists did not have the influence they hoped to have on official decisions.

    In New Hampshire, as in much of the nation, technology was considered manifest destiny.  Throughout the country, the use of electronics to tally ballots was employed at great expense.  The cost in dollars can be overshadowed only by the lose of liberty.  Countrywide, Americans ask . . .

    Can You Count on Voting Machines?  For Jane Platten, Head of  Poll Worker Training and Voter Education Programs in Cuyahoga County, Ohio says, “No!”

    In the lobby of Jane Plattten’s office in Cleveland sits an AccuVote-TSX, made by Diebold. It is the machine that Cuyahoga County votes on, and it works like this: Inside each machine, there is a computer roughly as powerful and flexible as a modern hand-held organizer. It runs Windows CE as its operating system, and Diebold has installed its own specialized voting software to run on top of Windows. When the voters tap the screen to indicate their choices, the computer records each choice on a flash-memory card that fits in a slot on the machine, much as a flash card stores pictures on your digital camera.

    At the end of the election night, these cards are taken to the county’s election headquarters and tallied by the GEMS server. In case a memory card is accidentally lost or destroyed, the computer also stores each vote on a different chip inside the machine; election officials can open the voting machine and remove the chip in an emergency.

    But there is also a third place the vote is recorded. Next to each machine’s LCD screen, there is a printer much like one on a cash register. Each time a voter picks a candidate on screen, the printer types up the selections, in small, eight-point letters. Before the voter pushes “vote,” she’s supposed to peer down at the ribbon of paper – which sits beneath a layer of see-through plastic, to prevent tampering – and verify that the machine has, in fact, correctly recorded her choices. (She can’t take the paper vote with her as proof; the spool of paper remains locked inside the machine until the end of the day.)

    Under Ohio law, the paper copy is the voter’s vote. The digital version is not. That’s because the voter can see the paper vote and verify that it’s correct, which she cannot do with the digital one. The digital records are, in essence, merely handy additional copies that allow the county to rapidly tally potentially a million votes in a single evening, whereas counting the paper ballots would take weeks. Theoretically speaking, the machine offers the best of all possible worlds. By using both paper and digital copies, the AccuVote promised Cuyahoga an election that would be speedy, reliable, and relatively inexpensive.

    Little of this held true. When the machines were first used in Cuyahoga Country during the May 2006 primaries, costs ballooned – and chaos reigned. The poll workers, many senior citizens who had spent decades setting up low-tech punch-card systems, were baffled by the new computerized system and the rather poorly written manuals from Diebold and the county. “It was insane,” one former poll worker told me. “A lot of people over the age of 60, trying to figure out these machines.” Since the votes were ferried to the head office on small, pocketsize memory cards, it was easy for them to be misplaced, and dozens went missing.

    On Election Day, poll workers complained that 143 machines were broken; dozens of other machines had printer jams or mysteriously powered down. More than 200 voter-card encoders – which create the cards that let voters vote – went missing. When the machines weren’t malfunctioning, they produced errors at a stunning rate: one audit of the election discovered that in 72.5 percent of the audited machines, the paper trail did not match the digital tally on the memory cards.

    This was hardly the first such incident involving touch-screen machines. So it came as little surprise that Diebold, a company once known primarily for making safes and A.T.M.’s, subsequently tried to sell off its voting-machine business and, failing to find a buyer, last August changed the name of the division to Premier Election Solutions (an analyst told American Banker that the voting machines were responsible for “5 percent of revenue and 100 percent of bad public relations”).

    Researchers at Princeton University are not surprised.  A comprehensive study, Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine, released in September 2006 revealed the hardware and software in question are not dependable.

    Ed Felten [among the  authors of the report] is a computer scientist at Princeton University, and he has become famous for analyzing – and criticizing – touch-screen machines. In fact, the first serious critics of the machines – beginning 10 years ago – were computer scientists. One might expect computer scientists to be fans of computer-based vote-counting devices, but it turns out that the more you know about computers, the more likely you are to be terrified that they’re running elections.

    This is because computer scientists understand, from hard experience, that complex software can’t function perfectly all the time. It’s the nature of the beast. Myriad things can go wrong. The software might have bugs – errors in the code made by tired or overworked programmers. Or voters could do something the machines don’t expect, like touching the screen in two places at once. “Computers crash and we don’t know why,” Felten told me. “That’s just a routine part of computers.”

    It is true. Each day, many compatriots swear at electronic gadgetry.  Yet, as a nation, we spend millions in hopes that electronic equipment will work on Election Day.  Americans rely on these erratic electronic marvels to calculate our votes.  Citizens of this country count on defective Diebold voting machines to accurately compute what might be considered the most important decision, we, the people make.  Faulty software and hardware determine who will represent our country, and us.  

    More than Jonathon has experienced a moment of frustration with a computer.  Election Boards are familiar with the scenario.

    One famous example is the “sliding finger bug” on the Diebold AccuVote-TSX, the machine used in Cuyahoga. In 2005, the state of California complained that the machines were crashing. In tests, Diebold determined that when voters tapped the final “cast vote” button, the machine would crash every few hundred ballots. They finally intuited the problem: their voting software runs on top of Windows CE, and if a voter accidentally dragged his finger downward while touching “cast vote” on the screen, Windows CE interpreted this as a “drag and drop” command. The programmers hadn’t anticipated that Windows CE would do this, so they hadn’t programmed a way for the machine to cope with it. The machine just crashed.

    Even extremely careful programmers can accidentally create bugs like this. But critics also worry that touch-screen voting machines aren’t designed very carefully at all. In the infrequent situations where computer scientists have gained access to the guts of a voting machine, they’ve found alarming design flaws.

    In 2003, Diebold employees accidentally posted the AccuVote’s source code on the Internet; scientists who analyzed it found that, among other things, a hacker could program a voter card to let him cast as many votes as he liked. Ed Felten’s lab, while analyzing an anonymously donated AccuVote-TS (a different model from the one used in Cuyahoga County) in 2006, discovered that the machine did not “authenticate” software: it will run any code a hacker might surreptitiously install on an easily insertable flash-memory card.

    After California’s secretary of state hired computer scientists to review the state’s machines last spring, they found that on one vote-tallying server, the default password was set to the name of the vendor – something laughably easy for a hacker to guess.

    But the truth is that it’s hard for computer scientists to figure out just how well or poorly the machines are made, because the vendors who make them keep the details of their manufacture tightly held. Like most software firms, they regard their “source code” – the computer programs that run on their machines – as a trade secret. The public is not allowed to see the code, so computer experts who wish to assess it for flaws and reliability can’t get access to it. Felten and voter rights groups argue that this “black box” culture of secrecy is the biggest single problem with voting machines. Because the machines are not transparent, their reliability cannot be trusted.

    For years, there has been much concern and more delay.  In 2007, the Senate decided to hold hearings on the security of voting machine.  Citizens who have long yearned for a viable paper trail inquire, why the wait.  For too long, Americans have known when electronic voting machines record the votes, counts are frequently flawed.  Nevertheless, we continue as we have.  

    Currently, in the United States, approximately eighty-seven [87] percent of the votes are frozen in computer chips.  Elections remain entrusted to miniature wires, soldered into plastic boards, and so too is America’s future. Adults in the United States are told to vote; our participation makes a difference.  So, cast your ballot with confidence, and know that even if your vote is counted, it may not count.

    Sources, Secret Codes, Software, and Scanners . . .

    “What to the American Slave is Your Fourth of July?” Black America Grieves

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    I, as a white person mourn on this day, for every man and woman Black, white, brown, red, or yellow are my brethren.  I feel the pain of all those that have gone before me.  My heart aches most for those whose flesh is darkest.  It seems, try as they might Afro-Americans can never escape the bondage, the bigotry that enslaves them.  The color of their skin shades their every encounter.  I recognize that only days ago, in this duplicitous land founded on the principles of freedom and justice for all, segregation was again endorsed by the highest Court in the country.  The Supreme Court ruled “Schools can’t use race to assign students.” History demonstrates, left to their own devices whites will not desegregate.

    On this Independence Day, I grieve.  I do not celebrate.  I will not shop with abandon.  Nor will I partake in viewing firework displays.  A pleasurable picnic on this date seems disingenuous. The truth of what is in America is a burden I bear.  I ponder the present, and I pronounce; on this Independence Day, all Americans are not free.

    Today, the streets of these United States, are not paved in gold.  Opportunities are not available to all.  Those whose flesh is white are not pure and principled, although they may think themselves to be.

    With one hand, whites extend an invitation to share in the delight of liberty.  With the other, they cast the call aside. 

    African-Americans, those brought to the shores of this independent nation, and their progeny do not profit from a fight for freedom.  Glory was not and is not given to our slave soldiers or their offspring. Our Black brothers and sisters serve this nation; however, few reap the rewards of freedom.

    Granted some scant number of African-Americans have done well.  White persons witness the success of the few Blacks and claim these illustrate the norm.  However, they do not.  Nonetheless, many of our Americans of African decent, are mired in misery.

    White Americans may say this is not so.  They may argue Brown versus Board of Education was a milestone that benefits millions.  Yet, that law, according to Justice Stephen Breyer was reversed on June 28, 2007.  Speaking on the decision Parents Involved In Community Schools versus Seattle School District Number 1 this Supreme Court jurist stated

    In his written opinion, Justice Breyer said the decision was a “radical” step away from settled law and would strip local communities of the tools they need, and have used for many years, to prevent resegregation of their public schools. Predicting that the ruling would substitute for present calm a disruptive round of race-related litigation, he said, This is a decision that the court and the nation will come to regret.

    Caucasian citizens contend Affirmative Action laws righted the centuries of wrongdoing.  Yet, dark-skinned Americans dispute this assertion.  Whites work to rescind these laws.

    I would hope no one would think the Voters Rights Act is evidence that Blacks people have equal rights in America.  Any Bill that must be revisited and renewed regularly, does not provide for the people it professes to serve.  I believe it shameful that in the land of the free, Black citizens were not given the right to vote without restrictions until 1965!  To think that years later this law was threatened.  I have no words for such an injustice.  I can only ruminate.  As we “celebrate” this day of independence we must ask, are all our people free.

    While light skin lovelies think all is well; we now live in a colorblind society, down deep, they know that is not true.

    Ask a person of pale complexion to drive to the area of town known as the Black ghetto, or the slums.  Then you will witness an unspoken acknowledgement, independence, freedom, and justice were not afforded to Black Americans.

    Years ago, I was teaching a summer class at a major University.  The esteemed educational institution is located in so-called liberal Southern California. Only seven students enrolled.  The learning environment was ideal.  Discussions were deep and endless.  During the course of this seminar, we spoke of graffiti, and the related art and history of tagging.  We also chatted about what is considered a historic monument, the Watts Towers.

    In my youth, while living thousands of miles from Los Angeles and its surrounding cities, I saw many a slide and photograph of this structure.  I marveled as I observed the 17 separate sculptural pieces built by hand on a residential lot, owned by immigrant Simon Rodia.  Mister Rodia was, for me, an artist to admire.  Upon moving to the area, I immediately sought out this edifice.

    Frequently, in my first year as a California resident, I drove to Watts.  I toured the Towers.  I rambled around the park and the surrounding neighborhood.  I delighted in the experience.  I mentioned this to the adult students I sat with.  Then one afternoon, the group requested we plan a field trip.  “Let us travel together and explore Rodia’s masterpiece.?  I asked if they were sure they wanted to see this site.  None hesitated.  Each expressed their excitement.  I made the arrangements.

    Realistically, I could not commute with the others.  I was teaching at another University hours before our meeting.  That campus was far from the other.  Therefore, I needed to drive alone.  The women carpooled.

    The day was a joy.  The students were thrilled.  We befriended our guide, took photographs, and roamed the grounds for hours.  We saw more than merely the Towers.  We had fun.

    Upon meeting again in class, I learned what I had not imagined.  These seven young women were fearful prior to our trek.  Driving in the inner city was a novel experience for each of them.  Two women of Mexican heritage and the rest of European ancestry never dared drive on the streets of Watts before.  The Compton area, in their minds was a Black compound.  South Central was not on their maps.

    Apparently, even the parents of a few of these ladies thought this travel was not wise.  One father re-arranged his day so that he could “secretly” supervise his daughter?s descent into what he thought was certain oblivion.

    It was not; nevertheless, in America Blacks are not considered as whites.  They are purposely placed in separate enclaves.  The few that “make it out” do so with dollars not easily acquired.

    In our nation, where people are “created equal” and “all men are free,” Black men between the ages of 16 and 24 are more than twice as likely than young white men to be out of school and out of work (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1997)

  • In 1999, median family income for Black Americans was still only $31,778, compared to $51,244 for Whites.

  • From 1989 to 1998, Black American middle class families logged an average of 4,278 hours of work per year almost 500 more hours per year than White families.
  • In 1999, unemployment for Black Americans was 8%, compared to 3.7% for Whites. 
  • Fewer than half (46%) of Black American households own their own homes, compared to the national average of 72% (Changing America, 1999).
  • Black American men earn 71 cents for every dollar earned by their White counterparts.
  • Unemployment rates for Black American youths are three times higher than the national average.
  • Over six million Black children (62%) live in single-parent households (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999).
  • Black children do not receive an equal education.

    Research demonstrates that access to quality teaching is one of the most significant factors in improving student achievement and closing the achievement gap.  Yet, poor and minority children have significantly less access to quality teaching.
  • Schools with the highest percentages of minority, limited-English proficient and low-income students are more likely to employ beginning teachers than those with the lowest percentage of minority, limited-English proficient and low-income students.
  • A significant body of research also has found that another indicator of teacher quality in middle and high school is whether teachers majored in the field in which they are teaching.

    Here again, gaps are profound. 

    Classes in high-poverty schools are 77 percent more likely to be assigned to an out-of-field teacher than are classes in low-poverty schools.  Classes in majority nonwhite schools are over 40 percent more likely to be assigned to an out of-field teacher than those in mostly White schools.

  • Level of academic attainment is another traditional indicator of teacher quality, and, again, teachers with master’s degrees are less likely to teach in high-minority, low-income schools than they are to teach in high-income, low-minority schools.
  • Blacks in America do not have equal opportunities.  The were not awarded the independence whites were in 1776.  Even centuries later, individuals with dark complexion struggle to survive.  Many live a life of poverty.

  • Nearly 1 out of every 4 Black Americans (24%) lives in poverty (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).

  • 3.5 million Black children (31%) live below the poverty level (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).
  • Nine out of every ten Black Americans who reach age 75 spend at least one of their adult years in poverty (Cornell University, Washington University, 1999). 
  • The poverty rate for Black Americans is three times the rate for White Americans (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000)
  • The Black experience in the United States of America is not one to be celebrated.  For most, if not all, Afro-Americans in this nation can recall stories, personal anecdotes that affirm they are not free.  Independence was not won nor was it awarded to them.  Thousands of Blacks fought for freedom in Revolutionary War. Remember, among the first persons shot in the name of freedom from the oppressive powers of King George, of England was Crispus Attucks.

    A stranger to Boston, he was leading a march against the Townshend Acts when the killing occurred.

    Yet, Attucks and those Americans of African heritage that followed him did not realize the fruits of freedom.  The Civil War, a battle fought to end slavery only served to enslave Black Americans in a more subtle manner. Afro-Americans are arguably not truly free in 2007.  Racial discrimination is rampant in the USA.

    Frederick Douglass in 1852, delivered a speech that might be aptly delivered today.

    “What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?

    “At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.  Oh! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would today pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.  For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder.  We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.  The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced.

    What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?  I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.  To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.  There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.

    Go search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

    America as a nation may have reason to celebrate their independence.  Sadly, all the people that reside here do not.  Blacks, reds, browns, and yellows are not all free.  Afro-Americans, more than any other group suffer at the hands of those that scream the loudest, “Happy Fourth of July.” “Happy Independence Day.”  The question must be asked again and again, For whom?

    Independence Day Fireworks and Findings . . .

  • Supreme Court: Schools can’t use race to assign students, By Bob Egelko.  San Francisco Chronicle. Thursday, June 28. 2007
  • pdf Supreme Court: Schools can’t use race to assign students, By Bob Egelko.  San Francisco Chronicle. Thursday, June 28. 2007
  • Divided Court Limits Use of Race by School Districts, By Robert Barnes.  Washington Post. Friday, June 29, 2007; Page A01
  • pdf Divided Court Limits Use of Race by School Districts, By Robert Barnes.  Washington Post. Friday, June 29, 2007; Page A01
  • Education, Employment, Economics.  National Black United Fund.
  • Educational Resource Disparities For Minority and Low-Income Children.  Children Defense Organization January 2004
  • Frederick Douglas. Debs – Jones -Douglass Institute.
  • “What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?  Freeman Institute.
  • I.S. Supreme Court, Brown versus Board of Education FindLaw.
  • Justices Reject Diversity Plans in Two Districts, By Linda Greenhouse.  The New York Times. June 28, 2007
  • pdf Justices Reject Diversity Plans in Two Districts, By Linda Greenhouse.  The New York Times. June 28, 2007
  • The Myth And Math of Affirmative Action, By Goodwin Liu. Washington Post. Sunday, April 14, 2002; Page B01
  • pdf The Myth And Math of Affirmative Action, By Goodwin Liu.  Washington Post. Sunday, April 14, 2002; Page B01
  • Voters Rights Act of 1965. United States Department of Justice.  Civil Rights Division.
  • Marchers Celebrate Voting Rights Act in Atlanta, By Hamil R. Harris. Washington Post. Saturday, August 6, 2005; 1:51 PM
  • pdf Marchers Celebrate Voting Rights Act in Atlanta, By Hamil R. Harris. Washington Post. Saturday, August 6, 2005; 1:51 PM
  • Watts Towers Los Angeles Parks.
  • Project aims to identify blacks who fought in Revolution. By Mark Pratt.  Associated Press. Boston Globe. July 19, 2006
  • The Boston Massacre. African American History Through the Arts.
  • Understanding Discrimination Against African Americans. By Dr. Tom O’Connor.  North Carolina Wesleyan College. March 12, 2006