An Open Letter to Bill O’Reilly on Slavery: Huff Post

An Open Letter to Bill O’Reilly on Slavery: Huff Post

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – JULY 25: on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Recently, you made comments in an attempt to “fact check” First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. In your comments, you concurred with Mrs. Obama’s statement that the White House was indeed built by slaves, but then you proceeded to state that the slaves were “well fed, and had decent lodging”.

As you purport yourself to be a student of history, it is unfortunate that you did not take the opportunity to educate your viewers on the realities of slavery. You seem, based on your comments, to be implying that slavery really wasn’t that bad, especially if the slave was lucky enough to work at the White House. First off, I am not quite sure where got your facts, because there is no documentation to say that the slaves who performed this task were in fact well fed and housed. There was no “menu” circa 1800 documenting what and how much slaves ate. Additionally, Abigail Adams, who resided in the White House during the latter stages of construction, debunks this assertion in one of her letters, stating “but it is true Republicanism that drive the Slaves half fed, and destitute of cloathing, to labour, whilst the owner waches about Idle, tho his one Slave is all the property he can boast” (emphasis added).

Read the rest here.

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Diversity Discussions: My Interview on Implicit Bias

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I had the honor of appearing on the “Crininal (In)Justice” podcast with University of Pittsburgh Professor David Harris. We had a great time, and really delved into the definition of implicit bias (it’s not your parent’s racism). Give it a listen and share your thoughts!

Listen here.

 

Diversity Discussions…

Diversity Discussions…

I share this post from my friends at News One — diversity should not be feared, it must be embraced! When we have close to 75% of Fortune 500 CEO’s who are white men, in 2015 — there’s a problem. Sam’s Club CEO Roslind Brewer pointed out that she continually walks the walk; she mentors, and she challenged other companies to be diverse. Somehow, there’s a section of society that thought she was racist to do so. Sam’s Club stands behind her, and we should all accept her challenge. 

Dear White People: What’s Your Beef With Corporate Diversity?

[ione_embed src=http://player.theplatform.com/p/BCY3OC/Ha5BggifMuHL/select/media/LhZZk90eSiDD?form=html service=tvone.com width=612 height=467] When Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer discussed corporate diversity during an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow, social media blew up with criticism from White people who believed the Black executive was pushing a racist agenda. We know, however, that a much-needed diversity talk in corporate America will do more good than harm. […]

http://newsone.com/3298062/dear-white-people-whats-your-beef-with-corporate-diversity/

We Don’t Want You Here…

We Don’t Want You Here…

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University of Missouri Football Team with Jonathan Butler
Jonathan Butler addresses a crowd following the announcement that University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe would resign, Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, at the university in Columbia, Mo. Butler has ended his hunger strike as a result of the resignation. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jonathan Butler addresses a crowd following the announcement that University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe would resign, Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, at the university in Columbia, Mo. Butler has ended his hunger strike as a result of the resignation. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

In the past week, students University of Missouri have been engaged in an act of protest, showing solidarity in response injustices that are happening in their school. Graduate student Jonathan Butler has been on a week long hunger strike to protest the horrors that he had been dealing with on the University of Missouri campus, and the failure of the administration to act.  Once the football team learned of Butler’s courageous act, they refused to play football until University President Tim Wolfe stepped down.

The issues that Butler and other students have confronted include a swastika scrawled in human excrement; racial slurs, and physical confrontations resulting in an environment of racial tension directed at the African-American students, which was especially heightened around the re-election of President Obama; and cutting of health care services for graduate students. The school seems to have stood silent and done nothing.  One poignant story that Butler recounted on the Tom Joyner Morning Show in an interview yesterday was a how a young lady was raped on campus, and reported the rape to student services. Student services did nothing, and the resulting trauma led to the young lady taking her life.

The tipping point came when Butler engaged in his hunger strike.  Several African American members of the football team approached him, concerned for his life (as reported in the Kansas City Star).  They engaged in a discussion, then approached their teammates — both White and African American, who agreed to refuse to play until the president stepped down. Coach Gary Pinkel, also White, supported them as well.

What has struck me is not only the strength of these young students, but the backlash they have received on social media. It is clear that some of these folks have not bothered to read what their grievances are. Some of the comments read:

“oh, they should be happy to be in that school. Playing football is a privilege.”

The only reason they are there is because they play football. They should starve and be kicked out of school.”

The comments, of course, devolved into a more racist nature from there.  I leave you to use your imagination and fill in the blanks.

The other interesting comment was made by Tom Joyner on his morning show, and by J Anthony Brown, where they said that if the students had went to a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), they would not have to confront racism.

My question is this: do we bow to “we don’t want you here?”

What would have happened if Rosa Parks stood silent, and accepted that she was not wanted on the front of the bus? What would have happened if Dr. Martin Luther King had heeded the warnings of others to stay in silent when he saw injustices, and not go where he was not wanted? What if others had decided that segregated schools were just good enough, and not fought for equal opportunities?

The Missouri students learned the priceless lesson of unifying behind the cause of justice, and in their determination, brought many races together, while enlightening others. They would not have learned that in practice at an HBCU; only the theory from the history books. In one climactic day, Jonathan Butler brought together the faculty, who walked out of the classroom to support him, the football team, the Jewish student union and the African-American students in solidarity. To go on a hunger strike is not a trivial matter. Try going without food for a day. Was it easy? Now do it for a week for a cause you believe in. Jonathan Butler was ready to die for his beliefs. The young men of the football team stood up against pressure to play on behalf of the university, and showed courage beyond their years. As a result of the protests, the president and the chancellor resigned.

Their voices were heard, and change resulted. This has always been the catalyst for change in this country — from slavery, to voting, to equal rights for all.

“We don’t want you here” has not worked to keep women out of the workplace, African Americans from succeeding, immigrants from pursuing their dreams, gays from marrying and countless others from finding their purpose. Too many sacrificed their lives for any of us to make choices in the spirit of fear of reprisals due to discrimination, racism, or any other ism/phobia.  The choice is ours and the sky is the limit!!

Keep pushing. Keep fighting. Well done young men, you have made those whose shoulders you have stood upon proud.

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Racist and Proud: Is This What it Means to be Free?

Racist and Proud: Is This What it Means to be Free?

White gunman sought in killing of 9 at black church in South Carolina
RIP Senator Clementa Pinckney — you are truly free

I saw disturbing hashtag on Twitter the other morning.

It said #RacistandProud.

While I applaud the efforts of Governor Haley of South Carolina, the representatives and the legislators such as Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn, who are fighting to take down the Confederate flag, the bottom line is you cannot legislate the hearts of men and women. Try as we might, we cannot make hatred illegal.  Acts of hate, yes.  But we need to do more to change the belief systems that lead to the acts of hate.

President Obama made this very point in a recent radio interview which caused quite a stir. People are very focused on his use of the N-word rather than the point he was making. The point is, it’s not about oh, we no longer can say the N-word in public therefore racism is dead. Everyone can drink from the same water fountain. We can use the same bathrooms. We can all enter the same places. Therefore, racism is no longer a problem.

Many people are afraid to even admit racism still exists, let alone even have the dialogue. How are we even to move forward, if people won’t even sit down at the table to have the discussion and hear opposing points of view?

This is why I was so disturbed by the Rachel Dolezal debacle. As you may recall, she was the White woman who was the President of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, and had held herself out as African American in recent years.  Her lies finally unravelled, resulting in her stepping down from her position in disgrace (but with a few prime time interviews). She, as a White woman, could have been a White female advocate on civil rights and social justice causes.  If she had been authentic, she could have helped facilitate this discussion with White America, potentially in a non-confrontational manner. But, this is a missed opportunity — the ship has sailed. Thank God for Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. Jon Stewart uses comedy as a vehicle to take on serious issues of race, making some salient points.  In the days after the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina Jon Stewart issued a blistering monologue that cut right to the heart of the issue of discussing race in America.

All good people watched in horror as nine innocent people lost their lives while worshiping in Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. The bottom line is, the alleged killer, Dylann Roof was not a lone (although he acted alone), mentally ill, marginalized, sad boy who acted in a random manner. If you examine his manifesto his behavior and the flags he wore on his jacket, he is part of a greater movement.

A movement of #RacistandProud.

These are people who want to “take back the country” from what they feel are African Americans “moving above their station”. We as African Americans are no longer slaves, serving our masters the way they deemed we are supposed to be. We are becoming Presidents, Attorney Generals, Senators, Congresswomen, and having real power with the ability to change the world in a positive way. This idea is so revolting, so abhorrent, that the only way to react is to commit acts of murder and terror.

Think this sounds dramatic? Think back into American history, and how when African Americans protested simply for the right to vote and be treated equally, they were beaten and killed.  Think about how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the proponent of non-violence, met his end.

So forgive me, if I shudder, when I hear certain politicians say “it’s time to take back our country”…because I’ve heard that language before.

I had the distinct honor and pleasure of being present for the historic installation of Loretta Lynch as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States in May. Two points of foreshadowing arose: first, in her speech, she stated “we do not look to the twin pools of revenge and retribution; we look to the law”. And secondly, the DEA Black and Gold Band played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes as they saluted General Lynch and blessed her for her term.

How ironic that within weeks of this incredible moment, we as a nation would see ourselves looking to the law to give us relief after a horrendous terrorist act against innocents; and hear President Obama make very poignant points (as well as sing) Amazing Grace at the funeral of slain South Carolina pastor and State Senator Clementa Pinckney.
President Obama reminded us during Senator Pinckney’s eulogy that we are all born with God’s grace — do we choose to use that grace to shine with positivity? Or do we cover that grace with hatred, racism and anger? Do we stand by while racist comments are made in our presence, ignore the cries and plights of others, saying “it’s not my problem”, or “it’s not so bad, they’re being dramatic”?

My heart goes out to Emmanuel AME church. To the victims, you are gone, not forgotten, and your death will not be in vain. As a country, still we rise. We will overcome this, as we have overcome so much adversity in our history. Together. As one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

People pray and listen to the Sunday service outside of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 21, 2015. Large crowds arrived at Sunday's service at the black church in Charleston where nine African Americans were gunned down, as a chilling website apparently created by the suspected white supremacist shooter emerged. The service will be the first since the bloodbath on Wednesday at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southern state of South Carolina, which has fuelled simmering racial tensions in the United States and reignited impassioned calls for stronger gun-control laws. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV        (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
People pray and listen to the Sunday service outside of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 21, 2015 in the first service after the murder of nine victims. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV /Getty Images)
This is the true meaning of freedom and Independence Day.

In case you missed it, see the stirring rendition of Amazing Grace

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