America's Dark Days of Intolerance and the Lessons of Religious Judgment

I was shocked, confused, bewildered as I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all, nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven who made me sputter and gasp–
The thieves, the liars, the sinners, the alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine, looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, ‘What’s the deal? I would love to hear your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here? God must’ve made a mistake.

‘And why’s everyone so quiet, so somber – give me a clue.’
‘Child,’ He said, ‘they’re all in shock. They never thought they’d be seeing you!’

This story was told by Joel Osteen though the source is unknown.

Editor-in-Chief: @ayannanahmias
LinkedIn: Ayanna Nahmias

Wassup Rachel Dolezal?

rachel dolezal, march 2, 2015, photo by cerrahi news

rachel dolezal, march 2, 2015, photo by cerrahi news

Wassup Rachel, Do you like your chicken fried, baked, or smothered in gravy? Does your family eat chitlins, oxtails, pig feet, and fried catfish? Do you put Ham Hocks in your Collard greens? Do you go to church on Sunday mornings? When the church speaks, do you say Amen? Have you ever caught the spirit when you speak from the podium? Do you twerk? Can you twerk? Have you ever been called a nigger or a nigga? Do you call white people crackers, honkies, devils, or trash? Do you speak with twang in your voice? Are you fluent in the Ebonics and Creole languages?

When you look at Black women who destroy their skins with lightening creams, what do you say? When you look at Black women who destroy their hair with relaxers, what do you say? Would you advise a little girl to go natural or wear a weave? Is your hair real or is that a weave?

Have you ever been denied a job because of the way your hair looks or the spelling of your name? Have you ever suffered racism and sexism at the same time? Do you believe American slavery is a hate crime? What do you think about a mentally ill Black veteran murdered by the Wichita police? Do you believe the massacre at the AME church in Charleston was a hate crime? What do you think about the Black Haitian-Dominicans on the brink of losing their citizenship? What does #Blacklivesmatter mean to you?

To all the Rachels in the world,

I do not have a problem with your mission to help a community that continually suffers from American oppression. I do not have a problem with your aim in educating young people on history that is not taught in schools. My problem lies in your inability to understand your own sickness.

I did not ask you those questions to receive responses. I asked because you believe that by wearing your hair in stereotypical Black hairstyles, Or darkening your skin, Or putting a pep in your step, you would achieve what.... Acceptance? Unity? Understanding? Solutions?

Rachel, a definition of a Black woman is not by the color of her skin, The texture of her hair, The hood she grew up in, The thickness of her lips, Or the box that she checks on a job application.

The definition of a Black woman is complicated because there is the social construct’s definition, Then a cultural definition, Then a psychological definition, Then a historical definition.

I have no problem with you identifying yourself as an African (gosh, humanity began there) But, I have a problem with your attempt to identify with my experiences as a Black woman. You can never walk a thousand miles in my shoes.

Why?

Because many Black women have done what you done, Mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, who couldn’t obtain your level of success because they are Black women in a racist society.

Because many Black women have done what you done, ministers, educators, scientists, mentors, activists, doctors, nurses, and they achieved success AND never lied about who they are.

Rachel, I am no longer concerned about your ethnic origins or the integrity of your work. I am more concerned about your mental health. If you cannot see the similarities between you and the white missionaries traveling to countries in Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America with the mindsets that they are fixing the troubled natives and their problems.........

THEN YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

There is an inexplicable war against people of color, women, religious groups, young people, elderly people, the mentally ill, the physically handicapped, and poor people, and you have the nerve to conduct magic by making your ‘whiteness’ disappear? Have you ever listened to the lyrics in Kendrick Lamar’s song: “you ain’t gotta lie to kick it my nigga?” I am watching people that look like me die by the day in the hands of police officers, hate groups, and yes, mentally disturbed people that look like me and you. My peers are upset and ready to take action, but do not through the wisdom of our elders and ancestors. Can you honestly relate to my experience? Are you mourning for Charleston? Or is this all not a race issue?

Instead of speaking to crowds about the experiences of being a Black woman, or being a Black person period, maybe you should have shared your experiences of conquering identity issues. They affect all of us. They affect us to the point where people feel the need to kill others over a natural identity that America transformed into a Sick, Social, Construct.

But I guess you never had my, a Black woman's, best interests at heart.

Many wolves are adorned in sheep's clothing so I dedicated to build my arsenal of mental and spiritual weapons. When my people are attacked by imposters and enemies, #Wewillshootback.

Do not worry. This is not a declaration of a physical, violent war. Only insight into the kind of world we live in. Rachels, if you are really about it, put on REAL armor and be ready to fight for the revolution through protests, writing, speaking, and boycotting. And be ready to mourn for those we lose in the struggle for they serve as reminders that the battle is definitely not over.

Sincerely,

A. Black. Woman. Fighting for my community as I am.

Poet & Literary Critic: @Chrycka_Harper
Facebook: Chrycka Harper

Neo-Nazism, Roma, and the Baby in the Middle

roma anti-segregation demonstration In budapest, hungary, 2013, photo by brell stewart

roma anti-segregation demonstration In budapest, hungary, 2013, photo by brell stewart

MAKO, Hungary - In America, racism is identified primarily as a ‘black’ and ‘white’ issue. It is considered a systemic problem that evolved out of slavery and continues to be promulgated by people on both sides through ideology, lack of education, and plain hatred.

Increasingly, with the explosion of extremist groups divided along religious and ethnic lines that transcend color; xenophobia has become the norm in response to the other and the concept of racism breaks down as understood from an American vantage point.

The rise of Neo-Nazism, White Supremacists, and Aryan Nations movements continues to plague America, but to a less dangerous degree than the far-right political parties gaining prominence and power across Europe. These groups, like the violent Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have harnessed the power of the internet and social media to disseminate their messages of hate and to gain ill-informed followers.

These seemingly respectable political parties and their leaders present an appearance of civility and nationalism, when in fact their rhetoric has fomented a resurgence of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-African immigrants, and anti-Roma. Anti-Roma? Most would ask, “What is that?”

For people and organizations with a focus on fighting against human rights abuses, and who are very familiar with the usual players, both victims and victimizers, the Roma or Travellers as they prefer to be called, or derogatorily referred to as ‘Gypsies,’ are a known persecuted group. From 1939 to 1945 the Nazis instituted a policy to eradicate the Roma.

“While exact figures or percentages cannot be ascertained, historians estimate that the Germans and their allies killed around 25 percent of all European Roma. Of the slightly less than one million Roma believed to have been living in Europe before the war, the Germans and their Axis partners killed up to 220,000 in the Holocaust.” (Source: Holocaust Encyclopedia)

In the seven decades since, the Roma have rebuilt their lives and their culture, albeit one that continues to be at odds with the more traditional lifestyles of modern societies. They have been maligned as ‘evil,’ ‘dirty,’ ‘thieves,’ and ‘murderers’ because of the actions of a few, and perhaps even more than a few. Just as America has been grappling with an alarming rate of young black men being murdered by police simply because of their skin color, and thus bore the burden of the bad acts of other men who happened to be similarly hued; the Roma are being targeted because of the bad acts of their brethren.

But, why is this news worthy? Because people believe in the mystical power of a new year, that it will bring change, good fortune, peace and happiness. So, on December 31st, despite history to the contrary, the world once again rejoiced one minute past midnight as 2015 began. It was also the beginning of Rikardo Racz’s life who was born in Hungary to Roma parents Peter and his wife Sylvia.

As traditional in many communities across the country, and apparently across Europe as well, the first baby born in the New Year is afforded fanfare and publicity for having arrived at such a propitious hour. But, Rikardo’s birth has now been heralded as anything but, since a photo of the proud parents holding their son, elicited a vitriolic response from Elod Novak, deputy leader of the far-right Jobbik party who posted a picture of his ‘pure white’ Hungarian family on Facebook inciting his followers to express such sentiments as "They're breeding like rats, like parasites," and that they were going to dilute the purity of the Hungarian bloodline.

“Elod Novak, the Parliamentary deputy, has refused to apologise for his comments and even suggested that Peter should apologise to him. Far-right media are still full of allegations of an "explosion" of Roma births. They maintain its Hungary's biggest problem. They don't seem to realise that Roma are Hungarians too.” (Source: BBC)

Prior to Rikardo’s birth, BBC reported that the Racz family lived a quiet life in their community working and sending their two daughters to kindergarten, and despite the fact that they were the only Roma living in the small village, they never experienced any hostility or racism. Now they must confront a new reality, one in which Peter laments, "All that differentiates us is the colour of our skin. We have the same hearts and blood and souls." (Source: BBC)

And why should any of this concern us? In these days and times of intolerance and fear, of apathy and myopia, we would do well to remember the perils of not standing up to injustice as captured in poetry by Protestant Pastor Martin Niemöller who was subsequently sent to a concentration camp.

“In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Socialist, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Socialist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me — and by that time no one was left to speak up."

 

Editor-in-Chief: @AyannaNahmias
LinkedIn: Ayanna Nahmias

Redskins' Trademark Cancelled by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

image-from-anti-redskin-trademark-campaign-photo-courtesy-of-mark-williams.jpg

Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 05:37 p.m. DST, 18 June 2014

"Washington Redskins helmet"  Photo by: Keith AllisonALEXANDRIA, Virginia -- The US Patent and Trademark Office came down hard on the Washington Redskins organization today, 18 June 2014, canceling the National Football League franchise's exclusive rights to the logo and name. Now, the Redskins trademarks will not belong solely to the team, and may be used by a host of marketing and equipment businesses, pending future bargaining.

Several Native American tribes and advocacy groups are hoping that this could be the incentive that owner Dan Snyder needs in order to change the name of the organization. This decision is part of a larger movement in US professional sports to encourage players, owners and coaches to act with common decency.

The decision follows the high-profile controversy surrounding Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the racist statements he made about black people, and the NBA executive decision to pressure Sterling to sell the Clippers franchise. Another recent media blitz centered around Twitter postings made by Miami Dolphins player Don Jones, who made derogatory comments about NFL newcomer Michael Sam, after Sam and his partner were shown kissing during the 2014 NFL Draft.

Washington owner Dan Snyder has made inflammatory comments about the Redskins name being a "badge of honor" for Native Americans. Hold on, Snyder. How can the title "Redskin" be an honorary title, when it is simply an antiquated way of describing an ethnic group by their complexion? While you, Mr. Snyder, see the name as such a privileged distinction, several American Indian tribes and organizations do not. And 26 of these groups are demonstrating today on behalf of the name change.

Snyder has stated his allegiance to the name many times, once saying: "we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage." The words Snyder uses to describe his so-called obligation to the franchise leave me with an uncomfortable feeling, as they do many people. Why he would bring up the "heritage" of a group of sports fans, obviously indicating that this imaginary heritage trumps actual tribal heritage? Why he would choose the word "heritage" in  the first place is beyond me.

To Mr. Snyder, and other people who believe that their interpretation of the Redskins insignia is more important than the Native American people who are a living representation of the Redskins organization: why does the "heritage" of corporatized sports team eclipse the heritage of hundreds of various tribal communities living throughout the United States?

For Snyder, the Redskins logo may be a "badge of honor", but to me that term is far from a compliment or a term of respect, since that title has been denounced by countless American Indians as a badge of hatred and racism.

The comments by Snyder are just one aspect in which Native Americans are treated as if they are not living, breathing people, as important and valuable as any human living today. Snyder continues to paint native cultures as a caricature, a simple icon, something bound to the past. All the while, he acts as if the Natives Americans living in the shadow of this logo benefit in any way by their representation. From the merchandise worth millions of dollars, plastered all over various pieces of apparel and jerseys, to the face of the iconic Redskin on the drink koozies of intoxicated ticket holders, I see no way in which this so-called "badge of honor" actually honors the American Indians.

Snyder's obligations to the "heritage" of the Redskins organization are insensitive and wrong. Everybody knows that Snyder's main concern is his revenue and the bottom line. His "heritage" comments seem to me to be a misplaced acknowledgment of his failed responsibility to protect the wishes of the people behind the logo.

Here's hoping that the Patent and Trademark Office's decision today will provide Snyder with enough of an economic incentive to make the proper, principled decision, even if the impetus for the name change comes only in consideration of dollars and cents.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

KKK Targets Jewish Community Center Killing Three Christians

modern-day-ku-klux-klan-photo-by-martin.jpg

OVERLAND PARK, Kansas -- So often, hatred is crippling. On Sunday, hatred was blinding in Kansas City. On a mission to incite terror and assail Jewish community buildings, Frazier Glenn Cross killed anyone and everyone in his reach. 

Cross, who also went by Frazier Glenn Miller, is a 73-year-old Missouri resident. This weekend, his well-documented history of ignorant rhetoric turned deadly.

The elderly man targeted the Jewish Community Campus of Greater Kansas City and Village Shalom senior center, before being captured by police outside a local elementary school.

During the shooting spree, Cross killed three Christians while spouting "Heil Hitler" and other bigoted slogans. According to authorities, he had a shotgun, pistol and assault rifle at his disposal. An eyewitness remembers the perpetrator smiling as he was taken into custody. 

Among the victims were two Methodists, Dr. William Lewis Corporon, age 69, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood. Corporon passed away outside of the community center.

Underwood was transported to a hospital where he would later die from his wounds. The high school freshman was auditioning for a vocal competition at the Jewish Community Campus. He and his escort were bombarded outside the event. 

The third victim was 53-year-old Terri LaManno, who was visiting her mother at Village Shalom when she was attacked. LaManno was also a Christian. Cross allegedly attempted to kill two others, who escaped to safety. Certainly, the foundation of the community has been shook. 

The defendant is a veteran of hate-mongering. Cross rose to power as the "grand dragon" leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, known more commonly as the KKK. Realizing he had not reached his potential to perpetuate ignorance, Cross would later create the White Patriot Party in 1985, a group founded on anti-Semitic and white power platforms. His other lowlights include the intimidation of Morris Dees, a Civil Rights activist and lawyer who used civil lawsuits against groups like the Ku Klux Klan in a successful career that lasted decades. 

Often in the spotlight, Cross was a proud white-supremacist who shared his divisive message in television interviews and publicized Klan meetings. In 2006, he ran for the House of Representatives but gained little support. Cross tried again to gain political office in his failed 2010 Senate campaign. During both attempts, he sponsored radio advertisements lobbying his hate-filled agenda. In 1999, he authored "A White Man Speaks Out." By all accounts, the memoir is steeped in equal parts paranoia and hostility. 

According to police, Cross will appear in court on Tuesday, 15 April 2014. However, this will not be his first stint in prison. In 1987, Cross served three years after failing to comply with his bond agreement. A national search for the runaway ended in a Missouri trailer, where Cross and several others had retreated with a massive weapons stockpile. The one-time fugitive will likely spend the rest of his life in detainment. 

The Overland Park community and the nation are grieving the loss of three wonderful citizens. But the incidence has also raised serious questions about possible preventative measures. Given his well-documented history of militant behavior and criminal history, many question how Cross was able to obtain the arsenal used in this weekend's attack. As with any act of terrorism, Cross sought to alter the world outside of the small Kansas City district. Sadly, he has gained the attention of the American people. Hopefully, the collective reply will be a positive one. 

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Senior Correspondent: @MAndrewRansom

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Bieber vs. Sherman | Misadventures of Race in American Media

racism-a-global-concern-photo-by-maps-of-the-world-infographics.jpg

Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 19:09 p.m. DST, 26 January 2014

Cornerback Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks, taken Houston Texans 2013, Photo by Bill Hunter

MIAMI, Florida - Thursday morning, globally recognized teen pop star, Justin Bieber was arrested in Miami, Florida, stated CNN. According to police reports, Beiber was charged with driving under the influence, drag racing, and resisting arrest. Since the arrest, the media has labeled Bieber as a “misguided” teen.

Last week after a football game between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, the media threw out mixed feelings regarding statements made between Seahawks' cornerback, Richard Sherman and 49ers' receiver, Michael Crabtree.

According to reports, Sherman successfully completed the “play of the season.” Sherman tipped off a pass intended for Crabtree, allowing his team mate to intercept the ball, and sending the Seahawks to this year’s Super Bowl. After being overjoyed from the play, Sherman attempts to shake Crabtree’s hand, but Crabtree pushes him away by his face mask. Whether Sherman was being sincere or passive aggressive is up to the viewer, however, it doesn’t stop there.

During an interview after the game, Sherman stated “I’m the best cornerback in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you going to get,” says ESPN.

Only days later, Bieber was arrested for his reckless behavior in Miami. Reports read that Bieber was simply a misguided teen, but when it came to Sherman, he was labeled a “thug.” Facts show Sherman, who is an All-Pro cornerback, graduated from Stanford with a 3.9 GPA. He has no criminal record, but simply called himself the best at what he does professionally.

Bieber is an international pop star, who did not graduate from high school. He has been caught in malicious acts and is constantly in the news. Bieber was arrested for a DUI, despite the fact that he is not of legal drinking age, plus he resisted arrest.

Society wants to throw out modern racism, but when situations like these surface, we are still able to see where it exists. Sherman, who is African-American did not deserve to be called a thug. It tarnished his professionalism, and diminished him as a man and an athlete. Although, Bieber's treatment by the media hasn't been positive either, being labeled as a “misguided kid” leaves room for improvement and does not alter the perception of the public that he was just being 'mischievous' versus criminal.

By contrast, Sherman, who has not perpetrated any crime, and was simply participating in his profession and leading his team to the Super Bowl, is labeled a thug. Most thugs typically have some criminal record. Sherman does not have a criminal record, but Bieber does. Most thugs also neglect to finish school, which Bieber has also done. The labels accorded by the media to these two are misleading, and thus illustrate the further misadventures of race in American media.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe

Anti-Gay, Racist, Duck Dynasty Patriarch

phil-robertson-duck-dynasty-photo-courtesy-of-primative.jpg

Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 23:41 p.m. DST, 21 December 2013

Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty, Photo Courtesy of Best Movies Ever News

LOUISIANA, United States - Controversy began to stir this week when “Duck Dynasty” star, Phil Robertson made anti-gay remarks during a GQ interview. Another statement has been released from the controversial interview; this time, the star addresses the black community during the pre-civil rights era.

On the show, Phil Robertson, 67, is portrayed as the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch. Over the years he’s beat substance abuse, devoted his like the God, and has become a small-screen celebrity from the backwoods of Louisiana.

During a GQ interview with Drew Magary, the star stated “…the pre-civil rights era was not bad for black people”.

GQ quoted Robertson, stating “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person… Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them.

I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field… They’re singing happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say ‘I’ll tell you what: These doggone white people’- not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

According to Robertson, the African-American’s he witnessed before the civil rights movements of the 1950’s appeared happier than they do today. The Huffington Post states, “Jim Crow laws enforced a system of subjugating African-Americans in the South but upholding racial barriers for years after the Emancipation Proclamation”. During this time, the Southern states were known for segregation and the many forms of oppression, which often included “race-inspired violence”, according to History.com notes.

Concern over Robertson’s remarks has been brought to A&E, the broadcast channel for “Duck Dynasty”. The Human Rights Campaign and the NAACP collaborated in a letter sent to the president of A&E:

“We want to be clear why Phil Robertson’s remarks are not just dangerous but also inaccurate. Mr. Robertson claims that, from what he saw, African-Americans were happier under Jim Crow. What he didn’t see were lynching and beatings of black men and women for attempting to vote or simply walking down the street. And his offensive claims about gay people fly in the face of science. In fact, it’s important to note that every single leading medical organization in the country has said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being [lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender] -- it’s not a choice, and to suggest otherwise is dangerous.”

During the GQ interview, Robertson referred to homosexuality as a sin and continued to speak about the sexuality right in a negative light. After making headlines, A&E announced Robertson would be suspended from the show indefinitely. According to the Huffington Post, “The network emphasized that his beliefs are in contrast to those of the network”.

Although times were very different during the pre-civil rights era, it is hard to believe Robertson thought blacks were happy, and he never witnessed the mistreatment of an African-American, whether verbal or physical. Louisiana, a Southern state known for many violent act during this time, still faces race issues today; even hosting several active Ku Klux Klan groups throughout the state of Alabama.

Broadcast stations are constantly faced with the embarrassment of their stars speaking out about their offensive experiences with African-Americans. Paula Deen, southern celebrity chef, was booted from the Food Network earlier this year, due to her use of the “N” word. CBS fired Don Imus, host of Imus in the Morning, in 2007, for his racial remarks toward the Rutgers women’s basketball team; calling them “nappy headed hoes”.

Although the Dynasty star was brought up during a time where homosexuality was not accepted, especial living in the South, it is imperative for these networks to make it clear to the small-screen stars, that these types of situations and statements are unaccepted and intolerable.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe