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

Flags Half-Staff for Charleston South Carolina Church Massacre, All Except the Confederate

kkk robe henry ford museum and greenfield village, photo by dan gaken

kkk robe henry ford museum and greenfield village, photo by dan gaken

CHARLESTON, South Carolina - On 10 July 2015 during a historic ceremony, the Confederate flag which had flown full mast at the the South Carolina Statehouse for 50 years despite numerous efforts to have it removed. It was a symbol of defiance from a sect of people who protested against the Civil Rights movement and integration of all public facilities, including schools and transportation.

It was because of the heinous act of violence perpetrated by Dylann Roof, 21, that the groundswell of pressure from local, state, and national entities forced the government to respond. "Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill Thursday, 9 July 2015 to relegate the Confederate flag to the state's "relic room."

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19 June 2015 - Dylann Roof, 21, has been identified as the assailant who allegedly sat and prayed during a fellowship meeting Wednesday night at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. Survivors recount how Roof with malice aforethought shot and killed nine people inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, near the heart of Charleston's tourist district. Eight died at the scene; a ninth died at a hospital.

According to CNN and other news outlets, six women and three men were killed, including the church's politically active pastor, State Senator Clementa Pinckney, a black Democratic lawmaker. The lone survivor who pretended to be dead, confided in her friend afterwards, that Roof shouted long espoused racists rhetoric along the lines of black men raping white women and taking over the country presumably in reference to the first African-American President Barak Obama.

A law enforcement official said witnesses told authorities the gunman stood up and said he was there "to shoot black people” and subsequent investigations into Roof’s background revealed that he possessed racists memorabilia, and expressed Confederate sympathies, though it is not clear that he officially belong to any white supremacists groups.

For the family and friends of the nine people Roof murdered in a racist and premeditated act of violence, the trauma is just beginning and our hearts and prayers go out to them. There are many different national news outlets discussing, analyzing, and updating American citizens on the latest developments in the case. But, a less discussed, but equally important aspect of this case is the climate of racism in the heart of South Carolina’s government as demonstrated in its choice to continue to fly the Confederate Flag above the South Carolina State House.

According to Schuyler Kropf, “Officials said the reason why the flag has not been touched is that its status is outlined, by law, as being under the protected purview of the full S.C. Legislature, which controls if and when it comes down.

State law reads, in part, the state “shall ensure that the flags authorized above shall be placed at all times as directed in this section and shall replace the flags at appropriate intervals as may be necessary due to wear.”

The protection was added by supporters of the flag to keep it on display as an officially recognized memorial to South Carolinians who fought in the Civil War. Opponents say it defends a system that supported slavery and represents hate groups.” (Source: Post and Courier)

What many people don’t understand, and almost certainly those unfamiliar with the history of slavery in America, is the magnitude of racism and oppression that this flag represents. It connotes the same venomous hatred and violence towards blacks as the white robe and hood of the KKK. It is the heart and soul and standard-bearer to those who proudly proclaim that “the South will rise again!” A “South” where blacks were kept in their place, preferably enslaved or at least subjugated, where enforcement of Jim Crow statues were meted out by members of a number of white supremacists groups, most notably the Klu Klux Klan (KKK).

At a time when South Carolinians are shocked and appalled at the calculated massacre perpetrated in the name of white power, one would think that the State House would have the decency to remove or at least lower the Confederate Flag to half-staff as were the U.S. and S.C. flags. Nationally, states and the federal government lowered the flag to express solidarity with the victims and sadness at the horror. But, the most recognizable emblem of the Confederacy, KKK, white supremacists and their politics, towered proudly above even the U.S. flag, the flag of the American nation.

This obvious display was a not so subtle assertion that the racially motivated massacres were unimportant and not worthy of acknowledgment. That in fact, State Senator Pinckney’s life was of no value, that all attempts to remove this racist symbol will continue to fail, and that Confederate sympathizers and white supremacists have a chance to return to the halcyon days of old. An obstinately proud symbol of the time when the Confederacy legislated that blacks deserved no honor, no justice, and no acknowledgement.

It is unfathomable that this emblem of racism cannot be removed or lowered without a legislative vote. This is the time when black and white South Carolinians should stand up not only for justice for the victims, but should also demand the removal of this symbol of oppression and domestic terrorism which is displayed in their name. To remain silent is tantamount to tacit approval, and ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke

 

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

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