Albert Woolum, White Navy Veteran, Kneels in a Black Lives Matter Shirt During National Anthem to Support Girls’ Volleyball Team — GOOD BLACK NEWS

Three words: “Thank you, Sir.”

Mo

 

article via thegrio.com On Friday night, cheerleaders for the DeSoto and Cedar Hill high schools’ football teams in Texas knelt during the national anthem before the game between their two schools to protest the treatment of people of color in the United States. What’s more, on Tuesday, the DeSoto girls’ volleyball team took a knee during […]

via Albert Woolum, White Navy Veteran, Kneels in a Black Lives Matter Shirt During National Anthem to Support Girls’ Volleyball Team — GOOD BLACK NEWS

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South African teen girls are protesting against their school’s racist hair policy — Fusion

Wow. I am aghast at this blatant racism against these lovely South African young girls! Great job young ladies. Keep fighting for the freedom to be yourself and love yourself just as you are. Your natural hair is the essence of your beauty as a creation of a loving God. Same stuff goes on in America…(smh)

Mo

TwitterTeenage girls in South Africa are leading a protest movement against their school’s discriminatory hair code–which they say targets black students’ natural hair–and is a symbol of the wider environment of racism at the school. Students at Pretoria High School for Girls began protesting last Friday after a black student was reprimanded for writing an…

via South African teen girls are protesting against their school’s racist hair policy — Fusion

Us and Them -My reality shift

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My sadness over the reality of our divided society overwhelmed me today as old lyrics rang in my ear, in the form of an old favorite song, Us and Them, by Pink Floyd. I used to listen to this song, hour after hour, with giant headphones, with my best friend, Leslie, back in the 70s. We loved that song’s ability to take us to another place. Its ethereal sound soothed us. The words were, well, just words, back then.

Imagine my surprise today when the same song, the same sounds and the same words ripped me out of relaxation to a horrific state of revelation. These words embody my greatest fears and disappointments in our current society’s state of affairs.

Take a look at these prophetic words:

Us and Them 

“Us (us, us, us, us) and them (them, them, them, them)
And after all we’re only ordinary men
Me
And you (you, you, you)
God only knows
It’s not what we would choose (choose, choose) to do (to do, to do)
Forward he cried from the rear
And the front rank died
And the general sat
And the lines on the map
Moved from side to side
Black (black, black, black)
And blue (blue, blue)
And who knows which is which and who is who
Up (up, up, up, up)
And down (down, down, down, down)
And in the end it’s only round ‘n round (round, round, round)
Haven’t you heard it’s a battle of words
The poster bearer cried
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There’s room for you inside

“I mean, they’re not gonna kill ya,
So if you give ’em a quick short, sharp, shock,
They won’t do it again. Dig it?
I mean he get off lightly, ’cause I would’ve given him a thrashing
I only hit him once! It was only a difference of opinion, but really
I mean good manners don’t cost nothing do they, eh?”

Down (down, down, down, down)
And out (out, out, out, out)
It can’t be helped that there’s a lot of it about
With (with, with, with), without
And who’ll deny it’s what the fighting’s all about?
Out of the way
It’s a busy day
I’ve got things on my mind
For the want of the price
Of tea and a slice
The old man died.”

A blog commenter, “SkinnyD,” put his two cents in, eleven years ago, giving his best interpretation of this, “oldie but goodie.” He wrote:

“Timeless poetry such as this has many levels of meaning.
Laid out before us by the artist so succinctly, yet so sublime.

All of us can see the reference to the nature of war, its cruelty, and futility.
However, I believe there is a more primal meaning to these words. It’s more about human nature, rather than the nature of war.

The “Us and Them” verse refers to how groups (tribes) of humans can be cruel to one another, but as individuals we like to think we would not act this way.

The “Black and Blue” verse refers to how, from the beginning of time and until its end, individuals are drawn to congregate and called to war. We like to think that as individuals we are called to war by our dehumanized leaders with their wicked words.

The “Down and Out” verse is the clincher that exposes one cruel aspect of human nature, greed. The greed of nations cause war and we can’t deny that is what the fighting is all about. Yet, in our personal lives, our greed can blind us to the suffering of the needy within our own society with people dying for the price of tea and a slice.

I believe the lyrics examines how we like to think of ourselves as individuals and how we truly act on a personal level.”

I agree, SkinnyD. If you’re still out there, props to you. Thank you for expressing what many were feeling then, and today.

Maybe I will cc my old BFF, Leslie, and get her opinion, after all these years. She probably feels the same…

Readers: What do you think about our world today? Has your view of reality changed for the better or the worse, since childhood?

Mo

Song lyrics by Pink Floyd

Comments by SkinnyD at  http://songmeanings.com/m/songs/view/2812/

On being multi-racial in America

“Get in where you fit in.”

Where’s that? Got a map?  I am seen as “black” in America. I have chocolate skin and a doctorate-level degree.  I am told I, “sound white,” on the phone. Imagine the surprise when I show up!

Actually, I am an adopted African American with the addition of Irish and Cherokee ancestry, so…I guess I am multi-racial. I was educated in an all-white community, so I didn’t, “get the memo,” about the anomaly of “sounding white,” until much later in life.

My two teenagers are… whatever I am (LOL), plus their dad, who is “white,” with German and Irish/Scottish ancestry. So they are…errr, light-skinned black children in America? Really, they are less than half black, but I explained the “one-drop” rule (look it up) to them early on, lest they make the mistake of getting out of line by acknowledging their ancestry in its totality! They, too, sound,”white.” Poor things…

Is Obama really our first black president?  It depends on who you ask. My kids see him as “bi-racial, like they are.” However, many Americans see my bi-racial son as a black teenager while my daughter is called “exotic,” at times, her heritage turned into a sort of racial guessing-game. Nervertheless, they both pass the “paper-bag” rule. (Look it up)

To be honest, all this cr*p makes me tired. As you might have guessed, we would prefer being seen simply as “people.”

Fear not! Here’s an excellent NPR book review that moved me to think about the deeper issues that come with being of mixed-race in America, especially for this talented writer, Mat Johnson.

Mo

***

Novelist Mat Johnson Explores The ‘Optical Illusion’ Of Being Biracial

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Loving Day
Loving Day

by Mat Johnson

Hardcover, 287 pages

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Growing up in Philadelphia, Mat Johnson lived mostly with his mother in a black neighborhood. The son of an African-American mother and an Irish-American father, his skin was so light that he might have passed for white. But being biracial meant only one thing back in the ’70s: “Um, it meant: black,” Johnson says with a laugh. “There wasn’t a lot of ambiguity there. I didn’t hear the world biracial or didn’t think of myself as biracial. And when I did hear that, I reacted to it defensively. I thought it was just black people of mixed heritage who were just trying to run away from blackness.”

Johnson was born three years after Loving Day — the historic 1967 Supreme Court decision which made interracial marriage legal. His new novel, Loving Day, is a funny, sometimes absurd look at what it means to be mixed race in this country.

These days, Johnson has a more nuanced way to describe his racial identity. He says he is a mixed person of African-American descent. But he also uses another, more loaded word, to describe himself: mulatto.

“A lot mixed people hate that word,” Johnson says. “People in general hate that word. A lot of times they think it references mule, but it’s a lot older than that. It has Arabic roots. And historically that’s been the term often used for African Americans, first generation, who are mixed. So to me, it connects me to my past. But I think those identities — mixed identity and African-American identity — can co-exist.”

Johnson has a lot in common with the main character in his novel. Warren Duffy is also of Irish-African descent. He also grew up in Philadelphia, lived with his mother in a black neighborhood and like Johnson, Warren is very light skinned. Early in the book, he calls himself a “racial optical illusion.”

Mat Johnson is the author of Pym, Drop, Hunting in Harlem and The Great Negro Plot as well as several graphic novels including Incognegro, Dark Rain and Right State.

Mat Johnson is the author of Pym, Drop, Hunting in Harlem and The Great Negro Plot as well as several graphic novels including Incognegro, Dark Rain and Right State.

Meera Bowman Johnson

The people who see me as white always will, and will think it’s madness that anyone else could come to any other conclusion, holding to this falsehood regardless of learning my true identity. The people who see me as black cannot imagine how a sane, intelligent person could be so blind not to understand this, despite my pale-skinned presence.

As the book begins, Warren is confronted by a teenage girl who turns out to be his daughter. Tal was raised by her Jewish mother who has since died and her grandfather can no longer take care of her. Tal has never thought of herself as racially mixed, much less black. To help her to explore her new racial identity Warren enrolls his daughter in a school which turns out to be more like a mixed race commune.

“A kind of bi-racial militant separatist group is the quickest way to define it,” Johnson says. “It’s all people of European and African heritage, first generation who are kind of violently — not violently, but emotionally violently — trying to get this balance between their African-American heritage and their European-American heritage.”

Melange, as the commune is called, is full of odd characters and misfits all trying to come to terms with their racial identities. The “oreos” are white on the inside and black on the outside. The “sunflowers,” including Warren, are white on the outside, black inside. Ideally they’re supposed to learn to accept both sides of themselves. In reality, they follow a great American tradition when it comes to race: self-segregation.

“The fact that they’re already pulling into gangs basically shows how well it’s going,” Johnson says. “This idea — we all should have balance in our lives and the balance is incredibly important and often times the key to some sort of serenity. However balance is incredibly difficult. Balance is walking along a fence in bare feet and trying not to fall off.”

Warren does manage to steer his daughter into understanding what it means to be a mixed race woman — and he also manages to fall in love, with a woman who challenges his own ideas about racial identity.

Most African Americans, Johnson says, do have some white heritage though no one really wants to talk about that. But he says there is a growing movement of people who do want to talk about what it means to be bi-racial.

“Most people of mixed heritage they grow up minorities in their own house,” he says. “Unless they have many, many siblings, they are the only or one of the only people of their exact ethnic makeup. And so, to me, this idea with Loving Day was a chance to explore a group identity, because most of the work that has been done on mixed experience just focuses on the ‘I.’ And so I think the one thing I really wanted to do with this book was focus on the ‘we’ and what does that ‘we’ mean.”

Writing this book was scary, says Johnson, because it felt like he was publicly coming out as “mixed identified” and he knows some people won’t get that — and some won’t like it. But he says needed to do it … for himself.

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/05/24/408791207/novelist-mat-johnson-explores-the-optical-illusion-of-being-biracial

What a prophetic quote from 2009…

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America is a young dumb country and it needs all kinds of help. America is a dumb puppy with big teeth that bite and hurt. And we take care of America. We hold America to our bosom; we feed America, we make love to America. There wouldn’t be an America if it wasn’t for black people. So you have some dedicated black Americans who will die a million deaths to save America. And this is home for us. We don’t know really about Africa. We talk it in a romantic sense, but America is it. And so, America is always going to be okay as long as black people don’t totally lose their mind, cause we’ll pick up the pieces and turn it into a new dance.

ON BEING A BLACK MAN

This is probably one of the best essays I have ever read on what it FEELS like being a black man in America. Kudos to this brave young writer for making his experience one that I could see and feel through his words. Check it out!!  God bless you, Richard!
MO
On being a Black Man

This blog post was first published on Bold.

My name is Richard Smith, and I am fortunate enough to live and work in San Francisco. The following words are mine, and mine alone.

I am typically classified by others as a “big, black guy”. I’m 6 foot 2 inches tall, and I weigh around 240 pounds. I have often been asked by strangers what position I played, or where I played college ball (I didn’t). I am a 29 year-old Jamaican male living in San Francisco, working as a software engineer. The words to follow are some thoughts I have had for a while, that I have only recently found the courage to pen.

For a long time, I felt it normal to feel out of place, or like I don’t belong in “White spaces,” because I’m Black. I thought it was normal to feel apologetic that I may have looked or seemed “threatening” to passersby, if I thought I invoked any feelings of fear or discomfort in my presence. I would say things like, “oh, well I understand that I’m a big, Black guy, and that if I don’t shave for a few weeks and walked down the street at night, I’d probably be afraid of me, too.”

…what?

It’s crazy to think of how hard I have tried to mind my manners, mind my presence, mind my appearance, how I walk, how my clothes fit, how long I glance at strangers for, how different I look in a hoodie vs. in a collared shirt, or even not speak in slang (even jokingly) for fear that people would expect it from me, and not actually see the humor, or the sarcasm.

It’s equally crazy how much more comfortable I feel around other Black people, or in other countries. I took a trip to Cuba for 2 weeks, and everyone there actually thought I was Cuban — which was surprising, but kind of awesome at the same time. I’ve never felt so accepted in my life. Even in Canada, I felt more comfortable than I do in Silicon Valley.

Here are a few things I have grown accustomed to experiencing:

  • Being the last person sat next to on the bus/train (sometimes, nobody takes the risk)
  • Being followed around stores by security
  • Being told by cab drivers that I’m the first Black person they’ve ever had a positive encounter with
  • Walking down the street and having someone step off of the sidewalk, and around a car (or cross the street) to avoid walking past me
  • Seeing and hearing people lock their car doors or clutch their purses/bags as I walk by
  • Being asked things like, “So, what’s it like being a black guy in Silicon Valley?”
  • Being mistaken for another Black person at work
  • Surprising people when they initially discover I’m a programmer
  • Surprising people when they find out I actually hate watermelon (and shattering other Black stereotypes in the process)
  • Feeling relieved when people don’t verbally address the fact that I’m Black
  • Feeling out of place when I can’t identify with certain pop culture references or cultural norms (like being able to swim, liking baseball, listening to rock/country or playing golf), because I grew up differently
  • Feeling like I have something to prove because I’m Black
  • Feeling like I was chosen for certain photo/video opportunities at work and during other activities to feign diversity and acceptance
  • Being the most athletic person in a particular group, and having people say things like, “…of course it would be the Black guy”

The ones in bold are the ones that have affected me the most.

I usually don’t like talking about the topic of race, because I know everyone has something they are struggling with. I know that it may not seem like a good reason to you, but it’s been my reason. Everyone has a cause that’s dear to them, everyone knows someone or is someone that is going through someserious shit. You know what I mean.

But, in light of the sheer amount of nonsensical shootings, beatings, and stories of racially-charged vandalism, I felt like I had to say something. Anything.

Two of my younger brothers are coming to visit me next month, and I’m mentally preparing to discuss with them the realities of being a young, Black man living in America. I will tell them if they feel anything I’ve mentioned above, that it is normal for them to feel that way, but that doesn’t mean it should be. I will tell them that I have worked so hard to teach myself how to write code so I can make a better future for myself, and to be a role model for them.

At a certain point in my life, I realized that I had no positive role models (let alone ones I could relate to), so I set out to become a positive role model for my siblings. I didn’t want them to have to resort to gangs, violence, or go looking for love to find ways to identify with others and gain acceptance. I wanted them to learn to love themselves, and learn to love & empathize with others. To always be open-minded, seeking growth and understanding over judgment and contempt. To learn the value of hard work, and to truly believe that they can have, and achieve anything they can dream of.

I’m not trying to say that Black lives are more important than anyone else’s.

The amount of senseless shootings and beatings by the police towards other people of color is alarming. The fact that this can happen to me anywhere, at any time, for any reason makes me not even want to go outside at times, and makes me fear for the lives of my family since it can happen to any of them, too.

Nowadays, the fact that I’m terrified of being pulled over (thankfully, I don’t own a car, but I still rent one on occasion), and sometimes feel out of place simply walking down the street makes me feel like an intruder in my own home.

I’m not saying I have it worse than anyone, and I’m not trying to garner any sympathy. I’m not trying to say that Black lives are more important than anyone else’s, but there is a deep-rooted, systemic problem of racism, judgment, and hate-mongering in America that seriously needs to be addressed.

I just wanted to get some thoughts off of my chest. Feel free to do what you’d like with that.

Thanks for reading. ❤️

https://blog.devcolor.org/on-being-a-black-man-42ecb7946fe0#.lm0flcj1l