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VIDEO: Redemption of America???


Recent events in Ferguson Missouri that snuffed out the life of Mike Brown is haunting and it reminds me of the 1960’s and 70’s. From 1965 to 1971, I was a staff organizer for the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), one of the major civil rights organizations. I recall very vividly the rebellions that occurred in Harlem NY, Newark NJ, Detroit, Watts CA, and other urban centers, all of which were precipitated by a white police officer shooting a black youth.

In 1972, I was the chairman of the South East Queens Community Corporation, an anti-poverty program funded by the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), one of 25 similar programs in the five boroughs of New York City. During my tenure, there were two separate incidents that took the lives of Randy Evans and Clifford Glover. Both of these deaths were a result of extra judicious executions by the New York City Police Department and they resulted in local rebellions also called “riots” by some. And in typical fashion the police officer in question was not held accountable.

Since that time, 40 or 50 odd extra judicial executions have occurred in New York City, and in all these cases there was no police accountability. These instances of “alleged” police brutality are endemic throughout the United States, yet police accountability remains elusive. While official measures have been and continue to be undertaken to remediate this obvious problem that disproportionately impacts the black community, and no measurable improvement has been manifest. In addition to the wanton killing of black youth, the criminal justice system seems to be a highway to mass incarceration. Moreover, the “war on drugs” “racial profiling” unemployment and under employment, a decrepit and dysfunctional education system are all working components that animate what many characterize as a “criminal injustice system.”

Unfortunately, the quality of black political leadership, elected and unelected, has not been consequential or in any way effective improving or modulating this pervasive and critical situation. There are apparent limitations that minimize the extent to which black political officials and leadership can positively impact the circumstances that plague the black community in America.

Accordingly, there seems to be no solution or mitigation to this crisis in the foreseeable future. The nature of the crisis impacting the black American community at large is complex and sophisticated as throughout history black folk have taken one step forward followed by two steps backward…

Despite the victories and advances achieved by the modern civil rights movement, vis-à-vis, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 respectively, the black community remains marginalized. Following the civil rights movement the number of black elected officials have grown substantially, but black political leadership, such as it is, remains inadequate going forward. Similarly, during the first civil rights movement during the 19th century, black Americas achieved unpatrolled political and economic advances. These advances were enforced by the imposition of federal troops, referenced as the period of “Reconstruction” which was ultimately defeated. The demise of Reconstruction was the result of the “great compromised” of 1876, if my memory serves, and it facilitated the burning down of “black Wall Street” in Tulsa Oklahoma…

Interestingly enough, in spite of the civil rights movements of the 19th and 20th centuries the black American community, the oldest political minority in the country, remains a political weakling in terms of political leverage, as compared to other political minorities such as, Hispanics, Asians, women, and gays for example. Ours is a complex and sophisticated dilemma that is perpetuated by ideas and concepts far beyond the obvious. Accordingly, a multifaceted and sustained strategy with short and long-range achievable objectives is the solution. The formulation and application of a coherent strategy forward requires a serious planning process that is perhaps a weakness in the black community generally speaking. In this regard I commend all who are so moved to pick up and carry torch leading to economic, political and social empowerment, which has already been earned by our forbears over the centuries…

The battle will remain protracted as there are various elements that reinforce the economic, political and social status quo. These factors are seen and unseen, real as well as make-believe… Among the various elements that continue to generate information and enlightenment as well as confusion, is the impact of mass media, analogue and digital. Media can be particularly pernicious as they coordinate the current 24 hour news cycle. In addition to competition among competing media, the respective companies tend to focus on sensationalism, glib sound bites and ratings… Also, ideas and concepts play a dynamic role in reinforcing the status quo and these conventional ideas and concepts formulate a sublime sophistication and complexity that obscures the root of the problem…

It is common knowledge that “we are what we eat.” Concomitantly, it is axiomatic that we are what we think as well… Therefore conventional ideas and concepts provide the basis for how we think and what we tend to think. The “race question” permeates this long-standing crisis in America, but only cursory and surface attempts are undertaken to explore the race question and the conversation never approaches the malignant and sublime aspects of the race idea. While there continues be conversations on “race” as it is popularly understood, the conversation is avoided by many and when it is engaged, the conversation occurs in a framework that legitimizes the notion of multiple races as a natural phenomenon which characterizes human beings. However, the idea of multiple races as generally understood is in fact a phantom…

I reside among those who understand that multiple races are a contrived social construct designed to achieve particular economic and social objectives. The concept of race was crystallized intellectually and academically during the “age of enlightenment” which ultimately positioned the “black” race as inferior and less than human. Perhaps the race conversation going forward should begin with that premise. I happen to be a uni-racialist, and we uni-racialists hold that there is but one human race. Nevertheless, the struggle continues and I remain in solidarity with those who toil, none violently, on behalf of advancing the future of the human race.

I will continue in the struggle as inspired as I was when I first joined the community organizing staff of NWRO. 

G.J News 

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February 2015
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