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 

Ace News Room 

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#black-politics, #ferguson, #missouri, #national-welfare-rights-nwro

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL… AND, TO ALL GOOD NIGHT… CHURCH of the NATIVITY…

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is the cornerstone of Christianity in the western world and its construction was followed by erection of other famous religious edifices in Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Rome. Bethlehem is the acknowledged birthplace of Jesus Christ and accordingly represents the early foundation of Christianity on the ground, the narrative of his birth in Nazareth. The church was constructed in 326 AD, following the facilitation for its construction by Queen Helena. Queen Helena was the mother of Constantine the Great…

Constantine the Great, a/k/an Emperor of Rome had consolidated Christianity by way of the first ecumenical council (Council of Nicaea) in 325 AD under Roman Catholic domination. Emperor Constantine was a recent convert to Christianity following his mystical vision of the cross, which he attributed to his victory in the battle to unite Rome. Hence, Christianity became infused in the battle cry of the conquering Roman Empire going forward, as outlined in the historical narrative of secular and the history of Christianity in the western world.

There is interesting irony in the fact that Constantine, a new convert to Christianity was able to convene all of the bishops in world Christendom at the Council of Nicaea, under the circumstances… The Roman Empire had a colourful history spanning the previous 300 years of persecuting and crucifying Christians. Constantine reportedly converted to the faith in 312 AD, and in 313 AD, he signed the Treaty of Milan, which halted the persecution of Christians and confiscation of their property. Subsequently, the emperor in 325 AD was inspired to convene the first ecumenical council, which was obviously an intriguing proposition offered to his invited participants.

The council resulted with the bifurcation of world Christianity in the framework of eastern and western divide. The western historical narrative is a linear process wherein the Roman Catholic Church was dominant for 1500 years, until the advent of the Protestant Reformation, and current day denominational Christianity. The Protestant Reformation occurred in conjunction with the “age of enlightenment” in Europe and the dawning of the industrial age. European countries began to challenge the authority of the Papacy which began with King Henry IIIV, when he established the Church of England, which precipitated the protestant movement. Christianity in the west observes Christmas Day on December 25.

On the other hand, the eastern Christian historical narrative, referred to in the west as “Orthodox Christianity,” continues to express the Faith in the framework of their respective countries, traditions and cultures. An example of the countries in the Eastern Orthodox communion includes, but not limited to: Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Coptic (Egyptian) Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church, Armenian Orthodox Church, Syrian Orthodox Church, etc. The Orthodox Christian Churches observe Christmas Day on January 6.

The Orthodox, oriental Christian communion, predates the Roman church by three centuries and was the brunt of the Christian community that endured the wrath of Rome’ persecution. Nevertheless, while maintaining their respective traditions the Orthodox branch of churches generally acquiesced to Rome’s domination and they were invited to subsequent ecumenical councils throughout the centuries. On the contrary, however, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was branded as heretical during the Council of Nicaea and was excommunicated from all future councils… But the fact remains that Ethiopia has a unique connection to Judeo-Christian heritage and tradition that continues from the earliest days to the present time.

The historical dichotomy between the observances of Christmas Day in the west on December 25, and January 6, in the east is reconciled by the 12 days of Christmas. The 12 Days song is a popular Christmas Carol reconciles the two dates as official days of observing the occasion. Therefore, the world is united during the Christmas observance season… The Ethiopian Orthodox Church observes Christmas Day on January 6, but also continues to adhere to its traditional Judeo-Christian theology and heritage.

By way of a full disclosure Gary James completed his sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church at the age of 12, and studied Ethiopian heritage and theology under the guidance of HE Dejazmatch Amaha Abera Kassa, from 1983 to 2003.

G.J News

Ace News Room  

#christian, #christianity, #church, #nativity, #roman

BERLIN WALL: EAST – WEST DIVIDE…

November 8 marked the 25th year following the fall of the Berlin Wall, which divided Eastern and Western Europe as a consequence of WWII. The Berlin Wall and other practical metaphors such as the Cold War, Iron Curtain and the juxtaposition of democracy vs. communism formulated the world view of the baby boom generations as they grew to maturity. Many of us baby booms have vivid memories of the imposed constraints that required us negotiate and navigate our political activity around the democratic and communist political paradigm that coloured the Cold War environment.

In the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall and demise of the former Soviet Union, the Cold War was ended, the Iron Curtain was lifted and the much touted communism threat to the United States became a politically moot point. Many of us watched news report footage of the East Germans breaking down the wall and streaming to the west to begin new lives. I recall the popular refrain that America has won the Cold War and the world is no longer divided by a binary political paradigm. “America is the only super power in the world” became a political mantra in some quarters.

It is generally understood that WWII was the result of events that occurred in Vienna and Berlin, but at the end of the conflict many populations in the world were massively impacted by collateral damage, consequences and results of the war. The partition of East from West Germany was among the outcomes of WWII and the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Walls demise remains a profound experience to many. Interestingly enough little has changed in the geo-political dynamic and trajectory of the United States, apart from the emergence of China as a major economy and global role player.

The emergence of China as a macro role player on the global stage coupled with general acknowledgement that in the foreseeable future China will eclipse the United States as the world’s largest economy, virtually guarantees a continuation of the east vs. west paradigm throughout the 21st century. In addition, events unfolding in the Ukraine portends conflicts in the countries of Eastern Europe as Russia seems to be positioning to reclaim countries that comprised her former empire. Some suggest that Russia’s initiative in the Crimea and Ukraine is based in the fact that NATO, a formulation of the Cold War, is making political overtures to the Ukraine and other countries to join the NATO political orbit. If this suggestion is true, the Russian President Putin is likely affronted by it and will act accordingly going forward.

Apparently the current global scenarios that are unfolding would lead one to believe that the east vs. west adversarial paradigm will stay in place for the foreseeable future. But the east vs. west divide had a much ancient origin then the Berlin Wall and Cold War advent, and it can be traced to the beginning of Christianity in Europe. This ancient divide took the form of a religious schism that bifurcated Christianity in the east and west. Recorded in history as the east vs. west “schism,” it occurred in 325 AD as a result of the proceedings of the first ecumenical Counsel of Nicaea.

The Counsel of Nicaea was convened by Roman Emperor Constantine for the purpose of consolidating Christianity under the domination of Rome. The schism occurred when the emperor excommunicated bishops from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and branded them as heretical for adhering to their doctrine of monophysitism, which holds that the nature of Christ was singular and divine. The new Roman doctrine asserted that the nature of Christ was part human and part divide. Hence, the Ethiopian contingent of the faith was excommunicated from the first ecumenical council and all other subsequent ecumenical counsels.

There is great irony by the fact that the Roman Church was the most recent addition to world Christianity and had only just stopped persecuting Christians in 313 AD by way of the Treaty of Milan… The east vs. west paradigm is an ancient dynamic and will most likely remain as practical dichotomy will into the 21st century and perhaps the next century. However, it is noteworthy to observe that the current east vs. west dynamic is based in a secular and political scenario and its consequences. On the other hand the east vs. west schism that occurred in the 4th century animated the religious and spiritual realms…

G.J News 

Ace News Room 

#cold-war, #east, #fall, #iron-curtain-2, #west, #wwii