What African Americans have to be thankful for this year
Thanksgiving in the United States, for African Americans and Americans in general, has been a tradition since 1621. Essentially, it has been a territorial and state-based celebration of “good tidings” and good harvests. It did not become a national holiday until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared it so for two separate occasions in August (to celebrate the Union victory at Gettysburg) and November (for the fall/winter harvests). Even then, however, succeeding presidents had to declare the holiday annually, and the fourth Thursday in November came to be accepted as the official day. President Franklin Roosevelt declared that day in 1941, and Congress, in 1944, finally passed legislation that made the official national holiday we now celebrate on the fourth Thursday in November every year.
The politics of race and republican values
Along with the usual pablum trying to dissect the reasons why and who to blame for another Democratic Party ‘shellacking’ in the 2014 midterm elections—an ultimately unsatisfying bit of penis paddling, there is another story of interest underneath—the election and coming of political age of Congresswoman Mia Love, the former mayor of Sarotoga Springs, Utah. Love is African American, married to a Caucasian gentleman, the mother of three bi-racial children, and a member of the Mormon Church. She is also a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, and not a shrinking violet. She intends to be heard in Congress, but hopefully not like former congressman Allen West of Florida, nor like current congresswoman Michelle Bachman. Political dignity and circumspection would become her.
The politics of diversity
Encouragements and inducements toward diversity are indeed upon us as a society. TV shows like “Modern Family,” and many more, trumpet that theme—the USA is an ethnically and otherwise diverse society.
Lost amid the current relentless media buildup of the Ebola=Africa, Africa=Ebola mindset, are several important bits of information. The first is that the CDC and other Western health systems (e.g., Canadian Health Ministry) have been studying various strains of Ebola in Africa for more than 20 years, and the CDC even established a Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Laboratory in Uganda in 2010-2011 to act as a major research and strategy center for the disease. Russia also established its own lab and in two instances—1996, 2004—lab personnel contracted Ebola through accidental needle contamination.
My students recently had a debate over an issue that has troubled them. It is repeated below.
Like a well-appointed suitor who is totally used to controlling the relationship he established for himself, American racism knows how to give a little hope now and then to keep us hanging on. So, the Florida man who argued with Black teenagers over the loud volume of the music coming out of the youths’ van, then shot into the van numerous times, killing Jordan Davis and wounding one other passenger, just got convicted of first-degree murder. Boo Yow!! Mr. Michael Dunn is to get a mandatory 25 years to life for his murderous act.
Let me wade into the gator-filled waters here. Why haven’t we heard the voice of Janay Palmer Rice through all this sound and fury over the horror of her husband hitting her? Wasn’t she the victim? Didn’t she take the blow?
The politics of doing something wrong
State Senator Rod Wright is going to jail. At least, that was the sentence meted out to him by L.A. Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy this week. Wright is to begin a three-month term in the county jail on Oct. 31, although he is appealing again.
The politics of stealing intellectual property
Within this musical and literary generation, one of the most persistent challenges is in coping with the habit of millennials to “sample” virtually everything, yet still call it their original creativity. Several much noted artists—like Diddy, Jay-Z and Pharrell Williams—owe their careers to the fine art of using earlier creative efforts of others as a base upon which to lay different lyrics and notes. An entirely new emphasis in law has grown out of monitoring and protecting prior musical compositions from plagiarism without compensation. It is connected to copyright infringement and called clearances and licensing.
In 1965-66, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the single most significant civil rights youth group of the 1960’s, created the first all-Black political party, the Lowndes County Freedom Party, to showcase SNCC’s belief that where Black folk were in the population majority, they should be the majority of the elected representatives. Numbers count in politics. However, according to SNCC’s calculation, organized numbers count even more.