No, in too many parts of the U.S. and the world, Black lives don’t matter much, yet. Clearly, they should, but bad habits most often die slowly without the pressure of penalty or substantial consequences.
In February, 2012, George Zimmerman got away with murder. That is a generalized public perception, particularly among African Americans. Trayvon Martin is dead from a bullet put into him by Zimmerman, and Zimmerman was acquitted of manslaughter in Florida court for killing Martin.
Okay, two quick points here. As predicted in previous columns, the Marvin Gaye offspring, Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III, won their lawsuit against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke for copyright infringement regarding the monster hit song “Blurred Lines.” The eight-member jury voted unanimously in U.S. federal court that Williams and Thicke had too closely copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit, “Got to Give it Up,” without paying the proper royalties to the copyright holders (the Gaye siblings). Whether the copying was willful, or unintended, the jury said, it was not innocent and a penalty had to be imposed. The Gaye family won $7.4 million dollars as a result of the jury’s decision. The rapper, T.I., who co-wrote a later segment of the song after the track was already laid, was not penalized by the jury.
Carter G. Woodson was born in New Canton, Va., and raised in West Virginia, the son of former slaves. Getting education and using it to better the conditions of Black Americans was part of his cultural upbringing. Deprived of opportunities to go to public school, he educated himself until the age of 20, then attended and graduated from high school in a little less than two years. He then found a way to obtain acceptance to Berea College in Kentucky while working in a coal mine.
This column covered the Marissa Alexander case previously. What’s the status and significance of it? Alexander, from Jacksonville, Fla., reported that nine days after giving birth to a daughter in 2010, her estranged husband, Rico Gray, choked her, beat her and threatened to kill her in front of his two underage sons. She retreated to the garage of the house, seeking to get out and get away, she reported, but could not exit that way for some reason. In a signed deposition, Gray agreed with this rendition of the facts to that point. Alexander then went to her car, pulled out a gun and went back into the house. When Gray approached her again, reportedly saying, “Bitch, I’ll kill you!” she shot the gun once, above his head, as a warning shot she said, hitting the wall. She did not fire again and no one was hurt.
Okay, three quick points: Those who keep claiming that the November mid-terms were a rebuke of President Obama might want to re-check their data. Less than 35 percent of the exit-poll data collected on the elections—with exit-polling having been shown to be a much better indicator of voter sentiment and purpose than any pundit’s personal view—have concluded that people voted against President Obama in making their choice of congressperson. That’s only 1/3 of the vote. The other 65 percent or so said their congressional choices had more to do with the particular candidates running at that time, but had little or nothing to do with the president.
While some of us are quietly easing out of 2014, desperately hoping for a better new year, President Barack Obama has been increasingly flexing his man-in-charge muscles and roaring like a lion, rather than a lame-duck president, contrary to everything for which his critics have prayed.
The politics of two trials
Within the past few months this column has focused on at least two rather interesting legal proceedings—one, an on-going trial and the second, a trial that may be. Today, we’ll revisit them both for further analysis.
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.