Mormons and Black Folk

Went to college in the West. One of the schools we played sports against every so often was Brigham Young. Starting in the mid-late 60’s, as a result of the Civil Rights movement, the pushback against the racist teachings of the Mormon Church historically and at that time became much more intense. While there certainly are Mormons who are racist, as there are in just about any other religion – Mormons weren’t really a part of the Southern racism which drove segregation and Jim Crow. It fell into the category of “other”…

Historically, the issue surrounded Church Founders views and “revelations”. Revelations which were not inconsistent with anti-abolition racial attitudes at the time of the founding of the Church.

BYU Choir - These Folks Can Sing!

Mormons were a bit thin on the ground here in Northern Virginia until the mid 60’s. I remember my parents always attending various social events for the Links, my Mother’s Sorority, and the black fraternities at the Marriott Key Bridges.  Bill Marriott, the founder of the Hotel Chain was probably the local area’s best know Mormon. I asked my Dad, why the various events were always at the Marriott – and he said “It’s because it’s the only major hotel in the area which will rent ballroom facilities to black folks.” Turns out, Marriott Hotels didn’t segregate, whereas every other hotel from the HoJos to the Hilton did in the South. Many black organizations were loyal to Marriott for a generation because of that.

You can’t regulate what someone thinks of you, but it is ultimately their actions towards you which really count.

Mormons, particularly those from the Wast – are about the “whitest” folks in America. I’m a big fan of the NBC show, “The Sing Off”, and have to confess that I love the sound of a Choir, whether Gospel or “traditional” (maybe because I can’t sing a lick). The Brigham Young University Choir is one of the best of the best from year to year, and this year the guys doing A Capella on the Sing Off were very good. BYU Choirs also compete against HBCUs in Gospel. One of the Sing Off segments involved singing traditional R&B this year, to which several of the singers had a laugh about some white boys from BYU trying to sing Soul Music coming from a background where not much beyond pops and country is played on the radio. Good sense of humor.

So, if Mitt Romney is the Republican Presidential candidate – will most black folks not be voting for him because he is a Mormon… Or because he is a Republican. I honestly think that Republican thing, and the bad racial freight attached to that is what counts, anymore.

Has the Mormon Church Truly Left Its Race Problems Behind?

The Mormon Cathedral in DC, euphemistically called "The Wizard of Oz Cathedral" by locals as it rises majestically above the Beltway

It’s looking more and more likely that Barack Obama will be facing Mitt Romney next November. According to recent polls, Romney’s much-debated “Mormon Problem”—considered by some to be a main roadblock to the Republican nomination in 2008—has decreased in salience among the white evangelicals on whom he’ll probably depend in both the primary and general elections. But one element of the Mormon problem that’s yet to be vetted will come into stark relief should this match-up take place: the Mormon Church’s troubling history of racial exclusion.

This history is a long one, stretching back to the inception of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in the 1830s. Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of Mormonism, ran for president in 1844 as a moderate abolitionist; ordained a black man, Elijah Abel; and offered to adopt one young black convert, Jane Manning James, as his spiritual daughter. Yet earlier in his life, Smith wrote anti-abolitionist screeds replete with racist sentiment typical of Christian pro-slavery apologists of antebellum America. In one 1836 letter to missionaries in the South, Smith excoriated northern abolitionists as the instigators of discord among southern slaves who, he argued, were generally happy.

Other figures early in the Church’s history illustrated such prejudices as well. The Mormon Prophet Brigham Young stated in 1852, “Any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] … in him cannot hold the priesthood.” Up until the mid-twentieth-century, some prophets perpetuated the idea that blacks were spiritually inferior, the permanently cursed descendants of Ham and Cain (a myth once popular in many American churches). In 1931, Church President Joseph Fielding Smith, the great-nephew of Joseph Smith Jr., wrote a widely distributed treatise—still available on Kindle—asserting that blacks were “fence-sitters” during a pre-mortal battle between God and Lucifer. When they were sent to Earth, according to Fielding Smith, blacks were marked with darkened skin as a permanent reminder of their perfidy. Until 1978, black men were forbidden from holding the Mormon priesthood, a sacred status that almost every Mormon male attains, and black couples could not marry in Mormon temples, a revered ceremony that Mormons believe unites the family for eternity.

This aspect of LDS history will probably prove less of a problem for Romney than for his Church, which is actively trying to change the dominant perception of Mormons as all but exclusively white. Romney’s presidential bid does not rely on the black vote, and he has put distance between himself and the history of racial exclusion once practiced by his church. On “Meet the Press” in 2007, Romney tearfully recalled the moment in 1978 when he heard that the Church had lifted the century-and-half-long ban on blacks holding the Mormon priesthood. “I was driving home from … law school. … I heard it on the radio and I pulled over and literally wept.” Since then, Romney has reached out to some black communities; a January 2008 Salt Lake Tribune article reported that Romney aided poor Massachusetts Haitians—using the French he acquired as a young missionary—while serving as the Church’s regional leader in Boston in the 1990s…

Read the rest here.

Republicans Block Black Farmer Settlement… Again

Your name is big brotherYou say that you're watching me on the tele,Seeing me go nowhere,Your name is big brother,You say that you're tired of me protesting,Children dying everyday,My name is nobodyBut I can't wait to see your face inside my door...You've killed all our leaders,I don't even have to do nothin' to you, You'll cause your own country to fall

Senate leaves without funding black farmers suit

A Republican senator blocked a measure on Thursday that would have compensated black farmers in one of the largest civil rights settlements in U.S. history, again delaying action on a decades-old bias lawsuit.

The settlement, agreed to in February, would provide $1.25 billion to compensate black farmers who were left out of federal farm loan and assistance programs for years due to racism.

Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan requested unanimous consent to approve funding for the settlement but an objection from Republican Senator John Barrasso scuttled the attempt.

This was the last opportunity to finalize the settlement before the Senate breaks for the August recess.

While the 2008 farm bill earmarked $100 million for the farmers, the remaining $1.15 billion to uphold the deal requires approval from Congress.

The U.S. House of Representatives twice passed legislation that would appropriate the funds, but equivalent action stalled in the Senate.

Measures for the funding have come to the Senate floor seven times, and each time failed to pass due to partisan squabbles, said John Boyd Jr, head of the National Black Farmers Association.

Boyd likened the delays in funding the settlement to the discrimination experienced by black farmers involved in the lawsuit.

“It shows that some of the same treatment that happened to the black farmers at the Department of Agriculture is transpiring with the Senate’s inaction to help black farmers,” he said.

The unanimous consent request also sought to appropriate funds for American Indians in the Cobell class-action lawsuit against the Interior Department over the mismanagement of Indian trust fund accounts.

Previous objections to the funding requests have centered on the mega-spending bills they were attached to, as well as a lack of clarity on how the compensation would be paid for.

The measure brought to the floor on Thursday was solely about the settlements, and included offsets required under congressional ‘pay-as-you-go’ rules mandating new spending be offset with cuts elsewhere so not to add to the deficit.

Barrasso objected to portions of the Cobell settlement and called for a full chamber vote when the Senate returns from the August recess in September.

With an August 13 deadline for the black farmers settlement looming, Boyd said he would seek an extension from the Obama administration as well as more engagement in speeding up the funding process.

“This is a shameful situation,” Boyd said. “(Senators) can’t put aside their political bickering and pass a bill so that the black farmers can get on with their lives.”

Boyd said the pressure is on President Barack Obama to step forward with more concrete plans to help since “the Senate dropped the ball.”

The original Pigford class-action lawsuit, named after North Carolina farmer Timothy Pigford, was settled in 1999.

The first case awarded more than $1 billion in payments and debt relief to black farmers, but tens of thousands of farmers missed the filing deadline. The new settlement allows these farmers to pursue their claims.

Boyd said earlier in the week that black farmers would turn their attention to midterm elections and look to oust the senators not supporting the measure, especially in southern states where they represent a large portion of the voting block.

“Why do we want to send somebody back to the Senate that won’t help us at a time of need?” he said.

This is a real picture of Mary, a Circus Elephant which was lynched by an angry mob in 1916.

Sen. David “Diaperman” Vitter Goes Birther

Facing the worst ecological and economic crisis of any state since Oklahoma and the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression…

Louisiana Senator, David “Diaper-man”  Vitter signals his support for the “birthers”.

Yeah – if I was him, I’d want to talk about anything except my record!

The Specter of Billy-Bob Crow And the Right’s Fright!

As pointed out in the previous post, the conservative right has adopted a tactic last seen utilized by white supremacist groups. That the white folks in this country are persecuted. Now the white supremacist variant of this was that white people were prevented from 1) getting a job, 2) going to college, or 3) wining a business contract because of 1) Civil Rights, or 2) Affirmative Action, or 3) the dumbing down of one or more institutions to make room for women, or minorities…

Damn the reality, damn the statistics – white folks is under attack, Ya’ll!

Not surprisingly in a political movement which perpetually and psychotically sees America under attack from everything from socialist peanuts to communist kumquats, fear is manufactured nightly by the avatars of white despondency with pepper fueled tears  and a “News” organization in Faux whose carnal knowledge of the news is best compared to that of the boy’s lurid adventures told over beer to his peers…

While carrying the same rubber in his wallet he acquired in a pique of dare fueled courage in High School…

Through college.

That is, that if the news were sex, Faux’s association with it would make the Virgin Mary look like a Harlot.

Tim Wise hits another one out of the park with this one…

Black Power’s Gonna Get You Sucka: Right-Wing Paranoia and the Rhetoric of Modern Racism

Prominent white conservatives are angry about racism.

Forget all that talk about a post-racial society. They know better than to believe in such a thing, and they’re hopping mad.

What is it that woke them up finally, after all these years of denial, during which they insisted that racism was a thing of the past?

Was it the research indicating that job applicants with white sounding names have a 50 percent better chance of being called back for an interview than their counterparts with black-sounding names, even when all qualifications are the same?

No. Continue reading

Taking Aim At Tea Bagger Racism

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There is a full frontal attack on black Americans by the Glenn Beck Tea Bagger right. Been a while coming, but it looks like forces are aligning to step up and call what is going on for what it is.

NAACP considers resolution decrying racist elements in tea-party movement

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will propose a resolution this week condemning racism within the tea party movement.

The resolution, scheduled for a vote as early as Tuesday by delegates attending the annual NAACP convention in Kansas City, calls upon “all people of good will to repudiate the racism of the Tea Parties, and to stand in opposition to its drive to push our country back to the pre-civil rights era.”

NAACP leaders said the resolution was necessary to make people aware of what they believe is a racist element within the tea party movement.

“I think a lot of people are not taking the tea party movement seriously, and we need to take it seriously,” said Anita Russell, head of the Kansas City chapter of the NAACP. “We need to realize it’s really not about limited government.”

Russell said she was “pretty certain” the resolution would pass.

Tea party leaders deny that the movement is racist and said the resolution is unfair.

“I just don’t see racism in the tea party movement,” said Brendan Steinhauser, director of campaigns for FreedomWorks, which organizes tea party groups. “Racism is something we’re absolutely opposed to.”

“The NAACP has more of a political agenda now, but I would hope that they would appreciate the fact that the tea party movement has a lot in common with the civil rights movement. I’m personally inspired by what the civil rights movement did, and I want them to know that.” Continue reading

Republikkkan Hayaration on Thurgood Marshall

It all comes out eventually.

Republicans Attack Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall and Arthur Shores, February 29, 1956. Gelatin silver print. Visual Materials from the NAACP Records, Prints and Photograph

Like we couldn’t see this one coming… This has been rolling around in the Rethugly “Groupthink” for a while.

Kagan may get confirmed, but Thurgood Marshall can forget it

As confirmation hearings opened Monday afternoon, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee took the unusual approach of attacking Kagan because she admired the late justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked more than two decades ago.

“Justice Marshall’s judicial philosophy,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, “is not what I would consider to be mainstream.” Kyl — the lone member of the panel in shirtsleeves for the big event — was ready for a scrap. Marshall “might be the epitome of a results-oriented judge,” he said.

It was, to say the least, a curious strategy to go after Marshall, the iconic civil rights lawyer who successfully argued Brown vs. Board of Education. Did Republicans think it would help their cause to criticize the first African American on the Supreme Court, a revered figure who has been celebrated with an airport, a postage stamp and a Broadway show? The guy is a saint — literally. Marshall this spring was added to the Episcopal Church’s list of “Holy Women and Holy Men,” which the Episcopal Diocese of New York says “is akin to being granted sainthood.” Continue reading

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