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Vester Lee Flanagan, Va TV Killer Had a History of Playing the “Race Card” and “Gay Card”…

Let me start this on first off with a criticism of the title –

Vester Flanagan Threatened Coworkers, Played the Race Card for Years

The problem being that Flanagan had a number of issues, was fired by several stations, and alternately blamed it on being Gay and Being black. Of course, using “Playing the Race Card” is more incendiary as a Title.

On with the story…

The cold-blooded Roanoke killer kept getting fired, kept threatening co-workers, and kept claiming he was the real victim.

Vester Lee Flanagan claimed in a suicide note Wednesday that June’s massacre of black parishioners at a South Carolina church was “the tipping point” that sent him on the path to murdering two journalists on live television Wednesday.

But in court papers and interviews with The Daily Beast, former colleagues describe Flanagan as a problematic employee, who was repeatedly reprimanded for his harsh treatment of coworkers, and complained racism was behind harsh evaluations of his work.

“He just had a history of playing the race card,” former WTWC anchor Dave Leval told The Daily Beast. “I know he did that in Tallahassee a couple of times…”

The day Flanagan was fired from a Virginia TV station in 2013, his bosses called 911 because of his volatile behavior—an incident captured on camera by Adam Ward, a man who would later become one of his victims.

At a February 2013 meeting, managers at WDBJ7 in Roanoke told Flanagan he wasn’t a good fit and would be terminated. Flanagan became “agitated” before issuing a threat, one boss recalled in court papers

Flanagan also claimed he was attacked for being a gay black man, and that he suffered bullying, sexual harassment, and racial discrimination at work, ABC News reported.

Court papers in Flanagan’s 2013 discrimination case also reveal an apparent preoccupation with perceived racism against him.

“I am hereby requesting a trial which will be heard by a jury of my peers,” he wrote in a letter to the judge. “I would like my jury to be comprised of African-American women.”

Flanagan also mentioned a frequently appearing watermelon as evidence of racial harassment at the Roanoke TV station and claimed he had photos of it.

“This was not an innocent incident,” Flanagan claimed. “It appeared after a meeting during which ‘watermelon’ comments were discussed.”

He also claimed head photographer Lynn Eller was the mastermind of a “carefully orchestrated effort by the photography staff to oust me,” court documents show.

“Why did one of the photographers go to HR on me after working with me ONLY ONCE,” Flanagan wrote, in an apparent reference to victim Adam Ward. “There was nothing to report! That, Your honor, is just plain wrong.”…

In a performance review one month later, Flanagan scored a 1 out of 5 in the category of “works well together with photographer, producer and assignment editor;” he scored 3s on evaluations about delivering news “in an understandable manner” and “covering beat and enterprising stories.”

Bosses reprimanded Flanagan that November for wearing an Obama sticker when he voted, a violation of the non-partisan conditions of his contract.

“While this is the first incident of this nature, and we trust the last, you need to quickly and diligently move from the category of an employee who commits misstep after misstep to the kind of problem-free employee we hope you can become,” Dennison wrote in a letter to Flanagan.

One of the final memos before his termination included a harsh suggestion:

“Avoid being merely a human tape recorder” and report the real news.

Among the missteps that led to this admonition was his decision to cover a local creamery over the governor’s comments on gun control after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2015 in Domestic terrorism, You Know It's Bad When...

 

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What a Slavery Museum Teaches…

History forgotten is history repeated. The Atlantic doesn’t quite get it right about the Whitney Museum being the first and “only”.

Why America Needs a Slavery Museum

The Whitney Plantation near Wallace, Louisiana, is the first and only U.S. museum and memorial to slavery. While other museums may include slavery in their exhibits, the Whitney Plantation is the first of its kind to focus primarily on the institution. John Cummings, a 78-year-old white southerner, has spent 16 years and more than $8 million of his own fortune to build the project, which opened in December of last year.

Cummings, a successful trial attorney, developed the museum with the help of his full-time director of research, Ibrahima Seck. The duo hope to educate people on the realities of slavery in its time and its impact in the United States today. “The history of this country is rooted in slavery,” says Seck. “If you don’t understand the source of the problem, how can you solve it?”

Slave Memorial at George Washington’s Mount Vernon marking the unmarked graves of slaves buried next to the Family Burial plot.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Black History

 

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Iceberg Slim – Pulp Fiction

Iceberg Slim was the nom-de-guerre of a Los Angeles Pimp, whose story became famous when he turned to writing. At least one movie, and countless bad-ass characters in the movies are based on his character and style.

Not sure why the renewed interest – but Slim is part of 40’s-60’s black history, and was a model for others (apparently still) – as well as a character from which numerous movie depictions were based. Before the Drug Dealer of the 70’s – the black pimp was more likely to be at the top of criminal enterprise in poor black communities. These guys would flash their money and “power” based on a “Players Ball” purportedly created in the 1974 Movie, “The Mack” – although such “annual conferences” existed long before that in Chicago. Apparently some of these guys are still around as you will see in the video at the bottom of this post.

I remember watching from the street one of these back in the late 1970’s, at a certain club located in downtown Washington DC. Lots of flash, jewelry, and outrageous outfits.

 

The Pulp Fiction Pimp Who Inspired Chris Rock, Jay Z, and Snoop Dogg

Robert Beck was the godfather of Blaxploitation, one of the most influential African-American voices of the 20th century—and also among its most violently misogynistic.

For many of his 73 years on the planet, Robert Beck—aka “Iceberg Slim,” the subject of a new biography, Street Poison, by African-American literature professor Justin Gifford—was a lousy human being.

Beck—who by his own account violently brutalized women during his quarter-century-long career as a pimp, and later mythologized his felonious lifestyle in a best-selling memoir and a series of popular pulp novels—raised misogyny to an art form.

The smooth-talking, cold-hearted Beck, whose nom de plume celebrated his detached and chilly streetwise demeanor, was the vain and selfish only son of an irresponsible mother; a careless father of three mixed-race daughters and the estranged stepfather of a Caucasian son; and a manipulative and philandering husband who only redeemed himself in a second marriage late in life as his years of prison, drugs, and hard living took their inevitable toll.

Albeit ghetto-famous, with countless fans, he died penniless in Los Angeles of diabetes and gangrene; his fancy above-ground berth at Forest Lawn was paid for by Mike Tyson, one of Beck’s many celebrity devotees, who also include Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Quincy Jones, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Ice Cube, and Ice-T (the last of whom co-produced a 2012 documentary tribute, Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp).

And yet, by Gifford’s estimation and that of others, Beck—born Robert Lee Moppins Jr. (later Frenchified to Maupins) in the slums of 1918 white-racist Chicago—was also one of the more influential voices in 20th century black culture and literature, to be ranked alongside James Baldwin, Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.

Indeed, Iceberg Slim’s 1967 novelistic and poetic autobiography, Pimp: The Story of My Life, and his later works are widely credited with inspiring the Blaxploitation film genre and the beginnings of hip-hop and rap. His nine published books—translated into a dozen languages while one, Trick Baby, was adapted into a feature film—had sold an estimated 6 million copies by the time of his death, which might have made him the J.K. Rowling of black pulp fiction, if only his royalties were commensurate with his sales.

Beck’s pain and rage at having been callously exploited by his white-owned publisher, Holloway House—much as he had exploited and abused his revolving stable of prostitutes—is a recurring theme in Gifford’s meticulously-researched narrative.

The fact that Beck’s biographer is also white and middle-aged—an academic of somewhat younger vintage, Gifford teaches at the University of Nevada—is testament to the enduring crossover appeal of Iceberg Slim’s story.

It begins in Chicago’s Black Belt, during a period of lethal viciousness by white thugs against African Americans who dared venture out of the ghetto. Terrible race riots and mass murders comprised a history of violence that doubtless shaped Iceberg Slim’s adult identity as a revolutionary and Black Panther partisan.

Three incidents in his childhood seem to have left a searing imprint and shaped his future.

His biological father, a cook who’d grown up in “Nashville’s upwardly mobile and respectable black working-class society,” according to Gifford, had plunged headlong into the Black Belt demimonde of whoring and gambling, and saw his son as an inconvenience.

His mother, Mary, left her husband, taking her infant son with her, after refusing his demand that the baby be abandoned on a church doorstep—“so,” Iceberg Slim recounted, “he hurled me against the wall in disgust.”

The second formative experience—the memory of which forever haunted Beck and twisted his feelings about women—involved being 3 years old and sexually molested by a babysitter while his single mother toiled all day at a laundry. According to his autobiography, the babysitter forced him to perform oral sex.

“I remember more vividly the moist, odorous darkness and the bristle-like hairs tickling my face,” he wrote, “and most vividly I can remember my panic, when in the wild moment of her climax, she would savagely jerk my head tighter into the hairy maw.”

According to Gifford: “The event deeply scarred Beck—as his hateful language suggests—and he later attributed his anxious and violent relationships with the women he pimped to this incident.”

The third seminal episode—after his mother’s 1922 marriage to a devoutly churchgoing community leader and successful businessman, Henry Upshaw, whom Beck loved as his only real father—was her reckless decision to leave Upshaw after nine happy, stable years for a charming but violent street hustler.  Relocating from Chicago to Milwaukee with his mother and her boyfriend, Beck fell into bad company in the red-light district and became “street poisoned,” as he put it in his memoir. (Beck ultimately took the surname of his mother’s third husband, Ural Beck, a hardworking railroad employee in Milwaukee, whom she married in the early 1940s.)

“At the height of his career,” Gifford writes, “he would intentionally draw upon his traumatic memories—especially of the babysitter, as well as his mother’s betrayal during his teenage years—to fuel his cruel treatment of his prostitutes,” using a wire hanger as his preferred instrument of discipline….The rest here

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2015 in Black History

 

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Black Folks With Guns

My Maternal Grandfather, who lived on a Farm and raised his family in rural America bought each of his 8 son’s a Shotgun when they became of age. The reason was not only the “hunting culture” of rural life in Virginia, but that it had some very practical application in terms of black life in the South in the 20’s and 30’s. Anyone attacking a member of the Family, or the farm, was immediately facing 9 armed black men – not including cousins. This tended to alleviate the desire of the local KKK types to cause trouble.

It wasn’t uncommon that Free Blacks had to defend themselves with guns.

My Paternal side, who lived in the Hills of the Virginia-West Virginia line, who had gained their freedom by fighting in the British Army during the American Revolution, also alway went armed. The results of which are reputed to be the bodies of some incorrigible “Slave Catchers” reputedly left at the bottom of a limestone cave out back of the property, who variously attempted to re-enslave members of the family in the early 1800’s. They were subject to the “Black Codes” of the 1830’s restricting Free Blacks from carrying guns, and were successful in petitioning the court for the right to bear arms. A case now quoted by the NRA.

While none of today’s family belong to the NRA, those who are outdoorsmen, or live in rural areas where hunting is common – still carry that tradition on today.

While guns now are more likely to be viewed as the scourge of the black community today, people have largely forgotten the “Bloody Summer” of 1919. While the Tulsa “Riot” is well known, the riots in Chicago, and Washington, DC tend to be less remembered. Black Soldiers, veterans of WWI either kept their guns, or acquired guns to protect heir neighborhoods. Making attacking black communities, for the first time dangerous for the Klan. A factor leading to the cessation of major attacks against black communities by 1920.

How ‘Crazy Negroes’ With Guns Helped Kill Jim Crow

This Non-Violent Stuff Will Get You KIlled

I have a dream that one day children in seventh grade will have an American history textbook that is not like my son’s. Its heroes will not just be people from the past who upheld the middle-class values of modesty, chastity, sobriety, thrift, and industry. The rebels it celebrates will include not only abolitionists, suffragists, labor unionists, and civil rights leaders who confined their protests to peaceful and respectable writing, speaking, striking, and marching. In my dream, schoolchildren will read about people like C.O. Chinn.

Chinn was a black man in Canton, Mississippi, who in the 1960s owned a farm, a rhythm and blues nightclub, a bootlegging operation, and a large collection of pistols, rifles, and shotguns with which he threatened local Klansmen and police when they attempted to encroach on his businesses or intimidate civil rights activists working to desegregate Canton and register black residents to vote. After one confrontation, in which a pistol-packing Chinn forced the notoriously racist and brutal local sheriff to stand down inside the county courthouse during a hearing for a civil rights worker, the lawman admitted, “There are only two bad sons of bitches in this county: me and that nigger C.O. Chinn.”

Although the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were formally committed to nonviolence, when their volunteers showed up in Canton they happily received protection from Chinn and the militia of armed black men he managed. “Every white man in that town knew you didn’t fuck with C.O. Chinn,” remembered a CORE activist. “He’d kick your natural ass.” Consequently, Chinn’s Club Desire offered a safe haven for black performers such as B.B. King, James Brown, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, and the Platters; illegal liquor flowed freely in the county; and, unlike their comrades in much of Mississippi, CORE and SNCC activists in Canton were able to register thousands of black voters with virtual impunity from segregationist violence.

According to Charles E. Cobb’s revelatory new history of armed self-defense and the civil rights movement, This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed, Canton and the rest of the South could not have been desegregated without people like C.O. Chinn, who were willing to take the lives of white people and were thus known as “crazy Negroes” or, less delicately, “bad niggers.”

Cobb does not discount the importance of nonviolent protest, but he demonstrates with considerable evidence that desegregation and voting rights “could not have been achieved without the complementary and still underappreciated practice of armed self-defense.” Noting that textbooks like my son’s ignore the many people who physically defended the movement or themselves, Cobb shows that the “willingness to use deadly force ensured the survival not only of countless brave men and women but also of the freedom struggle itself.”

The philosophy of nonviolence as propounded by Martin Luther King Jr., and the civil rights leadership that emerged in the 1950s was a new and exotic concept to black Southerners. Since before Emancipation, when slaves mounted several organized armed rebellions and countless spontaneous and individual acts of violent resistance to overseers, masters, and patrollers, black men and women consistently demonstrated a willingness to advance their interests at the point of a gun. In the year following the Civil War, black men shot white rioters who attacked blacks in New Orleans and Memphis. Even the original civil rights leadership publicly believed that, as Frederick Douglass put it in 1867, “a man’s rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.”

During Reconstruction, all-black units of the Union Leagues organized themselves as militias and warred against such white terrorist organizations as the Men of Justice, the Knights of the White Camellia, the Knights of the Rising Sun, and the Ku Klux Klan, whose primary mission was to disarm ex-slaves and thus was one of the first gun-control organizations in the United States.

With the rise of Jim Crow segregation at the end of the 19th century, civil rights leaders continued to advocate meeting fire with fire. “A Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home,” the famed anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells-Barnett wrote in 1892, when on average more than one black person was lynched every three days in the South, “and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.”

In 1899, after a black man named Henry Denegale was accused of raping a white woman in Darien, Georgia, armed black men surrounded the jail where he was held to prevent lynch mobs from taking him. Instead of being hanged from a tree or burned at the stake, Denegale was tried and acquitted. Though blacks tended to consider Georgia the most lethal of all the Southern states, the coastal area, where Darien was located, “had the fewest lynchings of any place in the state.”

One of the first victories of the modern civil rights movement came at the point of many guns. In the spring of 1947, after a black man named Bennie Montgomery in Monroe, North Carolina, was executed for murdering his white employer during a fight over wages, the local Ku Klux Klan threatened to take Montgomery’s body from the funeral parlor and drag it through the streets of the town as a message to blacks who might consider assaulting whites. But when the Klansmen arrived at the funeral parlor, three dozen rifles belonging to members of the Monroe branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) were trained on their motorcade. The Klansmen fled.

This successful showdown convinced the president of the Monroe NAACP, Robert F. Williams—who later authored a book-length argument for armed self-defense titled Negroes With Guns—that “resistance could be effective if we resisted in groups, and if we resisted with guns.” In addition to his duties with the NAACP, Williams established an all-black chapter of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and used his NRA connections to procure “better rifles” and automatic weapons for his constituents. Ten years after the funeral-parlor incident, those guns were used to repel a Klan assault against an NAACP leader’s house. Immediately following the shootout, the Monroe City Council banned Klan motorcades and, according to Williams, the KKK “stopped raiding our community.”

T.R.M. Howard

Theodore Roosevelt Mason “T.R.M.” Howard was another black Southerner who found guns a highly effective means to gain rights. Cobb uses Howard’s story in 1950s Mississippi to illustrate “the practical use of armed self-defense” for an oppressed minority. Howard, who was the chief surgeon at a hospital for blacks in the Mississippi Delta, founded the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL), an umbrella organization of civil rights groups in the state. The RCNL led a campaign against segregated gas stations, organized rallies featuring national civil rights leaders, and encouraged black businesses, churches, and voluntary associations to move their bank accounts to the black-owned Tri-State Bank, which loaned money to civil rights activists denied credit by white banks.

Knowing that he was always at risk of being attacked by white supremacists, Howard took full advantage of Mississippi’s loose gun laws. He wore a pistol on his hip, displayed a rifle in the back window of his Cadillac, and lived in a compound secured by round-the-clock armed guards. Black reporters covering the civil rights movement in Mississippi often stayed in Howard’s home, which contained stacks of weapons, at least one submachine gun, and, according to one visiting journalist, “a long gun, a shotgun or a rifle in every corner of every room.”

1963, Mississippi Voter Registration Activists (l-r) Bob Moses, Julian Bond, Curtis Hays, unknown activist, Hollis Watkins, Amzie Moore, and E.W. Steptoe.

According to many accounts, southwest Mississippi was the most dangerous and Klan-ridden region of the South—”the stuff of black nightmares,” according to Cobb—but it was also home to several of the strongest branches of the NAACP. Activists from the area were the first in Mississippi to file a school desegregation suit, a youth chapter campaigned against police brutality, and local NAACP members traveled to D.C. to testify for the 1957 Civil Rights Act. The presidents of two NAACP branches-C.C. Bryant of Pike County and E.W. Steptoe of Amite County-offered their fortified houses as resting stops for SNCC and CORE organizers. One SNCC volunteer recalled that if you stayed with Steptoe, “as you went to bed he would open up the night table and there would be a large .45 automatic sitting next to you….[There were] guns all over the house, under pillows, under chairs.” It was for that reason that SNCC operated one of its “Freedom Schools” on Steptoe’s farm.

Anti-racist proponents of gun control should note an irony in this story: One aspect of Southern culture allowed for the dismantling of another. “Although many whites were uncomfortable with the idea of blacks owning guns-especially in the 1960s,” Cobb writes, “the South’s powerful gun culture and weak gun control laws enabled black people to acquire and keep weapons and ammunition with relative ease.” One example of this came in 1954, when the Mississippi state legislator Edwin White responded to an increase in black gun ownership with a bill requiring gun registration as protection “from those likely to cause us trouble,” but the bill died in committee.

Guns weren’t the only physical weapons used to advance civil rights. Five days after the famous 1960 sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, another sit-in was attempted but the protesters were blocked from entering the store by crowds of young whites carrying Confederate flags and threatening violence. So football players from the historically black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College formed a flying wedge and rammed through the mob. In Jacksonville, Florida, a gang of black youth known as the Boomerangs used their fists to beat back a group of whites who were attacking sit-in protestors with ax handles.

Two of the best-known civil rights organizations practicing armed self-defense were the Deacons for Defense and Justice, which was formally incorporated in Louisiana in 1965 with the explicit purpose of providing armed protection for civil rights activists, and the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) of Alabama, a SNCC affiliate that renounced the national organization’s nonviolent philosophy and helped inspire the formation of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in northern cities.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2015 in Black History

 

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America’s Complicity In the Cuban Slave Trade

Slavery in Cuba was aided and abetted by both the United States and England. Today, that history casts a shadow on future US-Cuba relations. The average lifespan of a Cuban slave was only 8 years.

From and Article “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Cuban Slavery”

  • Life Expectancy of Enslaved People in Sugar Mills Was No Greater than Eight Years

Working in sugar mills and on sugar plantations was incredibly hard work, and it often slashed the life expectancy of enslaved people dramatically. Based on harsh working conditions, deplorable living quarters, insufficient hours for rest and a variety of other factors, enslaved people who worked in the sugar mills were only expected to live for another eight years at most, according to materials provided by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU

  • Enslaved Pregnant Women Were Often Beaten in the Stomach

Cuban slave masters were particularly cruel when it came to pregnant women. While the owners of enslaved people in the Americas tended to punish women without any regards to their pregnancies, in Cuba their pregnancies were used as part of their punishment.

  • Slavery Continued On Well After It Had Been ‘Abolished’ in 1817

According to the 1817 treaty that Cuba made with England, slave trade into Cuba was abolished. Unfortunately, this didn’t put an end to enslaved Black people being brought to the foreign land.

  • Slavery in Cuba Was Gendered

Unlike slavery in America, Cuba’s slavery system was gendered, according to “General History of the Caribbean,” Vol III. Enslaved women often had a different set of tasks and responsibilities than enslaved males.

  • The Haitian Revolution Boosted Demand to Enslave Black People in Cuba

After the Haitian Revolution, slavery became even more profitable for slave traders and masters in Cuba. Without a huge population of enslaved people, Haiti backed out of the sugar market, leaving Cuba to be the only major global force dominating the space.

  • Enslaved People Started to Outnumber the White Population in Cuba 

The population of enslaved people in Cuba started to grow so quickly that there was a serious fear that the number of enslaved people would outnumber the white population in the country. According to “A Companion to Latin American History,” enslaved people comprised nearly 40 percent of the Cuban population. When this number was combined with the number of freed Black people in the country, they easily outnumbered the white population.

  • There Was a Spanish Flavor of  ‘Slave Codes’ in Cuba

Spanish rule actually created laws that would regulate the treatment of enslaved people. There were guidelines on everything from how many times an enslaved person could be whipped to how many hours they could be worked every day. Unfortunately, this set of rules, known as the Código Negro Español or the Spanish Black Code, was largely ignored by those who enslaved people.

  • Black Women Endured Rape by White Masters in Hopes of Gaining Freedom 

There were actually policies in place that would allow enslaved people to obtain their freedom, but they certainly weren’t easy. Enslaved people had the option of buying their freedom, but it was a hefty price that many couldn’t afford. Women, on the other hand, had another option. According to “General History of the Caribbean” Vol III, enslaved women who were raped by white men hoped that they would at least become pregnant after dealing with the traumatic experience because Cuban policies would grant freedom to some enslaved Black women who had a child by a white man.

  • Spaniards Weren’t the Ones Who Introduced Cuba to Large-Scale Slave Trading

While Spaniards kept slavery thriving in Cuba, they actually weren’t the ones who introduced it on a major scale. Small groups of enslaved people had already been brought to Cuba before the British took control of the island in the 1760s, but it wasn’t until the British imported thousands of enslaved people to Cuba that it became a major part of their economic foundation.

  • Black People Were Enslaved Specifically for Their Superior Strength

Both Africans and Chinese people were enslaved in Cuba, but Black people were chosen specifically for their superior strength over other races. According to CubaHistory.org, Black people were often considered to be in much better physical condition than white people, which made them a target for those involved in the slave trade.

Cuba’s Star-Spangled Slavery

The stars and stripes, not the Confederate flag, once represented the sordid system of human slavery in Cuba.

Old Glory is flying once again in front of the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba. And at the flag-raising ceremony on Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry did everything he could to remind people of the history that brought it down 54 years ago. “For more than half a century,” he said, “U.S.-Cuban relations have been suspended in the amber of Cold War politics.”

The U.S. punditocracy, meanwhile, weighed in with predictable platitudes about the meaning of it all. Many complained that Cuban dissidents should have been invited to the embassy. The Washington Post called the State Department’s excuses for this failure “lame” and proclaimed, “The American flag is a powerful symbol of the country’s long and noble struggle to defend the values of freedom and democracy.”

Fair enough. But as we’ve learned in the course of this summer, flags can mean many things to many people. And if we want to have a better understanding of Cuba, now that it’s beginning to open up, we should remember that its troubled relations with the United States did not begin with Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959 or even Teddy Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill. We should understand that for many years the American flag—not the Confederate flag—was, for Cubans, the star-spangled banner of slavery.

Early in the 19th century, Great Britain, the United States, and most of the governments of Europe had passed laws banning the horrific slave trade between Africa and the Americas. The British, who finally emancipated the slaves in their colonies in 1833, moved not only to end their own previously extensive participation in the trade in humans, but to prevent others from carrying out that grim commerce as well. They deployed warships off the coast of Africa and South America to stop, search, and seize suspected slavers, and they used gunship diplomacy more than once to impose their will on weaker nations.

But the United States had gone to war against Britain in 1812 to stop it from stopping and searching any American ships, and steadfastly refused to let the British anti-slaving fleet stop American-flag vessels. Instead, Washington deployed its own feeble squadron off the coast of Africa which did little to stop slavers and much to interfere with the British efforts to do so.

The main market for the slaves—tens of thousands of them every year— was the Spanish colony of Cuba, where it was more profitable to work them to death in the cane fields and then replace them with new, cheaply bought Africans, than it was to keep them healthy and alive. Technically, it was illegal to import them, but the law was ignored.

And, technically, trafficking in African slaves was illegal in the United States as well—it was supposed to be a hanging offense—but the New York ship builders and outfitters figured it was well worth the risk, and when cases were brought before the Southern courts they refused to indict.

Indeed, the pro-slavery faction in the United States had its own designs for Cuba: to buy it or conquer it and turn it into two new slave states, thus assuring control of the Senate and greater power in the House of Representatives. (Slaves had no rights as citizens or as human beings under the Constitution, but counted as three-fifths of a person for census purposes, thus hugely inflating the voting power of the states that held them.) More than a century before the Bay of Pigs fiasco, adventurers in the United States organized invasions of Cuba to “liberate” it from Spain in the interests of American slavery. Those, too, were fiascos.

It is difficult to conceive, today, just how gruesome was the trade carried out under that American banner of “freedom and democracy.” In the 1850s, Southern politicians known as “fire-eaters” were defending slavery—and the slave trade—as a moral good. They were pushing to reopen it between Africa and the United States. And at the epicenter of Southern radicalism, Charleston, many refused to acknowledge the grotesque inhumanity of the Cuban trade even when it stared them in the face.

In late August 1858, the horror that the South did not want to imagine—a slave ship—was right there in Charleston harbor. Vomit and urine and feces and blood had seeped deep into the raw wood of the sunless slapped-together slave decks in the hold, staining them indelibly with filth. Cockroaches by the millions seethed among the boards, and clouds of fleas and gnats rose up from them.

The stench that came from this vessel wasn’t the smell of a ship full of cattle and horses, but that peculiar smell that surrounds humans, and only humans, who are very afraid and very sick, or dying, or dead. The water in Charleston Harbor was still and flat and thick as oil, and the air was stifling hot and heavy. The stinking vessel, a brig called the Echo, had been captured off the coast of Cuba a few days before.

Because it was the summer, the season of disease, many of Charleston’s better-off residents had left the city. For those who remained behind the spectacle of the Echo and its Africans was a disgusting but almost irresistible novelty. Because the transatlantic trade had been banned for 50 years, many had never beheld such a ship before. “You will see by this morning’s Mercury that we have a slaver in our harbor,” one distinguished Charlestonian wrote to a friend. “She has on board about 300 naked native negroes, 60 of them women. Every one of whom is in the family way. Everybody is talking about them. The yellow fever, the cables and every other subject have faded before this. There is really and truly an excitement among these cold, stolid Charlestonians.”

That the Echo had been captured at all was the result of a dawning awareness by the federal government of something that the British consul in Charleston, Robert Bunch, had been explaining to the foreign office in London for years: the fleets of slave ships flying the American flag, supported by money-men in New York, and incited and abetted by the fire-eaters like Robert Barnwell Rhett and Leonida Spratt, posed a growing threat to the authority of Washington and to the Union itself.

The slave traffic was growing fast. Something had to be done before the momentum became unstoppable. So, quietly and against stubborn bureaucratic resistance, President James Buchanan had American warships step up their anti-slaving patrols off the coast of Cuba as well as Africa. And the Echo was their first prize…Read the rest here

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2015 in Black History

 

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The Civil War…It Was About Slavery, Period

The Southern Myth has an entire alternate universe explanation about the causes of “The War Between the States”… COvering up the real reasons.

This is Col Ty Seidule, Head of the History Department at West Point

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2015 in American Greed, Black History

 

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Mike Brown Was No Angel

In this article, John McWhorter attempts to present the idea that since Mike Brown was not a perfect victim, the BlackLIvesMatter, and majority social construct (ergo – “Hands UP, Don’t Shoot”) built around the incident are lies. While recognizing the the issue is structural racism MvWheenie doesn’t quite fit Tab A into Slot B, that there could possibly be  some sort of causal relationship between the two.

It is neither true that Officer Wilson set out that morning to murder someone, or that Michael Brown planned he confrontation which led to his death. Michael Brown was not “perfect” – but niether was Rosa Parks or the first several volunteers who were evaluated to challenge segregation in Montgomery.

What is true is that fear, on Brown’s part driven by friends and neighbors interactions with a racist Police Force, and on Wilson’s part by the community’s justifiable resentment and acts of defiance – as well as the proven racist atmosphere within the department, placed the two on a tragic collision course. The black community immediately recognized the disease. They had seen this movie many, many times before. There are a lot of Fergusons out there.

The beauty of Cell Phones and YouTube and other social media sites is it,if not destroys the historical “Police Bias” subjectivity – reduces it to a manageable level. Remember, in the Michael Brown case – and the following half dozen or so cases – the Policemen involved were mechanically, automatically exonerated by the prevailing authorities.

Perhaps Mr McWhorter should get one.Soft pedaling racism, is still racism.

How the Myth of Ferguson Changed America for the Better

While many in this country refuse to accept the truth about what happened in Ferguson, it did at least start a much needed conversation about policing.

A year after Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown dead in Ferguson, Missouri, we can celebrate that this hideous incident has sparked the first genuine debate about black America’s relationship with the police.

However, there is a certain irony as well, in that our initial take on Ferguson has proven to be a myth.

Edison did not invent the lightbulb, Marie Antoinette never said “Let them eat cake,” Nero did not fiddle while Rome burned—and Darren Wilson did not shoot Mike Brown in the back with his hands up, and Brown did reach into Wilson’s car and try to take his gun. No reasonable person, even with the deepest concern about the cops and black America, can deny the findings of the Department of Justice’s report on the incident.

Yet a great many people don’t want to let the myth go. “Mike Brown,” as an utterance and as a meme, has become a totem for the role of racism in post-Civil Rights American life, and that totemic status requires a basic assumption that the main lesson of what happened between Wilson and Brown was that an innocent boy ran up against a white cop’s racist animus.

Black journalist Jonathan Capeheart was viciously flamed on Twitter for urging us to accept the Department of Justice report’s findings. I recently overheard a conversation between two working-class black men, one about 60 and the other about 40. One said “Now, anybody who says there’s no racism is just crazy. All they have to do is look around. Mike Brown, man, that was it right there.” The other man readily agreed. That exchange is hardly untypical. The New Yorker’s piece on Ferguson is committed to drawing a lesson about racism from the story despite the Department of Justice report–its title could be “But Still.”

There is good news and bad news here.

First, the good news. History is being made despite that what sparked it turned out to have been a misimpression. In the grand scheme of things, the progress is more important. If Ray Tensing had casually shot Sam Dubose dead just three years ago, it is likely that the case would never have gotten beyond local news. It is also likely Tensing would not already have been arrested.

The issues of punitive fines and jail sentences connected to them have become part of a nationwide conversation after the Department of Justice’s revelations of the grisly, racist policing practices in Ferguson.

This is big. Black Americans’ sense of racism as a defining feature of black life is based primarily on the police. When incidents such as the deaths of Brown, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, and Sam Dubose are no longer a norm, America will have turned a corner on race in the way that so many wish would happen.

But now the bad part. One senses that for many people, to truly face squarely that what happened in Ferguson was not what we were initially told would be to let go of some kind of opportunity. That opportunity would seem to be, judging from columns like Charles Blow’s this week and the New Yorker piece on Darren Wilson, that changing how cops relate to black men will require white America to internalize a lesson about how racism infects how black people are perceived, and also determines black people’s life chances structurally, as it is often put. In this light, people seem to almost need, or even want, Wilson to serve as the bad white person and Brown to serve as the good black one.

However, if the idea is to teach white America this lesson, historians may be perplexed in 100 years that we were so focused on the Ferguson case when Tamir Rice and John Crawford were simply shot dead in cold blood, and Walter Scott and Sam Dubose were shot dead for trying to flee from arrest for petty misdemeanors.

More to the point, there is an issue of pragmatics we must face. White America is, quite simply, not going to internalize a lesson about racism from the story of a boy who had just stolen from a convenience store who then refused an officer’s order and later tried to take his gun. Some may suppose that the very complexity of this case makes it a better lesson than the simpler ones, in possibly teaching whites that black lives must be valued even amidst imperfect behavior. (A common criticism of those who question Brown’s behavior is “So you have to have a perfect victim?”)

But folks, it’s not going to work. I say that as a writer who has received more angry mail for my statements supporting the Ferguson protesters than I have ever gotten in my 15 years of writing on race—and given my “controversial” politics I have obviously been no stranger to hate mail from all over the spectrum. Yes, ex-cops, but also grandmothers, expatriates, people in prison, accountants, you name it. I have even gotten a lot of actual physical letters—rare these days—with sometimes several pages of urgent handwriting. For a great many white Americans, the idea of Ferguson as a lesson about tolerance has stoked an “All right, enough!” sentiment. It just pushes people beyond where we can expect them to go. Wringing hands about that will accomplish precisely the wringing of the hands.

The idea that Ferguson needs to teach America a lesson is a distraction anyway. At the end of day, getting cops to stop killing black people for no reason is a separate mission from getting white people to understand the nuances and power of racism. It’s easy to forget that because the two things are discussed together so often. However, that kind of discussion is idealist—utopian, almost. A flintier sense of our mission is to make it so that cops know that killing black people for no reason will lose them their jobs and put them behind bars.

As to ideas such as Blow’s that people like Wilson’s “historical illiteracy and incuriousness creates the comfortable distance on which pernicious structural racism lies,” the words are gorgeous but the argument less so. In what sense, precisely, does making sure a Michael Slager doesn’t kill a Walter Scott require that Slager become more historically literate and more curious? That’s a highly unusual proposition, and requires careful presentation and defense if anyone beyond a small circle of the converted is to take it seriously….(read the rest here)

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2015 in American Genocide, Black Conservatives

 

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