Sunday, February 24, 2008

Michelle Obama gets Pride! What Nerve.

Now that a week has gone by the "P-word" pronouncement by Michelle Obama has been beat down, dragged around, sympathized with and pretty much abandoned by Michelle. That "P-word" is the issue of pride finally, in America.
Well what are the poli-social implications of this fall out? Why couldn’t Michelle instead of backpedaling respond like Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun Times? I followed this story because I had the exact same response as Michelle in about the exact same words. Naively, until I was sucked into the maelstrom of opinion, I did not know I had thought anything wrong. I thought the thought quite effortlessly and innocently.
Finally, I too, like Michelle felt I could be proud of my country. I felt I could cross over from being a team USA wannabe and fan to being a fan that is part owner, part of team USA and yes maybe I could even take the field as a player who might have a shot at 1st string.
Now I have pride in my Cleveland Browns but on the real? Those are Randy Lerner’s Cleveland Browns. I’m just a Big Dawg drinking beer in the dawg pound. I revel in their wins scream and shout and agonize over the penalties, inexplicable losses and even team relocation without a potent voice.
Maybe my new ownership status in the team and such is fantasy, because home-girl Cindy McCain and even some Black-folk writers can not understand nor empathize with any part of “finally proud” thus pitting themselves in opposition to her, but in my opinion mostly against her new found pride and mine. The problem is not that they disagree, it’s that they are happily oblivious to the obvious deep divide between themselves and the Obamas and thus between their American experience and mine. Many times I tire of being the voice of dissent by default as Michelle Obama was.
Sometimes I think that because I was born here in the USA I have basically the same outlook as all Americans when it comes to American identity. Then I realize that some Americans may always be owners some may always be fans and the tell tale signs of melanin, kinky hair and subculture determines many an outcome in life and politics.
Yes there is a major difference between McCaines and Obamas and it looms ever larger in deference to the “elephant in the kitchen,” determined to raid the fridge nightly leaving empty cartons of truth, reality and justice in its wake.
Senator John McCain’s great-great grandfather, William Alexander McCain was in the Confederate Army. He owned a 2000-acre plantation in Carroll County Mississippi and also had 50 or so slaves. Mr. McCain’s grandfather, John Sidney McCain Sr. was an Admiral in the United States Navy and had quite an illustrious career. John Sidney McCain, Jr. was a four star admiral in the United States Navy who served in World War II through the Vietnam War.. Doesn’t all that tradition just make ya, I dunno, sorta proud?
How can an owner with ownership tradition and privilege backed by the “us” constitution founded on the U.S. Constitution and ownership worldview see through the eyes of a fan? What does the owner know of long lines, freezing weather, high concession stand prices, the cost of credit to make ends meet… oops sorry I mean the cost of parking or taking the bus with a family of five all to see the game, and participate only as “the twelfth man?”
Does anyone know how long it takes the attitude and outlook of a slave owner to dissipate and not affect his progeny? Would you say about as long as it would take the effects of slavery to wear off of the slave’s progeny? I’m just sayin that sometimes “the apple don’t fall to far from da tree” and John McCain was a damned good fifth generation soldier.
Cindy Hensley McCain’s outlook on life and politics began ( It helps to sing "Rich Girl" by Hall and Oats to this part) as she was born into the world Cindy Lou Hensley, heiress. She was born into the Hensley and Hensley Company fortune. Her late father Jim Hensley founded the company in 1955. Hensley and Hensley Company is one of the largest companies in Arizona selling brands of Anheuser-Busch beer.
Hensley was apparently into illicit hooch, horses and gambling and made a lot of his money bootlegging, post prohibition. A 1948 federal criminal indictment charged, the Hensley brothers made over 1,000 false entries concerning the sale of thousands of cases of liquor.. James and brutha Eugene Hensley were convicted on federal conspiracy charges "with the intent and design to hide and conceal from the United States of America, the names and addresses of the person or persons to whom the said distilled spirits were sent, and the prices obtained from the sale thereof."
Eugene was sentenced to one year in a federal prison and a $2,000 fine. James' sentence was suspended and he received one-year probation and a $2,000 fine. Apparently that did not seem to stem the flow of mad cash into the Hensley coffers. This is capitalism at it’s best and the American Way full throttle if you are an owner.
Cindy McCain said “I am proud of my country. I don’t know about you? If you heard those words earlier, I am very proud of my country.” Honey, of course you don’t know about me. Your husband doesn’t either, so how can either of you represent me? Don’t you know it’s not that I have no pride in this country, and Michelle was not saying that either. When will you acknowledge some can afford to have more pride than others in a land where owners tend to be freer than fans on game day.
I n the wake of the Jena Six, the Japanese internment, the Rosewood Massacre in which an entire African American town was wiped off the map by mob justice, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, Jim Crow laws and on and on one’s sense of pride surely in part depends on whether one is owner or fan.
Not only is our country still systemically, socially, rhetorically divided by race, by the “haves” and the “have nots” vis a vis class and color there is no solution in the immediate future because for many this is the way it should be. “Leave the elephant right there and pass the peanut butter please” some will say.
As the Democratic race heats up for Ohio I must rethink my initial conclusion that Hillary would be just as good as Obama. Can she really empathize with my love-hate relationship with this country and bring about change? Or will her change be business as usual for the fans of America?
For details and a spit on McCain and the liquor lobby check out the Phoenix New Times News, Haunted by Spirits by Amy Silverman and John Dougherty Contact John Dougherty ( at 602-229-8445 or at his online address:
Contact Amy Silverman at 602-229-8443 or at her online address:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Let's ask the Australians: Should the U.S. Government apologize for slavery?

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on behalf of the Australian government and people formally apologized for the mistreatment of the aborigines through the 1970’s. Probably to a person the aboriginal people felt it was long overdue. Many of them shed tears of joy both on the island and throughout the world.
An American can’t help but automatically wonder about an apology to Blacks in the U.S. Well at least this American can’t help but wonder.

On June 13, 2005, the United States Senate formally apologized for its failure in previous decades to enact a federal anti-lynching law. Prior to the vote, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu noted, "There may be no other injustice in American history for which the Senate so uniquely bears responsibility.”
Good start. Of the 4743 reported lynchings in the U.S., 3,446 or 72.6% were perpetrated against Blacks according to the archives at the Tuskegee Institute.
The resolution expresses "the deepest sympathies and most solemn regrets of the Senate to the descendants of victims of lynching, the ancestors of whom were deprived of life, human dignity and the constitutional protections accorded all citizens of the United States."

There are several pro and con arguments concerning an apology and reparations for slavery. A dispassionate eye can see merit on both sides. Of course the most popular reason not to apologize and make reparation from those who are ignorant of the facts and issues (and I do believe I am giving them more credit than they deserve) is, “Why should I apologize? I never owned any slaves.”

O.K., suppose we just call it “even,” on slavery and pick up on June 19, 1865? Many know this day as Juneteenth, the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived on Galveston Island and enforce the emancipation proclamation, which had legally been in effect since January 1, 1863.

Can those Whites who claim to not have owned slaves claim to have not prospered from the institution and it’s aftermath? Slavery was not only forced labor but also the justification for a cruel system of slavery many knew was inherently wrong but financially and socially advantageous.
The law invariably turned its back on crimes against Blacks as in the 1981 lynching of Michael Donald (July 24, 1961 – March 20, 1981) who was picked at random by two Ku Klux Klan members in Mobil, Alabama. Local police dismissed it as a drug deal gone bad and put it to rest. It took a Jesse Jackson protest march (O.K. Jesse Jackson hasn’t always been a slouch) and a public demand for answers and FBI involvement from pressure by Michael and Thomas Figures, local activists to bring the culprits to justice two year later.

Laws, which helped enforce a kind of degradation and psychic humiliation that was not much better than slavery, replaced legal slavery.
In 1883, the Supreme Court ruled the Civil Rights Act of 1875 as unconstitutional. Said civil rights act pronounced: "That all persons ... shall be entitled to full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement."
Okay then in light of this rendering of the law maybe there should be an apology for the Rosewood Massacre??

“On December 22, 1993, historians from Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and the University of Florida delivered a 100-page accounting (with 400 pages of attached documentation) of the Rosewood massacre after interviewing both black and white survivors of the incident entitled, "Documented History of the Incident which Occurred at Rosewood, Florida in January 1923" to the Florida Board of Regents. The report provided support for a compensation bill to the survivors, a bill that proponents fought to get passed. Lobbyists began to receive hate mail, some from the Ku Klux Klan, and one legislator remarked that the public opposition received was an unprecedented 10 to 1.
Officially, six blacks and two whites are the recorded death toll of the first week of January 1923. Historians, however, disagree about this number, recognizing that many survivors fled in different directions, never to return.” No one was ever prosecuted.
I guarantee that no one of color benefited from the drop in market competition by the destruction of an entire town.
Maybe the U.S., should apologize for the almost universal attitude that made this and several other Black massacres possible?

Maybe the U.S. should apologize for Redlining- Lending institutions have been shown to treat black mortgage applicants differently when they are buying homes in white neighborhoods than when buying homes in black neighborhoods, thus preserving segregated living patterns for blacks and whites in the United States. I know, I know some of you are thinking, “so what’s your point?”

Racial profiling.

How about an apology for a legal and a prison system that determines sentencing based on race? A study found that in the 25-29 age group, 8.1 percent of black men -- about 1 in 13 -- are incarcerated, compared with 2.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.1 percent of white men. The figures are not much different among women. By the end of 2005, black women were more than twice as likely as Hispanics and more than three times as likely as white women to be in prison.

For comparison South Africa under Apartheid incarcerated (1993), Black males: 851 per 100,000
• U.S. under George Bush (2006), Black males: 4,789 per 100,000. This means that America incarceration rate for Black males is 5.8 times higher than the formerly Apartheid South African, once the most openly racist country on the planet.

2001 study by David Mustard, of the University of Georgia, called “Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the US Federal Courts” shows that “bank robbery and drug trafficking exhibit the largest black-white differentials.
Blacks receive 9.4 and 10.5 months longer than whites in bank robbery and drug trafficking, respectively. The percentage difference is greatest for those convicted of drug trafficking, where blacks are assigned sentences 13.7 percent longer than whites. The aggregate Hispanic-white difference is driven primarily by those convicted of drug trafficking and firearm possession/trafficking, the only two crimes with significant Hispanic coefficients. For these two crimes, Hispanics receive 6.1 and 3.7 additional months compared to whites, or 8.0 percent and 7.0 percent longer in percentage terms.”

The record is clear, not obscure, nor occult. The government is made up of people like the ones who never owned slaves who demonstrated a desire to exploit and dominate another people. It is the darkest hour of American history…. No double entendre intended.
Much darker that the Japanese internment camps for which the government apologized and made reparation.
Worse than the January 17, 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, for which the U.S. apologized.

Worse than the FBI mistake that landed Brandon Mayfield in jail for two weeks for which the FBI apologized. The apology came hours after a judge dismissed the case against Brandon Mayfield, who had been held as a material witness in the Madrid bombings case, which killed 191 people and injured about 2,000 others.”

The U.S. government Bureau of Indian Affairs apologized to the Native American.

Let me be clear. The principal of the thing goes well beyond an apology being owed. Don’t apologize! Believe me I will Gloria Gaynor survive and more. However, with an apology would come an expulsion of the Elephant in the corner bloated and full of magnolia blossoms … and that that strange fruit stain that just won’t come out. It would be good for your soul to confess. White guilt would probably disappear.

As far as apologizes that would make me feel good..

I would like an apology:
For the “A Black Man Did It Defense” such as perpetrated by Susan Smith of South Carolina and Charles “Chuck” Stuart of Boston. For The Black guy “always” “getting it” first and worse in action adventure and horror movies. For Praising Black folk for being articulate. For The Pat Boone Version of Tutti Frutti. For White folks being oblivious to their sense of entitlement and privilege.
UNITED STATES PUBLIC LAW 103-150 103d Congress Joint Resolution 19