Tuesday, January 20, 2009


As I watch Inauguration Day activities and commentary, I am just awed –- and not in a good way –- at the “spin” being spun “. . . from sea to shining sea” regarding the significance of this election and Inauguration Day.

If you believe the media –- as well as so many whites and some Afrikan descendants –- today is either “the culmination of a dream”; “the end of a struggle”; and / or “the culmination of what we’ve been fighting for.”

Seriously? We’ve been fighting for an Afrikan descendant in the White House?

Now, MAKE NO MISTAKE, I stand with those who acknowledge this historical moment and I fully support those who celebrate this historical moment. . .I understand its emotion, its significance, its resonance to so many who have fought for so long. . .

However, my question is “BUT WHAT ABOUT JUSTICE?”

Because, see, that is what I thought was at the heart of the fight against racial apartheid and the other forms of oppression that was (were) delivered as a cherished twin (along with “freedom”) in the birthing of America and nurtured for the majority of its history.

The fight for JUSTICE has lasted for 400 years . . . are we saying now that the struggle that cost so many lives (physically and metaphorically, in terms of the hopes and opportunities of A People) and spilled so much blood was so an Afrikan descendant can be the head of a country where deep inequities grow by the day, or be the “Black face” of a country that has chosen for so many years to follow an imperialistic agenda?

Do we say “oh, that’s okay now” and continue to support decisions and choices that may represent the best economic, political, and power interest of this country –- at the expense of other countries and peoples because there is an Afrikan descendant at the helm?

Is this truly the culmination of “the dream”, the beginning of what is being heralded as a “post racial” America when $419 million in Black wealth is being lost through foreclosures; when prisons where Black youth are being incarcerated in record numbers are one of the few thriving growth industries; where for every dollar of white per capita income, Afrikan descendants had only 57.5 cents in 2005 – down .2 cents from 2002? Where Afrikan descendants and whites will achieve parity in high-school graduation rates by 2013, but won’t achieve parity at the college level until 2075? Where –- for other communities – 80% of accumulated lifetime wealth begins with a gift from a relative, while for nearly 80% of Afrikan descendant children, the journey toward accumulated wealth begins with no assets whatsoever? (Stat sources: The Reinvestment Fund, University of California, Santa Barbara; US Census Bureau; and United for a Fair Economy)

Yes, America is now in love with President Barack Obama, but will that love extend to the rest of the Afrikan descendant community? Or the majority-Brown and Black global community? Will it extend past this moment to the greater issue of JUSTICE?

Today I pray that this country has the courage and fortitude to ride the wave of this moment past self-congratulations for choosing one man (who finds America increasingly stripping him of his self-identification as “African American” and imposing on him their identification as “Bi-racial”) to embracing the moment in history in which his election and presidency affords us: inspiration and motivation to mobilize and organize in support of a true JUSTICE agenda.

Then we can all be guaranteed to stand on the right side of history, not only in symbolism but in truth.

Moving Forward!


Thursday, January 8, 2009


The closer we come to the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, the more I'm hearing from communities both Afrikan descendant (African American) and white the phrase "no more excuses."

As in "Now African Americans have no excuse not to succeed."

As in "Now African Americans will stop being able to play 'the race card'."

Hmmmmm. . .tell me, what is THAT about?

I concede that there is a certain segment of any population that will look for excuses, use "crutches", or otherwise give up and stay down when they fall.

But what bothers me about the increasingly blanket use of this phrase is its implication that the majority of us HAVE been using "excuses"; HAVE been using this country's generational practice of racism-white supremacy as crutches; and HAVE a history of staying down in the face of its manifestations and impact.

But, of course, our history of accomplishment tells us that this is not so.

So what the heck is going on here. . .really?

The use of this phrase by African Americans makes me wonder IF and to what extent we know -– truly know -- our own history, because if we are repeatedly using this phrase, we have clearly not internalized our history of success in the face of generational institutional and systemic oppression.

The use of this phrase by whites evokes the standard dismissals of the generational impact of the system of racism-white supremacy and belittles the damage done by that system. It also reinforces the typical "blame the victim" mentality and finger-pointing that usually accompanies these types of discussions.

Even Dick Cheney, for goodness' sakes, has seemed to grasp the concept of psychological damage that individuals bear when dealing with sustained domestic terrorism. If EVEN HE can acknowledge that psychological damage to Iraqis' as a result of years of institutional and systemic oppression (January 4th Face the Nation interview), why is it so hard for Americans to acknowledge that many issues in the Afrikan descendant community stem not from "excuses" but from the psychological damage of a people generationally abused by the institution of racism-white supremacy?

Or is it that we're once again caught in the historic "double standard" that allows empathy and objective understanding for the impact of terrorism (domestic or international) for every group of people but African descendants?

So, am I suggesting that we condone and reward those who do fall down, lay down, or who were born "down" without the resources or access to get back up?

No. . .

But I am suggesting that we acknowledge that there will be those in any institutionally and generationally oppressed group who have "fallen and cannot get up"; that we do not dismiss or trivialize the very real impact of racism-white supremacy on those who have psychologically given up; and that we not add "insult to injury" by absolving ourselves –- as a country that for 80+% of its history bears responsibility, through its system of LEGAL American Racial Apartheid -- for creating and maintaining the conditions that "seeded" this population.

Not everybody has the psychological fortitude of –- well, forget Barack Obama, let's use as examples those many other Afrikan-descended individuals who live and achieve every day, even as they are stereotyped, demonized, and / or ignored.

Yes, a few will use "excuses." And many more will continue the African American legacy of accomplishment. But, come on, let's openly acknowledge that for a percentage of the population who will not succeed, it is easier for us as a country to berate them for using "excuses" than it is to explore or acknowledge that as one impact of the legacy of racism-white supremacy.

Most of us will do as our Ancestors have done: negotiate through existing racism-white supremacy and accomplish despite it. And some of us –- because of a penchant for making "excuses", because of lack of an emotional and familial structure and roadmap, and/or because of lack of emotional or psychological fortitude -- will not.

Let's acknowledge that reality -- "No more excuses."

Moving Forward!