Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Black Mother’s Painful Letter to Her 8-Year-old Son: How to Behave in a World That Will Hate and Fear You

by Celia K. Dale

To my beautiful boy,

It is with profound sadness that I sit here writing this letter to you. You are only 8-years old and your world revolves around your friends and your family. You are oblivious to the ways of the world and what’s in store for you as you learn and mature and leave the safety of my arms. I wish that I could guarantee this safety for the rest of your life; but I can’t. I am no longer able to pretend that raising you right is all you’ll need.

Son, you, no, we live in a country built on hate, fear, and oppression. We live in a country that will judge you, NOT by whom you are and what you stand for, but for what some random person with the same skin color does. We are a part of a race of people that are looked at collectively. You are an African American and you’re a male and being those two things can be deadly.

Where is this coming from? I woke up this morning after watching coverage of the happenings in Ferguson, MO, last night and I knew that it was time for me to rethink the ways in which I’m raising you and the things that I am teaching you. I thought that all I had to do was make sure that you understood the importance of being honest, fair, and law-abiding and that it would be enough. I thought that if I taught you to have respect for authority and to work hard at everything you set out to do that I was doing enough. I realize now that it’s not enough.

Your father is a big man, about 6 ft., 2 in tall and well over 250 lbs. He’s an imposing figure and when he walks into a room it seems as though he fills it up. While I don’t know what your stature will be, I know that you’ll be bigger than you are now. You may be considered a deadly weapon just by virtue of your size and you’ll need to know how to be less imposing when confronted by a lesser man.

I wish I could tell you that the police are there to protect and serve and in some communities perhaps they are. But I can’t. I won’t. The police SHOULD be there to protect and serve but if they get a call of a 6ft., 2 in. tall Black male, you may fit the description and in that case you may have an encounter with one of the lesser men that I spoke of.

I have NEVER had a real run in with police outside of traffic stops so everything I’m about to tell you is based on what I’ve seen throughout the years. What I’m about to tell you will make you question my sanity, but I am telling you this because I want you to live. There is NO room for mistakes in your life, Braxton; none. You cannot dress a certain way, you cannot talk a certain way, you cannot walk a certain way and you CANNOT EVER commit ANY kind of crime that will put your life in the hands of someone else.

You CANNOT hang around certain people, walk in certain areas, or even go to the store with a group of friends to buy a sandwich. I may never see you alive again. Your life can be taken by police and there will be NO recourse because all they’ll have to say is 5 words…. “I feared for my life.” That’s it. Guess what? They will be believed because it appears that the prevailing belief is just by virtue of your skin color and sex that you are to be feared. It doesn’t matter that you’re very sensitive. It doesn’t matter that YOU don’t care about what color your friends are. It doesn’t matter, honey.

A lot of people will assume you’re a thug… not because you act like one, not because you’ve EVER walked the streets of an inner city, but because you are Black. It doesn’t matter that I worked my fingers to the bone to ensure that I raised you in a safe environment away from the issues that prevail in poor communities. It doesn’t matter that I’m educated and articulate. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t let you run the streets doing what you wanted to do; NONE OF THESE THINGS MATTER!

I thought I had more time to figure out exactly how to approach the fact that you’re Black and you’re a male in this country. I thought that I had more time to prepare you for what appears to be the inevitable. I don’t. Twelve-year-old Tamir E. Rice was killed after taking a BB gun to a playground near his home. The gun looked real enough.

Someone called the police and told them that someone had a gun and was scaring people but that it was probably fake. Officers responded and according to them they told him to put his hands up and he reached for the gun. He was shot in a playground and later died. I don’t want to send you to the playground and never see you alive again. No more guns. I know you like playing with them but no more. You can’t even take your super-soaker outside because who knows how that can be construed. No more!

If you are ever stopped by the police, Braxton, I want you to do the following:

1. Comply with their requests. It doesn’t matter how they request it, what they are doing while they request it or how you feel about the request. JUST DO IT! I need you to come home.

2. Make NO sudden movements. If they ask you for ID tell them it’s in your pocket and suggest that they get it out. Lord knows if they fear for their lives at that moment you may be killed.

3. If you’re driving, keep your license and registration in your lap or very close by so that any movement to retrieve it isn’t a big movement. You may be shot if they fear for their lives.

4. If the officers grab you, push you, rough you up. Take it! Demean yourself, humiliate yourself but take it. Remember those 5 words. “I feared for my life.”

Wait… I can’t do this; this is complete and utter bullshit. I’m sorry, baby, but it is. I shouldn’t have to tell you these things. I shouldn’t even suggest that you allow yourself to be humiliated to preserve your life. It’s insane but IT IS REALITY; our reality.

I don’t want to be Sabrina Fuller or Lesley McFadden. I don’t want to run down the street and see you DEAD, baking in the noonday sun. I don’t want to watch a smug prosecutor who appears to find satisfaction in letting your killer resume his life as if yours meant absolutely nothing. I don’t want that for you. I need you to be strong. I need you to be law-abiding because God knows if you EVER make a mistake, if you EVER commit a crime, your future is no longer bright; it’s no longer yours.

I can teach you to stand up straight and hold your head high, but when confronted by the police find a way to appear smaller; less imposing. I can teach you to be law-abiding but that won’t prevent you from having to deal with police who only need believe you fit the description of someone who committed a crime to stop you. I can tell you to fight for what you believe in but not if it involves police. In that case you’d better believe what they tell you to believe. Remember those five words. “I feared for my life.” I can teach you that respect is earned but the reality is that you’d better respect police authority earned or not earned or face possible execution.

How in the world do I teach you to be proud of who you are when every single time I turn on the TV there are negative images of people who look like you? When a Black man does something positive it’s an individual accomplishment. When a Black man does something negative, it is somehow a collective condemnation of all Blacks. Others can distance themselves from the negative, criminal acts of those like them… we don’t have that luxury.

If I teach you nothing else, I will teach you that you are to grow up to be strong, and proud and honest and hardworking. I’m going to teach you to always do the right things no matter what. I’m going to teach you that you have to work 3 times harder than your peers even though at the end of the day, the rewards won’t be as great as theirs. But you are NOT to stop trying. I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning and go to work. I wanted to roll around in my sadness and depression a little while longer. Then I went in your room and watched you sleeping. Creepy, right?

I realize that I cannot afford to stay in this place because it’s my job to help you navigate through this messy world. You will NOT be a victim. You will NOT be murdered by some cowardly officer who used those five words. You will NOT be a criminal. You will NOT stand by and watch your friends behave badly without attempting to stop them. You will NOT drop out of school. You will NOT listen to rap music. I’m just kidding! You will NOT do anything that will land you in the back of a police car because there have been situations where a handcuffed man was accused of shooting himself back there.

You are beautifully and wonderfully made, Braxton, and let NO ONE tell you different. You are not responsible for the actions of others. You are responsible for YOUR behavior and YOUR choices. I will stand with you until hell freezes over so long as you do the right things. Unfortunately for you, you do not have the luxury of making boyhood mistakes. You do not have the luxury of pleading your case to an officer or defending yourself against one. You do not have the luxury of reacting because you feared for your life against an officer.

The decision not to indict an officer that killed an unarmed young man last night made me a believer. Your life is of no value to the majority in this country. No one can convince me that it is. Not anymore. You have to be smart, Braxton, and think about every single decision that you make because the consequences can cost you your life. A Black man with a felony in this country may as well be dead. Because it doesn’t matter if he’s served his sentence, his life is virtually over. Don’t be THAT man. Be honorable, be smart, be strong, and be proud. Take care of your responsibilities and hold YOURSELF accountable for your actions and choices.

You need to know and understand that in this country, you can be killed by the police without ever drawing a weapon, without ever being convicted of a crime, without ever committing a crime. I know what you’re thinking. I know you’re wondering what the hell you’re supposed to do with the cards stacked this way. I am telling you to do WHATEVER you need to do to make it home to your family alive. That is what you’re supposed to do. Come home! I want you to live to deal with the justice system another day. Come home!

I need to see you graduate from high school and college. I need to see you meet the woman of your dreams and marry her and give me grandchildren because your sister says she’s NOT having them. I need to see the man you’re destined to become. I need you to live, Braxton. I will figure out how to deal with my fears when you walk out the door, but I need you to walk back in that door alive. I am sick as I type these words because it isn’t fair that I have to tell you these things. I don’t imagine other mothers have to do this with their sons. But I need you to live, so here I am.

I love you, Braxton,

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

As a Black Man I’d be Crazy to Stand for the American National Anthem

by Kwado Akoma Akofena

Black NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers has caused a huge uproar in America from whites on every level, from politicians, NFL football owners, and media hacks to average citizens because he refuses to stand for the national anthem to protest racism in America.

Mr. Kaepernick's been attacked vehemently by patriotic whites who totally ignore his factual position that for Blacks the American flag and the national anthem is a symbol and song of racist oppression and hypocrisy.

Right now, every Black person in America with any kind of pride and sense should be supporting Colin Kaepernick’s protest by not standing for the national anthem. If you have some Black pride and sense you would investigate who wrote the national anthem and when.

Let me expose the writer of the national anthem, Francis Scott Key, on September 14th, 1814 Key while being detained by the British, pens a poem which is later set to music and in 1931 becomes America's national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The poem, originally titled “The Defense of Fort McHenry,” was written after Key witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812.

During the Civil War, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was an anthem for Union troops, and the song increased in popularity in the ensuing decades, which led to President Woodrow Wilson signing an executive order in 1916 designating it as “the national anthem of the United States” for all military ceremonies.

On March 3, 1931, after 40 previous attempts failed, a measure passed Congress and was signed into law that formally designated “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the United States.

While writing this poem in 1814, Key owned slaves and referred to enslaved Blacks as “a distinct and inferior race of people”. From 1833 to 1840 Key was the district attorney for the city of Washington, D.C. and used his office to defend slavery and attacked the abolitionist movement to free slaves.

What most Black folks don’t know is that there are 4 verses of his poem. The 4th verse you don’t hear about partially reads: “Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps pollution; no refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror flight or the gloom of the grave.” Frances Scott Key wrote this verse to attack Blacks who joined the British to fight against America during the War of 1812; as the British had promised slaves their freedom.

It is a total lie and myth that the national anthem represents Black freedom, the writer of the U.S. national anthem was a racist, cold-blooded slave owner and the above verse was anti-Black freedom. Black people were enslaved in America for 246 years and it took us another 100 years just to get basic civil rights.

There has never been a war that the U.S. has been involved in that was about or for Black peoples’ freedom. President Abraham Lincoln made it very clear that the Civil War was fought to save the Union and not to end slavery. 

In closing, to white people, if the national anthem was written by a Black slave owner who enslaved your white ancestors, and a nation that has been racist towards you for 400 years would you stand for the national anthem?  No, ya’ll would not stand, so why should we?

Black Male Murders Continue Under the American Flag

The controversial stance of Black San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem and flag raising before NFL football games due to its racist-oppressive symbolism is not the “causative issue”.

The issue is not so much what Kaepernick’s stance is ‘for’, but what he’s ‘against’ – American racial oppression, particularly racist police murders of Black men.

Indeed, the racist police murders of Black men continue; this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a Black man Terence Crutcher was killed by a white female police officer; Mr. Crutcher had his hands up and was unarmed.

Also, in Charlotte, North Carolina, a Black man Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by police; neighbors who witnessed the shooting said the officer who fired the fatal shot was white; that Scott was holding a book - not a weapon, as he waited for his son to get off a school bus.

The police murder of Scott has led to a Black rebellion in Charlotte – North Carolina’s governor has imposed a state of emergency and brought in the National Guard.

Let me contrast the police murders of the 2 unarmed Black men and the terrorist bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is responsible for a bombing spree that injured 29 people in New York and New Jersey.

Rahami was taken into custody the morning of September 19, 2016 alive after an intense shoot-out with police officers. Let me make this clear, ‘real-clear’, the so-called armed terror bombing suspect was not killed while unarmed Black men are killed, because white police hate Black men more and view them as a greater threat.

Thus, the real war in America is not against so-called terrorism; the real and long-standing war in America is the racist police war waged against Black men.

This racist police war against Black men has taken place under the American flag; the racist white police who murder Black men have the American flag on their uniforms; the American flag is on the police cars that they ride down on Black men.

Think about it, do you think Jews honor the Nazi flag that millions of them were murdered under during the Jewish Holocaust? 

The ultimate ‘disregard’ and ‘disrespect’ of Black people is for whites to expect Blacks to honor a flag under which so many racist deaths of Blacks has taken place during slavery (Black Holocaust) and afterwards. 

Don’t Stand For Their National Anthem – Recite Your Own Anthem

Every week white police men and women go to sporting events and before the game they stand for the National Anthem with hand over hearts, reciting the verse while the American flag is raised.

Every week these white police men and women swear to ‘protect’ and ‘serve’ with American flags on their uniforms and patrol cars. Every week it seems somewhere in this country patriotic white police are killing unarmed Black men.

On September 18, 2016, Tawan Boyd, 21, was viciously beaten by police in Baltimore, Maryland, dying from his injuries on September 21rst. September 27, 2016, Alfred Olango, 38, an unarmed Black man, was tasered, shot and killed by police in El Cajon, California.

Before, during, and after the National Anthem is sung and the American flag raised, Black men are routinely killed and murdered by white police. Indeed, the racist police murders of Black men is a normal way of life in America; it’s the American way like baseball, hot-dogs, and apple pie.

For hundreds of years in the South, white men called Black men ‘bucks’; hunting us down and murdering us like ‘deer’. For Black men, the National Anthem’s verse:

“And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,gave proof through the night that our flag was still there”,

The following is my reinterpretation of this verse:

“And the white police pistols are shot, bullet sounds bursting in air, gave proof yet another day that a Black man’s life was not there. Oh say does that star spangled banner still wave over dead Black men’s bodies in the land of hypocrisy”

The constant murders of Black men by racist police should give ‘proof’ to Black people of why we should not stand for the National Anthem.

As Black people, we have our own National Anthem to stand for – we have the ‘Negro National Anthem’, written by James Weldon Johnson, titled “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

As Black people we should become familiar with our National Anthem; read it, memorize it, and recite it daily. The verse, “Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won” should be said daily as a morning affirmation.

As Black people, we must ‘realize’ and ‘accept’ that the American National Anthem was not written for us; it was written by a racist slave owner – it was written for white peoples’ freedom from Britain, while our Ancestors were those white peoples’ slaves. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Deeper Look at the National Anthem, the Man Who Wrote it, and the History Attached

By Martenzie Johnson

When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand for the national anthem, he set in motion a chain of events that not even he a black athlete fed up with systemic inequality of blacks in America could have foreseen. Even with the historical precedents.

Boxer Muhammad Ali refused induction into the U.S. Army in 1967, was stripped of his world title and had his New York State Athletic Commission boxing title revoked. Ali wasn’t revered as a civil rights leader by the public at large until he lost the ability to speak.

Olympic sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith won gold and bronze medals for the United States at the 1968 Olympic Games, raised their black-gloved fists as The Star-Spangled Banner was played, and were expelled by the International Olympic Committee.

Back home, the U.S. Olympic Committee suspended the pair, stating, “The untypical exhibitionism of these athletes also violates the basic standards of good manners and sportsmanship, which are so highly valued in the United States.” Even baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson complicated political history aside couldn’t bring himself to sing the national anthem or salute the flag.
Much like how the murders of nine black churchgoers allegedly carried out by white supremacist Dylann Roof in South Carolina a little over a year ago led to a nationwide reconsideration of the Confederate battle flag, Kaepernick’s defiance of police brutality in a nation that “oppresses black people and people of color” and the flag that he believes represents it has inadvertently sparked a reviewing of the 200-year-old song about that very flag: The Star-Spangled Banner.

By 1810, over 15 percent of the U.S. population was enslaved.

Francis Scott Key was born in 1779 on a Frederick County, Maryland, plantation to upper-class parents who benefited greatly from chattel slavery. He eventually studied law in the state’s capital and became a prominent lawyer in Washington, D.C., in the early 1800s. Following the Battle of Baltimore on Sept. 14, 1814, against invading British forces - where the lawyer had been “dispatched by President James Madison on a mission to negotiate for the release of Dr. William Beanes, a prominent surgeon” - Key famously penned what would become our national anthem.
After witnessing 25 hours of combat And the rocket’s red glare!/The bombs bursting in air! Key assumed the Americans had lost, but was then elated to see the Stars and Stripes still flying the next morning at Fort McHenry Gave proof through the night/That our flag was still there/Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave.

The Star-Spangled Banner is actually four verses long, though, and features lyrics that go beyond what we’re used to hearing at presidential inaugurations, military ceremonies and sporting events.
Though the well-known first verse, “in which a young man peers into a foggy and rain-soaked dawn to find out whether his country has been conquered in battle, is urgent, open-hearted and honest,” the third verse all but contradicts any meaning of a “land of the free” and “home of the brave” (emphasis mine):

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The War of 1812 was caused, among other things, by Great Britain’s attempt to restrict U.S. trade and America’s desire to expand its northern territory by annexing Canada. By 1810, more than 15 percent of the U.S. population was enslaved, and British forces recruited escaped slaves to fight for the slaves’ freedom against the American militia. This unit, referred to as the Colonial Marines, was part of the British forces that overran Washington, D.C., in 1814 and set fire to the White House.

So when Key references the “foul footstep’s” of the “hireling and slave” who “no refuge could save” from “the gloom of the grave” in the third verse, he’s referring to the killing of Colonial Marines. As noted by The Root political editor Jason Johnson, “The Star-Spangled Banner is as much a patriotic song as it is a diss track to black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom.”

Following the War of 1812, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, with the United States ordering the return of “such slaves as may be in your control, belonging to any inhabitant or citizen of the United States.” The British refused.
Key did not have a complicated or complex history with race. He “supported sending free blacks (not slaves) back to Africa and was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time,” Johnson wrote in his article for The Root. He owned slaves while writing the national anthem, at one point referring to blacks as “a distinct and inferior race of people.”

Though Key won several legal cases on behalf of slaves during the 18th century, 2o years after writing the national anthem, he is believed to be responsible for inciting the Snow Riot of 1835 with the overzealous prosecution of a young black man accused of trying to kill his mistress.
According to Smithsonian, Key “used his office as the District Attorney for the City of Washington from 1833 to 1840 to defend slavery, attacking the abolitionist movement in several high-profile cases,” including an episode wherein he unsuccessfully sought to have a New York doctor hanged.

Nothing Kaepernick has said in recent days gives reason to believe he knew anything about the history of Key or The Star-Spangled Banner when taking his stand the past few weeks. He never mentions Key by name and never takes umbrage with the actual words behind the song. But the sixth-year veteran’s history with race likely well-prepared him for this moment.

Kaepernick was born in Milwaukee. His mother was a white woman, age 19. His father was African-American, and left the home before Kaepernick was born. At 5 weeks old, Kaepernick was placed up for adoption, and a white couple in the area eventually adopted him.
From the beginning, Kaepernick’s parents made him aware of his race but didn’t force the issue. “I never felt I was supposed to be white. Or black, either. My parents just wanted to let me be who I needed to be,” he told last September. Halfway through the 2012 season, Kaepernick took over the starting job for the 49ers, and just that quickly the 6-foot-5, chiseled 24-year-old with the half-sleeve tattoos was the face of an NFL franchise. And the criticism began.

Just weeks after his first start, former Sporting News columnist David Whitley wrote a scathing critique of Kaepernick, based solely on his ink. “NFL quarterback is the ultimate position of influence and responsibility. He is the CEO of a high-profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled,” Whitley said, while also comparing Kaepernick to inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California.

A season later, as Kaepernick led the 49ers to their second consecutive NFC Championship game, Democrat & Chronicle reporter Sal Maiorana tweeted “Kaepernick. Always so media friendly. Turn your cap around and act like a professional quarterback.” Quarterbacks of all races wear caps backward.
Despite never having made a statement about race at that point in his career, Kaepernick was continuously thrown into the racially coded debate over appearance and behavior. Since remaining seated for the national anthem, Kaepernick has been called the N-word too many times to count. Based on everything Kaepernick risks losing by taking this stance football contract notwithstanding his stand is that much more courageous.

In 1900, as part of a celebration of former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, civil rights activist and educator James Weldon Johnson performed Lift Every Voice and Sing, a poem he had written a year prior. In 1919, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) adopted Lift Every Voice and Sing as its official song, later renaming it the Negro national anthem before it was again changed to the black national anthem toward the end of the 20th century.
A second verse of the song sings:

Stony the road we trod
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat / Have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
The Star-Spangled Banner wasn’t written for people like Kaepernick. The song was penned by a slave-owning lawyer who spent a lifetime fighting against the rights of African-Americans. But whether Kaepernick knows it or not, his stance alludes to a different national anthem - a “chast’ning rod” won’t stop him from standing up for what’s right.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Black Man’s Burden: Myth of the Deadbeat Dad

by Dr. Umar Johnson 

You’ve heard the rumors, for they are everywhere, and although unproven, they still resonate as “facts” throughout much of American society. The untruth that Black men don’t want to care for their children has become a staple in American folklore. 

Even sadder is the fact that these rumors are not only postulated by the numerically dominant white majority of this country, but are actually created, maintained and reinforced by the Black community itself.

Even President Obama, who rarely makes mention of the unique and unparalleled conditions facing Black men in this country, couldn’t help but join in on the carnage of the Black man’s image by telling Black church audiences during his first bid for the white house that “Black men need to take care of their children.” Obviously, trying to woo Black female voters, the Senator turned President is also guilty of reinforcing the image of the Black man as a “dead beat dad.”

The question put forth to you today is whether or not this unsubstantiated rumor is true? The answer is a resounding “No!” Not only do Black men love their children, and want to be with their children, many go to great lengths trying to secure their “state guaranteed right” to participate in the lives of their offspring, only to be met with constant betrayal at the hands of the all-too-racially & gender-biased family court systems that make up these United States.

As a therapist and facilitator of support groups and training programs for African-American men, I have seen first hand how so many Black men attempt to establish a relationship with their children only to have the proverbial door slammed in their face, even after being guaranteed “paper rights” to see their children, which are rarely enforced by the courts.

The illusion and hypocrisy of unenforced “paper custody” decisions made by judges and hearing officers is made evident by the fact that, in many states and counties in the U.S., there is no credible enforcement process to ensure that men see their children when mothers decide otherwise. 

In other words, as long as primary custodial parents can evade the law by preventing non-custodial parents access to their children, without having to burden themselves with fines, warrants or transfers of custody by the courts, the Black man’s fight to play a meaningful part in the lives of his children will continue to be an uphill battle.

Most Black women love their children and are willing to put personal sentiments to the side for the sake of God’s greatest gift. Nonetheless, there is a growing population of Black mothers who are manipulating the family court system and/or are blatantly in total disregard for it, in an attempt to keep so many well-intentioned fathers from being a part of their children’s lives.

The fact that Black parents cannot work out their problems in private without having to resort to intervention from the racist court systems, in the first place, itself is a significant indication that our relationship culture needs to be totally overhauled and reconstructed.

When we talk about the War Against Black Children, we cannot exclude the primary role that their parents play in the psycho-social destruction of our youth. Developmentally and spiritually, the mother, within any species, is usually the main advocate of protection for her young. However, after years of mental conditioning through slavery, today we have some Black women who will consciously deny their children the affection of a loving father for personal selfish reasons.

Behind closed therapy doors, I have had scores of Black mothers, benefiting from years of hindsight and maturation, admit, although all too late, that “yes, I kept my children from their father and I was wrong.” Although any admission of honesty must be granted its blessing, unfortunately, the years of damage created by this cycle of ignorance and emotional neglect cannot go unmentioned. 

So many Black children are literally being destroyed by their custodial parents, and way before the mis-education machine, and psychiatric exploitation cartel, has a chance to get their hands on them.

What are some of the unjustifiable reasons mothers keep their children away from their fathers?

1) Out of Sight/Out of Mind: The pain of relationship rejection causes many Black women to prevent the man access to his children in order not to repeatedly have to face the very person who rejected them.
2) Jealousy For What They Never Had: Yes, I have had mothers admit that not having a loving father in their lives can create a subconscious envy for their daughters leading them to disrupt the father-daughter relationship that they never had themselves.
3) A Woman’s Scorn: Revenge is often at the center of disrupted paternal emotional bonds. So many Black women lack the mature understanding that they and their children are not one and the same person anymore. Many women continue, for years after birth, to hold a pathological belief they what’s good for them is automatically best for their children; In other words, “If I don’t need him in my life, then he/she doesn’t need him in their lives.”
4) Child Support: Obviously if a man can find a job he should provide for his children. However, with so many Black men being undereducated and incriminated with felonies, it is quite difficult for many of them to find work. What children need most is the loving affection of their fathers. Although it costs to raise children, it doesn’t help to keep a father from his child for financial concerns alone. Unfortunately, in many municipalities the court systems have effectively separated custody issues from support matters which now gives mothers the right to collect the father’s finances and at the same time continue to keep his children at bay.
5) Keeping the New Man Around: Although I find younger mothers much more guilty of this than older ones, it is also growing in prevalence amongst older mothers as well. So many Black women suffer from the emotional dependency of always having to have a man around to validate their womanhood (a condition often created by their own fatherlessness) that some will go to great lengths to guarantee “the new guy” a place in the sun by keeping the biological father on the outskirts and then trying to force the paramour upon the child as the replacement dad.

Getting revenge against their ex-lovers, at the children’s expense, is a frequent theme in many family therapy sessions that often leads to broken relationships later in life after adult children learn that their mothers were the true reasons behind the absence of their fathers from their lives. 

Many mothers are able to effectively disguise their oppressive tactics against Black men under a false mask of innocence, projecting victimization by the father when in fact they are the victimizers; playing the helpless victim in public who is raising children without the benefit of the father, but is a merciless oppressor in private, deliberately keeping the father from his children.

This Black child custody crisis is not without its impact upon Black marriage. Many Black men, having friends and family already involved in this trifling state of affairs, are fearful of being caught up in a similar situation and are electing instead not to have children, are refusing to get married, and are unfortunately opting for a lifetime of serial monogamy, rather than risking possible divorce and complicated child custody disputes.

In fact, even older Black men, many of whom are still married, are beginning to advise the younger generation to consider a life of serial monogamy or companionship with African women who are not American born. The reaction of Black men towards the pain and agony of having their children used against them is also not advantageous towards building and maintaining strong Black families. Thus, many Black men are rejecting Black women altogether, as poor advice from older men is feeding the stereotype of Black women as vindictive “gold diggers” and “control freaks.”

Unfortunately, an increasing number of Black women, spurned on by the “We Don’t Need A Man To Raise Our Children” Movement that is growing in popularity in the Black community, are contributing to the war against Black men by spreading untrue myths and rumors about “dead beat dads” while at the same time knowingly being guilty of “hiding the children.”

Unfortunately, the dead beat dad myth is so powerful that when others notice the peculiar absence of a caring father from the lives of their children, electing to ask why hasn’t he been around, mothers can readily put the “dead beat dad” myth into play by saying “he just gave up,” “he met another woman and forgot about my children, or “he doesn’t want to be bothered.” These lies are often enough to deflect suspicion.

Since most already assume that the “dead beat dad” myth is true, a manipulative mother can benefit herself from the myth whenever necessary. The fact that she interrupts visitation, prevents telephone contact, and disobeys the partial custody agreement never figures into the equation.

I have found, through therapeutic experience, that when a mother says the father doesn’t want to be bothered, this usually means he doesn’t want to be harassed with her particular “rules and regulations” that are often designed to complicate the custody arrangement (i.e., visitation on days when he works, visitation only when it’s convenient for her, cancelled visitations at the last minute when he had plans scheduled with the child, birthdays, holidays, etc.)

However, this behavior is not without its sometimes dangerous consequences for the women who enter into this game of manipulation and deceit. As a prison volunteer, I am increasingly encountering men who are being jailed for breaking under the pressure of having their ambitions to see their children maligned at every turn, and with an apathetically racist court system that couldn’t care less, issuing visitation orders with no teeth behind them, are instead choosing to seek vigilante justice against the guilty parties.

Although unacceptable, many Black men find it difficult to “turn the other cheek” and are putting hands on women, and their property (cars, homes, etc) as retaliation for being kept out of their children’s lives. Still further, many grandparents and relatives are standing by and watching this game of cat and mouse, with tongue in cheek, and are putting their relationships with custodial parents ahead of the best interest of the growing children.

Even professional Black men, who have so much to lose, are suffering from psychological breakdown, and are being charged with domestic abuse and battery. Attacking any woman should and must never be tolerated, under any circumstances. When Black men resort to physical enforcement of paper custody orders, by attacking Black mothers, this perpetuates another myth, that of the “Angry & Violent Black Male,” which is used as cannon fodder by the mother’s family as further proof that he shouldn’t be allowed to see his children.

Being a felony charge in most states, even threats of retaliation for violation of verbal or legal custody orders is enough to give a Black man a felony record, which doesn’t sit well with his child support responsibilities. As you can see, this is a dangerous cycle of revenge and hostility that only affects our children and leads to disastrous psycho-social outcomes for the children involved.

It is time for the Black community to stand up in defense of non-custodial parents, whether they be male or female, and fight for their God-given rights to participate in their children’s lives. Until we do, the collective community karma of Black America will continue to bring us more unhappy and violent youths.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Black History Month Not Honoring Our Prophetic Forefathers

by Kenny 'Cinque' Anderson

“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”Dr. Garter G. Woodson founder of Negro History Week the forerunner of Black History Month.

As a conscious Black man, Black History Month is a sacred month! A collective time to reflect on the souls of our people, all of them, but especially the spirits of our freedom–fighting Ancestors; the martyrs who sacrificed and gave up their lives for our freedom! 

Over the years, I’ve noticed a significant lack of interest in Black History Month. Last year, 2015, thirty-nine years after the founding of Black History Month, the vast majority of Black people I observed didn’t spend one day out of February to show love to their Ancestors and ­honor their own great history. However on February 14th these same Black folks were all caught up in a Eurocentric pseudo love day ‘valentines’.

I often hear many Black men say, particularly religious ones, regarding remembering and honoring our history, “Why do we have to talk about the past”; “It’s not about the past, it’s about the present”. My response to them is: “If the past is not important why do you read the Bible, it’s a religious scripture of the ancient past.”

I often ask these same Black men, “Why are you a Christian, it’s an ancient religion of the past.” I tell Black men if they knew about the racist past of Christianity in America there would be a greater understanding of their own history.

Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Negro History Week, stated: “It is very clear, then, that if Negroes got their conception of religion from slaveholders, libertines, and murderers, there may be something wrong about it, and it would not hurt to investigate it.”

I tell them all of the Holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter) they celebrate are from the past. I tell them that the 4th of July is a white patriotic holiday from the past that has nothing to do with Black freedom; in 1776 our Ancestors were still enslaved.

I go on to tell them that Halloween is a pagan European holiday from the past. Valentines Day is a European holiday from the past. Memorial Day is another white patriotic holiday that honors veterans of past wars.

Getting back to the Bible example, I ask Black men: “If history is not important, why do they honor the Old Testament ancient Hebrew prophets of the past like Moses, Noah, Lot, Enoch, and Isaiah, who lived over 3,000 years ago?” 

I ask them why ancient Hebrew religious history and the Jewish holocaust are more important than Black history and the Black slave holocaust? As professor Molefi Kete Asante remarked, “We have a formidable history, replete with the voice of God, the ancestors, and the prophets.”

I ask them why the Hebrew prophet Moses is more important than our own ‘Black Moses’ Harriet Tubman, who led the Underground Railroad and delivered thousands of our enslaved Ancestors to freedom. I ask them why they can believe that God spoke to Moses through a burning bush 3,000 years ago, but they can’t believe that God spoke to Nat Turner through revelation signs in the sky - 183 years ago.

I ask them why the ancient Old Testament prophets are more important to them than our own antebellum prophets Demark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser, Nat Turner, David Walker, and Henry Highland Garnett. 

I ask them why is Israel a more important spiritual geography than the South (New Afrika) where the land is filled with the blood and the soil enriched with the bones of our enslaved Black forefathers; as professor Asante further stated: “Afrocentrism teaches us to honor Jamestown where the first bloods truly destined touched the American earth; to honor the sacred spot where Nat Turner planned his revolt in Virginia. We have within our own history the most sacred and holiest places on the earth.”

I tell Black men since we don’t view our historical suffering as sacred, we don’t safeguard our history, and this is the reason why corporate America uses Black History Month as an advertising tool to exploit the Black consumer market.

I tell them that Corporate America won’t advertise and exploit Jewish historical suffering, because Jews don’t allow it! Their history is too sacred and too important to them. We’ve allowed the souls of Black folk to be commercialized and trivialized.

I ask many Black men why do they honor the sacrifices and suffering of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago but they don’t honor the sacrifices and suffering of their own enslaved forefathers, many who suffered more than Jesus.

I tell them though Jesus was nailed to a cross he was not castrated. Indeed, many of our forefathers were hung from trees, lynched - crucified from trees and their penises cut off. After being lynched, they were cut down, bodies tied to horses and drug around. When the horse dragging stopped their bodies were set afire, barbequed, and body parts sold as souveniers.

What I tell them is that nowhere in the Bible does it state Jesus was enslaved by the Romans. Nowhere in the Bible does it state that the Romans stripped Jesus of his name and Jewish culture, like our forefathers were stripped of their African names and culture.

I tell them that they call out Jesus’ name daily and weekly, but they won’t call out their forefathers name once a year during Black History Month. They’ll pray to Jesus, but won’t pour libations in remembrance of their freedom–fighting forefathers. They’ll thank Jesus for sacrificing his life to save them in the afterlife, but won’t thank their forefathers who sacrificed their lives for our freedom in this life.

I tell them it is tragic as Black men that we have been racially oppressed, socialized, and miseducated to believe honoring other people’s history is more important than honoring our own. That other people’s historical suffering is more important than our own; as Reverend Daniel Aldridge stated: 

“We speak more in our churches of the enslavement and exodus of the people of Israel than we do our own Black enslavement and exodus. The result of all this is that we have produced and continue to produce a culturally illiterate people. A people whose spirituality is rooted in the history, experience, traditions, and culture of another people. This historical and cultural lobotomy, this failure to develop and institutionalize a collective ancestral memory has resulted in not only the control of our minds, the internalization of our oppressors’ concept of us, and this would be bad enough in and of itself, but even worse this destruction of our collective ancestral memories has resulted in the pulverization of our souls and the colonization of our imaginations.”

I told some Black men what if during Black History Month we recognized our ancient African Orishas 'God-sent forefathers' and invoked them to be a daily inspiration in our lives.

I told them that in Yoruba Afrikan traditional spirituality the Orishas are the archetypal messengers of Olodumare ‘God Almighty’; they provide us with guidance and ideal attributes to model.

I told them that these Male Orishas provide Black men with exemplary character traits that can strengthen our manhood to effectively deal with ongoing racist challenges; theses Orishas are:

*Shango – Warrior King; the rebel Orisha - the leader of rebellion; he is willful, intelligent, energetic, proud, and conscious of his value; his weapon is the double-blade axe.

*Ogun – Male Orisha warrior and a powerful spirit of metal work; Ogún is the god of iron, war, and labor (struggle). He is the owner of all technology and because this technology shares in his nature, it is almost always used first for war. As Elegbá opens the roads, it is Ogún that clears the roads with his machete.

*Obatala - Father of all Orishas and also the owner of all ‘Ori’ (Spiritual head, super-mind); Obatalá is the source of all that is pure, wise, peaceful, and compassionate. He has a warrior side though which he enforces justice in the world.

*Orunmila – Male Orisha of wisdom, knowledge, healing, and divination. 

*Elegba – Male Orisha messenger and authority; trailblazer (path-opener).

*Oshosi – Male Orisha spirit associated with the hunt, forests, animals, and wealth. He is spirit of meals, because it is he who provides food. He is associated with lightness, astuteness, wisdom, and craftiness in the hunt. He is contemplative, loving the arts, and beautiful things. He hunts with a bow and arrow hunting for good influences and positive energies.

I tell Black men regarding economics that the reason why other ethnic national men dominate all the businesses in our communities and economically exploit us is due to them honoring their history and forefathers more than we do; they have more historical and cultural esteem, as professor Amos Wilson stated: “We enrich the Koreans and other ethnic groups, support them, help feed their children, while ours starve and die, rob and steal, and do the kind of things we don’t approve of. This is a result of a people who have forgotten their history.”

I tell Black men that until we become conscious of our history, view it as sacred, protect it as precious, honor our prophetic forefathers and learn from them; we will continue to suffer from racial oppression, as John Henrik Clarke stated: “You cannot successfully oppress a consciously historical people.”