Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Tri-State Defender Opinion Stories


Why ‘how to react when being called a n–ger’ is so complicated, explained

By Damon Young, The Root

Who is Emmy Victor? Emmy Victor is a morning reporter for KCCI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa. According to her Twitter bio, she’s also a New York City-Washington, D.C.-area native and a Howard University alum. And, according to the footage I saw of her, she might also be a Tibetan monk. A Tibetan monk? Why would you say that? While reporting on a police-involved shooting death of a man—and stationed across the street from where the shooting took place—both Victor and the cameraman she was working with were attacked by the dead man’s distraught mother, who also called Victor a n–ger. But instead of responding in kind—or, at least, giving her an Olenna Tyrell-esque read (which she would have been justified to do)—she kept it professional and even smiled. So, yeah, Emmy Victor definitely has had some monk training. Maybe she just attended the first day of monk camp or something. So she kept it 100 percent professional? Not 100 percent. More like 94 percent. There is a moment in the clip where Victor can be heard saying, “Don’t ever.” Which we all know is step 1 in the 12-step “Is she about to smack the s–t out of her? Yup, she’s going to smack the s–t out of her” process. But then she remembered her aunts would be super pissed at her if she came to the Fourth of July family cookout unemployed, and she shifted back to professional mode. I see. So, something you said in one of your answers struck me as odd. Victor smiled after being called a n–ger. Did I read you correctly? Yes you did. I thought so. How does that even happen? Being called a “n–ger” is one of the worst and most demeaning things that can happen to a black person. How can a black person hear that and … smile? Well, in Victor’s case you have to consider the context. She’s at work. And her work happens to be live TV. And she’s presumably undergone hours of training; training that maybe didn’t teach her what to do when a distraught redneck calls you a n–ger, but did teach her how to comport and compose herself in adverse situations. Also (and I’m just speculating here), although Victor was threatened, I don’t know if she felt threatened. Again, this is just speculation, but the smile seemed to be both an acknowledgment of how ridiculous the situation was and a belief that she could definitely, um, handle that woman if it came to that. It wasn’t a nervous smile as much as a “If this chick knew who she was messing with, she’d be the nervous one” smile. So you’re saying Victor’s reaction was due to her being at work and on TV? Because I can’t imagine a black person reacting like that after being called a n–ger in any other context. Not exactly. Look, it’s true that “n–ger” is the granddaddy of all American slurs and the most explosive word in the English language. And it’s been the impetus behind everything from fights and friendships ending to lawsuits and litigation. You call a black person a n–ger, and you’re basically giving that black person a moral (and, at times, legal) justification to do whatever he or she wants to you. Every black American either has or has been told a story about the time someone called someone a n–ger and that someone ended up spleen-shanked. But just as there are 40 million ways to be a black American, there are 40 million ways to respond if called that word. Sometimes it can be anger. Sometimes rage. Sometimes sadness. Sometimes fear. And sometimes you might hear it and get confused, like, “Did they just call me that?” Sometimes you’ve never been called it before and you’re surprised it didn’t wound you like you assumed it would. Sometimes you take one look at the meth-addicted, single-toothed, Mountain Dew-tinted miscreant who said it to you, and laugh at the audacity of someone like that thinking he or she could possibly insult you. I’m called a n–ger at least twice a day in emails. And mostly it’s hilarious. Not the word itself. But that this person was so upset by something I wrote that he or she was compelled to write a “Dear N–ger” letter to me. (Which also lets me know I’m doing my job.) Ultimately, what we (generally) assume happens when a black person is called that word is a bit different from what tends to actually happen. Furniture definitely moves sometimes. And sometimes it doesn’t. I see. So what’s next for Emmy Victor? A promotion, hopefully. And perhaps even a think piece in The Root soon, titled, “Five Tips on Keeping Your Job and Not Whooping White People’s Asses at Work.”

Really, now? ‘Blacks and whites are worlds apart’

By Richard Prince, The Root

“Amid a renewed national conversation about race in the U.S., a new Pew Research Center survey finds profound differences between black and white Americans in views on racial discrimination, barriers to black progress and the prospects for change,” Pew reported on Monday. “Blacks, far more than whites, say black people are treated unfairly across different realms of life, from dealing with the police to applying for a loan or mortgage. And, for many blacks, racial equality remains an elusive goal. “An overwhelming majority of blacks (88%) say the country needs to continue making changes for blacks to have equal rights with white, but 43% are skeptical that such changes will ever occur. A much lower share of whites (53%) say the country still has work to do for blacks to achieve equal rights with whites, and only 11% express doubt that these changes will come. Meanwhile, 38% of whites say the necessary changes have already been made, compared with 8% of blacks. “Black and white adults have widely different perceptions about what life is like for blacks in the U.S. By large margins, blacks are more likely than whites to say black people are treated less fairly in the workplace (a difference of 42 percentage points), when applying for a loan or mortgage (41 points), in dealing with the police (34 points), in the courts (32 points), in stores or restaurants (28 points), and when voting in elections (23 points). “The report is based on a new national Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 29-May 8, 2016, among 3,769 adults (including 1,799 whites, 1,004 blacks and 654 Hispanics). It focuses primarily on the divide between blacks and whites on attitudes about race relations and racial inequality and their perceptions of the treatment of black people in the U.S. today. “Among the findings: “Black and whites offer different perspectives on the current state of race relations in the U.S. White Americans are evenly divided, with 46% saying race relations are generally good and 45% saying they are generally bad. In contrast, by a nearly two-to-one margin, blacks are more likely to say that race relations are bad (61%) rather than good (34%). “Blacks are about twice as likely as whites to say there is too little attention paid to race and racial issues in the U.S. these days (58% vs. 27%). About four-in-ten whites (41%) — compared with 22% of blacks — say there is too much focus on race and racial issues. “Blacks and whites differ significantly in their assessments of the impact President Obama has had on U.S. race relations. Some 51% of blacks say Obama has made progress toward improving race relations, and 34% say he has tried but failed to make progress. Meanwhile, a substantial share of whites (32%) say Obama has made race relations worse, while 28% say he has made progress and 24% say he has tried but failed to make progress. Among white Republicans, 63% say Obama has made race relations worse. “Among blacks, there is widespread support for Black Lives Matter. Roughly two-thirds (65%) of blacks express support for the group, including 41% who strongly support it. Among whites, four-in-ten say they support the Black Lives Matter movement, but just 14% express strong support. White support for Black Lives Matter is far more widespread among those younger than 30. “Whites are deeply polarized on issues of race along party lines. About six-in-ten (59%) white Republicans say there is too much attention paid to race and racial issues these days, while only 21% of white Democrats agree. And while about eight-in-ten (78%) white Democrats say the country needs to continue making changes to achieve racial equality, just 36% of white Republicans agree. “Blacks are far more likely than whites to say racial discrimination (70% vs. 36%), lower quality schools (75% vs. 53%) and lack of jobs (66% vs. 45%) are major reasons why blacks may have a harder time getting ahead than whites. And on the question of individual vs. institutional racism, whites are far more likely than blacks to say that discrimination that is based on individual prejudice — rather than built into laws and institutions — is the bigger problem for blacks today. “A majority of blacks (71%) say that they have experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity. Blacks with at least some college experience (81%) are much more likely than blacks who have never attended college (59%) to say they have been discriminated against because of their race. “Black-white gaps in economic well-being persist and have even widened in some cases. In 2015, the median adjusted household income for blacks was $43,300, and for whites it was $77,900. The median net worth of households headed by whites was roughly thirteen times that of black households in 2013, a gap which has widened in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Everything you wanted to know about church music but were afraid to ask

By Michael Harriot, The Root

As we enter a new age in which traditional forms of music have meshed into an indistinguishable mosaic of sound and melody, the purest forms of music have seemingly fallen to the wayside. Everything with conventional notes and instrumentation is now called “jazz.” “Rock ’n’ roll” is now anything with a guitar riff. Any black singer belting out earnest lyrics is now classified as R&B—even if he or she possesses neither rhythm nor the blues. Perhaps the most tragic but least-talked-about loss in the arena of disappearing categories is the time-honored tradition of church music. I am not referring to gospel music. Gospel music is any form of music that refers to religion and Jesus. It has been modernized and bastardized so much that it has become almost identical to secular music. I remember watching the BET Awards and commenting to my friend about the new R&B singing duo who were “thick and fine as hell … ” I almost had to repent when he told me it was Mary Mary. It’s not my fault. I bet there is someone right now making love to a playlist with R. Kelly’s “Bump n’ Grind” right next to Yolanda Adams’ “Open My Heart.” I won’t even delve into “trap gospel” or gospel rap. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t believe I should have the urge to do the Nae Nae while the ushers raise the offering. One day Kirk Franklin will get caught up in a performance and tell the congregation to “put your hands in the motherf–king air for Jesus” and you’ll remember that I told you so. Church music is different. Church music is the traditional form of music sung and played only in churches—usually black churches. As someone who has logged more hours in church services than almost anyone on the planet (including the pope), I offer this as a primer for all things church-music related: The Musicians If your church only has an organist, I won’t visit. I need a keyboard player. Church music is played by a church band, and keyboard players lead all church bands (which is why the Roots can’t play church music). Most church keyboard players can’t actually read music, but when they play, they make Beethoven look like a two-fingered, tone-deaf hack. A good church band should also have a drummer. Sometimes there is also a bass and lead guitar, and my church even had a horn section, but perhaps the most necessary and unheralded part of the church band actually never sits with the band: The tambourine player. Every church has a person in the congregation who plays the tambourine as if God were taking score. The frequency of the tambourine cymbals can actually let you know how “lit” the service is getting. If a tambourine player has a slow, steady rhythm, he might be doing altar call, but if if you ever spot a tambourine being beat like it personally denied us reparations, it won’t be long before the Holy Ghost arrives. This is perhaps the greatest tambourine performance of all time: The Congregational Song Perhaps the best-known form of church music is the congregational song. Congregational songs are not just a form of music; they are a great indicator of many things. When I attend a church where the audience sings from hymnals, I know I’m going to be out of there in 90 minutes flat, but if they start singing a congregational song, I prepare for a long service, because I know the steps to a congregational song, which are these: The beginning: Congregational songs are passed down through history by … I don’t know … osmosis. If someone starts a congregational song and you’ve logged as many church hours as I have, you somehow just know it. They all start with a simple premise, like, “Jesus is a way-maker. One day he made a way for me.” I know that sounds easy and uncomplicated, but that is only the opening aria of the congregational-song symphony. The middle: This is where you find out that not only is Jesus a way-maker, but he’s a heart fixer, a truth seeker and so much more. In fact, whoever is leading the song will definitely run out of adjectives for Jesus. Then “the Spirit” will lead them to just start making stuff up. The longer they sing, the more things Jesus will become: a sickness healer, a car cranker, a rent payer, a remote control finder … and don’t act like Jesus isn’t all these things. One day he found a remote for me. The refrain: I think that’s right. I’m not a musical composition expert, so I don’t know exactly what a “refrain” is, but there will be a part of the song where they just repeat the same s–t over and over until the Holy Ghost comes. I call that the refrain. While the congregation sings the refrain, the song leader will freestyle and ad-lib: When I thought my soul was lost … (He made a way!) When they cut my cable off … (He made a way!) When I cussed out my boss … (He made a way!) When the Jets were down by 6 points … (He made a way!) And they ran for 60 yards … (He made a way!) The clapping part: The last four or five minutes of the selection is just congregational soul clapping as if the DJ played “Follow Me.” (If you don’t know what that means, you probably won’t understand the rest of this article.) The clapping part sometimes introduces something else unique to church music. It will begin with a stilted pause, but soon the song will transform into the greatest part in all of church music: Shouting Music Shouting music is a subset within the genre of church music. It is impossible to fully explain shouting music, but imagine if a jazz quartet that also played bluegrass and polka music became simultaneously possessed by the ghosts of all the African ancestors who just wanted to dance one more time. That’s what shouting music sounds like. If love looks like the sun rising, then the Holy Ghost sounds like shouting music. For years, anthropologists, religious scholars and behavioral psychologists have tried to answer this question: Does the Holy Ghost create shouting music, or does shouting music call the Holy Ghost? No one has ever satisfactorily answered the question, but there is a magical potion to shouting music. If you don’t clap your hands and stomp your feet when you are in the presence of some real shouting music, you are dead inside. I cannot say for sure if God is real or not, or if there is a Messiah who will return to earth to save us all, but if there is—he will not descend from the sky to the sound of trumpets. When and if Jesus comes back, it will be to shouting music. The Singers There are four singers of real church music: The Church Diva: We all know who this is. She is the best singer at the church and can hit all the high notes, and everyone says she has “the anointing.” I still don’t know what “the anointing” is, but as I have previously conjectured, its roots stems from a Latin word that means “can sing like a motherf–ker.” Before she begins singing a song, the Church Diva will remind you that she has a sinus cold and has been a little hoarse lately—and then proceed to perfectly belt out a song in four octaves, with runs, key changes and notes that operatic sopranos couldn’t hit. But God … Sister Wilma: Even if her name is different, every church has a sister Wilma. Sister Wilma was the Church Diva 30 years ago, but now she sounds like she’s been swallowing rocks, and her voice is so raspy it sounds like she needs to drink some lotion. She can’t sing. But she can saaang. When Sister Wilma opens her mouth, it’s like shining the Bat Symbol for the Holy Ghost. He’s coming. Cue the shouting music. The Pastor: Every black Pastor can sing. The National American Association of Black Preachers will not license any individual who can’t sing. The Pastor might not be able to lead a song on the choir, but at least the congregation will know what he’s singing. Even if a Pastor can’t sing, he will still sing because it’s all about the praise, and he knows Jesus don’t give a … The Delusional Diva: Everyone has one of these people at their church, although it is not always a woman. There is always one person with an unshakable belief in his or her singing voice, even though that person sounds like that one time I stepped on my dog’s testicles as I was holding him still while trying to clean his ears. Delusional Divas don’t have the anointing. They can’t call on the Holy Ghost. They are the source of all the choir conflict because they bring songs to the choir that the director gives to the Church Diva to lead. The keyboard player never knows what key they are singing in. But they never stop trying, because they love church music, and so should you. Don’t ever stop trying. Just remember: Jesus is a voice fixer. One day he fixed a voice for me.

Sink or Swim

By Josh Boak, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON— When the U.S. housing bubble peaked a decade ago, soon to burst with far-reaching consequences, the pain was particularly severe for black and Hispanic Americans. A disproportionate number of minorities succumbed to subprime mortgages and foreclosures and lost their homes. Their collective loss of home equity and shift toward rental housing could widen America’s racial and ethnic divides well into the future, according to researchers and housing advocates. The drop in home ownership has grown so severe that it could impede wealth creation for generations of minority families, said Antoine Thompson, executive director of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the nation’s oldest minority trade association. “We lost a lot of wealth,” Thompson said. “We are reaching epidemic and crisis levels in black America.” The decline dovetails with a broader shift toward renting in the aftermath of the housing bust. An analysis by The Associated Press has found that rising rental costs and stagnant pay are making it harder to save to buy a home. Longtime homeowners, by contrast, have enjoyed rising home equity and lighter mortgage bills resulting from lower mortgage rates. The problem is most pronounced among minorities who already had lower ownership rates before the bubble. Actions such as “redlining” — which for decades denied loans to minorities — excluded African-American neighborhoods from government-backed mortgages. This made it harder for minorities to buy even as the U.S. economy surged after World War II and overall home ownership rates climbed. Many minority homeowners who bought or refinanced during the bubble eventually became trapped by predatory mortgages, some requiring no money down and monthly payments that eventually ballooned. Just 41.5 percent of African-American households own their homes, down from nearly 50 percent in late 2004, according to the Census Bureau. The share of Hispanic homeowners dropped to 45.3 percent from roughly 50 percent. Both drops were sharper than the decline in white home ownership — to 72.1 percent from roughly 75 percent. The Urban Institute forecast last year that Hispanic home ownership will rise slightly through 2030 but that African-American homeownership will tumble to 40 percent by 2030 if U.S. economic growth is about average and 38 percent if growth is slow. A series of sudden emergency expenses cost Carmen and Ricardo Ramirez their one-bedroom condominium in Washington Heights, a neighborhood near Manhattan’s northern tip. The couple had bought their home in 2005 for $299,000 with an adjustable-rate mortgage that was popular during the bubble and destructive during the bust once the interest and principal payments were adjusted higher. Life seemed manageable until 2010, when the recession forced them to close their steakhouse restaurant. Then Ricardo suffered a traumatic brain injury during a fall in 2011, and Carmen suffered a back and leg injury in 2012. Her parents later died, and the funeral costs caused the couple to miss mortgage payments, triggering fees for late payments that led to foreclosure. “Have you ever heard the saying, when it rains, it pours?” said Carmen, 61. “Well, it was one after the other with us.” Bankruptcy failed to save the condo, which their board refused to let them sell at a loss. Now, the couple is out of their home and in an assisted living facility after receiving relocation help from the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, which promotes affordable homeownership. “We got nothing back — except a tax bill,” Carmen said. Without home equity, it has become disproportionately hard for minorities to borrow to start a business, send their children to college or finance a retirement. In the Boston area, nearly 80 percent of whites own homes and enjoy a median net worth of $256,500. By contrast, just one-third of African Americans own a home, and their median net worth is a mere $700, according to a report last year by the Boston Federal Reserve. In Los Angeles, Mexican Americans have a median net worth of $5,000, and only 45 percent of them own homes, according to a similar analysis by the San Francisco Federal Reserve. Contrast that with the $355,000 median net worth for whites living around Los Angeles, 68 percent of whom own homes. Even as homeownership rates were rising during the bubble, there were signs that homeowners who had refinanced with adjustable-rate mortgages were being pushed out. Starting in the 1990s, these mortgages, with balloon payments or other onerous terms, were pushing African-American homeowners back into rentals, according to research by a pair of sociologists, the University of Buffalo professor Gregory Sharp and Cornell University professor Matthew Hall. It marked a striking reversal from the gains made after the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which barred discrimination based on race, religion or sex. Sharp and Hall”s 2014 paper found that African Americans were 50 percent more likely than whites to lose their homes and become renters. This trend had begun as minorities either bought or refinanced with the sub-prime mortgages that lenders had marketed to them. The two sociologists adjusted their data for income, debt loads and life events. They found that race was the leading explanation for why people lost homes they owned and turned back to rentals. “It’s a clear story of persistent and growing racial stratification in the housing market, a shift from exclusion to exploitation,” Sharp said. “That’s not just income. That’s race. That is going into segregated neighborhoods and sort of preying on people.”

It’s not now, nor was it ever, President Obama’s job to cure racism

By Michael Arceneaux, The Root

In the coming weeks and months and, surely, the years after President Barack Obama actually leaves office, much time will be spent examining his political legacy from all angles. Already, writers like me are examining the Obama record on LGBT issues, while others concentrate on his record on the economy, foreign policy and the environment. And although there are certainly some areas worthy of critique and debate—namely his record on deportation and tackling issues that directly speak to the plight of black people living in America—some have started to critique Obama for essentially not being a racism-solving unicorn. Late last year, Issac J. Bailey wrote an essay titled, “Why Obama Must Reach Out to Angry Whites” for Politico. In it, Bailey, who is black, argued that in the wake of the political ascension of Donald Trump, it is up to Obama to solve lingering racial divisions in America. One assumes that a laugh track played in the background the entire time Bailey was writing, but that remains unconfirmed. That said, Bailey claimed, “There is only one person who can unite the country again, and he works in the White House. Yes, President Barack Obama—ironically, the man who is the personification of the fear Trump is exploiting—is the one in the best position to quell the anger being stirred up.” If you remember correctly, Obama’s historic presidential campaign was marked as the launch of post-racial America. White people predominantly said this while the black people they don’t speak to regularly, or ever, rolled their eyes and went about their days. It’s clear now which party won that argument. Still, Bailey went on to write: “What he needs to do is use the power of the office in a different way, one that matches the ruthless effectiveness of a demagogue with a private jet. Obama needs to go on a listening tour of white America—to connect, in person, with Americans he has either been unable or unwilling to reach during his seven years in office.” Bailey proceeds to then offer his own anecdotal evidence of how this strategy works, though, spoiler alert: Bailey is not the first black president of the United States; thus, his comparison is inherently flawed. Exactly one week later, another piece like Bailey’s surfaced. This one was titled, “Ending racism should be Obama’s life mission as he exits presidency.” Here, Leonard Greene, another black man, proceeds to make the same mistake as Bailey. Greene writes, “If Obama is really serious about attacking America’s original sin, he should immediately abandon any thoughts about creating some kind of post-presidency global foundation.” So what should Obama do? Greene says, “Instead, the nation’s first black president should dedicate the rest of his life to working exclusively on trying to heal the racial divide. To quote Eeyore, “Oh bother.” I have read more recent pieces about Obama’s role in fighting American racism. Some make the attempt at being nuanced; others make me temporarily admire the functionally illiterate. To any black writer with a keyboard and a few bills to pay, don’t be the Negro who puts the onus of stopping racism on its victims. Do not be that melanin-rich person who spreads falsehoods—particularly in mainstream outlets, of all places. Perhaps it’s films like The Help that have convinced some that black people can magically say a few nice words and help some well-meaning white person see the error of his or her ways in 90 minutes, but that’s not how racism works in reality. President Obama cannot simply greet angry white men who harbor deep racial resentment toward him and all those who look like him and dramatically alter their state of mind with a conversation. Likewise, to ask Obama to suspend an all-encompassing global foundation to try and “bippity boppity boo” bigotry away is to wish an incurable migraine on that man for the rest of his life. It’s one thing to argue that perhaps Obama could have said more about the racism that impacted his presidency, but Obama cannot cure racism itself. If that were the case, his administration might have gone far smoother than it actually did. If that were the case, Donald Trump would not be this election’s Republican nominee for president. These things happened because racism existed long before Obama or any other of its victims also presently living and breathing. Victims are not responsible for the acts of their perpetrators. I imagine there will be more pieces like this surfacing in the future arguing otherwise. They’ll still be wrong, incredibly silly and totally a waste of any thinking person’s time.

Who speaks for you?

By Associated Press The Associated Press analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Congress and the National Conference of State Legislatures to determine the extent to which the ...

Fed up with gun violence

By Thomas C. Sheffield

Desensitized to gun violence? When will it end? How many more times will our regularly scheduled program have to be interrupted with a special report of a mass shooting? We have become desensitized to the many violent crimes in the past 10 years. According to the American Psychological Association, gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the U. S. Guns kill almost 30,000 people and cause 60,000 injuries each year. The time for waking up to the reports of gun violence on the news is over. Gun violence does not bring value to our society of to future generations. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, gun-related deaths in the state of Tennessee rose from 943 in 2006 to 1,020 in 2014. I refuse to believe we cannot stop this trend. Consider the decline in the amount of vehicle-related deaths in that same time period. In 2006, 1,284 people died in vehicle-related accidents. This dropped to 963 deaths in 2014. The change is in large part due to the mandatory seat belt laws and the “Click It or Ticket” campaign. There was a debate that the seat belt law invaded privacy when it was signed into law in 1986. I refuse to rest on the belief of our country’s greatness and our patriotism. Our patriotism should not be shown solely in the times we pull together when there is a great tragedy. We are great because we are willing to do things that no one else will do. Now is the time for the citizens to speak up and take action. We are world leaders in thought and deeds but this leadership does carry a huge responsibility. We must balance personal responsibility with public policy and elect those wise enough to know the difference. Voting not only brings value to our lives but value to the lives of those yet born. And it is sustainable. It is time to reign in our leaders and their willingness to allow the gun lobby to dictate the gun laws in our lands. If you are fed up with the epidemic of gun violence in our community, but you have not yet contacted your elected representatives to make your voice heard, now is the time. It is shameful that the gun lobby has priority over so many of our politicians who are supposed to represent us. We need to contact the leaders of our state. Gov. Bill Haslam’s office can be reached at 615-741-2001. All Tennessee state legislators may be reached at 1-800-449-8366. Please visit capitol.tn.gov for a listing of your state representatives. It is an election year and it is time for them to hear from you. (Thomas C. Sheffield owns Nashville-based Thom Sustainable Consultants. Contact him at [email protected] Visit thomsustainableconsulting.com. Follow @tcsheff.)

What would it take to scare America into passing stricter gun control?

By Keith Young, The Root

It’s been exactly one year since Dylann Roof decided to make himself infamous by walking into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church–less than five minutes from where I’m sitting now–to, according to prosecutors, commit murder, get his racist merit badge and join the ranks of the worst people from South Carolina ever. He accepted the kindness of people attending Bible study and prayed with them before, authorities charge, he killed nine of them and ran away like a coward. All for some misbegotten plan that he cooked up in his head to start a race war. Roof seems to have inhabited some dark corner of the world where hate-filled little men go to stew in their own vitriol and ass-backward beliefs about whatever specific groups they either distrust, flat-out hate or blame for making their world such a horrible place. Whether I like it or not, it’s their right to go online, to a bar, a shack in the woods or any other place to do so, but unfortunately, every now and then, the Dylann Roofs of the world decide to put words into action, and now nine families, a church, a town, a state and a nation have had to deal with the fallout. Almost a year before Roof’s alleged actions at Mother Emanuel, another angry young man, Elliot Rodger, shot and stabbed his way through an area near the University of California, Santa Barbara, killing six and injuring 14. Rodger left behind YouTube videos and manifestos to illustrate his motives in the most frightening ways possible. Unlike Dylann Roof, Rodger’s hatred was mostly focused on women and his lack of success with them. To wage this “war on women,” little Elliot Rodgers went out and purchased a Glock 34 and a pair of Sig Sauer P226 pistols, then took out his rage on a group of innocent people. All before killing himself like a coward. That brings us to Omar Mateen, whose deeds are fresh in our minds. In what seems be a strange mix of self-hated, religious-based homophobia and extremist Islamic beliefs, Mateen killed 49 patrons of Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. He started shooting people simply because they were either homosexual, allied with the LGBTQ community or were just dancing before last call. The really messed up part is that mass shootings will happen again. I don’t know when or how soon, but something akin to this will occur at some point. The same questions will be asked. The same expressions of sorrow and concern will be made. The nation’s leaders will opine on the state of things and what can be done to prevent this from happening again and the public will forget about it all within a few months. One of the few certainties about these incidents is that they have two frightening commonalities: an angry young man and guns. No matter where you are, a young man who feels wronged and possesses a gun is a recipe for disaster. The stamped metal of an Kalashnikov, the plastic polymer of an AR-15 or the 2 pounds worth of steel that makes up most handguns have forever made small, angry men feel big. Sadly, in the United States, which fancies itself a “developed” nation, these angry, little men have utilized their Second Amendment rights to wage an assault on those who have drawn their ire. And the next mass shooting will be another reminder that, while we will never run out of angry, young men, we have failed in preventing them from arming themselves. As a gun owner, I find myself running through various scenarios on how to regulate an industry with constitutional protection and tons of money to lobby politicians to limit gun control. I’m honestly fresh out of ideas on how to force the government and the gun industry into supporting stricter gun measures. What would it take to scare America into saying, “OK, we need to seriously rethink the kind of guns we allow on the streets”? Last November, actor Wendell Pierce tweeted, “If every Black male 18-35 applied for a conceal & carry permit, and then joined NRA in one day; there would be gun control laws in a second.” Sure, it sounds insane, but I bet it would work. Although, I would never join the National Rifle Association, I wonder if gun regulations would change. I can’t help but ponder how those who are staunchly opposed to gun control would spin their new views given the NRA’s history with the Black Panther Party. Whether or not we pass stricter gun control, America has a serious problem, and on any given day, we could find ourselves trapped in a nightmare like the folks at Mother Emanuel, Pulse or U.C., Santa Barbara just because some angry, little man got a gun and decided to make some twisted statement.

Shirley Chisholm paved the way for Hillary Clinton

By NewsOne

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has cemented herself in history, earning more than enough delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination. But before Clinton’s historic moment, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm paved the way with her presidential campaign in 1972. In 1968, Chisholm became the first African-American woman elected to Congress, representing New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In 1972, she became the first major party Black candidate to run for President of the United States, and the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. On Thursday, Dr. E. Faye Williams, president and CEO of National Congress of Black Women, and filmmaker Shola Lynch, producer of the documentary Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed, joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss Hillary’s political milestone and how Chisholm made it possible decades earlier. Dr. Williams explained that Chisholm was a “catalyst for change,” and when she looks at what is happening with the Democratic Party and “Hillary Clinton cracking that glass ceiling,” she thought of Chisholm. Dr. Williams said, “It was Shirley Chisholm who brought us to where we are. First of all, she paved the way for President Obama as well as (for) Hillary Clinton. “Whatever Hillary Clinton is doing today, she can thank Shirley Chisholm for that.” Lynch told Martin what often gets lost about Chisholm’s campaign is her “political strategy.” According to Lynch, Chisholm understood leverage and “did not wait her turn.” “She acted on her conscience and she was a very progressive candidate –she was unbought and unbossed,” added Lynch. The filmmaker explained that Chisholm secured as many delegates as possible to use as leverage prior to the ’72 convention and said there “was a scramble because there was no frontrunner” at the time. Chisholm was able to fund her presidential campaign primarily with her savings as a school teacher; a feat that seems unfathomable in this day and age, when candidates raise hundreds of millions of dollars to run for public office. Lynch then shared with viewers what she would like them to remember: “When you have good ideas, you need to follow through, and if somebody tells you it’s not your turn, but you’re sure you’re right – then you got to be unbought and unbossed.” Watch Roland Martin, Dr. E. Faye Williams, and Shola Lynch discuss Shirley Chisholm’s groundbreaking presidential campaign, which paved the way for Hillary Clinton, in the video clip above.

Why Snoop should write and produce movies

By Raynard Jackson

Last week rapper Snoop Dogg put up an epic video rant on his Instagram. In the verbiage that only Snoop can conjugate, he said in no uncertain terms that people should not watch the 21st century remake of the epic TV miniseries “Roots” that aired on The History Channel last week. I must say that I thoroughly agree with Snoop Dogg’s position one hundred percent, though I can do without the raw language. “Roots: The Saga of an American Family” was a book written by famed author Alex Haley in 1976. In the book, Haley traced his ancestral roots back to The Gambia in West Africa. He was able to trace his family lineage all the way back Kunta Kinte. Kinte was captured as a teenager in The Gambia and ultimately sold into slavery and brought to the U.S. The book was turned into a blockbuster TV miniseries back in 1977. The remaking is what led Snoop to do his now viral video on Instagram. His position was that he didn’t want to see any more movies about slavery. “Where are all the movies about Black success?” Snoop asked. I totally agree with Snoop. I refused to watch the remake of “Roots.” I was watching my N.B.A. basketball playoffs. Following Snoop’s rant, TV personality Roland Martin addressed the subject on his news program on TV ONE. The one point that I do agree with Roland is that more blacks need to step up and be willing to help finance the production of some of these movies about successful blacks. That’s a legitimate challenge that Snoop should address. Martin launched into this tirade about Jews “never” getting tired of movies about the Holocaust. He is way off base with his analysis. Martin and those who agree with him are missing a few, very germane points. I mean can any one name a black person who has financed, executive produced, produced, directed, or distributed a major movie or TV program about the Holocaust? You can’t, because it hasn’t happened. But most movies about slavery have non-blacks in major positions of control or power; even though there may be a black producer or director attached to the project. I am not aware of one movie about slavery where blacks have had total control of the process from beginning to end. The movie “Amistad” (1997) was written by David Franzoni, directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Debbi Allen (black), Steven Spielberg and Colin Wilson. John Williams composed the musical score. “12 Years a Slave” (2013) was based on the life of former slave Solomon Northup and it was directed by Steve McQueen (black) and produced by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Steve McQueen (black), Arnon Milchan, and Anthony Katagas. John Ridley (black) wrote the screenplay and Fox Searchlight Pictures distributed the movie. The 2016 version of “Roots” was written by Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Alison McDonald (black), and Charles Murray (black). The four-part miniseries was directed by Bruce Beresford, Phillip Noyce, Thomas Carter (black), and Mario Van Peebles (black). Now, let’s look at a few of the top Holocaust movies. “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959) was based on the writings of Anne Frank and directed by George Stevens and written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. “Schindler’s List” (1993) was written by Steven Zaillian and produced by Steven Spielberg, Gerald R. Molen, and Branko Lustig. Steven Spielberg also directed the movie and “Schindler’s List” was distributed by Universal Pictures. “The Pianist” (2002) was based on the book by Wladyslaw Szpilman and directed by Roman Polanski, who also earned production credits. Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde were also producers on the movie and it was distributed by Focus Features. Do you notice anything that stands out to you here? There are no Blacks in any position of control or authority in any of these movies. The Jewish community tells their history through their own eyes and from their own perspective. Remember, the Chinese sculptor of the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King on the National Mall in Washington, DC, Lei Yixin, was “forced” to redo the statute because some felt that the original rendering made King seem too “confrontational.” Confrontational to whom? To this day, I have refused to visit King’s statue on the Mall. Yixin was chosen at the expense of very capable American sculptors, both black and white. The U.S. government also allowed Yixin to bring Chinese workers into the country to assemble the sculpture. They were literally paid slave wages, but I digress. The U.S. government spent over $120 million on the King sculptor and the money went to China and Chinese workers. The Jewish community would never allow something like this to happen to anything dealing with their own community. So, to Roland Martin and his supporters, let’s stop being a slave to slavery. (NNPA News Wire Columnist Raynard Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future, a federally registered 527 Super PAC established to get more Blacks involved in the Republican Party. For more information, visit www.bafbf.org. Follow Raynard on Twitter @raynard1223.)