Point of View Columns

Apocalypse Now or Later?

When historians look back on these times, if there are historians able to look back, it will be clear that the very foundations of society in this country are being eroded and contorted into something that cannot sustain even reasonably peaceful life in this country, and around the world.

Here in the United States there is this almost alien-like aversion to truth and justice and fairness and equity. Anything that looks like empathy, or even sympathy, for the current condition and history of Black people in America is considered “woke” and needs to be banished from good company and what passes for good society.

While racial disparities are scientifically proven in health care, income, education, police practices, housing and incarceration – even referring to this historical inequities and injustice is termed to be “woke” and therefore unworthy of consideration, much less response, by the increasing number of white Americans who are seemingly comfortable with racial inequity or, and much more likely, have just gotten tired or caring (if they ever did care in the first place).

Point of View will take another look at the death of Jordan Neely, the (intentional) fantasy world of Tim Scott and the problem with the NAACP calling to boycott Florida.

The Death of Jordan Neely Will Not Just Go Away

Approximately two weeks ago 30-year-old Black man by the name of Jordan Neely, who was a street performer and also a human being suffering of severe mental illness, began ranting and raving on a subway car in New York City. By all accounts his ranting and raving were not directed at any one individual. By all accounts he never touched, must less hit, anyone in the car. And by all accounts he never threatened to hit or hurt anyone.

Certainly, such behavior on a crowed subway car can make other passengers uncomfortable. But the discomfort of total strangers witnessing a mental health episode cannot be a reason for violent restraint, much less murder.

Nevertheless, a 24-year-old white ex-marine by the name of Daniel Perry decided that the temporary discomfort of anonymous subway passengers required him to act, and act he did.

Using his Marine combat training he put Jordan Neely into a chokehold and killed him. It should be noted that two other white passengers held Mr. Neely down until he passed out and then died.

It gets worse. The police come unto the subway car and after a brief conversation with Mr. Perry, let him walk away even though it should have been clear that some kind of homicide (justified or not) had taken place. And it wasn’t until several days of community outrage was Mr. Perry finally arrested and charged with manslaughter and released on bail.

How many ways is this just wrong? If Mr. Neely was white and Mr. Perry was Black there is simply no doubt that he would have been arrested on the spot. He certainly would not have been allowed to simply walk away.

Continuing this imaginary scenario, if Mr. Perry was the Black killer of the white Mr. Neely there would have been no spontaneous $2 million defense fund magically appearing, presumably in support of the notion that white people can kill Black people by any means necessary if they are in fear of their lives, or in this case, if they are made to feel uncomfortable in the presence of a Black man who is nonviolently experiencing a mental health episode.

The last final fact of this ongoing tragedy is that there are a number of men and women, presumably of good will, who are willing to look at “both sides”, presumably asking all of us to think about a Black person acting in an erratic, but absolutely non-violent, manner could/should be killed if a white person feels too uncomfortable.

The law is not blind in America.

And the law is definitely not color blind.

Indeed, the rule of law rules against Black people, especially if they commit the Original Sin of making white people uncomfortable.

An uncomfortable truth.

But the truth nevertheless.

On What Planet Does Time Scott Live?

Earlier this week Tim Scott announced his candidacy to be the Republican candidate for President in 2024. It is always interesting that when a Black person rises to some level of prominence in the Republican Party Black people like Herman Cain and Larry Elder and Ben Carson – and now Time Scott – who sing the same song with the same lyrics – sometimes the tune may be a little different.

But the basic theme is that “America is alright with me”, and “There is nothing in America that is oppressing or holding Black people down” and finally, “If a Black person is not successful in life is because they choose failure because there is no such thing as institutional racism and the American Original Sin of slavery is no excuse for failure in the 21st century”.

Not surprisingly, there is a white wing of the Republican Party that just loves the Tim Scott Show because he absolves white people of any responsibility for the racism and racist reality that is a part of the lives of most Black Americans.

Instead Tim Scott delivers a message to Black people that, if spoken by a white man or woman would be termed racist. But there is no way that a Black man could be racist…right? And therefore, white America is absolved of any possible responsibility for the institutional racism that permeates education, medicine, law enforcement, housing and…you get the idea.

St. Tim Scott provides shelter for white Republicans who might otherwise be called racist.

There is a future for St. Tim Scott.

But it will not be the presidency.

NAACP Call to Boycott Florida – Wrong in So Many Ways

Recently the NAACP called for a national boycott of Florida based on the racism and right-wing mania in the behavior of its governor, Ron DeSantis. While DeSantis and his policies are odious and offensive and racist in so many ways, it is impossible to understand how the NAACP would call for the boycott of the State of Florida.

First of all, close to 3.4 million Black Americans live in Florida. Most adults are employed or are entrepreneurs who are in turn employing Black men and women. It should go without saying that any damage to the economy of Florida will hit Black Floridians first. It should also go without saying that a boycott of Florida can just be the first step down a really slippery slope.

After all, the voting rights restrictions in Texas and South Carolina and Virginia (to name but a few states complicit in the conscious decimation of Black voting power) would certainly be candidates for sanctions.

And then how about all of the states where Black murders by the police end up with the perpetrator in blue to walk free – Minnesota, Illinois, Mississippi and New York come to mind immediately.

Hopefully the NAACP brain trust will rethink a strategy that is doomed to failure – it will not stop the institutional racism in any state and will, in the process bring real harm to Black men, women and children who are already the victims for no reason except that they are Black.

What an incredible irony that the NAACP, an iconic institution in the struggle of Black Americans, would end up being the cause of even more victimization.

Hopefully the NAACP brain trust can do better than a pyrrhic boycott that in the end will accomplish nothing but pain for Black Floridians.

Point of View Columns

Message to Tim Scott – Its Only Make Believe Until You Believe

Yesterday two members of the Republican Party demonstrated that the members of this cult (it is no longer a true political party) are comfortable swimming in the deepest cesspools of white supremacy and systemic racism any time and all the time.

Exhibit A is a nonentity from Louisiana, State Representative Ray Garofalo, who began to whine about how badly white America is being portrayed in more truthful and historically accurate educational books being used or considered by school systems in his state. When whining was not enough he started to argue about the need for “balance” and then he said:

“If you are having a discussion on whatever the case may be, on slavery, then you can talk about everything dealing with slavery: the good, the bad, the ugly,”

Being able to recount anything “good about slavery” Representative Garofalo attempted to moonwalk away from the sheer, arrogant stupidity of his statement. But words do matter and his words revealed a not surprising ignorance and insensitivity to the criminal aspects of the history of the treatment of Black Americans by white Americans and how – even in the third decade of the 21st century – there are just too many white Americans who just don’t care.

Like the soon to be forgotten State Representative Ray Garofolo of Louisiana.

Not to be outdone, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, was chosen to provide the Republican response to President Biden’s message to the Joint Session of Congress. It was to be expected that Senator Scott was not going to become a cheerleader for President Biden and the Democrats, but for him to say that Democrats are trying “to tear us apart” and that little white boys and girls are being taught that they are “the oppressors” was more than ridiculous, it was, given America’s history of systemic racism and its foundational history of white supremacy, obscene.

But it turned out that Brother Scott was just getting warmed up. For a Black man from South Carolina to stand before a national audience and proclaim that “America is not a racist country” ranks right up there with the old saying about “don’t believe your lying eyes”. Tim Scott knows, must know, that this isn’t true. After all, he lives in the state where a young white man named Dylan Roof shot and killed nine Black Americans while they were praying with him, and when he was apprehended by the police there was no gunfire and the police bought him a hamburger.

Meanwhile, last week white police officers in Elizabeth City, North Carolina – just up the road from Senator Scott’s home state – shot and killed an unarmed Black man by the name of Andrew Brown, Jr.  – while in the process of serving a summons (not an arrest warrant) for a nonviolent crime.

In America the racial disparities to be found in healthcare, education, employment, law enforcement and housing are seriously documented and undeniable – no matter what Senator Scott says. And when the President of the United States publicly announces an agenda to end systemic racism in America it is only a good start if people like Senator Scott and his fellow Republicans continue to believe that there is no systemic racism that needs to end.

To correctly state that systemic racism is part of the American sociopolitical fabric and that therefore America is a racist country, is not to say that every white American is a racist.

Because every white American has a choice and Senator Tim Scott and the Republicans are not helping white Americans make the right choice by continuing to reside in the Great State of Denial.