Dr. E. Faye Williams
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I cannot count the times I have heard that black women don’t support each other. ... Black women know that all anybody has to do is tell us what we can’t do and the game is on!
Comedian and activist Dick Gregory left us last August. At least a year before passing away, he told me we’d soon be facing chaos.
Recently, comedian Chris Rock made a good point when he said that U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has represented the state of Kentucky for more than 30 years and he’s one of the nation’s most powerful and richest senators.
Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama did not go into seclusion and act like the rest of the world did not exist or impact them. They have made very important appearances on issues and on occasions that really matter.
Not surprisingly, one of the latest revelations about 45 is the report that, in 2016, his lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid adult film star Stephanie Clifford (aka “Stormy Daniels”) $130,000 to secure an agreement preventing her from disclosing the details of a 2006 sexual liaison with the reality star now politician.
One of my favorite Christmas pastimes is looking through my television content guide, finding a scheduled airing of “A Christmas Carol” and tuning in to watch. I don’t know how many iterations of this movie classic have been made, but I’ve viewed multiple versions made from the 1930s to the recent past. It seems like each generation produces a film with a modern twist designed to keep the message of the movie fresh for new viewers.
The 2016 film “Birth of a Nation” was released in a storm of controversy unrelated to the film itself. Whatever your opinion of the film or its maker, one cannot deny the relevance of the film as a medium of historical instruction and a study of human behavior.
By now, you know I look forward to the opportunity of sharing my opinions with readers. I pray that the columns offer helpful, thought-provoking and uplifting ideas.
For those who knew comedian-activist Dick Gregory, it’s no secret that we were best friends for a very long time. More than a year before he died, he told me — as I am sure he told many others — that the 2016 election wasn’t going to go the way I thought it would.
In 2015, CNN reported that 49 percent of Americans thought that racism was a big problem in the United States. Not surprisingly, people of color and white people had significantly differing views regarding the subject. Sixty-six percent of black people and 64 percent of Hispanics thought that racism was a big problem, while only 43 percent of white people saw it that way.
I’ve always heard the expression, “What goes on in the dark comes out in the light.”
Black people have fared best when our collective interests and goals are held paramount. We’ve made the greatest headway when our assumed leaders are guided by principles of self-sacrifice above self-aggrandizement. I pray that we have the wisdom to remember and embrace these lessons learned “over a way that with tears has been watered ... through the blood of the slaughtered.” Since 1909, the NAACP has been the most recognized and venerated civil rights organization in the United States. Most Americans respect and admire the NAACP. Those of us 50 years old and older remember that, when intervening in civil rights matters, the NAACP often mitigated outcomes of interracial conflict to the benefit of often maligned African-American victims. It’s said, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” A lapse of time often adds to that contempt. Outside of “the faithful,” the NAACP’s reputation as a relevant player in the civil rights arena had diminished. This perception was especially true among youths who were more likely to ask the question, “What have you done for me lately?” While I am an NAACP life member and I’ve always seen its relevance, many people thought the organization had moved close to being irrelevant. Several episodes of questionable leadership did little to rehabilitate its reputation. For many, that changed in May 2014 with the selection of the Rev. Cornell William Brooks as national NAACP president and CEO. Lacking the bravado and ostentatiousness of many leaders of our community, Rev. Brooks came to the job as an experienced civil rights professional. A fourth generation A.M.E. minister and Yale-trained civil rights lawyer, Rev. Brooks was eminently qualified and well focused on directing the activities of the NAACP to meet contemporary imperatives. Three years ago, he inherited a staff demoralized by layoffs and uncertain funding. Now, fundraising is up and he had begun hiring additional staff to conduct the organization’s business. In nearly three years, Rev. Brooks has led the NAACP with purpose, dignity and skillful determination. His “hands-on, lead by example” approach to activism has inspired a new generation of youths to pick up the mantle of the NAACP. We have seen substantial participation and the increased membership of young people. Young people were constantly seen with Rev. Brooks demonstrating consistent, targeted action and participation in activities that gave renewed meaning to the concept of peaceful and intelligent resistance to injustice. Rev. Brooks is not a lip service leader. With the exception of being called away for related obligations, he walked every step of the two marches he organized between Ferguson and Jefferson City, Mo., and Selma, Ala., and Washington. The marchers and he became targets of racist snipers in Missouri and he remains under threat by domestic terrorists who would love nothing more than to stop his work. Rev. Brooks’ testimony against the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general was topped only by his sit-in and arrest in the Birmingham offices of Mr. Sessions. He gave national attention to the fact that the NAACP was once again a genuine player in the fight against injustice. This revitalized NAACP attracted a new following and, accordingly, online memberships increased significantly. For individuals and institutions alike, longevity can mistakenly be assumed to be the same as indispensability. Logic should inform that the only foundation of indispensability is in the sustainment of relevance. Under Rev. Brooks, the NAACP escaped the image of doing little and existing in outdated ineptitude to a state of true relevance. Sadly, the NAACP executive board has chosen to take a step backward by not renewing Rev. Brooks’ contract. I pray that decision will be reversed. Rev. Brooks was the right leader when he was chosen and remains the right leader for our challenging times. The board should reverse its ill-advised decision. The writer is president of the National Congress of Black Women.
Jane Elliott is not commonly known in American households. She holds no fame among the elites, nor does she command any known political clout. She doesn’t boast of great wealth. Seeing her, one probably would think of her as being non-threatening, even grandmotherly.
When my brothers were younger, a common playtime activity was the game of “Cowboys and Indians.” Fueled by the Hollywood theatrical Western genre, it was played in fields and playgrounds all across the nation. No one wanted to be the Indian and suffer the routine fate of dying under brutal circumstance.
Protestations regarding the value of black lives have become increasingly common in the public dialogue. The simple phrase “Black Lives Matter” has generated praise from that segment of society that has suffered countless race-based indignities and been condemned by those who, in my opinion, are too blind or obstinate to see the realities of the black experience in the United States.
It has been said that if a lie is told loudly and often enough, it will stand as the truth. Just as many people believe that no lie can stand the test of time and that truth will ultimately prevail. Recent decisions from several courts in different locations have confirmed my belief that no lie can live forever.
Last week, I spent my evening hours viewing television and looking at the circus that formally was labeled by the networks as the Republican National Convention.
Like millions, I am shocked and appalled by the needless killing of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, five Dallas police officers, and three Baton Rouge police officers. Respect for humanity requires that we reject, in the strongest terms, the unwarranted and unjustified taking of life. I search earnestly for answers to the “why?” of their executions and the reason that, after 240 years, our nation still sustains a level of racial hatred and intolerance that fuels these acts of violence. Anyone giving an honest look at our national tragedy of racial violence, especially the epidemic of cop-on-citizen homicide, will agree that we, as a nation, have a conflict of major proportion that must be addressed and resolved if any of us are to live with the assurance of even a modicum of peace. The back and forth response of violence and retaliation can only lead to our mutual destruction.
It’s human nature to develop methods of personal survival or providing for self-protection. They’re not the same for everyone, but many are common. One predictable survival standard is that one should believe that a person will attempt to do that which she or he promises to do.
Scholars often opine that women in decision-making positions of authority would make more positive change in the future of the nation than men. With complete optimism, I believe that a genuine black woman in a decision-making position of authority would bring even more positive outcomes to our future.
In 2011, Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, executive director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, published his book, “The Condemnation of Blackness.” I would suggest it as required reading for anyone interested in historical dynamics that have led to our contemporary position of asserting that Black Lives Matter.