The Price of Black Man’s Life

Sign in Ferguson as riots erupt.

This decision seems to underscore an unwritten rule that Black lives hold no value; that you may kill Black men in this country without consequences or repercussions. This is a frightening narrative for every parent and guardian of Black and brown children, and another setback for race relations in America.”

Congressional Black Caucus head Rep. Marcia Fudge

Ninety-three percent of blacks are killed by other blacks,” Giuliani said, triggering a heated argument on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I would like to see the attention paid to that that you are paying to this.”

“Black people who kill black people go to jail,” Dyson said. “White people who are policemen who kill black people do not go to jail.”

“What about the poor black child that was killed by another black child?” Giuliani asked. “Why aren’t you protesting that?… Why don’t you cut it down so that so many white police officers don’t have to be in black areas?”

“When I become mayor, I’ll do that,” replied Dyson, exasperated.

“White police officers wouldn’t be there,” Giuliani said, “if you weren’t killing each other

Former Mayor of NYC Rudolph Giulani

Those two quotes or a variation of them pretty much encapsulate the debate about Michael Brown, Ferguson and the wider issue of blacks males, crime and the police. The issues are more complicated than those two statements assert but both are partially correct even if not exactly as the quoted intended.

The statistics for young black males are stark. Black males commit and are a victim of homicide at extremely disproportionate rate compared to White males or Asians. We can try to excuse it in a variety of ways but those facts remain. This is where the CBC head is correct, black lives have been cheapened. The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case or the lack of charges by the Grand Jury in the Michael Brown case did not demonstrate that Blacks lives are cheaper, this has been demonstrated for years by ignoring the rampant deaths of thousands of Blacks at the hand of other Blacks for years.

Black people around the country are rioting for the last two days and had been holding protest since August because of the Michael Brown shooting by Officer Darren Wilson but have been silent for the 136 homicide victims in the St. Louis area.  Just last October 19th siblings, 35-year-old Margaree Dixson and 29-year-old Jermaine Jones, were killed by gunshot 2 hours and a few blocks apart.  They were homicide victims number 109 and 110, in a little over month almost 20 other homicides have been committed, few of these ever get solved.

A local news station reported last week that 73% of the more that 136 homicides this year remain open.  A case remains open until an arrest is made but in cases where arrests were made only 8% was there an actual conviction, last year. The same story is repeated nationwide in NYC, LA, New Orleans, around the country.  This is a problem, it not just that Black lives are cheap, is that no one wants to come forward and identify the perpetrators, and they know this. As Nicole Rice, the sister of the two siblings killed explains in the interview:

No answers, no answers, all my answers are to God, I don’t know nothing, I know people talk, and I have clues to what their talking about,” Rice said. I don’t blame the police because they’re doing everything they can do to find out what’s going on, If anyone knows anything, just what you heard, that would give a motive, It goes back to my little niece, well she’s really my cousin, but i call her my niece and her murder has never been solved so you ask me if my brother rand my sisters will be? No. Because no one will talk.

“Snitches get stitches” as DeAndre Joshua, 20 found out he was shot and killed on the first night of rioting. His body was found inside his car, which had also been set on fire. Though no official confirmation has been made, DeAndre fit the description of one of the witnesses that provided testimony to the Grand Jury that heard the evidence in Michael Brown’s case. He is also a close friend of the other person that was accompanying Brown that day, Dorian Johnson. Regardless of whether this was related to any testimony he may have provided or just a victim of opportunity for someone with a grudge against him, he has become just another statistic that will be forgotten in the aftermath of the Riots.

Ms. Fudge is correct that Black lives have been cheapened, they are continually being cheapened everytime that the community hides their criminals from justice. They are cheapened everytime that a riot is started because someone broke their monopoly on killing blacks. Especially when that person was in the act of committing a felony which led to their death. Black lives are cheapened when they excuse all wrong doing by blaming race, poverty or the “white establishment” for every ill in their communities. Children are held to a higher standard of conduct than the one of  many black criminals.

When the Black community celebrates and elevates a petty criminal like Michael Brown, or Trayvon Martin it only ensures that other young Black youths will follow in those footsteps. It also means that because they have been convinced that the law devalues them that they will continue to ignore the law and this never ending cycle will continue. The CBC and Ms. Fudge know this, that is why they are trying as they have done with the Educational system by trying to establish a separate system of grading and disciplining Black students to downgrade aberrant or illegal behaviour.

David P, Goldman describes what is happening with the CBC and the new civil rights movement as follows:

To restate the “civil rights” argument in a clearer way: Young black men are disproportionately imprisoned. One in three black men have gone to prison at some time in their life. According to the ACLU, one in fifteen black men are incarcerated, vs. one in 106 white men. That by itself is proof of racism; the fact that these individuals were individually prosecuted for individual crimes has no bearing on the matter. All that matters is the outcome. Because the behavior of young black men is not likely to change, what must change is the way that society recognizes crime itself. The answer is to remove stigma of crime attached to certain behavior, for example, physical altercations, petty theft, and drug-dealing on a certain scale. The former civil rights movement no longer focuses its attention on supposedly ameliorative social spending, for example, preschool programs for minority children, although these remain somewhere down the list in the litany of demands. What energizes and motivates the movement is the demand that society redefine deviancy to exclude certain classes of violent as well as non-violent felonies.

Which brings us to the quote by Giulani, perhaps ironically is the fact the CBC ( Congressional Black Caucus) were instrumental in pushing for passing legislation that called for more cops and stricter mandatory sentences in the late ’80’s and early 90’s.  During those days crime was rampant, drugs and gang warfare was taking a terrible toll on the communities that they represented. In those days the cries where not about police brutality (though it did exist), but for more cops, tougher sentences, loosening of forfeiture laws. The laws that were passed then did have their intended effect, crime now is at the lowest levels in 40 years but had an unintended effect of targeting criminals which were disproportianately Blacks young males.

Rather than addressing the causes of why young Black males are committing more crime, the civil rights movement and the CBC kept blaming racism and the Establishment for the failures of their own community to address this problem. They still ignore the issue, instead they elevate the violent assaults of Trayvon Martin and Martin Brown  as noble young black male martyrs.

Michael Brown assaulted a police officer and attempted to remove his gun,  what purpose does the supporter of Brown think he was trying to do this? If, this is true do you really want that person in your neighborhood, if attacking a police officer is not out of bounds for him, do you think that attacking someone else would have been? The answer I get when these questions are posed is that he was unarmed and did not deserve to die for stealing cigarillos, but this does not answer the question is just deflects it and since most do not have to live in Michael Brown’s neighborhood it would not affect them either way.

Golda Meir the former Prime Minister of Israel once said about the Palestinian and Israeli conflict:

Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us (the Jews).

In many ways the Arab and Israeli conflict is a metaphor for the issues that afflict the Black community. A day will come when Blacks will love their children enough and value their lives enough to stop accepting violent or illegal behaviour as normal and start addressing those issues in their communities. When they realize that all Black lives matter, not just those few that die at the hands of non-Blacks and stop excusing themselves of the problem.

Here’s Police Chief of Milwakee-Police Chief Edward Flynn on the subject.

 

 

The Michael Brown Case, Update 4.2: The Media, at TTAG

Mike delivers a powerful and concise look at the Michael Brown case. HIs criticism of the media is well-earned and could cost lives. Primer from the linked article:

“If a criminal is willing to attack a cop, what would they do to the next citizen they meet?”

This point seems to be forgotten by those who support Brown and were likely the first to have to deal with the menace that Brown seem to be. Even the Washington Post appears to get it.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/new-evidence-supports-officers-account-of-shooting-in-ferguson/2014/10/22/cf38c7b4-5964-11e4-bd61-346aee66ba29_story.html

 

Stately McDaniel Manor

credit: clashdaily.com credit: clashdaily.com

As bits of pieces of information trickle out in the Michal Brown case, I’m compiling information for a new addition to the articles in that archive. The next article will be posted in the near future. In the meantime, you might want to visit The Truth About Guns, where my weekly contribution this week is something of a primer on the Brown case, the law, and the way the media makes self-defense more difficult for us all.

The article is titled “Practicing the Art of Self Defense–From the Media.”  By the way, please keep in mind that when one contributes articles to the publishing concerns of others, it is the editors of those concerns that usually write the headlines, titles, decide when to publish articles, etc. At the Manor, I wear all the publishing hats and the decisions–and blame–are entirely mine. At TTAG, and the other sites that…

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Imagine, an Obama as the Candidate he told us he would be

romney-2012-blog-image-hope-and-change

The euphoria and heady days of 2008 and the candidate for President Barack H. Obama are long gone. For many the Hope and Change that was promised has given way to cynicism, disappointments, blame shifting, name
calling, and to many horror at how things have turned out. For most, except the most partisan out there President Obama and his Administration have been a failure. We can argue as to the causes but the fact remains. Imagine what could have been had Candidate Obama had become President Obama. Before the election there were some doubts about Obama, veteran newscasters Charlie Rosen and Tom Brokaw expressed some of those in October 2008, and though some like Limbaugh have mischaracterized the conversation, the substance was that Obama was a somewhat unknown quantity. In the end they did as much of the MSM did in regards to Obama in 2008 and they just downplayed or ignored their instincts, choosing instead to join the bandwagon and helped Obama win the Presidency and a sweeping majority in Congress to boot.

Right after the election there were indications that something could be wrong, when Obama started doing press conferences with the non-existent seal of the Office of President-Elect of the US, a concocted title that he and his transition team would go on to use until his inauguration. But it was a meeting 3 days after his inauguration on January 20th, 2008 that set the tone for the rest of his Presidency. It was at this meeting with the heads of Congress that was meeting to discuss the stimulus package proposals, that President Obama told Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona, “I won” and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, “elections have consequences!”. The meeting which was supposed to foster bi-partisanship, had turned into, something else. The Republicans which had been battered and powerless, having lost Congress and the Presidency would now be unified, and would ride the Tea Party wave into control of the one-half of Congress in 2010, effectively stopping Obama’s agenda and our current situation. Let us Imagine what it could have been had the uniter, moderate, consensus builder, bi-partisan, post-partisan Candidate that was elected in 2008 had actually been what was advertised.

  • 2009- After assuming office with the economy still mired in a Recession, Obama held a meeting with Congress leaders for proposals to help the country still mired in a Recession. As a result a package of tax-cuts and spending on infrastructure was devised, with the cost of package being off-set in part by the winding down of operations in Iraq.
  • In June, he expresses his full support of the Green Revolution Movement in Iran, supporting the Secular student and young Iranian movement to replace the Islamic Republic.
  • Obama also supported the Honduran Supreme Court, that sought to stop the President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya, who with the help of Hugo Chavez, was trying to change the Honduran Constitution to allow him to run for re-election which the Constitution did not allow. Following a similar tactic that the Presidents of Venezuela’s Chavez had employed to keep himself in power. The same thing was done in Ecuador and Nicaragua who changed their Constitutions to allow the President to run indefinitely,  de-facto dictators.
  • In July, when asked to comment on the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates, a friend, Obama replied that it was a local law enforcement issue and as President it would not be his place to take sides.
  • In August he proposes a budget that starts to remove elements from the TARP and ARRA legislations to bring his baseline budget more in line with the Budgets before both emergency legislations.
  • In September he urges Congress to forgo the Mathew Shepard legislation as there was already Hate Crimes laws that were applicable not to mention State sanctions that did not require another Federal intervention.

 

  • 2010-After the loss of the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy for 47 years after his death in January, President Obama formally asks his fellow Democrats in Congress to work with Republicans on the Health Care Bill. The people had sent a message and he got it, the present bill was not what the people wanted.
  • After announcing the end of Combat Operations in Iraq, due to the success the “Surge” in Iraq, Obama promises to work on a new SOFA agreement to monitor and assist the new Iraqi government past the current date of 2011. He explains that this small force was needed to ensure the hard-fought gains of the American Serviceman and Women during their intervention in Iraq.
  • In Afghanistan, the “good war”, he follows the advice of his military for a similar surge that proved a game changer in Iraq.

Now I was going to continue and to list other areas where Candidate Obama would have acted differently from President Obama, like after the loss of one half of Congress he would moderate his policies and be more inclusive, or how he would act more forcefully when confronted by malfeasance by members of his Cabinet (ATF, NSA, IRS, HHS, DOJ, VA, etc all had scandals). Perhaps, he would not insert himself into the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin shooting, while ignoring the mass killing going on in Chicago and other cities. He would not intentionally disregard laws that he was opposed to, simply because prosecutorial discretion allows him too, but at the end of the day as the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exclaimed;

What difference at this point does it make?

As I was writing this blog piece, I was following the events of the plane that went down in the Ukraine. It appears that it was shot down, by whom? It is not clear, it could have been the Russians, the Russian backed rebels or even the Ukrainians who also have the capability. Whatever the circumstances a plane bound for Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam with almost 300 people had been shot down with not survivors. Among the dead were 23 Americans, over 100 children and this was his statement;

‘Before I begin, obviously the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border. And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy. Right now we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority.’

‘And I’ve directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and passengers, wherever they call home. ‘

Obama then jarringly quickly returned to his prepared remarks.

‘I want to thank Jeremie for that introduction’ he said. ‘Give Jeremie a big round of applause.’ ‘It is great to be in the state that gave us Joe Biden. We’ve got actually some better-looking Bidens with us here today.  We’ve got Beau and his wife, Hallie, are here. Give them a big round of applause. We love them.’  …’Jack Lew’s signature is actually on your money,’ he said, ‘although it’s kind of illegible. We teased him when he first became treasury secretary that he was going to have to fix his signature a little bit because it looked just like a caterpillar running along the bottom.’

In all his statement regarding the event was about 40 seconds long before he turned to the teleprompter and his speech about transportation and boosting infrastructure spending. Regardless of the reason for the crash, a mechanical malfunction, pilot error, or some freak natural event the crash and death of 300 individuals IS a tragedy. That this might be the result of human intervention and deliberate whether in error or not, President Obama’s disconnect was in full display. It was a shameful display with jokes and political attacks against the Republicans. The total disregard for human beings is nothing new to President Obama as displayed by his reluctance to address the current border situation. The masses of young children and adults coming in the country after a hazardous journey were many are dying on the way. Young girls are being raped to the point that the DHS Secretary Johnson is testifying that girls are given birth control before they embark to the US and when they arrive as reported here. Not only that but the law that the Administration is claiming that is forcing them to accept the illegals the “William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008” is not applicable to as many as 85 percent of the cases because the children are being smuggled into the country, in many instances with a parent,  and not victims of trafficking, making them ineligible for the protections afforded by the law. It is just another instance of the Obama Administration expanding the parameters of a law to suit its political purposes. You can read the Center for Immigration Studies explanation of the law, here.

Whether Obama the Candidate was just a dream foisted by a pliant and cheerleading MSM,  he was a good great con man who suckered the nation or a combination of both, maybe he just never existed, it was a projection in most of Americans. That is probably closer to the truth but just Imagine if that person existed was in charge today, just Imagine. If there is a lesson here is that something that seems to good to be true, usually is and that is particularly the case in politics. We need to vet our candidates well, or else they will become President or Senator or Congressman, and we want the candidate to be that person we choose, not an empty Bear in a suit who is now loose.

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Little Lies

In 1987, Fleetwood Mac released the song “Little Lies” it would be their last top 10 hit in the US. As the song goes the singer would rather hear “little lies” than the truth. We as a country are willing to accept the fantasy, the little lies than to inform ourselves.

If I could turn the page
In time then I’d rearrange just a day or two
Close my, close my, close my eyes
But I couldn’t find a way
So I’ll settle for one day to belive in you
Tell me, tell me, tell me lies

We allow others to re-write history, to re-arrange events, to re-define people, all to conform, to get along, to not offend, to question lest we be labeled sexist, racist, extremist, Conservative, out of touch or just plain crazy.  In seeking this conformity we forget that Little Lies have a way of becoming Large Lies and that while that little lie does not affect you personally,  at this time, those big ones will one day.

Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies
Although I’m not making plans
I hope that you understand there’s a reason why
Close your, close your, close your eyes
No more broken hearts

It is easier to accept the lies, nobody wants to be heartbroken. It is hard to accept that you been duped, that you have been lied to , that the world is a dangerous place and it cannot fit into easy understandable, predictable and controllable ways. The real world is harsh, it is cruel, it has no pity and accepts no excuses or good intentions.

A few months ago, Ezra Klein former columnist for the Washington Post, got together with other writer and columnist to launch a new website Vox.com.  Its aim is to explain complex problems in a short column or a 5 minute video. I was awestruck that the idea, it was perfect for today’s generation. A generation that has the attention span of a 30 second commercial. At the same time I was floored that such an idea could get the backing he requested $10 million dollars and that such a thing was even contemplated. The sheer brazenness and arrogance of Klein and his collaborators to think that they would succeed at this venture was and is amazing.

I guess that is the whole point, we like little lies, as any attempt to explain complex problems so callously would entail. How else could think that explaining the Iraq problems, or the IRS scandal or even the Obama Administrations failures could be explained in such a short concise manner.

But, we Americans and most residents of what is call the First World are nothing but arrogant. We are so arrogant that many believe that not only can we affect the weather but the entire global climate.  We recede the oceans, save the whales and polar bears even if they are not in any danger from changes in the weather.  We have deified ourselves, that we know exactly what time conception occurs and the difference between a clump of cells and what would be a human being. We know that if someone is biologically a male but feels in his heart that he is a female that this is as it should be. I think therefore I am, I am a female or male then that is all there is to it. Biology be damn, after all with some hormone treatments and a little nip here or there we can be whoever or whatever we want to be.

This is how a little know Jr. Senator from the State of Illinois is elected to the Highest Office in the US. We know he attended Columbia and Harvard Law School but for someone who has been declared the smartest President in our history, we have no idea what his grades were.  Does anyone think today that if he was an ace student, considering how narcissistic he has been, that we would not be constantly reminded of how well he did in school? This was a pretty lie we told ourselves to at least justify to our selves voting for an unknown entity with really sharp creases and the ability to read a speech from the teleprompter.

Women told themselves lies about Sarah Palin, what “real” woman is still married to his high school sweetheart, 20+ years later. Is not like she attended an Ivy League school, she graduated from the University of Idaho, Idaho.  Palin not only worked but had more than 2 kids, one who had Down Syndrome. I know she was the youngest and first female elected to governor in Alaska but we know that there had to been some shenanigans for that to happen. Worst of all she was unabashedly a follower of that cult of paternalistic, gay hating, anti-abortion group of people; the Christians.

We were told that we could spend ourselves out of a recession, that we could “reset” with Russia, that we could negotiate with terrorists without detriment, that we could replace all of our energy needs using 13th century technology and solar batteries. We were told that we could create a new health care program which would insure everyone, but if we like our plan we could keep it, if we like our doctor we could him to and not only would it not cost us more but it would save us $2500 a year.

We were told that a YouTube video which few had seen, not only caused mass protests and riots in Egypt but led to the attacks on our Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, who were told we had help dispose of its leader to prevent him from defending hi self in a revolution. We were told that these people who were revolting were Moderates, who really liked us and would help the country.

We were told that a few rogue IRS agents in an office in Cincinnati were responsible for denying, delaying, releasing information on non-profits groups that would be opposed to the Administration. Now that we know that this is not exactly the truth, we are told that the e-mail communications of the lead official in charge of supervising this are lost due to a computer failure, but not just hers but 6 other officials which would also have been involved all suffered catastrophic computer failures so their e-mail communications are lost as well.

Too many have accepted the little lies, too many have made excuses, have attempted to clarify, to tell us that what we were told, was not what we thought but something else entirely.  Regardless many say it is for our own good, if it didn’t work it is not because of them, the liars, but those who resisted the lies, yes they are the ones responsible. Because it is not a lie if you believe in it, if you close your eyes, you can make it true.

That is why someone who has lived for 18 years on  residences provided free of charge, while earning 4 times the median family income can go on National TV,  and with a straight face claim that she understands what Americans are feeling, because after 18 years of receiving room and board from us, she was broke from debts she acquired to buy 2 new homes while waiting for multi-million dollars windfalls in book deals that were in the works.

This is how our President can claim to emphasize with single parent homes, completely forgetting that he grew up with his grandparents who paid for his elite private school in Hawaii while his mother continued to live in Indonesia. This is how a 6′ + tall young black male, Trayvon Martin on his 3rd 10 day suspension from school in a little over half the school year, can become the martyr for all young black males. How a portly short Hispanic man, of mix heritage can become the most hated man in the country and have part of his heritage brushed aside because it is inconvenient.  How his parents which had him bounce from home to home and who was left alone with son of his father’s mistress for the weekend are now the epitome of the perfect parents for our country.

Is not that politicians lie, that is expected to a degree.  Some lie by omission, some over promise, some lie our ignorance, some for expediency like I said it is expected to a degree. What I do expect is that there be consequences for continued lying.  That we could be more discerning and not so cheap with our trust. I hope that when little lies become big lies, that we stop reelecting those that abuse our trust, and it is not just politicians but the media, or anyone else.

It is up to us, to make that happen, accountability in government or anywhere else begins with us. As Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying

“The government you elect is government you deserve.”

H.L. Mencken said the same thing, but better:

“People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard.”

Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies

 

Race- Getting wrong again- The Case against Reparations

UPDATE!

Kevin Williamson writing for the National Review gives his take on the same subject, here’s an except:

It may very well be the case that African Americans will never, no matter what policies are enacted, catch up economically with whites. Even assuming that invidious racism were an entirely negligible factor, it is likely that economic development will tend to proceed along broad racial channels if, for example, people of various ethnicities tend to largely marry within their ethnic group, live in neighborhoods largely populated by co-ethnics, and engage in other social-sorting behavior that is racial at its root but not really what we mean by the word “racism.” If that is the case — and it seems that it is — then initial conditions will be very important for a very long period of time.

And that would be true even if there had been no slavery and no discrimination. Imagine, for example, that rather than having been brought to the colonies as slaves, the first Africans to arrive in the New World had come as penniless immigrants in 1900. If their incomes grew in the subsequent century at the same rate as those of white natives, then a century later they’d still be as far behind as they were when they arrived. Income gaps have been closed and closed quickly by some immigrant groups — notably European Jews, Vietnamese immigrants, and Indian immigrants — because their incomes across the first few generations grew much, much more quickly than the native rate. And though the hostility that often met these immigrants is not comparable to the experience of slavery and African Americans’ subsequent repression, it is worth appreciating that Jewish and Asian immigrants have not always been welcomed with universal warmth. The black experience is unique within the context of American history, but it is hardly unique within the context of the experience of other racial minorities in other societies throughout history.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/378737/case-against-reparations-kevin-d-williamson

 

The election season must be near, it is easy to tell as articles such as, the Atlantic’s  Ta-Nehisi Coates’, “The case for reparations“, get published and become the fodder for all the talking heads in the MSM. While it was not his intent he makes a good case as to why we don’t need reparations.  In his attempt to demonstrate the uniqueness of the “Black Plight” he rather shows how similar the experience is to that faced by other groups of immigrants and migrant worker who have thrived and persevered despite the obstacles they originally faced. After quoting the Bible, John Locke and another anonymous source he begins his essay thus:

“The state’s regime partnered robbery of the franchise with robbery of the purse. Many of Mississippi’s black farmers lived in debt peonage, under the sway of cotton kings who were at once their landlords, their employers, and their primary merchants. Tools and necessities were advanced against the return on the crop, which was determined by the employer. When farmers were deemed to be in debt—and they often were—the negative balance was then carried over to the next season.”

Peonage or debt servitude was very common and it was not limited  to blacks but many white farmers had similar arrangements and similar results. A real example of State sponsored Peonage would be like that which was instituted by the Spanish Crown in 1873 when it abolished slavery in Puerto Rico. Under the new law that emancipated the slaves, the slave owners were compensated by the government for their former slaves but it also decreed that the former slaves must work the land of their previous owner for a minimum of 3 years.  They would not be “free” until that time expired.  Though they would be compensated for their work, they could not leave until the peonage had been paid.  Those that did not stay on the land that was provided to them, as many did, without title to the property until their time was up would lose claim to the property and became fugitives. That is not what Mr. Coates describes, but a very common happening to this day of farmers borrowing money for expenses using the projected future crops, with the land as collateral.  If the crops failed or prices deviated many farmers found themselves losing their land to their lenders or bank.  But fallow land is not profitable so many lenders resorted to share-cropping , that would allow the farmer to remain and work the land while debts were paid and crops was the only collateral available to them at that point. In Mississippi for instance while 70+% of black farmers were sharecroppers so were 40% of white farmers.  By the 1920’s  the price of cotton was on a free fall which meant perpetual debts for both black and white farmers. Coates likes to use small anecdotes in making his case, but they leave out information,  is misleading,  incomplete or unverifiable. His anecdote on how the Ross family lost their farm due to back taxes, for instance does not have a date only that it was when Mr. Ross was a child.  He then talks about a story by the AP in 2001 detailing 406 victims throughout the South that the story determine were documented thefts of black properties.  Sad as that may have been 406 “thefts” out of the millions of farmers that existed in the South is hardly indicative of anything. Again he does not mention the story by name, or authors or provide a link. He goes on to detail how Mr. Ross was a smart kid but the better school was to far to walk and return in time to work the fields, this strikes me as a decision of convenience for him and his family. Whether the white kids had access to a school bus or not is immaterial as he was not prevented from attending this new school because of  busing, schools were segregated, but because it would be inconvenient to the family. The same thing happens with Coates’ anecdote about Mr. Ross horse. The story is meant to garner sympathy for a young child. But, does it do that.  Examining the story it is very strange that if the point was to relieve the kid of the horse that they would pay anything for it. Further, if you do a simple search about the prices of a colt,  you find that $17 is about the  price you would pay in 1933 for a 2-year-old colt.  A 6 month-old horse was worth about $8, he could buy 2 for the price of the one he lost or sold.  I can’t help but wonder if because, this was 1933 and the 4th year into the Depression that having a horse for leisure was an extravagant luxury during that time. Cotton had been falling from their high pre-Civil War highs when the South produced 3/4 of  the world’s cotton. In 1919 cotton hit its high 35 cent per bale before the bottom fell out of cotton prices. By 1933 the price was down to 5 cents per bale.  In fact the sharp decrease in prices of cotton in the 20’s led to the First Great Migration of blacks farmers to the North. Looking back at historical data, the avg. price of cotton between 1900 and 1945 was 14.6 cents,  from a high of 35 cents in 1919 to a low 5 cents in 1933 so the prices the Ross family was being paid are certainly within the range of what others were getting regardless of race. Cotton prices would not hit 50 cents a pound until the mid 1970’s, all of this information is readily available for Mr. Coates if he wanted to educate or inform the readers of plight of the farmers at the turn of the century. Living in a farm is hard work, regardless of race.  The years at the turn of the century were hard on farmers there is no need to try to insinuate that things were harder because of race.  The same hardships were faced by White sharecroppers as Black sharecroppers. Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty show, was suspended from his show on the A&E network,  was suspended  for his comments on gay relationships but in that same article he also said this:

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

There were calls by some to label Robertson for saying this, as it is against the prevailing story from people like Mr. Coates that Blacks left the South because of discrimination which drove them out of their farms and homes. The truth is a little more nuanced than that.  Is interesting that Mr. Coates choose to showcase Mr. Ross’ story and not someone from another southern State.  Mississippi was the first State to elect a Black Senator in 1870 and the second in 1875.  Their new Constitution in 1868, the  convention adopted universal suffrage; did away with property qualifications for suffrage or for office, a change that also benefited poor whites; provided for the state’s first public school system; forbade race distinctions in the possession and inheritance of property; and prohibited limiting civil rights in travel.   The reforms only lasted for 22 years until 1890 when a new constitution disenfranchised most blacks and poor whites but by that time fully 2/3 of Mississippi’s Delta  farmers where black. Blacks kept coming to the Delta area and it was not until first agricultural depression culminating in the early 20’s that the first Great Migration of  Blacks to the North occurred.  As falling prices of Cotton caused many Black and White farmers to sell their land in order to pay-off  debts.  Though many did remain as sharecroppers for another 20 years. Was discrimination part of the decision to leave the Delta farms and seek better fortunes in the North, probably but it was not until the economic conditions got dire that many made that decision.  The North needed labor, the South had excess labor as with Migration of workers economics was the driving factor. Mr. Coates continues with Mr. Ross’ life by detailing his efforts to buy a home in Chicago,  using  a Contract for Deed.  He tries very hard to make the practice seem nefarious, but that is far from the case. Contract for Deed or Land Contracts are still used to this day.  It provides people who have lack credit or have limited resources and opportunity to own a  property and are used quite frequently.  Are there risks involved sure for both the buyer and the seller. Depending on how the contracts are written a buyer risks losing his investments if he loses his job or some large expense like the boiler breaks down and he is unable to pay for the repairs.  Owners risk potential buyers leaving the property before the contract is finished in deplorable conditions that would require a capital expense before the property could be sold again. Either way Mr. Ross was able to purchase his home using this method despite his complaints against the way by which he bought the property. The complaint about lack  of access to equity in the house while on the Contract Sale is true, but if as Mr.Ross did, and buy out his home the equity did not disappear only his access to it while paying for the house. None of this would strike any other large group of immigrant out of the ordinary, Germans, Poles, Jews, Italians, Irish, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, etc all faced restrictions and lack of access to financing, areas where they could not buy a house at all and were steered to certain areas at one point or another. Mr. Ross’ story should be one about perseverance and success not as case for reparations.  It seems such a shame that rather than celebrating his achievements we are told to see his story as one of deprivation and envy because his journey should have been easier in Mr. Coates’ opinion.

“Contract sellers became rich. North Lawndale became a ghetto…” “According to the most-recent statistics, North Lawndale is now on the wrong end of virtually every socioeconomic indicator. In 1930 its population was 112,000. Today it is 36,000. The halcyon talk of “interracial living” is dead. The neighborhood is 92 percent black. Its homicide rate is 45 per 100,000—triple the rate of the city as a whole. The infant-mortality rate is 14 per 1,000—more than twice the national average. Forty-three percent of the people in North Lawndale live below the poverty line—double Chicago’s overall rate. Forty-five percent of all households are on food stamps—nearly three times the rate of the city at large. Sears, Roebuck left the neighborhood in 1987, taking 1,800 jobs with it. Kids in North Lawndale need not be confused about their prospects: Cook County’s Juvenile Temporary Detention Center sits directly adjacent to the neighborhood.”

This is one of Mr. Coates’ most spurious charges, he does not explain how Black home ownership created a ghetto with all the connotations that come with that charge.  If home ownership created a ghetto in North Lawndale, then perhaps the problem is the pressure that is put on Blacks to own a home when renting is better option.  Instead of pushing for higher rates of home ownership, especially of those on the fringes we should discourage it until they a stronger foundation (long-term employment, financial security, marriage, stability, substantial down payment) things that many first-time Black buyers lack, but feel pressure to commit to buying a home nevertheless. There segregation was policy practice against Blacks, as it was other groups but does policies are not in force now and have not been for decades.  Today’s segregated communities are the result, in many cases of governmental policies.  Free or subsidize Housing that directs the poor to certain neighborhoods, welfare policies that penalize recipients if they get married, obtain a job or move to another area and the lack of accountability of those that game the system. Making matters worse, has become permissive of lifestyle choices that while at pains to say it, sociologists have now recognized that the family unit is the a main contributor to many of the ills that Mr. Coates feel will be cure by re-desegregation.  Including lower crime rates, higher wealth and incomes.  It is the reason why Latinos the group most often compared, comparatively to Blacks have surpassed them in practically every category even though back in the 60’s they trailed Blacks and Whites by wide margins. Today Latino’s are reaching parity with Whites in all categories and are poised to supplant Whites as the largest Ethnic group. The rest of Coates’ long essay does not break any new ground, he tries to correlate poverty with crime as an excuse to the Black real problems with high crime in their neighborhoods.  One statement he made I want to address.  He writes the following:

“From the White House on down, the myth holds that fatherhood is the great antidote to all that ails black people. But Billy Brooks Jr. had a father. Trayvon Martin had a father. Jordan Davis had a father. Adhering to middle-class norms has never shielded black people from plunder. Adhering to middle-class norms is what made Ethel Weatherspoon a lucrative target for rapacious speculators. Contract sellers did not target the very poor. They targeted black people who had worked hard enough to save a down payment and dreamed of the emblem of American citizenship—home ownership. It was not a tangle of pathology that put a target on Clyde Ross’s back. It was not a culture of poverty that singled out Mattie Lewis for “the thrill of the chase and the kill.” Some black people always will be twice as good.”

Yes, Trayvon Martin had a “father”  and mother as did Jordan Davis and Billy Brooks Jr. but what they lacked was a family unit. All three were sent to stay with their fathers because they had become too much to handle for their respective mothers.  Being a sperm donor is easy, being a father is much harder.  Showing up after problems manifest themselves is failing in your duties as a father and should not be celebrated. Ethel Weatherspoon, like Clyde Ross bought a house in the North Lawndale area is she also to blame for the condition of the neighborhood today? Of course not, and neither are the rapacious speculators that sold them the house.  They wanted the American Dream to own a house and they did, using the method available to them as many others of limited means did before. That is the problem with Mr. Coates’ essay, with the exception of the despicable period of slavery, the hardships and triumphs  are the same that many other ethnic groups faced and are still facing. The Black experience is only singular in their estimation, as is their feeling that because of slavery their road should to success should have been paved, rather than a curvy, rock-strewn one with detours along the way.

The road to success is not straight. There is a curb called Failure, a loop called Confusion; speed bumps called Friends; red lights called Enemies;caution lights called Family. You will have flats called jobs. But, if you have a spare called Determination; an engine called Perseverance; insurance called Faith, and a driver called Jesus, you will make it to a place called Success!!- Anon.

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