Posts Tagged ‘African Americans’

40 Million Ways

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2011 at 11:23 am

In speaking with J. Freedom du Lac, writer and cultural critic Touré repeats a line from Henry Louis Gates: “if there are 40 million black Americans, then there are 40 million ways to be black.” In his latest book Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?, Touré’s objective is to “to attack and destroy the idea that there is a correct or legitimate way of doing blackness.” Most recently, Republican Presidential hopeful Herman Cain stated he prefers to be called a Black American rather than an African American. In an interview with Meet the Press, Cain said that “My roots go back through slavery in this country. Yes, they came from Africa, but the roots of my heritage are in the United States of America. So I consider myself a black American.”

In the late 1980s Jesse Jackson’s push to refer to Blacks as African Americans was met with, as noted in a 1989 New York Times article, controversy and celebration. Many opposed, many supported, and yes the debate continues today. The move to connect to Africa was a sign of showing that Blacks were accepting their connections with Africa, no matter how difficult or painful it was to retrace history. As Roger Wilkins stated in 1989, “Whenever I go to Africa, I feel like a person with a legitimate place to stand on this earth. This is the name for all the feelings I’ve had all these years.”

With the election of President Barack Obama, many pointed out that society was now celebrating its great march toward post-racialism. Especially with Herman Cain as a viable Republican candidate, race continues to dominate discussions, and what it means to be black or African American is often evoked in these dialogues—the constant search for identity, an identity, a racial identity, that for Cain is tied to a political one. Cain says that African Americans have been “brainwashed” against the Republican Party.

Perhaps, this “brainwash” that Cain speaks of has less to do with race…For Touré, what does it mean to be Black in America? Actually he says it is important to “Be black however the hell you want!” 40 million Blacks, 40 million ways, and not each way it is exactly the same…


A Growing Legacy

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2010 at 5:23 pm

In 2005 the New York Times conducted a series “Class Matters” examining class and poverty, to which they found it was disproportionately African American. Poverty and race seem to be inextricably linked, and this spills over into all facets of life. African Americans are less likely to marry; 70 percent of African American children are born to single mothers; African American men are more likely to be incarcerated than on a college campus; and on and on.

There seems to be little to no hope in sight…Right? The statistics are staggering, yet hope exists. From the First Family to the family around the corner, we see working middle class African American families coming together, staying together. These families remain under the radar. As a child I was in the minority, unlike what the statistics reflect then and even today, I was one of few children in my area who was born into a single parent household. Success is there, rather than looking at the staggering statistics, we need to see those who are making family work. I am a proponent of the two-parent family; however, I also am a strong proponent of a strong family unit, a unit that is not traditionally a husband or a wife, but of aunts, uncles, grandmothers, essentially the extended family. I am a product of such. Families come in all shapes and sizes, when the child has love, care, and a stable unit, success is much more likely to follow him or her.

So, last week, as Veteran’s Day approached us, one Mr. John E. Terry, Sr., a WWII Vet, died peacefully in his sleep. When I returned home for his funeral, I noticed several things: he was loved by many and he loved and promoted the concept of family. He left a legacy like no other, and when I look to those rather depressing statistics, I see hope, for he defied them and so did his children and their children. My heart goes out to his family, yet this one leader left a legacy for young African Americans to pursue. He was strong, determined, but above all, he was a teacher. His methods may not have been conventional; when you were in his presence, you couldn’t help but to share and dwell in love. He will surely be missed, but Pop’s legacy only grows and continues…

To the Benton County Vets: At the time they served, our Armed Forces were not yet integrated. They served under much different conditions than vets today. Looking back, I wish I could speak to them, to inquire about life in the military, serving abroad, and what the return to Mississippi was like. But now I will celebrate their lives and tell their stories…one vet at a time. Note: This is only a partial list of African American service members from Benton County, Mississippi.

Name and Date of Enlistment

Robert L. Bean April 23, 1941
Eddie Adair April 25, 1941.
Jim Avant August 4, 1942
Tom W. Batts October 2, 1942
James Beard October 2, 1942
Rice T. Allen, November 17, 1942
William Avant November 17, 1942
John H. Bean February 2, 1943
Henry C. Cathey December 3, 1942
Henry Clardy February 2, 1943
Clinton Boga September 2, 1942
Joe W. Morgan August 30, 1944
James T. Jimmerson February 2, 1943
George L. Mason December 3, 1942
Andy L. Mason June 19, 1942
Willie B. Mason April 3, 1943
Ulyess Roytson, Jr. November 17, 1942
Enlo P. Terry January 19, 1944
Willie B. Terry April 12, 1941
John E. Terry, Sr. February 2, 1943

A New Season

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2010 at 8:03 am

Last week I was very fortunate to attend the Stennis Center’s Southern Women in Public Service Conference. Women from all walks of public life–appointed and elected–shared their experiences; and shared their views on why more women are not running for public office. Many of these leaders identified that in order to have more women, you must actively recruit more women, young women and mentor them once they are ready to run for a position. Likewise for African Americans and the Republican Party. The Republican Party are now identifiying viable candidates and mentoring them; and now some 32 African Americans are running for Congress, the most since Reconstruction.

According to the New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer “now black Republicans are running across the country — from a largely white swath of beach communities in Florida to the suburbs of Phoenix, where an African-American candidate has raised more money than all but two of his nine (white) Republican competitors in the primary.” Oddly enough, many of the candidates were inspired by President Obama’s race to the White House. But for many, the rise of the African American Republican candidiate is temporary. Tavis Smiley has been very vocal in criticizing the Republican Party for not recruiting and mentoring potential African American candidates and voters. “It’s worth remembering that the last time it was declared the ‘Year of the Black Republican,’ it fizzled out.”

Of the new season of candidates, former house Republican speaker Newt Gingrich says “things have evolved. I think partly the level of hostility to Obama, Pelosi and Reid makes a lot of people pragmatically more open to a coalition from the standpoint of being a long-term majority party.”

At best, it’s frustrating…

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2009 at 5:36 pm

On the heels of renowned Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s arrest, yet again the tenuous relationship between the African American community and the police have been revisited. To read more on the Gates’ case, click here. There is a great distrust of the police within the African American community. In Constructing Distrust: The Aftermath of African American Encounters with Police, Haider-Markel et al.(2009) conclude that overall African Americans harbor distrust of the police force for four reasons: 1) more likely to be stopped by police, 2) more likely to have be stopped on more than one occasion, 3) African Americans are more likely to view a police officer’s behavior as poor, and 4) African Americans are more likely to view the stop as improper. This is beyond frustrating, it is a sad day when citizens do not have faith in those who protect and serve the community.