Make America Stank Again

IMG_5323“Funk, getting ready to roll,” or “Trump getting ready to roll”. Not too much difference. No one should be surprised, other than President -elect Trump, that he (Trump) won the election. I acknowledged during a post written back on  August 31, 2016, A Tiger Named Trump, that there existed a chance that Donald J. Trump could win the presidential election and move from Trump Plaza (Tower) to the White House. President-elect Trump has been open and honest with the American people. He never tried to hide his vision and agenda as he campaign over 16 months telling “Make America White Again” what they wanted to hear. President Barack Obama bet on America and stated that the American electorate would vote in favor of “hope” and not cave in to the politics of “fear.” President-elect Trump heard the heart beat of America and smelled a strange oder coming from the very swamps that he promised to drain and like King Midas, he demonstrated he has the “midas” touch. One think all the “gold” furniture and other items seen in the back drop of interviews held at Trump Tower is breath taking, please hang on. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

To paraphrase then Senator Obama, there is no “Red States or Blue States, only the United States of America”. Sound good but it is not true. There also exist “Red” counties and “Blue” counties in each State and a review of the electoral map clearly identified each county in every state. Thirty seven counties in southern Illinois overwhelmly voted for Donald Trump except for two counties that were 40% or more minority (black and brown voters.) Trump could have won Illinois, if the Chicago votes had been a little weaker. President Obama has stated in the past, that elections have consequences, and ready or not the consequences are knocking on our front door.

Black America, Brown America, Muslim America, LGBT America and yes even white America that earns less than $250,000 a year, will not disappear over night. Try as you might President-elect Trump, you can not “un-ring the bell” of progress made during the past six decades or longer. Try as you might, the days of “Leave it to Beaver,” or the “Ozzie and Harriet Show,” are over. Pact the Supreme Court as you so desire. Go “hardliner” on your cabinet, build the wall, make billions of dollars while you are in office, and get all you can and can all you get for you and your family. But when the dust settles, black people, brown people , Muslims, LGBT and others will still be here. We may have to wear “gas masks” as the smell emanating from the White House or Trump Tower may be toxic as the winds of progress give way to the smoking clouds crossing America. Your trusted aid and confident, Steve Bannon, talks of the power of the darkness in his recent interview with columnist, Michael Wolff of The Hollywood Review..  “Darkness is good,” Bannon was quoted saying. He cites “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. “That’s power…”  But darkness will never over come the LIGHT of the world. And by the way, there exist no reason to share your taxes with America.  You were so right, not paying taxes for 20 years make you “smart.”

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The African American Museum

“A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

The National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture

The above words were spoken by former President, George W. Bush at the opening ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on 09/24/2016. It is hard to believe, per the Washington Post  special dedication edition of 09/22/16, that eleven years ago, Lonnie Bunch, the Founding Director of the Smithonian’s National Museum of Africian American History and Culture (NMAAHC) had “No collections. No site. No money. No staff.” President Bush wasted no time in acknowledging this almost impossible accomplishment of Director Bunch. It was President Bush who sign the bill authorizing the construction of the Museum back on November, 2003. President Bush cited three reason why this national treasure should be housed on the National Mall, and I will praphase same. I highly recommend the reading of his entire speech which serves as a beacon of hope to a nation that is highly divided and in need of a good dose of hope and a even larger dose of humility.

Bush highlight how “America’s original sin” of slavery  reflect a country founded on the promise of liberty, held millions in chains. How the voices of men like John Adams, who called slavery an “evil of colossal magnitude,” were not heeded and often not heard. The NMAAHC covers the African Slave Trade, the Middle Passage and the Slave trade in the Americas with the artifacts from shackles from a sunken slave ship to the inhumane marketing and evils of the slave industry. The museum basically looks at three time periods: Slavery and Freedom; Era of Segregation, 1876-1968; and A changing America: 1968 and beyond.  But those “voices” were “always known to a power greater than any on earth, one who loves his children and meant them to be free.”

aahcm3Bush pinpoint his second reason in equally eloquent words. “…this museum shows America’s capacity to change. For centuries, slavery and segregation seemed permanent. Permanent parts of our national life. But not to Nat Turner or Frederick Douglass; Harriet Tubman; Rosa Parks; or Martin Luther King Jr. All answered cruelty with courage and hope.” One photo on exhibit shows Dr. Martin Luther King being arrested by two white police officers. Dr. King is being man handle like a “rag doll’, with his hat barely remaining on his head. The officers have him handcuffed from the back, as Dr. King almost falls to the ground. The look and demeanor on the faces of the officers and Dr. King pierces the heart and soul of the on lookers. The 3000 or more artifacts clearly documents the cruelty and the courage of the many Americans who heard and heeded the call of freedom denied until freedom was delivered. That journey towards freedoms continues today.

The Mothership

The Mothership

Finally President Bush reminds us that the museum showcases the talent of some of our finest Americans. “The galleries celebrate not only African American equality, but African American greatness.” Bush highlights one of his favorite as a teenager, Chuck Barry and his restored 1973 Eldorado convertible. “I’m not giving you anything” Berry reported said. Yet  after curator, Kevin Strait ended his meeting with Berry the Cadillac was on a truck headed to Washington.  A similar story exist regarding the beaten-up PT-13 plane that was restored by its owners and now hangs high proudly in the NMAAHCM. Christened “the Spirit of Tuskegee” to honor the airmen who used the PT-13 to train during World War II, the plane was in use by its owners until the curator sealed the deal. The greatness of the African Americans goes from the artifacts of Mohammed Ali to the Parliament Funkadelic’s “Mothership.” From James Brown to Etta James, from Mom’s Mabley to Redd Fox the African American experience is well documented. “The African American experience is the lens through which we understand what it is to be an American.” said Bunch. Learn more at nmaahc.si.edu.

 

An Open Letter to My Grandson

20160223_170927850_ios-2“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” are the famous words of the southern author by the name of William Faulkner. If there was one crown jewel of wisdom I would like to past on to my grandson, Samad, and others, it is the need to “know your past, and how knowing your past prepares you to deal effectively with your present and finally how you engaged the present, will determine the successes you may have in the future”. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are intertwined throughout the fabric of life and the biblical scripture of “My people perish due to a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6) is one infallible truth.This letter is to my grandson, Samad, but in actuality it is a letter to all my grandchilden and to you.

It was a hot, and humid day during the first week of July, two months ago as my grandson, his mother and his sister awaited our arrival from Sunday church services. Samad will be 20 in December, and the family was here in St. Louis for a family reunion. Mom and daughter drove up from their home State of Oklahoma, but Samad accompanied his grandfather (maternal) from Oklahoma to Washington D.C before arriving in St. Louis as his grandfather was continuing his struggle to obtained a redress of his grievance as it relates to the loss of more than 200 acres land. As a sidebar, reportedly 1910 was the peak year of landownership by blacks with over 218,000 black farmers owning in full or in part  more than 15 millions acres. As of 1992, those numbers dwindled down to 18,000 black farmers left, owning 2.3 million acres. Samad was blessed that his grandfather included him on the trip to the nation’s capitol in his efforts to address his grievance to the government. His grandfather is included in the class action lawsuit (Pigford V. Glickman) involving the black farmers of America who filed discrimination claims against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and that legal matter remained unresolved to date.

I was impressed that my grandson was learning how to work on a farm, the planting, and harvesting of crops, the sale of live stock, and how to operate the various heavy equipment his grandfather has. Hearing him made me reminisce how I drove my grandfather’s John Deere tractor at a young age and later was involved in the sale of nine acres of land for my grandmother. My paternal grandfather died in 1978.  I was surprised to learn about the Illinois Centennial and Sesquicentennial Farm Programs, the former representing more than 9,000 farmers throughout Illinois that have kept their family farms for “100 years” or longer and the latter group (600 farmers) maintaining their farm land in the family for 150 years or longer. I wondered how many black farmers were included in these numbers?

The conversation later moved to politics and I learn that Samad was ” feeling the burn” as he wanted Bernie Sanders to become the next president. It should be noted that my eleven year old granddaughter also voted for Bernie Sanders as her 5th grade class held a mock election. Samad informed me that he “would not be voting” as he had done the research on Hillary Clinton and could not support her. Naturally I was livid and “seeing stars” I thought of the lives loss in order for black Americans to obtain the right to vote. I circled in for more answers and asked him about his “research.” He made reference to “social medial” and I informed him that you can not always believe everything you read or hear on social media.

Later as this issues continued to simmer in my mind I ran across an article regarding Tuskegee Airman, Dabney Montgomery, who died earlier this month at the age of 93. Montgomery was a member of the fame Tuskegee Airman , the bomber escorts of the 332nd Fighter Group who became known as the “Red Tails.” Montgomery, after fighting in World War II returned home to face Jim Crow American and was refused the right to vote in Alabama. I never met Montgomery, but I did meet Harold Earl Tubbs also from Alabama. Tubbs was the brother to my spiritual mentor, the Reverend Carl Tubbs who have since transition from time to eternity. Harold Earl Tubbs fought in the Korean War and was a member of the U.S. Army. Tubbs was a POW for more than a year in North Korea. His mother refused to accept that her son was dead and always set the table with a place for the son whom the army reported was killed in action. Refusing to accept the $10,000 insurance benefit from the Army, one day she received information from the Red Cross informing her that her son was indeed alive. Harold went one to become a gifted “left hand guitar player” for the late James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. Time will not allow more on what the Mongomerys and the Tubbs of the South (and North) experienced before the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement.

Samad has a high school diploma and has a bright future ahead. Like I out lived my grandfathers, there exist the possibility that he will do likewise. I never met William Faulkner, Samad, but I have met a philosopher named The Reverend Dr. Solomon. There is “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10) says Solomon. Samad is a gifted athletic and execlled in wrestling, baseball and football. He also has a good work record and is not afraid of doing a “good days work. But, if I had it to do all over and had quality time with his mind, I would make sure he could bench press his way from the “land flowing with milk and honey to forty acres and a mule.” I would like to witness him hitting a grand slam as he clears first base learning about Dred Scott, approach second base and smile at Plessy V. Ferguson, stroll on toward third base and meet Brown V. Board of Education and proudly head home where a cloud of witnesses from Emmett Till, Jackie Robinson, Marcus Garvey, Martin, Medgar and others cry out for a curtain call. Finally my son, with only ten second left in the game and your team is down by “three” the football is in your hand. Run for the goal post, score the winning touchdown and grab the victory out of the jaws of defeat as you make the world a better place because you were here.

A Tiger Named Trump

IMG_5323It took several key stroke, but eventually I ran down the author who said “…those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.” The words were used by John F. Kennedy in his Presidential Inaugural Address delivered on January 20, 1961. My cousin who is a prolific writer believes strongly that “words are spirits” and I could not agree more. Even though JFK may have spoken these words the truth about the orgin and authorship of “words” have to go back to ” In the Beginning was the WORD.” But for the past year or longer, RNC Presidential Nominnee, Donald J. Trump, has taken over the Republican Party, defeating his 16 challengers and appears to be well on his way from Trump Plaza to the White House by his crafty use of “words.”

President Barack Obama could be credited with being the creative force behind Donald J. Trump, when he publicly made Trump the butt of his jokes at the White House Correspondence Dinner. Remember when Donald Trump lead the “Birther Movement” and how he claim national attention alleging that Obama was not born in Hawaii? If I am correct his investigators are still in Hawaii as the result of their investigation was never revealed. Remember how Trump dogged out the first African American President until Obama had to produce the “long form” of his birth certificate and then to add insult to injury Trump later demanded he produce copies of his transcripts from Harvard? The bottom line, President Obama made the unpardonable sin of a black man embarrassing a “white man” as Donald J. Trump. the very epitome of the rich and famous, was the butt of a national joke, on national television/cable delivered by the nation’s first black president.

Donald Trump had no other alternative but to run for president. The green-eye-monster of vengeance and pay back could never be achieved by any means other than the entertainer in chief pulling out all the stops in his effort to become the commander in chief. Trump found a willing and wanting audience of voters who finally, since the days of Ronald Regan, had the nerves to “say” what they always wanted to say and felt in their heart. The use of codes words, blowing the dog whistles and going from one extreme to the other, enable Trump to go from one percent and a laughing stock during the primaries to knocking off all of his challengers in grand style. No one is laughter now. The GOP has been taken over by ‘Trumpism.” Be not deceived. Donald J. Trump could be elected president of the United States in this toxic atmosphere of greed, the fear of white America  losing the “America” of yester-year and the desire to turn back the hands of time when Jim Crow was alive and well (still is but now refined to James Crow). Trump asks African Americans, “What the hell do you have to Lose?’ as he has of late being talking “about” black America but not “to” black of America. Well, Mr. Trump we would like to have “change” not “chains.”

Trump’s overture to building a “wall” reminds me of a guy named Haman who after the use of his crafty words and scapegoating one people (the Jews) at the expense of another, built a gallow for a Jew named Mordecai. As the sinister plot unfolded, the heroin of the story, named Ester, reveals the plot and Haman ends up on the very gallow he built for Mordecai, the Jew he hated. Mr. Trump, you can find these words not at “Two Corinthians” but in the old Testament Book of Esther 7:10. I conclude with a question by Joseph N. Welch put to Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy Hearings. “At long last, have you (McCarthy) no sense of decency?” Keep riding the tiger.

We Will Not Forget

The memorial was captivating to the eyes and the soul as I gazed at the thousands of shoe strings, the pictures of the many children killed during the Holocaust, the child’s coat hanging and the one pair of high top shoes on display at this unnamed consecration camp. The memorial read, “In Memory Of The 1.5 Million Children Who Perished During The Holocaust. We Will Not Forget.” I immediately concluded that this well kept middle school that appeared to be 99 percent black “now” was at one time a middle to upper class school populated by a Jewish Community.

Memorial to the 1.5 Million children killed during the Holocost

I am here with my granddaughter as she practice at this middle school several times a week. I watch as the black kids run back and forth to the restrooms and this nice size memorial, glassed incased, appears totally invisible to them. I wonder how many of the children know what the “Holocaust” was? How many Jews were killed during this dark and evil period of man’s history on earth? Two scriptures came to my mind. “My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge”: Hosea 4:6 and …”these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shall teach them diligently unto thy children, and shall talk of them when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

After a few minutes I return to my senses and remember that many Black Children know very little about their past. Not knowing your past can have a devastating effect on your present as well as your future. Have they (blacks children) every heard of Nat. Turner, Sojourner Truth or Harriet Tubman? Did they know that their fore parents didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, but Plymouth Rock landed on them? Have they been told how the sharks followed the slaves ships from Africa to the Americas as many slaves jump to their death to avoid slavery, reportedly the number in the million?. Do they not know that America is a land of immigrants who came to America for a change, while “we” came in chains. Have they ever heard of Emit Till or the thousands of Black American who died of their illness because they could not make it to a “black hospital, like the one that was at Mound Bayou, MS.? Many have read and heard of Martin Luther King and his “I Have A Dream” speech, but have they every read his Letter from Birmingham Jail?  Many young blacks may know Martin, but have they heard of Marcus Garvey, Megar Evers or Malcom X ? How about Fredrick Douglas, who he was and what he accomplish after someone broke the law and taught him how to read? I am almost certain that they have never read his “What the Fourth of July Means To Me” speech.

In today’s world of the IPhone, the Smart Phone, the I Pad and the other high tech gadgets that our black children can not survive one day without, there appears to be a problem with information over load with very little knowledge or “real” learning going on either at the home or the schools.. The right to an education, the right to vote and to right to pursue life, liberty and happiness are ideals that our children take for granted as if those rights always existed. We have created a narcisstic society that is Facebook oriented and the only viable family is their Facebook family. The middle class has basically vanished, good jobs with benefits and pension have disappeared. Struggling parents pay more for childcare today than many parents paid for a college education for their child years ago. A car note is equivalent to a house note in the past and our youth learn too soon about working the many hours at a fast food place and earning very little money.  And the beat goes on.

The salesman gave us our receipt after purchasing two new tires. He has taken noticed of our East St. Louis address and responds,” I remember meeting President Johnson (Actually Vice-President) in 1960 when he came to visit in East St. Louis.” He went on to explain how he could not have been more than 5 or 6 years of age and how this event had stayed with him over the years. “That was before all the factories and jobs left East St. Louis.” he said. Back in 1960 and before, the now financially strapped city of East St. Louis was then known as an All-American City and at one time boast of a population of more than 80,000 citizens until the white flight occurred and the political system built upon cronyism and corruption was passed on to the blacks. I explained that most of the factories were located “outside” of the city’s limit by design so the factories could avoid paying taxes to the city. Knowing one’s past, their present and their future are inter twined, especially when history is being recorded and revealed. If Blacks Lives Matter, then somehow, someway, there must be a memorial to “us” in the midst of a national election where others want to turn back the hands of time to the 1950’s or before. It is truly a different story when the rabbit got the gun.

A Time for Choosing

IMG_5323“If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll even empty his pockets for you.” Senator Lyndon Baine Johnson 1960.

The above quote by LBJ was made during his campaign days in 1960 as reported by Bill Moyers, his public relations staffer. Reportedly LBJ witness a large number of white women with their signs on the street corners as LBJ’s motorcade passed by. LBJ was campaigning as the vice presidential candidate for the soon to be elected President John F. Kennedy in Tennessee when he observed the signs and the women. It was not reported “what” was written on the signs but whatever the message was, greatly disturb LBJ as he uttered this statement in his hotel room with Bill Moyers present and “after” all the other dignitaries had left the room  having finished off their drinks and smokes for the night. One can be assured the signs were derogatory in nature with the N-words proudly displayed as this democratic vice presidential candidate was in a State that was not politically friendly towards JFK or LBJ

Almost five decades later, some Americans are once again being told what they want to “hear” as the remaining Republican candidates attempt to portray themselves as more “conservatives” than their opponents. All the Republican candidates want to wear the mantle as being the most conservation and the most likely heir to that California Cowboy of the past, former President Ronald Reagan. Republican candidate, Donald Trump appears well on his way to becoming the Republican Nominee for President of the United States, as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio battle it out to defeat each other and Donald Trump. It was behind this backdrop that I started to read E.J. Dionne Jr’s, Why The Right Went Wrong. I highly recommend the book for your reading. Anyway while reading I was introduce to Ronald Regan’s speech on October, 27, 1964 where the “Gipper” was speaking on behalf of the presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Thanks to the age of Google and YouTube I was transported back to my freshman year in high school and was keenly aware of the 1960’s, the long hot summers and the civil rights movement. Reagan’s speech, “A Time For Choosing” was an Oscar performance and I understand “now” more clearly why he has been elevated to the status of the god of Conservatism, in spirit if not in the letter. “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.” Reagan told his audience. “We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” After listening to Reagan’s speech, and observing the affect it had on his lily white audience, as a black man I could have been convinced to vote for Barry Goldwater, a staunch segregationist and a racist..

Trump promises to “Make America Great Again” and Cruz and Rubio and the others expound every chance they get had “bad” President Obama has governed the country. It appears like everyone have forgotten the financial nightmare that Obama inherited with General Motors tinkering on bankruptcy and the implosion of the housing marker just to name a few not to mention the unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I like the way Dionne chronicles the political landscape from the dawning of the New Deal under FDR to Obama. It appears as everyone, blacks and  white, rich and poor, urban and rural dwellers, all have been in the words of Malcom X “bamboozled” and a lot of folks are angry. I have always maintained that Black America needed a “Goldwater” to give a cold slap to the face to Black America in order to awaken the sleeping I Have A Dreamers  “parked” on the out skirt of the promise land.

I disagree with President Obama as it relates to Donald Trump and the American voters would not elect someone of his temperament as president. As “the Donald” dance around his endorsement by the KKK and his avowal or dis-avowal of David Duke, whenever the dust settles, angry white men (and women) fear the “darkening” of America. The “fix” was in before Obama was inaugurated for his first presidential term and if Hillary Clinton ultimately obtain the Democratic Nomination and wins the presidential race she will be treated just as bad if not worse by her political opposition. On the flip side, one can not imagine how a Donald Trump Administration would end up as he has already made overtures of challenging the Constitution, the media and offended every group except the rich (those aspiring to become rich like Donald) and powerful. Former President Ronald Reagan was right when he delivered his speech, “A Time For Choosing.” But it would be wise and prudent If voters compared “what” the Great Communicator ( entertainer) said while campaigning for office and what he (President Reagan) actually did  once he was in the White House. America is “broken” and Hillary Clinton was right in her victory speech after her South Carolina win. American needs to be made “whole” not made Great. America is already Great, but America has never been “whole.” Humm…

From Here To Eternity

Courtney Teat, of Teat Chapel, Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 1 10-year old who pursued his dreams.

Kourtney Teat, of Teat Chapel, Funeral Home & Cremation Service. No longer a 10-year old child who pursued his dreams.

A Hurst pulled up and unload a casket, entering through the unlock doors of the church. A set of ten year-old twins observed this activity like they had observed so many times before from the window of their Chicago home. Their home gave a bird’s eye view to the front of the church located at the corner of the street. Unknown to their parents the twins, Kourtney and Hiliary, dashed from their home as the Hurst leaves the church and make their way into the church sanctuary before the grieving family and friends arrive. Kourtney, three minutes older than his sister, Hiliary, examine the decease and critiques the work of the mortician, saying, “I could have done a better job”. Normally children their age would be fearful and not willing to enter into an empty church with the decease. But these two were far from “normal” in that regard. They were more than inquisitive as they made a routine habit of observing the work of the local mortician and somehow were in “awe” regarding death. At the age of 10, Kourtney’s dream of becoming a mortician was engrained in his heart. Kourtney tells when asked what he wanted to be in elementary school he stated a mortician. “The teacher had to explained to the other students what a mortician was.” said Kourtney.

Some 30 years later, Kourtney finished high school in Chicago, graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in Economics and later successfully completed a two year program in “one year” at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in their Mortuary Science Program. He worked part time at a local restraunt while in pursuit of becoming a licensed mortician. By license he explained he had to pass a state exam before he was granted his license. “I had to pass a 500 question exams that took 8 hours to complete,” Kourtney replied. He is also an ordain minister as well.

I officially met Kourtney after my 98-year old aunt transition from here to

Mr. Courtney Teat of Teat Chapel. Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer.

Mr. Kourtney Teat of Teat Chapel. Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer.

eternity on Christmas Day. My aunt had made prior preparation for her journey, having purchase the burial plots for her and her husband some 60 years earlier. Her husband died after 48 years of marriage. They never had any children. My aunt and her niece (my wife) picked out her transition clothing about seven years ago and planned her home going celebration at her church including her favorite gospel songs. Kourtney was amazed at her level of preparation as he stated she had to purchase two of the first “one hundreds” plots sold by the cemetery. “Over 26,000 people had been buried at this cemetery since she purchased these plots.” Kourtney said as we attended a private burial. As a licensed funeral director and embalmer servicing Illinois and Missouri, Kourtney also provides his professional service to four other funeral homes as he continue to pursue his dream and goals first established at the young age of 10 years.

I recall a billboard of one out of state funeral home where the company slogan was “Only heaven could provide better service.” The dignity, the professionalism and the care we witnessed from Teat Chapel, under the direction of a child with a dream captivated our hearts. But that should not be a surprise from a 10 year-old twin telling his sister as they inspected the work of a local mortician, “I could have done a better job.” And a “better job” he does.