Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Precariousness of Being a Black Man in America in 2013

I started writing this post a few weeks back but never got around to finishing it because I keep trying to temper the feelings of both anger and fear that I have. Because on the one hand, I don't won't to alienate those that are still around reading this blog, some of whom are not persons of color, but on the other hand, I have the need to discuss this. Also, it's always been my nature, since I was knee high to a grasshopper to keep the peace and try to make sure everyone got along. However, the need to speak out on a difficult subject matter on this blog has come, because this time it involves family.

You see, almost two months ago, one of my cousins (second cousin once removed) was involved in an altercation with Salisbury, NC Police. You can read about the incident herehere, and here.

I won't sit here and say there are not two sides to every story. In fact I won't even sit here and say my cousin is perfect because it's only been recently that 1) I've reconnected with descendants of my Grand Uncle and 2) while I wrote about my cousin Graham Hosch's artwork previously on this blog (Talented Tuesday), I'm not going to pretend that I know the lifestyle he leads. But here is what I do know based on word of mouth from family and based on newspaper reports,  Police have stated cousin Graham's injuries, his windpipe being crushed, were sustained prior to their arrival. Taking type and severity of injuries into account, it's just hard to fathom that you are going to be casually walking down the street if you have a crushed windpipe. And yes, he may have been at the wrong place at the wrong time, but from what I know, he was trying to avoid trouble, by walking home instead of driving home in an inebriated state.

Not that these types of incidents haven't happened in bygone eras, even within the family, but it seems in the past few years, there's been a litany of these type of incidents involving unarmed black men, and women, too, for that matter. Some of these have been high profile, such as that of Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride and Johnathon Ferrell, of which the end result for the victim was death. Most however, never make the national news and occur every day in both small towns and large cities across America and involve both police and private citizens. For me, these recent events speak to bigger issues of which these are only part of the symptoms.

On the surface, these various incidents whether they involve private citizens or police, show the power of the the Prison Industrial Complex and the need to feed the Prison System. Today's prison is becoming privatized more and more and as such it is a money making industry these days. Heck even before is was becoming privatized, it was a money making enterprise as it was and still is a source of free labor. However, at it's core though, these events speak to what I believe is the bigger issue, that as a whole, race relations in this country have never been fully resolved.

Through decades of a fairly robust economy, everyone assumed everything was okay even though there was a still festering wound just beneath the surface. I believe the Great Recession coupled with the election of America's first president of visible African descent ripped the scab off that wound. And frankly the thought of not finally treating what deeply ails this nation scares me. There are things I see and hear that remind of times I only read about in books or that were relaid to me through family elders and friends.

I titled this post The Precariousness of Being a Black Man in America in 2013. It could just as easily have been entitled The Precariousness of Being Black in America in 2013 as I feel the current state of things doesn't show regard to sex or age.

I'm sure there are many that will probably disagree with my assessment but I ask that before you totally dismiss what I'm saying, stop for a minute, envision yourself wearing my skin color, then tell me if you feel the same way.

You see, even in 2013, skin color, whether you want to admit it or not, still plays a powerful role in this country in how one is perceived.  It can be the crude comments left by some on the news pages about my cousin's incident when they know nothing about my family members or the shock that comes to a face when hit with the reality that I have not just a bachelors but also a masters when you assumed that I probably didn't even finish high school.

There are no easy answers to rectify these issues but to paraphrase Martin Luther King, I feel that we, as a country, will never realize our full potential until we live out the true meaning of our creed.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Dear Genea Santa

Since I obviously haven't been blogging much these days, I of course haven't participated in Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun in awhile. This time of year is of course a could time to get involved, again. By the way, I do know it's Sunday, not Saturday, but ...

This weeks challenge is as follows:

1) Write your Genea-Santa letter. Have you been a good genealogy girl or boy? What genealogy-oriented items are on your Christmas wish list? They could be family history items, technology items, or things that you want to pursue your ancestral quest.

2) Tell us about them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook Status or Google Stream post.

Dear Genea - Santa;

I realize I've not been doing much research or blogging since my daddy died almost 3 years ago but I still hope that you can bestow a few genea - gifts on me.

  1. I would love to finally to have African Ancestry DNA done on granddady Hosch's paternal line and Grandmomma Hosch's maternal line.
  2. I also greatly need a genea-organizer to organize all my files, etc., so that I can readily whip out "proof" when things are called into question.
  3. If you could kindly tell me what my great grandmother Fannie Pierce's true maiden name is, it would be greatly appreciated. 
  4. Documentation linking my 2nd great grandparents, Jasper and Jane Pierce, to their last slave owners. Plenty of clues abound that give me theories as to who their last, and perhaps only, slave owner was. I'm so thankful for those clues. The only thing I need is the document or whatever you want to provide that finally allows me to crawl over that 1870 brick wall and peer on the other side. 
  5. To really get back to my research. I know I haven't much felt like doing anything for these past few years but I hope that you can restore the drive I use to have because the Ancestors desperately need me to tell their stories.
  6. To go with #3, it would be nice if some long lost ancestor with deep pockets, would pay the bills, so that I could do research full time. If that's not possible, a hard working clone would also be acceptable, so they could go work while I worked on genealogy 24/7.  
I pray I'm not asking for too much. I know I should be thankful for what I have but you know we genealogist, we always want more.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Book of Me, Written by You - Prompt 12 - The Year I Was Born

Health issues seemed to have subsided for now. I still have ongoing testing to try to determine what was going on. Also, I do have upcoming surgery (January) that is totally unrelated to the issues I was having in October.

In the meantime, I'm once again trying to get back to blogging, researching, getting ready for Christmas, etc.

Since I've been struggling on the blog writing front, I've decided to start participating in Julie Goucher's activity, The Book of Me, Written by You.

Even though I'll still be a few prompts behind, I decided to start with - Prompt 12, The Year You Were Born.
What Happened
Or use any other historical (well known or otherwise) event

I'm a child of the early 1960's. There were many major historical and cultural events that occurred during the first decade of my life. I often felt like I was born after my time because there were many things I would have loved to participated in but of course was too young. Even if I had been older, I doubt that my parents would have let me any way.

The following is a list of noted events and people during the 60s.

Politics and Civil Rights

Presidential Politics
John F. Kennedy sworn in as 35th President - 1961
Lyndon B. Johnson sworn in as 36th and 37th President - 1963, 1965
Richard Nixon sworn in as 38th President - 1969

Other Political 
Adam Clayton Powell becomes Chairmen of House Education and Labor Committee - 1961
Robert Weaver appointed to head up HUD - 1966
Thurgood Marshall appointed to the Supreme Court - 1967
Cal Stokes elected Mayor of Cleveland - 1967
Shirley Chisholm elected to House of Representatives - 1968
Howard Lee elected Mayor of Chapel Hill - 1969 

Civil Rights
Greensboro, NC Sit-Ins begin - 1960
Civil Rights Act - 1964, 1968
Voting Rights Act - 1965
Miscegenation Laws Struck Down in Loving v. Virginia - 1967

Assassinations / Murders
Medgar Evers - 1963
Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair - 1963
John F. Kennedy - 1963
Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman - 1964
Malcom X - 1965
Martin Luther King - 1968
Bobby Kennedy - 1968
Samual Hammond, Delano Middleton, Henry Smith - 1968

Cultural, Sports, Etc.

Blue Jeans
Mini Skirt

Otis Redding
Aretha Franklin
Wilson Pickett
Sam Cooke
The Shirelles
The Drifters
Ray Charles
Marvin Gaye
Ben E. King
Stevie Wonder
The Temptations
The Supremes

Hank Aaron
Wilma Rudolph
John Carlos
Tommy Smith
Clarence "Big House" Gaines
Jim Brown
Gayle Sayers
Bobby Bell
Cassius Clay / Muhammad Ali
Sonny Liston
Arthur Ashe
Oscar Robertson
Bill Russell
Wilt Chamberlain
Earl "The Pearl" Monroe
Willis Reed

Literature, Movies, Art
The Fire Next Time
To Kill a Mockingbird

The Amen Corner
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
To Sir With Love
In the Heat of the Night
Lillies of the Field

The Sammy Davis Jr. Show
The Mod Squad

Romare Bearden

Kwanzaa Celebration begins - 1966