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Black History

COMMENTARY: Four Hundred Years and We Still Ain’t Clear:

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “…there is this misguided group of Afrodescendants, who are throwing shade at those who are not ‘American descendants of slaves’ ADOS. Their shade is an odd version of the “am I Black enough for you” game that some folks ran against President Barack Obama, and are now running against Presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Corey Booker. “

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By Julianne Malveaux

According to some historians, Afrodescendents first entered these united states in 1619 off the coast of Virginia. If we believe that narrative, Afrodescendents have been in this country for 400 years. If the people who were kidnapped and brought here had to tell the story, would they tell the same one? Would they say that we came before Columbus? That some of us might have been here even longer? There were captured Africans that came from the mother continent in 1619, but also, thanks to the transatlantic slave trade, Africans here who had come from Bermuda, Jamaica, and other places.

Why is this relevant? Because there is this misguided group of Afrodescendants, who are throwing shade at those who are not “American descendants of slaves” ADOS. Their shade is an odd version of the “am I Black enough for you” game that some folks ran against President Barack Obama, and are now running against Presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Corey Booker. What is Black enough, when we, Afrodescendant people, all have enslavement in our background? Let’s make it plain. Europeans went to the African continents, kidnapped people (sometimes with African acquiescence), brought them to the Western Hemisphere, and sold us. Goods and people flowed between England (or New England, the Americas, and Africa), including sugar, tobacco, manufactured products, guns and humans. Understand that everyone in the triangle was affected and that enslaved people were freely traded between the United States and other parts of the Americas!

I am not sure what kinds of warped brains dreamed up the realities of enslavement and the ways that a minority in the South was able to control a majority. The laws that managed enslavement included laws that prevented literacy, ownership, and much else. The laws often detailed the terms of punishment if restrictive conditions were breached. A North Carolina law said, “teaching slaves to read and write, tends to excite dissatisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion.” Disobeying this law was punishable by thirty-nine lashes or imprisonment for a free Black person, or a fine of two hundred dollars then, or about $5000 now. People violated the laws, of course, but the warped sensibility that prohibited the dissemination of knowledge is the basis for many sick stereotypes, such as “if you want to hide something from a Black person, put it in a book.”

Fast-forward four hundred years, or even two. Why are teachers in Louden County, Virginia, forcing fifth and sixth-grade students to simulate enslavement with an obstacle course they called “The Underground Railroad”? Why were many of these students Afrodescendents? Why are the leaders of the school silent about the discipline that was ordered on the rogue teachers who took it upon their ignorant selves to construct such an exercise? Why has David Stewart, the principal of the Madison Trust School in Louden County, sent out a vapid apology for a “culturally insensitive” exercise, and not a more strongly worded condemnation of the racism implicit in this nonsense.

We have been here at least 400 years, and still, some folks aren’t clear about the ways enslavement has shaped our nation. In Virginia, where both the governor and the Attorney General (two of the top three elected officials in the state) have admitted to masquerading in Blackface, albeit thirty-odd years ago, teachers don’t see anything wrong with subjecting Black students to a reenactment of enslavement. Oh, they said they were teaching “teamwork.” Really.

We have been here at least 400 years, and our nation is not yet clear about its flawed foundations. There would be no house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which should not be called the White House, but the House that Enslaved People Built, were it not for the labor of kidnapped people and their descendants. There would be no banking system if enslaved people were not used as collateral for European devilment. There would be no insurance industry were it not for the enslaved. But in our collective ignorance allows us, all of us, African Americans, European Americans, and others, to live in denial, pretending that there is fairness is a racist, patriarchal, predatory, capitalist society.

We have been here at least 400 years, but we still aren’t clear about the nonsense and exploitation that affects and infuses our very foundation. Our entire nation needs to go back to school to learn some history. But there is a special place in hell for teachers in Louden County, Virginia who think that enslavement is some kind of game!

Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist. Her latest book “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” is available via www.amazon.com for booking, wholesale inquiries or for more info visitwww.juliannemalveaux.com

Art

Actor Clarence Williams III, 81

Williams was an actor from 1960 to 2018 and was best known for his roles as Linc in “The Mod Squad” (and his signature line, solid) (1968-1973) and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain” in 1984.

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Actor Clarence Williams III

Actor Clarence Williams III was born on Aug. 21, 1939 in New York, New York and died on June 4, 2021 of colon cancer in Los Angeles, California.

Williams was an actor from 1960 to 2018 and was best known for his roles as Linc in “The Mod Squad” (and his signature line, solid) (1968-1973) and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain” in 1984.

He acted in the theatre, on television and in film.

On “The Mod Squad” Williams was one of the first Black actors to have a lead role on a television series. Following in the footsteps of Bill Cosby and Diahann Carroll.

Cosby recommended Williams for his role as Linc.

He was married to actress Gloria Foster from 1967 to 1984 when they divorced.  Foster died in 2001.

Williams is survived by his daughter, Jamey Phillips.

Wikipedia, The New York Times, and CNN were sources for this story.

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Black History

Juneteenth: Our Independence Day

Also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, it commemorates the end of slavery, the seminal event in Black history.

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Graphic courtesy istock.

June 19, or Juneteenth, is independence day for many Americans of African descent.

Also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, it commemorates the end of slavery, the seminal event in Black history.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect on Jan. 1, 1863, but was read to slaves in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, more than two years later.

There are several different accounts of why the news of freedom took so long to arrive.

One story has it that slaves were intentionally kept ignorant about their freedom in order to allow crops to continue being harvested. Another has a messenger traveling by mule to deliver the news, and it simply took more than two years to arrive from Washington, D.C., to Texas. Yet another story has the messenger being murdered before he could deliver the message.

No matter the origin of Juneteenth, the end of slavery is definitely worth celebrating. But while much has happened in the 158 years since slavery officially ended, its legacies still remain in the form of disparate salaries, educational levels and incarceration rates.

Juneteenth, which is now observed in 48 states (North Dakota and Hawaii do not observe)  and the District of Columbia, is a time to take stock of our progress — and of the work that remains.

Last year, during the pandemic our current vice president and former senator, Kamala Harris, said:  “[m]y message on this Juneteenth:  may we honor those who suffered, died and survived the crushing reality of slavery by looking to the future.”

Twelve years ago President Barack Obama said: “African Americans helped to build our nation brick by brick and have contributed to her growth in every way, even when rights and liberties were denied to them.”

We’re still building it.

In 2021, as our state opens up post-pandemic and we deal with racial reckoning as we never have before  #BlackLivesMatter is becoming a reality. 

This year is truly our Independence Day.

Happy Juneteenth.

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African American News & Issues

Black Panther Mini Museum Free to BIPOC Juneteenth Weekend

Lisbet Tellefsen is the curator, Linnea Du is the editor, Otherwise provided design, and Art Kotoulas production.

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Graphic courtesy West Oakland Mural Project.

The Mini Museum of the Black Panther Party @ The Mural opens on Juneteenth, June 19, 2021, at 831 Center St., Oakland, CA.  It’s open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Tickets for up to five people for a 30-minute tour can be purchased in advance by logging onto westoaklandmuralproject.org.  Children under 12 are free as are BIPOC folks during Juneteenth weekend. Individual tickets can be purchased for $12.50.

Lisbet Tellefsen is the curator, Linnea Du is the editor, Otherwise provided design, and Art Kotoulas production.

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