Category Archives: Editorial

Black Folks Invented Civility, and it Takes More than a Smile

By S. Christopher Emerson

At the risk of picking the low-hanging fruit, I just wanted to issue this reminder to the good people that just because wight folks, especially wight politicians, speak in even, humble tones and occasionally smile while exacting deviltry on the people, that doesn’t make them “civil.” Too often recently I have seen people apply the term “civil” to describe the now-fortunately dead, and hopefully burning in wight people hell George HW Bush who was a hellion for people of color. How Sway? When you blithely cause even more pain, fear and loss for people who are in need of security and shelter and resources, “civil” ain’t what you call that.

In reference to a theroot.com article entitled “Civility is for White Folks,” an opinion that attempts to capture the “good riddance” sentiments of Black folks and people of color toward the life and death of former US president George HW Bush, but with the perspective of “civility” rather askew. Let’s not get ahistorically carried away here with colonized language.

Black folks, the first people ever, born of Africa, taught the world how to be civil out of the need to preserve and advance humanity. People of color are famous for being civil, and infamous for being civil when white folks were not, and next thing you know… Colonialism and slavery. We have been historically taken advantage of by white folks in the act of being civil for anywhere from seven centuries to a couple millennia. And y’all want to form your mouth to say “civility” is for white folks.

Why do you think the O’Jays would go through all that trouble to sing that wondrous 3-minute mother wit cautionary tale “Backstabbers?”

*singing* “What they do? Smilin’ in yo’ face…”

“All the time, they hate yo’ race…”

Some argue that the very fact the white folks still occupy positions of power when surrounded by the people of color that they have enslaved, raped, colonized and assimilated is civility run amok.

I feel the author diminished the foulness and impact of GHW Bush’s dealings in service of an inherently racist nation. George HW Bush himself exacted some hellish oppression against people of color as the Director of Central Intelligence, navigating Iran-Contra devilment and the War on Drugs as the US VP, vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990, helmed the Gulf War for oil and more, dealing death in our communities shipping drugs and guns in our neighborhoods as tools of destruction. See, cuz’ the devil will pee on your head and tell you it’s raining.

Now this nuanced notion of “civility,” which the writer is attributing to white folks, again lacks depth. If anything, the aforementioned “civility” is being mistaken for the disposition and antics of the genteel at best. This includes whites who smile in your face, stab you in the back, take your home, deny you for a loan, tell your manager, try to get you fired, lie on you and get you lynched or call the cops on you (same thing) and sprinkle crack on you, malign you name and say you deserved it after you’re dead.

That ain’t civil.

Mississippi is Rising, We are Rising

By S. Christopher Emerson

As I recover with all my sistas and brothas, blood and Tougaloo family in Mississippi from the #MikeEspy Senate loss yesterday to the racist honktress, I feel it necessary to remind us that though these are scary and exciting and highly-charged times, let us not BLAME folks who did not vote for this loss.

Rather, let’s be clear in laying FULL responsibility for the election of racist candidates and the activation of oppressive policies SQUARELY on the racist, elitist bastards who voted for them. And I’m talking about d’wights and ALL their negro lackeys and cinnamon wenches who somehow believe amerikkka was once great and that more white supremacy will somehow make it great “again.”

Let us also recognize that this campaign and movement is one of the greatest grassroots campaigns built in Mississippi history, and that should not only be commended, but studied and built upon. Our people worked their asses off down south to raise awareness and build political power in this battle, and that kazi will most assuredly help us win the war.

We continue to be reminded that in this environment, freedom is not immediate. We are also finding out that ultimately, for america to be good enough to DESERVE us, we must TOTALLY and completely change the intrinsically flawed, racist, oppressive and elitist systems that govern this country. Our society must be equitable and efficient and make life better for all.

Certainly we should challenge each other to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING to eradicate racism and put oppression in check. But don’t let the racists get off. They deserve all that heat. So let’s take this lesson and get bigger, better, stronger and continue to chip away at this bs.

#MississippiRising

Voters’ Guide to the November 2018 General Election- St. Louis

Voters’ Guide to the November 2018 Election- St. Louis

 

This being the 2018 General Election, we recommend Democrat votes across the sample ballot for St. Louis city. Quite simply, those candidates have shown a greater interest and/or commitment to issues affecting Black folks and other people of color. This includes:

 

*Nicole Galloway (DEM)- State Auditor
*Lacy Clay (DEM)- US Representative, District 1
*Karla May (DEM)- State Senate, District 4
*Tommie Pierson, Jr. (DEM)- State Representative, District 66
*Chris Carter (DEM)- State Representative, District 76
*Steve Roberts (DEM)- State Representative, District 77
*Bruce Franks, Jr. (DEM)- State Representative, District 78
*Lakeysha Bosley (DEM)- State Representative, District 79
*Peter Merideth (DEM)- State Representative, District 80
*Wiley Price IV (DEM)- State Representative, District 84
* Mavis (Tessa) Thompson (DEM)- License Collector
*Michael Butler (DEM)- Collector of Revenue

 

Here is a link to the sample ballot for St. Louis City, where you will find a full list of races and measure and full ballot language: https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/board-election-commissioners/documents/upload/November-2018-Sample-Ballot-2.pdf

 

Below are a few highly contested races and measures on the ballot as well and our thoughts on them.

 

US Senator

Candidates: Josh Hawley – REP, Claire McCaskill – DEM, Japheth Campbell – LIB, Jo Crain – GRN, Craig O’Dear – IND

Our recommendation: Senator Claire McCaskill

 

Based on McCaskill’s talk and recent (in)activity, we believe a vote for McCaskill is in order. But we don’t see a vote for the incumbent as advancing a progressive agenda, but rather a vote to hold off evil. If Josh Hawley, who has fashioned his bid as a protégé to the president we revile, wins this senator seat, an already ultraconservative Missouri would seek to cut even more money from social programs and urban development and stripping affordable health insurance options, while seeking to bolster the disastrous “right-to-work” model that repressed workers’ rights and pay.

 

McCaskill leaves much to be desired. Not only has she been pretty absent as far as Black concerns in the state of Missouri, particularly in the wake of the uprising in Ferguson, but she has recently been caught attempting to curry favor with out-state voters and conservatives with unprogressive stances. In the fray around Brett Kava-NAH’s angry defense preceding his senate nomination to the Supreme Court, McCaskill held out to say that she would not vote to advance him past the judiciary hearings. She seems more interested in attracting white conservative and centrist voters who do not prioritize issues of Black and other people of color and this is causing some lukewarm responses to our needs.

 

But Hawley, who savors conservative Trump support, is worse.

 

Constitutional Amendment 1 (Lobbying, Campaign Finance and Redistricting)

Our recommendation: YES.

 

Amendment 1 takes would change the redistricting process from a group of 5 Democrat and 5 Republican lawmakers (supporting two-party politics) into a specially appointed state demographer who would draw the lines that would be approved by state legislature. The process seems to be fairer and may provide greater safeguards against gerrymandering.

 

The section on limiting campaign contributions is promising. If the measure passes, it could help level the playing field that has been manipulated by dastardly conservatives and help get more progressive candidates elected.

 

Also of note is the fact that the measure is being opposed by billionaire conservative political manipulator Rex Sinquefield. But according to https://www.cleanmissouri.org/support/, the measure is supported by St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, Rev. Starsky Wilson, Organization for Black Struggle (OBS), AFSCME, SEIU, the Missouri Conference of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and Missouri Jobs with Justice Voter Action, among others.

 

Constitutional Amendment 2 (Medical Marijuana with 4% Retail Tax Fund for Missouri Veterans)

Our recommendation: YES.

 

The legalization of marijuana leads to decriminalization, which directly benefits communities of color and the poor. As a follow up, we would like to see restorative justice measures brought forward that would eliminate or reduce sentences for previous offenses and increased drug treatment options for communities affected by the failed conservative War on Drugs.

 

Constitutional Amendment 3 (Medical Marijuana with 15% Retail Tax Fund for Cancer Research)

Our recommendation: NO.

 

Though we support marijuana legalization, we now know that a major proponent of the bill is a multimillionaire named Brad Bradshaw, who will be heading the research center the tax funds will be funneled to. This is an attempt for a few to lines their own pockets with law.

 

Constitutional Amendment 4 (Bingo)

Our recommendation: NO.

 

The language being asked to be prohibited has already been ruled unenforacble and this measure would also reduce the amount of time a member would have to be a part of a licensed organization before participating in the management of the games. Nah Son, pay your dues first.

 

Proposition B (Minimum Wage)

Our recommendation: YES.

 

We support increasing the minimum wage, though we feel a greater increase is needed to provide a living wage for workers. But it’s better than no increase, so we’ll be voting in favor of the minimum wage increase.

 

The fear that many of us have about cost of living increases due to minimum wage hike is not the fault of people in poverty who need the increase; it’s the greed of corporations. We should fight for minimum wage increase EVEN if it does affect us directly, WHILE we fight for more controls on corporate greed. It will raise the quality of life in our communities helping fund public education with more tax dollars, boost the economy with more income, and therefore, reduce crime and increase access and agency among our people.

 

Wealthy, often white, often conservative elitists try to scare the people with lies about scarcity. There is no shortage of resources; these elitists are just asserting tighter controls on the resources. That’s the major hustle; don’t go for it. Vote yes for minimum wage increase.

 

Proposition C (End Marijuana Prohibitions on Use and Growth)

Our recommendation: YES.

 

Once again, we support marijuana legalization. The 2% retail tax funds raised if the measure passes will go toward veterans’ services, drug treatment, early childhood education, and public safety for cities with a medical marijuana facility.

 

Proposition D (Motor Fuel Tax Fund for Law Enforcement)

Our recommendation- NO.

 

  1. Another tax on the backs of the people, more specifically, people who buy gas, many of whom or low income, especially in St. Louis and Kansas City. The burden on these folks would be inequitable greater on low and middle income gas consumers.

 

  1. The lion share of funds would be coming from the two urban centers, St. Louis and Kansas City, to pay for roads and law enforcement across the rest of this RED state. But WHEN has the rest of this red state ever voted or acted in the interest of the urban centers, which are majority Black and POC? Never. Outstate MO ALWAYS votes against our urban/Black/POC interests, but we’re supposed to foot the bill for their roads. Nah B.

 

  1. What is “law enforcement” going to use the funds for? We don’t support any funds going to police without, at the very least, any commitments to reforms or diversity education or more civilian oversight. Police have been running roughshod over the people of St. Louis and Kansas City, and this bill asks us to pay to more to continue to hurt our communities.

 

For Member of Board of Education

Candidates: Donna R. Jones, Joyce M. Roberts, Adam Layne, Bill [William C.] Haas, Jared Opsal, Cydney E. Johnson, David L. Jackson, Jr.

Our recommendation: Donna R. Jones and Dr. Joyce M. Roberts– both Black women who have worked in our communities for a number of years and who we believe understand the needs of our children concerning public education.

 

Also of note:

Action St. Louis, which is a Black-led organizing collective working to build political power in STL, founded in 2014, suggests voting “NO” on the following judges:

*Judge Joseph L. Walsh, St. Louis County, Division 17
*Judge Thomas C. Clark II, St. Louis City, Division 7

*Judge Joan Moriarty, St. Louis City, Division 20

Midler Forgets Sankofa- White Privileged Feminism Ensues

By S. Christopher Emerson

Some attribute Bette Midler’s now-infamous tweet “Women are the n-word of the world” to Yoko Ono, who forthrightly regarded that “Women are the nigger of the world.” But the roots of the controversial comment stem far deeper and darker than Ono’s 1969 declaration.

In Zora Neale Hurstons 1937 Blackety Black Black coming-of -age novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” main character Jamie Crawford gets a lion’s share of motherwit from her grandmother Nanny, whose wisdom proves timeless in the present circumstances. No doubt that some may see Ono as a standalone force for change, but many attribute the foundation of Ono’s bold acknowledgement to Nanny’s declaration “De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see.”

Nanny provides an insightful, plainfolk analysis of the plight of BLACK women, with regard to gender and race, during a time in which an American women’s movement, built off the straight-backed energy and efforts of Black women abolitionists like Sojourner Truth and Mama Harriet Tubman during slavery, was gaining steam after having won the right to vote in 1919. The elder asserts that Black women, quite flatly, have to work the hardest, often driven to push and pull with all they’ve got, while deplorably being treated the worst. Others have since echoed this sentiment, even some men, namely Malcolm X, who famously said “The most disrespected person in America, is the Black woman.”

This is a central idea that Black women have been knowin’ and tellin’ and fightin’ to change for decades, centuries even; and only within the last 100 years, have mainstream ears paid heed.

And while Ono gathered this energy to give voice to the efforts for women’s equality in this country, let’s be clear that even that within those ranks, Black women like Nanny, and freedom fighter Bree Newsome, even Auntie Maxine Waters still stand firmly at the bottom of the hierarchy within white feminism.

Midler’s, eh… thought-provoking [*shrug] statement is a bit more problematic than at first glance, because it forgets to Sankofa- “Go back and fetch it.” Not only does she use language that we are in the process of simultaneously reclaiming and eradicating with reckless privilege, but she neglects the foundation of her statement, that would, no doubt, help her definitively, demonstratively and acutely call the racistly-informed patriarchy demon by its name.

This is why we fight not just for changes WITHIN the systems we find ourselves, but we’re also building a total cultural shift toward equity and inclusion across cultural, economic, gender, age, ability intersections. We don’t want white supremacy in Black face, with all the misogynist, capitalist trappings of time-honored, pale-faced, mayonnaise-flavored oppression. Quite frankly, the cultural mores, economic/capitalist structures, gender roles/norms, age assumptions and ability fallacies created and maintained by this euro, elite-dominated society are just not good enough for The People.

A humble analysis.

 

Love,

 

 

a Black man who sees Sistas out here, against the odds, working it out and making magic happen daily