Category Archives: Diversity

Ethel L. Payne

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Ethel L. Payne (August 14, 1911 – May 28, 1991) was an African-American journalist. Known as the “First Lady of the Black Press”, she was a columnist, lecturer, and freelance writer. She combined advocacy with journalism as she reported on the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. She became the first female African-American commentator employed by a national network when CBS hired her in 1972.

Ethel Payne was one of four journalists honored with a U.S postage stamp in a “Women in Journalism” set in 2002.

Prompted by her work in Africa as a foreign correspondent and to honor the name of a journalist who covered seven U.S. presidents and was a war correspondent, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) award “Ethel Payne Fellowships” to journalists interested in obtaining international reporting experience through assignments in Africa. Several of Ethel Payne’s belongings and awards are on view at the Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D.C.

https://www.facebook.com/Black-Americans-1955759327982735/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf

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Daughters Speaking UP

 

  Patti Davis

To Donald Trump: I am the daughter of a man who was shot by someone who got his inspiration from a movie, someone who believed if he killed the President the actress from that movie would notice him. Your glib and horrifying comment about “Second Amendment people” was heard around the world. It was heard by sane and decent people who shudder at your fondness for verbal violence. It was heard by your supporters, many of whom gleefully and angrily yell, “Lock her up!” at your rallies. It was heard by the person sitting alone in a room, locked in his own dark fantasies, who sees unbridled violence as a way to make his mark in the world, and is just looking for ideas. Yes, Mr. Trump, words matter. But then you know that, which makes this all even more horrifying.

                                         

    Bernice King

As the daughter of a leader who was assassinated, I find #Trump‘s comments distasteful, disturbing, dangerous. His words don’t #LiveUp. #MLK

 

 

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer (born Fannie Lou Townsend; October 6, 1917 – March 14, 1977) was an American voting rights activist, civil rights leader, and philanthropist. She was instrumental in organizing Mississippi’s Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later became the vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which she represented at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. —Fannie Lou Hamer

American Experience PBS’s video. One of my favorite TV show

Donald Trump’s Nativist Impulse

Definition of nativism

1: a policy of favoring native inhabitants as opposed to immigrants. 2: the revival or perpetuation of an indigenous culture especially in opposition to acculturation.

20th century history

In the 1890-1920 era nativists and labor unions campaigned for immigration restriction. A favorite plan was the literacy test to exclude workers who could not read or write their own foreign language. Congress passed literacy tests, but presidents—responding to business needs for workers—vetoed them. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge argued need for literacy tests and its implication on the new immigrants:

It is found, in the first place, that the illiteracy test will bear most heavily upon the Italians, Russians, Poles, Hungarians, Greeks, and Asiatics, and lightly, or not at all, upon English-speaking emigrants, or Germans, Scandinavians, and French. In other words, the races most affected by the illiteracy test are those whose emigration to this country has begun within the last twenty years and swelled rapidly to enormous proportions, races with which the English speaking people have never hitherto assimilated, and who are most alien to the great body of the people of the United States.

Responding to these demands, opponents of the literacy test called for the establishment of an immigration commission to focus on immigration as a whole. The United States Immigration Commission, also known as the Dillingham Commission, was created and tasked with studying immigration and its effect on the United States. The findings of the commission further influenced immigration policy and upheld the concerns of the nativist movement.

Following World War, I, nativists in the twenties focused their attention on Catholics, Jews, and south-eastern Europeans and realigned their beliefs behind racial and religious nativism.  The racial concern of the anti-immigration movement was linked closely to the eugenics movement that was sweeping the United States in the twenties. Led by Madison Grant’s book, The Passing of the Great Race nativists grew more concerned with the racial purity of the United States. In his book, Grant argued that the American racial stock was being diluted by the influx of new immigrants from the Mediterranean, the Balkans, and the Polish ghettos. The Passing of the Great Race reached wide popularity among Americans and influenced immigration policy in the twenties. In the 1920s a wide national consensus sharply restricted the overall inflow of immigrants, especially those from southern and eastern Europe. The second Ku Klux Klan, which flourished in the U.S. in the 1920s, used strong nativist rhetoric, but the Catholics led a counterattack. Adapted by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativism_(politics)

21th century history

In his 2016 bid for presidency, Republican Donald Trump introduced nativist themes hostile especially to Mexicans and Muslims. Journalist John Cassidy says Trump is transforming the GOP. into a populist, nativist party:

Trump has been drawing on a base of alienated white working-class and middle-class voters, seeking to remake the G.O.P. into a more populist, nativist, avowedly protectionist, and semi-isolationist party that is skeptical of immigration, free trade, and military interventionism.

Donald Brand, a professor of political science, argues:

Donald Trump’s nativism is a fundamental corruption of the founding principles of the Republican Party. Nativists champion the purported interests of American citizens over those of immigrants, justifying their hostility to immigrants by the use of derogatory stereotypes: Mexicans are rapists; Muslims are terrorists.

Adapted by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativism_(politics)

The anti-immigrant focus of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign reminds historian Bernard A. Weisberger of shameful past eras that conflict with America’s self-image as a place of refuge for people from many lands.

By Bernard A. Weisberger

It has so far annoyed but not really surprised me that Donald Trump, despite being an obnoxious bully, has defied expectations with a steady rise in the public opinion polls. It may be that his buffoonery and megalomania are simply more attractive to some early voters than rival candidates, with their solemn professions that what pushes them into the grind of campaigning is their dedication to promoting the public welfare.

But I am considerably more than annoyed when Trump puts himself at the head of the armies of the new nativism by using his bullhorn to echo the warnings of the movement’s Cassandras against the supposed “hordes” of undocumented immigrants pouring through our “open southern border.” His point of attack is the so-called “anchor babies”, children of pregnant mothers who supposedly sneak into the United States so that their children will be born here and automatically become citizens.

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The hidden, malodorous and unproven subtext is that these children, entitled to the privileges of citizenship, will open the gates to legalizing the entry of family members, swarms of whom will qualify for welfare state entitlement programs, so that they may live in happy idleness at the expense of ¨real” American taxpayers. None of these suppositions has yet been proven by any serious evidence.

So thus far, disgusting enough. But when Trump dipped into the gutter to add to this repertory of lies and half-truths one of the oldest and rankest, namely that Mexico was emptying its prisons and asylums to let rapists and thieves run free on our streets (a charge eagerly snapped up by the likes of O’Reilly and Limbaugh, and left unchallenged by many of Trump’s rivals for the nomination) I boiled over. That’s crossing the line that separates debate from shameless indecency.

Historical Background

I am a historian of the United States and have heard it all before, sometimes almost verbatim and no less gross. Our works of history rightly celebrate our role as a land of asylum and opportunity for people from almost everywhere on the globe. It’s a pillar of our cherished self-image as exceptional among nations. But they often overlook or minimize the contrasting truth that there was always stiff resistance to that hospitality.

Listen to this: “America has become the sewer into which the pollutions of European jails are emptied.” Substitute “Mexican” or “Latin American” for “European” and it could be straight out of Trump’s latest eruption. But it’s from a newspaper published in the 1850s by supporters of an anti-Catholic and foreigner-hating movement that began as a secret society whose members were ordered, when asked nosy questions, to say: “I know nothing.”

Eventually, the “Know-Nothings” emerged into the open and organized themselves into a political organization that campaigned in 1854 as “the American Party.”

In that first off-year foray, the new entry won a number of state and local offices and some seats in both House and Senate. The basic glue that held Know-Nothing-ism together was hatred of the alien (especially the Irish). The slither of the Know Nothings into the American Party was a way of “protecting” America from the Pope’s minions and other evil foreign influences.

Happily, 1854 was only a flash in the pan. When the party ran a national ticket headed by so respectable a figure as ex-US President Millard Fillmore, they won only a single state, Maryland.

By the time Abraham Lincoln ran for the Senate in 1858, two years before his presidential campaign, as many as half of the American people were the offspring of Europeans and could not trace their ancestry back to the stirring days of 1776. But if they looked at the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln said in a campaign speech in Chicago, they found the words “all men are created equal” became “the father of all moral principle in them, and they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, and so they are.”

This self-evident truth of equal creation became the “electric cord that link[ed] the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men everywhere.” To be American was not about ancestry but to commit oneself heart and soul to the ideal of equality.

Defining Citizenship

A few years later, Lincoln was dead along with some 600,000 casualties of the Civil War, and a radical Republican Congress oversaw writing the Union’s victory into the Constitution via the Fourteenth Amendment. Its opening clause proclaimed, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

That flipped the prewar position, in which state citizenship was necessary to become a United States citizen, leaving room for states to refuse citizenship to “undesirables” like Negroes and foreigners. Now, no state could deny its born or naturalized resident citizens “the equal protection of its laws” or the guarantees of the Bill of Rights.

The Fourteenth Amendment clearly intended to make sure that the newly freed ex-slaves would have their full civil rights, though it would take a Fifteenth to specify that voting was included. The inclusion of children born in the United States to recent immigrants was almost incidental. That is the “error” that the enemies of birthright citizenship aim to correct. They argue that almost no other nations outside the Western hemisphere show such foolish generosity. Somehow, this is one issue on which they are willing to forget or forgo our proud exceptionalism.

Meanwhile, American ports began receiving the first waves of an enormous and transformative mass migration, some 31 million between 1860 and 1930. They represented a “new” immigration: Chinese, Italians, Greeks, Poles, Russians, Syrians, Slovaks, Serbs, Armenians. To many so-called “old stock” Americans, millions of these newcomers were dangerous and unworthy, and to the members of an Immigration Restriction League which included in its number many of “the best people” of New England the immigrants were of the “wrong” religions and nationalities. Poet Thomas Bailey Aldrich explained that through our “unguarded gates” pressed,

a wild motley throng Men from the Volga and the Tartar Steppes Flying the Old World’s poverty and scorn; These bringing with them unknown gods and rites Those, tiger passions, here to stretch their claws.

The same old charges were recycled, newcomers threatened the jobs of Americans; they swelled the statistics of crime, violence and dependency; they clung stubbornly to their religions, customs and languages and could neither absorb nor understand the values of genuine Americans.

Eventually, the gates began to swing shut on unrestricted immigration. There was denial of entry to those convicted of crimes in their home countries, which might include rebellion against tyrannical regimes. Then, rejection for those harboring contagious diseases.

A third barrier, literacy tests, never quite made it into law but in 1921 and 1924, laws were enacted that set overall limits on immigration, divided by “national origins” quotas that favored the descendants of pre-1860 immigrants, while sharply narrowing openings for the children and grandchildren of those who had come later. Asians were barred completely.

But those who squeezed through narrowed gates did what immigrants have always done when given a chance, assimilated the American values of the time, grabbed educational opportunities provided by the public school system, and by the millions took out the naturalization papers that gave them the ultimate step in acceptance, participating in democracy on an equal footing with the snootiest Mayflower descendant. So armed, they entered American politics and, over time, changed it for the better.

An Era of Liberalism

A three-decade period of liberalism following the Depression, World War II and the assumption of an American global presence resulted in a 1965 change to the laws that replaced national origins quotas with others based on family reunification, specially needed skills, and refugee status. They erased the barrier to Asians altogether, setting off a new and continuing wave of immigration, still in progress.

But none of this will continue if the likes of Trump and his allies can help it. The children of that slandered “new” immigration helped to build our cities and dedicated their working lives in mines, mills and factories to make us a mighty industrial power. They fought and died in our wars. But for some “real Americans” that hasn’t been enough. So here we are again, in a period of reaction, staring into the ugly face of nativism.

Trump’s announced intention to deport 11 million “illegals” while building a wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico at no cost, details conveniently not provided, is simultaneously savage and ludicrous. Yet what troubles me deeply is the possibility of this kind of cesspool politics finding wider acceptance, or being ignored apathetically by large numbers of Americans.

Even more disturbing is the sluggishness of the response from Republican and Democratic opinion makers. Where is the outrage? Why is the counterattack left largely to Hispanic organizations? Why isn’t every decent media outlet shouting a few, simple home truths over the bullhorns of those insisting on their xenophobic lies? Such truths as these:

–The “illegals” are not indolent. For years now they have been picking our crops, nursing our elderly, cleaning our homes and babysitting our children. They are not freeloaders. That honor should be reserved for people like rancher Cliven Bundy who grazes his cattle on federally owned land but refuses to pay federal fees and taxes.

–They do not take jobs from Americans. Their bottom-of-the-ladder, low-wage service jobs don’t pay enough to attract American workers, white or black. Probably as many or more job losses are caused by employers moving operations abroad, or automation, which is a generic problem for all of today’s workers.

–They are not “takers.” They contribute positively to the economy through sales and excise taxes, and cannot claim Social Security, Medicare or other benefits because it would reveal their undocumented status, which makes them vulnerable to threats and exploitation by their bosses.

–Their crime rates are comparable to those of the general population, allowing for differences in income and living conditions.

It’s true that completely unregulated immigration may no longer be feasible. But the movement of people from poor and turbulent nations to wealthy, stable and reasonably free ones is happening all over the world. Our governments must come together in trade and economic treaties that level the playing field by helping to enrich and empower poorer peoples. Trade pacts need to elevate the status of working men and women rather than maximize the profits of corporations promising that some of the swag will mysteriously trickle down to “the lower orders.”

Until that miracle happens, no walls will keep desperate and courageous, motivated people from taking big risks to evade or scale them. Far better to provide our undocumented with reasonable and non-punitive paths to citizenship.

That can’t take place when truth is befogged by racist and hateful lies, which is the reason that every school should teach and every network newscast should repeat this essential reality: the story of our nation’s long practice of welcoming immigrants and opening a wide door to full rights is an American triumph, all the more so because it has been achieved over constant resistance and with many relapses and setbacks.

Should Trump and associates ever get their way, the symbol of America would change from the Statue of Liberty with her uplifted torch lighting the path through the golden door to one of the Wall, complete with searchlights, guard towers, barbed wire and watchdogs. May it never be so.

https://consortiumnews.com/2015/09/15/donald-trumps-nativist-impulse/

 

 

What it’s like to be black in Naperville, America

 

Former Naperville resident Brian Crooks pens a post about the experiences he’s had in Naperville and elsewhere that were overtly or unintentionally racist in an attempt to show what life is really like for people of color.

Brian Crooks

Editor’s note: Brian Crooks moved to Naperville when he was in the 5th grade; his parents still reside here. On Saturday, he wrote a Facebook post about his experiences being an African-American living in America that has since gone viral and has elicited hundreds of comments from people around the world. Because of its length, we’re publishing excerpts here. To read the entire post, go.

The first time I was acutely aware of my Blackness, I was probably 6 or 7 years old. Like, before then obviously I knew I was Black, but I hadn’t really had it put in my face like this until I was about 6 or 7. I used to go to daycare back then, and we went on a field trip to a water park one time. One of the other boys from the daycare came up to me and told me he was surprised I was going on the trip because his dad told him all colored people were afraid of the water since we sink to the bottom. He didn’t know he was being offensive. He was just curious why someone who would sink to the bottom would want to go to a water park.

In elementary school, I was in the gifted program. I’ve never been any good at math or science, but I was a really creative kid who loved history and telling stories. In third grade, the gifted program focused on the middle ages. I was in heaven. I loved learning about knights and castles and all that stuff. We had a group project to do sometime that year, where we had to give a short speech about something we’d learned during the year. All of the groups broke off to divvy up the work when my teacher came over to my group. Wouldn’t it be “easier” and more fun for me if my group did our presentation as a rap? I’m eight years old. I have no history writing any kind of music, much less a full 3 or 4 minutes of rap verses for me and my teammates. But, I tried. The other kids just expected it to be natural for me. They looked at me like, “What do you mean you don’t know how to rap?” We ended up just doing it as a regular presentation like everybody else, and afterward my teacher came up to me and said, “I thought you guys were going to rap? I was looking forward to MC Brian.” Again, she didn’t know that she was making a racially-insensitive statement. Why would she? It’s not like she’d had deep conversation about how Black people feel about their Blackness, or the way Black people internalized the way White people feel about our Blackness. Promoted Stories

From elementary school through middle school, I can’t remember how many times the White kids asked if they could touch my hair. I’m not kidding when I say it happened pretty much once a week at least. At first, it didn’t bother me. But eventually I felt like an exhibit in a petting zoo. And I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain to them that it was really weird that they kept asking to touch my hair all the time. See, I was a pretty shy kid. I was the only Black one, I was overweight, and I’d moved three times before I turned 10. So, rather than tell the White kids that no, they couldn’t rummage through my hair, I just said yes and sat there quietly while they marveled at how my hair felt.

My least favorite time of the year, every year, was February. Black History Month. Being the only Black kid in the class, I was the designated reader for the entire month. When it came time to read from our history books about slavery and the Triangle Trade Route, I was always the one who was chosen to read. When it came time to read about Jim Crow, it was my turn. George Washington Carver and the peanut? That sounds like a job for Brian. Booker T. Washington? Harriet Tubman? Surely Brian is the perfect choice for those passages. All the while, I felt the eyes of my fellow students on me. Again, I was already a shy kid. So, having an entire classroom of White kids stare at me while I explained what lynching and Black Codes were was pretty mortifying.

In 8th grade, I went to a friend’s house to jump on his trampoline. I didn’t know the kid all that well, but we had some mutual friends and at that age, if a kid has a trampoline, you’re going to jump on that trampoline. He had a couple of neighbors who were probably 6 or 7 year old girls. We’re jumping on the trampoline and the girls come out of their house and come over into his yard. Within about 5 minutes, they were laughing while saying “Get off our property, Black boy.” They were little, and they were laughing, so I don’t think they knew how ugly they were being. After all, they’d probably never had a Black kid in their one or two elementary school classes. But they’d clearly heard that phrase somewhere else before. I wasn’t even on their property; I was next door. But it’s fair to assume that at some point, someone in their house had said “Get off my property, Black boy.”

In high school, I was around more Black kids. Still not a lot, but more than zero, so that was nice. When I was fifteen, I got my first “real” girlfriend. I’d asked some girls out before, and some of them said yes, but when you’re 13 or 14 years old, what does “going out” even mean? So, my first “real” girlfriend was White. After all, I was living in an overwhelmingly White community and it’s not like I was a heartthrob, so I was in no position to tell a girl who liked me that I was only interested in dating a Black girl. I might’ve never had a girlfriend if that was the line I drew. We were a good couple. We got along well and had similar interests and stuff. Basically, what you’d like to have as a high school sophomore. Her parents were divorced, but her mom and stepdad liked me. Then, her biological father found out I was Black. A week later, she called me crying and said we had to break up. Her dad didn’t support her dating a Black person. So, my first heartbreak came as a direct result of racism.

When I was going through driver’s ed, my behind the wheel instructor was a football coach at one of the other Naperville high schools. He asked what kind of car I wanted one time, and I told him I was gonna get my dad’s Dodge Intrepid, but that I really liked my brother’s Mazda. He looked at me like I was nuts and said he figured I’d want an Impala so I could put some hydraulics on it and “hit dem switchezzzzz.” When we got back to my house at the end of my last behind the wheel session, he shook my hand and said it was a pleasure teaching me how to drive. Then, he said, “You’re a Black kid, but you’re pretty cool, you know? Like, you’re not like one of THOSE Black people, you know?”

In high school, I played football. There was a kid on the football team who I’d been friends with since middle school. Not, like, best friends or anything, but we ran in similar circles and we were certainly friendly with each other. When we were 16 or 17, he started referring to me as “The Whitest Black guy.” It really pissed me off. He knew it pissed me off. I guess because I used proper grammar, wore clothes that fit, and listened to metal in addition to hip hop, it made me “White.” Turns out, to be “authentically Black” means being a caricature of what a Black person should be, according to this suburban White kid.

I got pulled over a lot in high school. Like, a lot a lot. By this point, I was no longer driving the Dodge. I had a Mazda of my own. It was flashy and loud, but this was 2002 and everybody with a Japanese car was doing a Vin Diesel impression, so it’s not like mine stood out that much more than anyone else’s. I spent a ton of money on my car and was especially aware of its appearance. You can understand, then, why it was weird that I was routinely pulled over for a busted taillight. After all, that’s the kind of thing I would’ve noticed and gotten fixed, especially if that taillight tended to burn out once a week or so. My parents had told me how to act when pulled over by the police, so of course I was all “Yes sir, no sir” every time it happened. That didn’t stop them from asking me to step out of the car so they could pat me down or search for drugs, though. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol until I was 21, but by that point I was an expert at breathalyzers and field sobriety tests. On occasion, the officer was polite. But usually, they walked up with their hand on their gun and talked to me like I’d been found guilty of a grisly homicide earlier in the day. A handful of times, they’d tell me to turn off the car, drop the keys out the window, and keep my hands outside the vehicle before even approaching.

I went to the University of Iowa, which is a very White campus in a very White state. It’s funny, because most of the people I met there who came from small-town Iowa were really excited to finally meet a Black person. And it wasn’t like they wanted me to be a mascot; they genuinely wanted a Black friend so they could learn about Black people and stuff. It was nice. On the other hand, if I was in a bar and talking to a girl they didn’t think I should be talking to, or in their drunken state they bumped into sober me, you’d be surprised to see how quickly some of these guys will call a complete stranger a nigger.

Once, when I came home from college, I was pulled over less than a block from my parents’ house. It was late, probably about midnight or so, but I hadn’t been drinking and it was winter so I wasn’t speeding because it had snowed that day. The officer stepped out of his car with his gun drawn. He told me to drop the keys out the window, then exit the car with my hands up and step back toward him. I knew he was wrong, but I wasn’t about to be shot to death down the street from my parents’ house because my failure to immediately comply was interpreted as me plotting to murder that officer. So yeah, I stepped out and backed up toward the officer. He hand cuffed me and refused to tell me why I had been pulled over, or why I had been asked to exit my vehicle. Only when I was sitting in the back of the police car did he tell me that there had been reports of gang activity in the area and that a car fitting my car’s description with a driver fitting my description had recently been involved in said gang activity. Gang activity. In south Naperville. Committed by a Black male driving a bright blue Mazda MX-6 with a gaudy blue and white interior. Yeah, alright. He was very short in asking me what I was doing in the neighborhood so late at night. I explained that my parents lived at that house with the glass backboard over there. He didn’t believe me. He took me back out of the car and put me face down on the hood of the police car to frisk me. I’d already been searched once before he put me in the car. Then, he spent about 15 minutes searching my car while I stood hand cuffed in the cold. My ID had my parents’ address on it, but he still didn’t think I lived there. I could tell he wanted to accuse me of having a fake ID. About a half hour after being pulled over, when he found nothing on me, nothing in my car, and nothing on my record, he reluctantly let me go. He didn’t even say sorry, or explain that it was his mistake; he must’ve been looking for another Black man in a bright blue Mazda MX-6 who was a gang leader in south Naperville. He sat in the street until I drove to my parents’ house, opened the garage door, drove inside, and then closed the garage door.