Archive for October, 2017

On Patriotism, Jerry Jones, Dirty Donnie and ESPN

Posted in On Blacks and Trump, On Donald Trump, On Sports! with tags , , on October 19, 2017 by playthell

Old Massa Jerry

Now is the Time Black Players to Flex their Muscles!

ALL BLACK PLAYERS SHOULD TAKE A KNEE…AND THE NFL TO STAND UP WITH THE BLACK COMMUNITY….WHICH SUPPLIES 77% OF THEIR MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR PRODUCT!

Jerry Jones, the hypocritical Trumpanzee creep that owns the Dallas cowboys, has threatened to bench any player who does not stand for the “Star Spangled Banner!” And he consulted with his butt hole buddy Dirty Donnie, “The Insane Clown President” – as crack journalist Matt Taibbi titled his book on Trump after covering his presidential campaign. The two are so tight Jerry gave a MILLION dollars to Donnie’s inaugural ceremonies!

This is setting a dangerous precedent because if he gets away with it other NFL owners will be encouraged to follow his example, which could deeply injure the league by creating a spiraling conflict between the owners and players. Fortunately, the NFL has taken measures to avert this by calling a meeting between representatives of the owners and players in which the NFL Commissioner took the middle ground by saying while the NFL supports the flag and would prefer that players stand for the National Anthem, they are not mandating it…the choice will remain with the individual players. Which means that Jerry Jones is taking his stand on quicksand!

Trump’s angry denunciation of the NFL’s decision is a blatant attempt to silence ALL black protests…which is consistent with him being the racist demagogue that he has repeatedly demonstrated himself to be! While he has called black players who take a knee during the performance of the National Anthem “Sons of Bitches,” he has called Neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klansmen night marchers holding up flaming torches while chanting Nazi slogans: “FINE PEOPLE.”

Trump’s View of White Nazi’s…
……and Black Football Players

Furthermore ESPN, the premiere sports network. has suspended one of its star talk show host, Jemele Hill, for speaking out in defense of the players; calling Trump a “White Supremacist” and suggesting that people who oppose Jones’ action boycott the Cowboy’s sponsors. Trump’s call for Ms. Hill to be chastised – actually fired – is illegal because it clearly violates labor laws prohibiting politicians from interfering in labor management relations! Hence, I await the response from the progressive legal eagles!

Jemele Hill and Dirty Donnie

In the mean-time all-black players should take a knee. For although their right to speak out in the workplace is NOT protected by the Constitution – since the First Amendment” is designed to prevent government not private employers from restraining “Free Speech,” the players still have a powerful weapon in the STRIKE!!! Jerry Jones will poop his pompous pants if all the black players called his bluff and took a knee!

Since Jones cannot legally fire them, he will have to pay them for sitting on the bench while he cannot field a competitive team! The plain fact is that without the black stars Jones is out of business and will lose millions…and a league wide strike would end the football season; which would enrage many fans against the players and the owners. Given the fanaticism of football fans – who live for their “tailgate “parties and witnessing their favorite team wreak Mayhem on their opponents after church on Sundays – chances are they could become an enraged mob.

Many would also turn against Trump, as veterans of America’s wars who resent a rich draft dodging blabbermouth coward like Dirty Donnie purporting to speak for them and called the pootbutt pretender out. Neither Dirty Donald nor any of the men in his family have served in the military, or rendered any other kind of public service to the nation. So, what qualifies him to speak in behalf of those who have.

I am a veteran who comes from a long-line of veterans spanning several generations, and I, like former Navy Seal Jesse Ventura – who says that he NEVER met a single millionaire serving in uniform during his years in the service – deeply resent Trump’s shameless grandstanding on the issue of Patriotism!

Jesse Ventura: Navy Seal

No Fake Tough Guy Like Dirty Donnie

Ventura recalls that when he was governor of Minnesota, the legislature passed a law requiring school children to salute the flag and he vetoed it! “Dictatorships demand the Citizens salute the flag,” said Ventura, who pointed out that in free societies “Governments must win the respect of the citizenry!” He made it clear that he was prepared to fight and die for a free society,” not a dictatorship!

This issue of how Americans should express their patriotism could split the country apart with a vengeance; which would be par for the course for Dirty Donnie: a wannabe martinet who could well be the most Divisive President in American history! Furthermore, as is becoming increasingly clear, much of the problem with trump and his minions is their abundant ignorance of history – American history and the world. For instance, I would wager my last coin on the proposition that none of these ignoramuses know that the Star-Spangled Banner was written during the War of 1812, between the US and Britain. Nor do they have any inkling of the role the American slave trade from Africa played in sparking the war.

Hence, they do not know that the battle of Fort McHenry at Baltimore Harbor – where the lawyer Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner as a poem, while witnessing the battle as a prisoner of war aboard a British Man O War – was a fight to defend the interests of a slavocracy, which at that very moment was engaged in massive crimes against humanity! keeping Africans in chattel slavery – selling their children to the highest bidder at public auction, while practicing genocide against the Native American Indians; stealing their lands by force of arms in one of the biggest land grabs in history!

These Euro-American settler colonialist thieves, mass murderers and enslavers of their fellow human beings had no shame in their game. Their iniquity and moral Turpitude is celebrated in the original lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner – which, ironically, was set to music of British composer John Stafford Smith’s “To Anacreon in Heaven,” written as the theme song for a London based men’s social club the Anacreontic Society.

Francis Scott Key

The Racist Slaveholder that Wrote The National Anthem

Note these lines from the third verse of the white nationalist war song that became the US National Anthem in 1931, one hundred and thirteen years after it was written: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/ From the gloom of the grave/And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave/ O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” The apparent contradiction in the last lines of this verse demonstrate the length and depth of white American self-deception, as Key talks about the land of the free yet endorses slavery.

However, when we take into account the fact that Francis Scott Key was a rich slaveholder from a family of lave holders, we can see that this willful self-deception about the racist oppressive practices he was defending sprang from his need to defend an economic system he knew to be evil but profited from it.

This contradiction between the professed egalitarian ideals of this country and their oppressive racist practices began with the “Founding Fathers.” For instance, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were all slaveholders. Frederick Douglass – who Trump recently discovered on his trip to the African American Museum in Washington and apparently thought was still alive – was born and raised in slavery in Maryland.

Fredrick Douglass…Escaped Slave

Writer, Editor, Orator, Abolitionist

On a 4th of July Celebration in 1856, held in Rochester New York, as the nation was hotly debating the institution of slavery, Frederick Douglass told white Americans what he thought the existence of slavery said about their society and the ideals they preached but never practiced:
“Your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

However, like the great-majority of his white countrymen, the author of “The Star- Spangled Banner” was a notorious racist who defended the barbarous slave system by denying the humanity of black people and asserting the superiority of whites. This assertion is promoted by many of Trump’s followers today…their racist arguments have changed but slightly in the 161 years since Douglass spoke. To Francis Scott Key, African Americans were: “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.”

This is how Key resolved the contradiction between his professed love of liberty, while denying it to millions of his county men. This attitude toward black people and the slaveholder’s desire to maintain the slave system, fueled white American hatred toward the British who were attempting to to end the African Slave Trade by stopping American slave ships on the high seas and confiscating their slave cargoes, was the spark that ignited the war of 1812. Just as the desire to maintain slavery amongst the white settler colonialist population led to the American “War of Independence” from the “Tyranny” of the British Empire.

These facts, while unknown to most Americans, are no longer a matter of contention. They are well documented in the path breaking scholarship presented in works such as “Slave Nation,” written by the Baumgartens, two law professors who are husband and wife, and “The Counter-Revolution of 1776, by Dr. Gerald Horne, a former lawyer and law professor who is now the John and Rebecca Moores Professor of History and Black Studies at the University of Houston.

Alas that verbose airhead Donny Dimwit and his Confederacy of historical dunces haven’t a clue about any of this…that’s why they are quick to pick a fight on this question. If they understood the facts of American history they would think twice about starting an argument that will bring these shameful issues to light.

Aside from his innocence of real knowledge of American history, it is obvious that Trump fares no better in his knowledge of the Constitution. Alas, his attempt to throttle free speech among black football players and their white allies – whose numbers are few by comparison – comes perilously close to violating his oath to “defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.” He is stepping all over the spirit, if not the letter, of the First Amendment, as was pointed out in a statement from Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, who asked in a October 11, Tweet:” Mr. President. Are you recanting the Oath you took on Jan, 20 to preserve, protect, and defend the 1st Amendment?”

Dumb Donnie Dimwit has opened a putrid can of worms that could infect the body politic with a virulent malice between races. classes, and people of different political opinions. By raising such a fuss over the National Anthem and denouncing the removal of Confederate monuments on the orders of local officials, Trump has initiated a discussion about scandalous sinful facts of American history that white government officials, in tandem with much of the mass media, have labored ad infinitum to suppress.

Indeed, the major reason why the “American Exceptionalist” crowd oppose the teaching of disciplines such Black, Native American and Hispanic Studies, is because one cannot honestly tell their story without seriously assaulting the Master Narrative, i.e. National Myth, that defines who we are. Hence Clueless Donald has brought these conflicting narratives of the American experience out in the open. And the facts are on the side of African, Hispanic and Native Americans! That’s why this is a conversation that the “American Exceptionalists” of all stripes do not wish to have

To add insult to injury, Donny Dumbass is leaning on broadcast companies in trying to silence Afro-American journalists who criticize his reckless racist provocations. He has been openly calling for ESPN to fire Jamele Hill, who is an excellent sports reporter and sharp social commentator! Trump’s behavior reveals the instincts of a racist dictator, he thinks that the niggers should be happy to make millions in the sports industry and STFU!  It is the worst sort of racial paternalism and Afro-Americans must not accept it. All sports fans should send letters of protest to ESPN, and even picket their headquarters over their treatment of Ms. Hill!

NOW is the time for black NFL players to exercise their power and take a knee in solidarity with those who are fighting racist attacks – often fatal – against unarmed young black men JUST LIKE THEM!!! The case of Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett – who suffered Las Vegas cops putting a gun to his head in a false arrest during the Floyd Mayweather vs Connor McGregor fight – demonstrates this unpleasant truth.

For all we know these cracker cops could have been pissed that McGregor got his ass royally kicked, while the arrogant fabulously rich black Mayweather walked away with over 300 hundred million US dollars for a night’s work shelled out by white fans who desperately wanted to witness the undefeated Mayweather get his black ass whupped!  If past is prologue, then this is a completely credible explanation for the motivation of the white policemen’s behavior in Vegas, we have seen white male jealousy and resentment result in unjust violent, attacks on innocent black men that sometimes become fatal.  Hence, the black NFL players should all rise up like Colin Kapernick, and take a clear and unequivocal stand by kneeling when the Star Spangle Banner is being performed.

After all, this song was not always celebrated in the Afro-American community because based on our experience in America we knew it was a lie! Instead, at most black community ceremonies we sang “Lift Every voice and Sing,” the inspirational eight stanza art song penned by the gifted brothers James Weldon and J. Rosamond Johnson. This magnificent art song spoke directly to the black experience in America and it was widely known as “The Negro National Anthem.”  Furthermore, as a work of art, Lift Every Voice and Sing is vastly superior to the Star Spangled Banner musically and lyrically!

That it should surprise anyone to learn Afro-Americans had their own Anthem is a measure of the extent to which white Americans are in denial about our actual historical experience with racial oppression. This denial is promoted by the constant hokum about Trump going against America’s traditional values; when the fact is he has tapped into the most enduring value in American civilization – deeply embedded in law and custom – White Supremacy!

It persists as a recurrent theme in our national history despite all efforts to eradicate it. Trump is just the latest racist demagogue to tap into this bedrock American tradition. Hence black players in the NFL have abundant reasons to take a knee when that racist white war song, penned by a slave holding white supremacist is played

And if the NFL owners dare to retaliate, the players should call a national strike and bring this season to an end!!! This can only work if all the black stars participate. Compared to the sacrifices countless black activists have made in order for them to even have the opportunity to play in the NFL, that’s a chicken shit sacrifice really! Especially since so many football players were missing in action during the 1960’s, O.J. Simpson, one of the brightest stars of the era, was the poster child for the know nothing, do nothing, black football player.

But that was back then, when black players were in the process of taking over the NFL; now that goal has been accomplished! Gifted black players are the backbone of the league; they are an irreplaceable commodity which generate billions of dollars in revenue annually. If they go on strike, in the business of football it would be like a teamster strike in the American economy…all business would come to a halt! Hence today’s black players fate is in their own hands. And since making money does not make you a man, in the most profound meaning of the term, NOW WE WILL SEE WHETHER THESE RICH MUSCLE BOUND SUPER STUDS ARE REALLY MICE OR MEN!!!!!

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To See Green Beret who told Colin to take a Knee Click on link
https://youtu.be/O2l-h3LdPig

To hear Governor Ventura’s Passionate Defense of Kapernick

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Barack Obama on Colin Kapernick

This is how a sitting President should address the issue
https://youtu.be/VPqOotT_ta8
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 19th, 2017

Notes on Claude, Cooper and Coates

Posted in Book Reviews, Cultural Matters, Guest Commentators with tags , , on October 13, 2017 by playthell

A Meditation on the Meaning of the Obama Years

A Book Sparks Reflections from a Manchild in New Jack City

 First, let me say the Ta Naheshi Coates’s new book, “We Were Eight Years In Power” is powerful. I am still traveling within it but already I have been abducted by the fine writing and weaving of this piece, and the sure hand of the conductor on this train. Now, as to the title here…Growing up in Harlem, my serious reading began with Claude Brown’s “Manchild In The Promised Land.”

I can remember this is when I started to understand a bit more about the hard streets I was given to play on. It wove together a black experience I was made to realize every day. I flew down the five flights of stairs from our old tenement building ecstatic about the discovery that somebody had painted such a powerful portrait of my world. But the book was also about failure and survival. It hypnotized me, readjusting my focus and better setting my attention and aspirations higher than I might’ve otherwise thought of.

My own time outside of that book was spent unknowingly navigating what I had learned from it, as I grew up just a few blocks from where Claude Brown told his story of the world we came from. I was just starting a new school they built above the #3 train yard on 7th Avenue right down from my block, “Frederick Douglas Intermediate School 10,” affectionately known back in the day as “The Dime.” One of my very best friends back then was Barry Michael Cooper. I didn’t know it then, though we spent a lot of our time discussing our neighborhood’s blessings and curses, that he would grow up to become a brilliant writer with an original voice and penned such insightful and powerful film scripts as “New Jack City,” “Sugar Hill,” and “Above The Rim,” providing a gripping first-hand view of the style and substance of Street Life in an American metropolis.

Novelist Claude Brown

Manchild In the Promised Land

The Best Selling Novel that called the nation’s attention to the black Urban  Plight
Barry Michael Cooper

A Peerless Chronicler of the underbelly of Urban Life

A harrowing report from the front lines of the crack wars

Ta Neheshi Coates

A Brilliant commentator on the Black Experience in America

These flicks were an extension of Barry’s stellar chronicling of Harlem’s early rap, drug and gangster scenes in gripping essays published in the Village Voice, during its glory days of the 1980’s and 90’s, to large applause from careful readers and media critics. Barry had thought to write all this stuff down from our boyhood conversations while sitting by the old bust of Dr. King in Esplanade Gardens, the upscale middle-class Harlem apartment complex where he lived. Barry and I were actually witnessing and living what Claude Brown had written about in his own life many years earlier in the 1960’s, on even slicker, more dangerous streets.

So between these two guys, Claude Brown and Barry Michael Cooper, I now come to Coates. His book has taken me on another journey into the deeper understanding of all this stuff in my nearly 60 years of life. Instead of Brown’s sort of “Playbook on surviving the streets” tone, and then Cooper’s kind of voyeur takes on it all happening to us in real time, Coates has cross-stitched the varying realities together with even greater depth and perspective, while casting a keen eye on the larger history of what has gotten us out from between a rock and a hard place, or left us dazed and bewildered still within it.

Every word of this book is interesting, and so is Coates. A college drop-out with the eruditeness of another brilliant Harlem writer I was blessed to know as a co-conspirator and friend, Playthell Benjamin, who has the same sort of unique story of not going exactly the “right” ways to reach success or just to be heard. Perhaps their visions of success were different, as both their voices in the struggle are made of grand knowledge of all the great warriors but at the same time uniquely their own. You will love this book; it pieces together the larger history of Afro-Americans and tracks our progress, while comparing it to yesterday through the perspective of the Obama years in the White House. Yet it is not just about this amazing man and his wife, but more so about us all, the good and the not so good told by a variety of our heroes and unknowing villains.

Coates is an amazing young brother that is an impressively grounded and gifted writer. It’s not about whether you agree with everything he says; he is telling a story in perhaps the most unique time in our history, not just the big picture but every intricate detail of the frame and hooks on the backside, heck even the covered wall and dogged nail holes underneath. It is a fascinating work, not told by an elder but by a young buck that was listening and carefully watching what brothers like Claude and Cooper caught great whiffs of in their own revealing journeys.

I hope one day I get the opportunity to meet Ta-Nehisi Coates (and maybe, hopefully by then I will be able to better pronounce the brother’s name), as in my time, I have happily met and known both Claude Brown and my man, Barry Cooper. I think he’s in NYC, and I’m just across the GWB, so hopefully we shall meet. And y’know, I have also written a book myself, though never got around to publishing it, but given all the new ways of publishing that have emerged due to the internet.

What I do know is that it is writings like those described in this essay that have inspired me most all along my way. These agitations, echoes and experiences mirror my own, and those of many other Afro-American males, and I can feel the spiritual connection as they show the way forward and sometimes confusingly back again. Everyone should read We Were Eight Years In Power; it is a tonic and torch for the mind and soul of seekers after wisdom and truth.

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Click on Link to Hear Coates Discuss his Book
https://www.cbsnews.com/videos/ta-nehisi-coates-on-obama-presidencys-impact-on-trumps-election/
Marion Boykin
Inglewood, New Jersey
October 13, 2017

Facing the Truth about Racism

Posted in A Rendezvous With History, Cultural Matters on October 4, 2017 by playthell
Mike Barnnicle holding forth on “Morning Joe”
 On Racism, the Media and American Exceptionalism
 Listening to Mike Barnicle – a grizzled old wag and serial plagiarizer who was fired by the Boston Globe but is now a regular on “Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s morning show hosted by Joe Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman from the backward, violent, racist state of Florida, where I came of age – was asked what should we tell our children about the state of the nation? What can we realistically tell them, when the nation is plagued by gun violence and mass murders are common place, racial tensions are rising as black Americans oppose racism in and ongoing struggle that spans centuries.
Added to this is a president who embodies ALL of the vices and NONE of the virtues of American civilization…a despicable braggart, bunko artist, narcissist, sexist, racist, shameless charlatan and avaricious ASSHOLE!!!!! Barnacle’s response to the question was a passionate screed about how we should just tell them to “study American history” and they will see that “America is the greatest nation in the history of the world!” SAY WHAT?? His pronouncement had that air of unassailable truth, like when my grandfather George Benjamin used to say: “And that’s the gospel truth…jes a sho as the lawd is sitting up on his throne wearing a crown of gold in heaven!” The panel was all white, apparently clueless, thus there was nary a voice of dissent.
Alas, one of the persistent problems I had working in the major news media was having to constantly correct the ignorance of my white colleagues. It was a situation that inevitably became redundant because I was a former Professor of history in the WEB DuBois Department of Black Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; thus I possessed a world of knowledge which they were wretchedly ignorant of. Most believed in “American Exceptionalism,” the idea that the US is the most enlightened nation on earth; a nation whose greatness is matched by it’s goodness; a nation that has always stood for freedom justice and equality for all people, and this is evidence that America is the most favored nation of God.”
I on the other hand, armed with the facts of our history, view American Exceptionalism as dangerous bullshit, a self-serving myth for a narcissistic white Euro-settler population that invaded North America, engaged in the greatest land theft in history; committed genocide against the indigenous peoples, enslaved Africans for 250 years, and a hundred years thereafter subjected them to a legal caste status based on an ideology and a system of laws that were adopted by Adolph Hitler and the Nazis!
That is a capsule of US history that moved the great Irish writer George Bernard Shaw to remark “America is the only nation in the history of the world that went from barbarism to decadence…without EVER passing through CIVILIZATION!” Now that is true American Exceptionaliam.  Hence I disagree with Mike Barnacle that studying American history in search of a “Golden Age” of American justice and equality will make white kids feel better about either themselves or their civilization. But it might make them want work to realize the “American Dream” of freedom justice and equality for all!
Since Barnacle, like his co-panelist on Morning Joe, the Wall Street Journal Columnist Peggy Noonan, is Irish-American, and both are dumb as cake dough regarding the role of the Irish in America’s horrid bloody history of racism.  This shameful tale of a poor peasant people, force to flee Ireland because of British oppression, and immigrating to the US where they became among of the worst oppressors of black people in their quest to be recognized as  “white,” is told in the learned path-breaking book: “How the Irish Became White.”   
Before recommending that children “study our history,” Mike and Peggy should heed his advice read this book…it is an excellent place to start!
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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 4, 2017