Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Short Family

This is a real-life case of living beyond the colored line. It starts when a black man named O’Day Short and his family moved to a racist area of Fontana, California, in 1945. Here’s a bit of history behind Fontana:

  • The Ku Klux Klan established its headquarters in Fontana.
  • KKK Grand Wizard George Pepper and White Aryan Resistance (WAR) leader Tom Metzger claimed Fontana and the Inland Empire as their California Eastern Territory for White Supremacy.
  • Hells Angels Biker Gang originated in Fontana
  • Hells Angels and Nazi Low Riders (NLR), flourished in the city of Fontana, with no consequences from the Fontana P.D.
  • Many incidents of discrimination and hate crimes were unsolved and poorly investigated

Fontana has a long history of racism and discriminatory policies, so it is no surprise that blacks were not allowed south of the area. The saying went: “Base Line is the Race Line.” Southern Fontana can be best described as a “Sun-down town,” towns blacks were not allowed after dark. When the sun went down, any black person found in a “Sundown Town,” risked lynching. Read more about Sundown Towns in an older post here.

Carol Ann and Barry Short, along with their parents Helen and O’Day Short, died in a suspicious fire on Dec. 16, 1945, after crossing the color line in Fontana. | Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

When O’Day Short, his wife, and two children moved onto land in an all-white area, neighbors threatened them to leave that neighborhood and occupy one of the ghetto neighborhoods where the town allowed blacks to live.

One interesting thing about the Short family is that they were fair-skinned and many believe this is how they got to purchase the property in the first place. O’Day moved his family into the half-finished home. It is said the man who sold him the land where the house was being built did not know he was black.

When people complained, O’Day got a visit from the sheriff to leave the property. The Sheriff offered to buy the house back, but O’Day refused. The sheriff warned that the “vigilante committee,” will not be pleased. They recorded the visit by the Sheriff in the Sheriff’s office in San Bernardino. According to the report, Short described the threats to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I). On December 6, 1945, Short also reported the threats to the Los Angeles Sentinel, an African American Newspaper.

On, December 16, 1945, not even a full month after the Short’s moved in and ten days after the reports, the Short home exploded in fire, the family inside.

Helen Short, 35, and her daughters Barry, 9, and Carol Ann, 7 died.

O’Day, 40, lived long enough to be taken to the hospital. A month later, on January 22, 1946, he also died.

They have linked the cause of the fire to an oil lamp O’Day was lighting when the tragedy occurred. The interesting thing about these reports is they didn’t mention that the Shorts were black, not in 1946 or later when the story resurfaced.

The NAACP hired an arson investigator later to investigate the story. The investigator reported that the kerosene lamp was found and almost intact, determining the fire was set, from the exterior.

I decided the Short Family would be the subject of this week’s fun fact because of the limited information that can be found on them. It was many years later before the NAACP launched their investigation and people even knew their story.


Read more Black History Fun Facts here.

Read  Stella: Beyond the Colored Line, my historical fiction account of what life was like for blacks beyond the colored line here.

Immigrant Children and Black Senators Introduce Anti-Lynching Bill

There’s a lot going on. The situation of immigrant children being separated from their parents locked away in cages, and “lost” is a very serious and sad situation. It amazes me that a country that can lock children in cages and hang people from trees are celebrating freedom today. A Walmart has even been turned into a shelter housing undocumented children separated from parents in Brownsville, Texas. Walmart’s being turned into detention centers and camps was talked about years ago but people said they were just conspiracy theories.

In the midst of this, there is an increase in racist behavior toward Blacks. It seems that every week someone is calling 911. It’s not just “BBQ Becky” or the woman who called the police on the group in Oakland but 911 calls are being made every day. Videos of racial profiling by white police and White Americans have gone viral. A Black girl was selling water without a permit, a white woman assaulted a Black man who “did not belong at the pool,” a Black boy accidentally mowed some of his neighbors lawn and an 89-year-old Black woman was forced to urinate in public after being denied the use of the bathroom at a Circle K gas station. 

Lynchings are also taking place regularly, even though no one’s talking about it. It is happening so much that Congress’s three African-American senators introduced a bipartisan bill Friday to make lynching a federal crime. “The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018 notes that during the first half of the 20th century nearly 200 attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation failed to gain support from the Senate despite urging from seven sitting presidents.”

What they won’t say is that Lynchings didn’t stop there.

The body of Frederick Jermaine Carter, 26, was found in 2010 hanging from an oak tree in the predominantly white North Greenwood area of Leflore County, Mississippi, Otis Byrd’s body was found hanging from a tree in 2015, and on April 18, 2018, the mutilated bodies of two young African-American men, Alize Ramon Smith and Jarron Keonte Moreland, were found in a pond near Moore, Oklahoma. A woman was discovered hung near a Walmart in College Park, Georgia on May 14. And a man was found near Atlanta University Center on April 27. (Essence also listed 5 additional attempted Lynch cases.) Many of these cases are deemed suicides. That’s for the people who do not know any better.

…and the myriad of unarmed Blacks being shot and killed daily which are now being deemed modern-day lynchings.

“The tragic shooting deaths of 17-year old Trayvon Martin in 2012 and 18-year old Michael Brown in 2014 reawakened the nation to the epidemic of killings of unarmed blacks by private citizens and law enforcement officers. Sadly, the shooting of unarmed blacks seemingly continues unabated despite the numerous nation wide street protests, town hall meetings, and pledges from politicians and law enforcement agencies to address this systemic problem. According to the Washington Post, “Although black men make up only 6 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 40 percent of the unarmed men shot to death by police in 2015. What is more, the Post’s analysis documents that black men were seven times more likely than white men to die by police gunfire while unarmed. Whereas in 2012, Trayvon Martin was literally the poster child for unjustified killings of unarmed blacks, today there are a litany of black victims (Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice to name a few) that can fill that role.” (Source: 21st Century Lynchings)

READ MORE ON THE ANTI-LYNCHING BILL HERE.

 

Slavery and Affliction: The Difference Between

dylan-roof-in-custody

10 weeks ago, in Charleston North Carolina, an unarmed black man (Walter Scott) was shot in the back. The footage was caught on video. Today, his murderer sits in a cell next to last weeks Charleston Shooter, as many are now calling him. After killing 9 people, Dylan Roof went on the run and was caught 16 hours later by Law Enforcement. Once captured, FBI began to question Roof. Shortly after that, according to a statement given to the Charlotte Observer, they took Roof to Burger King because he said that he was hungry.

uptown_freddie_gray

Two months ago, 25 year old black man, Freddie Gray, was arrested by police, taken into custody, and critically injured in the transporting van. He fell into a coma and died due to injuries to his Spinal Cord. His death would lead to ongoing protest in downtown Baltimore. Pending further investigation into the incident, the six suspected police would be suspended… with pay.

*****

I know it annoys a lot of people, the constant conversations about blacks and race. The constant eruption of discussion concerning racist whites against blacks. The constant pushing forth of articles and posts concerning the relationship between these groups of people. At some point in History, every nation of people have experienced some form of racism within the context in which we know it. Specifically, when we talk about blacks in America, the subject of slavery often accompany the explanation concerning our captivity and struggles here. You’d be hard pressed to sit in on a conversation that does not include that part of history. What people who are not black, however, must understand is that it is not just about slavery. The institution itself was very traumatic for our people and has had, as a result, a dramatic effect on us so much so that it leaves a mental stain even until this day. However, this alone does not make our story unique, though it plays a pivotal  role. Just as other nations have been discriminated against, other nations too have seen some form of slavery (though not to the extent of our confinement). This is the commonality of our servitude. The difference however, is this:

The reason you will always hear of blacks when discussing racism is not just because they have been slaves, nor is it simply because they have been mistreated once or twice. But in addition to slavery, being black in America also has to do with our affliction in America. We have not been slaves for 400 years, but we have been afflicted for nearly 400 years. Since 1619, when the first blacks were brought through the ports of Jamestown Virginia to begin what we know as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, we have been mistreated and afflicted for the entire time that we have been in this land. Meaning there has not been a let up; not one moment of peace and it has been nearly 400 years, this is what makes our captivity unique. From slavery, to Jim Crow, to police brutality, racism and discrimination, high prison population, drugs, disease, you name it, we’ve seen it. Name one instance in History, from 1619 forward, where blacks have not experienced some form of humiliation.

I’ll wait.

Others have been, and are mistreated, but none outside the so called African American can produce documentation that will prove that their people have endured one continual stomping, blow by blow by blow for nearly 400 years straight. Blacks were not part of the U.S. Constitution, they are an add on; an amendment if you will. And this is the difference between having been a slave and having endured a continual affliction even after that  slavery has ended. Thus, while we have not been in physical chains this whole time, we have been afflicted this whole time (aside from the affliction of chains) more than any other people. Our psychological troubles then, and the anger built up among many of our lost brethren, is because they have seen their people as constant targets.

The “N Word”: A Wake-Up Call

President Barack Obama used the n-word to make a point about the reality of racism in America during an interview released Monday, June 22, 2015 with comedian Marc Maron. Obama weighed in on the national debate on race relations and gun control that has been reignited after the Charleston shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Many of you have probably already noticed that I have no problem using the “N Word” on this blog. You have probably asked yourself why, “Surely she understands it’s history..?” Of course I do.

I figured since Obama just used it, which means it’s fresh in your minds, this is a good time to talk about it.

Here’s the thing:

Words have meaning. They are not idle and do not exist just because, but words always have and always will have meaning. In a recent post, I discussed the many titles placed upon black people in the attempt to define their nationality. I used words like Black, African (or Afro) American, Colored, Negro and I threw Nigger in there too. These are all bywords and proverbs and mockeries placed on us throughout our history here. They are proverbs and mockeries because they do not define who we are. (Duet. 28:37).

nas-and-kelisLogically speaking, all emotion aside, I’m going to put this as real as I only know how. Just as words are not idle, action is not either. Every thought, and every action means something. If you want people to stop using “The N Word”, then stop acting like niggas. Stop degrading yourself and your people by accepting ratchet behavior and slave like mentalities. When you know something is wrong and you continue to do it, that is disobedient behavior and only niggas and thugs and hood rats are disobedient. Stop accepting mediocrity and then calling it racism. Now I am no fool, I know there are tons of Europeans who use this word with every intent of harnessing the spirit of slavery. This is why it hits hard with blacks because people feel it in their spirit, and in their bones, that the tone in which some use it is a mere shadow, a reflection, of the generational racism in which many have been raised. Time doesn’t matter, there are still white people who are racist and they don’t want to admit it. I understand that. But not all of our white brothers and sisters are racist, we need to understand that too.

Everyone must be held accountable for their actions and the results they incur. If a slave is released from his chains and yet he stays in the same spot, then you cannot blame the slave master if the slave refuses to free himself. If you want other people to stop making mockery of you then show them a different you. I’m not saying bigotry is OK, for racism and discrimination has never left the fabric of America  and that is hard for some people to believe. But as for us, to be given something different you have to show something different. I don’t call my friends niggas and my girlfriends are not my bitches. In addition, I refer to my people as brothers and sisters unless they have otherwise shown me something different. I give respect to those I love and to people who have shown me respect.

When I said, in a recent post, “We will not be niggas too much longer, I meant that we will no longer exhibit wild and disobedient behavior; we will not rob and steal and oppress one another. The Pookies and Ray-Ray’s will rise to be the prophets and priests they were chosen to be and their names no longer associated with wildness but with the fear that is respect and the strength that comes along with it. That is what it means to no longer be niggas. Not that everyone will erase the N word from their vocabularies and racism will magically disappear.

I’ll end with this: a person cannot change his name if he wishes not to also change his actions. The whole purpose of name changes is to exhibit the characteristics of this new name, thereby becoming a new person. If you want to get rid of the “N Word”, you have to first get rid of the behavior associated with it and this cannot be done by always placing the blame on someone else. In the words of Carter G. Woodson:

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his proper place and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

– Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro