The PBS Blog Podcast Ep 5 – Freedom and Responsibility

In today’s episode, we are talking about the responsibility end of freedom.

Freedom has been turned into a scapegoat that many of us have used to justify our beef with structure. Anything that requires us to act in a way that is disciplined, civil or logical we stray from under the guise of having the freedom to choose.

But choices are not without consequences.

We are adults and have long had the freedom to do as we choose. But as there’s a lot going on in the world today, we must remember that our actions and thoughts are not without a certain level of responsibility. Whether we are talking about writing and books or life in general, our freedom is not as free as it seems on the surface.

Today, I want to encourage you to be more disciplined in all areas of your life. More disciplined spiritually, mentally, and physically. Let’s take responsibility for the lives we live.

Don’t forget to subscribe for notification of future episodes.

Ep 5 – Freedom and Responsibility

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Black History Fun Fact Friday – Historic Rivals: W.E.B. Dubois vs. Booker T. Washington

Today, I thought I’ll do something fun. I would like to do a few of these so let’s call this part one. Let’s see who was at war and why. Of course, we have to start with the famous rivalry of all time:

W.E.B. Dubois vs. Booker T. Washington

Yecheilyah sits in a chair with papers as W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington step into the ring. Dubois adjusts his tie, shaking hands with members of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People….am I the only one who finds it odd this organization still refers to us as Colored people?? Deuteronomy 28:37…anyway, as usual, I digress lol).

Washington sits in a chair. Surrounded by students, he crosses his legs and flips through a book.

“Ya know,” Washington looks up, “I’ve read The Souls of Black Folk. I must say I am not very impressed.”

Dubois brushes lint from his jacket, “I didn’t think you would be.”

EC: *Clears throat*. Alright gentlemen. We’re about to start.

NAACP members and students step down from the ring and sits in the audience with those reading this blog.

Washington puts his book to the side. “Noted”, he said staring at Dubois. “Besides, I must say Yecheilyah, I love what you’re doing with your work. It is my belief that we should be accountable for ourselves in every way.

EC: “Than…”

“Booker, your proposal”, interrupted Dubois, “that we should take accountability for ourselves is not only unfounded but also paradoxical. It would be difficult for Negros to gain any real power, for instance, if they are denied the right to vote.”

Washington put up a hand, “IF, Negros had real power, it would be in education in the crafts, industrial and farming skills and ownership of their own businesses.”

“And how, Mr. Washington, do you suppose Negros could operate these businesses sufficiently without an education?”

Washington sighs, “I do not care to venture here an opinion about the nature of knowledge. It is clear to anyone who reflects on the matter that the only kind of knowledge that has any sort of value for a race is knowledge that has some definite relation to the daily lives of the men and women who are seeking it.”

Dubois throws his hands into the air, “You’re promoting submissiveness by asking the Negro to relinquish fundamental privileges. First, you ask him to relinquish his political rights and then his civil rights. This only speeds up the process to which Negros have regressed.”

Washington stands, pointing his finger at Dubois “You’re taking my words out of context. I am simply stating that it is my aim to teach students to live a life and make a living by which after they graduate they can return to their homes and find profit and satisfaction in building up the communities from which they’ve come.”

EC: Gentlemen, please. We don’t have time for this. I respectfully ask for you to both be silent so that we can give the people a little bit of a background on you. Is that alright?

NAACP member runs up to ring, hands Dubois a drink of water as he loosens his collar and takes a drink. Member returns to his seat among the bloggers, “I concur. Let’s move on”, said Dubois.

Washington returns to his seat, crosses his legs, “Indeed.”

As you can see, these two were not besties. Tensions always existed among Black intellectuals and Blacks who were more grassroots and this separation exists today. W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington are great examples of this.

William Edward Burghardt DuBois was born free in 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts in an integrated community. He attended local schools and excelled in his studies. When Dubois finally encountered racism, the experience changed him and he decided to further his education with a focus on equal rights for Black Americans. Dubois was the first Black man to earn his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1895.

Cheers erupt from members of the NAACP. Dubois takes a bow.

Booker T. Washington was born into slavery in 1856 in Virginia. After the Civil War, he worked in a salt mine and as a domestic for a white family and eventually attended Hampton Institute, one of the first all-black schools in America. After completing his education, Washington began teaching and in 1881 was selected to head The Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama. The school’s purpose was to give African Americans practical, hands-on skills and would later be known as Tuskegee University.

Whistles come from Washington’s students. He waves.

Dubois wanted to focus on creating an educated black intellectual class he called The Talented Tenth, in which ten percent of the intelligent of the race would lead and guide the direction of the other ninety percent.

Dubois: That is right. Political power and sovereignty should remain important.

*Washington rolls eyes*

Washington on the other hand, born into slavery, thought former slaves and their descendants should be financially independent and that black communities could prosper only by way of owning their own businesses.

Washington: Indeed. Blacks should elevate themselves through hard work and material prosperity.

*Dubois coughs*

Both sought to advance the plight of African Americans and by the early 20th century both Washington and Dubois were two of the most influential Black men in the country. However, their ideologies were very different. Dubois was more focused on education and civil rights as the only way to achieve equality. Washington was more grassroots and focused on fundraising for the Institute and teaching young people how to work with their hands, farm, and entrepreneurship. Dubois and Washington’s differences came to a head in 1903…

Washington: How do you young people say it now? ‘Bring that up.’

Dubois: Let’s hear the entirety of the matter first.

EC: Umm. If I can just finish this real quick. I’m almost done.

Washington: May I ask a question?

EC: Sure, of course.

Washington: What is a Bestie?

EC: Its just short for like Best Friends.

Washington: I see. And I assume one would have to be friends first before they are best friends. Am I correct in this assumption?

Dubois: You are taking up all the time.

EC: We do need to move on but I’d love to explain it to you later.

Washington: I would like that.

*Dubois shakes his head*

The men go silent. Smiles and waves at readers.

Dubois and Washington’s differences came to a head in 1903 when Dubois published The Souls of Black Folk where he directly criticized Washington and his approach.

EC: That’s a little below the belt, don’t you think?

Dubois: Well, Negros should stand up against Washington’s contentions.

EC: Dang.

Washington: I am not going to justify that with a response.

Dubois: Then don’t respond.

Washington: Do not tempt me, Mr. Dubois.

EC: Well, that’s our time. Gentlemen, thank you, both for taking the time out of your super busy schedules to have this discussion. I know you have lives to save. Literally. I do hope you can find some common ground.

Washington: I doubt it.


In the end, Dubois and Washington did agree on something. Though they had two different ways of going about it, they each thought education was important to advancing ones life.

Stay tuned for our next rivals!

Revolution

Revolution comes from the German word Umwalzung and means a complete change. It is a complete change or replacement of a system. The destruction of the old for the new. What the so-called Black man and woman have been doing is seeking to be included in a system that already exists. We have been fighting to be accepted into a current system even though said system has excluded us for nearly 400 years. This is not revolution. This is not a separate system. This is the same system. Until we are comfortable having our own we will never truly revolutionize. There is nothing wrong with being a separate people and building a nation and until we understand this without the fear of being labeled discriminatory, we will never truly revolutionize. All other people have done it but as soon as the Black man says he wants to run his own businesses, as soon as he says he wants to live among his own people, as soon as he says he wants to build Black schools that teach Black children about Black history now he’s acting funny. He’s a supremacist, a racist, a separatist, extremist, and every other “-ists” in the dictionary. He’s radical and he’s militant because he wants his own same as others have their own.

Only in America is so much emphasis placed on color and other countries to which she has infected follow her traditions. Only the dishonest will fail to admit that the social, political, and economic atmosphere of this country (U.S.) encourages racism. Doesn’t matter where a man is, if he is rich or poor, skinny or fat, smart or ignorant, black, white, Chinese, or Asian, whether he is a plain man or an artist, if he reads books or not, if he is intelligent or simple, whatever he is he must be able to think for himself. As long as the so-called Black man and woman has been in America he has not been encouraged to think for himself or to seek anything of his own without America’s permission. He has not been capable of fully revolutionizing. He has been emancipated but his freedom only meant a transfer of ownership. He has gone from the property of the plantation to the property of the state. Then he was amended into society. He’s an add-on. He was added to the Constitution since before then he was America’s slave and unworthy of sitting down at her table to eat. So these people she referred to as Black had to be included into the system and still he was a slave and what to the slave is the Fourth of July?

He is taught to fight for a country that has never fought for him. To honor heroes who were never heroes to him. Twelve U.S. presidents were slave owners and four of the first five presidents were products of a Virginia society in which slavery was a part of everyday life. So while Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe were all considered patriots who valued liberty, they were also all slave owners. Yet this people given the name Blacks are encouraged to regard her heroes as his own. This is not revolution. This is not a new system. This is begging to be part of a system that has long since rejected him. But before a people can revolutionize anything that people must first have a revolution of self. A shifting of perspective and complete change in thinking and if a man cannot change the way he thinks then he cannot change anything. Everything begins in the mind and so the revolution is in our thoughts. The revolution begins in the mind of the revolutionary first. If you cannot change yourself then you cannot change me.

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.” – Marcus Garvey (he said it before Bob Marley’s Redemption Song)

Fab New Photo Of Harriet Tubman & 10 Amazing But Little Known Facts About Her Life

Speaking of Underground, here are some Fun Facts about Harriet Tubman from the Blackmail4u blog. (I believe Harriet adopted a baby girl too named Gertie)

Black History: Special Delivery!!

harriet-tubman-younger Harriet Tubman (1819?-1913) She is believed to be between 43-46 years old in this photo

A newly discovered photo of a “younger” Harriet Tubman (1819? – 1913) is getting lots of publicity in the media! The photo was discovered among other pictures belonging to a deceased friend of Tubman’s.  It is estimated that Tubman is in her early to mid 40’s in the picture.  Her photo along with 44 other photos will be auctioned on March 30 by Swann Galleries.  The photo was likely taken just after the Civil War.  Tubman was then residing in Auburn, NY on land that would later become the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.

Tubman also made the news in 2016 after it was announced that her image would be added to the $20 bill beginning in 2030 replacing, President Andrew Jackson. While many of us are familiar with Tubman’s bravery and heroism in…

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Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Attica Massacre

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“ON SEPTEMBER 13, 1971, a four-day rebellion of over 1200 inmates at the Attica State Correctional Facility in bucolic upstate New York ended most horrifically after Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered almost 600 state troopers to storm the prison. Even though the raid took only 10 minutes, when one could finally see through the haze of spent ammunition, it was immediately clear that the price of retaking this facility by force had been staggeringly high.” – Heather Thompson

Before we go on, let’s take it back…

Convict Leasing

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With nearly half of all cotton investments in human bodies now gone, the end of chattel slavery no doubt left a sour taste in the mouths of slave-owners. Over four million African Americans (because who would know exactly how many?) were poured into a society that did not want them, cotton economies in shambles, cotton gins destroyed, and wealth that deteriorated before the ink could dry on the Emancipation Proclamation. A system so interwoven into the fabric of America could not just be taken away without serious consequences. Slave-owners could not sit back and watch; a reconstruction of slavery was necessary.

The Reconstruction Era, the process of rebuilding the south (which was really the time of restoring slavery to the south), introduced a new set of laws that would ensure that Blacks remained the property of landowners, sharecropping on the same plantations that held them as slaves. All of this despite General William T. Sherman’s plan to grant freedmen 40 acres on the islands and the coastal region of Georgia. But after the Civil War, blacks never did receive their “40 Acres and a mule” and were instead ordered to either sign contracts with the owners or be evicted, driven out by army troops. In the summer of 1865, all land had been ordered by the government to be returned to its original owners. Thus, millions of blacks remained poor. Still, this was not the only form of servitude to which they were subjected. In addition, something more law abiding would hold them in captivity. Ironically, within the same paragraph that abolished slavery, slavery was also reconstituted. According to the 13th Amendment:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

According to this law, slavery could not exist in the United States except for punishment for a crime, permitting slavery in the case of imprisonment.

New laws targeted blacks, (Black Codes) criminalizing their lives. That is, almost everything was a crime. Farm owner’s incapable of walking by the railroad or selling the products of their farm after dark. Or, the infamous Pig Laws, where stealing a pig (or any animal) could result in five years’ imprisonment. Or Sundown Towns, all white neighborhoods where Blacks were not allowed after dark. The more Blacks broke these laws and were sentenced to prison, the more slaves the plantation owners, now masked under private parties and corporations, had back into their possession. They could work the prisoners from sun up to sun down again while providing them with food, clothing, and shelter. Also known as Convict Leasing—the leasing of bodies to coal and iron companies owned by former slave owners—slavery was back. In 1883, about 10 percent of Alabama’s total revenue was derived from convict leasing. In 1898, nearly 73 percent of total revenue came from this same source.

Attica State Prison

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With awareness growing out of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, Malcolm X, The Black Panther Party, etc., Black and Latino Prisoners of 1970 began organizing rebellions against their treatment within the prison system. As with any information passed through the “grape vine” of the black community, the rebellions spread from prison to prison until it came to a head the Thursday morning of September 9, 1971. When the door prisoners used to go to the yard was locked, a fight broke out between the prisoners and the guards. As the fight grew, more prisoners joined until they broke open a gate connecting to another part of the institution and, to make a long story short, prisoners were let loose within the institution.

The Brothers locked the prison down, kicking butt and taking names. I mean (clears throat), taking staff members as hostages and implementing their own system of order within the prison. Appointing leaders to keep order and to be sure the staff was properly cared for, they demanded from the outside world better treatment within the prison system. Better medical treatment and less slave labor. But their “freedom” would not last long. When a hostage who was hit in the head at the beginning of the fight died from his injuries, the prisoners were responsible under the felony-murder rule. The felony was the riot and the murder was the death of the guard.

Inmates of Attica State Prison (right) negotiate with Commissioner Russell Oswald (lower left) inside the jail where prisoners took control
Inmates of Attica State Prison (right) negotiate with Commissioner Russell Oswald (lower left) inside the jail where prisoners took control

Shortly thereafter, a National Guard helicopter flew low over the yard and blew a cloud of military-grade CS gas into the crowd of men. As told to Attorney Jefferey Haas, under the name Big Black, one of the surviving prisoners of the time recalls:

“First came the tear gas. People looked for something to cover their face. When I first heard the shots, I thought they were blanks. Then the people around me in the yard starting dropping. I realized they were real bullets, and everyone ducked and ran for cover.” (September 16, 1971, Prisoner of The Attica Correctional Facility, New York, as told to Jeffrey Haas).

The gun shots Big Black is referring to are the marksmen who came in and started shooting, hitting 189 of the 1300 men in the yard and killing 31 people—29 prisoners and ten hostages. (There’s a conflict between the numbers. Some sources say 31 prisoners died and some 39. I use 31 because that is in accordance with the news articles of the time).

After the shooting, the beatings came:

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Source: Getty Images. Prisoners marching naked.

“The guards stripped us naked after the shooting. They made us crawl naked in the mud through a gauntlet where they beat us.” – Big Black

Next, Big Black (Big, dark skinned and part of the security) was tortured as an example. They burned his body with cigarettes:

“They took me out of the line. They made me lie on a table naked on my back and put a football under my chin. They put their burning cigarettes out on me. Some dropped them from the catwalk above and was laughing.”

“Afterwards, a news photographer found and recorded a pair of inscriptions, in separate hands, written with a white marker on a dark steel wall that succinctly told the story of the Attica rebellion. The top one said, “Attica fell 9-9-71 – F*&k you pig!” Just underneath that was written, “Retaken 9-13-71. 31 Dead Niggers.”

– Dennis Cummingham, Prison Legal News

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Riot: Prison guard hostages and inmates gather in the exercise yard of cell block D inside Attica State Prison in New York on September 9, 1971

While seeking freedom the men had forgotten one thing: slavery is abolished except as punishment for a crime. They were given slave-like treatment because as prisoners under the law, they were still slaves.

Today, the message is still relevant.