Tuesday, June 15, 2021

ABC never-aired this 1979 Baldwin profile. Producer was told -- No one would be interested in a “queer, Black has-been”

Never Aired: Profile on James Baldwin ABC’s 20/20, 1979 from A Closer Look on Vimeo:

"Baldwin speaks frankly about outing himself to the general public with his 1956 novel Giovanni’s Room and about what it means to live as a Black man in a nation that has always favored its white citizens:
"The American sense of reality is dictated by what Americans are trying to avoid. And if you’re trying to avoid reality, how can you face it?" 
Nearly 35 years before Black Lives Matter’s formation, he tackles the issue of white fragility by telling Chase, “Look, I don’t mean it to you personally. I don’t even know you. I have nothing against you. I don’t know you personally, but I know you historically. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t swear to the freedom of all mankind and put me in chains.” 

The finished piece is a superb, 60 Minutes-style profile that covers a lot of ground, and yet, 20/20 chose not to air it. 

After the show ran Chase’s interview with Michael Jackson, producer Lovett inquired as to the delay and was told that no one would be interested in a “queer, Black has-been”:
I was stunned, I was absolutely stunned, because in my mind James Baldwin was no has-been. He was a classic American writer, translated into every language in the world, and would live on forever, and indeed he has. His courage and his eloquence continue to inspire us today."  (All emphasis mine)

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The October Surprise? -- "Reality TV" wins, yet again...

This administration continues to play e’erybody — and the MSM (fuck*n presstitute media) along with his base, have NO damned problem joining in the game, Fam. But just listen as Denzel shares Brother Malcom’s thoughts on this bullshit:


Come on now, Family (my sister-in-law gave me this shirt on my last visit to Minnesota cuz she knows me so well)!! This was a damned, publicity stunt (from the drive-by, waving to his base followers, to the 3-day release) — and they were all in on it. The little, Navy doctor, Conley at Walter Reed missed the damned memo, that’s why he had to go out and walk back that first bullshit he said! And our presstitute media’s been giving homeboy all the free press he needs for his damned re-election (Democrats are so f*ckin’ stupid). {SMMFH}

Unless and until I see some of them supposedly, ”exposed” folk are sick, near-death-sufferin’ and/or dyin’ — I’m not buyin’ ANY OF THIS BULLSHIT!

He staged it all, and because of that, more regular folk will die — and neither he, nor his motley crew will give a shit.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

George Floyd Memorial a gut-wrenching confirmation of America's continuing Black genocide

My husband and I took a road trip to my oldest sister-in-law's house in Minnesota with our youngest son and his lady the last week of August.

Thinking about how badly I'd been needing to get away from it all, I shelved my traveling-during-COVID paranoia and agreed to the drive up for a surprise, early birthday party for my nephew on Saturday, 8/22.  Instead of getting away from it all -- I drove right into it.

Arriving on Friday evening, we unwound at a laid back, socially distanced, driveway-hang-out that night at my oldest niece's house with her little family of three, her younger sister, their mom and my other sister-in-law who'd flown in from New York for the party.  Unlike the 100-degree temperatures we'd been suffering in Texas, the weather was GREAT as we sat under the stars talking, laughing, drinking and catching up (not via Zoom for a change).  Because we were a part of the surprise, my nephew wasn't invited but, we'd been texting back-and-forth all evening about what he'd been doing in the community since George Floyd's murder (unbeknownst to him, I WAS in Minnesota).

Then, oddly, I got this text from him at 7:25 pm (which I read to everybody else).  He said, "Listening to Ranky Tanky and thinking of you.  Love you guys and miss you all so much.  Wish I had my family here with me. Fuck Covid!"  Then he uploaded Ranky Tanky's, "That's Alright" (Long story for later about our bond over Ranky Tanky!  Suffice it to say, he respects my Gullah heritage.).  We thought our surprise was blown!  I texted him back saying, "I feel exactly the same, Nephew.  Promise we'll make that happen one day soon!"       

On Saturday, per his wife's invitatiion, we had a mask-wearing, tables 6 feet apart, outside in the yard shindig that was fuck*n wonderful!!!   Minnesota being a swing state, we had some serious political and racial conversations under the tent.  I so appreciated that!

On Sunday, we spent a beautiful day at my youngest niece's house on a pontoon boat on the lake all day and finally, I felt all the tension I'd brought with me just drain away.

On Monday though, we went to the George Floyd Memorial -- and it felt like someone was squeezing my heart as we walked through the closed-off part of the neighborhood from the Cup Foods. This is what I saw first:

When we reached the end of the trail of names and I looked back, the stark visualization of the nationwide numbers of Black deaths felt like somebody had kicked me in the gut. My son put his arms around me and said, "Mom, it happened again." He told me about the Jacob Blake video in Kenosha, not far across the state line from where we were.  I'd slept so hard and peacefully the night before, I hadn't heard yet because I'd neither watched TV,  nor been online. He wanted to show it to me but -- I. JUST. COULDN'T.

Instead, I walked down to here, the "Say Their Names" Cemetery:

Standing in that makeshift cemetery with all those "headstones" listing the names again (but this time, along with their dates of birth and death, with their actual ages over the dash) -- I thought about Jacob Blake, his children in the car watching him get shot, and how George Floyd's very public death had neither stopped nor slowed the reign of terror in our communities by these sometimes-scared, oftentimes intentional, always-jumpy jackbooted thugs. I just started to shake my head and cry. 

I knew they'd quickly be "dirtying" him up, saying the cop was "in fear for his life," putting the cops involved on pretty much a paid vacation "pending investigation," despite the video.  I also knew they'd blame him for his own murder. And they've done it all, as usual.

My nieces, along with their young children (one, a nine year-old girl and the other, an eight year-old boy), followed close behind me.  I heard the nine year-old ask her mom incredulously,  "Did all these people get killed by the police??"  Her mom said yes.  "And they ALL  had Black skin??" she asked.  Again, her mom said yes. As the kids went from headstone to headstone they stopped at the one for Aiyana Jones. The nine year-old said to her eight year old cousin, "Sal, she was only seven years old!"  My knees buckled and I bent over.  Sal's mom came up from behind me, tears streaming down her face and asked, "Are you alright Aunt Debi?" All I could do was shake my head no as we cried together. 

Adding insult to injury on Tuesday night, here comes 17 year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, open-carrying against Wisconsin law when the protests broke out -- killing two people an injuring one. I was enraged as I saw cops pretty much give him the Dylan Roof treatment as he walked toward them with his long gun slung over his shoulder and his hands up (I was living in Charleston when Roof murdered the Emanuel 9 on my oldest son's birthday in 2015). Only thing missing was an offer to get him a damned burger.

So much for trying to get away from it all. 

We cannot allow this to continue, Family. We've got to keep raising these issues by whatever means necessary and available.  Jacob Blake's sister said it way better and more succinctly than I ever could,  here:

Friday, July 24, 2020

7/24 -- always a day of mourning, celebration and anticipation...

I woke up this morning, rolling over and looking out my bedroom window where, for the last three years, I've seen a cardinal flying from its nest in the trees behind my back yard to my neighbors bird feeder next door.  I didn't see the cardinal this morning which, to many, is a sign of a spirit watching over you.

It's been 24 years since my mother died in Charleston on my niece's 18th birthday -- a week before my 46th birthday.  It seemed to explain the fitful, sweat-drenched, menopausal sleep I had last night.

I told the husband about it this morning and he said,"Maybe it was your Mom saying, 'You got this, Deb,' you don't need me anymore."  I think he was right, at least partially.

She was "Woman" in my life.  Sometimes gettin' the hell on my last nerve, sometimes bein' the person whom I looked up to most as friend, ally and not-takin-any-shit-from-white folk role model. I remember her coming to Immaculate Conception (ICS) to pick me and my brother up to go march in Charleston's, 1969 Hospital Workers strike, led by her friend and fellow Dreamer's Social Club member, Miss Mary Moultrie.  I was 13.

These women met monthly, pooled their "dues," had a great time playing cards, eating and talking about family and friends and had an even better time annually, as they used that pooled cash to travel America. Miss Dora, my family's next-door neighbor, is the only one left to my knowledge.

I remember her fighting her way up from short-order cook on the Navy Base to running all the cafeterias on that base.  I also remember her (respectability politics aside), demanding that we do better, be better than who she was. As I look back on my life at 63, I did better -- but I could never be better than the woman she was.

I miss you so much, Mama -- you'd be proud of these young, Black folk today!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Mr. Frederick Douglass said...

...Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too, great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory....

...Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart."

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can today take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! We wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery, the great sin and shame of America!  I will not equivocate; I will not excuse; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, "It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, an denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed." But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look today, in the presence of Americans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! Had I the ability, and could reach the nation's ear, I would, today, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, 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....

...Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. "The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from "the Declaration of Independence," the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. — Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.

The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, "Let there be Light," has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. Ethiopia, shall stretch out her hand unto God.  In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:

God speed the year of jubilee

The wide world o'er!

When from their galling chains set free,

Th' oppress'd shall vilely bend the knee,

And wear the yoke of tyranny

Like brutes no more.

That year will come, and freedom's reign,

To man his plundered rights again


God speed the day when human blood

Shall cease to flow!

In every clime be understood,

The claims of human brotherhood,

And each return for evil, good,

Not blow for blow;

That day will come all feuds to end,

And change into a faithful friend

Each foe.

God speed the hour, the glorious hour,

When none on earth

Shall exercise a lordly power,

Nor in a tyrant's presence cower;

But to all manhood's stature tower,

By equal birth!

That hour will come, to each, to all,

And from his Prison-house, to thrall

Go forth.

Until that year, day, hour, arrive,

With head, and heart, and hand I'll strive,

To break the rod, and rend the gyve,

The spoiler of his prey deprive -

So witness Heaven!

And never from my chosen post,

Whate'er the peril or the cost,

Be driven.

Mr. Frederick Douglass
July 5, 1852
Rochester New York

(All emphasis mine)
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