As I entered my forties, I really began to treasure my relationships with my older friends. At the top the list was my relationship with Claude Gross, Sr. We shared a love of the great game of basketball, we both appreciated the role that Philadelphia played in bringing the game to international prominence and we both never shut up.
Now…I’m opinionated and outspoken. But, I can’t begin to hold a candle to the legendary loquaciousness of Claude Gross.
More than just about anything else, he loved to talk hoops. His favorite topics were how good he was as a player and a coach. He was a living, breathing embodiment of the cartoon character Commander McBragg. Except, you always knew that Commander McBragg was embellishing his accomplishments.
Claude Gross never told me a single lie.
“I beat Wilt in High School, he wasn’t ready for me…” “We won the YMCA/AAU national championship in Jim Crow North Carolina in 1953…” “I played professional basketball under an assumed name while I was in high school…” “I averaged more than 40 in the industrial league…” “Me and Tee Parham were like 800 – 0…”
Upon initially meeting Claude and hearing all of this, one would naturally wonder if he was exaggerating… NEVER!
As his gait got slower, and his energy levels decreased, I realized that I would not have my friend forever.
Claude and his contemporaries were GIANTS in the game. As noted above, his was the only Public League team to defeat Wilt Chamberlain and Overbrook HS. He played with John Chaney in high school. He mentored Ray “Chink” Scott, Earl Monroe, Mo Howard, Andre McCarter, Gene Banks, Lionel Simmons, Nate Blackwell, Geoffrey Arnold, Donnie Carr, Bobby Johnson, BJ Johnson, Donnie Carr, Rashid Bey and hundreds of other young men the came through the Sonny Hill Community Involvement League.
Claude passed on so much knowledge about the history of the game. He was an endless font and an incredible inspiration.
It just wasn’t fair that the accomplishments of his generation weren’t memorialized.
I never really knew about the magnificent careers of Tarzan Cooper, Zach Clayton and Frank Washington until Claude explained in great detail what they had accomplished. With words, he could place you in a cramped church gym and you could actually “see” Tee Parham scoring 40, 50, 60 or even 90 points with ease.
After bouncing around the idea with Claude, Tee Parham, Dave Riddick and Ray Scott, I decided to establish the Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Fame. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I enlisted Mo Howard and Geoffrey Arnold and we were off and running. We literally had nothing but spirit, energy and commitment.
Somehow, someway we wanted to be able to recognize the GREAT Philadelphia players, coaches, journalists and contributors that would never be otherwise recognized.
If NOT us? Who?
There is no Philadelphia Basketball Hall of Fame. These guys were banned from competition in the Big 5 solely because they were Black. Who? Who was gonna recognize and memorialize their enormous contributions?
With a nice little contribution from Lionel Simmons, we were off and running. No glitz, no glamour… Just 100 hopheads gathered in a small North Philadelphia community center with plenty of food and top shelf liquor loving and respecting one another.
ESPN’s Undefeated, the Philadelphia Tribune and the Philadelphia Inquirer provided extensive regional and national media coverage of the inaugural class. Temple and La Salle Universities were very supportive. Philadelphia Youth Basketball and Mike Horsey gave generous donations.
The highlight… The headliner… The GRAND MASTER of the evening was my dear friend Claude Gross. He was a little weak, he wasn’t moving very well… But his mind was as sharp as ever! There were at least 20 South Philly guys in the house and they were drinking, carousing and fully supporting their leader.
Just a few weeks after his induction, Claude passed away. I can’t describe how good it felt knowing we were able to induct him into the Black Basketball Hall of Fame while he was able to fully participate and enjoy the ceremony.
I have come to treasure every interaction and conversation I have with guys like Tee Parham, Ray Scott and Sonny Hill. They have given the game of basketball and the city of Philadelphia so much. We were able to present the late, great Dave Riddick with his award acknowledging his induction before he passed away. These moments are invaluable. To be able to honor the legends from yesteryear as well as my contemporaries like Nate Blackwell, Mike Anderson and Lionel Simmons meant so much to me. To see and feel the extent to which they appreciated the honor was incredible.
I am extremely proud to have played a significant role in establishing a means of properly enshrining them and ensuring their legacies are shared with future generations.
The Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Fame, under the leadership of Mo Howard and Al Taylor has grown and taken on a much needed role of advocating for and providing assistance for members of the Philadelphia basketball community in need.
Again… If NOT us? Who?
I love the Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Fame matters!
A coon is generally understood to be a Black person who is overly accepting of white discrimination, excessively concerned with pleasing white authority figures and unknowingly suffering from a significant degree of self-hatred. We have witnessed what can best be described as an explosion of “coonish” behavior among Black males expressing support for President Donald Trump and disdain for Senator Kamala Harris following her selection as Joe Biden’s running mate.
Many observers, Black and white alike, are befuddled by what seems like such a rapid coon infestation… The mis-education of American youth is to blame for the confusion…
“History is Written by Victors…” This quote, often attributed to Winston Churchill, implies that history is not grounded in facts, rather it’s the winners’ interpretation of them that prevails. The victors force their preffered narrative down on the people. From the moment the United States of America declared independence in 1776, most American history books have described the American political culture as the finest example of government by popular consent with respect for the equal rights of all.
Clearly, American male white supremacists were the “victors.” When writing the history of the United States they consistently failed to give due weight to the deleterious role of white supremacist male ideology and the Slaveholding, Apartheid-like conditions that have shaped the participants and substance of American politics as much as, if not more than, the notion of equality for all.
President Trump fits squarely into the exclusionary, white supremacist male tradition of American politics. In this way, Trump is a true American original. He represents a contemporary manifestation of the inegalitarian ideologies at the core of the founding fathers vision of the great American experiment. They never actually intended to establish “liberty and justice for all.” For over 80% of American history, the overwhelming majority of adults living in United States were legally barred from full American citizenship solely because they were Black, Native American, Latino, Asian or women.
The American story as it has been commonly portrayed in the history books is intentionally deceptive because it is far too narrowly circumscribed. White male victors have focused their analytical lenses on the dynamics of relationships among a distinct minority of the American population. Yes, a relatively small group of wealthy Protestant propertied white male slaveholders treated each other with respect and political egalitarianism prevailed in their relationships with one another.
Fuck everybody else… is the unwritten, yet equally important, part…
The rapid tanning of America, inevitably requires a truer picture… Projected to form a majority of the population in a decade or so, Black and brown young people need a history that more accurately captures America’s political culture and it’s characteristic conflicts. Otherwise, they will continue to struggle in their attempts to understand the rapid ascendancy of a modern American racist/white supremacist and the proliferation of his strange bedfellow the Black male coon.
Insight into these recent dynamics, requires acceptance of the fact that the United States has been shaped to a large extent by the ideology of white male supremacy and the social practices that defined the relationships of white supremacist male elites with subordinate groups.
In a very real sense, it can be asserted that white supremacist males created the Black male coon.
Sixty-six years prior to the Declaration of Independence, the Meritorious Manumission Act of 1710 was enacted in Colonial Virginia. This law provided for the freeing a slave for “good deeds,” as defined by the national public policy, and could be granted to a slave who saved the life of a White master or his property, invented something from which a slave master could make a profit, or “snitched” on a fellow slave who was planning a slave rebellion or to run away.
Recognizing the inherent barbarism and inhumane nature of their prevailing social arrangements, racist/white supremacist males formally incentivized “coonish” behaviors. Black males could literally obtain freedom from a lifetime of bondage and forced servitude on a prison labor camp by “saving his master’s life” or condemning other enslaved Blacks to certain death by snitching on rebels.
Throughout history the emergence of coons has resulted from the behavior of individual actors, each of whom is making their individual decisions. These individuals have preferred complicity with their oppressors and financial rewards and improved social status over remaining among the larger oppressed Black community.
In this way, Racist/white males literally manufactured Black sellouts.
The slave rebellions of Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner were thwarted by Black male coons. Every Black social movement since has been infiltrated and negatively impacted by coons. Emmett J. Scott was one of them. An agent at the Bureau of Investigation, Scott posed as a reporter who attended Marcus Garvey’s UNIA meetings and conventions who interviewed Garvey. Walter H. Loving was a retired Army officer and a member of the Military Intelligence Division who sent Black informants to UNIA meetings.
Herbert Simeon Boulin was Jamaican businessman in Harlem who befriended Garvey but was really a Bureau informant. He began giving them gave harmful information such as accusations that Garvey’s movement was anti-white. James Wormley Jones was Black police officer and first Black FBI special agent who went undercover to take Garvey down. His information was the nail in the coffin J. Edgar Hoover needed to arrest Garvey.
Martin L. King friend and photographer, Ernest Withers, who was on hand to capture King riding newly desegregated Montgomery, Alabama buses in the mid 1950’s and the shock of his closest confidants immediately after his murder in 1968 was also an FBI informer.
Eventually, the FBI established the the Ghetto Informant Program (GIP), intelligence-gathering operation run by the FBI from 1967–1973. Its official purpose was to collect information pertaining to riots and civil unrest. Through GIP, the FBI used more than 7000 people to infiltrate poor black communities in the United States. Black male Informants monitored Black activists including Martin L. King, Jr. Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown and Huey Newton among many others.
William O’Neal became infamous in 1973 when his role in the 1969 raid in which Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were murdered was revealed. O’Neal was a Panther insider to the point where he was in charge of security for Hampton and possessed keys to Panther headquarters and safe houses. Simultaneously, he was serving as an informant for the FBI. Among the information the teenaged O’Neal fed his FBI contact was the floor plan of Hampton’s west-side apartment that was used to plan the fatal raid.
Working closely with racist/white supremacists, coons are extremely dangerous…
With O’Neal’s floorpan in hand, at 4:00 a.m., a heavily armed police team arrived at the site, divided into two teams, eight for the front of the building and six for the rear. At 4:45 a.m., they stormed into the apartment. Mark Clark, sitting in the front room of the apartment with a shotgun in his lap, was on security duty. The police shot him in the chest, killing him instantly. Clark’s gun discharged once into the ceiling. This single round was fired when he suffered a reflexive death-convulsion after being shot. This was the only shot fired by the Panthers.
Hampton, drugged by barbiturates, was sleeping on a mattress in the bedroom with his fiancée, Deborah Johnson, who was nine months pregnant with their child. She was forcibly removed from the room by the police officers while Hampton still lay unconscious in bed. Then, the raiding team fired at the head of the south bedroom. Hampton was wounded in the shoulder by the shooting.
Fellow Black Panther Harold Bell said that he heard the following exchange: “That’s Fred Hampton.” “Is he dead?… Bring him out.” “He’s barely alive.” “He’ll make it.”
The injured Panthers said they heard two shots. According to Hampton’s supporters, the shots were fired point blank at Hampton’s head. According to Deborah Johnson, an officer then said: “He’s good and dead now.”
As the world watches President Trump scramble for any and every advantage, both legal and extra-legal, that will sway the outcome of the upcoming election, it’s really not surprising to see so many Black coons lining up to do his bidding. There’s a long tradition of cooning that stretches back 310 years in America.
What’s different and frightening is the extent to which everyday, ordinary Black males are cooning for Facebook and twitter likes. What the fuck is that about?
Take note and isolate Black male Trump supporters. Keep them away from young Black and Brown children. They mean Black people no good.
The U.S. Constitution was written as a tribal document. Indeed, based upon a careful reading of the document in 1857, the United States Supreme Court in a majority opinion written by Chief Justice Roger B Taney, ruled that no African-American, free or enslaved, had ever enjoyed the rights of a citizen under the Constitution. Taney argued that, since the time of the ratification of the Constitution, blacks had been “regarded as beings of an inferior order, altogether unfit to associate with the white race … and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
The Constitution was designed to protect the rights and interests of the white American tribe. Those arguing otherwise have absolutely no respect for the intellect of non-whites.
It took a civil war and the deaths of 750,000 Americans to (temporarily) establish that Black Americans warranted protection under its Bill of Rights. That protection lasted a brief period spanning twelve years from 1865 to 1877. The white tribe rigidly implemented and enforced a white supremacist Apartheid/Jim Crow social order from 1877 to the mid 1960’s. The struggle to have the rights and interests of Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and other people of color fully recognized and protected continues today.
But focusing on the Constitution’s shortcomings and flaws can result in an under appreciation and overshadow what it actually accomplished. Its core mission was to forge, out of a diverse population, a new national identity, uniting Americans of European descent into a white America tribe. To a remarkable extent, it succeeded.
Throughout the colonial and revolutionary eras, Americans were a multiracial, multi-ethnic conglomeration… A diverse mix of English, Dutch, Scots, Irish, French, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Greeks, enslaved Africans and terrorized Native Americans.
The Founding Fathers deftly united the people of varying European backgrounds into a white American tribe. The Constitution was a key tool deployed to overcome profound divisions among people of European descent. The Founders guaranteed members of the white tribe religious freedom. The Constitution also declared that the United States would have no national church and no religious tests for national office. These foundational guarantees helped America avoid the religious wars that for centuries had torn apart the nations of Europe.
The Founders also utilized the idea of white supremacy to establish the “others” once they granted American citizenship status to members of the white American tribe. The Black tribe was relegated to “chattel” status. The Native American tribe was deemed “savage” and marked for removal or eradication.
Tribalism lies at the heart of the American experiment.
Today, we are witnessing tribal allegiances return once again to the foreground. The white tribe is alarmed. The United States is experiencing rapid demographic shifts that are resulting in the inevitable tanning of America. The nation is well on its way to becoming a predominantly Black and Brown country.
Formed explicitly to further white American tribal interests, these shifts are resulting in considerable angst and tension for all Americans. The angst is observable in many aspects of contemporary American life, including sports. Riley Cooper, Colin Kaepernick, Lebron James, Drew Brees, Kylin Hill, Pat Chambers, DeSean Jackson, Stephen Jackson and Bubba Wallace are just a few prominent sports figures that have found themselves at the center of racial tempests in recent years.
It makes sense that racial strife permeating American life in general is spilling over onto the playing fields and courts as well as into the locker rooms. Sports have played a pivotal role in American communities since the dawn of the 20th century. Today, athletic contests pushing physical limits are more popular than ever before. Sports is a booming industry at the youth, high school, college and professional levels.
As long as local governments, schools, universities and major corporations continue to see sporting events as sound investments, sports will play a vital role in society for the foreseeable future. This means sports will continue to provides one of the most visible platforms for racial wrangling.
At no other time in American history have sports played such a dominant role in daily life. Their absence due to the coronavirus pandemic only serves to heighten their importance. While we have had no games, yet we have had plenty of tribal warfare taking place in the world of sports.
The white tribe, for the most part, until the George Floyd murder at the hands of the Minneapolis police remained steadfast in their opposition to Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protesting of police brutality and murder during the national anthem. It should be noted that there were some whites that defected and supported Kaeperneck prior to Floyd’s life being extinguished on camera. Indeed, Nike launched a massively successful marketing campaign focused on Kaeperneck’s peaceful protest campaign. However, the tribe’s resistance front remained strong.
The unquestioned leader of the white tribe, President Donald Trump, loudly and relentlessly beat the racial drums on this issue. He engaged in a sustained attack on NFL players who kneeled in protest of the national anthem. Trump’s line of attack reached a crescendo in September 2017 when he openly challenged NFL owners to release anyone who engages in the movement started last year by Kaepernick.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president said at a campaign rally for an Alabama candidate for the U.S. senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions.
The white American tribe loved Trump’s antics.
Adequately describing social developments prevailing in contemporary America requires a word as primal as “tribe” to place adequate focus on the mindless allegiances and deeply held partisan affiliations. Tribes have formed everywhere. In many ways they are similar to gangs, sans the violence. Like gangs, tribes demand loyalty, and in return they confer the security of belonging to insecure people longing to belong. They’re badges of identity, not of thought. Indeed, they are hostile to intellectual pursuits and sophisticated analyses. Tribes make thinking unnecessary, because they do it for you. This point is important… Tribes will attempt to punish you if you try to think for yourself. According to their imbecilic logic, to get along without a tribe makes you a fool. Moreover, to give an inch to the other tribe makes you a sucker.
This conceptualization is applicable to hard-core Trump supporters. Their blind allegiance to the president is unlike anything in recent history. Those red baseball caps give them a sense of belonging to the white nationalist tribe. These people not only reject intellectual pursuits, they frequently abandon science altogether. Those that accept science-based Center for Disease Control guidance are considered suckers.
Fuck a mask… Fuck social distancing… Fuck your health… The white tribe is “giving up its freedoms.”
The Black tribe is similarly engaged in reflexive and regressive behaviors. Recent revelations that Penn State Head Basketball coach Pat Chambers used the word “noose’ while talking to then freshman point guard Rasir Bolton has riled up the Black tribe. Eighteen months ago, on the heels of a poor performance against Wisconsin, Chambers said, “I want to be a stress reliever for you. You can talk to me about anything. I need to get some of this pressure off you.
“I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck.”
With these words, unknowingly Chambers initiated a tribal skirmish that wouldn’t see a retaliatory strike for 18 months. But when it came, it came hard and heavy.
With Chambers at the helm, Penn State has made deep inroads into the Philadelphia basketball community. He’s recruited several prominent players from Philadelphia’s Public and Catholic Leagues. DJ Newbill, Shep Garner, Lamar Stevens, Seth Lundy, Izaiah Brockington and Mike Watkins are a few of the more prominent Philly kids that have donned the Nittany Lion uniform. Philadelphia has been good to Chambers and Penn State.
So when it was revealed that he uttered the word “noose” to a Black player, the Black tribe within that community was triggered. Members of this tribe quickly gathered around the fire (social media) and declared their commitment to seeing Chambers terminated. The speed with which partisan lines were drawn was spectacular. Like a gang, the Black Philadelphia basketball tribe demands undying loyalty, and in return they confer the security of belonging to the larger group.
The significance of the sense of belonging cannot be overstated. These are a group of frustrated middle-aged men that could not play in high school and college… They do not coach… They wield zero influence beyond the tribe itself… Basically, it’s a bunch of bitter irrelevant “never was” dudes that were MAYBE honorable mention all-milkcrate. With the Black basketball tribe and the advent of social media, they have created a basketball home for themselves. They have created a self-contained place where their thoughts, opinions and arguments related to basketball matter.
Membership in this tribe is a badge of identity, not of thought. For the most part, they reject anything but the most simplistic instinctual responses. “Chambers is a racist, Penn State must fire him immediately.” Individual tribal members do not have to think, because tribe thinks for them. In the case of Chambers, there’s no need to examine his actual track record with his Black players. There’s no need to even talk to the Black players from Philadelphia.
The Tribe demonstrated that they will attempt to disparage and punish anyone with a propensity to think for themselves. For them, to spend ven a moment assessing the actual situation as it has existed within the Penn State basketball program over the past decade makes you a fool. Moreover, to condemn Chambers actions, to call for suspension, suggest cultural competency training and NOT demand that he be dismissed makes you an Uncle Tom.
This strain of behavior is spreading almost as fast as the coronavirus…
Then less than 24 hours after the Chambers headlines grabbed the nation’s attention, the Jewish tribe gathered around the fire (social media). Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson ignited controversy by sharing anti-Semitic comments on social media this week.
Jackson posted a quote on his Instagram Story on Monday which was attributed to Adolf Hitler, stating in part “the Jews will blackmail America, they will extort America, their plan for World Domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they were.” The Jewish tribal response was predictable and swift…
Notably, former Eagles president Joe Banner, who is Jewish, forcefully declared, “If a white player said anything about (Black people) as outrageous as what DeSean Jackson said about Jews tonight there would at least be a serious conversation about cutting him and a need for a team meeting to discuss… Which would be totally appropriate. Absolutely indefensible.”
Here we go again…
Tribes, as I have noted, eschew sophisticated analyses. Banner demonstrated the reflexive and instinctual nature of the tribal response. Tribes don’t think things through. They just want casualties… They are interested in the body count… Careful consideration of Banner’s reaction validates this assertion.
There’s an obvious and appropriate Eagles case study that serves as a useful comparison for the Jackson incident. It’s worth a quick review… During a Kenny Chesney country music concert in June 2013, Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper was caught on video calling Black people “niggers.”
Despite Banners claim to the contrary, the Eagles did not cut Cooper after he called Black people niggers. One could argue they actually embraced him. Exactly, what were the consequences applied in the Cooper case?
In August 2013, the Eagles announced that, “Riley Cooper will be seeking counseling and we have excused him from all team activities. This is all new territory and we are going to evaluate this timetable every step of the way. He will meet with professionals provided by the Eagles during this period of time to better help him understand how his words have hurt so many, including his teammates.”
Then on February 27, 2014, the Eagles announced that they signed Cooper to a new contract. According to reports, the terms of the deal include $25 million over 5 years.
So… What the fuck is Joe Banner talking about?
Banner is bright man that has manned the helm for two NFL franchises. He most certainly was very much aware of the Riley Cooper “nigger” episode. Yet, he made the patently false claim that if a white player said anything about Black people as outrageous as what Jackson said the team would consider cutting him.
That’s simply not true. The team in question, the Philadelphia Eagles, not only didn’t cut Riley. They signed him to a next 5 year $25 million dollar deal just months after he called Black people niggers on a video that went viral.
It’s tribalism that prevents Banner from making the obvious comparison and conducting a sober analysis. He feels, perhaps rightly so, that his tribe is under attack. His response, nonetheless, does nothing to move the dialogue forward in a constructive manner.
How do we begin to limit the impact of tribalism? From whence does it come?
The causes of America’s resurgent tribalism are many. One obvious explanatory factor is seismic demographic shift underway. Whites have ruled this continent since the colonial era. They have enslaved, subjugated and oppressed people of color for centuries. They are well aware that they will lose their majority status within a few decades. On some level, whites have to wonder if people of color will do unto white as whites have done unto them. Tribalism is spreading like penicillin in a petri dish under these conditions.
Another factor is perceived declining social mobility and a growing class divide. Over 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment is recent months. People are scared. Rent and mortgages are due and they don;t have jobs. The global pandemic is only intensifying despite the quixotic proclamations of President Trump. This seems to be contributing to widespread retreat into tribes.
Finally, social media has evolved in a manner that rewards expressions of outrage. Any dunderhead with a cell phone can “go live” and rally up a tribe predisposed to feeling under attack and pitted against another tribes. Tribal idiots have stages and platforms to spread ill-formed ideas and half-baked arguments among other frustrated tribal members.
Unfortunately, the past three years have witnessed further entrenchment of tribalism. Hence, social interactions, even in the world of sports, are devolving into mindless zero-sum competitions, one in which tribes measures success by the extent to which they can stroke their member fears and appealing to their ugliest us-versus-them instincts.
Count me out… I refuse to stop thinking for myself…
My grandson, Kameron is 3 years old. He is a bright, energetic and inquisitive boy. Unfortunately, his entry into this world coincided with the rise of a racist/white supremacist shyster reality television personality to the highest office and the most powerful position in the world. In that way, Kam’s timing was really fucked up. But like most 3 year olds, he lives a sheltered existence with narrowly circumscribed responsibilities.
Kam has one job… developing his intellect and ability to think critically. He is well on his way on both counts, he is eagerly learning to count and read… His quest for knowledge is quite voracious… My young beautiful, Black grandson thinks.
A decade from now he will be in a middle school classroom and the subject of riots spreading like wildfire across America’s urban centers will inevitably become a topic of discussion.
As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, racist/white supremacist police officers will continue to murder unarmed Black men.
At some point, I am quite sure, Kam will ask, “Pop-Pop why did the Blacks loot and destroy their own community?”
Fortunately, I will be in position to explicate some carefully considered ideas to my grandson. He won’t have to search beyond his grandfather and our personal library for thoughtful explanations of behavioral problems that continue to baffle most Black observers.
When he is around 13, I will have to share and explain Neely Fuller’s often cited quote with Kam:
“If you don’t understand white supremacy/racism, everything that you do understand will only confuse you..”
I fully expect that Kam, like most Black people, will struggle mightily with this conceptualization.
His initial response will likely be something along the lines of “Pop-Pop… I’m talking about Black people that participate in the looting, burning and destruction of businesses in their own community. That hurts them as much as, if not more than, it hurts white people.”
Kam will be correct. Their behavior is NOT rational.
Eldery Blacks, the grandparents and great-grandparents of many of the looters and arsonists are disproportionately harmed when community stores, markets and pharmacies are destroyed. The actions of the looters make zero sense when assessed from what is commonly referred to as a rational perspective.
It will be my responsibility to help this highly intelligent young boy understand that while the destructive pattern of rioting, looting and destructive behaviors exhibited by Blacks in the mid-1960’s, the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and now 2020 is not ‘rational,’ it can be considered functionally ‘sensible.’ Although these behaviors take certain forms we usually consider the height of irrationality, they are sensible because they are well-adapted to the exigent circumstances that accompany the racism/white supremacy at the core of the American creed.
It will be challenging, but I know my grandson will grasp the dynamics at play.
For most observers, both academic and journalistic, behavior is best explained utilizing a cost-benefit, reward-punishment approach. The key thing I will want Kam to understand is that the persistence and all-encompassing nature of racism/white supremacy severely limits the explanatory power of the rational choice approach when it is applied to frustrated Black behavior.
Police, as you are told over and over in school and through the mainstream media, are there to protect and serve the community as a whole. The narrative is familiar… Citizens experience a threat to their person or property, they call 911 and the police respond. The responding officers take the report and make very effort to solve the crime. The victims are treated in a respectful and professional manner by law enforcement officials. More often than not, the criminal matter is resolved, the culprit is identified, the prosecuting attorney indicts and the justice system holds the criminal to account for his actions. After such encounters with police, every attempt is made to full fully respect the rights of the victims and alleged perpetrators. “Americans are innocent until proven guilty,” that’s what they teach you in school, right? In this way, citizens develop a preference for solving matters within the system in full accordance with the law. This is typical “goal-motivated” behavior. This is what my grandson will come to expect, given the manner in which the educational system and mainstream media deal with crime. This is the world familiar to white Americans, where correct choices lead to benefit and where wrong choice are costly.
That’s NOT the world in which Black America lives.
What happens if justice is made random and unpredictable for Black people? What happens is exactly what “rationalists” would expect; after some trial and error, Blacks sensibly refuse to call upon the police; one might say that rewards being random, they reduce costs to zero.
But what if Blacks are forced into encounters with the police. Real life, after all, frequently forces Blacks into police entanglements when avoidance may be their preference. Suppose you are Amadou Diallo, an unarmed 23 year old Black man, standing in front of your front door and four white plain-clothed officers—Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon, and Kenneth Boss claim to have mistaken you for a rape suspect from one year earlier and fire a combined total of 41 shots, 19 of which strike and instantly kill you, outside your apartment in the Bronx.
Suppose you are Abner Louima, a 31 year old Black man and you get into a fight in a Brooklyn nightclub. You are arrested and on the ride to the station, racist/white supremacist cops beat you with their fists, nightsticks, and hand-held police radios. On arriving at the station house, they kick you in the testicles, and while Louima’s hands were cuffed behind his back, a sadistic cop squeezed your testicles and then sexually assaulted you with a broken broomstick. After sodomizing you, the racist cop walked through the precinct holding the bloody, shit-stained instrument in his hand, bragging that he “took a man down tonight.”
Suppose you are Rodney King and you try to outrun the police in a high speed chase. Once the police stop you, they use their nightsticks to batter your joints, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. Officers attempted numerous baton strikes on you, resulting in some misses but 33 blows hitting you, plus seven kicks. You was taken to the hospital after your arrest, where you are found to have suffered a fractured facial bones, a broken right ankle, and multiple bruises and lacerations. In a negligence claim filed with the city, you alleged you suffered “11 skull fractures, permanent brain damage, broken [bones and teeth], kidney failure [and] emotional and physical trauma”.
Suppose you are Walter Scott and you end up shot five times in the back after a traffic stop for a broken brake light. Suppose you are Philando Castile and you inform a cop during a traffic stop that you have a licensed gun in the car and he shoots you five times at close range. Suppose you are John Crawford III and you pull a BB gun off the shelf in a Wal-Mart and a cop shoots you twice killing you instantly inside the store.
Suppose you are George Floyd and a store clerk alleges that you used a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase a pack of cigarettes. Seventeen minutes after the police arrive on the scene, you are dead. Three officers have you pinned on the ground, in the street next to a car. One of the officers is using his knee and body weight to literally crush your throat.
Existing within an explicitly racist/white supremacist society, Black men in America have always faced an insoluble problem. Frustration is inevitable when faced by problems that are impossible to solve. Black men want to live but racist/white supremacist police repeatedly kill them and, for the most part, are not held accountable by the justice system in America.
What happens, essentially, is that frustrated ‘raging’ behaviors become stereotyped. Some Black males loot. Others destroy property proximate to their communities. These behaviors are consistent across geographic regions and over time. These stereotypical behaviors persist whether or not their friends, families and neighbors will be negatively impacted. Most striking is the fact that the stereotyped behavior persists even when sanctioned and approved protest opportunities are available. Frustrated Black males are aware of the locations and times of sanctioned protests, but they pillage and loot anyway.
This is evidence of the extent to which, these patterns of frustrated behaviors have become fixated.
Virtually every cop killing of an unarmed Black man is accompanied by raging behaviors among young Black males. So much so, that by now it should be evident that a percentage young Black frustrated males no longer inhabits a world of choice at all.
Kam, after centuries of existing within a racist/white supremacist society, a segment of the Black community that has a developed an infrequent orientation to the future… Plainly stated… They don’t “give a fuck!” They have developed a level of resignation and fatalism and tolerance for behaviors other regard as pathological. Kam, people will continue to ask “what’s wrong them?”
Racist/white supremacist law enforcement officials will continue to murder unarmed Blacks. A segment of Black men, unable to reasonably expect the criminal justice system in America to hold racist cops accountable, will engage in fixated behaviors that severely damage their immediate surroundings.
“Pop-Pop… What can be done about it?”
Kam… As long as racism/white supremacy exists, anything done that is not intended to eliminate racism/white supremacy and to help produce justice, is a waste of time and energy… Racism/white supremacy is a helluva drug son…
America… led by President Donald Trump is regressing toward it’s historical norm… For 350 or so years, racism/white supremacy was the unquestioned guiding principle of life in what came to be known as the United States of America. President Trump, Steven Miller and Steve Bannon are ‘traditional’ Americans. Like the Founding Fathers, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon, Strom Thurmond and legions of other “great” Americans, they are ardent racist/white supremacists.
This is their time… The recent lynchings Ahmaud Arbery and George Lloyd are merely the latest episodes in a horrific saga stretching back four centuries.
The last half century has been the aberration. Indeed, for many supporters of President Trump, the clock has run out on the Great Society experiment focusing on inclusion, power-sharing and human decency.
FUCK THAT, they say… These racist/white supremacists want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
They want to ensure the 400 year legacy of unquestioned white dominance in all things political, economic, social and educational continues even after white people become a numerical minority in 10-20 years.
These racist/white supremacists are NOT crazy, they are NOT misguided… In fact, they have a much better understanding of the dynamics of American history than the 55-60% with opposing views. They understand REAL American history… The rest of us have consumed a fictitious fairy tale.
Driving their politics is a deep seated fear that minorities will do unto them as they have done unto minorities.
Americans in general… Especially Black Americans, have been woefully mis-educated. Thus, they find themselves shocked and dumbfounded when forced to confront the reality that the United States of America, like South Africa throughout most of the 20th century, is a profoundly racist/white supremacist nation-state.
Lately, Black Americans are being treated like puppies being potty trained… White America is rubbing our faces in the big pile of steaming shit that is racism/white supremacy. It’s seeping into our mouths, it’s in our eyes, it’s up our noses… It burns… It hurts…
Black Americans are literally mad because the racist/white supremacist dog is barking… Yooo… That’s what dogs do… ‘Good’ white Americans, on the other hand, remind of fish being told they are wet… Huh?
This mis-education is intentional and begins the moment American children exit their mother’s womb. It is reinforced from the moment they step foot in an American school building. With determination and skill, patently false and historically inaccurate narratives are deeply ingrained. Americans, from pre-school through Ph.D programs are taught that the United States is a “liberal democratic’ society shaped most by free and equal conditions and the Enlightenment ideals cherished by white colonists fleeing Europe and the American Founding Fathers. History, as it is written for public consumption and taught in public schools, tells us the United States of America was born a liberal society governed by the popular will.
It’s a lie. A dirty MUTHAFUCKIN’ lie!
American history is the story of the struggle between racist/white supremacist males and the rest of us. The history of American societal development has been PRIMARILY defined by the ideologies and practices that defined the relationships of the dominant white male minority with subordinate groups, and the relationships of these groups with each other. The placement of anything other than racist/white supremacist male dominance at the center of analysis is distraction at best, obfuscation at worst. The democracy founded by the founding fathers and endlessly lauded in textbooks was nothing more than a narrowly circumscribed set of social relationships among wealthy land and slave owning white male elites entrenched on mountains racism/white supremacy. The overwhelming majority of people in America have caught hell at the hands of racist/white supremacist American males for more than 400 years.
The MAGA crowd knows this and longs for a return to this American societal normalcy.
Since their arrival on August 1619, Blacks in America have worked to erode those mountains of racism/white supremacy over time. However, on many occasions, the mountains have proven to be volcanoes of evil, hate and rage. Presently, we are witnessing yet another volcanic eruption of racism/white supremacy as the tanning of America pushes these “traditional” American to their limits.
The emergence of an intensely racist/white supremacist movement is entirely understandable… These folks have had it their way for 87.5% (350 out of 400 years) of American history.
“Da fuck you mean? I can’t kill a nigger?”
What’s unfathomable is the level of support for the racist/white supremacist movement that has emerged among Black Males. To the 13-15% of Black males supporting President Donald Trump, I offer the prophetic words of Sociologist Neely Fuller:
“If you do not understand White supremacy – what it is, and how it works, everything else that you understand will only confuse you.”
Dr. Carson… Brother Kanye… Brother Jim Brown… Sister Diamond and Sister Silk… Y’all are fully embracing the re-emergence good old-fashioned American racist/white supremacy… We see you…
You know what? Fuck y’all…
Four hundred years ago, racist/white supremacist Americans chose sides. John Rolfe, Secretary and Recorder of the Virginia Colony wrote the following entry “about the last of August, there came to Virginia a Dutchman of Warre that sold us twenty Negers.” Thus, a year and a half before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, twenty enslaved Blacks were high-jacked from a Spanish ship and sold into a life of bondage in what would become the United States of America.”
Dr. Carson… Brother Kanye… Brother Jim Brown… Sister Diamond and Sister Silk… Let there be no doubt, you are on the side of the Dutch slaver, John Rolfe and racist/white supremacist colonists. For four hundred years they have writing and enacting laws making it very clear that they don’t fuck with you…
The first “law” making reference to Blacks written in 1639.
“1639. Act X. All persons except Negros are to be provided with arms and ammunition or defined at the pleasure of the governor and council.”
From the outset… Laws were written to uphold, sustain and strengthen brutally enforced the rigidly enforced racist/white supremacist social order.
Shit only got worse over time… By 1680, the superiority of whites in the emerging social order was explicitly written into law:
“1680. Act X. Whereas the frequent meetings of considerable numbers of Negro slave under pretense of feast and burials is judged of dangerous consequence [it] enacted that no Negro or slave may carry arms, such as any club, staff, gun, sword, or other weapon, nor go from his owner’s plantation without a certificate and then only on necessary occasions; the punishment twenty lashed on the bare back, well laid on. And further, if any Negro lift up his hand against any Christian he shall receive thirty lashes, and if he absent himself or lie out from his master’s service and resist lawful apprehension, he may be killed and this law shall be published every six months.”
Black Trump supporters… you are siding with the folk that wrote and enacted this shit… These people have historically sought to completely dehumanize your ancestors. How do you watch the life literally squeezed out of George Logan and not realize that racist/white supremacists remain committed to precluding Blacks from responding in a manner thought normal for human beings?
Candace Owens and Paris Dennard… Who raised ya?
Amy Cooper, the white damsel in imaginary distress, understands what you refuse to acknowledge. She played the game for keeps… That racist skank tried to bring the full force of the NYPD to bear on a brother trying to watch birds in Central Park. George Cooper, a Harvard educated bird watcher, had the audacity… the temerity… to ask the skank to comply with the posted leashing laws. For this, the skank sought to ruin Cooper. Why? Because, this former banking executive knows she lives in a racist/white supremacist nation and knows she could conceivably wreck Cooper’s life and permanently tarnish his reputation or perhaps even main or kill him with the lies pouring out her privileged white mouth. She knows… It has NEVER been criminal for a white man to have sexual relations with a Black woman, forcibly or consensual. However, racism/white supremacy has always sought to protect white women from the Black male penis.
Always been that way… Many want to make America Great Again along those lines…
In 1705, the Virginia General Assembly declared that a white woman indentured servant who had an illegitimate child by a Black or mulatto was fined fifteen pounds; if she was unable to pay the fine she was sold for five years at the expiration of her time of service. If the unwed white mother was a free white woman she was also subject to a fifteen pound fine or five years of service.”
The 1705 statute imposed a prison sentence of 6 months for “whatsover white man or woman” marrying a Black person. In 1848, the sentence was increased to 12 months. In 1932, the imprisonment was imposed on Blacks and whites and the sentence was increased to a maximum of five years.
I was 2 years old when interracial marriage were finally banned in the United States of America.
The vestiges of America’s long dominant racist/white supremacist factions have come together. They have lined up, in neat formation, behind President Trump. He has been strongly endorsed by the KKK, David Duke, Richard Spenser and virtually every contemporary far-right/wing alt-right organization in existence.
What the fuck are y’all Blacks doing over in that camp?
If Trump, Miller and Bannon are able to further exert their political will, we will inevitably witness the reemergence of America’s core value in American public policy.
Racist/white supremacists are enthralled with the Founding Fathers and the social order prevailing in colonial America. They long for a return to a time when publicly lynching Blacks was a spectator sport.
Colonial Virginia explicitly declared, “it shall be lawful for any person or persons whatsoever, to kill and destroy [runaway] slaves by such ways and means as he, she or they shall think fit, without accusation or impeachment of any crime for the same…”
These colonial laws formed the basis of the Virginia society from which George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison emerged. Hence, it makes sense that they were ardent racist/white supremacists and viewed Black as less than human and established a nation whose economy was based on the work of enslaved Blacks on armed labor camps.
It makes prefect sense that enslaved Blacks were afforded absolutely no rights under the Constitutional arrangement formed by these Founding Fathers.
It makes sense that 7 of the 9 justices on the United States Supreme Court determined that Blacks have no rights white people are bound to respect in 1857.
“We think… that [black people] are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word “citizens” in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time [of America’s founding] considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them.”
It makes sense that racist/white Americans installed, entrenched and rigidly enforced, through terroristic means, an Apartheid-like Jim Crow social order throughout much of America from 1877 to the mid 1960s.
It’s the American way. Racism/white supremacy is at the core of the American creed.
Donald Trump stuck a syringe full of racist/white supremacist hate and mainlined it into veins of America’s body politic. After that initial hit, those addicted to hate have been riding around in pick up trucks, SUVs and police cars in search of next their fix.
Look at the face of the racist/white supremacist cop as he choked the life out of an unarmed, handcuffed Black man being restrained face down by a total of three (3) police officers.
This is America!
It make sense that Donald Trump would harangue President Obama about his place of birth and nationality.
It makes sense that President Trump would restrict immigration from Black and Brown countries.
It makes sense that President Trump would attempt to suppress the vote in Black and Brown communities.
What doesn’t make sense is 13-15% of Black males and the few women like Diamond, Silk and Candace Owens that support the contemporary racism/white supremacy embodied in the Trump movement…
The only plausible explanation is what Carter G. Woodson identified in 1993 as The Mis-Education of the Negro:
“The so-called modern education, with all its defects, however, does others so much more good than it does theNegro, because it has been worked out in conformity to the needs of those who have enslaved and oppressed weaker peoples.”