Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Racist Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

(Published in the Philadelphia Inquirer  Op-Ed section on June 13, 2016)

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Movie is just another example of racist propoganda.
Yes, I'm saying it! The movie  featuring those green sewer-dwelling amphibians that everyone loves is racist. Subliminally racist. Insidiously racist.

I know . . . people are tired of folks accusing movies or television series of having racist content or undertones. Because, come on, if you look hard enough you can convince yourself that anything can be racist. Right?

But let's examine some cold hard facts here, okay?

Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo -- members of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles = The good guys.

Be-Bop, Rock-steady, and Shredder -- members of the Foot Clan = The bad guys.

Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo are named after great artists of the European Renaissance era. Leonardo, then one might easily surmise, is meant to represent Leonardo da Vinci -- the great artist, inventor, mathematician and writer whose genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal.  

They are, of course figures to be admired, even worshiped as role models for our children. Figures with whom we would all want to identify, and whose success we hope they would aspire to emulate. 

But now let's look at the bad guys, shall we?

Bebop is a form of music developed in the 1940s -- some say invented by jazz icons Charlie "Yardbird" Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Coleman Hawkins -- but identified with all the African-American jazz musicians of that era. 

Rocksteady is a musical form that came out of the Caribbean, mainly Jamaica, in the mid 1960s. Made famous by Alton Ellis who was called the "Godfather of Rocksteady," It even spawned a dance craze that reached the United States in the 1970s with the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklins' hit Rock Steady.  Johnny Nash hit number one on the Billboard Chart here in the States with his Rocksteady song, I Can See Clearly Now.

Shred guitar or shredding is defined as a virtuoso leading guitar solo playing style for the electric guitar, based on various fast playing techniques. A friend of my father's always talked about musicians and their titles. Frank Sinatra was "The Chairman of the Board." Ray Charles was "The Genius.” And Jimi Hendrix -- who died in 1970 after only a four-year career in music --  was "The Shredder."  Search the web and you'll find numerous mentions of his magnificent shredding at the Woodstock Music Festival, and his stirring rendition of The Star Spangled Banner is still considered a shredding classic. Though greatly identified with heavy metal rock, Prince was also considered one of the great shredders, and he cited his shredding influences as both Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana. 

Now, see, I don't think it's overly sensitive to look at a cartoon that names all the smart good guys after European culture and all the stupid bad guys after Black culture. Do you?

What bothers me the most is that it's subliminal, and therefore insidious!  

Subliminal, because most of the children watching wouldn't yet know about the European Renaissance, or yet be familiar with names of music genres like Rocksteady and Bebop, they're just watching a funny action-packed cartoon. Thus the idea is insidiously planted in their brain -- European culture good -- Black culture bad.

Cowabunga my ass. 

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Did You Know THIS About Harriet Tubman?

On June 2, 1863 -- 153 years ago today, Harriet Tubman became the only woman in U. S. History to lead a successful military action.
Over 750 slaves were freed because of Tubman’s leadership and heroism. Tubman is recognized as the only women to lead a military mission in the Civil War.

Harriet Tubman led Colonel James Montgomery and African American Union Troops as they attacked plantations on the Combahee River in South Carolina.

Tubman had received information on the location of Confederate mines along the river, she guided three Union Ships down the river around the mines picking up freeing slaves along the way. While the armed attack began on the plantations, the whistles on the steamboats sounded letting area slaves know that freedom was at hand. The slaves ran from the plantations to the steamboats.

Over 750 slaves were freed because of Tubman’s leadership and heroism. Tubman is recognized as the only women to lead a military mission in the Civil War.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I hate when I hear people (usually white people) say that Black people really aren't patriotic.

Me? I'm proud to be known as An Angry-Ass Black Woman, and I'm just as proud to say that I served five years in the United States Navy.

And Memorial Day means as much to Blacks in the United States as to any race here. In fact, the very first gathering to honor fallen soldiers was organized by Blacks.

It was in 1865, the year after the Civil War had ended. Ten thousand people, mainly Black people, gathered to pay homage to Union soldiers who had died fighting to keep the United States as one nation -- and, in doing so, rid the country of slavery.

During the wa r captured Union soldiers were held at the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club, which had been turned into a Confederate prison camp. Two-hundred and fifty-seven soldiers died in captivity, and were buried there in a mass grave.

In April 1865, Blacks living in Charleston, along with a few white teachers and missionaries undertook the task of digging fresh graves for each individual soldier, and transferred their bodies, one-by-one, to their new resting places. They built a fence around the site, then constructed an arch with the inscription "Martyrs of the Race Course."

On May 1st, 10,000 paid tribute to the newly re-buried dead. Three thousand led the procession singing John Brown's Body and the Star-Spangled Banner, they were followed by women carrying flowers, wreaths, and crosses. Behind them came the men and Union soldiers. By the time the procession was finished almost the entire site was covered with rose petals.

Both local and national newspapers covered the event -- which was called "Decoration Day" -- including the New York Tribune.

Other cities in both the North and South have claimed to be the first to celebrate Decoration Day, but none of the claims -- that can be verified by newspaper or other published mention -- can be substantiated. It wasn't until the late 1990s that David Blight, a Yale professor, uncovered archives in Charleston that verfied the existence of this early celebration.

In 1868, Major General John A. Logan actually called for Decoration Day to be recognized as a national holiday, and proposed that it be celebrated on May 30th -- the thinking that there would more flowers in bloom at that time. It wasn't until 1967, though, that it officially became a federal holiday.

So there you have it . . . May 1, 1865. Charleston, South Carolina . . . the first organized celebration of what would become Memorial Day was started by grateful newly-freed Blacks.

Don't you just love a teaching moment?

Yes, There Really Was A Black Wall Street

Black Wall Street (aka Little Africa) - Tuls, Oklahoma
May 31, 1921.
Oklahoma. Tulsa, Oklahoma. Just a small area in the town some called Little Africa. Even more called it The Black Wall Street. 
It was a section of town that housed Black lawyers, Black doctors, Black bankers . . . and Black banks. 
It was a source of pride to live there, or to even boast they had relatives who lived there. It's destruction began 95 years ago today -- May 31, 1921 -- and it took only 24 hours and the worst riot in U. S. history to erase the Black Economic Mecca.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Happy Malcolm X Day, Everybody!!!!!!!

Malcom X, also known as El-Hajj Malik Shabazz, was born on May 19, 1925 as Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska

Personally? I don't need the government to tell me what heroes birthdays are worthy of commemoration. 
Do you?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

American History - The Lynching of Mr. Jesse Washington

The Lynching of Mr. Jesse Washington - May 15, 1916 - Waco, TX

Don't look away! This is American History.
Don't look away!  May 15th of this year was a special day in that history.
Don't look away!  That was the 100th anniversary of the lynching of Mr. Jesse Washington.
Don't look away!  100th year anniversaries are worthy of being noted. 
Don't look away!  The mainstream media ignored that anniversary -- so, now, I'm your teacher!

Many of you have seen this horrid photograph before, in some article about the horrors of lynching in the South or something of that like. In fact, though this is easily one of the most gruesome photographs of a lynching, it's also probably one of the best known. 

Because see, there was a photographer -- at that lynching --  taking pictures, and he created postcards as souvenirs. I'm told they were a hot-selling item in 1916. Not quite as hot-selling as the charred fingers, toes and ears of the lynching victim . . . but hot enough. 

But let me not simply call him "the lynching victim." He's been called that too many times over the last 100 years. That just might be why we still now have to shout "Black Lives Matter."

His name was Jesse.

His name was Jesse Washington.

His name was Jesse Washington, and he was only 17-years old. A farmhand. Looking forward to his 18th birthday just a few months away.

On May 8th, he was sitting in his yard, happily whistling and whittling away when Deputy Sheriff Lee Jenkins walked over and told him to get into the law enforcement official's car.

Although Jenkins would give no reason why, Washington complied. Most colored folk would back then in 1916, since they were still colored. Tired, the teenager innocently fell asleep in the back seat of the police car. The last peaceful sleep he would have here on earth.

When they got to the sheriff's office in Waco, Washington was sat down and told that he should confess to killing Lucy Fryer, a 53-year old white woman who employed Washington and other of his family members to help with the farm. Oh, and he should confess to raping her, too.

Washington swore he didn't do it. After some hours of "Waco-persuasion," he changed his mind.

The sheriff would later say that Washington gave him information as to where to find the murderous hammer used to bash in her head.

The trial was held on May 15, 1916. It lasted less than an hour. The jury took four-and-a- half minutes to find him guilty.

Judge Richard Irby Munroe nodded and was about to hand down Washington's sentence when a voice from the back of the courtroom called out; "Get the nigger!"

A mob of more than 500 men dragged him through the streets, and cut off his testicles before tying him to a tree. They then lowered him over a bonfire, and then raised him back up, only to lower him again. They did this for two hours, while a crowd of about 15,000 cheered . . . . though not quite loud enough to drown out Washington's screams.

Lowering and raising him over the dancing flames. Lowering and raising him until his Black body was charcoal, and the screaming finally stopped. It took two hours for the screaming to stop.

As his body finally lay on the ground smoldering some of the crowd would reach over and snap off a finger or a toe.

When his body finally cooled school children reached inside his jaw and snapped out teeth to sell as souvenirs. They sold for a hefty five dollars apiece.

Law enforcement was there, and so was the mayor. No one did anything to stop the gruesome lynching of Jesse Washington. In fact, there are rumors that it was the mayor who called photographer Fred Gildersleeve over to City Hall for the express purpose of taking pictures to commemorate the occasion.

“This is the barbeque we had last night. My
picture is to the left with a cross over it.
Your son, Joe.”
(actual postcard mailed in 1916)
"Jesse Washington was an illiterate and probably didn't even understand the charges against him," the northern liberals cried!

"It could have been the husband who killed Lucy Fryer, not Jesse Washington," the Black newspapers shouted!

"As people of color, we know that we all that any  one of us could be the next Jesse Washington!" hollered the northern Black community and political leaders!

Oh yes! Most of the nation was outraged about Jesse Washington's barbaric and torturous slaying.

For a couple of years, anyway.

After awhile there were other lynchings to discuss. The Red Summer of 1919, with all of it's race riots in Detroit, Washington D.C., New York City. Prohibition starts. Bessie Smith is singing and recording the blues. The Harlem Renaissance begins.

(Say My Name!)
People still talk about the "Waco Horror."

(Say my name?)
Black politicians begin to emerge in the North and South and still refer to the "Waco Lynching" to get folks riled up.

(say my name? please?)
The Civil Rights Movement starts and progress is being made left and right by Black folks and, "Thank God, we don't have any more lynching like that one kid back in Texas. What year was that again?"

His name was Jesse Washington, he was 17-years old. And yes, too many people have forgotten his name. The nation was outraged at this death, newspapers editorialized, W. E. B. DuBois frothed at the mouth, and . . . now . . . ?

And . . . now?

In 2012 another 17-year old African-American boy was slaughtered, and his death also outraged a nation.

I wonder if it's because Jesse Washington's name was so easily forgotten that this other teenager's death was also allowed to happen without consequence to his murderer?

Maybe if we learned lasting lessons from what had already happened to us we wouldn't be mourning the death of a 18-year old in Ferguson, and mourning not only his death but the fact that his death was not avenged.

Perhaps if we remembered Jesse Washington -- remembered what happened to him and why --- perhaps . . . just maybe, the memory would have us so on guard, so on point, that a 12-year-old boy playing with a toy gun might still be alive.

Because maybe our collective racial memory would have been so strong that we would have already let the powers-that-be-know that we will not just stand by and let them pick off our young Black men and women.

So! This is your American History lesson for the day.

Trayvon Martin

Michael Brown

Tamir Rice

Damn right! And if you mean what you say about never forgetting these names we won't have to have this same American History lesson a hundred years from now.

Because there'll be no need.

Class dismissed!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Writing Fairy

Once upon a time there was a beautiful young fairy who loved to read. She loved to read all kind of books, written by all kinds of people.
When someone asked the beautiful young fairy what was her favorite genre, her dainty little fairy eyebrows would furrow, and with the utmost fairy sincerity would say: "Favorite? Why would I have a favorite genre? If the story is good I love it."
When someone asked her favorite writer, she'd purse her pretty little fairy lips and gently flap her little fairy wings and answer: "All writers who write great stories are my favorite writers."
In case you didn't know all fairies have to have a title in order to interact with human beings. Of course you've heard of The Tooth Fairy, right?
Many other fairies suggested to our beautiful young fairy that if she wanted to interact with humans she should assume the title The Reading Fairy. But our beautiful young fairy simply gave a tinkly little fairy laugh and said, "As long as I have a good book to read, I'm too busy to interact with anyone."
The other fairies gave each other knowing looks but said nothing.
One day the beautiful young fairy finished reading "Chasing the Phoenix," by Michael Swanwick; and after basking in the glow of that beautifully written book, she reached over to pick up the next book in her to-be-read stack when, to her dismay, she found there was no more stack. There was just one book; "The Torch: Motherwit, Guideposts and Stories of Purposeful Womanhood," by Suzanne Marie.
The beautiful young fairy paused -- once she read this last wonderful book what would she do?
"Well," she thought, "perhaps I will think of something before I finish reading this last book."
. So she picked up The Torch, intending to read it very slowly, but the book was so good she finished reading it in a manner of hours.
"Oh, no," said the beautiful young fairy, tiny little glistening tears weliing in her tiny fairy eyes, "there's nothing for me to read. What shall I do?"
She was so sad she began to cry. And she cried and cried for days.
The other fairies flying by looked at her with pity, but offered no advice.
Finally the beautiful young fairy decided to peek into the human world to see who was writing the next book, and when that person would be finished. What she saw made her give a little fairy gasp.
Millions and millions of writers were walking around doing other things besides writing.
But what made it so much worse, they were ten zillion times sadder than her! Sad because they could not write because they couldn't find the time, because they were sick, because they had no computer, or even because they had no confidence.
So many writers and so many reasons they weren't writing; and so much sadness because of it.
The beautiful young fairy realized that avid readers like herself were sad because they had nothing to read, but their sadness could not compare to the sadness of the writers who could not write.
That's when a miraculous thing happened!
The beautiful young fairy's little fairy heart began to flutter, and her little fairy wings began to flitter, and before she knew what she was doing she rushed over to Soniah Kamal and whispered something in her ear, then kissed her on the tip of her nose.
Soniah stopped what she was doing, sat down in front of her computer and wrote a magnicent and poignant story which she titled "An Isolated Incident."
Then she flew over to Akanke Tyra Washington, pushed aside her long beautiful dredlocks, and whispered something in het ear, too, then kissed her forehead. Akanke immediately went home and wrote a fascinating story called "The Sankofa Chronicles: Let the Journey Begin" which brought delight to millions of young readers.
The other fairies saw what the beautiful young fairy had done and clapped their little fairy hands in delight.
"But," they all said simultaneously, as fairies often do, "you said you were not going to interact with humans."
The beautiful young fairy nodded slightly, and with new-found fairy wisdom said: "I was so happy reading that I never knew how painful it is to feel sad. But once I realized what sadness really was, I thought there was nothing in this world sadder than a reader who, for some reason, can't read. It wasn't until I peeked into the human world that I realized there is nothing sadder than a writer who, for some reason, cannot write."
She then added, "The wonderful thing is by bringing happiness to one group, I bring it to both."
It was then that the beautiful young fairy announced that she would from then on be known as The Writing Fairy. And she would forever bring inspiration to writers and happiness to readers.
The beautiful young fairy never told the other fairies what it is she whispers to writers which inspires them to write; the only one who knows is Ciuin Ferrin -- and that's only because she's half fairy and half human.
So for those readers in despair because they have nothing to read, don't worry . . . The Writing Fairy will make sure you have a good book soon.
And for those writers in need of The Writing Fairy, have no fear, she's on her way . . . she just has a few more stops before getting to you.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Rachel Dolezal Isn't The Only One . . . Meet Other People Who Passed For Black And . . .

They Passed For . . .
So you thought the only "passing" done was from White to Black? Well, you were wrong! Jews have successfully passed for Gentiles, Whites have successfully passed for Native American and Black, Women have successfully passed for Men . . . and so on! Come check some out!
(As "An Angry-Ass Black Woman" you'd think I've a problem with passing  . . . . And I do. I also knew two people who passed (interviews at bottom of page) and I wrote a novel on the subject.)
  Dolezal, Rachel - (November 12, 1977) President of the NAACP's Spokane chapter, Professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University (EWU), Advisor for EWU's Black Student Union, has a Master's Degree in music from Howard University, and is Chairman for the office of Police Ombudsman. After reading all those credentials, you'll probably be surprised to find she's white. Especially since she's been telling people that she's part African-American, part White, and part Native American. But, as of June 2015, it's come to light that she's white -- with perhaps a trace of Native American -- and that's she's been living a lie.
In February 2015 she told a student journalist writing for the EWU's newspaper that she was born in a teepee in Montana, and that Jesus Christ was the witness on her birth certificate, that her mother believed in lived off the land. She said that after leaving Montana, the family moved to Colorado, and then to South Africa. There, she said, her mother and stepfather were abusive to their children, based on the color of their skin, and she was often beaten with what is called a "baboon whip," and that they were "pretty similar to what was used as whips during slavery."
Lawrence and Roseanne Dolezal, a couple from Troy, Montana, told reporters on June 11th that both of Rachel's parents are white, and showed them Rachel's birth certificate as proof. Just as an aside, Jesus Christ is not listed as a witness.  Another aside -- Lawrence Dolezal said that Howard University gave Rachel a full ride, believing that she was Black.  (I jut thought I should mention that!)
From the Montana tepee where she was born in 1977 to empowering the black community in Spokane today, Doležal has lived a life full of experiences “most people normally don’t have to go through.”
According to Doležal, “Jesus Christ” is the witness on her birth certificate. Her mother believed in living off the land; they lived in the middle of nowhere.
As a child, Doležal and her family hunted their food with bows and arrows.
From Montana, she, her mother, stepfather and three siblings moved to Colorado in 1992 for two years. From there, her family moved to Cape Town, South Africa, where her stepfather accepted a religious job opportunity.
“It’s a painful thing to talk about my childhood,” she paused as she looked down into her hands. “I kind of don’t talk about it much.”
Doležal has no contact today with her mother or stepfather due to a series of events that still haunt her thoughts today.
Doležal and her siblings were physically abused by her mother and stepfather. “They would punish us by skin complexion,” she said.
According to Doležal, the object her mother and stepfather used to punish them was called a baboon whip, used to ward baboons away in South Africa. These whips would leave scars behind, “they were pretty similar to what was used as whips during slavery.”
In 1996, she moved to Jackson, Mississippi, to pursue a four-year degree in art with a full ride scholarship.
She met her now ex-husband and afterward moved to Washington D.C. in 1999 where they married and where Doležal furthered her education in the fine arts at Howard University, graduating with a master’s degree.
- See more at: http://easterneronline.com/35006/eagle-life/a-life-to-be-heard/#sthash.M2u6FDfF.dpuf
From the Montana tepee where she was born in 1977 to empowering the black community in Spokane today, Doležal has lived a life full of experiences “most people normally don’t have to go through.”
According to Doležal, “Jesus Christ” is the witness on her birth certificate. Her mother believed in living off the land; they lived in the middle of nowhere.
As a child, Doležal and her family hunted their food with bows and arrows.
From Montana, she, her mother, stepfather and three siblings moved to Colorado in 1992 for two years. From there, her family moved to Cape Town, South Africa, where her stepfather accepted a religious job opportunity.
“It’s a painful thing to talk about my childhood,” she paused as she looked down into her hands. “I kind of don’t talk about it much.”
Doležal has no contact today with her mother or stepfather due to a series of events that still haunt her thoughts today.
Doležal and her siblings were physically abused by her mother and stepfather. “They would punish us by skin complexion,” she said.
According to Doležal, the object her mother and stepfather used to punish them was called a baboon whip, used to ward baboons away in South Africa. These whips would leave scars behind, “they were pretty similar to what was used as whips during slavery.”
In 1996, she moved to Jackson, Mississippi, to pursue a four-year degree in art with a full ride scholarship.
She met her now ex-husband and afterward moved to Washington D.C. in 1999 where they married and where Doležal furthered her education in the fine arts at Howard University, graduating with a master’s degree.
- See more at: http://easterneronline.com/35006/eagle-life/a-life-to-be-heard/#sthash.M2u6FDfF.dpuf

  Albright, Madeleine - (May 15, 1937)  First woman to become United States Secretary of State (1997-2001) . Claimed that she did not know until 1996 that her parents and grandparents were Jewish, despite the fact that her grandparents and at least 8 other relatives were murdered in concentration camps during the Jewish Holocaust. Critics, both Jews and non-Jews, have said it seems incredible that someone who as astute about international affairs as Albright could not have previously known, especially since her parents fled Czechoslovakia to escape Nazi persecution when she was a child. Albright's admission of her Jewish heritage did not come about until confronted by reporters from The Washington Post who were given the information from one of Albright's cousins. At the time Albright told the reporters "This is a major surprise to me. I have never been told this."
Broyard, Anatole - (July 16, 1920 - October 11, 1990) Author and literary critic for The New York Times. Both of parents were African-American, and so were their parents and grandparents, but Broyard was born with extremely light skin and decided to start passing while in his mid-twenties. Not only did he distance himself from his darker-skinned family, he was also known to make critical comments about African-Americans to friends. He even had a black lawn jockey in front of his Connecticut home, prompting James Baldwin to say, "I can't come see you with that crap on your lawn." Most whites unquestionably accepted him as white, but there was some speculation among blacks. When a photograph of him was displayed in a magazine alongside a review he penned of a Beat anthology, poet Arna Bontemps wrote Langston Hughes, "His picture . . . makes him look Negroid. If so, he is the only spade among the Beat Generation." It is said that jazz great Charlie Parker once saw him Broyard strolling  in Washington Square Park, and once Broyard walked by  Parker turned to a companion and said, "He's one of us, but he doesn't want to admit he's one of us." Broyard later married a white woman and had two children, but never told his offspring about their racial heritage.  He is said to be the inspiration for the Philip Roth novel, The Human Stain.

 Stebbins, Mark - ( 1943) In 1983, Stebbins ran for City Council in a heavily Black/Latino district of Stockton, California and won. When asked by the Stockton chapter of the Black American Political Association of California, which trying to get their endorsement, he was asked if he was Black, and he said he was. Forget the fact that his mother is white, his father is white, and his siblings are white. Mark Stebbins insists he's not lying about his race. After his 1984 win, his opponent -- who was Black -- engineered a recall, saying that Stebbins won by fraud; namely claiming to be Black. Voters voted Stebbins in, anyway. Stebbins has maintained that while his family is white, he is genetically Black -- he just refuses to explain how or why.
By the way . . . Stebbins is still around. The picture above (the only I could find online) is from his 2015 City Council race. (This time he lost!)


Channing, Carol - (January 31, 1921) Three time Tony Award winning actress, also nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award. At 81, she revealed that she her father was 1/2 African-American. In her 2002 autobiography, Just Lucky I Guess, she wrote that her mother told her when she was just 16 so that "she would not be surprised if she had a black baby," but Channing decided to keep the information secret so that it would not affect her acting career.

Grey Owl - (September 18, 1888 - April 13, 1938) Canadian conservationist and author who claimed to be half Apache and half Scottish (to account for his European features), but was later revealed to have been born Archibald Belaney in Hastings, England -- a full blooded white Englishman. He moved to Canada in his twenties, became a trapper, and married an Iroquois woman who encouraged him to write. When touring England (wearing full Ojibwa attired) in 1936 two of his aunts saw him, but decided against his revealing his true identity. When his true racial heritage was discovered after his death his books were withdrawn from publication.

Herriman, George - (August 22, 1880 - April 26, 1944) Cartoon pioneer who claimed to be of Greek ancestry, but was actually African-American. Herriman's famous cartoon, "Krazy Kat" is considered by many to be the greatest American cartoon, and had a cult following which included Charlie Chaplin, Pablo Picasso, Walt Disney, Ernest Hemmingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Born in New Orleans, Herriman's family moved to California when he was just a toddler to the Jim Crow laws. In his teens Herriman worked as a baker, a house painter, and a side-show barker, though cartooning was his first love. In his early twenties he moved to New York, and soon began work with the New York Evening Journal, a publication owned by William Randolph Hearst -- who stayed a life-long fan of Herriman's work. Herriman told people he was of Greek ancestry, and he was never photographed without a hat. He married a white woman and had two daughters. After his death it was discovered that his parent's were listed as Mulatto, and that he himself was designated as "Negro" on his birth certificate.
  Otis, Johnny - (December 28, 1921 - January 17, 2012 ) Jazz musician, composer, radio Deejay -- often said to be the Godfather of R&B. Born Ioannis Veliotes to Greek parents living in a predominately African-American section of Berkley, CA, Otis hung out with the black kids while growing up. Always attracted to music, he began playing drums for Count Otis Matthews and his Oakland House Rockers in 1939, and then -- after switching to the vibes and keyboards -- a host of other African-American big-band groups. In 1945, after starting his own band, he has his first big hit with "Harlem Nocturne."  Though he wasn't claiming to be black, he knew that his olive complexion and his knowledge of the African-American lifestyle persuaded many of the people with whom he played that he was one of them. "They accepted me as black, and there were plenty of black players who were much whiter looking than myself," he would later say, pointing to light-skinned African-American musical luminaries such as Willie Smith, Earl Warren. "I didn't try to pass, it was just a foregone conclusion that 'he's black.' Nobody questioned that." Later in life, though, he would use the "we" or "us" when referring to Black people, and also married a black woman. He is credited with discovering Little Willie John, Hank Ballard, Jackie Wilson, and Etta James. He also wrote a number of R&B classics, such as: Roll With Me, Henry, Every Beat of My Heart, So Fine, and "Willie and the Hand Jive."
Powell, Adam Clayton, Jr. (November 29, 1908 - April 4, 1972) Well known Civil Rights Activist, Clergyman, and the first African-American U. S. Congressman of Harlem, Powell was the son Adam Clayton Powell, the powerful and influential pastor of the Abyssinian Church of Harlem. The youngest of the Powell children, Adam, Jr. grew up spoiled and pampered, and as young man embarrassed his family with his scandalous partying and the fast crowd with whom he hung. When he flunked out of City College because of his long partying hours, his family sent him to Colgate University in upstate New York. Though he would not have been the only African-American on campus, for some reason, Powell decided to pass for white. He even had a white girlfriend and tried to join an all-white fraternity. When some white students later found out his true heritage he was ostracized by both black and white students on campus. Powell went on to become one of the most outspoken opponents of segregation, and a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, but never spoke about his unusual tenure at Colgate. Ironically, his first wife -- Isabel Washington Powell -- was the sister of actress Fredi Washington, who gained fame starring as woman who broke her mother's heart by passing for white in the 1939 movie version of Imitation of Life.

  Tipton, Billy - (December 29, 1914 - January 21, 1989) Jazz pianist, and saxophonist. Born Dorothy Lucille Tipton in Oklahoma City, OK, Tipton lived as a man most of her adult life, even marrying three times and adopting three children. Tipton's wives later claimed that they had no idea they were married to a woman, saying that Tipton insisted on making love in the dark, and locked the bathroom door when bathing. They said Tipton told them that a chest injury as a child accounted for the bandages worn around his/her  chest. At age 74 Tipton fell unconscious from the effects of a hemorrhaging ulcer, and it was while paramedics were trying to revive her that Tipton's youngest son, William, learned for the first time that his adopted father was actually a woman.

[ I'm not including white people who called themselves "voluntary negroes" (ala Mezz Mezzrow) or folks who took on a different ethnicity for a short period of time as a social experiment (such as John Griffin). ]

  Do you know of other famous people who have passed? Please post the information in the comment section, and I'll be to include it in my next update. 

Interviews With People Who Have Passed:

Here are some of my favorite books on the subject:
Plum Bun by Jessie Redmon Fauset    Passing by Nella Larsen
And of course, here's the novel I wrote on the subject!


Karen E. Quinones Miller is a former journalist and national bestselling author of eight books - including her autobiographical novel -  An Angry-Ass Black Woman

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When Rioting Becomes a Necessary Evil

Karen E. Quinones Miller


I have always totally agreed with the protests in Baltimore, and after giving it a good amount of thought, I no longer have an issue with the rioting and rioters.
The citizens of Baltimore have tried to work within the system. This is evidenced by the fact that they have a Black mayor, Black police chief, Black U.S. Congressmen, and Blacks on their City Council. Not to mention that the city voted overwhelmingly for a Black U.S.President. So, please don't tell them that they need to stop rioting and start voting. They've done that. 

And still the murder around the country of young Black men around the country, including their own Freddie Gray - whose only crime seems to be to have the audacity to have looked a police lieutenant directly in the eye, and then fleeing when the lieutenant approached him. 

Freddie Gray is now dead and NOTHING anyone does will change that fact.
But who can blame the Black people in Baltimore for being frustrated? And while I first agreed with the protesting and decried the rioting, I've changed my mind.
I'm old enough to remember the 1967 riots. Detroit, Newark, Los Angeles, etc. Most, if not all, of those riots were sparked by police brutality. All of those riots took place in the areas in which the police brutality took place -- always in a black area -- and all resulted in millions of dollars in destruction.
Seems to me, though, those riots did have some result. They made the federal government sit up and pay attention. Congressional hearings were held; the President (Lyndon Baines Johnson) had a Commission (does anyone remember the name of the Commission? I've forgotten.)put together to investigate the underlying reasons for the rioting.

Millions of federal dollars poured into the neighborhoods destroyed by the rioting in order to rebuild, and -- more importantly -- millions of federal dollars were spent on social programs like pre-school which improved education, job training (remember Manpower, anyone?) and programs designed to better the relationships between the police and the community like the Police Athletic League (PAL). All of these programs no longer exist, by the way. 

So let's not be so quick to condemn the rioting as senseless. It's what a group of people who have worked within the system resort to when that system lets them down. 

I think the blame should be put on the system rather than the rioters. 

And if someone can come up with a better way to get attention and bring about change, please speak up.
But don't tell me it's voting. Baltimore, with its Black police chief, Black City Council, Black Mayor, and our Black president proves that.

Shortly after I posted this, President Obama went on television and made a statement regarding the Baltimore riot. Here's part of what he said:

But in a lengthy response to a question about the latest protest in response to the death of a young black man by police, Obama also said the problem is not new and that the entire country needs to "do some soul-searching."

"If we really want to solve the problem, we could. It would require everybody to say this is important, this is significant and that we just don't pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, when a young man is shot or when his spine is snapped."

He said investment is needed in the communities to bring economic opportunity, including resources for early childhood education and criminal justice reform that breaks the school-to-prison pipeline that is "rendering young men in these communities unemployable." He called for job training programs as well as school reforms.

"That's hard," he said, adding that it "takes a kind of political motivation we haven't seen in quite some time."

"That was a really long answer but I felt pretty strongly about it," the president concluded.

(Please note that the programs he says are needed are the EXACT programs that i stated were given after the '67 Riots.)