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Friday, February 27, 2015

Civil Rights Movement: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Michael Dyson
Moravian College's Foy Hall is usually a venue for harpsichords and bassoons. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson had neither, though he did sing at times to over 150 people on February 26. As part of black history month, Dyson was invited to explain where we are in the civil rights movement. Charles Dickens might say "it is the best of times, and it is the worst of times." The hip hop group Future would say, "at the same damn time." Dyson acknowledged that we've made tremendous progress, but we have a long way to go.

Dyson, a sociology professor at Georgetown University, has been described as both "a Princeton PhD and a child of the streets" who grew up in Detroit. He is an admitted welfare dad who never started college until he was 21. Since that time, he has authored 18 books and is one of the talking heads sometimes seen on cable TV or heard on NPR, discussing race relations.

According to Dyson, the civil rights movement is nothing less than the complete fulfillment of the social contract articulated by Thomas Jefferson at the founding of our nation. The immortal declaration that "all men are created equal."

He reminded the audience that it is really not all that long ago that blacks were required to drink out of separate water fountins, sit at the rear of buses and were denied access to places like Disneyworld. He noted his own experience as a child, being denied service at a restaurant because he's black.

"What's a n-----, momma?" he asked, never having heard that word before. "Just you don't tell your daddy," she warned him.

Those days are over, but because we live in what Gore Vidal has called the United States of Amnesia, we quickly forget these indignities. He noted it is "not truly American to hold people hostage to their racial identities."

Today, Dyson explained, there is some evidence that the country is actually moving backwards. The Supreme Court has nullified a core provision of the Voting Rights Act, ending nearly 50 years of U.S.oversight of elections in much of the South. And Dyson insists that black people are "precriminalized" in the minds of both black and white police officers.

"Black people don't hate the police," he stated. "They just don't want the police to mistake us for the criminal."

Though he generally supports President Obama, the nation's first black president, he had some criticism for him, too. "Obama can't act as black in public as Bill Clinton does. He can't play the sax or start rappin' on Ellen's show." He complained that, all too often, Obama acts as though his mission is "to control the Negro madness." Dyson believes this is just as ridiculous as when Obama complained about Pennsylvania voters who "cling" to their guns and religion. In many ways, Obama has continued to reinforce a view of white superiority.

Dysin suggests hip hop as a way of understanding what it is like to be born black and disadvantaged. He calls Tupac Shakur, a black rapper gunned down in a 1996 drive-by shooting, the "Truman Capote of the hood," a genius whose lyrics graphically described life in the ghetto.
Not to disrespect my peoples but my poppa was a loser
Only plan he had for momma was to fuck her and abuse her
Even as a little seed, I could see his plan for me
Stranded on welfare, another broken family
Now what was I to be, a product of this heated passion
Momma got pregnant, and poppa got a piece of ass
Look how it began, nobody gave a fuck about me
Pistol in my hand, this cruel world can do without me
How can I survive? Got me asking white Jesus
will a nigga live or die, 'cause the Lord can't see us
in the deep dark clouds of the projects, ain't no sunshine
No sunny days and we only play sometimes
When everybody's sleeping


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Sounds like a white teabagger troll.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The comment was posted by Henry Schaadt, and I am deleting it.

Anonymous said...

I am sure there will be a bunch of teabaggers telling us the guy is wrong and racism is dead. They live in their fantasy world and keep hating on Obama. The Fox boys and girls love to tell us how Obama is "different" then you and I and most "real" Americans.

Wonder what they mean by that? Ah, shucks ya'all we know what they mean. Their old white audience sucks it up.

Anonymous said...

Not sure the blacks have it so bad anymore but pity the bloggers:

Anonymous said...

There certainly is racism. Just look at the Morning Call's comments to see it in full bloom. For an alternative dose of racism, listen to Shade45 channel on XMSirius. The coarseness of both sides is appalling.

Blacks have tied their socio-political fate to liberal Democrats who are overwhelmingly white. Liberal Democrats have blacks exactly where they want them. A black unborn baby is eight times more likely to be aborted, thanks to the efforts of white liberals who adore Margaret Sanger and her eugenics philosophy of aborting undesirables to strengthen the overall population. Just look at where the preponderance of abortion clinics are. Black populations are sitting ducks for criminals, having been statutorily disarmed in urban areas - again, by politicians who are overwhelmingly male and white. The black welfare culture systematically dismantled the black family that survived slavery and Jim Crow. As LBJ is purported to have said, "I'll have those ni&&ers voting Democrat for a hundred years." Blacks would do well to consider a different approach in politics that isn't driven by white limousine liberals looking to keep them down on the farm and voting Democratic. Instead, the Ferguson myth of "hands up; don't shoot" is a new clarion call. Try reading the Chicago Tribune headlines tomorrow morning and see the number of blacks shot on a typical Friday night. It's shocking and there's never an Al Sharpton protest. Neither party is perfect. But when 90+% of a population votes consistently for one party, they can expect to be taken for granted and called to action by the same, decades-old dog whistles. It's a tragedy for all of us.

Anonymous said...

If racism is to end, why must the President "act more black"? This, in itself, promotes a stereotype that by being black, you should act in a different manner. The President is doing his best at what he was elected to do....lead, not "act more black".

Anonymous said...

Obama is leading?

Who knew!

Anonymous said...

you,re right, Bernie. The Valley is still a bastion of white prejudice.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:05, The prof perhaps should have said he needs to be himself. He knew the huy before he was elected, ans claims Ibabam tends too much now to act in ways that won't disturb the view of white supremacy that he thinks still is very much mainstream.

Anonymous said...

Stop hating America.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, if you view this sort of thing as hating America, you've got issues. Nothing could be more American than this guy's speech or the civil rights movement. It is all based on the words of equality hypocritically penned by a slaveowner.

Anonymous said...

Love Dr. Dyson,

wish I had known about this before hand, I would have loved to have attended.

He taught several classes on the work of Tupac. Pretty fascinating stuff.

Anyway, neat write up Mr. O'hare



Anonymous said...

Anon 8:20, this is standard twisted Fox contributor history. Just cause you boys yell and scream it over and over again doesn't make it true. You cherry pick statistics', statements and facts. Then you arrange them with no sense of context and throw them out there as your worldview.

Who needs to worry about extremists in other countries when we have the teabaggers.

Here's one for you, after the civil rights movement of the 60's and the legislation pushed by LBJ, the solid Democratic south became the solid Republican
south. The Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater voted against all the civil rights legislation. So why did many African- Americans abandon the Republican Party? Why did southern whites become Republicans?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, black unemployment, incarceration and mortality rates are wonderful. They should continue to vote 92% Democrat. It's working well for them. And remember, any black person with a conservative opinion is simply an Uncle Tom.

Anonymous said...

"The Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater voted against all the civil rights legislation."

You don't cherry pick. You flat-out lie. Goldwater voted for Civil Rights laws in '57 and '60. He also stated support for most of the tenets of '64 but thought the federal overreach too much.

Barry saw you coming. Barry was no bigot like LBJ. From his statement at the time:

"I am unalterably opposed to discrimination or segregation on the basis of race, color, or creed, or on any other basis; not only my words, but more importantly my actions through the years have repeatedly demonstrated the sincerity of my feeling in this regard....

I realize fully that the Federal Government has a responsibility in the field of civil rights. I supported the civil rights bills which were enacted in 1957 and 1960, and my public utterances during the debates on those measures and since reveal clearly the areas in which I feel Federal responsibility lies and Federal legislation on this subject can be both effective and appropriate...

If my vote is misconstrued, let it be, and let me suffer its consequences. Just let me be judged in this by the real concern I have voiced here and not by words that others may speak or by what others may say about what I think."

Anonymous said...

He voted against the Bill. Nice words though.

You guys are really touchy about this. LBJ used some rough language to get those southern Democrats to vote for civil rights legislation. But hey, look at the bright side, you lost the African -American vote but got all those racist white southern Democrats to become Republicans in your Southern Strategy of 1968. Today you have the solid south, even though they suck up more federal dollars than any other region of the country.

Oh, I'm sorry it was all about "states rights". Why not cite more poverty statistics to convince blacks they were better under Jim Crow.

Fact is the Regan "voodoo economic" policies we have had since the eighties have screwed more African -Americans and other average middle-class Americans then any LBJ legislation ever came close too.

Yet even by your standards of today, Reagan would be considered too liberal to be your candidate.

Ted Cruz 2016!

Bernie O'Hare said...

According to Dyson, LBJ was one of the greatest Americans for civil rights, despite his rep as the Texas reactionary. Dyson notes that LBJ, like Lincoln, was able to evolve. He also agrees he was improperly portrayed in the Selma movie, though he claimed that was for artistic reasons. In contrast to LBJ, Dyson called Kennedy Tge Great Bystander. I don't know how he felt abot Goldwater or Reagan. He did state that the only think thinner than Donald Trump's hair is his skin.

Anonymous said...

Dyson's hobby is making up quotations from George Bush that GWB never said.
And then doubling down on it when challenged.
How can you believe anything he says

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the right wingers will not be denied Bernie. Their sources are all approved as the "right" sources of information.

He was right on JFK. As much as I admired JFK and believe had he lived he would have evolved even more than he had up to his death, initially both Kennedy brothers JFK and RFK saw civil rights more as a nuisance to their other polices than as the most important American issue of the time. Frankly I don't know if anyone but LBJ could have pushed it through. I think both the brutal death of JFK and the southern roots of LBJ combined to get the votes necessary to move the legislation ahead. Don't forget Bernie, one of the new right wing "history" books claims LBJ had JFK shot. I wonder if anyone told LBJ that as a vice- president he had that much power. Better not tell Biden.

Of course we all know it was about "states rights" just as we all know there is no such thing as racism anymore. Wink, wink!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let me put it this way,. His education and religious training give him credibility. He certainly has more than someone who hides behind a veil of anonymity to attack him.

Sagan said...

I'm upset I missed that talk. I was already committed to and fortunate enough to go see Neil Degrasse Tyson.

Norco Twink said...

Once you go black, you never go back.

Anonymous said...

If America sucks so bad, why not go somewhere else where it is supposedly better?

Stop hating America.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, it would make more sense for you to move. The civil rights movement seeks fulfillment of thr very principle upon which this nation was founfed. That's very American to me. You are telling people not like you to move away. Quite unAmerican. More like ISIS.

Anonymous said...

Bernie that is the problem. You really should check out some of the wild right wing internet sites. Also some of the talking head shows on am and TV. Not the so-called news but the full on political preachers. This is all just rebranded John Birch crap. As a baby boomer myself I am sad that so many of my kinfolk go for this nonsense after all we have seen.

The code is everywhere. "He is not like us" or " He wasn't raised like we were".

I mean look Obama has made his share of mistakes. However, I feel for the guy. He can't come off as the stereotypical angry black guy so he is more subdued. The guy is deliberate and thoughtful. Even if I disagree with all his actions or inactions I respect that. Hey, I liked GWB as a guy to have a beer with. I thought he was funny and he was good right after 9/11. He did then lead us into the wrong war in the wrong country for fake reasons and that is the worst foreign policy decision any president has made since LBJ's Vietnam policies. For a short time we had a consensus of the world for the first time since WWII and he blew it on nation building.

People get angry but there is a real problem that still exists in this country and it is expressed in very mean and angry ways. You can change a lot about yourself even your heritage if you are white but if you are black you can never change that. This country still has a long way to go, despite the great distance we have come.


Anonymous said...

I think my great grand pappy owned this neegarz grand pappy.

Peter J. Cochran

Anonymous said...

Slavery is our original sin. Blacks cannot get ahead for a number of reasons, many their own doing and many not. Other minority groups have arrived and assimilated and excelled. Lincoln proposed moving blacks to Liberia because he firmly believed they would never be at home in the US. He was right, of course. But nobody's leaving. There is a strong black culture that is dedicated to never assimilating and making this country do perpetual penance for its original sin. It's very sad. But it's their right. Race relations will never get better than they are now. And an overwhelmingly white population electing a mixed race president didn't do a thing to advance race relations. On the bright side, race relations are no better anywhere else, either. Suck it up cupcakes.

Anonymous said...

Stop hating America.

Stop the Race Baiting BS.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what this article is - Race Baiting BS

Anonymous said...

Peter that's fairly awful of you to say, maybe it's just River trolling.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's not Peter. It is Henry CSchaadt, impersonating Peter. I'm leaving that ione up - he's done this about ten times - until Peter sees it. Personally, I consider it harassment. Henry Schaadt needs to be charged. But that is Peter's call.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The comment at 11:15 will come down once i know Peter has seen it. Schaadt, who is an ally to Mezzacappa and the Blog Mentor, has done this too many times. I believe Henry needs to be prosecuted.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, was there any truth to the rumor that those three parties along with a few others met up to discuss ways to discredit/silence you?

Bernie O'Hare said...

We intend to depose a few people and find out.

Anonymous said...

It is a sad truth that if not for slavery, there would be virtually no "African Americans." Immigrants from Africa would have been few and far between. They did not have the means to immigrate to the U.S. like European minorities. So one could certainly ask unhappy blacks in this country if they would rather have had their ancestry, and that would include them now, evolve in Africa where many countries experience abject poverty, disease, and cruel wars. As bad as things may be for them here. consider the alternative of growing up in their "native" land. Indians who immigrate here are very happy. They work hard, value education, and appreciate the opportunities that our country provides them. They fled India due to abysmal living conditions and a restrictive caste system. They are minorities of color too. But their perspective is far different. Slavery was a bight on America's history, but we should not live in the past. That is counter-productive, and is abused by those who use persecution complexes to excuse behavior or lack of initiative.

Anonymous said...

Love how folks are turning this back on African-Americans. The logic is amazing. Yeah slavery was bad but hey get over it. If you had stayed in Africa you would have diseases and poverty. You never had it so good.

Wow, no wonder the speaker said it is the best of times and the worst of times.

Three hundred years of slavery and then Jim Crow and you think things change like flipping a switch.
Abject poverty., largest prison population in the world. Institutionalized poverty that people in both parties do nothing about. Before you teabaggers go off on LBJ and the Democrats, remember much like Obamacare you bitch and moan and offer no real alternatives other than, "get off my lawn".

Neither Democrats with half-assed programs nor Republicans with bullshot bootstrap do nothing programs, really help anything. Until we as a people, white and black, attack the universal symptoms such as poverty, ignorance and do it seriously nothing will change.,

To those who say this is just the way it is with whites and blacks, please move south and recreate the confederacy. This time we should let you go. You will wither an disintegrate in your own ignorance within fifty years. Then we will have to support you with foreign aid.