Since You Asked

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Semi-Open Thread: Maybe Star Trek Had it Right? Watching Al Sharpton and Morton Downey Jr. at the Apollo While Reflecting on the Arbitrariness of Dates and Asking If It was Indeed a Very Good Year


Do treat this as our weekly semi-open thread. What are some news items or other matters that you would like share? I enjoy hearing from all of the friends and readers of WARN. How are you all doing, personally, professionally, spiritually? It is always good to share some positive energy with one another.

Here are some of my semi-related Friday and weekend thoughts...

I was thumbing through my photo album. I paused and smiled for a moment, wondering, where has the time gone?, as I looked at a picture taken some years ago of my family and Reverend Al Sharpton.

Is it my imagination or does Brother Al not look at all well on MSNBC? I am concerned about his health.

I miss the Reverend Al of Morton Downey Jr. fame from back in the day when brothers had waves.

On my bootleg found Ipod--I am so high tech--one of my favorite songs is Frank Sinatra's "It was a Very Good Year". Why are people on the bus surprised when they hear me, a black man, playing some Sinatra? Is it old folks music and somehow I don't look grown up enough to qualify? Or is Sinatra "white" music? Thus, I am not permitted to partake as deemed by some unwritten rule of racial decorum?

"The power of years and dates" help the general public, as well as historians, to conceptualize or organize chaotic and messy human events. The notion that there are "important" years--the "End of History" or "The Great War"--is very arbitrary and bounded by the theoretical framework and narrative which a society has constructed around a series of events in order to locate them in public memory.

For example, when I discuss the Civil Rights Movement, I take the long-view: the Black Freedom Struggle began in the 17th century when the first African came to America as human property/an indentured servant. The Civil Rights Movement did not begin in the 1950s. The latter is a neat frame of reference that does not reflect the complexity of the Black Atlantic and Black life in the Americas.

Watching the tumultous events in the Middle East, Africa, and China's growing power, I wonder if the near present will be looked back upon in twenty, fifty, one hundred years from now, and labeled by some future historian as the "Time of American Decline" or "World War 3: The Era of Perpetual and Continual War"?

Maybe classic Star Trek had it right with its alternate history of World War 3: The Eugenics Wars and the rise of Khan Noonien Singh?


What is your favorite year? What year or time period has been critically important for global and human history but is little appreciated or discussed by the general public?

21 comments:

  1. I'll have to get back to you on a favorite year but, did you here about the settlement for the Central Park 5? $40 million. When this incident first happened it was all over the media. You couldn't find one media outlet in America that did not hesitate to demonize these young men. Now that the tables have turned you can barely find a mention. This needs to be shouted from the rooftops. If American media was good enough to spew there hatred, then they're good enough to have their noses rubbed on it.

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  2. I love history. Every year is important. However, I think of the modern era as being of the most important and I would say my favorite time period s the 1880's and 1890's. Every corner of the Earth was influenced by that era.

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  3. Wilding out savage negroes attacking white people. Old story. BS story. Glad the victims finally got their due.

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  4. Post Nixon, pre-Reagan. It was a time where most everyone was on an upward swing. That is before employers began to find ways to stick it to employees. Unions were at a peak, which meant that employers saw the interests of employees as synonymous with the interest of their business. You were able to build retirement, buy vacation homes, and send your kids to college. Black employment and home ownership were steady and rising. And then, Reagan hit...

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  5. Never again? And now a generation who has no idea that a living wage is a possible thing.

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  6. didn't have time yesterday to talk about it, still don't really so I'll give a little run down (I'm leaving for the beach with my in-laws in about an hour).


    The whole era is such a volatile mold of the present moment.


    The art and literature were really great then. The history of hyper-capitalism really begins here.


    Japan begins their first steps toward becoming more powerful and their society changes rapidly and will later become hyper nationalist. Imperialism, the US has stretched well beyond the American continent, colonized Hawaii, the Philippines, Cuba, and other South American countries,.


    Colonies in Africa begin to really take hold. The Arab world becomes dominated by European "trade" as well.


    Domestic troubles occur in every country. Socialism makes its mark, anarchism becomes a prevalent force. Police oppression becomes common. Yellow journalism molds public opinion.


    In America, workers' movements, farming communities, continued oppression of American Indians, Southern governments begin oppressing free blacks, the Southern constitutions were rewritten in the 1890's to limit black representation in government. Urban areas explode, social work develops as a field, scientific racism takes off, technology expands, medicine grows....


    That's about all I can share at present.

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  7. I forgot perhaps the most important part.


    The Holy Alliance between Prussia, Austria, and Russia had unraveled at mid-century. It was a declaration to pursue foreign and domestic policy through peace and love on the European continent.


    In the 1880's the Triple Alliance was formed between Germany, Austria, and Italy. Russian alliance with Serbian nationalist movements in the Austro-Hungarian Empire as well as throughout Southeastern Europe had gotten Russians involved in their struggle. Austria and Germany had also rebuffed Russia in the mid century.


    In 1907, the Triple Entente was formed between Russia, France and Great Britain as a counterweight to the Triple Alliance on the continent. France was still reeling from the Franco Prussian War which unified the German states and also had problems with Italy as they had spent the better part of the 1800's conquering and losing lands throughout modern Italy.


    These alliances were a volatile mix on the European continent and are perhaps partially responsible for the size and scope of World War I.

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  8. A character in Neil Simon's California Suite commented that now is most important because its now. Accordingly, I recently discovered that if a person calls him/herself a libertarian that there's about a 99.99% that he is a corrupt, racist, theocratic, gun nut, misogynistic climate denier. Consequently I think the left should give up on the idea of finding one iota of common ground with the petite bourgeoisie.

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  9. As someone said long ago so appropriately, Reaganism was the backlash to the Civil Rights movement. He kicked off his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi and made white people comfortable with their racism. Times were good and his message of "they're coming to get your prosperity" is what got this crackpot elected - twice! What goes around goes around and now those scared suburban whites are losing their homes and falling into poverty at record levels.

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  10. This past weekend I was in DC for my granddaughter's grammar school graduation. My wife and I took a detour through the old neighborhood, drove down the block where I grew up. The area has undergone gentrification; where once the entire block was black, today only 4 of the original black families are there. One of whom was a kid I grew up with, who happened to come out of the house next to the one I grew up in, to see who were these bourgeois negroes outside taking pictures. Talking with him made me realize; may favorite decade was the 60s.


    We didn't have cell phones, computers, ATMs. There was no cable TV; you had at most 4 channels, and TV "went off" after midnight, and didn't "come on" again until the next morning. There were no video games. And yet, my friend and I agreed, we had more fun back then, than kids today could imagine. We raided fruit trees in the backyards of neighbors, played baseball in the alley. Made money at the local Safeway carrying groceries and then when to the Atlas theater on Sunday after church, where we "bucked the picture," meaning, we stayed there and watched the two movies and cartoons over and over again. All of us were poor, but didn't know it at the time. And every mother on the block was a mother to us all, calling us out and "taking care of business" if they caught us in any "devilment."


    I showed my wife the corner where I stood as a kindergartner waiting to be picked up after the school was mysteriously closed, because "Kennedy got shot." I took a picture of the old house and the porch we sat on and watched the '68 riots unfold, and could still smell the burning of stores around the corner on H street NE, which remained devastated for decades after that. I saw the corner on H Street NE where the HIgh's Dairy used to be, the same store where the roof caved in and killed the older brother of one of my friends. The houses of older brothers who never came back from 'Nam were there, but they were occupied by whites who had no sense of the history of the neighborhood



    Our neighborhood was 100% segregated, and we were corralled in socially, but we had a sense of community that has long since been lost. The highlight of the year was the block party the neighbors organized and paid for themselves. Hot dogs, hamburgers. And the older guys in the neighbor hood would bring out their amps and guitars and kick it. We got the councilman at the time to have the block closed off, and we ate, drank and danced into the night.


    This is not to say we weren't exposed to all the bigotry and racism you could imagine existed in the 60s, which we were, whenever we ventured out. But we had our own enclave of community that provided a sense of security.


    This goes to the argument of whether black folk to some extent where better off during segregation. Inequality was hardly "better," however it tended to force a sense of community that has been lost.

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  11. Libertarianism is a philosophy for the rich, white, and male in the U.S..


    Thus, the Paul Ryan's of the world can talk about being self-made men while all the while sucking on the gov't tit or daddy or granddaddy's money.


    Only in America?

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  12. There's been an elitist bent in the Liberal circles for some time that equated wealth and learning for progressive thinking, especially in the North and California. It's this cult of benevolent capitalists that killed the Left.

    I've felt for some time that the petite/lumpen bourgeois are far more dangerous and obstructive to leftist ideals than the Hoi Polloi.

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  13. Learning Is EternalJune 22, 2014 at 6:10 AM

    1st, Rebb'm Al Sharpton looks like Tineisha from Bad Girls Club.

    The 80's, off top. Crack was the only thing that outsold Michael Jackson albums. One of the most ruthless drug czars ever, Reagan, held office. The Iran-Contra hearings resulting in many convictions later appealed or pardoned by George H. W. Bush. Oliver North got/has/had a tv show. Rocky still appealed to the great white hope fantasy on screen but Iron Mike Tyson shattered those dreams in 90 seconds or less. Rap was fun. Public Enemy, X-Clan gave me balance providing social commentary and historical facts, purposefully not provided to me, targeting the young black male who was a target himself in the school to prison pipeline across the U.S. plantation. The final years of the cold war. Gorbachev's pepperoni birthmark on his foreskull. They started chipping away at the Berlin wall. People sang hit songs (We are the World) about world issues only to have those same issues worsen. The money raised for these causes never reached the people affected but the stock of the entertainer went through the roof. South African jim crow was in full swing though they released Mandela. Marky Mark Wahlberg was still committing hate crimes against African Americans and any Asians he could get a hold of. The airing of B.E.T. Which then caused MTV to lower their racist policies against Michael Jackson and Prince. The social experiment by the C(rack) I(n) A(merica) was underway with tragic results for the black lab rats producing more ghettos out of once working class communities. More laws aimed at more blacks for more prison time were presented and passed faster than Usain Bolts' top speed. Mentally escaping all this weekly 30min. at a time via the Cosby Show.

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  14. And they feel like they're being patriotic by bilking the government because they hate government. As if corruption in the interests of bankrupting democratic institutions is for a higher divine good. But when the right achieves governmental triumvirate it'll turn on a dime and love government, and fully fund institutional reactionary-ism. A case in point being the the right's condemnation of the Warren court for judicial activism, but they're all for the unprecedented judicial activism of the rightist Roberts Court.

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  15. Oh I think white people have always been comfortable with their racism. The need to derive esteem from the degradation of African Americans has never ceased in American. You're right about Reagan. However, I think the backlash began after Reconstruction. It continued steadily and brutally- until it momentarily blinked with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Lyndon Baines Johnson, unlike his predecessors who violated the the 14th and 15th amendment- by not enforcing them, simply decided to obey the law. But!, it was not because he felt African Americans were equal. As a matter of fact, President Obama may be the only American president that is not a racist. Since, the end of the Civil War, the country has been behaving as though that loathsome, depraved Confederacy won the war. That is the ongoing problem of today.

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  16. Good sharing. Gonna read that one.

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  17. Just lost my morning working my way through that article.


    Thanks for pointing it out.

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  18. Enjoyed reading that.

    But it hasn't been lost. Countless neighborhoods like that all over today. Sounds like you left is all.

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  19. Thanks for that.


    A point of clarification: I never said any of this was unique to me or mine; its an old story, including the part about leaving home. How many of us live our entire lives in the homes we were born in?


    The perspective here is less about me but more on the displacement of what was once a thriving community of a people. It still is, although things have changed.

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  20. Fair enough. Your comment had the unmistakable tone of, 'African American neigbhorhoods have been lost because of the end of state-mandated separatism and African Americans selling properties to outsiders.' Sure. But where did those homeowners move to when they sold their homes? I'm willing to bet many (most?) moved to African American neighborhoods. Some of them were probably looking to get away from the changes you highlight.

    But I hear you. And thanks for the beautiful writing.

    /s/ Sɛbɛnnikɛlan farin

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