Sorry, but ‘Gone With the Wind’ is not a history book

The White House issued a proclamation last week, of the sort that most presidents have issued about historical events that deserve commemorating, but that were missing, for the most part, during the Trump reign.

This one marked the 60th anniversary of the first Freedom Rides, on May 4, 1961, when traveling on a bus meant risking your life, if you were with an integrated group, sitting in a spot of your choice. Those southbound heroes were willing to face beatings and the unknown at the hands of fellow citizens intent on stopping progress by any means necessary. Angry and afraid, the violent white supremacist mobs refused to acknowledge the humanity of African Americans or the validity of any law that looked forward not back.

It’s the reality — and not the myth of uncomplicated greatness the country has told the world and itself for far too long.

And it’s not always pretty.

For that reason, many Republicans want to “cancel” it, to use a word today’s conservatives have been misusing with reckless abandon. They’d like to erase the history and the essential lessons that reveal so much about how and why America is so divided and its systems — of health care, housing, education and more — so inequitable in 2021.

The tax lady cometh

What do paying taxes and racial equity have to do with one another? As it turns out, quite a lot since American tax policy is written in a way that keeps Black Americans impoverished, according to Professor Dorothy Brown, author of  “The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans — And How We Can Fix It.” Brown, who has been trying to make this point for decades is finally being heard. This week, we delve into the world of taxes and racism and listen to the compelling research, data and narrative that Dorothy Brown has put together.

When ‘America First’ is a ticket to last place

It came and went in a second, in political time, a proposed idea that proved too racist for the politician reportedly behind it. But an “America First” caucus that was disavowed, sort of, by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and several of her Republican colleagues who at first seemed ready to sign up should be treated as more than a ridiculous sideshow.

The notions that fueled a “draft” stating the group’s principles have lingered, becoming part of a conversation that’s becoming a little less shocking and a lot more routine.

That’s one takeaway from Greene’s enormous fundraising haul, despite her lack of House committee assignments and useful endeavors. Even though the Georgia Republican backed away when the caucus’s endorsement of “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” leaked out, the very idea seemed to excite some GOP lawmakers and ignite a constituency that is larger than many “real” Americans would like to admit.

You know, the real American citizens of every race, creed, color, orientation and national origin, who believe in the ideals of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence without reservation, despite the country’s history of both triumphs and failures on that score. They are the Americans not surprised, but still disappointed that too many of their neighbors, co-workers and elected representatives are willing to toss democracy if that’s what it takes to hold on to the power they perceive to be slipping away, and justify it all with a sense of superiority — cultural and otherwise.

Reporters’ Roundtable

We’re at the Reporters’ Roundtable examining the top stories of the week.  Big changes in CDC recommendations for wearing masks and more shooting of unarmed black men by authorities. WHUR’s ‘Daily Drum’ with host Harold Fisher and guests Mary C. Curtis and political analyst Charles Ellison.

 

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison

Jaime Harrison gained national attention last year when he broke fundraising records running against South Carolina incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham. While Harrison didn’t win the election, his candidacy gave notice that the Old South is now the New South. Mary C. Curtis sits down with the Democratic National Committee chair and talks race, his grandfather’s life lesson and what 2022 — yes 2022 — may hold.

One Black life mattered, this time

Remember when three Black women proclaimed that Black Lives Matter? It was in 2013 after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the fatal shooting of unarmed Black teen Trayvon Martin in Florida. It seemed so essential and overdue for Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi to found a movement to defiantly claim what America had too often denied.

Yet it was controversial. The willfully blind countered with “All Lives Matter,” as though saying that would make it so. Then, there were suggestions: “Don’t you think it would be less divisive if the signs read ‘Black Lives Matter, Too?’”

In all honesty, anyone who did not get it was not going to with the addition of one three-letter word. But then the world witnessed Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin press his knee on the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds. That the doubters needed video evidence was infuriating, when Black and brown Americans had been bearing witness for hundreds of years. But communities craving visibility and justice welcomed the opened eyes and protests by all ages and races.

It was certainly never a sure thing that Chauvin would be found guilty on all murder and manslaughter charges, as he was. There was also video of the killings of Philando Castile in Minnesota in 2016 and Walter Scott in North Charleston, S.C., in 2015. Yet in Castile’s case, police officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty. And in Scott’s case, after the first prosecution ended in a hung jury, it took a federal prosecution to gain a plea from former police officer Michael Slager — despite the evidence a brave citizen recorded of Slager shooting Scott in the back, taking aim while standing 15 to 20 feet away, and then throwing his Taser down to concoct a false story for his department to swallow and regurgitate as truth. (Another bit of mild relief this week as Slager’s 20-year sentence was upheld.)

No wonder so many were holding our collective breath.

Unique circumstances

Jim Crow 2.0

After a heated and contentious presidential election in 2020, voting rights are under attack. Georgia just passed a law that makes it harder for those who may be disenfranchised to cast their ballots. Other states are following suit. Mary C. Curtis speaks to Rashad Robinson, president of the social justice organization Color of Change, on what is at stake and what is being done to curtail the rollback of eligible voters to make their voices heard.

Mooch FM: MARY C. CURTIS, JOHNNY TAYLOR JR. & MICHAEL ERIC DYSON

In this episode, Anthony talks with the award-winning political columnist, writer and speaker Mary C. Curtis about life after Trump, the values of the Republican party, and how their conservative principles have “crumbled.”

Johnny Taylor Jr. is chair of the President’s advisory board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and chief executive of the Society for Human Resource Management, and talks through how we can all help HBCUs – and why “policy should trump politics.”

Finally, world-renowned professor, preacher and bestselling author Michael Eric Dyson chats with Anthony about his latest book ‘Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America.’

A Conversation on Race, Reconciliation and “The Other Side of the Coin”

In this conversation, moderator Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning journalist, talks to Charlotte filmmaker Frederick Murphy and other panelists from his film “The Other Side of the Coin” about the history of race in this country and how their experiences provide lessons and hope for how our country can move toward a better future.

Panelists: Frederick Murphy, documentarian of “The Other Side of the Coin” and founder of “History Before Us”

Todd “Speech” Thomas, two-time Grammy Award-winning artist, known for his group Arrested Development

Alvin C. Jacobs, Jr., photographer and image activist

Susan Y. Marshall, picketer at Women’s College in Greensboro, NC, in 1963

Rev. Ray McKinnon, pastor and activist

Bill Sizemore, author and journalist

See the full film at https://bit.ly/cltfilm.

Since when has racial equity been a controversial goal? Sadly, forever

Somehow, I thought she would live forever.

Cicely Tyson, actress and force of nature, left the world so many heartrending, joyous performances — and much more. She told stories, informed by her 96 years on this earth as an African American and an artist, navigating an industry and a world that sometimes found it difficult to accommodate her own high standards.

One story in particular haunts. On a press tour publicizing her 1972 film “Sounder,” a white male journalist’s comment shook her and helped her decide to choose roles carefully. As she recalled, he told her that “it was difficult for me to accept the fact that this young boy, who was the elder of your sons, referred to his father as ‘Daddy’ [in the movie].” She said she understood what he was saying: “What he could not come to grips with, is the fact that this little Black boy was calling his Black father ‘Daddy’ as his children were calling him.”

But that was nearly 50 years ago, wasn’t it?

In January 2021, in Rochester, N.Y., the go-to for police confronting a situation involving a distraught 9-year-old Black girl yelling for her father was to push her down into the snow, handcuff her and, when she refused to sit in a police car, pepper-spray her. “You’re acting like a child,” said an officer sent to protect and serve. “I am a child” was the frightened little girl’s response.

That racial equity was high on the list of policy priorities for the Biden-Harris administration was not surprising. From policing to housing to health care, made explicit by a pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color, inequality is on display for all to observe, if not experience. The United States has only sporadically turned its gaze inward when it comes to righting racist wrongs, usually when civil rights activism has forced the issue through protest and sacrifice. And under the leadership of Donald Trump, U.S. policies either put the brakes on any effort to realize America’s lofty promises or tried to drag the country backward into a Make America Great Again past that never was.