Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Saint John DeMatha Feast Day

December 17, 2016

Today is the Feast Day of St. John de Matha. Pray for us.

A photo posted by DeMatha High School (@demathacatholic) on Dec 17, 2016 at 4:40am PST

 

Just like clockwork the Feast Day of Saint John de Matha ushers in the holidays.  Well I don’t know about you folks, but I have really caught the Christmas spirit.  There is just something about this season that makes me feel better.  Also it helps to have Black Jesus on your side.

I hope that everyone out there is feeling a little bit of the love, also.  If I don’t get a chance to tell you in person, Merry Christmas!  I thought it would be pretty cool to share a little bit of Christmas with you.  It is only fitting that it is coming from the halls that I used to roam on this special day.

Live caroling in the hallways…

A video posted by DeMatha High School (@demathacatholic) on Dec 17, 2016 at 4:27am PST

 

More Than One Way to Take a Life: Anthony Ray Hinton Edition

April 22, 2015

I guess you can file this under there is more than one way that white people can rob you of your life.  They want to use fancy words like the justice system and due process and miscarriages of justice and the like, but make no mistake that this is racist oppression.  An all white jury sent Anthony Ray Hinton, a black man, to death row for murders despite flimsy evidence and then refused to let him go.

Whether the black people swing from trees every time or not is a non-issue when you have the justice system in your pocket.  Anthony Ray Hinton was poor and black and they took over thirty years from him.  Should we blame the state of Alabama?  I think that cases like this illustrate that it is a problem bigger than the individual states.  The United States of America has a history of racist oppression and this happened in 1985.

The video is heartbreaking but still worth a look if you can stomach it.  Democracy Now and Amy Goodman do a pretty good job of showing why if you are black and poor, white people can take your life with little consequences.   Stay awake.  Sure Anthony Ray Hinton was eventually exonerated after serving 30 years, but it was obvious to many people that he never committed these crimes way back in 1985.  White people have been coming for black lives in the United States since this country was founded and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of slowing down.

Consider the prison system, the for-profit prison system, as conspirators in modern-day lynchings.  Again, go back and read Michelle Alexander’s book.

The PEA: The Earth & Her Rich Targets

March 28, 2015

DISCLAIMER: I am not an Admiral in the Peoples Earth Army. As far as I know, the organization isn’t real. Nothing to see here.

The Peoples Earth Army can’t be real, can it?  Disconnected radicals moving towards a common higher purpose doesn’t seem possible in the world today.  However the nature of the war dictated an invisible strategy.

Earth is the most profitable planet in the universe.  The product that the earth produces is life.  As far as we know, the earth is the only source of this invaluable (life) commodity and production is slipping.  The majority of people that ever lived have never had a hand in the destruction of the earth, but a few have had an extraordinary effect.

All life is immensely important when you consider how limited this commodity is against the vastness of the universe.  Most people that inhabit the earth today are poor and they don’t own anything of real appreciable value other than their own lives.  When the majority of people pass on from this world their measured impact on the earth is negligible –although we hate to admit it.

So the evidence points to a very small group of people that wield an enormous amount of clout and influence over the masses crossing multiple generations.  Someone must have said that there were only thirteen families in the world controlling 99% of the financial wealth in our relatively young fiduciary history.  Then another anonymous person pointed out that we are headed towards a global totalitarian society because this is the only way that the very few can control the majority of the resources on this planet.  Logical thinking reveals that these people cannot be trusted.

The unprecedented level of control sought by the very few will eventually be seen as the reason why all life has suffered on earth and become the impetus for an unapologetic world war.  Those rich targets shouldn’t be afforded any trials or declarations but the collective coalition of responsible people inhabiting earth instinctively knows that they have to be eliminated.  If the planet is going to survive, those few people having a direct hand in the destruction of earth have to die soon.

Next, the people that monetize life and profiteer from the earth’s resources need to be identified.  (They live in unusual comfort and pass-on their accumulations to their heirs.  Some have elaborate establishments that even bear their names.  Others have names that left indelible marks throughout history.)  All of them have a vested interest in the majority of people remaining oblivious to their scheming.

Some of these people are selling water.  They don’t want you to know that the water they are selling is yours.

They want to tell you about their business acumen and how they produced the container.

You might consider killing those people, too.

Motorcycle Grand Prix in Jerez: For the Free!

February 19, 2015

Xerez is serious about wine, horses, and motorcycles.  The ancient city was founded by the Phoenicians and became synonymous with the type of wine that the chalky soil and the palomino grapes produced.  Sherry will always be special in Jerez but the city also became famous for the fabulous dancing horses.  You may add to that rich legacy a modern twist, because Jerez de la Frontera also has Moto X, or motorcycle Grand Prix races at a magnificent track.  The test runs and many qualifying events are free in Jerez, because they can afford to stoke the action until the world Grand Prix makes their annual trek here, completely taking over the city every Spring.  I brought the whole family.  How cool is that?

If you come to Jerez, or if you are just planning a trip to Spain check the schedule of events for Motorcycle Grand Prix because you don’t want to miss out on a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  If you have ever wondered, “where do they do that at?” then look no further than Spain for producing the best motorcyclists in the world.  The current world and two-time defending champion is Marc Márquez from Cervera, Spain. (A feat he achieved despite merely being born in the year 1993.)  Now I know that some American cities, like Washington DC think that they might know a little something about bikes because of the subculture but let me warn you that it is nothing like Jerez.

Everybody here lives with the motorcycle racing whether they like it or not because at least one event is held on cordoned-off city streets.  I can’t say that I have been a lifelong enthusiast of motorcycle racing, but if I grew up here I might have had the chance to become one.  (You will notice that several of the rotundas of Jerez are racing themed from a giant motorcyclist pumping his fist to an even bigger Michelin Man holding a motorcycle helmet.)  As soon as you pull up to the parking lot of the stadium you are able to hear powerful bikes roaring down the track.  The backdrop in my video doesn’t really do it justice, but if you haven’t ever been to one of these race tracks then you might be surprised at the sheer size of it.  The track was definitely reminiscent of video games that I have played in the past, but when observing the motorcycles make those broad, leaning turns you really feel the forces that enrich the experience.  The bonus was the fact that this great family fun experience was totally free.  Again, qualifying events are for the free.  It was a little too loud for my son, so we cut the trip short.  I managed one good shot, though.

George Stinney Knew Injustice

December 21, 2014

“You can’t trust them.”  – Public Enemy

This is right from The Young Turks and they make it plain enough for me.  Sometimes you have to look at it, even though it makes your soul hurt.

South Carolina executed a fourteen-year-old child, but boy are they sorry now.  My other home state isn’t exactly all that hospitable to black folks all the time, but this one sort of takes the cake.  Pardon my South Carolina cakewalk pun, but I laugh to keep from crying.

Long time comin’.  Tell me that George Stinney isn’t some sort of martyr and go really slowly, like I’m stupid.

Where is the moral authority to carry this sort of thing coming from, anyway?  From people sort of short on the Bible, right?  Racist oppression isn’t founded on such stuff.

I know that because George Stinney wasn’t short on the Bible and they killed him.  The United States of America has been at this sort of thing for years and so we add this to the shit that we already know.  The system is still doing exactly what it was designed to do.

Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Jeremey Lake, John Crawford, Tamir Rice et al.

December 11, 2014

The United States of America has a history of racism and violence against people of color.

The United States of America does not like to acknowledge these abhorrent actions as a matter of principle and as a result, it can lead to terrific miscarriages of justice.  Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Jeremey Lake, John Crawford and Tamir Rice are just the latest names to add to an ever growing list of individuals that will probably never get justice because of the color of their skin.

It is a terrible shame that the United States has not been able to mature properly enough to void or nullify the systematic racism and violence against people of color, that started so humbly against other savages.  Truth be told, the United States hasn’t even made a sustained genuine attempt at even slowing down a genocidal policy that it has clung to since infancy.  I am discounting the notion of the period known as Reconstruction and the entire Civil Rights movement on the basis that the right to live, outright, trumps any other social or political gain.

Look no further than the Native American if you would like to see how this scenario plays out if left unchecked.

Yes, I’m talking about straight up killing.  In the United States police -and even Florida neighborhood watchmen, are killing unarmed black people with perceived impunity.  Perhaps the murderer of Jeremey Lake will receive some measure of punishment but I believe it is because Officer Shannon Kepler was too egregious and he failed the plausible deniability test -which is really saying something in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  However, wherever possible, it seems that the United States has a knack for alleviating the pressure on those accused of heinous crimes against people of color.

Perception is reality.  Now all of those people of color are dead.  All of the grand juries and smear campaigns against the deceased are now regular tactics that distract from the bottom line; this also helps in collectively and willfully ignoring the racism that perpetuates the violence.  (This is the same root cause that people of color have been obligated to protest against or otherwise cope with, when encountering so called “white people.”  Much more on that later.) The net result is loss of life and that becomes the starting point from which the United States begins to entertain the idea that it must deal with racist and violent past in order to truly become civilized.

The Guardian coverage on Eric Garner was something that told me that the United States might not ever get to that point.  I mean, you can kill a black man on video with your bare hands in New York now and it might not ever make it to trial.  You can shoot an unarmed black man six times in Ferguson for jaywalking from your car and not worry about working again because you can live off of the interview money.

A twelve-year-old playing with a BB gun in the park was killed by police in Cleveland but he should have known better already.  The world already found out that police can still shoot black people shopping in Ohio because they happened to pick up one of the toy guns in the store.  There is just too much murder of unarmed people of color by police to really believe that the United States of America has any interest in that type of civility.  What else can be gleaned from history or either from recent events?

While I acknowledge that we are talking about a worldwide problem of racism that has spanned many generations, the United States of America has some serious work to do right now.

Samuel

November 24, 2014

I told you that I would get with you at a later date, even though I’m actually three weeks early.  Weighing in at 6 pounds and 9 ounces, measuring 51 centimeters and hailing from Xerez, España is Samuel.  He is totally healthy and dare I say handsome.

2014-11-24 Samuel Illori

He and his mother are doing great.  We are all truly blessed.

You have got to come to Spain!

Without Explanation

August 6, 2014

Black DeMatha Jesus 2

Tinkerbell’s Return: No More Kook

August 12, 2013

Tinkerbell’s Return: No More Kook

Kookboxx Surfboards is over.

Yeah, let that sink in for a little while.

This was us back in Virginia Beach when he started this whole Duct Tape Invitational thing with VANS.

Dandini & Joel

This was us back in Virginia Beach when he started this whole Duct Tape Invitational thing with VANS.

Kookboxx finished. I could get into the whole story on here right now, but I’m not.

I just got off the phone with Mama Denise and she really broke it down, but there are some lingering issues that need to clear before the whole story gets out.  All you need to know right now is that the boys aren’t really doing Kookboxx anymore. I spoke with Joel earlier this morning so I knew that he was serious.  I was honestly in a state of shock when he told me, but after he explained it made perfect sense.  Sometimes you just have to move on and make a better way.  It doesn’t always make sense to dwell on the past when you already have momentum and you can keep on pushing. I’m not wearing anymore t-shirts, even though the logo was fresh.

As a matter of fact, this is the last time that I will use the Kookboxx name in a sentence.  I can’t now, anyway…  I’m rocking with the best.  You are still rocking with the best.

So yeah, kids.  That’s how it just went down.

Nothing Beside Remains

August 6, 2013
“My name is Ozymandias… Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.”
-Percy Bysshe Shelley

In only my second meeting with Ms. Everee Jimerson Clarke, I had somehow arranged to meet her down at the now defunct Heritage Gallery building at 2117 N. Dixie Highway in order to help her move boxes from a storage closet to a display on the gallery floor. My introduction to West Palm Beach, Florida and the intricate communities of which it is comprised had a less than grandiose start.

The facility is modest in size, located next to an elementary school and a block away from a community center within the formerly districted Black neighborhood of Pleasant City. The Heritage Gallery is setup in the style of a shotgun double-wide with only three or four compartments walled off, and with a small kitchenette and office cordoned off in the rear. Everything was out in the open with displays set up on mobile racks and original photographs, some of which can be found in her books, in every available space and perpendicular surface down to the floor.

There were costumes and props from productions long past, gear donated from local professional sports teams, tap shoes and ballet slippers, all sorts of local and national memorabilia and even copies of speeches of prominent African-Americans throughout history. Bookshelves were full of African-American classics, such as Roots, and hand held toys and knickknacks were lined up for the taking. There was such a variety of material to instruct children that I was having a hard time remembering exactly how I volunteered to be the labor force to move it in the first place.

Ms. Clarke doesn’t really let on, but she is holding out hope that she can sell enough of her gallery wares, through sheer volume, to prevent the foreclosure of her property that houses the museum. She has a court date on the 14th of August, and then ten days from that to act on the decision rendered. These are dire times. The edifice served as a home base of sorts since the Heritage Gallery was established by the Pleasant City Family Reunion Committee in 1996. Both organizations were the culmination of years of work by Ms. Clarke in historical preservation, business, and politics.

The charming and persuasive grande dame goes out of her way for people just because it is in her heart to do so. Ms. Clarke is still very sharp and witty and she was proud to proclaim that she was 87 years old. She boasts that the Heritage Gallery is the only such of its kind to preserve the memories and records of African-American pioneers in Palm Beach -all without the benefit of city property easements. The daughter of original Palm Beach pioneers who once had a home in the Styx, an original settlement on the island, is also quick to point out that the Heritage Gallery operates free of charge.

“It’s all for the children, anyway” she instructs me in a grandmotherly voice that reminds me of my own.

Alex Haley is credited with saying that “in every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future” and Ms. Clarke endeavored to embody that through the Heritage Gallery. Her plan was not only well thought out but it has also been proven to work: recent studies of the obvious bolster the claim that high self-esteem correlates with higher performance in school. I guess the only problem is that Ms. Clarke contends that many people in Pleasant City are completely unaware, or otherwise uninterested in, the African-American pioneers’ prominence in the history of the region.

Black West Palm Beach has endured as 32% of the population according to the 2010 US Census figures -which is exactly double the percentage found among the total population in Florida. Success of the pioneers, and gains in subsequent generations also contributed to turnover in the West Palm Beach region. Many Blacks sought opportunities or became educated from elsewhere and never returned.

The great shame is that Ms. Clarke has continuously proven to be the exception to the rule, opting instead to cast down her talents where she was born. However, she wasn’t always the resident expert African-American historian in West Palm Beach.

Ms. Clarke left the region to attend a number of professional schools including the Lippel School of Dance, American Ballet Academy, and the famed Julliard School of Music and Dance. She cut a dashing figure in her YouTube “video” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfxdMJqTvJQ

Take a moment to go back in time.

) of black and white photographs slideshow from the Heritage Gallery website.

She initially returned to Palm Beach County in 1960 to improve her community and join in the African-American struggle for civil rights despite the fact that, “nothing big ever really happened here.” Ms. Clarke built on her successful establishment of her self-named School of Charm and Dance in Newark, New Jersey and expanded into West Palm Beach at a time when there were many Black owned businesses still downtown.

Today the scarcity of Black owned business in West Palm Beach is difficult to put into perspective. Early Census Bureau data is incomplete but Black firms represented 14.8% of the total in West Palm Beach compared to just the typical 9% of Black firms reported in the rest of Florida as recently as 2007. The Pleasant City Family Newsletter, also published out of the Heritage Gallery, specifically laments the loss of all the original, Black pioneer, family, operated businesses.

While it is hardly a comparison to the famed Black Wall Street, the African-American community of West Palm Beach enjoyed relative economic prosperity in large part due to the watchful eyes of a clandestine “Vanguard,” and to being a relatively self-sustaining, contained community. The same segregation that excluded Blacks from the island of Palm Beach left them with relative autonomy in West Palm Beach. Some time after integration Black businesses and residents began to get pushed out, concentrically, after their island economy collapsed.

Some cite the disappearance of domestic jobs provided by the wealthy of Palm Beach as the beginning of the end for sustaining the African-American economy in West Palm Beach. Indeed, the Standard Oil and railroad magnate Henry Flagler is accredited with being one of West Palm Beach’s earliest planners and it is said he did so to ensure that the island inhabitants had access to Black labor. Steady, seasonal, employment by domestic workers in West Palm Beach provided the foundation upon which the rest of the economy was built and also promulgated peculiar race relations.

“It was different back then, because the families would take care of you.” Ms. Clarke carefully explained.

Situations change. While nobody can seem to agree as to how or why situations changed, everybody can agree that the transition has been a rough one.

Perhaps that is why in the 1970’s Ms. Clarke devoted a considerable amount of her energies to the areas of business and politics? In 1969 she was a founder of the Tri-County Chapter of the National Business League in West Palm Beach and later founded the Pleasant City Economic Development Corporation. Both organizations, as well as that of the old Vanguard, became obsolete or defunct shortly after the establishment of the Urban League in the area. Ms. Clarke sites jealousy, envy, and good old fashioned backbiting from others in the community that withheld their support because she maintained her early affiliation with the Republican Party.

It has largely been considered political suicide within the Black community to be involved with the Republican Party after the great Reconstruction following the Civil War, but Ms. Clarke was determined to make it work. She ran for the West Palm Beach City Commission twice, in 1973 and again in 1974, and was eventually named as a Republican Area Chairperson for a host of Palm Beach County districts. However it might have been Ms. Clarke’s co-chairing of the Florida Black Committee to Re-Elect President Richard Nixon that earned her a reputation of being somewhat of a pariah amongst her own.

Even I, a Black Republican pushing forty years old, have come into obtuse individuals in these liberal times that couldn’t fathom why or how it should come to pass, so I can identify with the plight of Ms. Clarke of explaining her political leanings. Ms. Clarke began disseminating the idea that a whole race of people should not belong to one party or the other, at a time when Blacks were beholden to the Democratic Party in a bid to advance civil rights. It is understandable that her feelings of alienation could have been much more acute, and the effects longer lasting, because of the times and their import.

Sometimes it is difficult to work with people, even when the cause is just, and even when your differences aren’t that far apart. With a history of campaigning for Republican candidates, Ms. Clarke was able to develop a wider base from which to launch her own initiatives but the fruits of such charity have seemingly dried up on the vine. Ms. Clarke says that she noticed a marked decrease in financial support since she came out publicly for Obama, when he ran for President in 2008. While she beams about the alumni of her charm school in Newark and their ability to organize well-attended reunions, she was unable to ultimately match that achievement in West Palm Beach.

Unfortunately for Ms. Clarke she was not as popular with local children of Palm Beach County. By her own explanation folks in Florida didn’t appreciate the messenger, and as a result, discounted the message. Up until 2005 Ms. Clarke was proposing tutoring and mentoring programs for Palm Beach youth out of the Heritage Gallery location in Pleasant City. In one proposed curriculum classes and activities included direction in Etiquette, Computer Skills, Language Development, Drama, Wardrobe, Grooming, Business Development, Job Training Skills, and Modeling.

One might think that this sort of program would be welcomed with open arms in an African-American community that is dealing with crime, talent exodus, disenfranchisement, and gentrification issues but Pleasant City evidently wasn’t having it. Ms. Clarke is still bemused.

Perhaps in a last ditch attempt to save the Heritage Gallery some years ago Ms. Clarke could have changed the face of her blade without altering its thrust? (The most promising candidate right now is a faithful volunteer named Esther who carefully scans pictures at the computer desk. By Ms. Clarke’s own admission Esther is her primary link to technology -but she leaves for college in the Fall.)

Similar swashbuckling has saved charities in the past but Ms. Clarke opted to stay the course. Sometimes the advice that you don’t take turns out to be the best advice. Life can be ironic that way. With the Heritage Gallery unable to produce an heir apparent able to breathe life and vigor into programs that benefit and interest area children, ultimately where else could Ms. Clarke turn to save the institution anyway? History is team-oriented academics.

“I’m going to be okay,” she tells me after a spoonful of the whitest vanilla ice cream I have ever seen. “I’m ready for whatever.”

Ms. Clarke has vowed the newsletter and activities will continue as long as she is able. She is also planning on writing another book to highlight the lives of Black Palm Beach pioneers.

Later, when a mother and her five children moseyed inside the Heritage Gallery during the foreclosure sale, Ms. Clarke’s eyes widened with excitement. Knee issues prevent her from getting around with the grace that she is used to, and she struggled to follow the last patrons around on her scooter.

It was hot outside and the mother’s three girls all had on dresses and the two boys stood in the doorway in their shorts and jerseys ogling toy cars behind the counter. The littlest girl wanted to know about the shoes in the small boxes. Ms. Clarke wheeled herself over and looked.

“Those are ballet slippers,” she says. “Those are very expensive.”

I don’t need to inform you that the family left without buying anything.