Happy Father’s Day/Happy Juneteenth!

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Happy Juneteenth.. or else lol

Good morning my readers. Today is indeed an interesting day. Of course everyone knows that it’s Father’s Day, but today is also Juneteenth. What an intriguing  intersection, indeed. On this 151st anniversary of the occasion, we find ourselves wondering about the direction of our community. It’s a time of reflection as well as celebration.

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Juneteenth

Happy Juneteenth, and Happy Father’s Day to all the Father’s, grandfather’s, and Father figures out there. Peace!

Seventh Year Blogiversary

Good evening my readers. I’d like to take the time to say thank you to those who came out tonight to Calabar Imports in Harlem to commemorate the seventh year anniversary of Polite On Society.

Thanks for asking your questions, and asking what is next. I have no intention of stopping, despite whoever might have an issue with it.

If it wasn’t for the support I received here initially, I wouldn’t be poised to take the direction I am going in now. Over  the course of seven years has come two books, four awards, numerous panel discussions, and a visit to the White House. An interesting journey indeed… and it ain’t over.

We’ll see what the future holds. I will be just as surprised as y’all are. Lol. Thanks again, and good night.

-Marc

My Walking While Black Experience Today

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Good evening folks. Today, I had an experience with a police officer that was just odd. First of all, I am alright and I was not detained or anything like that. It’s just that this occurred today, and I need to talk about it.

I was walking up Amsterdam Avenue, heading to the local eaterie to get a tuna salad. Normal pace, just minding my business. I hit the corner, waiting for the light to change. I just felt a presence of someone behind me, and when I turned around, a police officer was there. Because I have been in similar situations like this before,  I didn’t panic. I just looked at him, and turned back around waiting for the light to change.

I had no idea how long he was following me. However,  another individual who was walking in the same direction noticed the cop shadowing me. We spoke about it afterwards, and both noted how odd it was. After going into the shop, and getting my food, I decided to walk down Convent Avenue back to campus. I didn’t feel comfortable walking the same route I came. Why risk it?

I have thought about this incident the whole rest of the day. Maybe the cop realized when I turned around,  he was tailing the wrong person. I don’t know. I am just glad that I didn’t get a text message and pull my phone out of my pocket while he was following me. He might have thought that I was reaching for something,  and that wouldn’t have ended well.

I’m sharing this happenstance not to say “woe is me” or any of that. I am sharing to show how random these encounters are with police. It’s random, and pervasive at the same time. It can happen damn near anywhere, with no type of warning. This is why I do what I do with my platform.

Even a fairly mundane thing like a trip to the local eatery to get lunch can leave room for you to be targeted. Maybe I will just bring my lunch tomorrow instead…

We Are All “Superpredators” Now

Good morning all. I had some more thoughts to add from yesterday’s Bill Clinton blow up. It appears that even our “friends” are allowed to criminalize and dehumanize Black Americans as long as they can justify it. Activists shouldn’t run away from the fact that mass incarceration compels one to defend those who have been unjustly criminalized.

As the shockwaves continue, I find my outlook confirmed. I caught some flack for saying in public spaces that I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton even if she was the nominee. It would mean making peace with a center-right/neo-liberal outlook.  In all likelihood this incident won’t make die-hard Clinton supporters change their minds. But, for principled progressives, it points to a political dilemma.

These primaries are showing a struggle within the Democratic Party. Either millions of Democratic voters are stuck with a status quo, middle of the road politics, or it will be forced to move left and re-embrace tenets of compassionate Liberalism, social democracy, and Keynesian economics. If not, it’s a question as to whether who is really welcome or wanted in the party.

What a week.

Bill Clinton’s Tirade Against Black Lives Matter

This has not been a good week for Hillary Clinton. After another loss to Bernie Sanders in Wisconsin, now we have a rally with former President Bill Clinton totally losing it. The footage is in circulation across the net, and Bill is ranting in defense of the 1994 crime bill. He basically defends Hillary’s use of the loaded term “superpredators.” He goes so far as to say that BLM folks are defending thugs and murderers.

At a time where people are questioning the whole system of mass incarceration and the legislation that established it, how can we be “confident” that the Clinton campaign is going to facilitate any reforms when one is doubling down on heavy handed, harmful policies of the past?

The Clinton’s have done a lot of damage to the Black community,  here and abroad *cough* Haiti *cough* but Bill wants to play up Africa. Okay.

This primary is indeed getting ugly.  That’s politics. People are saying that it’s “gone nuclear” but this was bound to happen eventually. This will all make for a very spirited debate next Thursday in New York.

Cheryl Wills Discusses Genealogy and Black History at Harlem Liberation School

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Poster of "Die Free" -Cheryl Wills book on grandfather

Good evening, my readers. On this last Monday in March, I attended an event sponsored by the Harlem Liberation School. For those who may not have heard of them, the Harlem Liberation School is a group that has been hosting a number of events at Raw Space. It is coordinated by Agyei Tyehimba.  Tonight, they hosted NY1 anchor Cheryl Wills to speak on empowering Black women.

Wills is the author of two books: Die Free- A Heroic Family Tale and The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills. “Die Free” is about her grandfather who fought in the Civil War. The second book is a children’s book that addresses the same subject matter, but for the youth in a different fashion.  In the presentation, Wills referred to the documents she found while researching her family history. Her desire to know the meaning of last name is part of the motivation. Cheryl discussed the importance of knowing who you are to move more effectively through all of your endeavors.

An accomplished journalist, Cheryl has also done much to reach the youth of NYC. In hearing her discuss presentations about her book to children in different schools across New York City, it’s apparent that to Cheryl it’s about teaching the next generation. Our history has to be made real, and like Cheryl said in her talk, it is not a mere footnote. It’s not about the typical approach to history where we encourage children to memorize names, facts and dates, but looking at how learning about your family’s past can bolster your self definition. Which will in turn, result in some cases a change in how you carry yourself. Especially in an environment where the hostility is very much there. There is some value in that approach.

Connecting the past to the present, Cheryl noted that we were called names then and are still being called names now. “Do you believe the names that they are calling you?” , posed rhetorically to a crowded room. On a windy Monday evening in Harlem, Cheryl Wills came out to teach and inspire us to delve into genealogy to unearth our greatness.

Mainstream Media Downplays Sanders Victories with Erasure Narrative

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The statements that started it all..

Once again, social media was forced to pushback against a mainstream media narrative. Instead of dealing with the news of Bernie Sanders victories this weekend in an honest fashion, the media chose to downplay the Hawaii and Alaska wins with the notion that he won there because there were mostly white voters in the state.

This dishonest proclamation would result in the hashtag #BernieMadeMeWhite, created by Twitter users chin checking the notion that the vast majority of Sanders supporters are white people. It was hilarious. 

But in all seriousness, erasure is a really dangerous thing. It’s good to see progressives of color make quick work of such limiting notions. As if people of color can’t be people of color and care about income inequality, and education at the same time. Bravo, once again,  Twitter.

Bernie Sanders Wins Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii

The weekend primaries have gone well for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. He won all three contests Saturday: the states of Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii. With fairly large margins of victory as well. After picking up Utah and Idaho last week, that makes it appear as though it’s not quite over for his campaign.  We will see what this means as the April primaries approach.

Too Little, Too Late on Trump Denunciations

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Good evening folks. Now that Donald Trump is officially a thing in American politics, the mainstream media wants to pretend it didn’t have a hand in his success. With 24 hour coverage,  a ratings hungry media fed upon the controversial billionaire with free air time. Coverage that candidates like Bernie Sanders and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein would never get.

Meet the Press announced that they would no longer allow Trump to phone in to be heard on the show. Okay. That might have helped… 3 months ago.

Now that the damage is done, and the beast has grown,  some wish to put it back in the cage. But it’s too late.

Also today, Elizabeth Warren came out swinging at Trump, calling him a loser. Of course, this statement has gone viral, and is lauded all over the net. I have a divergent thought about this that I am going to express here. While it’s cool that Warren denounced Trump, I can’t help but remember how relatively silent she was during the Massachusetts primary. A public endorsement could have helped Bernie Sanders, with the results being so close. I’m just saying. I can’t be the only one thinking this.

Besides us hearing Republican bellyaching about President Obama going to Cuba, these two occurrences made me think of what’s wrong with our discussions. But, this will all continue, because whether we like it or not in electoral politics, there is such a thing as too little, too late.

Oh well. Until next post! Peace.

Clinton and Trump Win Super Tuesday; Showing Much Polarization

The results of yesterday’s political contests across 11 states are all in. Hillary Clinton came in first, winning 7 of the most delegate rich states. Her Democratic primary opponent Bernie Sanders, took the other four states.

The Republican primaries resulted in  Donald Trump winning most of the states in the primary contest,  with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz still hanging on.  The other shoe has dropped for Dr. Ben Carson, as he decided to pack it in earlier today. Kasich is still in the primary race, but we’ll see for how long.

While elections are always revealing, this time around feels much more so. Donald Trump is whipping up a great deal of racism and xenophobia. Violence follows this logic, and it is really dangerous. We have seen incidents of journalists being choke slammed by secret service , and Black teenagers attacked by crowds of his supporters. The danger for more of this to follow is ever present.

On the Democratic side, while Clinton was able to take the lead, the fact that Sanders who refers to himself as a democratic socialist was able to get millions of votes has to mean something. While he has to do more to work on his outreach, the reality that he wasn’t totally dismissed by voters signals that many people are tired of the same old politics. It’s just not critical mass yet. Of course, most voters played it safe, and Black voters are no different than others in this regard. With all that is known about voting blocs and name recognition, some observers still want to act surprised. Besides, you win people over by persuasion, not goading.

Here we are, the day after grappling to understand the implications. While it’s important to say that these developments on the right are cause for concern, things aren’t totally hopeless. If some of the energy around the Sanders campaign can be siphoned off, to use to struggle independently of what happens in this primary, progressive forces will be that much stronger in preparation for some of the bigger battles to come.