Nobody is going to teach you your
true history, teach you your true heroes,
if they know that that knowledge
will help set you free.
The Machine bought some Black
politicians. In the financial district as well as in rooms and
offices of City Hall, many met to talk of renewing the urban
landscape. And after the signing
of contracts and the shaking of hands, work to change America began
one city at a time. Chicago wouldn’t be outdone.
On the Southside, buildings once
abandoned by landlords and occupied by the economically struggling
class of Blacks are offered to the influential class as a means of
“getting ahead.” Influential Blacks talked of
gentrification as their hired
hands gutted barely inhabitable interiors, installing new piping and
electrical wiring behind new walls. And all of the newness rested on
foundations topped with mahogany flooring.
and the big box stores peddle credit cards and the philosophy that
everything is a must have! To have is to be! It’s harder for
street entrepreneurs, selling one gold chain at a time, one boombox
or one state-of-the art digital device at a time, to compete.
the era of the Moral Majority and conservatism, Americans hailed the
end of the past. The end of feminism. Whatever wave. And the end to
racism. Citizens, moving toward Ronald Reagan, embraced Family Values
and American Exceptionalism. To condemn the poor is to condemn
poverty. The lazy are the Devil’s agents.
the confusion of it all, some sport golden crosses on chains around
their necks while guzzling down a pint of liquor and others while
installing gates to protect them from the unsightly lady of carts and
the unwelcome Vietnam vet on the bench nearby. Compassion, as
unsightly and unwelcome at home, abroad, appeared to the Latin
American citizens as coups, installing dictators who, in turned,
implemented brutal policies hatched among American politicians and
the infamous Chicago Boys. A mindset traveled from the University of
Chicago’s Economic Department to the Pontifical Catholic
University of Chile. Only then did so much money flow back north as
corpses of men, women, and children filled unmarked graves. So many
who were Lebanese Christians didn’t
want to appear in the office if Lebanese Muslim students
were present. Yet, I had to make a deal. It’s Black History
Month. All the presidents of the clubs are assembled in the meeting
room. I looked at each of them seated around the table. Most of these
club presidents, similar to the general student population, are
struggling to pay tuition at this city college. Most are working.
Some already have a young child or two.
Nash! Kwame Ture!
looking now at the Black students. The Latino/a students.
course, we’ll invite Mayor Washington. The first Black mayor of
Chicago. Of course, we’ll invite Harold whose hands is full
cleaning up the corruption and confronting the ignorance of those in
City Hall who want to the survival of The Machine, who want the Old
Man Daley’s son and not the back talking Black man they can’t
have films, including King: A Filmed Record, Montgomery to
how about Diane Nash and Kwame Ture? Stokeley
Carmichael, I added, in case that would ring a collective bell.
my first Black History Month as Director of Student Activities at
what is then Loop College, the flagship 2-year college of the City of
Chicago. I returned to the city the previous year after three and a
half years of living in LA learning to write for newsprint in order
to begin a master’s program in English. I don’t know what
the previous director did in the month of February, but I am who I
am. I know my commitment. I can’t speak openly about my
commitment in this era where I’m working with a dean, a Black
woman, and my supervisor, who bemoans the loss of a mink coat she
accidentally left in the restroom, across the hall from our offices.
of the past is really dead.
someone asks about Oprah. What about Oprah? She’s
just across the street!
all the eyes are saying - what about Oprah! I see. The jewelry. Hair
is styled and nails are done fancy. The attire of all is American -
whether Christian or Muslim. Black, white, Asian, Latino/a.
is evidence of the profitability for all of assimilation. Resistance
is futile. Give up the fight and go with the flow.
Nash, grew up here, in Chicago and graduated from Hyde Park High
School. When she moved South, and joined the Movement, the Civil
Rights Movement, she co-founds the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC). She’s with Dr. King. Organizing with Dr.
King, as a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
(SCLC). I don’t bother to add that I was a teenage member of
the Chicago branch of this organization.
about what I’m saying is hip. Today. “Getting ahead.”
Nash was a war activist. A women’s rights activist.
I still see then, in 1984, the dejected look on Kwame Ture’s
face as he sat across my desk.
lined up along the corner of State and Lake Streets, from ABC studios
to Loop College. Students filled the college lobby. In the elevator,
Oprah watched as the floor numbers lit up. Once she was standing
before students in a packed room, she became Oprah.
was a “success.”
were busy pursuing their education on the days when Diane Nash and
Kwame Ture came to campus.
2018, a sheriff went on a rant about “warehousing” human
beings. It seems another group of citizens, Black, stole over
$4,000 worth of merchandise from a store.
As the suspects try to escape, their
car crashes with another car—and luckily no one, according to
Kenosha News, is
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth
calls a press conference. He openly suggests that some people are of
no worth to society. They should be “disappeared.”
think at some point society has to get so fed up that they are no
longer willing to tolerate people who are not an asset to society...
I think we have to create a threshold where, once you cross the
threshold, Wisconsin, the United States, builds warehouses where we
put these people who have been deemed to be no longer an asset, that
are really a detriment, like these five people. I have no issue with
these five people completely disappearing. At (this) point, these
people are no longer an asset to our community, and they just need to
Sheriff Beth apologize to the local
NAACP; he’s still free to remain in his position.
it’s little surprise to some of us, that a white nationalist
group in Florida would want to take credit for the mass shooting and
killing of high school students by a 19-year old. This young man came
to school showing off his guns.
one spoke of “warehousing” him! Of the over 30 times
police showed up at the home where he lived, responding to domestic
violence, he was not shot dead as was 12-year old Tamir Rice, who,
when police arrived on the scene, was playing with a toy gun. In
seconds, he was killed.
Las Vegas. New York. Baltimore.
changed in all these years? Are we learning anything while we claim
to be celebrating those human rights activists who sacrificed their
lives to see to it that America is NOT where it is today?