Category Archives: Race

Subversive Historian – 08/28/09

The March on Washington

Back in the day on August 28th, 1963, hundreds of thousands of people participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Black union leader A Phillip Randolph first proposed the idea for a mass convergence on the nation’s capital. With organizational help from various civil rights groups, the planned demonstration faced disagreements from parties involved as to its stated objective. Some groups wanted to focus on black poverty while others wanted to show public support for the Kennedy administration’s proposed civil rights legislation. When the march finally took place, John Lewis of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee had to tone down the criticisms he levied against President Kennedy. The demonstration would later culminate on the steps of the Lincoln memorial with Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream,” speech.

The following year, the Civil Rights Act would be passed into law due in part to that massive show of support for the civil rights movement during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.


Subversive Historian – 08/25/09

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

Back in the day on August 25th, 1925, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was formed in New York. A. Phillip Randolph, a socialist once dubbed as ‘the most dangerous black man in America’ was designated as its leader. The BSCP was extremely significant as a black union dedicated to organizing on twin fronts against the Pullman Company and racism in the U.S. labor movement. Under Randolph’s guidance and the slogan “Fight or be Slaves,” the brotherhood fought for many years to counteract the paternalism of George Pullman’s company while seeking the recognition by the American Federation of Labor of being an international. The latter came first as the BSCP was finally granted the charter from the AFL in 1935. Two years later, Randolph made history when the union signed a contract with the Pullman Company that increased wages and decreased working hours.

It had been the first time a white owner had ever come to official terms with a black union leader.

Subversive Historian – 08/12/09

Anti-Tamil Race Riots in Sri Lanka

Back in the day on August 12th, 1977, riots erupted in Sri Lanka aimed at its minority Tamil population. The outburst of violence, which was certainly not the first such occurrence of its kind, followed the aftermath of national elections that brought the right-wing Sinhalese United National Party to power. The vote also made a coalition of Tamil political parties known as the Tamil United Liberation Front the leading minority opposition force. They interpreted the capture of a number of parliamentary seats as a referendum on Tamil succession as the population endured a gradual codification of their unequal minority status in the country. The roots of the riots that followed took place as ethnic Sinhala policemen reportedly opened fire in an altercation at a Tamil carnival in the Northern Province city of Jaffna killing four. The violence that ensued claimed the lives of hundreds more Tamils.

The roots of the tension date to European colonialism when the British consolidated the territory and its inhabitants in the 19th century employing ‘divide-and-conquer’ tactics between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. After leaving in 1948, the rest is history…

Birther Billboard Bigotry!

I was driving along my daily commute back from work today when I noticed an enormous billboard even though I tend to avert my eyes from the sort of thing. The question, “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” beckoned from its  green background risen high above and to the side of the 5 south Santa Ana freeway around the City of Commerce.  Of course, this is related to the conspiracy theory that proposes that President Barack Obama has not put forth valid proof that he was born in the United States and thus is not entitled to occupy the oval office!

The wack-job website World Net Daily is apparently financing the billboards in locations across the country to sway public opinion. The truthfully disturbing part of this is that despite contrarian reports in the media, few have put forth the analysis that the ‘birther craze’, by in large, stems from the collective racist psyche that cannot accept the reality of an African-American president.

Sure, there will be people who will say race has nothing to do with it and will admonish me to do the “research.” That’s fine and dandy, but I live in a nation where a Boston policeman can go on CNN’s Larry King Live and tell the host of the program that he isn’t racist despite writing an email calling Henry Louis Gates a “banana eating jungle monkey!” There are no more honest racists in this country and I don’t expect any birthers to fess up anytime soon.

What is also disturbing about this billboard on the 5 freeway is that it illustrates that there is an awful lot of money behind stupid! Juxtapose this nonsense with the fact that Media Matters for America largely can’t get its 30 second anti-Birthers commercial aimed at Lou Dobbs aired on CNN as five of six private cable providers have declined!

I guess there’s no hope for a stillbirth of the movement…Nor is there any hope for any real truth regarding my ‘birther’ question: How did the mother of Lou Dobbs manage to squeeze out that huge acorn head of the CNN host when he was a baby? Or was it a CNN-section? Where’s the live birth certificate?

Subversive Historian – 07/30/09

The New Orleans Race Riot of 1866

Back in the day on July 30th, 1866, a race riot broke outside of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention held in New Orleans. Radical Republicans convened to amend the previous constitution of the Southern state that had failed to enfranchise blacks. They also sought to prohibit former Confederate soldiers from voting. With President Andrew Johnson’s granting of overtures to veterans and politicians of the Southern Confederacy, people like New Orleans’ Mayor John T. Monroe were able to return to their pre-Civil War posts and enact “black codes.” Delegates and supporters of the Convention held at the hall of the Mechanics Institute had sought to reverse those regressive perversions of Reconstruction politics when violence erupted. African-Americans marching in support of the effort were attacked outside by a white mob. Described as an “absolute massacre” the assault that ensued claimed the lives of more than thirty African-Americans and three white supporters as it disrupted the convention effort.

The race riots of New Orleans illustrated to the nation the deadly politics of destruction aimed at Reconstruction.

What’s Your “Gates” Moment?

Everyone has chimed in on the arrest of African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr by the Cambridge, Massachusetts police almost two weeks ago as a “teachable” moment. If there are any lessons to be taught, its solely for those who have been under illusions about the reality of race relations in the United States. Whether it’s the corporate media assembling clueless panels of propagandists disguised as “political analysts,” post-racial pontificators, or even scholars who are surprised that their stature doesn’t insulate them from racial profiling, racism is back in the spotlight saying ‘hello, sunshine!’

For those who don’t need a lesson, this is an opportunity to share! Blacks and Latinos have always been disproportionately targeted by law enforcement officials. This is so commonplace, but since the experiences of people of color are ignored, statistical evidence exists in abundance to corroborate their claims.  It’s just like President Barack Obama originally said as a matter of fact before he backtracked and invited Gates and Sergeant Crowley to a round of beers at the White/Yard House.

So, readers, have you been harassed by the police before? Have they paid a visit to your house? They have to mine! A couple of years ago, I was blasting Mars Volta one weekend morning surfing the internet when two Anaheim police men showed up at my door. Apparently, someone had called them to my house to investigate a “suspicious smell!” Never one to turn down an opportunity for a smart ass joke, I replied, “Well, I haven’t showered yet! Maybe that’s it!” Of course, the cop wasn’t amused as I learned that the supposed offending odor was to be that of marijuana.

At this point, the other policeman at my door opened the screen door too wide and sent it crashing into the wind chimes hanging from my front patio. Again, on the defensive, I remained inside my house but uttered “nice one there, buddy!” His partner swiftly backed him up saying “he didn’t mean to do that.” I was being an asshole, because this was an exercise in futility. Some racist neighbor of mine thought that they smelled pot and sent the Anaheim police to the house where the Mexicans lived. The two cops at my door had no search warrant, but asked me if I had any friends over and countless other stupid questions.

In short, they had nothing, and once they realized as much, I shut the door on them and went about my day readying a shower. It was supposed to be the end of it all, yet after I got out of the shower fifteen minutes later, I peeped into my front lawn from a bedroom window only to see the two policemen searching around my Yucca plant. Seriously! How embarrassing must it have been to have them snooping around the property for a considerable amount of time in plain view of all my neighbors? Plus, they had lied, saying they were going about their ways. Well, before I could say anything, the two policemen finally did get into their car and drove away.

Now, about that beer Mr. President…I’ll take an Arrogant Bastard Ale!

Subversive Historian – 07/16/09

Before Rosa, There Was Irene

Back in the day on July 16th, 1944, an African-American woman named Irene Morgan refused to give up her seat to a white couple on a Greyhound bus. Feeling ill, the young twenty-seven year old Baltimore native was heading from Virginia to Maryland for a checkup following a recent miscarriage. When a white couple boarded the bus, the driver ordered Morgan to give up her seat but she promptly refused. Eleven years before Rosa Parks, Morgan’s defiance had her arrested and jailed but not before she ripped up the warrant and kicked the sheriff on the scene in the family jewels! Morgan was later convicted and fined $10 dollars, but appealed the decision all the way up to the Supreme Court. With Thurgood Marshall on her side, Morgan won the case against Virginia two years after the whole ordeal.

The Congress of Racial Equality, emboldened by the decision, organized the “Journey of Reconciliation,” the very next year to test segregation on interstate travel. All along the journey, they sang, “Get on the bus, sit anyplace, ‘Cause Irene Morgan won her case.”