Charles Victor Bell Critiques BlackElectorate.com
From time to time we will turn over this space to selected members of our viewing audience who have some thoughtful and passionate comments to make regarding past editorials that we have written. As we have indicated before, we don't know of any other website that has as many intelligent and passionate viewers from all walks of life as we do. It is a humbling, educational and inspiring experience to read the thoughtful and touching e-mails that we receive from our viewers on a daily basis. One such outstanding viewer is Charles V. Bell who honors us today with his comments on a few recent editorials.
On Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice Republicans Sound Like The NAACP I pray that as African-Americans, we take careful steps in following the 11th commandment example used during the 1980 Republican National Convention, "Thou shall not publicly speak ill of fellow Republicans" and replace the word "Republicans" with Blacks.
White Republicans and White Democrats used our politicians, clergy and leadership establishment to drive wedges between our people for their expediency and we should stop reliving the prophecy that keeps reappearing in our history.
Any disagreements that we have of each other should be expressed privately amongst ourselves in "Black circles of media" or behind closed doors and not on CNN or NBC News. We should avail ourselves in of the opportunity to dialogue with each other for consensus or at least a respectful agreement to disagree without name-calling. If Crips and Bloods found some commonality, why can't Black Democrats and Black Republicans find some commonality on an issue? We have allowed ourselves to be under agenda of a major establishment that continues the "Willie Lynch" principle.
Let's look back in history. Minister Louis Farrakhan once expressed the fact that if Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois applied both of their principles together we as African-Americans wouldn't be in our present condition. Can you imagine if the Honorable Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. DuBois would have supported each other and not dissed one another? How about if the Honorable Elijah Muhammad or Malcolm X met earlier with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and dialogued?
I also have strong reservations of Condoleezza Rice's lack of knowledge in African, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Asian affairs (3/4 of the world) but I feel that if I was in a leadership position, I would invite her to a meeting with them to convey my issues privately and offer my knowledge to her.
I have deep divisions (which may be beyond resolution) with General Colin Powell and his historical track record in Muy Lai, Vietnam, involvement in Angola during independence, the death of 10,000 Panamanian citizens during the 1989 invasion of Panama or Powell's support for mass bombing which killed 200,000 Iraqi civilians in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but I would still extend an olive branch for dialogue just like Farrakhan extended him an olive branch to attend the 1995 Million Man March.
The attitudes of both parties make me take independent lines during Presidential elections and that is why I supported Ralph Nader this year. At least he was unafraid to speak on reparations or African affairs.
I took issue with people like Reverend Al Sharpton (I respect him immensely), the Congressional Black Caucus, Reverend Jesse Jackson or NAACP President Kweisi Mfume attacking the faith-based ministers for meeting with President-elect George W. Bush and creating a wedge. So what the ministers were at the Bush table and not Rev. Jesse Jackson. Instead of fighting for a feast with "the great white man" and crowning themselves as the "legitimate Black leadership" (First, by whose standards and I must remind this same leadership which had the ear of President Clinton or to the "plantation mentality" of Vice President Al Gore when it comes to Black issues and look at the same problems we as African-Americans have unresolved), both parties should meet privately (especially since faith-based ministers have strong grass-support in their respective churches and their work definitely benefits us as a people) amongst themselves and develop an agenda benefitting African-Americans and try to unify. I don't want the NAACP to stop their investigation of voter intimidation and the election issues, I just want to prevent any effort among whites to initiate a "divide-and-conquer".
Maybe the faith-based ministers may develop a better position to express such issues to Bush. As you indicated, Senator Lieberman failed to dialogue with Minister Farrakhan yet the "true Black leadership" were silent in their condemnation. Why have Black Democrats and Black Republicans allowed themselves to be more divisive against each other now than in the 1950s or 1970s with "black capitalism" or "affirmative action" which actually has roots in the 1970s with Black Republicans (less some forget Mr. Art Fletcher)?
We need more Black Republicans like Cathy Hughes-Major or Black Democrats who affiliate with their parties in name only but remain unafraid to "buck" their party when the issues benefit our people in the masses.
Native American Mascots: What An Insult The issue of Native American Mascots is one that I take strong interest in for several reasons. I worked on Native American housing issues for several years and like 70% of most African-Americans in this country have Native American roots (not so unusual). I live in the Washington, DC area whose football team is named, "Redskins". What astounds me about the issue is the indifference many Blacks feel on this subject (I would expect it from whites).
I feel that we as Blacks are sometimes guilty of the crime we accuse whites of with regards to racism. Several times, when I tell my Bretheren that I can't support a team that refuses to change its racist name, Black folks sound like many uncaring whites and say "it is only a name steeped in tradition", "it's paying them homage, what are you talking about?", or "I haven't heard Indians complain about it"! I reply if they would take offense to Washington's football team being called the "Washington N------" or "Coons", why can't they understand that Native Americans would take similar offense each time we cheer for the Redskins?
What also amazes me that "Ms. Liberal" Jane Fonda during her marriage to Ted Turner would publicly do a "tomahawk chop" to support the baseball team Atlanta Braves because her husband is the team's owner yet the home-run king of the same team Hank Aaron, who works with the team management can have enough courage to say that if the mascot and symbol offends Native Americans, the name should be changed. I wish that enough Black atheletes of such teams cannot at least take a stand. Maybe if the 60s mentality of atheletes like Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell or Kareem Abdul-Jabaar or Kevin Johnson of today were on these teams, maybe a groundswell of support for eliminating such racist mascots would flourish. If the players united and forfeited a game for a name change, wouldn't such a protest prompt instant action? I understand, we all are accountable to someone else who pays our salary (including myself).
Maybe my thinking is warped but if I was Daniel Snyder and owned the Washington football team (I try to minimize the word Redskins from my vocabulary), it would be in my best interest (even if my racial viewpoints were racist or conservative) to change the name of the team from a business team especially since the U.S. Patent and Trade Commission's "Lanham Act" prevents exclusive copyright privileges to an organzation that has a name deemed "offensive" to citizens.
Mr. Snyder can give the appearance of being socially conscious and an even better opportunity for financial reward is possible with exclusive copyright privileges for a new mascot name. Maybe if we as African-Americans studied Native American history since a majority of us claim Indian roots (even to the point of exclusivity of our Blackness on occassions - SMILE!), we would be more sensitive that the Buffalo Soldiers we claim fame to in military history unwittingly were U.S. cannon fodder in hastening the Oglala Sioux to lose their land to the U.S. Government (I felt so apologetic to the Oglala community during a trip to South Dakota. General Sherman may have burned Confederate Atlanta during the Civil War but he was also General during these Indian campaigns). I was wincing recently at the beloved Bill Pickett Black Rodeo paying homage to the Buffalo Soldiers to appluse by Black folks (It's tantamount to speaking proudly to Asiatic Indians of the legend of Gunga Din).
I admire the pro-active steps of many college teams to remove racist Native American mascots. I hope the professional teams will catch-up. The least that can be done is to ask Native Americans the best solutions for input to pay homage to them with non-offensive names.
Cuba, Libya, Socialists and Muslims Must Come To Terms With Racism - Like Everyone Else Many times, I love the depth of knowledge, I have access to from such a variety of sources and on a variety of topics. A Rastafarian Cuban-Jamaican co-worker of mine who I've known since college consistently gives me an education on racism from a global perspective. I humbly feel that we as African-Americans should be viewing the world outside of the U.S. and not relegate ourselves to our metropolitan areas, our "hood", or even our state and look at ourselves internationally. If we did maybe this country will be less-inclined to use Black troops as cannon-fodder for military exercises like Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Iraq or Yemen. I pray that we don't find Black U.S. troops lacking geographical knowledge and working against peoples of color by landing in Palestine, Libya or Cuba and start harming such innocent civilians.
This topic is fascinating because it holds a mirror in the face of we as people of color who suffer from the same racist virus innoculated to persons darker than us and yet we cry cancer when whites gives us the same lethal injection. We can even speak of "shadism" that was formerly a factor among ourselves in the U.S. Let's consider that racism holds longer in areas of color. Manumission of slaves occurred last in Brazil and Cuba in 1888. Portugal, one of the "darker" countries in Europe did not give up its colonies of Angola and Mozambique until 1975.
My co-worker who I mentioned previously, enlightened me that even with Castro's promotion of the African presence in Cuba and yes, it is far, far better than pre-Castro Cuba or the U.S., subtle racism still is a factor when one sees those holding power in high-cabinet positions. I was enlightened that in 1912, the Partido Independencia de Color (PIC-Independence Party of Color) was formed using the NAACP as a model (unique point in history considering that the NAACP and the African National Congress in South Africa were formed in 1909). PIC was formed to address the problem of lynching that was rampant in the Eastern region of Cuba at that time. We often hear of Cuban liberator Jose Marti and I give him proper honor however, we must also honor Afro-Cuban Senator Antonio Maceo.
Puerto Rico honors Luiz Munoz Marin but let us not forget the uncompromising pro-independence philosopher Pedro Albizu Campos (like historian Arthur Schomburg an Afro-Puerto Rican) who suffered great indignities for his independence beliefs. Brazil constantly prides its African origins of carnival, samba and capoeira and race-mixing yet to dilute the African presence, census has almost several definitions of color with colors like almond-brown, dark chocolate, etc.
Many Spanish claim pride in loving all who are Hispanic no matter what ethnicity yet Afro-Hispanics like New York radio personality Falu Manin and Washingtonian Roland Roebuck protested to the Spanish Cable networks like Univision and Telemundo who feature a predominance of blond-hair, blue-eyed Hispanics; especially in the popular "telenovelas" (soap operas). Black Hispanics who get a few roles are often given demeaning stereotypes unless they are musicians. Even the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz outside of her music was cast as a maid in a telenovela (Pardon me Mr. Muhammad if I cause offense to you personally since you are Panamanian).
I remember the Chad civil war of the 1980s and Libyan leader Muammar Qadafhi received negative Western publicity regarding his miltary support for a certain Chadian faction (I can't recall if it was the sub-Saharan troops or the Arab rulers of Chad to be honest). It was that conflict that alerted the Western press about racism allegations in northern and sub-Saharan Africa.
Editor's note: Thank You Charles!
Tuesday, January 2, 2001