Sunday, February 28, 2010

When Black Wall Street Turns White

When Black Wall Street Turns White
Paul Scott


"Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone"
Big Yellow Taxi- Joni Mitchell



There was a time when Durham NC was known as the "Black Wall Street of the South." However, today, when I walk down the streets of the former Mecca of black economic achievement, I see only the residue of what was once great. The black owned business which were once an inspiration for generations of African Americans have been replaced by white owned shops selling iced lattes.

I always find it insulting when the media ,rhetorically , ask why has Durham fallen from a black economic paradise " to a refuge for the underprivileged and chronic underachievers?" Faux naivete' aside, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

Manifest Destiny; urban renewal; land grab; a darn freeway through Grandma's backyard. Take your pick. It all adds up to the gentrification of the black community.

The economic and cultural rape of people African descent did not start in the 21th century but goes back thousands of years when the Greeks stole black culture from the Ancient Egyptians according to historians like George GM James and William Leo Hansberry. Also during the 15th century, beginning with Portugal, European countries began to rob Africa of her resources. According to Basil Davidson in his book' "The Transatlantic Slave Trade" the initial overtures of partnership and mutual respect eventually resulted in the slaughter of untold millions of African people and the colonization of a continent.

In America, during the 18th and 19th centuries, the enslaved Africans contributed centuries of free labor to the economic development of a country that would not allow them share in its wealth.

The early 20th century brought about the establishment of black business centers in various United States cities, including Durham. During that period ,segregation made black owned businesses a necessity, as African Americans were not allowed to patronize white establishments. This came to an end with the movement towards integration during the Civil Rights Era. At this point, black business began to lose their influence as African Americans began to protest to patronize white businesses, leaving behind the establishments owned by their friends and neighbors.

While it is still widely believed that integration was a moral decision, it was mostly economic, as white business owners saw the profit in milking the resources from the black community.

Yes, urban renewal has destroyed more black communities than Hurricane Katrina. Ask long time elderly residents of Durham about the fate of Black Wall Street and they will tell you with tears in their eyes the devastating effect that the paving of the freeway and other urban renewal projects had on their community.

In more recent years, we began to see a new gentrification strategy being played out, not only in Durham, but in 'hoods across the country. Although the locations may change, the methods of operation remain the same.

First the local newspapers propagate the idea that a community is crime infected. Then property values drop, drastically, and business vultures fly into town to buy properties dirt cheap. Poor housing develops are replaced with condominiums and the displaced residents have to make it the best way they can; often having to resort to criminal behaviour that only serves to perpetuate the cycle of poverty, crime and urban renewal.

Since, the companies that buy up the properties usually are the same ones that contribute major advertising dollars to the local paper, the issue of gentrification is usually replaced with PR stories about the land grabbers planting rose gardens in what used to be basketball courts. The fate of displaced residents and businesses is never discussed.

Although many Conservatives often complain that the African American community is not doing enough to "get black folks off welfare" by pooling their resources and establishing self-help institutions, history records that efforts of black empowerment have been, often, undermined, whether it be Marcus Garvey's United Negro Improvement Organization or the bombing of the other Black Wall Steet, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

One can only imagine the accusations of reverse racism that would come from the Right Wing if all the Black NBA players would form their own basketball league or all the African American Hip Hop artists formed their own entertainment company and made sure that the resources generated circulated throughout the black community.

Unfortunately, as of today, this fantasy world of black empowerment only exists in fictional novels like Ujamaa Khufu's book "Power to the People."

Black self determination has, also, been opposed by Liberals who pushed a false ideology of what writer Harold Cruse called "noneconomic Liberalism" on African Americans. Instead of encouraging the creation of black wealth and independent political power, they shifted the focus to the integration of lunch counters and public toilets.

To put it in more Shakespearean terms, "Foolish is the ruler who would trade his kingdom to sit on a porcelain throne with his enemy."

So what we have in Durham is a, formerly, vibrant black community that is on the verge of ,totally, losing it's blackness.

Today, Parrish Street, in the heart of the former black business district, is lined with tomb stones in the form of markers memorializing black Durham's glorious past. However, black empowerment is not something that can be placed in a glass case and displayed like a museum piece. Black development must be functional and continuously producing economic opportunities for under-served communities.

Even the remaining so called black cultural institutions are so dependent on white philanthropy that they are totally detached from the less affluent kids in the 'hood who need them the most.

Somebody has to renew the call for black social, economic and political empowerment. This is the only way that we can close the educational achievement gap, stop gang violence and cure the rest of the societal ills plaguing Durham and the rest of black America.

If not, 20 years from now when our grandchildren ask us what happened to Durham's black community, we will only be able to quote the Joni Mitchell lyric,

"They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."


Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots Fired.com. He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or info@nowarningshotsfired.com

For more on the "Reclaiming Black Wall Street" series visit nowarningshotsfired.com


video

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Al Sharpton vs Tavis Smiley:

Rev. Al Shapton vs Tavis Smiley:
The Battle for Black Leadership Supremacy

Paul Scott


"When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers"
African Proverb


Introducing in the red corner wearing the "Obama is My Homie" t-shirt, the reigning world champion of black leadership, the Rev. Al "Razor Sharp" Sharpton. And in the blue corner ,quietly sippin' on a Thermos of Obama Hata-aid, is the number one challenger, Tavis "Ain't Nobody Smilin'" Smiley.

After a long absence from the Tom Joyner Morning Show, Tavis Smiley made a comeback cameo appearance this morning as he came out swinging against against Rev. Al Sharpton, the NAACP and everybody else that has been ,unilaterally, supporting President Obama's policies. He feels that some of the Civil Rights folks have changed the lyrics from "We Shall Over Come" to "We Have Over Come," a bit prematurely by saying that it is not necessary for Obama to have a "black agenda." He also announced a meeting to discuss the Obama controversy to be held in Chicago on March 20th.

Later in the day, Rev. Sharpton had three hours, courtesy of his nationally syndicated program, "Keepin' it Real," to issue a rebuttal. Rev didn't have to do much name calling as his callers and Tweeters handled that. However, he did question whether the purpose of the March 20th camp meeting was for somebody to sell books.

Ouch!

Contrary to what Mr. Smiley says, The Prez does have a black agenda, if black kids would stay in school and stop listening to all that hippity hoppity music then they, too, could be the leaders of the Free world. At least that's the message that he gives when he's in front of a predominately black audience like the NAACP. I can't wait to see him perform the American Idol hit, "Pants on the Ground," at the next NAACP convention.

Many of us agree with Smiley, that it is not that simple. You can't talk about black pathology unless you put it in the context of global white supremacy.

It must be noted that members of the more black nationalistic community already beat Smiley to the punch as CEMOTAP and "The Family and Friends of Mutulu Shakur" already had this debate more than a year ago in Harlem. Unfortunately, most of the folks the were at the December 2008 debate will probably never be on that all-star panel at Smiley's "State of Black Union" meetings.

(Check out the audio courtesy of Voxunion.com)

It must also be noted that Glen Ford, of Black Agenda Report and members of the Black is Back Coalition have been raising the issue of Obama's responsibility to black folks for months.

So, the bigger issue that must be addressed is not only Obama but more importantly, the need for new voices to be heard in the black community.
For too many years, we have had the same old leaders discussing the same old issues. Yet, our condition seems to be getting worst.

It is a shame that we still have only a hand full of people (who most folks in the 'hood have never heard of) claiming to rep' for 30 million black folks. There are many questions that are relevant to everyday black folks that "black leaders" wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole, not the least being whether politics is a viable option for the liberation of black people in the first place.

It's time for new black voices blastin' from the grassroots.

So whoever wins the debate in March, as they say on the basketball court,

"We got next !"

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots Fired.com. He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or info@nowarningshotsfired.com

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Winter in America

Winter in America:
Black Heroes and Black Homicides

Paul Scott






Back in 1974, Gil Scott-Heron recorded a song called "Winter in America." No, he wasn't talking about the Arctic like weather that we have been experiencing for the last couple of months. He was mourning the death of activism after the Civil Rights/Black Power Era.

I thought about those lyrics during a lecture that I recently gave in front of a group of black male teens regarding black leadership. I had almost finished discussing the assassinations of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr when I was interrupted by one of the young men.

"You guys are always telling us to be leaders but all the black leaders get killed ," he said. "How can we be strong black leaders and still survive?"

Good question.

Being a black leader has been the hardest job in America for the past 300 years. The earliest black leaders in this country were those who led slave revolts such as Nat Turner , Denmark Vessey and Gabriel Prosser. The leaders of those rebellions and their co-conspirators were rewarded with hangman's nooses. One must also not forget writers such as David Walker, whose "Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World' resulted in a $10,000 bounty being placed on his head. In 1830, Walker was found dead in the doorway of his shop.

Lerone Bennett in his book, "Before the Mayflower" wrote that during the Reconstruction Period of the late 1800's , "at least 5,000 Negroes died for their political beliefs."

Beginning in the early 20th century J. Edgar Hoover's Bureau of Investigation (later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation) targeted black leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson and WEB Du Bois. Later, under its Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) many black leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, were targeted by massive disinformation campaigns to "prevent the rise of a black messiah who could unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement," according to Kenneth O'Reilly in his book, "Black America: The FBI Files." COINTELPRO and its affiliate programs contributed to the deaths of many young African American leaders like Bobby Hutton of the Black Panther Party, barely 18 years old when was murdered by Oakland, CA police.

This led into the Richard Nixon Era, as his "get tough on crime" policies finished off what was left of groups like the Panthers.

Although, the COINTELPRO program had been "officially" over for more than a decade, during the the early stages of the Hip Hop movement of the late 80's and early 90's, rap artists like the members of Public Enemy, Sister Souljah and Ice T were targeted for their outspoken political stances.

Although, some would like to write off the late Hip Hop artist , Tupac Shakur as just some common street thug, author John Potash makes some pretty convincing arguments in his book "The FBI War on Tupac and Black Leaders" that Shakur was not targeted by law enforcement for being a "gangsta rapper" but because of the possibility that he would follow in the footsteps of his mother, Afeni Shakur and extended family members Mutulu and Assata Shakur, who were members of the Black Liberation Army.

This is why many of the rap artists of today find it safer to rap about gangs, guns and girls instead of black empowerment.

Although, many folks (especially Conservatives) are quick to blame the various pathologies facing black youth on Hip Hop, unwed mothers and absentee fathers, they refuse to acknowledge the calculated societal factors that turned revolutionaries to gangsta rappers.

As much as people like to talk about Freedom of Speech, for black men and women speech has been anything but free as, even today, there are still consequences for daring to speak truth to power.

Whether it be sacrificing that six figure dream job with the great retirement plan or knowing that your uncompromising style of writing will never get you a Pulitzer or even that coveted columnist job at the daily paper, the price of Freedom has been too much for most to be willing to pay.

Only a choice few have been willing to put the needs of future generations above their own. Their only rewards being the possibility of pictures on postage stamps or streets in the hood named after them long after they are dead and gone.

Why go through all the hassle when it would be just as easy to look the other way and adopt "Don't Worry be Happy" as a personal mantra?

Maybe it's the voices of the ancestors that whisper to you in the still of the night, urging you to keep on, keepin' on. Or the sense of responsibility as you walk through neighborhoods filled with young men who will either wind up in jail or the grave before they are 21 years old unless some one intervenes.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown of thorns.

But how do you explain that to a 15 year old?

Perhaps Scott-Heron was right. Maybe "nobody's fighting because no one knows what to say."

As I started to wind down my lecture, the young man interrupted me, again.

"But you didn't give me an answer to my question!"

Truth is... I didn't have one.

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots Fired.com. He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or info@nowarningshotsfired.com
Dedicated to the memory of those who died so I may write.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What's in a Name?

What's in a Name? :
The Various Shades of Terrorism

Paul Scott




What's in a name?


I have heard Joseph Stack, the guy in Austin Texas who slammed his plane into the IRS building, called many things today; angry, suicidal, PO'd.

Funny, the term "terrorist" has not been used too much, as media outlets were quick to point out that the crash was not linked to any terrorist organizations.

I don't remember hearing about too many red or orange alerts, either.

Also, the images of the smouldering IRA building have not dominated the news. There was much more coverage of the guy who blew up his Hanes trying to blow up an airplane a while back, as that story dominated the news for weeks.

So, I guess while the airport security people were busy searching suitcases for Qur'ans, Stack, quietly, revved up his plane and jetted off.

If Stack's last name would have been "Abdul" or his middle name "Hussein," you could have kissed tonight's coverage of the Olympics, goodbye.

See the media have there own special way of defining folks:

Black = "gangbanger"

Latino= "illegal allien"

Muslim = "terrorist"

Those are the images that they pimp to the public. So when the Tim McVeighs and Joseph Stacks come along the Right Wingers don't call them "terrorists," at worst they are considered "patriots with slight anger management issues."

If Stack would have had a name that sounded in anyway "Middle Eastern" you can bet that the Right Wing talking heads would have been burning the midnight oil trying their best to blame the Obama administration.

Heaven forbid if somebody on the Left has the audacity to suggest that the climate of hate that the Tea Party and others is creating could inspire a Joseph Stack to take such desperate measures.

If the web reports of Stack's Manifesto are accurate, I do agree with him about one thing,

"The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

"The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed."

Karl Marx couldn't have said it better....


Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots Fired.com. He can be reached at info@nowarningshotsfired.com or (919) 451-8283

Monday, February 15, 2010

40 Acres and a School

40 Acres and a School:
Reading, Writing and Reparations

Paul Scott



"As long as you can be convinced that you never did anything, then you can never do anything"

Malcolm X




There is something called a self -fulfilling prophecy. If you promote an idea long enough, it will become reality.

So it is with the notion that black males are doomed to academic failure.

It was announced a few days ago that the Durham Public School System will receive a grant from the National Association of Educators for 1.25 million dollars to, once again, engage in the never ending quest to save black males from falling into the dark abyss of educational obscurity.

Yet another bureaucratic attempt to solve societal problems by throwing a boat load of money at it.

While this is a novel idea, there is just one itty bitty little problem...

It never works.

Despite the best intentions of those who cried through "The Blind Side" and came of out the theatre vowing to save black kids, the money never quite makes it from point A to point B. By the time they pay some out- of- towner big bucks to administer the funds, pay the rent for his office and the note for his company car, the poor black kids will be lucky to get a #2 pencil out of the deal.

(Look at how much money has been spent to solve Durham's "gang problem.")

According to news reports, the scraps will be used to do things like allow teachers to visit the homes of troubled students.

(Note to the brainiacs in Raleigh. If you use some of that educational lotto money to pay teachers a decent salary so they don't have to moonlight taking orders at Big Bob's Burger Barn, maybe they will have time to chill out with Lil Tyrone Johnson's family in the evening.)

No diss meant to the Ph.D card carrying DPS administrators but to use text-terminology, ITSS. (It's The System, Stupid!)

To truly close the achievement gap we must first have the courage ask the fundamental question, "how did we get here in the first place?"

The reason why this question is rarely posed is because to get to the answer we have to wade through the murky waters of institutionalized academic racism.

The truth of the matter is that black children are in their present state because, for so long, African Americans were denied educational equality and thusly, economic opportunities.

For many years, African Americans have fought for reparations for slavery, an effort to gain compensation to repair the damage caused by centuries of free labor. If any restitution must be given, it must start with the educational system and it will cost a whole lot more than a million dollars and some change per school system.

What would be required would be a total revamping of the entire educational system. There must not only be a radical redistribution of resources but a change in the national curriculum that has too long downplayed the achievements of people of African descent and over exaggerated the achievements of Europeans.

This is the only way to turn gang members into college graduates. Trying to teach troubled black youth without taking a systematic approach is like putting a band aid on a bullet hole. Yeah, it will stop the bleeding for a while but...

Now, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for Thaddeus Stevens' promised 40 acres and a mule carrying a set of encyclopedias on its back. So, until then there are a few things that can be done, immediately.

First, we, as a community, must at long last have that long delayed open and honest conversation on race and how it has historically impacted the education of African Americans. If we don't put black underachievement in the context of the African American experience then all the positive press generated by the receipt of the grant money will only serve to propagate the idea that African Americans are innately, academically challenged.

Secondly , all African American children should be required to take a course in Afrocentricity. Every black child should know bits of information like despite the negative stereotypes of Africa as a place filled with ignorant savages , according to researcher Basil Davidson, during the 16th century, Leo Africanus said "more money is made from the book trade than any other line of business." Contrary to the belief of some members of this generation, the crowning achievement of black culture was not Jay Z performing at the World Series.

Lastly, it is a worn out cliche but administrators must learn to think outside the box. They must have the courage to support those who dare to take the road less traveled in order to reach our children. Therefore, DPS must not simply hoard resources but must share them with organizations outside of the traditional school system that work with black males, like the Rights of Passage and New Horizons Training for Success. Since Martina Dunford's Training for Success program helps guide many black males, who are victims of the mis-educational system, it will be a travesty if her program doesn't receive a big slice of that million dollar grant pie.

Until we take these steps we'll just be throwing money down a bottomless pit.

The Beatles once said that "money can't buy you love."

Unfortunately, It can't buy you knowledge, either.


Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots Fired.com He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or info@nowarningshotsfired.com For more information about the Intelligence Over Ignorance Campaign visit ioimovement.com

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Intelligence Over Ignorance Campaign Lecture Tour 2/13/10

The Intelligence Over Ignorance Campaign Comes to Winston Salem NC. TRUTH Minista Paul Scott lectures on Black History or Hip Hop History

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Presidents Day 2010: Right Wing, Racism and Reconstruction

Presidents Day 2010:
Right Wing, Racism and Reconstruction

Paul Scott



In Tennessee, a group of disgruntled white folks held their first national conference with the aim of snatchin' back their country from the undesirables, whom were bringing it to ruin. The conference ended with a roar of applause as the keynote speaker made an impassioned call for a revolution. No, I'm not talking about The National Tea Party Convention of 2010, I'm referring to the first Ku Klux Klan Convention of 1867...

Although, the two events took place almost a century and a half apart, I am sure that the sentiments in the room must have been, pretty much the same; white supremacy must be preserved by any means necessary.

Last weekend, the Tea Party folks held their first national convention, the $100,000 show stopper being Sarah Palin's announcement that "America is ready for another revolution."

Although, most Conservatives would deny it to the bitter end, many of those who hate President Barack Obama's guts do so because (dare I say it ?) he's black! And a black man as head of the free world just doesn't sit well with some folks whose dealings with African Americans are limited to the kid at McDonald's asking them if they want cheese on their Big Macs.

While it may be a tad bit unfair to label everybody who attended the convention as bigots who ritually, relieve themselves on the grave of Thaddeus Stevens, to say that the Tea Party hoedown wasn't the choice vacation spot for racists last weekend is a little naive.

See, when these guys start talking about being "patriots" and "defending the Constitution" you have to understand the code words. They are talking about the original version of the Constitution that referred to a dude like me as only 3/5th of a man. And the "patriot" they talk about rallyin' isn't your friendly neighbor, Mrs. Robertson with the giant American flag hanging over her rose garden. Naw, they are after the dude with the Confederate baseball cap and the gun rack in the back of his pickup blastin' Lynard Skynard.


Although, the Convention got props from the Right Wing media, I wonder what their reaction would have been if a black leader called for the overthrow of the government at the all African American "Black Coffee, No Sugar, No Cream" Convention. You can bet that the talking heads on Fox News would be labeling him a terrorist and calling for a thorough investigation by the Justice Department.

Forgive me if I come off a little presumptuous but we, black folks, have seen this movie before.

Back in 1866, following the end of the Civil War, there was a dramatic surge in African American political power courtesy of a couple of handy amendments added to the Constitution. For the first time African Americans began to hold political offices, at what seemed for some to be an alarming rate.

Needless to say, just like after Obama's historic victory, November '08, some folks weren't exactly jerkin' for joy down Main Street.

Referring to Southern whites, historian Vincent Harding in his book "The Other American Revolution" writes, " by every possible legal and extralegal means they organized to oppose the new developments." Much of the extralegal activity was carried out by the KKK who, ironically, also held their first convention at a Nashville hotel.

Also, in his book "Before the Mayflower," Lerone Bennett wrote, " to justify the revolutionary methods by which these governments were overthrown, Southerners manufactured and perpetrated the twin myths of corruption and ignorance." Negro politicians, so the myths run ,were corrupt or ignorant."

Also, it must be noted that some historians have labeled the Civil Rights Era as the "second Reconstruction Era." The leaders of this era were also demonized; accused of trying to turn America into a Socialist (then the buzz word was "Communist") state.

Funny how the more things change...

While some will argue that it was the Democrats, not the angelic Republicans who were responsible for the end of Reconstruction. The truth is conservative bigotry is nonpartisan and changing a political party is as easy as changing socks. The Dixiecrats of yesterday are the Ultra Right Wing Republicans of today.

The Right Wing media have been riding Obama's back since day one. Ever since he took office he has been the nappy headed step child of American presidents.

The Rodney Dangerfield of DC...

The Charlie Brown of the....

Aw, you get the point.

The movers hadn't even finished unpacking Michelle Obama's shoes before the attacks started coming from the Conservatives.

To borrow from an old joke, if the reporters saw President Obama walking on water, the headlines the next morning would read, "Obama Can't Swim!"

Not only that, but the Right has continued an unrelenting, unmerciful attack on the whole Left Wing, branding them as an Obama inspired environmentalist cult waiting for the second coming of Karl Marx.

Now I'm not an Obama groupie but I, like many other folks, am tired of the Tea Party and the other Conservatives running around like the Broadstreet Bully jackin' nerdy Left wingers for their lunch money.

So, inspired by the success of the Tea Party, this Presidents Day, 2/15, I have decided to start my own political movement, "The Kick Rocks Coalition."

I am asking that those on the Left who don't wet their pants every time they hear the intro to Rush Limbaugh's radio show join me in telling the Right Wingers that we are sick and tired of their ruthless fear tactics.

It is past time to tell the Conservatives to get over it, Obama is the Prez and if you don't like it you can...

Well...kick rocks!


Paul Scott is a author of the blog, No Warning Shots Fired.com. He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or info@nowarningshotsfired.com

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Back to Africa" Lecture Tour Starts 2/8

The Intelligence Over Ignorance Black History Month, "Back to Africa" lecture tour will kick off 2/8 at the Stanford L Warren Library in Durham NC with a lecture by "TRUTH Minista " Paul Scott called "Hip Hop History or Black History."

For more information or to schedule a tour date contact (919) 451-8283 or info@nowarningshotsfired.com

Monday, February 1, 2010

Black History Flash back '94

This is a skit from my mid 90's public access show, "The Scoop from the Stoop" about Black History Month.