If Protesting Is Wrong, America Doesn’t Want to Be Right

OPINION — This week marks the 50th anniversary of that electrifying moment at the summer Olympics in Mexico City when Tommie Smith and John Carlos, accepting their gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter dash, each raised a black-gloved fist in a protest of racism and equality in the year of the “Olympic Project for Human Rights.”

They are now immortalized in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and by a sculpture at their alma mater San Jose State University — their bravery noted, their impact on society acknowledged.

But in 1968 — the year of unrest, war and the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy — the two athletes were vilified, kicked out of the Olympic village and banished from their sport, returning home to cold shoulders and death threats.

Taking a stand on ideas that buck the status quo is seldom appreciated in its time — especially when practiced by certain U.S. citizens. Those who tell Colin Kaepernick to be more like King forget that when he was murdered, King’s disapproval numbers approached 75 percent. The years have burnished the reputation of the civil rights icon with a federal holiday in his name and current 90-plus percent approval.

That is par for the course of history.

It is something to remember as Republicans try to brand dissent as mob violence, a message led by a president who found “fine people” in an actual mob of white supremacists and Nazis who killed a woman, someone who whips his own rally crowds into frenzied bliss with calls for retribution against dissenters (answered by his fans with an occasional cowardly sucker punch to the face).

Opinion: Dems to African-American Women: This Time We Mean It

So why was Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, making an appearance at this year’s Essence Festival in New Orleans, an event known for its high-powered mix of music, culture and empowerment, geared to engage black women globally? Did he see and enjoy “Girls Trip,” the 2017 mega-hit about the reunion of four black female buddies, set against the backdrop of the festival, and decide to get in on the fun, maybe take in a Janet Jackson concert?

Or was he connecting with his party’s most loyal base, which has carried the electoral load for years, and has also expressed dissatisfaction when that contribution was downplayed or overlooked?

Opinion: Even When Process Is Due, It May Not Mean Justice

I remember it so clearly, though I was just a girl when the 1960s scene unfolded: My parents returning from a church dance in good spirits and being met with bad news and a bit of hysteria from the rest of the family. My brother Tony had been arrested for wanting to be seated and served at the Double T Diner in my home state of Maryland.

My parents and members of Tony’s civil rights group were able to get Tony home; my parents had the deed to the house ready, in case they needed it for bail.

And it was all legal, all done with “due process,” following the trespass laws of the time that allowed segregation in public businesses whose owners decided which members of the public they served. Thanks to the efforts of activists like my three oldest siblings — who broke the rules they and many others believed were unjust and contrary to America’s ideals — those laws are no longer on the books.

What Is the Line Between Politics and Culture? Ask Roseanne.

CHARLOTTE, NC– After Roseanne tweeted a racist insult, her hit TV show was canceled. Entertainment, as well as sports, supposed escapes, are political in 2018.

Mary C. Curtis weighs in.

 

Opinion: A Not Entirely Unexpected Campaign Roadblock for Women of Color

The women of color who are still standing in an electoral slog that ends in November know their road to continued success will be hard. This is the United States, and the fact that they are still pioneers for getting this far in 2018 is not just news-making but also a little depressing.

It is also true that they can’t always count on the support of some of the same feminists they may have joined — in marches, #MeToo protests and the ballot box.

Opinion: Is It Too Early for North Carolina Democrats to Get Their Hopes Up, Again?

In 2008, Barack Obama’s slim North Carolina victory in his first presidential run had Democrats in the state celebrating in the present and dreaming of a blue future in what had been considered a (relatively) progressive Southern state. Boy, were those dreams premature.

But 10 years later — after new redistricting and voting rules solidified GOP control in both the state and U.S. House delegations and a bill on LGBT rights made the state a poster child for conservative social policies — Democrats are again seeing light at the end of a deep-red tunnel.

Opinion: What Is the Cost When the Language of Politics Devolves?

Who would have imagined that the term “breeding” to refer to human beings would be making a comeback? Seen through a cynical lens, it is a useful word when, step by insidious step, one wants to deem some people as inherently less — and thus deserving of less — than other Americans.

Opinion: We Just Can’t Shake That Old-Time Religion

“Bless your heart” is a phrase I got to know well when I moved from the Northeast to the South several years ago. Though often spoken in soft, sympathetic tones, there was nothing blessed about the sentiment. And when those three syllables were delivered in an email, usually after I wrote a column a reader did not like, they landed like a punch to the gut.

Oddly enough, it was commentary on faith and values that elicited quite a bit of high dudgeon, topped only by the historically reliable topic of race, which, like religion, carries the taint of a North versus South, “them” against “us” spiritual split.

It was no surprise, then, that one of the most recent dust-ups in the sandbox called the U.S. House of Representatives was over religion — most specifically, the faith, message and suitability of the chamber’s chaplain — or that it, too, had its share of regional side-choosing.

Opinion: America’s Future Depends on Clearly Seeing Its Past

It may be a museum that makes viewers want to look away, with its solemn memorial to the thousands of men, women and children murdered — lynched — in countless acts of domestic terrorism. But facing truth must come before reconciliation, before Americans can clearly see where the tribalism that continues to threaten unity can eventually and inevitably lead.

Opinion: Forgetting What It Means to Be an American

The 2004 romantic comedy “50 First Dates” offered a novel, though somewhat implausible, premise — and I don’t mean that Drew Barrymore would find Adam Sandler irresistible. The heroine of the tale, afflicted with short-term memory loss, woke up each morning with a clean slate, thinking it was the same day, with no recollection of anything that happened the day before.

Who knew the president of the United States, most members of a political party and White House staff would suffer from the same condition?