Happy New Year: Here’s to Auld Lang Syne Redux – 2016 Edition

It’s time to Break It Down!

This Issue has been revised from the Break It Down post originally conceived, created, and published December 29, 2010, and re-posted December 28, 2011, December 31, 2014, and December 30, 2015. This is my last post of 2016, and 496th Edition of Break It Down, which debuted August 20, 2007 on the BlogSpot platform. I migrated the principal site to WordPress August 3, 2012, approximately three weeks before the Fifth Anniversary of the blog.  You may find this and most other posts at either site.

With this post I wish you a blessed and bountiful Happy New Year. While I’m at it, I also extend to you my hope that you have a Happy Kwanzaa.

Today is the third day (of seven) of the annual celebration, and participants and observers will commemorate Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), the third of the seven (one principle is observed each day from December 26th to January 1st) core principles (Nguzo Saba).

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

The complete Nguzo Saba appears below:

  1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  5. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  6. Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  7. Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

To explore Kwanzaa further, click on the last link at the bottom of the page. Now, enjoy today’s blog.

The one-half fortnight between Christmas and New Year’s Days is a unique occurrence in the unfolding of the American edition of the Gregorian Calendar.  It is the only instance in which the space of a mere seven days separates two major holidays. Unquestionably, the timing is propitious.  Millions of holiday travelers return home from their Christmas commemoration and revelry, just in time to get a day off to “celebrate” the New Year…and recuperate from the old, most notably their extracurricular activities, including the exploits of New Year’s Eve.

In last week’s post, I presented a re-formatted airing of my personally crafted Christmas Concert (https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2016/12/21/12-days-of-christmas-the-e-concert-2016-edition/) from past Noels.  This week, I doubled down and reverted to my trusty time capsule. Once again, this tack permits new readers to catch-up by seeing the piece, it allows long-time readers to reflect upon both the passing year as well as the theme lifted in the post, and finally, it ensures that those busy readers, with no time to invest in checking out a new blog during the holidays, will not have to miss anything. It’s a win, win…win!

With that loosely framed preamble behind us, here’s the déjà vu all over again:

Since we are still in the Sweet Spot of the holidays, I shall practice minimalism. For your purposes, that means the blog should be available, but not intrusive. To that end, I am taking a page from the Christmas e-concert, but going a step further. Instead of a concert, I give you a song…of reflection.

Robert Burns, a Scot, wrote a poem (Auld Lang Syne) in 1788 that has come to symbolize the spirit of mass contemplation that people around the world invoke as the clock strikes midnight, signaling not just the dawn of a new day, but of a new year. Undoubtedly, you have been somewhere, at sometime, when you joined those assembled to sing Auld Lang Syne, which loosely translated means, Times gone by.

Once again, that time is upon us. After thoughtful reflection on my 2015, I have had no choice but to conclude, my travails have been few and small, especially when compared to my blessings, which have been both abundant and vast! All praises to the one true, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God; a mighty fortress is He.

No need to thank me for my inherent thoughtfulness. But, by all means, “Drink a cup of kindness,” or eggnog, or Champagne, or “name your favorite adult beverage,” for me. And, if you are a teetotaler, water will do nicely, thank-you!

As I complete my last post for this year, and, prayerfully and faithfully prepare to embrace 2017, I leave with you this familiar Irish Toast:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

I invite you to click on the links directly below, which lead to an A cappella and a Jazz interpretation of Auld Lang Syne, arranged and performed by the late Lou Rawls (and listen to the remainder of this week’s edition of Break It Down):



It has been my unique honor and privilege to visit with you briefly for each of the 52 weeks this year. I hope you have derived a fraction of the pleasure reading the blog posts that I have experienced from preparing and providing them to you. May 2017 bring you the fulfillment of all your fondest desires. Happy New Year: Here’s to Auld Lang Syne Redux – 2016 Edition!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:






12 Days of Christmas: The e-Concert – 2016 Edition

It’s time to Break It Down!

(Revised from Break It Down – 12/24/08, 12/22/10, 12/21/11, 12/26/12, 12/25/13, and 12/23/15)

Last night was a long night.  But it was worth every minute.  I kicked off the evening by attending a meeting of the local Board of County Commissioners.  There, the Commissioners feted my friend and former boss, Harry L. Jones, Sr. for his many years of public service, and a life spent working to ensure that the communities in which he lived were better places for all citizens, but especially for “the least of these.”  He spent 13 years (2000-2013) as Mecklenburg County’s Manager.  I humbly salute him, and posit the award was well-earned.  GO Heels, my friend!

The second leg of my evening was spent watching the visiting Los Angeles Lakers (my lifelong favorite professional basketball team) take on my home team, Charlotte Hornets.  Most folks who know me well are aware when there Lakers and Hornets play, I pull for the Hornets.  I do live in CLT, after all.  But I’m a happy camper regardless of which team wins.  Tonight, the Hornets prevailed, and I was “In da House!”  It was all good.  I extend a special thanks to my good friend Carlos for providing me tickets in the Wells Fargo Suite.  It’s a great place to view a game at Spectrum Arena.

Finally, it was Tuesday night, so despite having a full evening, it was Blog Night; I had work to do. So, now that it’s Wednesday, here, as scheduled, is the blog. It’s Christmas Time in the City.  I hope you enjoy the blog/e-concert.

Merry Christmas to you! I know some of you are caught up in the whole “We Are The (Secular) World” trip; thus you substitute Holiday for Christmas in seasonal greetings. But that really shouldn’t be a problem since Donald Trump has brought Christmas back.  However, a quick check back over the Obama years reveals…Christmas never went anywhere, anyway (http://www.msnbc.com/am-joy/watch/-merry-christmas-never-left-the-white-house-824078915806).  Of course, those innately curious enough to conduct the requisite etymological research know that the root derivation of holiday is “Holy Day;” but I digress; that is fodder for another day.

By now, many of you have already begun your well planned and no doubt, richly deserved hiatus from work. Perhaps you have finished your shopping and taken care of all the major errands that accompany preparing for the Big Day. Maybe all that remains is packing and/or traveling; or that throw-down cooking marathon that precedes the arrival of family, friends, and guests, whom you will host over the coming week.

As is my custom, I will not use this Christmas Season Post, if you will allow me to call it that, to challenge you to sort through the facts, be they esoteric or mundane. Not the election, or the economy, no wars, and absolutely no (further) references to Donald Trump’s tweets, Hillary’s emails, or the current geopolitical climate. No, this is your time to take advantage of the opportunity to hang out with your guests, or to be a guest, and enjoy the hospitality of friends and family.

In the true spirit of keeping it simple for both you and me, I am, as the title suggests, reprising a previous post, or in this case, posts.  In fact, not just any previous posts…not even just any prior Christmas Posts.  I am, essentially re-posting my entry from several Christmas’ past, with a notable caveat. In my eight preceding Christmas Season posts, I have now presented an e-Christmas Concert on six occasions. This year, I am pressing the reset button on the Concert.  Instead of providing 12 standards, am I am providing 24, 12 by female artists, and 12 by male artists.  Bonus: Most are different songs/artists than those I presented last year. Today anyway, more is better.

The English playwright and poet, William Congreve, in the opening line of his 1697 Play entitled The Mourning Bride,” asserted, “Music has Charms to soothe a savage Breast, To soften rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.”  I think Congreve was on to something.  If indeed music is capable of enabling us to overcome our basest instincts, and in so doing, ennoble us to pursue our finer impulses, and then indeed, we should take more opportunities to render ourselves captivated by its magical spell. (By the way, it really is breast…not beast; caught you thinking, didn’t I?)

So, I identified and pulled together an assortment of my favorite Christmas Standards by several of my favorite artists. This year, I am offering a new variation of the artistic olio I pulled together for your reading, viewing, and listening pleasure a number of years ago. Below, you will find a hot link to a YouTube video interpretation and two songs for each of the 12 Days of Christmas listed and included in today’s Yuletide e-concert.

Female Artists

  1. Eartha Kitt is known for having had many talents skills, and abilities, among them acting and singing.  Last year I substituted her most popular Christmas song for “Nothing for Christmas.”  After a 1-year hiatus, I’m bringing back Santa Baby.  As I’ve noted before, the song was born in 1953, just like me.  She slays (or if you’re really in the Christmas spirit — sleighs) it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFMyF9fDKzE
  2. Dianne Reeves is a Grammy-winning jazz artist who sings in the vein of Dinah Washington and Carmen McRae; a skilled lyricist and scat singer.  She presents “Christmas Time is Here” as if it’s her own. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hInJstw1cGE
  3. Vanessa Williams was the first black Miss America.  She had a short and tumultuous reign.  But cream rises to the top, and her talent ensured that losing her title was but a mere speed bump in a star-studded road.  Her rendition of “Do You See What I See” provides a glimpse of her musical flexibility and skill. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duiBDjMg1xA
  4. Lena Horne was a jazz musician whose career spanned over 70 years.  She was also an actress, dancer, and civil rights activist.  She demonstrates her vocal caliber in this version of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Bco7U7SNCJY
  5. Cassandra Wilson was born December 4, 1955.  Her birthdate alone ensured that I included her on this list; ’06!  But that’s not the only reason she made the cut.  Her range includes blues, country, and folk music, as well as jazz.  Moreover, she stuck the proverbial landing in her rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctWLMGajOLs
  6. Toni Braxton is a lot of things: a talented songwriter, singer, pianist, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist. She is known to be sexy, sultry, and an unpredictable reality show star.  She’s still best known for her music though, and her version of “Santa Please” will do absolutely nothing to change that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nFWiF_E_VQ
  7. The Emotions are one of those classic Old School Girl Groups born in the 70’s.  Influenced greatly by Maurice White of Earth Wind & Fire Fame, they continue to perform today.  One of my favorite tunes by them is their version of “What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=172MUncGhj8
  8. Anita Baker released her first solo album in 1983.  In 1986, she released “Rapture” and it was the dawn of her stardom.  She is known for her trademark “husky” voice, and she is at her Christmas best in this version of “The Christmas Song.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHze40h13mc
  9. Diana Ross and the Supremes were the “It” Group of Motown when Motown was the “It’ place of Soul Music.  The Supremes are America’s most successful vocal group with 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Here they are with their 1965 rendition of “Silver Bells.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGTkxPmJicc
  10. Ella Fitzgerald is jazz royalty.  Frequently referred to as the First Lady of Song, the Queen of Jazz, and Lady Ella, she was widely acclaimed for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing, and intonation, as well as a horn-like improvisational ability.  Virtually all scat singing is measured against her. Check out her version of “Sleigh Ride.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0Fd-MZHrdo
  11. Whitney Houston had a voice known worldwide.  Her recordings accounted for nearly 200 million records sold.  Her’s was a clarion voice of our times.  This version of “Joy To The World,” taken from the movie, “The Preacher’s Wife,” is special, as was she. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYPpyTyPf6I
  12. Ledisi (Anibade Young) is an R&B and jazz recording artist.  Her first name means “to bring forth” or “to come here” in Yoruba.  She was aptly named.  Enjoy her rendering of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xMz5oGc8s1Q

Male Artists

  1. James Brown was renowned for his energetic performances, which earned him another of his many titles, “Hardest working man in show business.” His rendition of “Merry Christmas Baby” is not so uptempo, but still a reminder that he had earned his chops the hard way, and that he was much more than just flash and dash. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xg6FcaYHf4
  2. Donny Hathaway was a multifaceted soulful crooner and a product of Howard University who excelled in jazz, blues, soul and gospel music; an Alpha Man.  He suffered from depression and died of suicide January 13, 1979 at 33 years old.  He rendered this marvelous recording of “This Christmas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkqjjYP53vQ
  3. The O’Jays were formed in 1965, and have been a staple in Soul and R&B music ever since.  They knock it out of the park with this version of “Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas Anymore.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc4g1wsIA9g
  4. The Temptations were a significant part of what made Motown, Motown, in the 60’s and 70’s.  Their rendition of Silent Night lives on as a classic among classics as far as Christmas music goes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFc7STuQF0U
  5. Al Green, soul singer, turned minister, soul singer-minister was at his most popular during the 70’s.  He puts his considerable talents to good use in this version of “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cFyRwlR5YXk
  6. El DeBarge was the central figure in the group known as DeBarge, which reached it’s zenith in the 80’s.  El was one of several members of the group who went on to fashion solo careers.  He nails this version of “Christmas Without You.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_xB6VD7fS8
  7. Will Downing has been recording albums since 1988.  Ive seen him in concerts twice, including a couple of weeks ago, and I own most of his recorded music.  He simply does not disappoint.  This recording of The First Noel is no exception. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOQWKBIuk-I
  8. Joe (Lewis Thomas) released his debut album in 1993.  He has maintained a presence on the music scene ever since. His nuanced presentation of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is just another fine example of his limitless talent. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vbpsVILCvU
  9. Jerry Butler, popularly known as the Ice Man, fitting for an Alpha, is a singer, songwriter, and musician (guitar, electric guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums) who was the lead singer for the Impressions before going on to a solo career. He recored this classic version of O Holy Night. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0dR1Dk7Bu0
  10. Luther Vandross was a musical icon. Period. End of story.  He is one of my favorite musicians, and his treatment of “My Favorite Things” is certainly among my favorite Christmas songs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6TRlV6MOOU
  11. The Whispers hail from LA, and have been around since the 60’s.  They became members of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003…for good reason.  They got it like that.  And they prove it with this version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbJ95aWUc_A
  12. Kem (Owens) is an R&B/Soul singer who has made his uniquely fashioned mark on the music scene since 1999.  He enlists Ledisi (Anibade Young), another single named musical star to create a fabulous rendition of “Be Mine For Christmas.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_8rVJ_ENaY

That’s it, 24 artists and videos and/or songs. Add it all up and you get “12 Days Of Christmas: The e-Concert – 2016!” Enjoy it throughout the Season, and by all means, remember the Reason for the Season!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.”  Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.


The Central Park Five: Revisiting A Travesty

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last night as I contemplated what to write about this week, I pondered momentarily keying on Rick Perry, prospective Energy Secretary. The irony here is stunning. On November 9, 2011, under the glare of the bright lights of the 2012 GOP Candidate’s Presidential Debate stage in Rochester, MI, Governor Perry had an “Oops” moment, which he later described as, well, embarrassing.

The Texas Governor had spent a good deal of his campaign revving up the rhetoric regarding his intent to dismantle the Commerce, Education, and Energy Departments. Suffice it to say it came as more than a bit of a shock when he found himself immersed in an epic memory fail. It went a little something like this:

“It’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone – Commerce, Education and the um, what’s the third one there? Let’s see. Oh five – Commerce, Education and the um, um.”

Mitt Romney, standing two podiums to Perry’s right, offered the Environmental Protection Agency as a suggestion.

“EPA, there you go,” Perry said.

But then, the Texas governor quickly retracted his statement, saying the EPA doesn’t need to be eliminated but simply rebuilt.

Again, he tried to name the third mystery agency.

“But you can’t name the third one?” CNBC moderator John Harwood asked.

“The third agency of government I would do away with – the education, the uh, the commerce and let’s see. I can’t the third one. I can’t. Sorry Oops.”

The third agency Perry couldn’t think of was the Department of Energy, which he had railed against on the stump nearly every day.

Perry finally remembered the third agency 15 minutes later after referring to his notes, saying, “By the way, it was the Department of Energy I was talking about.”

Afterward, he tried to make the best of a very bad situation.

“Speaking of boots, I’m glad I had my boots on tonight because I sure stepped in it out there. I stepped in it.  Man, yeah it was embarrassing.  Of course it was.

From time to time, you may forget about an agency that you are gonna zero out. Everybody tomorrow will understand the Energy Department is one of those that needs to be done away with.”

About 10 weeks later, January 19th, Perry officially withdrew from the campaign. The reality of the situation is, he was done November 9th. He never recovered.

Fast-forward to the 2012 GOP Primary season and the former Governor was back on the trail. This time faced with the (apparently) irresistible force that is Donald Trump, Perry would refer to Mr. Trump as:

“A cancer on conservatism” and “a barking carnival act.”

In response, Trump said of Perry:

“Perry did an absolutely horrible job of securing the border. He should be ashamed of himself.”

So now, in a double dose of irony, Mr. Trump and Governor Perry appear ready to kiss and make up. In what, at least for the purpose of this summary, I will declare a win-win-win scenario. Perry gets a job, Trump gets the last laugh, and we…we get to watch it all unfold. Enough already about Governor Perry.

Last night, as I was considering the topic du jour, I came across a PBS Special written and produced by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns, & David McMahon, examining the 1989 Central Park 5 case. I have already written about this horrendous historical hazing, but I could not stop watching. Nine weeks ago, on October 12, I penned a post entitled, “Deny, Decry, Defend, Deflect, Divert, Dissemble, and Dismiss: The Trump Mantra!” The case was the focus of the piece. I believe it captured the essence what happened, and of course, it pointed out Donald Trump’s role in it.

Today, I’m just going to play it again. The story included 10 examples of what I consider classic Trumpisms. For this post, the last bullet is an appropriate lead-in:

  • Ran an ad calling for the State to kill five schoolchildren

The list above is not intended to reflect a Top 10 of Mr. Trump’s offensive deeds or actions. In fact, it is an acutely abridged version of what some might refer to as his parade of despicable antics. I am going to briefly elevate the last of the preceding bullets notated. That bullet summarizes the Central Park jogger case, which was a 1989 case familiarly known as the Central Park 5.

A woman was attacked while jogging in New York City‘s Central Park, on April 19, 1989. The encounter consisted of violent assault, rape, and sodomy. The 28-year-old victim remained in a coma for 12 days. The New York Times characterized the assault as one of the most widely publicized crimes of the 1980’s.

When the story broke, it was detailed by police and prosecutors as a band of young people, part of a larger gang, rampaging Central Park, and mercilessly beating and assaulting the jogger. The story exploded upon the public sphere, having been fanned by both politicians and sensationalized media accounts.

Five black and Hispanic young men, ages 14 to 16 were arrested, and subsequently convicted. Despite the fact all of them asserted that the incriminating statements they gave had been coerced by authorities, their statements were ruled admissible, and led to convictions in 1990.

In 2002, the Manhattan District Attorney (DA) found DNA and other evidence that the woman had not been beaten and raped by the five teens. Instead, another man, a convicted rapist and murderer who had confessed to acting alone in the attack, was the perpetrator. The DA concluded that the new evidence, if available, could have resulted in a different verdict during the trial. He joined a defense motion asking that the convictions be vacated.

In 2014, the five men agreed to a $41 million settlement from New York City to resolve a civil rights lawsuit over their arrests and imprisonment. The settlement averaged about $1 million for each year the men were imprisoned. Current Mayor Bill de Blasio deemed it a “moral obligation to right this injustice.” The suit alleged false arrest, malicious prosecution, and a racially motivated conspiracy to deprive them of their civil tights by the city’s police and prosecutors. It is worth noting, the previous Mayor, Michael Bloomberg vigorously denied and fought against the suit in federal court for more than a decade.

Let’s rewind. On May 1, 1989, Mr. Trump published an ad in the New York Daily News calling for the State to kill the five teenagers who had been arrested, convicted, and as we now know, confessed to the crimes under police coercion. Though convicted, they were not guilty, a fact later proved by DNA and other evidence.

In retrospect, it is clear the possibility that the Central Park 5 might be innocent never occurred to Donald Trump. Apparently, it still hasn’t. He emblazoned his opinion in a New York Daily News ad with a clarion call to anger and fear: “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!”

Years later when the city offered to settle the case, Mr. Trump again took to the New York Daily News with an op-ed full of disgust. He insisted it was “ridiculous” that the city offered a settlement, and that “settling doesn’t mean innocence.” This was, and still is his position, even after the men were exonerated, and moreover, after DNA evidence established without a doubt that someone else (who also confessed) was the culprit.

Just last week Trump told CNN in a statement “they admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”

This choice to embrace some facts, while opting to ignore others, such as the new DNA evidence and corresponding subsequent confession, are emblematic of what I have come to characterize as the Trump Way…his hardwired philosophy, if you will. This is an artful design with seven key principles. He has already written The Art of the Deal (1987), and The Art of the Comeback (1997). Perhaps his next tome should be entitled, The Art of “Deny, Decry, Defend, Deflect, Divert, Dissemble, and Dismiss: The Trump Mantra!” At least, that what it was called a couple of months ago. Today, it’s, “The Central Park Five: Revisiting A Travesty!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post:



















The Walter Scott Mistrial: This Is Why #BlackLivesMatter Is Necessary

It’s time to Break It Down!

Several months ago, July 13th to be precise, I penned a post entitled, Black Lives Matter: Of That I Am Certain! In that post I opened with a statement affirming the sensibilities of a certain segment of Americans. Here is what I wrote 5 months ago:

Fact. There are many Americans who simply refuse, under any circumstances, at any time, in any place, to consider the prospect their country in general, and especially themselves in particular, ever tolerate even the hint of a suggestion that they harbor the most remote scintilla of racist thought, deed, or action in exercising their life’s functions. In fact, if you happen to suggest that one of these people is racist, that person will deny it quickly and robustly, and then just as speedily and fervently, insist that by the mere introduction of such an idea, you, in fact, are the racist.

Over the course of that blog, I briefly examined the 1857 Dred Scott Decision. In that case Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote the Opinion. Speaking about the clause in the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal,” Taney wrote:

“It is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration.”

Taney went on to say the following:

“The negro has no rights which the white man is bound to respect”

The bottom line, in the eyes of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was, Mr. Scott had no right to sue because as a black man he was never intended to be an American. In the course of human events, as the phrase goes, it’s easy to contend now that something that unfolded 159 years ago when our country’s social norms were so clearly framed by different values than widely accepted today, has no correlation to contemporary norms and behaviors. That may sound like a completely rational and in fact documentable fact pattern. Well, it is…in some instances…but definitely not in others.

As I mentioned in the July post, while defending Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis’s refusal to issue marriage licenses out of her religious opposition to same-sex marriage, Mike Huckabee said:

“The Supreme Court’s 1857 ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford – which held that all blacks, free or enslaved, could not be American citizens – is still the law of the land even though no one follows it.” 

“I’ve been just drilled by TV hosts over the past week, ‘How dare you say that, uh, it’s not the law of the land? Because that’s their phrase, ‘it’s the law of the land.’ Michael, the Dred Scott decision of 1857 still remains to this day the law of the land, which says that black people aren’t fully human. Does anybody still follow the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision?’”

It’s 2016, and there are those among us whom for all practical purposes maintain the same view as that articulated by a SCOTUS Decision in which the sesquicentennial was observed nearly a decade ago. Last night at Texas A&M University, Richard Spencer, the self-proclaimed leader of the movement known as Alt-Right, which most objective observers refer to as white supremacists, brought his own unique message of “hope and change” to the campus. Sort of.

He was not an invited guest of any student, faculty member, or campus group. The University rents space for groups and individuals, and Spencer’s appearance fell under the broad rubric of free speech. Due to First Amendment rights, there was no viable means to block him from coming to speak at the school in College Station.

Another white nationalist, Preston Wigington, secured the space and invited Spencer to appear. Wigington, who reportedly attended Texas A&M for a year, was crowned “Strongest Skinhead” in 2005 at Hammerfest, a neo-Nazi gathering, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He had tried with little success to host other Alt-Right events at A&M over the years. While they consistently attracted small crowds, Spencer was expected to change that. This time he has gained national attention, including an interview by a CNN reporter Monday, prior to Spencer’s visit yesterday. In one exchange, the reporter, Gary Tuchman posed this question:

“By saying that all Somalis shouldn’t come here, isn’t that being a bigot?”

After a long pause, Mr. Wigington responded by saying:

“Um, sometimes maybe being a bigot is wise.”

At A&M, Mr. Spencer was even more direct. Although he denied being a white nationalist, he said during his remarks (which did meet with campus protests):

“At the end of the day, America belongs to white men.”

All of this brings me full circle and back to the shooting death of Walter Scott in North Charleston, SC, April 4, 2015. In summary, Officer Michael Slager shot Mr. Scott (5 times…in the back), during a traffic stop. The shooting was caught on tape by a by-stander. The video revealed the officer appeared to drop his Taser near the decedent’s body after shooting him. He then proceeded to handcuff Mr. Scott…instead of calling for an ambulance. He did, however, announce “shots fired” into his radio after he shot the Mr. Scott.

During the trial Officer Slager stated (the National Get Out of Jail Free Card Code for Police Officers) that he feared for his life. He maintained this despite the video showing Mr. Scott fleeing, and estimated to be 18 feet away when he shot him. Slager said Scott had taken his Taser. This could not be confirmed by the video, although…as noted above, Slager could be seen dropping something near Scott’s body. Presumably the Taser that Slager alleged Scott had taken from him. When asked if Mr. Scott, while fleeing, and 18 feet away was far enough away for him not to fear for his life, he said no, he believed Scott could still turn around (with no weapon it appears) and attack and kill him. That is, after all, the threshold for fearing for one’s life, right?

News accounts emerged last Friday indicating that one member of the jury was unable to vote to convict Officer Slager. Not for murder, and not for manslaughter. The video was clear and compelling enough to convince 11 of the 12 jurors. Keep in mind the jury was composed of six white men, five white women and one black man. The identity of the lone holdout was not revealed. I am inspired to go way out on a long thin limb and venture that with 11 out of 12 odds, the recalcitrant juror was one of the white members.

The defense blocked nine potential members, seven of whom were black. Asked about that, Judge Clifton Newman, who is black, responded, “They…(said) that they could be fair and impartial,” speaking of the white jurors. That is their duty and obligation. That is what we should expect. In fact, there is a good chance 10 of 11 did. The only problem is, this was not a game of horseshoes; close does not count, nor is it good enough.

So, with all due respect, because of Roger Taney, because of Mike Huckabee, because of Preston Wigington, because of Richard Spencer, and because of the lone unnamed holdout juror in Charleston, South Carolina, I am left with one totally inescapable conclusion…“The Walter Scott Mistrial: This is Why #BlackLivesMatter is Necessary!”

I’m done; holla back!

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