Juneteenth: Slowly, Surely, Inexorably!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This was not what I was inclined to write about today. My driving impulse was to highlight the 21 House Republicans who voted yesterday, against bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal on all members of law enforcement who protected the Capitol and the members of Congress who were there during the January 6th atrocities, aimed at derailing the peaceful transfer of power by preventing the certification of Joe Biden as the 46th President. To be clear, the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of passage of the bill, 406-21. Both Houses previously approved their own resolutions to award the medals. The revised bill will now award three medals – one to the entire U.S. Capitol Police force, one to the Metropolitan Police Department, and one for display in the Smithsonian Institution, accompanied by a plaque that lists all the law enforcement agencies that protected and defended the Capitol, and the members of Congress present, against the day’s assault, which, like it or not, meets the Oxford Dictionary definition of insurrection.

Insurrection:

Noun

A violent uprising against an authority or government.

The punishment?

Whoever incites, sets foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both, and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States. (U.S. Code Statute 2383, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 115)

Lauren Boebert – CO

John Rose – TN

Andy Harris – MD

Thomas Massie – KY

Bob Good – VA

Louie Gohmert – TX

Barry Moore – AL

Ralph Norman – SC

Matt Rosendale – MN

Marjorie Taylor Greene – GA

Chip Roy – TX

Paul Gosar – AZ

Andy Biggs – AZ

Warren Davidson – OH

Scott Perry – PA

Matt Gaetz – FL

Greg Steube – FL

Andrew Clyde – GA

Jody Hice – GA

Mary Miller – IL

Michael Cloud – TX 

I do not advocate, saying their names, but if you are from one of the 15 states represented by the 18 men and 3 women above, I do suggest you remember them. Oh yeah, and vote accordingly, when the opportunity presents itself. One more thing. Do Blue Lives mater, or not? If so, when? Perhaps not when harmed or killed by right wing domestic terrorists.

Consider the summary on the Congressional Gold Medal a bonus. The double bonus is I promise to be brief in my treatment of today’s subject.

It appears yesterday was actually a fairly busy day for Congress. In recent times, that is, in itself, unusual. In addition to the House completing its work on the Congressional Gold Medal bill, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution yesterday establishing June 19th as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Momentum for this legislation has been increasing since the spate of Black Lives Matter protests last summer, sparked by police killing George Floyd, and Democrats taking over Congress and the White House in the fall. However, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson spiked the bill in 2020, saying it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Johnson relented on his opposition this week, despite lingering concerns. He said:

“Although I strongly support celebrating Emancipation, I objected to the cost and lack of debate. While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss this matter.”

The measure still needs to be approved by the House, and signed by the President, to be signed into law. With the Senate vote confirmed, it is likely the House will follow suit, and President Biden will sign the bill.

Major General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, the end of slavery, in accord with President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Initially issued September 22, 1862, the Proclamation went into effect January 1, 1863. Slave owners in Texas had for two and a half years, somehow managed not to pass that information along to their enslaved population. Go figure. 

Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980. Since then, every state but South Dakota has moved to commemorate the day, though only a few states observe it as a paid holiday.

Senators Ed Markey, D-MA, and John Cornyn, R-TX, along with Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX are among the members of Congress who spearheaded the initiative to make Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday. It’s about time. Juneteenth: Slowly, Surely, Inexorably!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick 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:

https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/15/politics/juneteenth-federal-holiday-senate-vote/index.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/21-gop-lawmakers-vote-against-honoring-law-enforcement-for-jan-6-efforts-2021-6

Final Grade: I for Incomplete

It’s time to Break It Down!

There are those among my family and friends who rue each time I write or post about 45. I have a relative who claims to read all my posts, but readily adds the caveat, unless it’s about “him.” I get it; really, I do. But here’s the deal. We view the situation through different lenses. They are, understandably, fatigued by the half decade of constant coverage that he enjoyed, or tolerated, depending upon the media outlet in question. Or they are just not into the whole political sphere. Respect. They have a point, and I appreciate it.

I really do. I merely subscribe to a different view. Let me begin by stipulating that 45 didn’t invent racism. Moreover, he is not singularly responsible for the array of poxes that infect his party. However, a choir boy, he is not. Meanwhile, the GOP has circled the wagons to form what amounts to a virtual order of protection for its Consigliere.

Supporters of 45 stormed the Capitol on January 6th. It is the kind of action that in a bygone era might reasonably have resulted in a vigorous and enthusiastic case of he said, she said. That is, were it not for the undeniable proviso that the crux of the matter unfolded in real time, and unlike Gil Scott-Heron’s “Revolution,” televised. To that end, hundreds of millions of people, in America, and around the world saw it, as it happened. Now, in a world in which facts, and logic ruled, that would have been enough to carry the day. It did not; so much for facts and logic.

Yesterday, The Senate released the most comprehensive bipartisan report on the attack, to date. Just last week, Republicans filibustered the creation of a bipartisan commission to examine the matter. Yesterday’s report contained several details that made it evident why a commission was needed, or…if you are 45, or his supporters, why they would want to employ any means necessary to ensure that no such commission be formed.

The 95-page report issued yesterday by a pair of Senate committees included a host of previously unknown details about the siege by 45’s loyalists attempting to subvert democracy. The document cited security failures, pertinent recommendations, logistical breakdowns, and several other lapses. This is where GOP intransigence, in the face of facts, reared its head.

According to Senate staffers speaking with CNN, Republicans required at least two critical concessions for their support for the report, including:

Not delineating what role former President Donald Trump played in the insurrection.

Exclusion of the word “insurrection.”

All of this transpired in an environment in which some members of a party 45 still dominates, continue to claim that the mob that trashed the Capitol, smashed windows and doors, crushed, attacked and injured police officers – including one who died – and called for the execution of Vice President Mike Pence, was as friendly as a group of tourists.

Absent the respect for facts and logic, previously referenced, millions of Republicans, at least say, they believe the absurd claim that, if there was a mob, it was comprised of 45’s foes. This, despite the fact the Capitol echoed with chants of “Fight for 45!” as rampaging attackers tried to keep the defeated one in power, and even though 45 praised his violent supporters (“We love you,” he said while the assault was in progress), calling them “very special” people.

The Homeland Security & Rules committees narrowed their focus to “security, planning and response failures” by law enforcement. Staffers noted, each word of the report was crafted to ensure that Republicans would sign on.

Let’s face it, most Republicans are not prepared to liberate themselves from their 45 shackles. An Orwellian imagination would be required to have predicted what the party has become, a gathering of sycophants who deny what they personally endured. “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears,” he wrote in the dystopian novel “1984.” “It was their final, most essential command.” You can’t find, or even look for evidence…if your instructions demand that you reject it.

That’s why the GOP already blocked the plan for a full-scale 9/11-style commission, and also why I still choose to write about 45. We are at an inflection point on the future of our democracy. Yes, the Senate generated a bipartisan report on the 45 inspired insurrection. However, they refused to say that. Ergo, “Final Grade: I for Incomplete!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick 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:

https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/08/opinions/january-6-riot-report-senate-trump-ghitis/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/13/politics/andrew-clyde-january-6-riot/index.html

President Biden Goes to Tulsa: The Centennial Anniversary of the Historic Greenwood Massacre

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday President Joe Biden visited Oklahoma to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. The infamous event occurred on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of White residents, many of them deputized and given weapons by city officials, attacked Black residents and burned businesses of the Greenwood District of Tulsa. The action is often referred to as the Black Wall Street Massacre, or the Tulsa Race Riot. It marks one of “the single worst incident(s) of racial violence in American history. The incident was executed on the ground, and by private aircraft. The onslaught destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district that was at the time, the wealthiest Black Community in the United States.

While on the ground in Tulsa, President Biden laid out his administration’s ideas about how to address racial inequality in America. He also memorialized the hundreds of Black Americans who were killed by the White mob that set upon their neighborhood, and razed dozens of city blocks. The plans include a range of issues, including small business opportunities, racial discrimination in housing, and voting rights.

In his remarks, Biden noted:

“One hundred years ago, at this hour, on this first day of June smoke darkened the Tulsa sky, rising from 35 blocks of Greenwood that were left in ash and ember, razed in rubble. There was no proper accounting for the dead nor any arrests made. “In less than 24 hours, 1,100 Black homes and businesses were lost. Insurance companies — they had insurance, many of them — rejected claims of damage. Ten-thousand people were left destitute and homeless, placed in interment camps.

“My fellow Americans: this was not a riot. This was a massacre — among the worst in our history, but not the only one. And for too long, forgotten by our history. As soon as it happened there was a clear effort to erase it from our memory — our collective memories.”

President Biden called what happened in Tulsa an act of domestic terrorism and added that the resulting effects linger until this day. He referenced the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, specifically, along with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. He referred to White supremacy as “the most lethal threat to the homeland today.”

Biden also referenced the ongoing debate over which historical narratives around race and slavery should be taught in US schools. “We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know. We should know the good, the bad, the everything. That’s what great nations do. There’s greater recognition that for too long we’ve allowed a narrow, cramped view of the promise of this nation to fester — the view that America is a zero-sum game, where there’s only one winner. ‘If you succeed, I fail.’ ‘If you get ahead, I fall behind.’ ‘If you get a job, I lose mine.’ And maybe worst of all: ‘if I hold you down, I lift myself up.’ Instead of: ‘if you do well, we all do well.” Opponents of so-called Critical Race Theory (CRT) offer a consistently disparaging summation of its product. In reality, more often than not, the resulting material is Culturally Relevant Teaching.

In response to national economic concerns, President Biden announced that he will use federal purchasing power to expand federal contracting opportunities with small, disadvantaged businesses — many of them minority owned — from 10% to 15%. According to the White House, this will translate to an additional $100 billion over five years. 

An administration official added that efforts referenced by the President include new specifics on the $10 billion community revitalization fund included in Biden’s infrastructure proposal. The fund will be targeted to economically underserved and underdeveloped communities like Greenwood. The initiative will support adapting vacant buildings and storefronts to provide low-cost space for services and community entrepreneurs, including health centers, arts and cultural spaces, job training programs, business incubators and community marketplaces. It will also support removing toxic waste to create new parks and community gardens. New competitive grants totaling $15 billion will target neighborhoods where people have been cut off from jobs, schools and businesses because of previous transportation investments, officials said. And the American Jobs Plan will also invest $31 billion to support minority-owned small businesses.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge will lead an interagency effort to address inequity in home appraisals. Elements incorporated into the initiative will include ensuring enforcement of fair housing laws, regulations, and devising standards and guidance in partnering between industry and state and local governments. HUD will publish a pair of fair housing rules. They will also restore fair housing definitions and certifications, and reinstate the department’s discriminatory effects standard. These changes are intended to establish that the department will “more vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act.”

The administration will lay out specifics for neighborhood tax credits as part of the American Jobs Plan, introduce a grant program to fund jurisdictions that take steps to reduce barriers to affordable housing, as well as expand housing choices to the low and moderate income. However, Derrick Johnson, national President of the NAACP, expressed concern that the President’s proposal did not address the elimination of the student loan debt crisis. He went on to posit that student loan debt suppresses the economic prosperity of Black Americans across the nation. In response, Karine Jean-Pierre, White House principal deputy press secretary noted, The American Families Plan includes an historic $46 billion of investments in HBCU’s, tribal colleges and universities, and minority serving institutions. She added “President Biden is calling for a historic investment in affordability through subsidized tuition and expanding institutional and grants.”

At the end of the day, though, this visit was about Tulsa. Survivors and descendants of the Tulsa Massacre, 100 years later, are still awaiting justice. In May, 107-year-old massacre survivor, Viola Fletcher, testified before Congress and called for justice and for the country to officially acknowledge the massacre. Something it did not do for decades.

President Biden said during his speech, the story of Greenwood isn’t just a story of a loss of life. It’s also a story of a loss of living, wealth, prosperity and possibility. Today, Greenwood is a fraction of the size it was before the massacre. The wealthy neighborhood was never fully rebuilt, and its descendants say the area never fully recovered.

President Biden also used the occasion of his speech on the Tulsa Race Massacre to announce he’s asked Vice President Harris to lead an administration push to protect voting rights. For her part, Vice President Harris said in a statement: “I will engage the American people, and I will work with voting rights organizations, community organizations, and the private sector to help strengthen and uplift efforts on voting rights nationwide.

The President reaffirmed his commitment to address systemic racism in America, “to advance racial justice through the whole of our government and working to root out systemic racism from our laws, our policies, and our hearts.” He further noted that his administration is addressing longstanding racial inequalities by investing in programs to provide capital to small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas, while ensuring that infrastructure projects advance racial equity and environmental justice. “President Biden Goes to Tulsa: The Centennial Anniversary of the Historic Greenwood Massacre!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick 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:

https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/01/politics/biden-tulsa-visit/index.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_race_massacre

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwood_District,_Tulsa