Take a Knee or Lift a Rifle. What's More Respectful of American Heritage?
A history lesson for the end of Black History Month.
Last week we had a popular story about a stupid diversity trick done at a Hyatt* event that involved Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
A Hyatt diversity "expert" poured chocolate syrup into a glass of milk and as a demonstration that diversity is at the bottom, stirred the milk and chocolate together and said it's much more delicious mixed together. The governor "played along" by drinking the chocolate milk. He (and Hyatt) were playing at respecting Black History Month.
It is a stupid diversity trick because the chocolate syrup is heavier than milk, which is why it's at the bottom of the glass. Black people are at the bottom of most organizations due to racism. Women are not fairly represented because of sexism. It has nothing to do with gravity. Racism and sexism are purposeful human failures.
More insulting than the childish milk demonstration, the guest of honor was inappropriate for Black History Month — Gov. Rauner has been very critical of NFL players taking a knee. He said the players are "disrespecting the foundations of our country."
He's either a racist or profoundly ignorant (or both).
The foundations of our country are white men killing soldiers for the rights of white men, including the right to enslave Black people. In 1775, in Lexington, Mass., white men picked up rifles and shot to death soldiers of their country (we were a British colony) in protest.
The soldiers were marching to seize armories that had elected rebel colonels. At the time, a "well-regulated militia" included all men under 55 — weapons of war, gunpowder and bullets were stored in local armories, not at home. The reason for the armories was attacks by Indians who wanted their land back.
The Battle of Lexington was the start of the American Revolution. It was so important at the time that the Second Amendment to our Constitution is, "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." (Well-regulated, as in troubled children should not be able to buy assault rifles and nobody should have high capacity magazines.)
Black NFL players took a knee to protest injustice in law enforcement and our criminal justice system, which is (and always has been) predatory on Black Americans by any measurement.
The movement was started by Colin Kaepernick after he viewed this video of Patrick Harmon being shot three times in the back after being harassed for not having a tail light on his bicycle. Please take a moment and watch the last 31 seconds of Patrick's life. Think about the last words on Earth that he heard: "I'm going to fucking shoot you." The video inspired Kaepernick to take a knee. If you read up on him, he is a very thoughtful man; his philanthropy since the obvious collusion of NFL owners ended his career is inspiring.
So, who is more "respectful of American heritage" — the Black players risking their careers to bring awareness of the racial injustice in our legal system, or Gov. Rauner drinking a glass of stupid chocolate milk? And how frightfully ignorant and/or racist are most white Americans, including Gov. Rauner, for thinking that this nonviolent protest is somehow disrespectful?
What could possibly be more in keeping with the best ideals embodied in our Constitution than bringing attention to something so un-American, so disgraceful as our racist criminal justice system.
Having a man like Rauner at a Black History Month event is just clueless. Performing chocolate milk stunts in 2018 is foolishness. People in authority going along with stunts is insulting. I'll bet Patrick Harmon would agree.
Finally, the senior executives at Hyatt have proven that chocolate milk diversity stunts don't work; here's their executive team: 73 percent white men. No women, Blacks or Latinos in P&L positions, women segregated to the traditional roles of corporations that have failed at diversity, the lawyer, marketing and HR positions (the one Black person out of 11 people pictured). I can imagine the CEO paternalistically saying, "Here are our gals." How 1973 of them. Have some chocolate milk little lady.
So, another Black History Month ends, and we've made insufficient progress.
*Hyatt does not participate in the DiversityInc Top 50 competition.
"I heard them saying, 'Build that wall,'" said Nathan Phillips, who is a Vietnam veteran.
Students wearing "Make America Great Again" hats, who attend Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, K.Y., were in Washington, D.C. on Friday for the anti-abortion March for Life rally. When they encountered Nathan Phillips, an elder with the Omaha tribe and a veteran, at the Lincoln Memorial, they mocked him.
The incident occurred as the Indigenous Peoples March was ending. Videos showing their despicable behavior went viral on social media on Saturday.
What is particularly disturbing to watch is one of the students, standing less than a foot away, trying to intimidate Phillips by staring him down with a mocking smirk on his face. Phillips was in the midst of drumming and singing a song of unity:
I've seen that look before — on the MAGA boy's face as he taunts a participant from the Indigenous Peoples March. Fueled by ideology and a desire to dehumanize, it frightens me and reminds me of other cruel youth groups from history.
(anyone know original source of video?) pic.twitter.com/Ka6t5HKmCz
— Melissa Chan (@melissakchan) January 19, 2019
Kaya Taitano, who shot the video, told CNN that MAGA hat-wearing-students and four Black teens, who'd been preaching about the Bible nearby, started yelling and calling each other names. That's why Phillips started drumming and singing a song to encourage unity trying to quell the argument.
President Trump, whom the students apparently idolize, posted a tweet last week to mock Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who plans to run for president in the 2020 election.
Trump made fun of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre in response to a video Warren posted on Instagram.
If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash! pic.twitter.com/D5KWr8EPan
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019
Phillips, a Vietnam veteran who said he served between 1972 and 1976, is in tears as he explains in a video how the incident on Friday made him feel:
"I heard them saying, 'Build that wall, build that wall.' This in indigenous land. You know, we're not supposed to have walls here. We never did …"
He continued, "Before anybody else came here, we never had walls. We never had a prison. We always took care of our elders. We took care of our children. We always provided for them. We taught them right from wrong."
He said he wishes the young men who taunted him would use "that energy to make this country really great."
Thank you to @VinceSchilling of @IndianCountry and many others who identified the proud Native man who is being harassed. He is Mr. Nathan Phillips. I'm reposting this video from “ka_ya11" on IG. This man's words pierce my heart. The grace. The wisdom. The hope. pic.twitter.com/BKOA40SVq5
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 19, 2019
Robert "Bob" Rowe is the principal of Covington Catholic High School (email: email@example.com).
An investigation is now taking place, and the MAGA teens could be expelled. The Diocese of Covington and the high school issued the following statement on Saturday:
"We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.
"The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.
"We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement."
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org demanding changes at the high school.
Many are saying on social media that the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students mimics how whites tried to intimidate Blacks during the civil rights movement:
The MAGA-hat wearing Covington Catholic High School students mocking Elder Nathan Phillips at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington are direct descendants of the white privilege that empowered white kids to mock Elizabeth Eckford at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. pic.twitter.com/tQroBf6aPb
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 19, 2019
"I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta," Knight said. There's mixed reactions on social media.
Kiah Morris resigned from her position because of the harassment, but Vermont's attorney general said he will not file charges against the perpetrators, including Max Misch.
David Steven Bell's attorney said he wasn't motivated by anything other than defending himself, but nothing spells racist like referring to a group of Black girls as "a pack of youth who trapped and surrounded" his client.
David Steven Bell, 51, is home with his family after punching an 11-year-old Black child in the face this past weekend in an Asheville mall. He was arrested, charged with three counts of assault and released in about a 24-hour period. His court date is Feb. 5.
Ebenezer Baptist Church and most of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta are closed. "I feel a bit of sadness...I didn't expect to cry over this," said Bernice King.
Tuesday was Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and next Monday is our national celebration of the civil rights icon.
But school field trips, celebrations, families' visits to teach children about civil rights and the values of all people being created equally are being canceled due to President Trump's government shutdown.
Thousands of people who flock to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. was pastor, and to his home, as well as the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C., will be disappointed. They are all closed.
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Alex Jones, founder of Infowars, has also been accused of sexual harassment. He allegedly grabbed a Black employee's backside saying: "Who wouldn't want a Black wife?"
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