Reconstruction: 2010.

I sat at my friend’s graduation thinking, this is reconstruction:

John just got his certification, congratulations. I am 15 units away from my degree, and graduating. His is from Mandela Cypress Center for Construction Training . My degree is from Howard University’s School of Communications. His school was started in the early 1990’s, after the Loma Prieta Earthquake shook the Bay Area and caused the Cypress Freeway to fall; the need for construction workers in the East Bay skyrocketed. My school was created in 1867 after the United States Federal Government created the Freedman’s Bureau and the need to educate the “freed slaves” skyrocketed.

He is a certified carpenter, which allows him to go out and build some of those lovely condos that are gentrifying American’s urban sprawl. In due time, I will be a professional media producer, which will allow me to produce those lovely news stories about victims of violence, and how their bodies are sprawled out across urban America.

Certified Construction worker: Congrats John!

He’s a construction worker. I’m a constructive writer. We represent Reconstruction, 2010.

He chose vocational training, I chose liberal arts; both of us are looking to attain what DuBois and Washington called, “first-class citizenship”. We’re living proof that the ideological debate between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois is alive within us,in the first decade of a new century.

At the start of the 20th century, the once enslaved Africans in America debated the quickest root to achieving “first-class citizenship”, which was defined as full economic, political, and social engagement as Americans. This is otherwise known as achieving “the American Dream”.

Washington stood firmly behind the philosophy of mastering a trade, showing your value to America through contributions and earning political, economic, and social inclusion. While DuBois challenged the status quo and stated that we should not sacrifice civil rights in order to attain first class citizenship, instead we should study liberal arts and engage in America’s social, economic, and political arenas.

My friend John chose the path that Washington spoke of, mastering a trade and contributing to America’s blue-collar labor force. I chose Dubois’ method, studying liberal arts and contributing to America’s white-collar labor force.

But the question is, who is on the right path to achieving the American dream?

An interesting article was published by News Week in early June; the article addressed the growing division between American classes and how factors such as location, race, education, and the current state of the economy are aiding that division. The author concluded that, people trying to enter the job market, such as John and myself, will have to “…cobble together part-time jobs to pay the rent or accept positions with lower salaries or fewer opportunities for growth. Long-term, as the economy rebounds, this nagging unemployment rate means the economic disparities in this country will keep growing.”

I’m currently applying for internships but to no avail as of yet, so this summer I am freelancing for 3 different outlets; I knew all three of my supervisors before going to college. John is a part of a Union, but since gaining his certification he has only done work with his grandfather; who he obviously knew before his certification program.

In essence, we are both working part-time. As the economy is rebounding, we are both “cobbling” together jobs in order to make ends meet. And as we both live check to check, we are both slowly starting to realize: this isn’t exactly the American Dream we dreamt about.

Although we’ve taken different paths, we’ve ended up on the same cobble-stone paved path; A slow-moving path made of place holding part-time jobs, that we’ve only landed due to old bridges we didn’t burn.

First Class citizenship isn’t going to come from working for someone else, cobbling those jobs together is merely throwing stones at a much bigger issue: Ownership is the key to the American Dream.

As the author mentioned in the News Week article, there is a growing divide in-between the classes in America, which side of the divide do you want to be on?

America’s division isn’t between the wrench workers and the writers, but between the owners and the hourly workers. If it’s first class citizenship we are seeking, then question is not which is a better path: vocational training versus traditional education; but the question is, which method better prepares us to leave the beaten path of part time jobs and make the trail blazing move toward ownership?

Advertisements

Memories of More Martyrs than Martin and Malcolm.

There are more  martyrs than just Martin and Malcolm.Read about: Patrice Lumumba- who fought for his people in the Congo , Assata Shakur- who fought for her people in America and is now in exile in Cuba,  George Jackson and Jonathan Jackson -the court case that inspired the last verse to Easy-E’s lyrics to Boyz in the hood!

It is Black History month- but any time of the year you should read about: Amilcar Cabral, Emmett Till,  Kwame Ture,  Geronimo Pratt… and this young man named “little Bobby Hutton”- a founding member of the Black Panther party who was killed by the Oakland Police…

This post is partially inspired by a fellow Howard Bison and talented writer from New York who’s latest posting on her “Mother’s Chronicles” WordPress page, asks the readers to “learn your Black History“. After reading her feelings about the tunnel vision that is Black History month in popular culture,  the powers that be- and a text message from a good friend lead me to a presentation on the legacy of Chairman Fred Hampton Sr.

The presentation was organized by Howard University’s History Graduate Students Association, and was titled “The Assassination of Fred Hampton, The Black Panther Party, and Black Power in the Diaspora”. The keynote speakers were former member of the Black Panther Party Lynn C. French Esq., Attorney and author Jeff Haas, and author Quito Swan.

The portion of the presentation I chose to focus on was author Jeff Haas’ new book titled ” The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther”.

For those unfamiliar with the story of  Fred Hampton’s death, in brief: Chairman Fred Hampton Sr.  was an acclaimed organizer in Chicago, Il. His position within the Black Panther Party caused the local and federal law enforcement to take note of his momentum in terms of what he was doing to empower his community. This caused Hampton to be the subject of a document later discovered, called “COINTELPRO“, which was a signed government document to put an end to the perspective of “the rise of a Black Messiah” within many revolutionary circles, including those who fought for civil rights.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were also named targets on this document. But the distinguishing aspect of Chariman Fred Hampton’s death is the amount of evidence. Below pictured are the actual blueprints of Chairman Fred Hampton’s apartment as with held by the US government.

FBI Floor Plans of Fred Hampton’s House

The author of the recent book depicting Chairman Hampton’s story, Jefferey  Haas,  spoke from the perspective of the late Hampton’s attorney; and as the attorney Haas was privy to first hand interviews with Hampton’s widow who was 8 months pregnant at the time of the raid and subsequent execution style murder of Hampton.

Chairman Fred Hampton- dead.

Although Haas’ story is interesting, and any information on a topic such as this one needs to be published to the American People, I couldn’t help but looking at this white man as an intruder. A man who happened to be at the right place at the right time. A man that happened upon this story, and is now capitalizing off of it as he goes on tours and sells Chairman Fred Hampton’s story in order for personal profit.  In Haas’ speech, he told the crowd that the Black Panther Party of Chicago initially hired Haas as a public defender to represent them in a case concerning being evicted from their apartment.  This was just months prior to the night of December 4, 1969- Chairman Fred Hampton’s last night. Now Haas tells this story as if he was “with the movement”.

Amazing,  Carter G. Woodsoon’s concept of Black History week has grown to a month of Black history- complete with corporate commercials shining light on “this moment in Black History”, and other forms of Black History tied into capitalism. Its wild- not only will the concept of American capitalism make sure to make money off of anything done in America’s name- they do it all, and turn our history into his-story.

Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. and company in Chicago's Little Black Pearl Cafe
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. Myself and company.

The greatest story ever told is your own story. This Black History month- tell your own story…

I’ll start… here is a picture of me and Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.

Much respect to him and the Prisoners of Conscious Committee  (P.O.C.C) …yea, read about that too!

much respect to the memory of Chairman Ferd Hampton Sr. and all of my ancestors mentioned in this post. peace.

Photo Essay: A Walk Down MLK Ave. in South East D.C. on MLK Day 2010

He fought for Love. He fought for peace. He fought to uplifting Christ. And he fought to take down racism… But in the end Dr. King knew it was all about the allotment of resources in America.

His famous, “I Have a Dream” Speech, could have easily went down in history as the “Bounced Check ” speech. He spoke of America’s failure to include African-American’s into the greater society post-slavery. He acknowledged African-American’s role in the disenfranchisement, as many passively accepted what was given.

And now, 42 years after Dr. King’s assassination we have been given a National holiday in celebration of his birthday, and a Martin Luther King Jr. Ave in every major US city.

Every Martin Luther King Jr. Ave I have ever been fortunate enough to bare witness to runs through the most economically downtrodden part of the city.

I decided to take a walk down Martin Luther King Jr. Ave in the Nation’s Capitol, and this is what I saw…

Dr. King's Ave. in South East Washington DC

Martin Luther King Jr. Ave in South East Washington D.C. is a main artery through a predominantly African-American community. The area is in the transitional phase; the dilapidated structures of yesteryear still loom as a reminder of the 1968 riots after King’s death, the influence of crack cocaine in the 1980’s, and the economic turmoil that has plagued many Black communities since their creation- and through the current recession America is facing.

vacant housebuilding frame.Historically Black Community: For Sale

And like Every Black community in America, there were check cashing stores, liquor stores, heaps of trash in the street and graffiti on the walls

check cashing storeLiquor store. Good Hope.trash heapStanton Crew

But right next to the graffiti was something that started to open my eyes to the depth of the spirit present in the Anacostia community….

Islam on the riseSheik

Islam was far from the only religion present, in fact the number of Baptist churches was comparable to the amount of corner stores…Baptist church signUnion Temple

Fittingly enough, while attempting to take a shot of the church, another dominant force in the community conveniently intervened in my photo…

Cops and God.

But the governing bodies are also taking initiatives to aid the community…

A Government Savior?the plan...

dept. of Housing.

I don’t doubt the necessity for government aid in the Black community, but nothing trumps knowledge of self and knowledge of the land in which you reside. And in the community of South East Washington, D.C. there are numerous reminders of how fertile those grounds are, and how deep Black roots run through here said grounds.

Malcolm X centerFrederick Douglass' houseClara Muhammad schoolThurgood MarshallBlack owned Fish spotPeaceBlack familyBig Chair

And most of all… the words and image of Dr. King himself

MLK mural

On January 15th 2010 Dr. King would have been 81 years of age. To his memory, I give my respect.