George Floyd Cried Out

I thought I was handling the stresses brought about by the Coronavirus, the murder of George Floyd, the protest marches, and my memories of my past hurts and fears. Today, I tuned in to CNN’s show, “Coming Together: Standing up to Racism: A CNN/ Sesame Street Town Hall.” I listened to children ask questions about racism—what is it, why does it happen, how can you stop it, how should we treat each other, if I become a neurosurgeon, “can I operate on the brain’s of racists”and fix it—and questions from parents about how to talk to our children about racism and white privilege. I finally started crying.

Today, I have to admit that at 71 years old, I am still traumatized and in pain. Today, I am so sad that we are still being harmed by racism. Due to unequal access to healthcare throughout the years, Blacks are disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus. George Floyd, who tested positive for the Coronavirus, survived the illness; but he did not survive the economic impact of Coronavirus. He was laid off from his job as a club bouncer because all restaurants in Minnesota were shut down due to the virus. I doubt that the $1200 check generated by the CARES Act of 2020 did much to alleviate Mr. Floyd’s financial stresses.

Due to racism, Blacks are more likely to be treated harshly by police officers. George Floyd was murdered by police officers who responded to a merchant’s call complaining that a customer paid for items with a counterfeit $20 bill. Today, as I listened to the questions from the children on the CNN/Sesame Street program, I was overwhelmed by the vision of the police officer pressing down on George Floyd’s neck with his knee. George Floyd, as has often been the case for blacks in this country, was arrested, presumed guilty and executed on the spot. The children could not understand this. Neither could I. I could not stop crying.

I helped “integrate” a high school in 1965…I tried to educate white people in my work circle and social circles…I marched…I voted…I made phone calls for candidates…I gave my children the TALK…I tried to teach my children to live well in an unjust world…I tried to teach my children to love themselves and to know that they were created in the image of God. Yet, children called in today to the CNN/Sesame Street TownHall with questions about racism in the year 2020 in the United States. I could not stop crying.

As I listened to the children on the CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall, I thought back to the many years of struggle for survival of my ancestors, the struggle for equality, the struggle for success, the struggle for an education, the struggle to own one’s own body, the struggle to own one’s own children, the struggle to vote for those who pass and enforce laws that govern our lives, the struggle to be paid for the works of our hands, the struggle to patent and reap the financial rewards for our inventions, the struggle to fight for this country, the struggle for life, the struggle for liberty, the struggle to pursue happiness. I could not stop crying.

George Floyd cried out for his Mama. I am crying out for my ancestors. I am crying out for myself. I am crying out for my children. I am crying out for George Floyd.

Governor McCrory And NC Legislators Must Go

Recently, an editorial in The Virginian-Pilot entitled “For cause of N.C. woes, look beyond McCrory” suggested that we need not be overly concerned with voting Governor McCrory out of office. Rather, we should make changes in the NC Legislature, because the legislators are really the source of our problems.

I strongly disagree with this premise mainly because it seems to give Governor McCrory a pass for the ill he has done while in office. It also ignores the power of the executive branch of government, especially the persuasive power of the occupant of The Big House.

The Governor and many legislators need to go. The two (2) high-profile agenda items that the editorial laid at Governor McCrory’s feet include HB2 (the bathroom bill) and the rolling back of  voting rights or voter suppression. First, it is important to note that the HB2 is presented as a trojan horse, drawing attention to who is behind the bathroom stall, while directing your attention away from the real substance of House Bill 2. Easily the most important provision of the HB2 is there “to create Statewide Consistency in Regulation of Employment And Contracting.” In other words,  Part 2 of HB2 regulates wages and hours of employment and sick leave compensation for workers throughout North Carolina.  Since North Carolina is a non-union state or a right to work for whatever the employer wants to pay you state, provisions in HB2 dealing with wages and conditions of employment, seem to me, of greater significance than who is behind bathroom stall #1. While the rest of the country is fighting to raise the minimum wage to a living wage or $15 per hour, Governor McCrory’s HB2 bill says companies in NC can pay workers much, much less. Provisions of HB2, also, make it illegal to file law suits in cases where people think they have been subjected to discrimination in employment opportunity based on race, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, etc. Think Lilly Ledbetter!

So far, everyone is so focused on who can use the bathroom (never mind that there are only a few Caitlyn Jenner’s in the world), that we are missing the bigger picture–wages and hours and equal employment opportunity for 99% of the people in NC are not on track to meet our needs and the needs of our children because of the policies enacted by NC Legislators and Governor McCrory.

The 2nd agenda item laid at Governor McCrory’s feet in The Virginian-Pilot editorial has to do with voter suppression —by limiting when the polls can be open and requiring stricter voter ID. So, if your 88 year-old grandmother does not have a driver’s license because she is no longer able to drive, she could be denied the right to vote.  Recently, the Federal Court of Appeals struck down McCrory’s voter suppression laws in the case of the NAACP v. McCrory.  The court found that voting laws passed by the NC Legislature and signed by Governor McCrory were discriminatory based on race.

Finally, if any part of HB2 is thrown out by, let’s say, the Federal Government, the rest remains in effect. That’s called locking all the doors and windows to keep people impoverished.

Yes, we need to vote out legislators who do not act in our interests. But, we cannot afford to leave Governors, like McCrory, in power because they, not only actively push forward legislation that is harmful to the general welfare; they refuse to use the veto pen.

The Virginian-Pilot editorial rightly noted that environmental protections were rolled back after McCrory assumed the office of governor. The editorial noted that Governor McCrory was formerly employed by Duke Energy, and that the water supply around the Dan River was polluted by a coal ash spill from one of the Duke Energy Facilities.  According to the editorial, Duke Energy did not suffer any grievous penalty (in other words, Duke Energy is still profiting), while I am sure the people around the Dan River are suffering irreparable harm.  The people living near the Dan River are forced to drink bottled water.  The people living near the Dan River cannot just sell their homes and resume their lives elsewhere. Perhaps, the Governor should fight as hard to protect the lives of the residents affected by the polluted Dan River as he is fighting to keep HB2 alive.

So, to my mind, Governor McCrory is a major culprit in harming North Carolinians in fundamental ways: by protecting a company that polluted the water that is necessary for human survival, by putting forth and fighting for a bill that makes it lawful to pay a wage less than a laborer is due for an honest days work thereby making it harder for people to feed their families, and by fighting for a restrictive voting law that would deny all men and women a say in their governance.

I vote that we clean house, including The Big House in North Carolina.

*****Updated 8/12/2016

Countee Cullen Spoke of Baltimore

Countee Cullen  was believed to have been born on this day in 1903 (although, some historians say he was born on March 30, 1903).  Some accounts list Cullen’s birthplace as Baltimore, while others list it as Harlem, New York.image

In any event, one can assume, from Cullen’s writings, that he had an intimate understanding of Baltimore…

So, in honor of the birthday of the great poet, Countee Cullen, I ask that you read what he had to say in his poem, “Incident.”


Once riding in old Baltimore, 

Heart-filled, head-filled with glee, 

I saw a Baltimorean 

Keep looking straight at me. 

Now I was eight and very small, 

And he was no whit bigger, 

And so I smiled, but he poked out 

His tongue, and called me, ‘Nigger.’

I saw the whole of Baltimore 

From May until December; 

Of all the things that happened there 

That’s all that I remember.

by Countee Cullen