I Might Change My Mind

A few days ago, I mentioned that I’m reading a book titled “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson. At that time I was only a hundred pages into the story, and made the comment that I don’t understand why Blacks continue to ask for reparations. The various movements like Black Lives Matter, and Defund the Police are also a mystery to me. After reading another two hundred pages of this story I am beginning to understand where these people come from with these radical ideas, and why they claim that America is systemically racist. Another term I have begun to understand is Jim Crow. I have personally witnessed Jim Crow treatment of blacks during my lifetime in Chicago, except the Jim Crow policy wasn’t legislated into a law to prevent blacks from advancing.

My earliest recollection of Jim Crow treatment dates back to 1951 when a black family moved into a home in my neighborhood of Burnside. I saw a blue and white police car parked at the front of a house immediately across the street from Tuley Park my favorite childhood hangout. At the time, it never registered that the cops were there tp protect the family who had just moved in. Nor, did I know that it was a black family. Later, I learned the specifics, and it kind of shocked me. I was thirteen years old then, and did not know what racism, or segregation was. It was only into my adulthood did I learn about these things.

In this story author Wilkerson depicts very graphically the treatment of slaves. White slave owners were wrong. To them, slaves were property like a plow, a wagon, etc. At best they believed blacks to be a life form beneath that of a white human. They treated slaves like they treated mules or horses. By the time Lincoln got around to the Emancipation Proclamation, over one hundred and fifty years of abusive treatment of slaves by whites transpired. Since 1662 whites, world-wide, had ingrained the cruelly harsh treatment of blacks and the notion that they were less than human. England did not abolish slavery completely within the kingdom until 1807. a few years after the North American colonies seceded. The difference between England and the USA was that there were not many slaves living in England only the English colonies. To the English, slaves were a figment of their imagination, in the USA slaves were all around and hated. The blacks were suppressed from voting, language, education, white friends, travel, food, and entertainment. A slave owner required his slave to ask for permission to do anything, and if the owner chose not to grant the request the slave went without. Slaves were beaten for any infraction or rule in place, or a rule invented on the spot. Black men who looked at a white woman, and the look was considered lascivious by the woman or her husband the black man was whipped, beaten, and often hanged. I cannot convey the horror that a slave endured as well as Ms Wilkerson can express in her writing, and I recommend that all white people read this book.

A strange thing happened on September 22, 1862, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and freed the slaves. Bingo! Overnight approximately 5 million blacks were instantly liberated. Except there was no radio, no internet, no phones, only newspapers and telegraph to tell the story. Blacks could not read so newsprint was useless. Most heard about their freedom from someone else. But what did that mean, freedom? Most ex-slaves stayed with their owners, and were paid something for their labor, and most owners cheated the heck out of a share cropper’s part of the earnings. The end result was that the freed man was no better off than before. But, he was now free to travel, and to speak to whites, that is, if he spoke respectfully. If a black man were walking on a sidewalk and a white was coming toward him the black was expected to step off the sidewalk and allow the white to pass. If a black man looked at a white man’s wife and the white man thought it was a leer the black was punished, usually by the white man and his friends. Very often, the black was hanged after he was tortured. Where was the freedom? If a black wanted to move off the plantation he had to reconcile his debt with the owner who always found some hidden debt, and thus was cause to keep him on the farm until it was paid off. He could now send his kids to school with whites. Except, the kids had to be kept apart from each other. Or, the black teacher was summoned to work somewhere else and the school closed. In short, the black man was not free.

Over six million blacks finally woke up to their plight and decided that the only way out was North. They snuck out of their towns on trains and busses all headed for cities like New York, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and even Los Angeles. All of them saw this as the lessor of two evils. Although they didn’t expect to find what they did. The North was basically just as racist as the south. They did conclude that the north was more friendly than the south. They learned that they did not really have access to hotels, restaurants, rest rooms, and jobs like they were hoping for. Suddenly these cities were inundated by new people squeezing into already crowded ghettos, and putting pressure on every resource the north had. The cro-magnum man did not appear on the doorsteps of New York by the millions expecting to be fed, housed, clothed and educated. The black didn’t want a handout but they did need and want work that could support them. The black man from the south took a huge leap forward in getting out of his dilemma in the south, but it took many years for them to assimilate into the populations they moved into. We often complain that immigrants coming into our country illegally must be given time to assimilate, and we as the people whom must accept them should be given time to help them to assimilate. We complain about people who come here from foreign countries who don’t speak our language, are not citizens, but want everything we can give them. We fail to recognize that the black people coming north from the south were also foreign to us. Yes, they were citizens because most of them were born here, yes, they could speak some form of our language, but we had to learn to listen, yes they were un-educated, but most were smart and could learn easily. Still, we refused to accept them immediately. I am from a generation that did not learn to be a bigot from my parents, I learned it from the population around me. Until I read this book, I had no clue as to the conditions of the people of slavery. I do not hate black people, I do not believe they are lower form of animal. I do not believe these people came here for the benefits. I do believe that most of them are hard working people who want a better life for themselves and their families. The problem was that when they flooded our cities we were not ready for them, and they were not ready for what they found.

It took man millions of years to evolve into the form we exist in today, yet we believed back in 1862 that all we had to do was sign an executive order and the evolutionary step would mysteriously be by-passed. In 1863 the proclamation was finally passed into law. That is when the individual states began getting creative in how they would keep whites and blacks separated. Each state wrote laws on how to vote, how to educate, how to sit on public transportation, how to drink water, how to go to the toilet. “White Only” signs appeared everywhere they wanted to keep blacks away. These laws and rules became known as Jim Crow laws. Now that I understand what Jim Crow means I can still see evidence of segregation going on. All of it is very quiet and never touted with signs, but people remain committed to keeping blacks out of white areas. One such example is how a white town will keep blacks out, and remain completely within the law. Most small towns are very old with small homes on big lots that were built 50-90-years ago. They are small by today’s standards, and not very architecturally beautiful inside as they are today. A builder will execute his own form of Jim Crow by buying up an old home in a desirable school district. He will pay top dollar for the home thus giving the seller a great profit. The builder then demolishes the outdated home and build a new mega-mansion on the lot which is typically two to three times the cost of what he bought the old one for. The remaining affordable homes in the immediate neighborhood just increased in value. If the builder does this often enough, the homes in the affordable neighborhood suddenly becomes less affordable to the average income family. I see this happening in neighborhoods in and around Chicago.

If I were a black person whose ancestors were treated as the 6 million migrants from the South to North were treated I’d be hollering retribution too. I am not black so I won’t say I can fill those shoes well enough to complain. I can sympathize with the plight of the blacks if they identify Jim Crow rules being applied against them. These rules are stupid, and not fair and should be abolished. I don’t believe that every complaint a black has against a white is the result of Jim Crow, and each incident must be proven to be true, and not used as a political tool to get what they want.

This book has certainly caused me to examine my conscience on the matter of racism, and racial bias. I don’t believe any human is lesser than another. I don’t believe blacks should be treated unfairly, on the other hand I don’t believe blacks should be given an upper hand (affirmative action) when gauged against others in any endeavor. I don’t believe schools should lower standards for entrance below a common norm. I do believe that poor students should be held back a year to catch up. If school districts don’t like this then too bad for them. I graduated from grammar school with a couple of kids that were twice my hight, twice my strength, and shaved. I lived through it, they lived through it, and our teachers lived through it. We all survived and thrived. Upon seeing these guys as adults they all made a living, had families, and enjoyed life.

In conclusion all I can say is that I didn’t write as exquisite an essay as I had intended, but I’m lazy, and good work takes effort. I gave it my best. The worst that will happen is that the good Lord will flunk me, and make me spend another year in this school we call Earth.

She Made Me A Believer, Almost

Erica Lee has made me a believer that America is a racist nation. I see her point from two different view points: 1. Americans still tend to dislike people they don’t identify with, and 2. There are a whole lot of different people in our country than we know about. We are a catch basin for all races.

When people associate racism in a hateful way I believe it is because the people we pick on don’t fit into our metric of people we admire and relate to. Another reason might be that we can’t relate to people who look radically different from us, namely blacks and Asians. They are so easy to pick out of a crowd and so easy to pick on that we tend to do it, i.e. pick on them. Ms Lee presented some interesting facts in her book “The Making of Asian America” that we should all become aware of. For instance the segregation of Japanese during WW II. I, for one, feel that the government made a wise decision to separate people who look so different from the general population during time of war with their country. I believe we saved these Japanese from a severe backlash of hatred by our white population. Ms Lee points out that the Japanese kept in the camps felt very different about their treatment. They felt that we should have treated them as loyal citizens which most of them were. What we didn’t learn from our history lessons was that the government deliberately treated them harshly. Never the less that period of history is over now and we must move forward. She wrote that after 9/11 a similar backlash against Pakistanis occurred against Sikh followers who could be easily picked out of a crowd. What surprised me about her timeline is how the United States created racial problems with our wars and then willingly took in refugees from those countries. I have not seen huge numbers of these ethnic groups in and around Chicago, but the numbers she gives are very large. Her description of the fall of Saigon at the end of the war cites hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese coming into the country, most of them undocumented. It didn’t end with Vietnamese because thousands of people from surrounding countries helped. Cambodians, Laotians, and Hmongs came as well. Recently, we experienced the need to do the same with Afghanis. With all of these people coming in from so many different places the cultural mix of the country is changing. The assimilation of so many different cultures, and languages will be difficult at best, perhaps impossible. Now, we also see an influx from South and Central America with additional cultures, customs, and languages. We also need a way to give these people work so they can feed and house themselves. There are just so many cleaners, dish washers, and grass cutters that we can occupy. One problem Ms Lee points out is that many of the people coming in are educated, but because of language differences they cannot find work that they are trained for. The result is that Phd level teachers, doctors, and nurses are finding work as truck drivers to provide for their families. It is sad, and the result is we have taken in too many people without any plan for providing meaningful work.

The assimilation of the millions of immigrants we’ve taken in since the seventies will take several generations to happen. As these new people change so will we. Together we will learn to love and help and integrate our new neighbors into a melting pot society. Perhaps by 2121 we will no longer be writing books about systemic racism. Or maybe the opposite, we will be writing more books about how bad it has become since the great influx of the twenty-first century.

211031-Book Report

I don’t always write book reports, but today I feel that I must. I just finished John Grisham’s novel titled “Sooley.” It has been one of the most enjoyable reads of the year. Grisham does such a good job on this one I kept thinking it was a true story, and a biography at that. Sooley is a fictitious basketball player from Sudan, Africa. In the beginning he is a simple high school kid that is six foot two and growing. He lives a happy life with his father, mother and three siblings. He is noticed by a fellow Sudanese basketball scout and convinced to join a special team headed to a special tournament in the U.S.A. He is pushed by his family to go for it. Then the real story begins. This is a feel good story with a surprise ending that turns into more good feelings. I recommend all to read it.

I thought Grisham was over doing it by describing too many basketball games, but it was necessary to tell the story of a developing player who very much reminded me of Michael Jordan. I’m almost positive that Grisham used Jordan as the model for his character.

I couldn’t tell what the scout Ecko Lam saw in Sooley, but he believed in the kid’s potential and pushed hard to get him a break. It wasn’t long before the seventeen year old kid from a mud floored hut in Sudan was in an airplane on his way to America. The story will keep you reading to the very last sentence.

Bathtub Gin

The hot humid days of August are in thier final throes, and I am enjoying it as much as I can. Although I stay out of direct sunlight which makes me feel like I am standing in an oven. The dichotomy of loving heat but hating the direct intense heat of sunshine makes me wonder what it is that I really do like. I know I like hot days spent in shade with a wisp of breeze. That is what I just experienced as I sat next to Joe’s lake reading a mystery novel. Do successful fiction writers ever write about anything that does not involve murder, mystery, love at the beach etc? Each time I stare at the large print editions on the shelf at my library it is loaded with murder mystery and love stories. Mostly they are by lady authors. I opt for male writers if I can find one. My latest ploy has been to select two books at one time; one will be fiction, the other non-fiction. Although I read the non-fiction books I don’t find them as enjoyable as I do the fantasy of fiction. My last fiction read was Blind Tiger by Sandra Brown. I couldn’t put it down. The story tells of bootlegging during Prohibition in Texas.

To my knowledge there isn’t a single male employee working in the Frankfort Public Library unless you want to call the contractor who cleans an employee. I truly believe that is the reason I see so many titles by women authors.

While reading Blind Tiger I recalled a story told to me by my father when I was still a boy. Dad needed to be a little drunk before he could relate stories from his past. One Sunday after a few highballs he opened up. It seems that he and Mom had a little moonshine operation going on as a way to make some extra income. It was during the Depression and Prohibition and before I was born. He never did describe the still, only that they had it in operation in the bathroom in the bath tub. Whalla the term bath-tub gin becomes a reality.

The tiny house we lived in had one bathroom on the second floor, and that is where he and Mom set up shop. One day in the bathroom as they were pouring booze into bottles they were startled by a heavy knock on the door down stairs. Dad snuck down the steps to see who it was. The stair case was immediately next to the front door and it was easy to remain unseen coming down. He saw a man standing at the door through the curtained window as he quietly descended. It took him a few moments to recognize that the man was wearing a uniform, a police uniform. He ran back upstairs to tell mom they were busted, and she hurriedly began to hide evidence. He snuck downstairs again and this time opened the door a crack and asked what he could do for the cop. Dad was worried that the cop would detect the aroma of fresh alcohol inside so he kept the door cracked. The policeman introduced himself and announced that he was selling tickets to the annual Policeman’s ball. Dad almost burst out laughing, but remained cool and asked how much they were. “Five dollars apiece,” said the cop. “I’ll take two” was Dad’s reply. Dad paid the man and he left. At that point in his story, Dad did burst out laughing as he told me how sweaty he got talking to the police knowing Mom was just a few feet away with a fresh batch of booze. Maybe that is why I enjoyed reading a story about bootleggers.

The Movie Will Be Even Better

Wow! I just finished reading a lovely story based in Venice, Italy.The author Rhys Bowen held me spell bound throughout. Her story titled, The Venice Sketchbook spans several generations of family in England and Italy and begins just before World War Two. Lately I have been enamored by tales that involve the Big One. Ms Bowen’s characters are real and believable. The heroine is someone I wouldn’t mind dating myself. The theme of using artists, art, and Venice together kept my interest in this page turner. The plot of young love between a middle class English girl and a very rich and titled Italian boy stretches into middle age love. Life in Venice seemingly was untouched by war, that is until the Germans invaded Poland, France, Belgium, and began bombing England. That is when the real story begins, life suddenly became different.

I am an amateur artist and I studied art appreciation in my early college years. I still have a bent for the medium and more than ever frequent showings, and galleries and appreciate good artistic ability. To me this plot to put the central character into an art school in Venice filled a void in my mind.

I also love knowing about Italy. Another favorite story of mine is Under the Tuscan Sun by author Frances Mayes. The bucolic scenes painted of the in Tuscan countryside make me want to live there or at least visit. When combined with my recollections of twenty-four hours in Italy back in the nineties these stories are fueling my desire to travel and roam the countryside on a bicycle, or at least a Maserati, Ferrari, or Fiat.

The Venice Sketchbook is filled with complex plots told using a time traveler theme. An modern day English niece inherits her great aunt’s estate, and begins a quest to learn of her aunt’s mysterious past as a covert intelligence agent in WWII while trapped in Venice. Intertwined in both the past and present stories are love interests keeping the aunt’s and her niece’s lives interesting and alive.

I give this story five stars. * * * * *

I can’t wait to see the movie version.

The Tree of Life

All you need to know about life, the universe, everything

Nutsrok

The humor and humanity of storytelling.

Tracey J Boothe Publishing Blog

Nature, books, exploring, publishing, photography, video, short films, lifestyle

Jim Campbell's

"Inside Every Progressive Is A Totalitarian Screaming To Get Out"

Wavy and Anchored

The waves may come crashing down, but they will not break me.

Journeyman's Journal

This is a journal of the art of woodworking by hand

KetoJENic Vibe

🥓🥑🍳 Health and Wellness based, Easy Recipes, and Keto Product Reviews

The Lockdown Chef

A cooking survival guide for those who don't know how

My Serene Words

Seeking Solace in the horizon of life & beyond

MRS. T’S CORNER

https://www.tangietwoods

ESL Ventures

Teach ESL and Travel the World

Heart Felt

This platform is for the people who likes to talk straight from the heart🤩

Suzette B's Blog

Inspiration and Spirituality **Award Free**

Bhutadarma

Nothing is impossible (at least that does not violate the laws of physics). When you can..violate the laws of physics!

I Know I Made You Smile

cartoons/humor/fiction/nonfiction

galesmind

Come take a journey through my mind