Frank Sinatra & Black Lives Matter: The Anti-Racist Spirit of Ol’ Blue Eyes

I never new Frank Sinatra was an anti-Racist.

Recently, I stumbled upon a quote from the man that read:

SINATRA-QUOTE

“We’ve got a hell of a long way to go in this racial situation. As long as most white men think of a Negro first and a man second, we’re in trouble. I don’t know why we can’t grow up.” – Frank Sinatra

I began to research him some more and was pleasantly surprised that Ol’ Blue Eyes was a White-Allie for Black Lives. He credited this to his understanding of being a child of oppressed immigrants, as well as his relationship with the many influential Black Jazz musicians whom he was inspired. Including his close friendship with Sammy Davis Jr that began back in 1941. Notably, he also starred in a short film called “The House I Live In” (1945) which dealt with discrimination against Jews, and in the 21st century this film would be somewhat inspirational for the Documentary by the same name that tackles the War on Drugs and disparate targeting of African-Americans. In 1958, Ebony Magazine would publish Sinatra’s “The Way I Look at Race,” in which he would declare bigotry a disease.

Sinatra of course was not without flaws. Initially a staunch Democrat and ardent backer of FDR and JFK, he later became a supporter of both Nixon and Reagan, two President’s that were disastrous for the Black community in regards to their championing of the modern day Drug War. Not that FDR and JFK weren’t without their racist baggage. FDR was most notably at the helm when the Japanese faced massive internment during WWII. The New Deal architect might be celebrated unanimously today, but his administration also snubbed the great African-American track athlete Jesse Owens from attending the White House in 1936 after his Olympic victories in Nazi Germany. JFK also famously snubbed Sinatra’s friend, Sammy Davis, from attending his 1961 inauguration because the singer was married to a White woman. Sinatra himself was also known to be a hard drinker, a womanizer, and connected to the Mob. However, he remained a staunch Anti-Racist for the duration of his life and penned the following op-ed on 4th of July 1991, titled: “PERSPECTIVE ON THE FOURTH OF JULY : The Haters and Bigots Will Be Judged.”

Going into 2016, we need more White people of influence to step-up in the spirit of Sinatra and clearly acknowledge the importance of BLACK LIVES MATTERING in America. Such vocalization might seem only symbolic, or merely a small step forward, but it’s absolutely necessary if we want to conquer the demons of our past and overturn today’s New Jim Crow, including the failed War on Drugs, the “criminal Injustice system,” and the racist ‘school to prison’ pipeline.

#Cut50
#FewMayKnow

Special thanks to Kevin Alexander Gray for putting me on to Sinatra’s anti-racist Legacy!

A Declaration of White Privilege in Missouri (Responding to “An Open Letter to Jonathan Butler”)

I cannot understate this. As a White man, the “OPEN LETTER TO JONATHAN BUTLER & #CONCERNEDSTUDENTS195” is possibly the most ignorant thing I’ve ever read in my entire life. Not that I haven’t been exposed to very hateful and overtly racist writings before. I was a History major at UC Davis and chose to specialize in the history of the United States and Race in America. I’m familiar with declarations of racial superiority made by the KKK and I’m aware of racist rulings by Judges in favor of slavery and segregation. This is not that.
 
This is worse.
 
This might very well be the best declaration of White Privilege, ever. The ‘Declaration of Dependence’ upon an invisible knapsack.
 
Perhaps the most telling statement this anonymous writer makes:
 
“My mind is overwhelmed with thoughts and questions about what I have seen lately, and maybe it’s just me…but there are things I don’t understand, things that I want to question, and things that I need to say.”
 
This proclamation boldly announces to the reader that the writer is genuinely concerned, frustrated, confused, and clearly speaking from a place of emotion and ignorance.
 
While this “Open Letter” is poorly written, and rambles along like an old drunk at the bar, it’s an excellent example of the dangers of being blind to White Privilege.
 
Indeed, many White people in my White experience tend to misunderstand and confuse the concept of “White Privilege,” often thinking its about a simplistic concept, as defined by access to wealth, or access to opportunity. Many feel that if they themselves are not rich, or did not grow up with a silver spoon, they don’t see how they can be “privileged.”
 
This misconception that White “privilege” is solely about success and wealth, often works together with personal feelings that we cannot  be “racist” because we do not feel hateful in our hearts. Perhaps we “have black friends” or have had romantic relationships with people of color, so therefore the logic is we cannot be racist. Furthermore, many Whites often confuse individual prejudice with systemic racism, and cannot come to terms with the idea that: while Black people can indeed be prejudice or hateful, they cannot be “racist” by definition in a structural sense. The example of this is that a Black person can certainly dislike White people, or be prejudice against whites, however those feelings (or actions) are not backed by the weight of the system (society) which throughout our history has been built and controlled by Whites and concepts of White supremacy.
 
That is, Black people have not prevented Whites from being free. Black people have never commonly organized to hunt and kill Whites. Black people have not prevented Whites from owning land. Black people have not prevented Whites from voting. Black people have not prevented Whites from playing sports. Black people have not prevented Whites from eating in public restaurants. Black people have not prevented Whites from swimming in public pools. Black people have not prevented Whites from integrating schools. Black people have not prevented Whites from receiving bank loans. Black people have not created drug enforcement policy that uses racial bias to target Whites. Black people have not passed laws that disparately sentence Whites for the same crimes. Black people have not built private prisons to profit from incarcerating disproportionate numbers of White people. Black people are not actively attempting to prevent Whites from profiting from the distribution of marijuana. Black people did not create a society in which human beings with “One drop” of “Black blood” are deemed as ‘Black‘ rather than ‘White,’ unless they can “pass” as otherwise.
 
So, although this particular White Privilege piece aimed at Jonathan Butler and Black students at #Mizzou is not radically violent or threatening. It helps to illustrate that the most dangerous kind of White Supremacy is simply a well-intentioned White person being utterly unaware of what White Privilege is in the first place. This lack of awareness of racial privilege, is a greater force than any purposeful denial, or calculated hatred. It’s a ferociously blind unconsciousness that maintains an atmosphere to birth the ideas of a Dylann Roof. It’s an inability to be empathetic, let alone concerned with the plight of people living in a place called Chi-Raq, and thus in part responsible. It’s a mindset that is categorically unaware of the daily realities of systemic oppression faced by people of color. Therefore it is to be ignorant of the basic advantages that come along with never having to navigate such obstacles.
 
But let’s be clear. This “Open Letter” is not the devious thoughts of a madman. These are very loud, confused, and racist feelings of someone who doesn’t wholly understand the History of the United States and it’s entanglement with White Supremacy. It’s to be absolutely unable to see the proverbial forrest through the tress. It’s to be both a benefactor and a mental slave to the pitfalls of privilege and supremacy and not even know it. This heavy amount of “not knowing,” or not understanding, can thus be startling and very scary when faced with it head on. Like a glitch in ‘the Matrix,’ many Whites choose to ignore the hard truths of racial inequality and revert to the ease of ignorance. The alternative is often too disruptive and challenges our concept of reality and what we are used to.
 
Paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King, the greatest threat to Black America achieving freedom and equality, is not the Klan, but the White Moderate that’s more dedicated to order, than justice.
 
In 2015, this pointed observation still rings true.
 
#FewMayKnow
#ConcernedStudent1950

Politicians Are More Dangerous Than The Klan [Anonymous Outs The KKK]

The Anonymous story about leaking the names of Political figures that are allegedly associated with the KKK needs to be understood in a larger context (*Even if the leak is unfounded).

#1. The History of the KKK in America is an organization of White Supremacy and Racist Violence aimed at Black Americans in the wake of the abolition of Slavery.

– The Klan’s existence began immediately after the Civil War in the late 1860’s, and it flourished, fractured, and expanded from then on, and throughout the 20th Century. It was a driving force to Oppress and Kill Black Americans in the South during the height of the Jim Crow era, from the early 1900’s through the 1960’s.

#2. The KKK was originally founded and led by Rich White Men, White Businessmen, Political figures, Military leaders, Law Enforcement, Lawyers, Doctors, Farmers, etc.

– Notable Southern General Nathan Bedford Forrest was the first Grand Wizard of the Klan. Throughout the South in the 20th Century businessmen and prominent figures such as Police Chiefs and Politicians put the White Hood on to cover up their association with the violent Hate group. This was not a “backwoods” organization founded and led by poor white “rednecks.” These were “1 percent” types so to speak.

– The fact that we saw a “Black Power” movement in America, in addition to MLK’s Civil Rights movement, was not an attempt to go to war with White America, rather it was to attempt to physically wrestle power away from Racist Systems, Politicians, and Police, as well as to become self-sufficient and stand up to forces that were attacking the Black community without Law enforcement doing anything about it – because often times Law Enforcement was in on it. From local Police all the way up to the FBI.

#3. Racism in 2015 is much trickier and far more insidious than simply being associated with groups like “the Klan.”

– Our entire Justice system in AMERICA, from profiling and targeting, to a Racially Bias “War on Drugs,” to our School to Prison pipeline where children of color are set-up to fail; the entire structure is very much an ‘AmeriKKKan’ institution at this point.

– You don’t have to be an outwardly Racist person, or have a White Hood hanging in your closet to be a supporter of Systemic Racism.

This is why we must ALL work to end the New Jim Crow, the War on Drugs, and the School to Prison pipeline. It’s not enough to simply expose Racists, we need greater awareness about policies and legislation that shape these Racist institutions. This is why “Black Lives Matter” is so important. This is why History is always relevant.

Note: I’m not claiming to support the Anonymous story as true or false. If these claims are true, let them come out. If they are not, they are not only damaging to someone whom might not actually be associated with the Klan, but more so damaging to the bigger perspective of what REAL INSTITUTIONALIZED RACISM looks like in the 21st Century. You do not need a White Hood to be knowingly (or unknowingly) supporting these racist systems and structures. Politicians that accept money from Private Prison lobbies (Hillary Clinton), or work to uphold mandatory minimum sentencing (Bill Clinton, Diane Feinstein) are doing more damage to the Black and Brown community than any coward in a Klan outfit.

#JusticeReformNow 
Nate Mezmer

FEW MAY KNOW

 


A Father’s Righteous Anger and Reactions to Injustice

I watched this Video earlier today several times via Shaun King’s Twitter. It is one of the most powerful things I’ve viewed in a long time. It shows the father of a student at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina, very angrily (and eloquently) address the school board and the Sheriff’s department in the wake of a viral video showing a Black Teenage girl being body slammed by an on-campus Police officer named Ben Fields.

This South Carolina father KEEPS IT REAL on the victimization …These 3 minutes, from this angry father in South Carolina, are about the realest 3 minutes anybody has spoke in 2015. Must see stuff.

Posted by Shaun King on Sunday, November 1, 2015

 

When watching this video each of his points speak volumes, however I believe it is the question that this man poses at the end, about the “reaction” that is most important. Indeed it runs parallel to the conversation that I spoke about on my Twitter and personal Facebook page in the wake of uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore.

That is: Riots are not actions in the name of justice, they are reactions to extreme levels of injustice.

In that context, when the board member witlessly says not to “make threats,” he not only misinterprets this man’s very righteous level of anger, he misses the entire point being made. The bigger picture question is not “what is the point?” of such rage, but rather “how did it get to that point?” And what are WE as a Nation going to do about inequitable conditions that foster these types of situations.

This is why BLACK LIVES MATTER is so necessary, not just as a movement to bring about awareness and conversation, but actual political change to push forward policy and legislation.

Because reprimanding this particular officer is merely symbolic, if policy and protocol within the School District and Sheriff’s Department does not change. After all the officer was eventually fired but if there was any semblance of fairness or justice, he would’ve been charged with assault. Moreover, the fact that the School Board member perceives this father’s anger as a threat, and responds to him with a highly unexamined level of reproach sums up the great Racial divide in this country. Indeed it’s a level of ignorance to injustice and oppression that often correlates directly with White privilege and systemic inequity.  The same goes for all my fellow White people yelling about Black folks “rioting” and “burning down their own neighborhood” instead of trying to understand the conditions of injustice that have led to this point.

#FewMayKnow

If Black Lives Mattered, Flag Would’ve Been Ole News

Today, the University of Mississippi permanently took down the state flag from its campus. A long overdue step by Student leaders which will inevitably pressure the State to do the same.

As I’ve said before, in historical context, this is sort’ve the equivalent of Berlin taking down the Nazi flag in the year 2095.

If you want to better understand why America still struggles with the racial wounds of its past, look no further than the refusal to take down this awful flag.

If ‘Black Lives Mattered’ in this country, all these flags would’ve come down GENERATIONS ago.

If you want to better understand the difference between ‘Racism’ (as a social construct) and simply being Prejudice, look no further than this flag. Racism is the power to execute and maintain Prejudicial laws and oppressive systems. If Blacks had any real institutional power, they would have brought these flags down years ago. But, that’s not how this particular country works. They have had to wait for institutions Historically controlled by Whites to catch up.

From this old confederate flag in Mississippi, to newly racist Voter ID laws in Alabama, to racially bias Police targeting and disparate sentencing of people of color from California to New York, they are still waiting for us to catch up.