Monday, April 25, 2016

Choose Life

From The Ramparts
Junious Ricardo Stanton
Choose Life

WASHINGTON — "Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s. The suicide rate for middle-aged women, ages 45 to 64, jumped by 63 percent over the period of the study, while it rose by 43 percent for men in that age range, the sharpest increase for males of any age. The overall suicide rate rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which released the study Friday."

            A recent study by the US government found suicide rates have skyrocketed in the US at an alarming rate. In the civilian population suicide rates are rising across all demographics except for Black men and people over 75. You can read an article about it at
            Suicide rates among US military personnel are also on the rise. Figures now indicate active duty and veteran suicides are not linked to deployment or battle trauma. "The latest study, which analyzed records of 3.9 million military personnel who served from 2001 to 2007, did find that troops who left the military within four years, especially under less-than-honorable conditions, were at much higher risk of suicide than those who continued to serve. The prevalence of suicide was not even across branches. The Army and Marine Corps, which bore the brunt of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, had rates about 25 percent higher than those of the Air Force and Navy. But within those branches, rates between those who deployed and those who did not were nearly the same."
            What does this say about America as a nation? What does this reveal about the psyche of  Americans that so many are taking their own lives? Are these suicide linked to economic conditions? Are they a result of a moral malaise and degeneracy or the glaring cognitive disconnect between what America professes to be and the stark reality of life in this country?
            Suicide is an act of desperation, an act of hopelessness, helplessness and feeling overwhelmed by the vicissitudes of life, what Shakespeare called the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Psychologists and social support workers say the top reasons people attempt or commit suicide are: chronic depression, their cries for help and attention go unrecognized, frustration or despair about their life conditions, addiction, negative thoughts, economic downturn and impulsive behavior that has unintended consequences.
            Life is unpredictable. No one escapes the challenges, the valley experiences, conflicts and uncertainties of life. We all experience them at some point or points in our lives, no one is exempt. I tell people, the only people with no problems that we are aware of are in the cemetery. Challenges and obstacle are part of this thing we call life.
             If you have problems of any kind, be thankful, it means you are alive. To be alive means we have agency we have power and we can choose how we respond to situations and circumstances. We just have to face them head on and decide the best way to deal with them.
            Many of our problems we bring on ourselves through misunderstanding, misguided ego, not being in control of our thoughts, feelings and actions. Most of our problems are the result of choices we made or didn't make. We zigged when we should have zagged. We didn't listen to the still small voice we all have that told us to go here, not to trust that person or to launch out and follow our dream.
             Some things we consider problems are actually tests, drawn and placed strategically in our lives to teach us valuable lessons about ourselves, to provide opportunities and situations to bring out our latent talents, skills and genius. There is a saying, "circumstances don't create or make a person, they reveal him (or her)." The circumstances of our lives reveal a lot about us and our inner make up. There is always a message in the mess and a lesson in the loss. We have to stop the pity party and try to discern the message and the lessons.
            Suicide is a choice. People choose to end their lives or they choose to try to get attention by attempting suicide. Often our thoughts are muddled, incoherent or based on faulty assessments and data. Things aren't always as they appear. We don't see the blessing or benefit in the situation and we take the wrong attitude or action. We too often have a pessimistic outlook and we fail to grasp miracles and unexplained good fortune happen every day.
            As Africans we have faced horrendous challenges, horrific obstacles and difficulties. What lessons can we learn from these experiences? Which ones have we brought on ourselves, what can these experiences teach us about ourselves? We have experienced horrific violence, unfathomable heartache, suffering and disappointment but through it all we have endured albeit in a wounded way. We have triumphed against overwhelming and outrageous odds. In the midst of oppression we have been extraordinarily creative, we have demonstrated to the world our resilience, fortitude and gumption. We did so in the midst of unimaginable turmoil, insanity and psychopathy.
            Yet we are still here. We are still going strong! The suicide study stated the suicide rate for Black men has gone down! That is great news. What does that say about us as a people?! How can we build on this? Could the message in the mess be that we are an awesome people? Could the lesson in our horrific losses be that we are more than capable of overcoming?
            What if we told each other this and showed love for each other? What if we learned and internalized the lessons? What if we changed our negative, stultifying externally imposed self-image to a self-image of winners in every aspect of life not just sports?! What if we defined ourselves as triumphant doers achievers and genii?! What if we recognized our inner greatness and linkage to the DIVINE in everything?! Would our health be better?
            Would we express our genius in ways currently unimagined? How would we manifest our talents, gifts and skills if we had that kind of consciousness?  Would we stop making everyone else rich and empower and enrich ourselves? if so how? Can you see this in your mind's eye. If so we can make it real. If so we can make it happen. But to make it happen we have to first choose life, we have to choose to live on the highest levels possible. Choose life today my Brothers and Sistahs.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Things Aren't Much Different Today Than They Were In 1787


                                                From The Ramparts
                                                 Junious Ricardo Stanton
                   Things Aren't Much Different Today Than They Were In 1787

            "In short, Beard said, the rich must, in their own interest, either control the government directly or control the laws by which government operates. Beard applied this general idea to the Constitution, by studying the economic backgrounds and political ideas of the fifty-five men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to draw up the Constitution. He found that a majority of them were lawyers by profession, that most of them were men of wealth, in land, slaves, manufacturing, or shipping, that half of them had money loaned out at interest, and that forty of the fifty-five held government bonds, according to the records of the Treasury Department. Thus, Beard found that most of the makers of the Constitution had some direct economic interest in establishing a strong federal government: the manufacturers needed protective tariffs; the moneylenders wanted to stop the use of paper money to pay off debts; the land speculators wanted protection as they invaded Indian lands; slave owners needed federal security against slave revolts and runaways; bondholders wanted a government able to raise money by nationwide taxation, to pay off those bonds... Four groups, Beard noted, were not represented in the Constitutional Convention: slaves, indentured servants, women, men without property. And so the Constitution did not reflect the interests of those groups". A People's History of the United States 1492-Present by Howard Zinn page 83

            Watching politicians, corporate leaders, the military, media talking heads lie, flip-flop, prevaricate, double speak and obfuscate the issues of the day, we might think this is a new phenomenon. Not so. In the US the politicians, educators, media and religious leaders have always lied, always sought to dupe the masses whom they look down upon and have always done whatever they thought they could get away with including murder to get what they wanted. America's political environment as seen in the current election cycle is demonstrating to the world just how disingenuous, corrupt and rigged the political process is and how candidates easily fall in line and acquiesce to the immorality and sleaze built into and endemic to the system.
            Today two candidates stand in stark contrast to the business as usual okey-doke of the two major political parties. Bernie Sanders an avowed socialist who for years ran as an independent recently joined the Democratic Party to facilitate his run for the presidency. Sanders realized running as an independent or third party candidate would not be feasible because the American political system is a closed and rigid two party system that constructs formidable barriers to third party candidates. It takes more money for an independent or splinter party candidate to get on the ballot, often they have to go to court (which costs money) to even get on the ballot; or they are forced to go to court to fight challenges to their petitions for eligibility to run. Sanders chose to run as a Democrat but made the wide scale inequality and corruption of the US economic system and rigged election process the central theme of his campaign.
            Unlike the Republicans who started off with sixteen announced candidates  for the presidency, Sanders only had three other people running against him. One of them, Hillary Clinton was considered the lock to get the nomination due to her insider status as a globalist and advocate of neoliberal economic policies that benefit the one per cent crowd. Sanders has long railed against the trade policies Clinton supported but now tries to distance herself from! While a US Senator he has consistently spoken out against and warned about the increasing income and wealth disparity metastasizing throughout this country. Sanders has fashioned his presidential campaign message centering on this issue. For the most part, Sanders unlike most politicians has remained focused and unwavering on that part of his campaign while including issues such as justice system, campaign and election reform as part of his call for a "revolution" in US politics.
            Using the word revolution has not endeared Sanders to the ruling class which is why the corporate media takes every opportunity to paint him as a wild eyed radical.  Sander's opponent has been forced due to the huge crowds he draws, his unconventional message and his rising momentum during the recent primaries to obfuscate her corporatist voting record, flip-flop her previous positions and pretend she is a populous, that she is concerned about poor people.
             When Hillary Clinton was confronted by the Black Lives Matter movement about mass incarceration she was forced to try to defend the indefensible, using the term "super predators" when she pushed for and supported her husband's 1994 Crime Bill. Clinton's bill was the legislation that augmented Nixon's 1971 and Reagan's 1980 War on drugs bills which created the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people. Clinton's bill especially fueled the rise of  Wall Street stock market traded private prisons and the prison industrial complex Michelle Alexander calls the "New Jim Crow".
             Clinton has attempted to use Barack Obama as her shield to deflect Sander's charge she took hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign and foundation funds from corporations and special interests groups by saying Obama took money from them too but did not concede anything to them; typical politician lies. Looking at the facts and you can see for yourself at Barack Obama took far more money from lawyers, the investment industry, universities and real estate than he did from small individual contributors (only 6%).
            When you look at Obama's priorities and actions ,or lack thereof, you can connect the dots yourself. For example in 2007-2008 Obama took $ 1,205,736 from the investment industry (Wall Street, insurance, hedge funds etc). Is that why the Obama administration prosecuted not one Wall Street firm, not one bond rating company, not one hedge fund, not one insurance company or why no one from those industries went to jail for blowing up the global economy?! Yet he supported and pushed for supposed "affordable health care legislation" that was written in whole by the insurance company trade association!  These are the facts whether you want to accept them or not.
            This is the very thing Bernie Sanders and to a limited degree Donald Trump are talking about, the nexus between big money and government policy; how the big wigs control what happens that always accrues to their benefit.
            This nexus goes back to the founding of this country. A White Anglo Saxon Protestant ruling elite created the constitutional government and societal institutions then used them to perpetuate and strengthen their wealth, position and power to the detriment and exclusion of the masses. Over the years with the influx of new ethnic groups who subsequently built their own economic power bases and used them to infiltrate the political process the WASPs no longer exclusively dominate the socio-economic and political landscape. African-Americans for the  most part are still outlanders not having been able to penetrate the ruling elite other than as lackeys and sycophants of the system like Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Eric Holder and Barack Obama.
            The one thing that has remained constant is: the poor and working class hold no check or influence in public, national or international policy. "Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power. The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted. "A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time." On the other hand: When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it. They conclude: Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened." Study: US is an oligarchy not a democracy.
            If you are reading this and saying tell me something I don't already know, then my question to you is what are you doing in light of this reality? I ask this because in the past there were countless rebellions, riots, strikes, shut downs and other forms of resistance to ruling class exploitation and control from colonial times to the modern era, Beacon's Rebellion 1676, Shay's Rebellion 1786, Nat Turner 1831, the Homestead Pa. Steel Strike in 1892, the Minnesota Food Riots of 1932,  the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, Deacons for Justice and Defense in the 1960's, the Occupy Wall Street Movement of  2011, the Bundy standoff  of 2016 to cite just a few.
             The question is what are you/we going to do about the present situation? Are you one of the millions who doesn't vote or even keep up with current events? Are you a reformer seeking to bring about true justice and inclusivity in a corrupt divided society? Are you seeking to enter headlong into the burning and collapsing house that is modern America? Or are you trying to figure out how to survive the immanent collapse and build a morally viable and humane community of like minded people who know we can do and be better?


Monday, April 11, 2016

The Real Face (Farce) of "Democracy"

                                                 From The Ramparts
                                                Junious Ricardo Stanton
                                      The Real Face (Farce) of "Democracy"

             "In what may go down as the defining moment of the 2016 Republican Presidential Race, GOP party insiders in Colorado completed their scheme to cancel the voice of over 900,000 registered Republicans and award the states delegates to Senator Ted Cruz in what is widely believed to be a transparent attack on the candidacy of Donald Trump. In late August GOP insiders quietly decided to cancel the vote of the citizens of Colorado,a move that put the election of delegates into the hands of establishment insiders and activists. Now, seven months later, the scheme has apparently paid off with Cruz gaining all 34 of the states delegates."

            The 2016 presidential primaries are revealing just how corrupt the American political system actually is. The revelations are getting more bizarre and disturbing every day. As the stakes get higher the Democratic and Republican Party inner circles are rallying to maintain the status quo in the face of overwhelming voter dissatisfaction, discontent and a genuine desire to alter the current course of politics in the United States. During the various presidential primaries both political parties have distinguished themselves as unabashedly corrupt.
            Beginning in Iowa there were allegations Ted Cruz won based on voter fraud and dirty tricks. As Donald Trump surged and won several states to become the frontrunner the Republican elites have openly and publicly conspired to deny him the chance to become the Republican nominee. They are so desperate they are plotting several strategies to steal the nomination from Trump: one is to rig the elections in favor of Ted Cruz who is universally disliked by the Party and a man many say is not even qualified to run since he is not a natural born citizen of the US and the other plan is to do everything possible to deny Trump the need delegates to win on the first ballot so they can manipulate a "brokered convention" in Cleveland Ohio this summer. That is not democracy where the  party members choose the candidates they want to represent them by voting in the primary and general elections.  What we are seeing in both political parties is banana republic type stuff.
            On the Democratic Party side, Hillary Clinton is alleged to have used out of state paid staffers pretending to be precinct captains in Iowa to steer local participants to vote for her. There are additional instances of seeming irregularity such as in every contested precinct vote in Iowa the winner was decided by a coin toss; and in a statistical improbability, Hillary Clinton won every toss! Moving on from Iowa, Clinton used her formidable backing by the party insiders to gain every advantage possible. But even with that Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls and has won eight straight primaries.
            I don't have a dog in either fight, to me the system is a sham and is totally corrupt. I have known this for decades but what we are seeing now confirms it for all the world to see. My first experience with electoral politics came in the early nineteen seventies when I was asked to help one of my college fraternity brothers who was running for the Pennsylvania state legislature. He was running against the current speaker of the Pennsylvania House Herbert Fineman in a district that was changing demographically. Fineman popular and he was also a powerful ward leader. The Jews were leaving the Wynnfield section of the city in droves but were still thick in Overbrook Park and in the apartments on the Philly side of City Line Avenue in the 70's. Blacks were concentrated in what was called The Bottom but there were also a lot of white students from Drexel University there. His strategy was to concentrate on the Black wards and his Winnfield neighbors and leave the white enclaves to Fineman. I went out every Saturday and sometimes during the week when my schedule permitted putting literature in people's doors and talking to folks on the street.
            My frat brother was his neighborhood's  committeeman but he had no financial support from the Democratic Party. He was operating as an independent reformer on a shoestring budget to say the least and our efforts were made more difficult because  many Blacks in the district were afraid to go against an incumbent who was very powerful in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania  politics.
            On the day of the primary I took a day off from grad school and served as a poll watcher in the Wynnfield section of the district. I began my duties when the polling place opened and became friendly with the other poll watchers and workers most of whom were supporting Mr. Fineman. Around lunch time one of the women whispered to me, "I'm only telling you this because you seem like a nice person, the machines aren't registering the votes of your candidate."  We didn't have cell phones back then so I went to a payphone and called my frat brother. He followed up, made some calls to The Committee of Seventy an election watchdog group who sent representatives to the site and Mr. Fineman came to the polling site later that afternoon asking what the commotion was all about. The election proceeded the rest of the day without incident. I never found out if what the woman told me was true, but my candidate lost by a landslide which I attributed to our lack of money and staff, Fineman's name recognition and political longevity as a candidate as well as the dirty tricks. I received a first hand lesson then that the reality of electoral politics is not what they each in civics class in school, college and grad school.
             Two years later, my frat brother ran against Herb Fineman and lost again.  I helped him in that campaign also. He had the same problems then as he had the previous time: lack of money, lack of name recognition outside his immediate community and lack of party support and endorsement although they liked his energy and spunk.
            I experienced dirty tricks used against my running mate and I when we ran as an incumbent candidates for borough council in a small all Black incorporated self -governing town years later when I moved to New Jersey. I had served the community on the Planning Board for many years and was asked to fill an open council seat when one of the council members passed away unexpectedly. During my second term the council was considering a controversial land development proposal and there was staunch opposition to it by some community members.  The opposition used fear mongering, lies and a lawsuit which our side eventually won in federal court but that cost the town over $400,000.  For a small town of less than 4,000 residents that was a lot of money, especially when the government mutual insurance fund our town belonged to and contributed money to that was supposed to help in cases like this, refused to give us money to defend ourselves. The irony of it was the people they ran against us had never done anything of significance in the town or volunteered to serve the community.  They won but were voted out of office three years later after serving one term.
            As the 2016 presidential circus continues to unfound, do not be surprised when the ruling classes pull strings, bend the rules or openly steal the nominations from Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. What we are seeing is abject proof  the American system is totally corrupt and the will of the people is being thwarted! The ruling elites have high jacked the system, elections are a sham merely a way to keep the rabble going for the ruling elites' okey-doke.
            I'm not saying don't vote. You should vote for the local initiatives like the school board elections  (where applicable), the school board budget, referendums and your local representatives. But as we can see, the presidential process is a farce. We should recognize this and act accordingly.


Monday, April 04, 2016

Underground An Oasis In A Vast Wasteland


                                                From The Ramparts
                                               Junious Ricardo Stanton
                                  Underground An Oasis In A Vast Wasteland

            In 1961 Newton Minow who at that time was the newly appointed Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission gave a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters where he chastised the owners for the poor quality of the programming on their stations. He said, "When television is good, nothing--not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers--nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit and-loss sheet or rating book to distract you--and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland. You will see a procession of game shows, violence, audience-participation shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence and cartoons. And, endlessly, commercials--many screaming, cajoling and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you will see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, try it."
            Not much has changed in television programming since 1961; in fact we could say things are far worse because of the proliferation of cable channels, additional over the air stations, satellite and streaming companies that are airing some of the exact same programming Minow complained about in 1961. These stations and channels show evn more reruns along with additional original programming on hundreds more stations, channels, streaming and viewing platforms. The vast wasteland is metastasizing and infecting all the broadcasting and streaming options. Now more and more generations of Americans are being exposed to the mindless drivel, intelligence insulting lies, corporate and government propaganda. They don't call it programming for nothing. We are being programmed  to see the world in a certain way by the six media conglomerates who control most of what we see on television, in the theater, read in the newspapers, magazines books and even on the Internet.
            Media outlets like WGN America mostly show reruns of former network programs like Law and Order, Walker Texas Ranger, 30 Rock, How I met Your Mother along with a smattering of original programming. But just like in any desert you can find an oasis. One  of WGN America's original programs is extremely good, very well written and shows African people in a positive light. If your cable company or satellite provider carries WGN America, I  strongly encourage you to tune in on Wednesday evenings to watch a very good series entitled Underground. It is the ongoing chronicle of a group of plantation slaves in Georgia who plot and plan to escape using the words of a song as their map to freedom.
             Singer John Legend is one of the Executive Producers as is Anthony Heminway, Mike Jackson John Legend's long time talent manager and Misha Green is one of the show's Executive Producers, creators and writers. It is unusual for a US television series to have this many people of African descent at the helm of a show. The other key producers are: Ty Stiklorius, Joe Pokaski and Akiva Goldman.
            If you have On  Demand you can see the first four episodes using your On Demand selector on your remote control device. Or you can go to the WGN America Website  to see what the series is about, read about the actors who play the characters, learn about the producers and other information about the series. I don't usually recommend Hollywood type productions but Underground is a riveting drama, it keeps your interest, it is based upon actual historical events, the characters have depth and are not caricatures or stereotypes.
            The series depicts the callousness, grit, grunge and viciousness of slavery but also the resourcefulness of enslaved Black folks and their determination to be free despite the constant scrutiny, oppression and punishment in their daily lives. The series challenges much of what we think we know about slavery, the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. It shows the real deal not the fairy tale narrative of happy, dancing darkies or shiftless, trifling Blacks.
            American slavery was an insane, vicious institution created and maintained by whites for their benefit and enrichment. The ruling class created an institution based upon class, color and racial divisions and the legacy of that system is still with us to this day. This series is well cast, well acted and looks at slavery primarily from the perspective of enslaved Africans but it also shows the motivations of the ruling class, poor whites, abolitionists, their complex interpersonal relationships and power dynamics. 
            In the series we see historical figures like Black abolitionist and underground railroad operator William Still played by Chris Chalk working assiduously to free his people and enlist the aid of sympathetic whites to operate safe houses and transport the Africans from safe house to safe house. References are made to real events such as Henry "Box" Brown shipping himself to freedom in a wooden crate. Plantation life is depicted in its fullness. We are shown the social hierarchy, the power dynamics of the Big House and the slave quarters. We see the lavish lifestyles of the plantation owners and the upper class whites. But we also see the ugly underside of slavery, how that system was propped up and maintained by the sweat, genius and free labor of Africans.
             We are also shown poor whites who served as the overseers, slave patrollers ("patty rollers"), slave catchers, bounty hunters, US Marshalls and their interactions with enslaved and free Africans. The various levels and threads of the White- Black plantation power dynamic are depicted through the characters; one is a house servant named Ernestine played by Amirah Vann. She is head of the female house servants. She is a mulatto who uses her wits, her beauty and her sex to protect her mulatto daughter who also works in the Big House and her youngest child who is about six or seven.  Her daughter Rosalee played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Eve's Bayou, The Great Debaters) is one of the main characters who becomes one of the Macon Seven.
             The story line has Ernestine having sexual relations with the master and it is probable that at least two of her children are for white men probably the master played by Reed Diamond. Ernestine welds authority in the service of the master and mistress of the Big House but she is still a slave so she uses her wiles and sexual allure to ensure she and two of her children have a better life.
            We see the cruelty the overseers used to punish Blacks for the slightest infraction or mishap. In one scene the master's son and Ernestine's youngest son are running playing and they run in front of a horse drawn wagon causing it to drop some of its contents when the driver pulls the reigns to stop from hitting them. The white driver jumps off the wagon and pulls out his whip to go after the Black boy totally ignoring the white boy who caused the horse to draw up. This still happens today, Blacks get punished for the same behavior as whites but the whites go free.
            There is unspoken tension in the Big House because Ernestine's young son plays with the master and mistress of the house's young son and the mistress of the house threatens to send him to work in the field when he gets a little older; something Ernestine doesn't want to happen. Ernestine's oldest son is the plantation carpenter but he lives in the slave quarters. He resents his mother for leaving him, for her working and living in the Big House.
            Ernestine is a shrewd pragmatist, she uses her wiles to get the master to promise he will not send her youngest to the fields but let him be her oldest son's apprentice in the plantation carpenter shop. Ernestine has the master totally under her spell and he agrees to comply with her wishes.
            I will not spoil any more of the plot and sub plots. I just wanted to let you know the story deals with what actually happened to our ancestors on those plantations for several hundred years! Underground is an engrossing story about the indomitable human spirit, selfless sacrifice and our ancestors' determination to be free. In the midst of unfathomable and horrific cruelty, abuse, oppression and violence our ancestors attempted to mete out an existence, maintain some semblance of dignity, seek better lives for themselves and their families, even if it meant they might not live to see it.
            Underground is doing fairly well in the ratings, it is good programming and needs our support! It airs Wednesday evenings on WGN America at 10 PM with an immediate repeat at 11 PM. I know a lot of you watch Empire; but give yourself a break from the vast television wasteland, treat yourself to quality programming, check out Underground.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Ethnocentric Consciousness


                                                From The Ramparts
                                               Junious Ricardo Stanton
                                            Ethnocentric Consciousness

            "If we look at our relationship to the Koreans, to Dominicans to other groups we will see the same relationships where these groups have entered into the Afrikan American nation, set up shop, and shipped out its wealth day by day, night by night. Yet the Afrikan American entrepreneurial nation is not permitted to set up shop in their midst, is not permitted to carry wealth from their nations. They then grow fat  on the surplus they gain from the Afrikan American nation. This means then that of we think of ourselves as a nation we must protect our internal markets from the intrusion of outsiders. We must not permit them entry into our nation. As I look down 125th Street (in Harlem) and see our people locked out on the outside, I agree with our vendors that if black men and black women cannot make a living on that street then no other people should be permitted to make a living on that street. We are not obligated in any kind of way to feed the children of other people before we feed our own!" Amos Wilson Afrikan Centered Consciousness Versus The New World Order Afrikan World Infosystems page 124

            As  this election cycle (some call it a circus) plays out it should be abundantly clear to us that as a group of people we are on the margins of this whole thing. Dr Ben Carson's brief participation as a candidate on the Republican Party aside, this election makes it crystal clear all we do as a people is talk and maybe vote. But by now it is becoming obvious that in most cases, particularly during presidential campaigns voting is a farce and a sham.
            Voter participation is up in 2016 for the Republicans because Donald Trump is in the race, he has name recognition and his message resonates with whites who feel betrayed, disaffected and alienated from the system , they are people who see their nest eggs and their future dwindling or gone altogether. They feel helpless and in many instances powerless. The see the system is not on their side.  Research is bearing their feelings out, the findings clearly show this system is not responsive to their wishes or needs.  "A new Pew Research study reports some 61 percent of Americans feel bothered 'a lot' that 'wealthy people don’t pay their fair tax share'. Besides just campaign finance reform, poll, after poll, after poll, after poll, after poll, after poll, shows most Americans also favor raising taxes on the very wealthy. So if Congress is supposed to represent the majority of the people in a democracy, why haven't they raised taxes on the wealthy — or reformed campaign finance laws? It's because members of Congress usually do the bidding of their biggest campaign contributors (the wealthy), those who would see their taxes increased. Not to mention, wealthy members of Congress (meaning most) would also see their own taxes increased." Studies Show Congress Favors the Rich, Bud Myers
            The system is rigged against common folks. In addition to the class dynamics we also have the issues of color, race and racism to contend with.  We are so accustomed to it, we fail to acknowledge it in our personal and collective lives, because we have been duped into acquiescing to it and accepting it as our norm.  The leaders the white oligarchs have  foisted upon us do not view the structure and operation of the US system from a ethnocentric perspective, they lump everyone together in an assimilationist agenda which is a huge mistake. The framers of this system were rich white men mostly White Anglo Saxon Protestants, members of secret societies such as the Scottish Rite Masonic Order. The early colonial population included a smattering of other ethnic groups such as the Jews, Swedes, Dutch, Irish, Germans along with Native Americans and Africans who were excluded from citizenship. The white ethnic groups tended to live, trade and socialize with each other (if they weren't indentured servants) then outreached to a larger community once they established their own bases of operation or business.
            Africans from various tribal groups mostly from West Africa were kidnapped and brought to these shores lumped together and forced by law into subordinated, dominated non-citizen status from colonial times that carried over once the colonies broke free from England and set up their own government. It took centuries of agitation, struggle and sacrifice to dismantle slavery and the subsequent forms of quasi-slavery the ruling classes imposed upon us following a very brief period of integration and citizenship called Reconstruction.  
            Our African tribal and cultural heritage was obliterated by the slave experience. Unlike European Americans most of us have no idea what areas of Africa we originally came from, what languages we spoke or what spiritual traditions we held. What little we retained was mixed in with the norms of whatever European or Native Americans we lived around. For the most part the European oppressors forbade the retention of African norms and culture and did everything in their power to stamp them out via ridicule, Euroentric indoctrination and violence.
            With the end of slavery and the imposition of color and racial apartheid in America, we attempted to forge some semblance of self-sustained community and identity. We called ourselves African, colored, Abyssinian, Ethiopian, Negro, Afro-American, Black and now African-American. We've attempted to raise ourselves up socially and economically, we started all Black towns when we left the South and migrated West and we returned to Africa to resettle and start over there. We've struggled to forge a place for ourselves here in the midst of virulent oppression and hatred. We've met struggle and obstruction at every turn.
             Despite the unrelenting violence visited upon us, the willful destruction of incorporated Black towns (yes we had our own towns in the Mid West and West after the War Between the Sates), whole African-American sections of white towns like Tulsa Oklahoma the countless attacks and race riots visited upon us, we persisted.  Leaders like Martin R. Delaney, Booker T. Washington Marcus Garvey and Elijah Muhammad urged us to be self-sufficient, proud of who we are and to build on our greatness.  Two generations out of slavery we were attempting to build a viable economic infrastructure in the midst of vicious state sanctioned and enforced racial oppression.
            We were on a roll. In the early 1900's we had more back owned banks and insurance companies than we do today! Unlike today, Black leaders in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries called for building businesses and creating economic opportunities for our people. In 1898 John Hope said, "To the finite vision, to say the least, the policy of avoiding entrance in the world's business would be suicide for the Negro. Yet as a matter of great account we ought to note that as good a showing as we have made, that showing is but as pebbles on the shore of business enterprise." Hope served as President of Morehouse and Atlanta Universities and was a staunch advocate of Black entrepreneurship.
            Men and women like John Hope, Booker T. Washington and Madam C.J. Walker thought in ethnocentric terms, they realized we live in a pluralistic society made up of numerous ethnic and racial groups who have their own social and economic organizations and institutions and they wanted Africans in America to thrive and be able to stand on our own economically. They promoted business and entrepreneurship as a means of  elevation and advancement.
            Today we need to rethink and reenergize that philosophy, strategize and work towards being self-sufficient and forming a viable economic base within our communities. We have to think in terms of service, supplying the basics such as: start up capital, savings and thrift promotion, providing food, clothing, shelter and land ownership so our people can thrive instead of  just being consumers and spenders. This will require a group or ethnocentric orientation, a consciousness of thinking doing and being for self based upon our love of ourselves and our people! If we don't ,we'll end up worse off than we were during slavery: dependant, deprived and dominated but without the righteous leadership that pushed for self-sufficiency.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Classism The Root of Trump and Sanders' Popularity


                                                From the Ramparts             
                                               Junious Ricardo Stanton
                             Classism, The Roots of Trump and Sanders Popularity

            "Classism is the systemic assignment of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class. It includes individual attitudes and behaviors; systems of polices and practices set up to benefit the upper classes at the expense of the lower classes, resulting in drastic income and wealth inequality; and the rationale and the culture that perpetuates these systems and unequal valuing. Classism is differential treatment based on social class or perceived social class. Classism s the systemic oppression of subordinated groups (people without endowed or acquired economic power, social influence or privilege) by the dominant groups (those who have access to control of the necessary resources by which other people make their living). Classism is the systemic oppression of subordinated class groups to advantage and strengthen the dominant class groups. Classism is held in place by a system of beliefs and cultural attitudes that ranks people according to economic status, family lineage, job status, level of education and so on. " Economic Apartheid in America by Chuck Collins and Felice Yeskel The New Press Revised and Updated Edition page 143

            The ruling class and their minions in the media, government and social control apparatus are extremely distressed and apoplectic about the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders on the political scene. These two are exposing the endemic graft, corruption and inequality in the American system despite the 1%'s best efforts to mock and marginalize them, discount them and use dirty tricks to get them out of their respective races for their party's nomination. Thus far they have not been able to dissuade the rabble (that's what they call common folks) from joining the growing resistance against the status quo. Now the ruling oligarchs are getting really desperate, they sense a genuine uneasiness and angst amongst the masses and they fear they will not be able to keep us in check much longer. The last thing the blue bloods want is a return to the 1960's and 70's style of wholesale opposition and resistance against the system. They will do anything in their power using their vast resources to derail or co-opt any grass roots opposition to the political duopoly of the Democrat and Republican con game.
            In the past anyone who dared to openly speak about class warfare was demonized and eventually eliminated. Remember how Obama bum rushed the Occupy Wall Street movement all over the country in 2012? North Carolina Senator John Edwards was run out of the 2008 presidential race because he was talking about income inequality and classism. The ruling class used their corporate media to expose his extramarital affair to turn public opinion against him. They did the same thing to Elliot Spitzer the former New York Governor when he started talking about the Wall Street shenanigans and going after the big wigs. They used the fact he was frequenting a high class brothel to turn public opinion against him and force him to resign.
             Going back further the ruling class murdered Robert Kennedy and had former Alabama Governor George Wallace shot to get them out of the 1968 presidential race because they were challenging the establishment's agenda. Earlier they murdered Martin Luther King Jr. because he was talking about income and wealth inequality defying the system, calling for an end to the war in Southeast Asia, radical changes at home and income redistribution! The ruling class in America is psychopathic, ruthless, and cold blooded. They think nothing of assassinating people to maintain the status quo and keep their power and control in check
            Now the Democratic Party shot callers are rigging the primary elections using party rules about "super delegates" who are not bound by the will and vote of the people to steal votes from Bernie Sanders just like the Republicans did to Ron Paul in 2012. The Republican Party a white bread political party known for its exclusion, snobbishness and racism has the audacity to vilify Donald Trump and call him xenophobic and racist. That's like the kettle calling the pot black!
            The Republicans are desperate to stop Donald Trump who they regard as an outsider even though he is part of the 1% crowd.  Trump uses his own money so he is neutralizing their rules, he can't be bribed or bought off, his life is an open book so they can't white-mail him with anything. The ruling class is so desperate, they have enlisted their good ol boy buddy George Soros to manipulate, Black Lives Matter two of the  organizations he directly funds and some other dissidents he pays to disrupt Trump's campaign rallies so the media can blame Trump for the ruckus!
             For added measure they are now sending threatening letters to his sister who is a Federal appellate judge and his daughter. That is some low life stuff. It's not like the oligarchs don't know the people are pissed off, the approval ratings of the US Congress are at historical lows almost single digits!
             Last month a poll of potential voters showed only 11% think the Congress has not sold hem out.  "Positive reviews of Congress just barely crack double-digits this month, while voters continue to believe that most representatives - including their own - are selling their votes. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 11% of Likely U.S. Voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. That’s up slightly from nine percent (9%) in the previous two surveys which was the lowest positive rating since the start of the new Republican-led Congress in January of last year. Sixty percent (60%) say Congress is doing a poor job, showing little change from the previous survey and generally in line with findings over the past year."
            The rabble is waking up to the distain and contempt the super rich and their governmental flunkies hold for us. The Sanders and Trump candidacies are feeding on the angst and anger of the people. Sanders is capitalizing on the idealism of young people, mostly college students who don't trust they system, who find themselves in humongous debt, unable to find good jobs and many are living at home with their parents because they can't afford to venture out on their own.
            On the other hand Donald Trump is resonating with older voters who feel betrayed by the system, especially whites who see their incomes going down, their standard of living in decline and their sense of national pride fading. Trump uses simple slogans and nationalistic rhetoric to boost hope in a morally rotten socio-economic-political system. The question is will the Republic Party big wigs even allow him to be the nominee? They are back room dealing, sharpening their knives doing everything in their power to demonize him and derail his campaign; but nothing seems to be working!
             Both Sanders and Trump are pointing fingers at the system, at the status quo and are calling for the very thing the ruling elites fear most, real change. We've heard this before and I suspect we'll experience the same results in 2016. Barack Obama's presidential campaign team won PR/Advertising awards for the way their slogans swayed the masses. "The campaign that drove Barack Obama to victory in the US presidential election has claimed two top awards at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Awards. The campaign, submitted by Obama for America, has been hailed as a masterful combination of new media, door-to-door and community grass roots campaigning with a clever tactical use of traditional TV advertising. The campaign won two grands prix in the Titanium and Integrated Lions categories. To win the Titanium grand prix, a campaign must involve a breakthrough idea that is 'provocative, challenges assumptions and points to a new direction'". It was classic mind entrainment and we fell for it hook line and sinker.
            It's unlikely this election will bring substantive change even if Trump or Sanders were to win any more than electing Barack Obama changed things for Black folks (it hasn't see Presidential elections won't work because we are in an all out, full fledged class war in this country and the 1% control the whole process. They always have since the founding of this nation. But they keep the delusion that this is a democracy that every vote counts going.  
            The wolves don't want the sheep to know we are the main menu, or at least we are getting constantly sheared by them and their system. In 2016 America it goes beyond color and race, it's us the 99% vs the 1% crowd. The only way a small group of plutocrats can maintain their death grip on the world's resources and people is to keep the rest of us divided distracted, discombobulated and dumbed down. But now many see beyond the veil and they crave real change.
            There are some who are enthusiastic about Sanders and Trumps' candidacy while others are prepping for a revolution, buying guns and ammunition. Black folks seem to be the only group not strategizing, organizing, making plans or doing anything except foolishly looking to Hillary Clinton the Queen of political opportunism, a virulent warmonger ("We came we saw he died." referring to Muamar Gaddafi) and racist in the vain hope she will help us. Probably won't happen. The Clintons sold white folks out so why would we think she'll help us?!
            If Sanders or Trump are derailed by the ruling class will there be open hostilities, riots or "revolution"? What will the ruling class do to assuage the masses after Sanders and Trump exposed the corruption in the system? Time will tell.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Real Struggle


                                       From the Ramparts
                                    Junious Ricardo Stanton
                                      The Real Struggle

            "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12

            As the political circus plays itself out, thinking people can see the psychopathy, mendacity and hypocrisy of this culture on full display in living color.  The crass quest for power and the weaknesses and corruption of the American political system are apparent to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. The campaigns feature several distinct styles and approaches. For the Republicans except for Donald Trump their approach is to maintain the status quo, to talk tough on foreign policy to keep the military industrial complex humming along making record profits off of the totally bogus War on Terror, to continue the failed trickle down policies of Reagan and Bu$h II, the tax cuts and corporate welfare for the rich while sawing away at social programs and the safety nets of the "New Deal" and "Great Society".
            Donald Trump exploded on the scene and upset the Republican Party's apple cart using slogans like: "America doesn't win anymore", "we have to negotiate smarter" and "make America great again", and the crowds love it. His rhetoric appeals to the very people Republican big wigs dismiss, misuse, abuse and manipulate: disaffected blue collar workers, people who have lost their jobs or who are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet who see their standard of living imploding out from under them, whites who under an Obama administration cannot relate at all to the government because of their own racism. Trump's convoluted message of populism and nationalism resonates with white folks of all ages and demographics. He tells the truth about how he uses  a corrupt and rigged system to do business and he has been successful at it. He tells the truth about how he contributes to both political parties, so that when he calls they answer the phone. He tells the truth about how the government has left the borders open and defenseless while wasting lives and money conducting regime change overseas that has made the situation worse! Trump has hit upon a formula to get the people out, he is a part of the 1% but he claims he wants to give back, that he empathizes with the masses, unlike the other empty suit Republican candidates who want to continue the NeoCon agenda of perpetual wars and trickle down economics. Even if Trump wins the nomination the Republican big wigs view him as a serious threat to their agenda and they will do almost anything to derail his momentum.
            On the Democratic side of the coin we have Bernie Sanders a Socialist who rails against income inequality, wealth disparities and corrupt campaign financing against Hillary Clinton the personification of  political opportunism, corruption and all that ails this nation. Sanders' appeal is to young folks who more and more see themselves as debt slaves with limited opportunities and possibilities for their lives. Hillary Clinton appeals to older folks, the ubber rich and the traditionalists within the Democratic Party. Wall Street, the Pharmaceutical industry, the big insurance companies, international investment houses, the bio-tech industry and military industrial complex all are for Hillary. Rank and file Democrats too lazy to think for themselves, too brain dead to connect the dots on how Bill and Hillary Clinton sold organized labor and American workers out with their "international trade deals" like NAFTA and GATT, who set up the machinery and laid the foundation for the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people with their support for the anti-crime and anti-welfare legislation and how the Clinton-Gore embrace of corporate fascism set the stage for what was to come after the Clinton Presidency will go for the Hillary Clinton okey-doke.
            Senator Sander's is calling for a "political revolution" by asking young people to sign up, vote and support the very system doing them in! This system is too corrupt to be fixed by either political party because they are the problem! Meanwhile Hillary Clinton is scrambling to redefine her message and rebrand herself as a "Progressive" as opposed to the crass opportunist, money grubbing, corporate sycophant and warmonger she has been the past several years.
            Trump poses a threat to the Republican oligarchs and they are funneling mad money to take him down. He is being demonized as a racist, demagogue and the New Hitler by the very political party made up of patriarchal chauvinists known for their racial exclusion, whiteness, sexism, warmongering and class warfare!? During the last presidential cycle their standard bearer was Mitt Romney who was so out of touch with the common folks he couldn't tell us how many houses he owned. Mitt Romney the man who made his fortune as a corporate raider, plunderer criticizes Trump for not revealing his income tax returns but Romney only reveal his a few weeks before the presidential election in 2012. We can't make this stuff up, the hypocrisy is on display for the whole world to see.
            I point these things out to show just how deceitful and corrupt the US political and economic systems are. We have been brainwashed to believe the American political system is fair and democratic; nothing is further from the truth. We do not need a political revolution we need a change in consciousness, values and behavior.  Martin Luther King Jr  remarked in a speech exactly one year to the day before the US government assassinated him, “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin … the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
            Today the triplets of unrepentant racism, gross materialism and hubristic military misadventure are metastasizing throughout this nation far more aggressively than they were in 1967. In 1967 there was organized and strident opposition to the ruling class' insanity. That level and energy of resistance is lacking today. The ruling elites using their mind control apparatus and mind entrainment technology have seduced us with their fear mongering, their xenophobia and marginalization of criticism into accepting economic apartheid, debt peonage, wage serfdom and imminent socio-economic collapse. We can do better we have an obligation to do better!
            The embers of resistance are flickering. The dynamic human spirit abhors stultification. We have been DIVINELY designed to be expansive and unstoppable. We cannot do it alone we need to come together. This is what Occupy Wall Street, the original unco-opted Tea Party, the militia movements, the original unfunded Black Lives Matter and the Trump and Sanders campaigns reflect a desire for real change, to do and be better.
            But it is not enough. Discontent and dissatisfaction are only the catalysts. We have to move beyond slogans, rhetoric and protest to a commitment to real change, a change of consciousness, values, behaviors and action.  We each have to know intuitively we have intrinsic value and worth. We have to know what this means for us and others. We have to see it in ourselves and each other, respect it nurture it and encourage it in all of us, even those we differ with or may not like. This is the beginning of a spiritual and psychological movement requiring a change of mind a refocus on the important things self neighbor and the world. This change will result in institutional changes and a new way of living. We can do this.