Monday, February 12, 2024

Historic Cheyney University Needs Help

 

                                                         Historic Cheyney University Needs Help!

                                                                       Junious Ricardo Stanton




Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, a member of the state owned Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the oldest institution of higher learning for people of African descent in the United States. It’s origins date back to 1829 with the Last Will and Testament of Richard Humphreys a white man who was born on February 13, 1750 on the British Colonial Island of Tortola in the West Indies.

Slavery was deeply rooted in Tortola, it was the engine that drove the colonial island’s agrarian economy. Humphreys father who raised sugar and cotton owned slaves. Humphreys’ parents died when he was a young boy but his father’s will provided for Richard and his older brother Thomas to be apprenticed in America; Richard as a gold and silversmith and Thomas as a tanner working in animal hides.

In America Richard eventually became a successful silversmith operating a shop at 54 High Street in Philadelphia. Humphreys was also an upstanding member of The Religious Society of Friends also known as Quakers. The Quakers were renowned for valuing education, thrift, hard work and piety. While living in Philadelphia Humphreys became keenly aware of the horrid conditions of Blacks and provided in his will for the establishment of an institution that would, “.. having for its object the benevolent design of instructing the descendants of the African Race in school learning, in the various branches of mechanik arts, and trades and in Agriculture: in order to prepare and fit and qualify them to act as teachers in such of those branches of useful business as in the Judgment of said society they may appear best qualified for...”

Humphreys bequeathed $10,000,one tenth of his total estate, to fund that institution. Richard Humphreys died on February 5, 1832. The thirteen trustees he named in his will, all fellow members of the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends accepted the challenge to execute Humphreys’ wishes. During their planning it was first named The African Institute but was later changed to the Institute of Colored Youth.

ICY was not founded or chartered as a college. It didn’t have to be considering the lofty standards the Quakers set for all their educational institutions. Plus ICY was created to also teach mechanical arts, trades and agriculture. ICY became a forerunner of American land grant colleges and universities by several decades.

The Quakers (actually the Humphreys Foundation) administered ICY which later changed the name to Cheyney after the Quaker who sold farmland for the school in Delaware County Pennsylvania to the Trustees, until the foundation sold the school to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1922. Needless to say the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania lacked the same passion, concern and commitment for Cheyney’s mission to educate Blacks as the Quakers. The Commonwealth’s lack of fervor and vision resulted in decades of neglect and racist policies that continued after the creation of PASSHE in 1982. This neglect has continued to the present.

Despite an uninterrupted denial of equal support by the Commonwealth, Cheyney’s administrators still retained the commitment to education, moral uplift and service the Quakers infused in it when they founded ICY. Under Commonwealth and PASSHE ownership, Cheyney suffered from a continuous lack of equal and adequate funding from the state. In the mid to late 60’s student unrest, protests and direct action forced the state to pay attention and up the ante. But once Wade Wilson who was appointed President of Cheyney State College after the first wave of student uprisings retired as Cheyney president, the Commonwealth and PASSHE refused to recruit the innovative leadership needed to position Cheyney as a premier educational institution.

But it wasn’t just Cheyney, PASSHE as a system proved not to be ready for prime time. Many think because of the early Quaker influence in Pennsylvania that it is a progressive state, it is not. It is as benighted and backward as its some of its more infamous sister states, especially when it comes to public higher education!

Just two years ago the Commonwealth out of necessity was forced to merge six universities into two new regional schools due to massive fiscal and enrollment challenges. Pennsylvania ranks at the bottom as far as public higher education goes and is one of the least affordable states for pubic higher education in the nation. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/admissions/traditional-age/2023/07/12/pa-public-colleges-battle-students-and-funding,

In many ways PASSHE is merely a “good ol’ boy’ network, a bastion of cronyism and political appointees with little or no insight into the complexities and dynamics of higher education. Governors and the legislature with the exceptions of Tom Wolf the immediate past governor and the current Governor Josh Shapiro, have not prioritized public higher education in the Commonwealth with the exception of Penn State University. PASSHE as a system has failed in its mission to provide low cost quality public higher education in Pennsylvania for working class families. https://www.cbsnews.com/pittsburgh/news/study-ranks-pa-worst-state-for-higher-education/

Now Cheyney faces yet another challenge. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education the regional accreditation agency placed Cheyney University of Pennsylvania on probation on November 16, 2023. The Middle Sates Website posted this, “To acknowledge receipt of the supplemental information report requested by the Commission action of June 22, 2023. To note the on-site follow-up team visit by the Commission's representatives to the main campus at 1837 University Circle, Cheyney, PA 19319 on September 5-6, 2023. To acknowledge receipt of additional information provided by the institution on October 23, 2023.  To place the institution on probation and note that the institution's accreditation is in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with Standard II (Ethics and Integrity), Standard III (Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience), Standard VI (Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement), and former Requirements of Affiliation 5 and 11. To note the institution remains accredited while on probation. To note further that federal regulations limit the period during which an institution may be in non-compliance, which started on November 16, 2023. https://www.msche.org/institution/0480/

The underlined emphasis is mine. Go to the Website and read it for yourself. The wording of this post is a direct indictment against the administration of President Aaron Walton and an indirect indictment against PASSHE and the Governor who appointed him. Middle States is saying the institution lacks integrity and ethics and questions the administration's ability to even accomplish the mission of the university! This is a huge development. It places the Commonwealth in a major conundrum. What to do, how does PASSHE get out from under this indictment by an extremely influential and independent third party accrediting agency?!

The knee jerk letter of support from the Chancellor and the PASSHE Board of Governors is worded in such a way when you read it, it is obvious they didn’t even take the time to read the Middle States’ notice. Contrary to their letter, Middle States did request additional documentation and additional meetings with the university.

Let’s be honest, Aaron Walton did not create the problems at Cheyney University, Cheyney was a mess. However he continued them as a member of PASSHE’s Board of Governors by being a company man especially when he served as Vice Chair. Walton exacerbated the school’s problems when PASSHE sent him to Cheyney as president! He was simply not a good leader. There is no way to get around Middle State’s placing Cheyney on Probation without a change of leadership! That is the first step towards a practicable solution.

It is one thing for a president to be inept or incompetent but it is catastrophic when he or she is inept, unethical and unable to carry out the processes for accomplishing the university’s mission and reason for existence! Frankly I don’t see how any additional documentation will alter this reality!

Albert Einstein said, “You cannot solve problems using the same consciousness that created them.”; to which I add or the same energy and the same people who created or contributed to the problem! The bottom line is, Aaron Walton must go!

                                                                       -30-

Thursday, February 08, 2024

 

                                                           George Washington Carver

                                                            Junious Ricardo Stanton

                                                                                  



In the mid to latter part of the twentieth century in the US you could rarely go to a city or county in the South that didn’t have a school named after George Washington Carver. Even during the days of virulent racial oppression and caste, George Washington Carver was viewed as “a credit to his race” and famous scientist who single-handedly saved Southern agriculture. Today many Black people and Euro-Americans don’t even know who George Washington Carver was. So as part of this year’s Black History articles I will share a bit of Carver’s personal and professional history, genius and accomplishments.

The exact date of George Washington Carver’s birth is not known. It is surmised he was born between 1863-1865 in Diamond Grove Missouri during the formal enslavement era. He was born into servitude, into a large family. His parents were “owned” by a man named Moses Carver. His family was given the surname of the White man who owned them, Carver. Before he was born George’s father died in an accident. As an infant George suffered several traumatic experiences. When he was only a few days old, George along with his mother and a sister were kidnapped by raiders and transported to Kentucky. Only George was found and retrieved by an agent working on behalf of Moses Carver. This was the norm during enslavement; “owners” would pay “agents”, trackers aka slave catchers to trail and retrieve their “property” as part of the federal government's Fugitive Slave Act.

When Carver was returned to Moses Carver’s farm he had no parents. His father had died before George was born and the trackers weren’t able to recapture his mother and sister so George and another brother James were raised by Moses Carver and his wife Susan.

George was a sickly boy so he was spared the hard work in the fields even after the War Between the States was over. Early on he developed a fascination with plants and herbs while living with the Carvers working in Mrs. Carver’s garden. Moses and Susan Carver also taught young George and his brother how to read and write.

George unlike many of his peers was able to attend school. He was sent to an all Black school in Neosho Missouri where he lived with a Black couple named Andrew and Mariah Watkins. He learned more about plants living and working for and with them but he subsequently left Neosho and migrated to Kansas. He completed high school in Kansas, applied to and was accepted at a White college that rejected him once they discovered he was Black. He applied to, was accepted and attended a college in Iowa, Simpson College, where he studied art and music but later transferred to and graduated from Iowa State Agricultural School now known as Iowa State University. Carver studied botany earning a Bachelor’s Degree in 1894, the first African American to do so. Carver remained at Iowa State Agricultural School earning a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Science in 1896. He taught at the college once again he was the first Black to do so.

Booker T. Washington was looking for science teachers for his Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama. In 1896 Booker T. Washington heard about George Washington Carver and recruited him to come to Tuskegee. There Carver spent his life teaching, researching, becoming a world renowned innovator, inventor and highly respected scientist.

Carver focused on service providing practical education and information to the rural Blacks in Alabama. Under Carver’s tutelage Tuskegee initiated mobile agricultural education programs, hands on demonstrations in the local communities to teach farming and animal husbandry skills to rural farmers. Using his research and ideas Carver showed the farmers how to use crop rotation to replenish the soil because exclusive cotton planting was depleting the nutrients in the soil. Carver used what he learned and taught at his Tuskegee teaching laboratory to help farmers increase the yields on their cotton crops by alternating planting cotton with soil improvement crops like soybeans, sweet potatoes and peanuts. He expanded the mobile outreach to offer midwifery, family hygiene with nurses to help educate and service rural Alabama communities.

Alabama farmers’ most profitable crop was cotton and many of them were leery of Carver’s instruction to plant soybeans, sweet potatoes and peanuts. Carver meanwhile was hard at work discovering new products that could be developed from those crops. Carver discovered and developed over three hundred products and new uses for those alternative crops which allowed the farmers to profit from his discoveries and save Southern agriculture in the process.

Carvers work and success brought him to the attention of government officials and industrialists like Henry Ford and Thomas A. Edison. Carver was often invited to Washington D.C. to testify before Congress or as a speaker at important policy meetings and educational seminars. His work benefited the whole nation not just Alabama!

George Washington Carver’s research saved Southern agriculture from self-destruction and in the process created new markets for plants many ignored, took for granted or failed to recognize their potential. Carver was not bitter about the racial caste and oppression he experienced during his life. He had an extremely positive philosophy about life. One of his many quotes about living and life was, When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” Carver explained his success this way, “God is going to reveal to us things He never revealed before if we put our hands in His. No books ever go into my laboratory. The thing I am to do and the way of doing it are revealed to me. I never have to grope for methods. The method is revealed to me the moment I am inspired to create something new. Without God to draw aside the curtain I would be helpless.” During his life, Carver overcame obstacles and barriers and ended up a highly respected scientists during an era of virulent racial animus and terror.

Carver discovered hundreds of uses for peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes as food, commercial and industrial products such as cooking oils, milk, soaps, cosmetics, medicines, dyes, paints, paper, and alternatives to silk and rubber. Prior to Carver arriving on Tuskegee’s campus in 1896 the peanut wasn’t even recognized as a bona fide US crop; but thanks to Carver by 1940 the lowly peanut was ranked number six and had become the second leading cash crop in the South behind cotton!

For all of his accomplishments and recognition George Washington Carver has a mild mannered humble and deeply spiritual man. He prayed and meditated and said the plants spoke to him and shared their secrets. Carver eschewed the spotlight and remained committed to serving his people using botany and chemistry to make a tremendous impact where he was. He turned down lucrative requests from Henry Ford and Thomas Edison to work with them. He only owned a few patents on his discoveries, he allowed others to take credit for his research and work.

What can we take from the life of this genius? My take-away is: cultivate our innate gifts, follow your passion, be committed, stay single minded and focused, remain humble and appreciative of your successes. My family owes a deep gratitude to George Washington Carver. On my paternal side my ancestors owned land and were peanut farmers (along with corn, soybeans and other crops) in Southampton County Virginia from the late 1870’s to the present. Thank you Dr. Carver!

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Thursday, February 01, 2024

African Genius and Originality

 

                                                        African Genius and Originality

                                                            Junious Ricardo Stanton




Over the years, I have shared information about the accomplishments of Africans that largely go unrecognized and overlooked due to a deliberate campaign to suppress, obfuscate and ignore African people and our history. For example few people know Africans were the first boat builders, https://keyamsha.com/2019/09/07/the-8000-year-old-dugout-canoe-from-dufuna-ne-nigeria/ the first navigators of the rivers and lakes in African who later circumnavigating the world. https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-important-events/did-ancient-humans-acquire-nautical-knowledge-sailing-prehistoric-megalakes-021434

Celebrating African and Black history during the shortest month of the years is counterproductive even though we need the exposure. We should celebrate African/human/world history all year long, daily because it is human history.

Let’s look at the things we take for granted that were begun, invented and developed by our aboriginal African ancestors. Africans developed the concept of family as an organized social as well as a biological unit. Family formed the basis of social organization and culture. Africans recognized the importance of blood connections and used those blood connections what we call families as the core foundation of their group, tribe, clan and society. Leadership and governance were based on the family or clan.

While animals have instinctive ways to determine leaders for example the proverbial “alpha male”, humans developed specific methods to create formal leadership and governance. On the most primitive level, leadership was conducted by group consensus through elders who had life experiences and served as leaders because of their and direct connection to their ancestral family members. These elders were charged with not just wisdom and guidance in daily affairs but also with propitiating the spirit realm, serving as intermediates between the family members, the forces of nature and the invisible energies they perceived all around them.

The leaders created traditions, rituals, and ceremonies to acknowledge births, deaths, status changes such as young adulthood and marriage, seasonal variations and to map the passing of the heavenly bodies. This was the origin and purpose of Adams Calendar, Nabta Playa and the similar megaliths. https://thyblackman.com/2019/02/15/2019-ancient-african-megaliths/ This is also the origin of what we call culture. These rituals and ceremonies included chants, hand clapping, foot stomping with rudimentary instruments that had deliberate and specific meanings, reasons and intentions for doing them.

In short Africans invented government whether it was tribal elders, tribal council, selected chiefs, hereditary chiefs or kings and queens. As their groups expanded over territory and their populations grew, they developed hierarchies for social administration, they created divisions of labor, work details and they encouraged and incorporated artistic skills and incorporated them into their daily lives.

So when we attend a wedding or a funeral or witness governments in action remember our ancestors were the first to do these things! When we look at Africa we see the beginnings of social/civil organization what we now call civilization. We see aboriginal people exchanging, battering and trading amongst themselves, other tribal groups in other lands. This was the beginnings of commerce across the continent and later into Asia and Europe. https://african.business/2021/10/trade-investment/a-short-history-of-african trade#:~:text=The%20very%20earliest%20evidence%20of,paintings%20dating%20from%2010%2C000BC.

Our ancestors were the first to chop and carve trees into boats and canoes, to weave reeds to make water tight vessels. Africans were the first to use these boats, canoes and sailing vessels to engage in trade, taking their surplus crops, goods and artifacts first to nearby groups, then throughout Africa and subsequently the world.

Europeans admit the first articulated and practiced system of ethics (Maat) originated in Africa. Timelines indicate the first monarchy/dynasty in the world, extensive territorial occupation and social organization originated in Africa along the Nile Valley. Africans had empires but they were not all created by violence and invasion, some were the result of force and conflict some were not.

In review Africans created: family based social organization; we created rites of passage to mark the growth and transition of members within the community and determined how they each fit into within the social fabric and scheme using trial and error and later formalized traditions. We invented rituals and ceremonies, we invented and developed trade and commerce.

Africans created metallurgy, working in metals like gold, cooper, bronze and iron. https://oxfordre.com/africanhistory/display/10.1093/acrefore/9780190277734.001.0001/acrefore-9780190277734-e-148 We invented clothing, we created early weaving machines https://www.amatuli.co.za/2021/12/woven-together-the-art-of-african-weaving/ we invented adornment, demarcations and decorations to distinguish social status, to tell whether a female was married was an adolescent or a male was an initiated member of the community, a warrior or an elder. We were the first to map the heavens.

Africans recognized sound had power and invented music, instruments and incorporated music and sounds into our daily activities. We invented meaningful symbols and their recognition whether it was hieroglyphics on papyrus, on the walls, the megaliths or Her-em-akhet (misnamed the Sphinx by the Greeks).

Africans created practical technology whether it was a digging stick, a rudimentary plow, the ramp, and pulley or a weaving loom. https://www.adireafricantextiles.com/textiles-resources-sub-saharan-africa/an-introduction-to-sub-saharan-african-textiles/loom-types-in-sub-saharan-africa/ We developed farming techniques like crop rotation, using fire to burn the soil to give it nutrition. We were the first fishermen. We created the first planned urban centers and cities. We were the first educators.

I could go on but you get the drift, we are a creative, inventive and profoundly gifted people. This same creativity resides in our/your DNA; it is in our genes and blood. We do ourselves our ancestors and progeny a disservice if we allow our genius to be stifled and atrophy, not be fully developed or expropriated by others for their benefit and not ours!

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Thursday, January 25, 2024

Hooray for South Africa!

 

                                                          Hooray for South Africa!

                                                             Junious Ricardo Stanton


       



On December 29, 2023 the government of South Africa went before the International Court of Justice in The Hague to officially file charges against Israel accusing that nation of the crime of genocide against the people of Gaza. This was an historic initiative on several levels; first because Israel has been aggressively conducting illegal territorial expropriation and land grabs and has illegally usurped, stolen, occupied and displaced hundreds of thousand of Palestinians since 1967. Following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war Israel has subjected the residents of Palestine to brutal, ruthless military occupation on their own land, constant assaults on their dignity and person and knowingly and deliberately deprived Palestinians of natural resources such as water, destroyed and expropriated their farm lands displacing them off of their land and illegally detaining them without just cause. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2017/06/israel-occupation-50-years-of-dispossession/

Israeli settlers have an extremely hostile attitude towards the Palestinians and have worked incessantly to undermine their efforts at indigenous internal organization and self-determination. Israel colluded with it prime enablers the US and UK to create a counterweight to the Palestinian Liberation Organization which vehemently opposed the ongoing settler expansion. Together the US, UK and Israel played a pivotal role in the creation and promotion of Hamas. https://theintercept.com/2018/02/19/hamas-israel-palestine-conflict/ https://tribune.com.pk/story/2302309/how-and-why-israel-helped-create-hamas

Hamas started out as a charity organization far less political and militant than the PLO; but once it gained Israeli support it overshadowed the PLO (a classic divide and rule tactic by the Israelis) because many rank and file Palestinians felt the PLO sold them out by negotiating a ”peace” deal with Israel.

Hypocritically, the United States of America, the greatest purveyor of violence and conflict on this planet today in its role as a global arms seller and instigator labeled both the PLO and Hamas terrorist organizations. This act of psychological projection (ascribing to others what you yourself are guilty of) allows the US to support the crimes against humanity being conducted by it allies and proxies or in the case of Israel its master!

The details and narratives of the October 7, 2023 Hamas attack which ironically is being called Israel’s 9-11 are highly suspicious. Gaza is one of the most thoroughly policed, spied upon and monitored spaces on this planet; even the Israelis say a mouse can’t move anywhere in Gaza without them detecting it! Similar to the US 9-11, astute people should be asking: how did such a highly sophisticated, costly occupation, intelligence/monitoring system get caught flat footed, how did well armed entities with advanced detection/defense systems like the kind the US and Israel deploy, have such feeble initial responses to these two attacks?!

The theory both the US and Israel allowed their attacks to occur makes the most sense to me. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/30/world/middleeast/israel-hamas-attack-intelligence.html Allowing it to happen provided Israel with the rational to rapidly do what it has been gradually doing for fifty years: ethnically cleanse Gaza, displace the people either via death or massive destruction and disruption. The attack provided an excuse for Israel to go full speed ahead with their plans for a Greater Israel stretching from the Nile to the Tigris Euphrates Rivers. https://www.jagranjosh.com/general-knowledge/what-is-greater-israel-why-is-the-idea-not-acceptable-to-the-muslim-community-1621507466-1

The South African government had a Popeye moment “That’s alls I can stands and I can’t stand no more.” witnessing the impact of Israel’s deadly overhanded response to the October 7, 2023 attack by Hamas. After watching drones, missiles and artillery murder innocent civilians and decimate large swaths of Gaza territory, South Africa said enough. South Africa filed charges against Israel in the International Court of Justice charging Israel with genocide! Their presentation laid out the facts of collective punishment and indiscriminate violence against civilians. “In an 84-page filing to the ICJ, South Africa argued that Israel is committing genocide by killing Palestinians in Gaza, causing serious mental and bodily harm, forced evacuation, widespread hunger, and by creating conditions “calculated to bring about their physical destruction.” It also accused Israel of failing to stem incitement to genocide in the public pronouncements of its officials. During three hours of oral argument, lawyers representing South Africa asked the ICJ to order a suspension of Israel’s campaign in Gaza to protect the rights of Palestinians in Gaza ‘from imminent and irreparable loss.’

Such ‘provisional measures,’ as they are known, function as a kind of restraining order to stop a dispute from escalating while the court considers the full merits of the case, which could take years. For provisional measures the court need only decide if prima facie, or ‘at first glance,’ the acts complained of could fall foul of the genocide convention… South Africa presented widely reported evidence that it said showed a “systematic pattern of conduct” by Israel ‘from which genocide can be inferred.’ The UN defines genocide as an act ‘committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.’” South Africa accuses Israel of genocide and urges top UN court to halt Gaza war by Christian Edwards https://www.cnn.com/2024/01/11/middleeast/south-africa-israel-genocide-icj-hague-day-one-intl/index.html

While the ICJ has no power whatsoever to enforce any ruling it may make, we can applaud at least one nation, an African nation that knows first hand the horrors of settler/invader racial oppression that had the courage to do the right thing! Meanwhile Israel and its lapdogs attempt to justify the unjustifiable, defend the indefensible and promote the slaughter of innocents.

                                                                       -30-


Thursday, January 18, 2024

Movies to See

 

                                                                       Movies To See

                                                                Junious Ricardo Stanton




Today’s motion picture environment is much different than it was just a few years ago. Even if the theater management pulls a movie from the venue due to lack of attendance, now you can still see the films via, streaming, cable or direct purchase without waiting months or years. You can see them without going to a store to buy the DVD or ordering them from Netflix which no longer does mailings. So you have no excuse not to see a particular film even if it is not in theaters.

Recently my wife and I went to see The Color Purple and The Book of Clarence. I urge you to see both of these films while you can in theaters or when they become available via streaming services or direct purchase.

The Color Purple is a reimagining of the book, the 1985 original film of the same name and the award winning 2005 Broadway musical production also called The Color Purple. While the 2023 film version encompasses aspects of all of them, the book, the original film and Broadway adaptations, it is not a remake or reboot of any of them. It is a unique project all its own.

The new film is different in that the scenery and setting are not the same even though the action still takes place in the South during the 1920’s. This time the action is near the ocean and we get to see more of Shug Avery’s lavish lifestyle in Memphis Tennessee as she helps Celie find and reinvent herself. More importantly, in my opinion, the story line arc of the characters is more developed and the criticisms of the book and movie about the depiction of the men offer a resolution without altering the trauma of the backstory. The backstory remains the same, there is brutality and abuse by Celie’s step-father but the character of Mister shows gradual transformation and eventual redemption in this version.

The scenery, the costumes and interplay among the characters is powerfully well done, the songs have positive messages and the choreography reflect the Black experience and culture. The direction and actors are very very good and their performances help differentiate this film from the original and the stage versions allowing it to stand on its own merit.

I recommend seeing the film because at its core it is extremely entertaining and it has a powerful message of resilience, forgiveness, redemption and empowerment.


* * *


I also highly recommend The Book of Clarence. It is a unique and groundbreaking film that is the first depiction of people of color in a Biblical era film in the history of American cinema and this film stands in stark contrast to the historically inaccurate Hollywood portrayals of the people of that region as white skinned Europeans! The film shows what the people probably looked like two thousand years ago all of whom except for the Romans are black and brown people! The film is satirical but it addresses modern human conditions and psychological states and finds resolution amid deep personal ambiguity uncertainty and crisis.

The film is based in Biblical subject matter yet it is satire but with a powerfully poignant modern message. The notion of a Black man living two thousand years ago in Palestine named Clarence is in itself funny. To top that, Clarence has an estranged twin brother named Thomas who is the famous doubting Thomas disciple of Yeshua Bar Joseph (Jesus of Nazareth). The cinematic magic and interplay between the two of them played by Lakeith Stanfield which reveals their contentious history, their divergent lifestyle choices and worldview differences is genuinely ingenious. The film also uses iconic themes from older movies like the Ben Hur chariot race but in an irreverent and humorous fashion that reveal how Clarence’s choices as he tries to hustle to make it big blow up in his face.

The character Clarence is a man determined to prove he is somebody. He is a small time hustler, con artist and schemer who wants to make a better life for himself and his mother amid the brutal Roman occupation and oppression in Jerusalem. Seeing Jerusalem as ancient an all Black city with the exception of the Roman occupiers is masterful. There are modern elements woven into the story like their slang, Clarence selling and smoking weed, homelessness, poverty and the tensions between the residents of Jerusalem and the Roman occupiers.

Clarence finds himself at odds with and owing money to a Jerusalem gansta who just happens to be the brother of the girl he is infatuated with. Clarence must find a way to square his debt with her brother to save his life. The film chronicles his desperate attempts to find a way to raise money to repay him in a short period of time.

I will not give any more of the plot away other than to say Clarence witnesses Jesus performing miracles and he notices the way the people flock to Jesus and adore him. Clarence is an atheist but decides he wants to be like them to get money. He tries to join them as a disciple but is rebuffed. He subsequently connives, schemes and scams with his two compatriots to perform fake miracles so he can get money and fame, However his conversations with Mary, John the Baptizer, his twin brother Thomas and other true believers stirs something deep within him.

I will leave it at that but I urge you to see this film. It is thought provoking in its content and it provides extremely deep imagery and messages throughout the whole film. I know many Christians will have problems with this movie because it goes against the deeply entrenched orthodoxy of a lily White Jesus. Many will categorically reject the film without even seeing it. To do this is to do yourself a disservice and deny yourself a thought provoking cinematic experience.


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Thursday, January 11, 2024

 

                              What Happened to the Real Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr?

                                                              Junious Ricardo Stanton

                                                                        




If students analyze King’s speeches and life’s work more carefully, they’ll see that he promoted a more radical approach to justice—not one that asks citizens to be neutral on racism or one that merely offers comfort.” Teaching About King’s Radical Approach To Social Justice - Choshandra Dillard https://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/teaching-about-kings-radical-approach-to-social-justice


The powers that be are attempting to whitewash the true legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Shortly after they had him cut down on a balcony in Memphis Tennessee in April of 1968, the plutocrats and oligarchs who own and run this country determined to destroy the movement he was building; a movement for social justice, equity, peace and prosperity for all Americans. The psychopaths who own and run this country decided to redefine King’s impact, redirect his righteous fervor for social justice and neuter his push for structural change and replace it with a one day of service thus nullifying persistent activism for a systemic metamorphosis of American society. Thus far it is working, our government is spending trillions for overseas wars while homelessness and despair escalate in this country yet not a peep of protest out of the masses!

The ruling elites weren’t able to dissuade or stop the campaign to make King’s natal day a national holiday so they cunningly recast his image into one of a “dreamer” rather than an ardent activist and champion for peace and social transformation. They always promote the “I have a dream” refrain from his August 28, 1963 March on Washington D.C. speech. They never mention the stirring words that preceded his famous refrain; “… It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds’. But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

The campaign to tear down legal apartheid and racial cast in America was winning meanwhile the US ruling elites escalated their imperialist campaign to replace French Neo-Colonialism in Indochina with an American brand determined to snuff out the liberation movement in Vietnam. President Lyndon Johnson put the pedal to the metal and intensified the war effort exponentially.

Martin Luther King Jr was one of the few nationally prominent US clergy who stood up against the Military Industrial Complex and courageously denounced the war in Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand). King disparaged the carnage and war profiteering at the expense of justice, morality and obliterating the grinding poverty experienced by Blacks, whites, indigenous peoples and people of color in this country. His efforts earned him the hatred and hostility of the power elites.

King’s national Poor People’s Campaign was an embarrassment to the US government because it exposed the lies and disingenuous propaganda that portrayed America as the land of the free, home of the brave and a place of unlimited opportunity for all of its citizens. His efforts to mobilize a diverse cross section of Americans to come to Washington and plead their case for social justice and systemic transformation including ending the war marked King as a man to be, to use a CIA term “neutralized”, meaning killed.

The FBI tried all kinds of tricks to make King give up even pushing him to commit suicide, https://allthatsinteresting.com/fbi-martin-luther-king-tapes to no avail. So on April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed while assisting Memphis Tennessee sanitation works in their struggle for recognition, decent wages and benefits.

The ruling class then had to decide how to deal with his legacy. Today little or no mention is made of King’s stance against the war nor his push for radical societal transformation. We never hear his speeches about the ravages of war both at home and far away places like Indochina. We are not exposed to King’s words at Riverside Church in New York one year to the day before his brutal murder in Memphis Tennessee where he said, “… Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. And so we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. And so we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor…” Beyond Vietnam – A Time To Break Silence.

The billionaires and warmongers who own the media are depriving us of King’s conviction, courage and vision. They deliberately suppress words like this, “I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. 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.”

Ironically, King warned against superficial acts of kindness versus real change. “One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

In 2024 as we celebrate Martin Luther King’s natal day and his life mission, do not allow the warmongers, the corporations and soulless billionaires belittle King’s true legacy, misdirect and rechannel our energies and actions in ways that pose no threat to their power and maintain the status quo! As wars increasingly ravage our planet, do not allow the warmongers, war profiteers, their bought and paid politicians and controlled media trick us into being silent, passive and acquiescing to their evil! Be like Martin Luther King Jr., speak out, act out and live in ways that promote and spread peace.

                                                                       -30-

Friday, January 05, 2024

2024 Predictions

 

                                                                  2024 Predictions

                                                               Junious Ricardo Stanton

                                                                          



“Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to relive them”. George Santayana, American Philosopher

Most of us are oblivious to the fact our present is built/based upon our past and likewise the future is built upon the present. Human behavior is a series of patterns and proclivities we call habits, customs, traits, norms and physiological conditioning. Over time we can discern a continuity or consistency in people’s patterns so much so we can accurately predict their future patterns over time. Much of our behavior is conformity to social pressures from family, peers, indoctrination and the government So when I offer my predictions for 2024 I am not star gazing, casting bones or reading a crystal ball, not at all; I am merely engaging in pattern recognition, trend analysis and extrapolating observable patterns onto the coming days of 2024.

Based in this past year and previous years, I can confidently predict: the United States will continue to be the greatest threat to world peace on the planet in its role as the greatest purveyor of weapons and violence on earth. Likewise Israel will continue its ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing in Palestine and the US will provide unapologetic support for that country’s crimes against the people of that region.

The United States and its’ allies will continue their proxy war in Ukraine pumping billions of our tax dollars into a futile, unwinnable effort to bring Putin and Russia to heel. This U.S. mischief has been going on long before Putin launched his nation’s Special Military Operation in 2022. The US instigated and fomented the mayhem in Ukraine when it spent five billion dollars to overthrow and supplant the duly elected president with their hand picked puppet. Things have gone downhill for that woebegone nation ever since. Ukraine cannot win this conflict but the crazies in Washington, London, and Brussels think they can force a military victory/solution there.

In 2024 flash additional points for global conflict and war will be: Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, the Red Sea area, the South China Sea and throughout the African continent. In Africa, the effects of 2023 coups will result in additional tensions on the continent as the governments in Niger and Gabon attempt to stabilize and restore confidence within their countries as will: Burkina Faso, Guinea, Chad and Sudan who experienced coups in 2021 and Mali who experienced a coup in 2020. On an up trend, many African governments are attempting to forge regional alliances with their neighboring countries to strengthen their positions militarily and commercially and leverage their proximity and natural resources for their betterment.

The world will witness more nations choosing sides, many in the Southern Hemisphere, Latin America and Asia will distance themselves from the US/NATO/Five Eyes Axis and link up with the expanding BRICS alliance that just took in Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates on January 1, 2024. We will see additional nations seek membership in the BRICS alliance. The tide is rapidly turning and the US/NATO/Five Eye/Israeli axis is not the team most nations want to play for or with. This quantum shift will have an extremely deleterious impact on the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency, the US global empire and its standing in the world!

In 2024 the fear-mongers in the media/government/Big Pharma cabal will continue to hype and exaggerate viruses during the flu season, pushing mRNA injections while ignoring natural immunity altogether and downplaying our bodies’ ability to defend and heal itself from illness. In 2024 the increasing alarm from insurance companies and their actuarial experts regarding excess mortality, their mounting payout “losses” due to the increase of sudden deaths as more and more younger people drop like flies, will continue being suppressed by the corporate media; which just coincidentally gets most of is advertising funding from Big Pharma! Everything but the mRNA shots will be blamed for the excess mortality in 2024.

Look for an accelerated push in the “anthropogenic climate change” scam as billionaire plutocrats/oligarchs push their “Green Agenda” on the world. Yes pollution exists, much of it is due to modern capitalism. If the greedy corporations stopped cutting down whole forests and stopped despoiling the plants that use photosynthesis to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, we would not face a “climate crisis”! It is these very same extremely rich folks and their corporations who are causing most of the environmental harm and disruption not ordinary folks like you and me. We need to realize this, call them out and hold them accountable!

The mind control apparatus suppresses the fact our planet is a living entity; if it were not, no life would exist here. All living things go through changes! The earth has gone through countless changes: ice ages, land shifts and continental divides, sea level rising and lowering, extreme weather, desertification and more before humans emerged on the scene. We are in a living dynamic, vibrant physical environment and we will see changes in the planet just as we see changes in ourselves. In 2024 people will still fall for the climate crisis okey-doke.

2024 will produce a highly contentious presidential election as the US becomes more polarized, fractured, uncivil and continues to disintegrate along gender, ethnic, economic and ideological fault lines. There will be little civil debate as the politicians and media talking heads further polarize and weaponize the political process.

In 2024 inflation will continue to rise despite what the politicians say. The US dollar is being debased daily as more and more money is put into circulation and the Federal Reserve Banking cartel manipulates interest rates ostensibly to stabilize the economy; but 2024 will see even more sticker sock and a further decline in our standards of living.

In 2024 the stresses of the so called COVID “New Normal” will result in the current trends of maladaptive behaviors, rising suicides, declining life expectancy, addiction and depression. The goodnews is all is not lost, we do have the power and agency to uplift and transform the quality of our lives even in the midst of so much turmoil. In 2024 many people will turn to nondenominational spirituality, meditation, and introspection and not be so outer directed thus gaining personal stability in the midst of accelerating change.

My intent is not to be a prognosticator of bad news; I’m merely to pointing out trends I think will continue into 2024. Stay well and think for yourself!

                                                                              -30-