TheGrio interviewed Yusef Salaam to find out more about the Central Park Five’s relationship to the 45th president and why he considers Trump a hypocrite.
My family is from a small town in South Carolina, my grandfather was born in the early 1900s, so I know that members of my family have had experiences racism, discrimination, and evil. Having said that growing up my family never spoke about these experiencing, I believe that it was never spoken about for several reasons. One I think they wanted us to come to our own conclusion about people, they would warn us about certain dangers or how to approach situations, but the conversation was never presented with racial overtones. Another reason I believe it was not talked about is they did not want it to be a mental obstacle. No one has ever said these are the reason, I do not know if this was the correct way to handle the situation, but everyone is successful and good human beings.
I remember as a little boy going to my grandfather’s retirement party and at the party, all these white men were giving these speeches glorifying my grandfather. I was so proud of my grandfather, but I could help but think how any man of any color could have a disparaging word to say about my grandfather. I could not imagine a man disliking my grandfather based on the color of his skin, so I resigned myself to believe my grandfather did not experience racism and I left the subject alone. Fast forward over 30 years, now I am at a funeral of my uncle and again I witness these white men speaking favorably of my uncle. Once again pride filled me, but those old questions came back to mind, how could someone hate or treat these great men differently based on their skin color. So, when we got back to the house I decided I want to have a conversation about racism.
Started by asking my mother and uncle about their experiences with racism growing up in South Carolina, they began to tell me stories about having to travel to school through the woods because they would see the Klan coming down the road. Instead of having to confront the Klan they would rather travel through the woods. My mother told me a story of her childhood friend, whom I have known my entire life, her friend was being harassed by a white girl, the girl was their age but one day the friend could not take the harassment anymore and beat the little white girl’s ass. After the beating, they were so scared that the Klan or the Sheriff would come looking for them even though her friend was defending herself. I heard a similar story about my wife’s grandmother, but her grandmother had to leave the south because the Klan did come looking for her. I believe she was 13 at the time, so imagine a child having to leave her family because she may be killed and/or raped by white men.
My uncle decided to discuss his experiences while serving this country, my uncle was in the Navy and he was stationed on the USS Intrepid. He told me how he would not be allowed in places while in uniform because he was black, I know we have seen this happen in movies but to hear it from someone’s mouth offers a different experience. He did say that his white shipmates would refuse to patronize any establishment if he and the other black Navy men were not allowed in. The feeling of risking your life for a country and the people of this country and they do not respect you or the uniform you are in is heartbreaking.
After witnessing the pain, the horror, and the disappointment on their faces I now understand why in the past we never had a conversation about racism. I decided to end the conversation because them reliving their pain began to hurt me and the conversation was no longer productive in my opinion. You know things must hurt a person when they can remember every detail about an event that happened 50 or 60 years ago.
Mary Pearson doesn’t need to be reminded of Jesse Washington’s lynching.
A few weeks ago, news came out the Boston Celtics rookie Jason Tatum has a child with his high school sweetheart, but Tatum is currently dating a college classmate. Now you may say why I am writing about a pro basketball player, the reason I am writing about this is that Jason Tatum current girlfriend is a white woman. After reading this story I started to wonder are white women targeting black athletes? I am not accusing Jason’s current girlfriend of this because I do not know her or the circumstances surrounding his relationship with her or his son’s mother. I am just curious.
I have noticed that some professional black athletes are in relationships with white women. Now I do not know if a black athlete with a white woman just sticks out more or that black athletes with white women exceed societal norms. We see athletes such as Ezekiel Elliot, Robert Griffin, III, Reggie Bush, and Andre Drummond in relationships with white women. People will say to me, people should be allowed to marry who they want, love has no color, and it is none of your business. All these statements may be true in some context but the lack of wealth and generational wealth in the black community is what concerns me. Let’s take OJ Simpson case, for example, Nicole Brown Simpson came from a modest family but after marrying OJ her family was now rubbing elbows with the upper class. Her family members were residing in upper-class neighborhoods and her father had his own Hertz business all because of OJ. The Jason Tatum situation just seems odd to me, here is a black young man from St. Louis who has been with his girlfriend throughout high school, he attends Duke University for 10 months now he is no longer with his high school sweetheart. He started dating the new girl all around the time he is projected to become a lottery pick. People will say this all a coincidence, it may well be, but I keep thinking of the book “Killers of the Flower Moon.” In this book white men marry into Native Indian families who have a wealth of oil, the white men then kill the members of the Indian tribe so that the white men will now have all the wealth generated from the oil. My point is history repeats itself and never underestimate the levels people will stoop too.
Maybe this is all in my head, a by-product of watching the movie “Get Out” too many times, but many of these athletes grew up in black home, black neighborhoods, with the support of the black community I just have a problem with another race benefiting from a person struggles without having invested in him or her. Something somebody told me years ago once you become successful you must ask yourself would this person be in my corner or in my life if I did not have this success?
People inhale soot and noxious fumes from the car-laden highways encircling their historically black community.
There is a lot of hype surrounding the movie Black Panther and this week the television show Black Lightning premiered. Black Lightning had a large premiere audience and the Black Panther has set a record for pre-order tickets sales. I am sure if the Nielsen television rating systems will accurately illustrate the success of Black Lightning but through social media we the show was being viewed and talked about by a large audience.
These shows feature a predominately Black cast, the characters are people of wealth, highly educated and/or of high moral character. I have witnessed several complaints or negative comments regarding the movie Black Panther. A few of the things I have read is the movie was not filmed in African, this argument is being made because the Black Panther movie takes place in a fictitious country in Africa called Wakanda. My response to that is SO WHAT, there are films that are supposed to take place in New York City, but they are filmed in Canada. Then there is this rumor that Black feminists are calling for a boycott of the movie because one of the actors Michael B. Jordan is dating a white woman. I said this is a RUMOR because I can not believe this to be true, people would try to derail a major movie with a black cast that will be a stepping stone for greater things to come because one person is dating a white woman. You would want to cause harm to several people career because of one person’s dating choice. I also hear people saying we do not need Hollywood, we can make our own movies. This is my opinion, who is WE because many of the people making this statement will not attempt to make a movie, they want someone else to do it. And when someone does make their movie, with as little as help as possible from Hollywood people complain about the movie he or she has made. Black people are not monolithic, we can try to gain more power in Hollywood while others create a separate Black Hollywood.
Black people have been marginalized in this country for over 400 years it is going take some time to overcome that 400-year head start. The Black Panther movie and Black Lightning televisions shows are stepping stones in a greater cause. We can not build anything if someone keeps tearing down what has already been built. The success of these shows will open the door for other shows with a black cast to get made regardless of how you feel about these black people who are actors will benefit.
The trending news is Donald Trump’s comments about Haitians and people from the continent of Africa migrating to America. His criticism of the state of these countries is harsh, some will argue that these countries are in the state he used to describe them, but they will not admit the cause or the reason these countries are in the state is that of European influence. To argue with them about this is futile because facts do not matter to racist.
My point of view on this topic is why are people surprised, the only people who should be surprised are those white people who do not believe they practice racism and do not realize white privilege exists. All people of color should not be surprised by these comments. A Fox News commentator, I do not remember his name, he said, and I am paraphrasing “this how people talk when sitting in a bar.” He is telling Black people this is how we talk about you behind your back. Trump denied using those words 15 hours after the statements were reported, he tweets about other dumb shit but nothing about these comments. This tells you he did not want to deny making these statements and he believes he was correct in using this descriptive language, someone had to convince him to tweet something about the reported story. Have you noticed the individuals in the room have said anything about the comments? The Senators could have said, “That language was not used, and I would not tolerate that language being used in my presence.” Instead of doing that we get silence which indicates the comments reported where the exact statements he made.
All people of color must realize the direction of the country has changed, White people clearly understand that within the next 25 to 50 years they will be the minority in this country and this scares some of them. The problem is many people of color want to be white, but it is coming closer to the point will the line will be drawn, and people of color will have to choose which side of that line they want to be on. I am one who believes there are some good white people who are sensitive to our situation and want to help. The problem is they may be the minority, but this too seems to be changing with more and more realizing racism is hurting this country.
The racists are no longer hiding underneath sheets, this President has emboldened the racist which may be a good thing because it will force Black people to wake up.