This is another example of the failure of Black Religious Leadership to properly guide and represent Black people, and their interest, instead of looking out for themselves. Maybe they need to spend time reading and understanding these two verses in their Bibles, Jere 23:1-2, Matt 7:15. I think the religious need to always forgive people that don’t ask for forgiveness, or show repentance, is sick and misguided.
Read the article below and leave your comments.
WASHINGTON — A group of black pastors Monday criticized African-American opponents of attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions for demonizing the Alabama Republican, instead characterizing him as someone who shows “respect and care for people of all races.”
The ministers are holdout Sessions supporters in a much larger crowd of opponents among Southern black clergy and African-American and civil rights groups, including the North Carolina Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Alabama NAACP and the activist group PICO, which uses congregations and churches to help in community organizing.
“There is an attempt by some to demonize people and call them racist when there is actually no proof for it,” Evangelical Bishop Harry Jackson said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “Let me say clearly, Sen. Sessions is not a racist.”
Jackson, the pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., said Sessions “worked to bankrupt the KKK in Alabama with a $7 million judgment,” and helped to desegregate the state’s public school system.
But clergy who are leaders of the African-American organizing group PICO, sent a different message Monday to the Senate Judiciary Committee that will consider whether to recommend confirmation of Sessions by the full Senate. The committee will hear from Sessions on Tuesday.
Desmond Meade, president of the civil rights group Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, said Sessions has not shown a strong commitment to racial equality or social justice.
“When you talk about the position of attorney general of the United States, that is an extremely powerful position, and I think it is prudent to scrutinize any individual being considered,” Meade said. “I don’t think that is a form of racism, and I’m weary of anyone that doesn’t have a sustained history of campaigning for civil rights. [Sessions] has not demonstrated a strong commitment to the restoration of civil rights.”
In 1986, Sessions was denied a federal judgeship after allegations of racism in his decisions as a U.S. attorney in Alabama. At least one former colleague testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Sessions supported the Ku Klux Klan until he realized its members used marijuana. “One of the most important factors [in confirming a nominee] in my opinion, is to have an open and honest process,” says Dr. William Merritt, North Carolina Southern Christian Leadership Conference state field director. “That gives any individual the right to present themselves in the manner that qualifies them for their job.”
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By Elliot Booker — 2 years ago
“Time For An Awakening” for Sunday 3/04/2018 at 7:00 PM, our guest was Writer, Educator, and Advocate, Sarah L. Webb. Some might think the origins of Colorism in America is as simple as pointing to slavery, but according to our guest it goes deeper than that. We talked about this White Supremacy ideology “The Roots and Routes of Colorism “, along with other topics with our guest, Sarah L. Webb.Post Views: 367
By Elliot Booker — 7 months ago
West Jefferson, Alabama, a somnolent town of around 420 people north-west of Birmingham, was an unlikely venue to seize the national imagination. Now, it has the misfortune to be forever associated with the “poop train”.
David Brasfield, a retired coalminer who has lived in West Jefferson for 45 years, thought at first the foul stench came from the carcass of a shot pig. By the time he realized that human feces was being transported from 1,000 miles away to a nearby landfill site, a scene of biblical pestilence was unfolding upon West Jefferson.
“The odor was unbearable, as were the flies and stink bugs,” said Brasfield, who sports a greying handlebar moustache and describes himself as a conservative Republican. “The flies were so bad that you couldn’t walk outside without being inundated by them. You’d be covered in all sorts of insects. People started getting headaches, they couldn’t breathe. You wouldn’t even go outside to put meat on the barbecue.”
The landfill, called Big Sky Environmental, sits on the fringes of West Jefferson and is permitted to accept waste from 48 US states. It used a nearby rail spur to import sewage from New York and New Jersey. This epic fecal odyssey was completed by trucks which took on the waste and rumbled through West Jefferson – sometimes spilling dark liquid on sharp turns – to the landfill.
Outrage at this arrangement reached a crescendo in April last year when Jefferson county, of which West Jefferson is part, barred the landfill operator from using the rail spur. Malodorous train carriages began backing up near several neighbouring towns.
“Oh my goodness, it’s just a nightmare here,” said Heather Hall, mayor of Parrish, where the unwanted cargo squatted for two months. “It smells like rotting corpses, or carcasses. It smells like death.”
Residents started hounding the phone lines of elected officials and showed up at public meetings with bags of dead flies. One man described the smell as similar to “25,000 people taking a dump around your house”. The growing national media attention eventually stung New York and New Jersey, which halted convoys of human waste to the site.
But while the distress lifted from West Jefferson, other communities across Alabama struggle forlornly in a miasma of nearby landfills. Alabama has gained a reputation as the dumping ground of the US, with toxic waste from across the country typically heaped near poor, rural communities, many with large African American populations.
Alabama has a total of 173 operational landfills, more than three times as many as New York, a state with a population four times greater but with just 54 dumps. California – three times larger than Alabama and containing eight people for every Alabamian – has just a handful more landfills than the southern state.
“You take a poor rural area, take advantage of the people and turn their farming land into a dumping ground so a few people can make a profit,” said Nelson Brooke, head of the Black River Riverkeeper organization. “Parts of our state have been turned into a toilet bowl and there isn’t the political spine to stop it.”
Many of the largest landfills are clustered in a region known as the Black Belt, a stretch of counties around Alabama’s midriff named initially for its fertile topsoil but latterly known for the tenant farmers and sharecroppers that helped form the basis of its large black population today.
The low land values and extreme poverty of the region make it a magnet for landfills, with waste hauled in from across the country for as little as $1 a ton. Acceptance of landfills is delegated to counties, causing potential conflicts of interest with local officials involved in waste disposal. Residents are often blindsided by the appearance of new dumps.
“A continual refrain for decades in Alabama is that politicians are selling out the people,” said Conner Bailey, an academic at Auburn University. “It’s a long tradition.
A crucible of the civil rights movement – from the Selma-to-Montgomery march to the Rosa Parks-inspired bus boycotts to the Birmingham church bombing – Alabama’s racial disparity in pollution exposure has become only more stark.
A landfill near Emelle in Sumter county, where the neighbouring community is about 90% black and a third of people live in poverty, at one point accepted 40% of all hazardous waste disposed in the US. Anniston, Alabama, where half the residents are black, won a high-profile settlement from Monsanto after the dumping of so much PCBs, chemicals linked to cancers and liver damage, that a local creek turned red.
“There are still major problems in Alabama resulting from environmental injustice and there does not appear to be will on part of its government to reverse these problems,” said Ryke Longest, a law professor at Duke University.
“Alabama’s history with Jim Crow and preservation of segregation as well as suppressing voting rights made these problems worse by segregating communities and disenfranchising black Americans in their communities.”
Many homes near the sprawling Stone’s Throw landfill, east of Montgomery, are now abandoned. The landfill, which can accept 1,500 tons of construction debris, ash, asbestos, sludge and other material each day, is located in the Ashurst Bar/Smith community, which is around three-quarters African American. Advertisement Sponsored by Arm and Hammer
“It’s almost unbearable to live there, even three miles away my eyes burn and I get nauseous,” said Phyllis Gosa, now retired and living in Selma but still visits family who have owned property in the community since the end of slavery. “It’s our heritage, we are losing who we are. When it comes to people of color, we are still three-fifths of a human being. The 14th amendment doesn’t apply to us. That’s who Alabama is, that’s its legacy.”
Ron Smith, a neighbour and pastor, said there is pressure on black families to sell devalued land to the expanding landfill. He grows blueberries in his back yard but is uncertain if he should eat them. “Our government picked an area where people couldn’t defend themselves,” he said. “This is the perfect area.”
Unlike the 1960s civil rights push, there has been no federal savior. In April 2017 a group of residents claimed that Alabama’s tolerance of the Stone’s Throw landfill had caused chronic illnesses such as asthma and cancer, pungent smells and water pollution, thereby breaching the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of race-based discrimination.
In December, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided there was “insufficient evidence” for the complaint despite finding that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) hadn’t properly enforced a requirement that six inches of covering soil be placed upon landfill waste every day. ADEM wrote to the landfill, also in December, scolding it for excessive discharges of copper, oil, grease and “suspended solids” between 2016 and 2018.
However, while the EPA found “a preponderance of the evidence that a lack of enforcement did result in adverse impacts”, other, white-majority, communities also live under this inadequate regime, meaning the blight couldn’t be defined as racist.
The finding follows a familiar pattern by the EPA: the agency’s civil rights office went 22 years without deciding that discrimination laws were broken, despite hundreds of complaints.
More than 40 black residents have now turned to the courts, suing Advanced Disposal Services, which operates Stone’s Throw, and two water utilities for allowing heavy metals, E coli and a cocktail of harmful chemicals to leach into the water supply and, they claim, cause their abdominal cancers.
“Alabama seems to have an inordinate number of these big landfills that have created a variety of problems,” said Ted Mann, the attorney representing the residents. Mann, an Alabamian Democrat who has an abstract painting of Abraham Lincoln in his Birmingham office, said his clients feel “trapped”.
“ADEM doesn’t do much of anything,” he said. “Underfunded, understaffed and woefully and inadequately involved in the environmental issues in our state.”
The crossover between pollution and racism “is hard to not see”, Mann said. “If you see it and you ignore it, it’s because you just want to ignore it.”
Other communities aren’t able to muster legal recourse. Uniontown, half an hour west of the civil rights touchstone of Selma, is a place where nine out of 10 residents are black and the median household income is $14,000 a year. Uniontown’s roads are derelict, the only grocery store closed last year and its elementary school can only afford to educate children up to grade three.
Uniontown is also home to the Arrowhead landfill, an artificial green mountain twice the size of New York’s Central Park that looms over the tumbledown town. It can accept up to 15,000 tons of waste a day, from 33 states. In 2012, ADEM allowed Arrowhead to expand in size by two-thirds.
A group of residents have spent the past decade complaining about a smell similar to rotten eggs coming from the landfill, as well as the site’s coal ash for causing an array of health problems, such as sore throats and nosebleeds (Arrowhead said that no coal ash has been delivered to the landfill since 2010).
The landfill is a “huge hill in the midst of the community,” said Esther Calhoun, who has lived in Uniontown most of her life. “That smell … it makes you want to vomit. The pecan trees, they don’t bear any more. Even the garden that I had, we don’t use it any more.”
But in March last year, a few months before its similar Civil Rights Act decision over Stone’s Throw, the EPA ruled that Uniontown has not been subjected to “a prima facie case of discrimination.”
This knockback has shrouded Uniontown in fatalistic hopelessness, according to local activists. “They are trying to break our spirit,” said Ben Eaton, a retired teacher who speaks in a rumbling baritone and moves around with the aid of a walker. Eaton, now a county commissioner, had just come from a meeting where Arrowhead was asked to pay some fees up front so the county could afford an ambulance service.
“It’s a sort of learned helplessness,” he said. “People are hanging on by a thread right now. Well, my folks have always taught me to go down fighting, even if you go down.”
Mike Smith, an attorney for Arrowhead, said neither ADEM nor the EPA have ever found excessive odor, air pollution or water contamination. “The residents you may have spoken to have been offered multiple opportunities, both formal and informal, to present any evidence of pollution and have failed to do so,” he said.
Smith added that the Uniontown community and surrounding Perry county “benefit substantially” from jobs and “host fee” payments provided by Arrowhead, with the landfill also sponsoring school supplies for the past decade.
ADEM insists it has environmental justice top of mind in its regulatory activities, with a spokeswoman stating the agency went “above and beyond” its legal requirements when consulting with residents living in West Jefferson, Uniontown and Ashurst Bar/Smith.
“The department is confident that it has the resources and statutory authorization to properly regulate and monitor landfills in Alabama to ensure the protection of human health and the environment,” the spokeswoman added.
But even in West Jefferson, where the “poop train” was defeated, there is little hope of a lasting resolution in the tensions between the desire to generate income and community concern over quality of life.
In July, ADEM handed the Big Sky Environmental landfill a five-year extension to its permit. ADEM has also proposed changing the rules so that permits last for 10 rather than five years and has rescinded its environmental discrimination procedures, claiming its existing complaints process is sufficient.
“Let every state take care of their own trash but don’t bring it to Alabama,” said David Brasfield, the retired miner. “We just don’t need it. We’re better than that. We’re not a dump.
“But it will happen again if we let it. We cannot forget it and put it out of our minds. This is my home and I plan on defending it.”
By Elliot Booker — 3 years agoThe Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative is building a memorial to lynching victims. The group estimates more than 4,000 African-Americans were lynched in the South between 1877-1950. Among those targeted were black veterans. These men returned from war abroad having experienced something unfamiliar to them: being treated with dignity and respect –– something they didn’t receive at home in the U.S. Many black veterans challenged the racial hierarchy of the South and were seen as threats to white supremacy. WBHM’s Esther Ciammachilli spoke with Bryan Stevenson, EJI’s founder and executive director, to learn more about the legacy of lynching and the history of racial inequality in America.
Ciammachilli: Why were white people concerned about the African-American veterans who were returning from war?
Stevenson: When World War I comes along and the country needs black people to help win this war and tens of thousands of African-Americans sign up to fight for the government, there’s a new threat to racial hierarchy. There’s a new threat to the sort of white supremacy that dominates political, social, and economic life because when these soldiers return after World War I and then certainly after World War II, they’ve now been exposed to a world outside of the emancipated South. They’ve been treated in many ways with dignity and respect. They’ve been armed, they’ve been trained, they’ve been disciplined, they’ve had success on the battlefield. And when you come back like that, you do pose a threat to people who are trying to create and sustain this world where black people only submit to whites, that they live in the margins, they get off the sidewalk when white people walk by. They don’t talk back. They don’t ask questions. They are subordinate. And so, targeting veterans and challenging any sense that freedom or autonomy or equality is something that they could expect meant that black veterans were experiencing racial violence at a much higher rate than other people, and the lynching of African-American veterans after World War I, after the Spanish-American War, after World War I, and then after World War II really points that out.
Ciammachilli: And of the thousands of blacks that were lynched in the South between 1877 and 1950, how many of them were veterans? Do we know that number?
Stevenson: It’s a hard thing to determine definitively because the reports about lynchings would almost always provide almost no information about who the person was and what their background was. Our research is increasingly suggestive that as many as 10% were people who had some prior military experience.
Ciammachilli: And did this violence against black veterans only take place in the South or was it more widespread?
Stevenson: It was more widespread. I mean the states that had the highest number of lynchings were all in the American South, but you would find you know these threats all over the country. I mean in the north and the west where millions of black people were fleeing to from the South in response to lynching. There were these growing numbers of African-Americans which of course created challenges and tensions in those communities. So, you would certainly see this and in the Midwest and Ohio and Michigan and Illinois in Indiana. You would see it in the far west –– California Arizona, the northwest, you’d see it in the northeast. It was more concentrated in the American South because the American South, of course, had a rigid legalized system of Jim Crow and of segregation. And black soldiers would be tempted to step across those lines. They no longer thought that it was appropriate that they have to drink out of a colored fountain, or go to an inferior bathroom, or to get out of the way just because a white person was walking down the street.
Ciammachilli: They challenged the white supremacy.
Stevenson: Exactly. That’s right. This narrative of racial differences, ideology of white supremacy, was something that I think black soldiers felt obligated to challenge having fought for American freedom and equality.
Success abroad was also enhancing that. You know black battalions fought valiantly in France during World War I and were highly decorated and recognized. The same was true of World War II. And to be embraced by these these embattled European communities and treated as heroes to then be treated as less than human as inferior and not worthy of any dignity or respect when they got back to the American South was very difficult to accept. And so there were tensions and conflicts emerging from that.
Ciammachilli: And you know I want to talk about actually what it was like for these men who enlisted to fight for the American freedom that they did not enjoy as civilians. What was life like for these men while they were in the military? Were they seen as equals by their white counterparts?
Stevenson: Well even in the military there was segregation, and that’s why this was a national problem, not just a southern problem. The United States military did not permit black people to serve alongside of white people. You know during World War I or World War II, but they fought so valiantly and effectively that it became harder and harder for the American government to justify this kind of segregation. But there’s no question that even during their military service they had to deal with racial segregation and racial separate separation. But I think there was still an affirming experience because they were armed they were trained they were empowered to do things that they could not do on domestic soil and then they had success. And I think that success really created a consciousness that, you know, we cannot continue to accept this white supremacy, this ideology that we’re somehow less capable. And you know there were many leaders in the African-American community that were urging black people to fight during World War I and certainly during World War II on the hope that valiant service, successful service, would then create payment from the American government of freedom of equality. It would ensure that the American government would do more to eliminate Jim Crow and segregation and to end the terrorism and violence that black people had endured since emancipation.
Ciammachilli: And you know speaking of emancipation and following the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868, which states that all those born in the United States regardless of race are subject to the same “privileges and immunities” of citizens, following the passage of the 14th Amendment, several states actually made moves passed laws that essentially stripped certain rights from black veterans. Can you talk about some of those laws?
Stevenson: I mean, I do think that one of the challenges that we have in American society is that we haven’t really come to grips with how burdened we are by our history of racial inequality. I really don’t believe we’re free in this country. I think we’ve all been compromised. We’ve all been infected by this narrative of racial difference. I think our history of racial inequality has created a kind of smog that we all breathe in and it creates problems for us even today. It doesn’t take much to create distrust or offense or conflict. And I think that’s a product of our failure to deal honestly with this history.
I think we are a post-genocide society in America. I think what happened to native people when white settlers came to this continent was a genocide. And we haven’t done the things you’re supposed to do to recover from genocide, we had millions of native people slaughtered through famine and war and disease and we haven’t really addressed that. What we did instead was create this narrative of racial difference. We said, “Oh no, those native people, they’re savages. We don’t have to worry about their victimization.” And that narrative shaped the legacy of slavery. And as I’ve said, I don’t believe the great evil of American slavery was involuntary servitude or forced labor. I think the great evil of American slavery was the ideology of white supremacy. It’s the narrative we created to make ourselves feel comfortable owning other people we said black people aren’t the same as white people that got these deficits. They’re not fully human. And that problem wasn’t addressed with the constitutional amendments. They don’t talk about ending the narrative of racial difference or the ideology of white supremacy and because of that, you see states –– as you suggest –– creating local statutes and ordinances that are designed to prevent enforcement of rights under the 13th and 14th Amendment. And because of that, I don’t think slavery end in the 1860s, I think it just evolves. And the era of lynching and terrorism and violence that we witnessed in this country between the end of Reconstruction and World War II is dramatic evidence of that. There’s never been a time when you could see thousands of people gathering to witness a black man or woman or child being burned alive, being mutilated, being brutalized and murdered in the public square with no risk of prosecution.
Ciammachilli: As if it’s entertainment.
Stevenson: It was like a carnival. And the people didn’t wear a mask. People tend to think that this was violence committed by hate groups and the Klan. No these were unmasked leading citizens. It was often the elites, the teachers, the doctors, the writers, the people who were the business leaders of a community that participated in this violence and these mass atrocities were devastating to our commitment to the rule of law. And I don’t think we’re going to be a healthy nation until we acknowledge and recognize this legacy. When you go to South Africa, you can’t spend time there without being confronted with the history of apartheid. If you go to Rwanda they will make you listen to the stories of the genocide. Germany has created a new identity for itself by memorializing and marking the legacy created by the Holocaust. You can’t go a hundred meters in Berlin, Germany without seeing a marker or a stone that’s been placed next to the home of a Jewish family. The Germans want you to go to the Holocaust Memorial and reflect soberly on that history. But in this country we don’t talk about slavery. We don’t talk about lynching. We don’t really talk about the legacy of segregation. Here in Alabama, we’ve got hundreds of memorials and monuments honoring and recognizing the Confederacy. We romanticize that era. We celebrate Confederate Memorial Day as a state holiday. We celebrate Jefferson Davis’ birthday as a state holiday here in Alabama. We don’t have Martin Luther King Day we had Martin Luther King/Robert Lee day. And yet with this preoccupation with mid-nineteenth century history we do not talk about slavery. There’s no place in the state you can go and have an honest experience with the legacy of slavery. We don’t talk about lynching.
And so, our work is really aimed at changing that. We put out these reports about lynching and slavery. We’re going to build a museum here in Montgomery. We’re going to create a national memorial to victims of lynching. But we’re doing it because we want to create a different relationship to this history, not just for African-Americans, but for everybody. I think we will all benefit from dealing more directly, more honestly, more soberly with this legacy and we can change our identity too just as Germany has, just as Rwanda has, just as in South Africa. But we can’t do it by continuing to deny and resist efforts at confronting and acknowledging this troubling past.
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