racism

‘We’re not a dump’ – poor Alabama towns struggle under the stench of toxic landfills


“That smell … it makes you want to vomit. The pecan trees, they don’t bear anymore,” said Esther Calhoun, a longtime resident of Uniontown. Photograph: Lynsey Weatherspoon/The Guardian

Oliver Millman

Selma, Alabama

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.”

READ MORE AT: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/15/were-not-a-dump-poor-alabama-towns-struggle-under-the-stench-of-toxic-landfills

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“Time for an Awakening”with Bro. Elliott 12-2-18 guest Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.

“Time For An Awakening” for Sunday 12/02/2018 at 7:00 PM (EST) our guest was Activist, Organizer, Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. The Chairman of Prisoners of Conscience Committee/ P.O.C.C, and Black Panther Party Cubs/B.P.P.C, joined us in conversation on various and topics that affect the Black Community.

Oil industry woos SC African-Americans to support offshore drilling

John A. Carlos II (copy)

 

 

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-Daniel Island, speaks to the crowd at a rally against off-shore drilling held in Columbia in February. File/John A. Carlos II /Special to The Post and Courier

 

 

It’s an affront or an opportunity, depending who you ask.

The oil interest lobbying organization American Petroleum Institute has launched a campaign targeting minority communities, including African-Americans, to promote offshore exploration and drilling for natural gas and oil. The pitch is it’s a job creator.

The effort is gauged to counter massive opposition to the offshore alternative that numbers in the millions of individuals and groups.

That opposition is largely people who are white — one of its acknowledged weak points.

But the institute’s Explore Offshore campaign has sparked some outrage.

“I’m not surprised in this political climate,” said Marquetta Goodwine, a Beaufort County resident who goes by Queen Quet. She has been dubbed chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation.

She is among the more prominent drilling opponents who are African-American. “Those things make me highly irate,” she said.

But the campaign has won some support.

“Quite frankly, what I was concerned about was there were a whole lot of white people (at a public meeting on the issue) and not a whole lot of black people,” said Stephen Gilchrist, chairman of the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce and the Explore Offshore effort in South Carolina.

“African-Americans are economically disenfranchised on the coast,” he said.

The campaign has been taken up by the African-American chamber as well as at least 68 other businesses, pro-business groups and anti-tax groups in the Southeast, from Virginia to Florida. In South Carolina, they include the Palmetto Promise Institute and S.C. Association of Taxpayers.

Industry analyst Offshore Technology reported the campaign specifically focuses on minority communities and that its support reflects the focus.

“These groups include a large representation from black, Hispanic and minority communities, which historically have shown less support for offshore oil and gas exploration than others — something the API is keen to change,” the report said.

How many jobs at stake?

The Explore effort has drawn controversy as drilling opponents brace for a long-expected Trump administration announcement of where federal leases will be offered. These leases will permit seismic blasting exploration for natural gas and oil offshore.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, an early supporter of Trump, has joined leaders of other Southeast Coast states lobbying the administration to be excluded from those leases.

Oil industry and conservation opponents have fought for more than six years over opening the Southeast coast to exploration. The Obama administration closed the waters in 2016. President Donald Trump restarted the process for the years 2019 to 2023.

The issue pits a concern for the environment and a billion-dollar tourism industry against potential revenue and jobs.

The millions opposed to the work on the East Coast include more than 120 municipalities, 1,200 elected officials and 41,000 businesses. Nearly every coastal government in South Carolina, hundreds of businesses and thousands of residents have publicly opposed the move.

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Trump Offshore Drilling (copy) (copy)
Pelicans float on the water with an offshore oil platform in the background in the Santa Barbara Channel off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., on May 13, 2010. File/Mark J. Terrill/AP

With federal momentum now shifting toward the leasing, they have been trying to rally against an intensified public push by drilling proponents who advocate “offshore energy exploration and production that can increase jobs, investments, and reliable, safe, and affordable energy,” Explore Offshore says in part on its website.

The jobs issue has been a sticking point from the beginning of the controversy. Drilling proponents say the work could bring $3.8 billion to the state’s budget and $2 billion in industry and support industry development, creating as many as 34,000 jobs, including jobs that could pay more than $100,000 per year.

Opponents say that’s wildly inflated.

“Seismic testing won’t bring the first job to South Carolina,” said Frank Knapp, president of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce. The oil industry brings in its own crews from out-of-state, he said.

“The only way you can justify thousands of jobs is to industrialize a portion of the South Carolina coast” at the cost of tourism revenue, existing coastal industries such as fishing and the environment, he said.

Gilchrist acknowledges the numbers might be best-case and the threats could well be real. But he doesn’t think that should “stop the conversation” about what economic benefits the work might bring.

“I’m just as concerned as anyone else. I don’t see this as an either-or. It’s a both-win. Let’s see if we can do this and protect the coast,” Gilchrist said. “We can be proactive rather than reactive here, figure it out on the front end.”

‘Have to get educated’

The shortfall of vocal participation among people of color in the controversy remains a problem for both sides.

“We are always looking for ways to increase diversity within the coalition,” said Samantha Siegel, a Charleston-based senior organizer for the environmental group Oceana, which is among the leaders of the opposition coalition. “We think it is important that decision makers hear from a diverse group of citizens.”

The coalition includes a diverse array of community, political and business groups, she said.

“But I do think there is more work to be done in terms of educating more folks in the state and particularly the folks that live in vulnerable communities where an oil refinery could be built one day if we don’t stop it,” Siegel added.

Gilchrist doesn’t see the Explore effort as exploitative. Asked about that, he said the work could be a shot at economic opportunity and training for a community that needs it.

“The people I know are barely making it,” he said. “We’re talking about the plight of 40 percent of our state.”

Many in the the “target” audience might just be waiting to see.

“They have to bring me something to back up (job creation),” said Awendaw Mayor Miriam Green, a town in the rural, relatively lower-income stretch of northern Charleston County. She has not been contacted by Gilchrist or the Explore Offshore effort.

One reason why her phone has been quiet? She is anti-drilling.

“People really have to get educated to what’s going on in the world today,” she said. ”(Groups) will single you out for their purposes.”

READ MORE AT: https://www.postandcourier.com/news/oil-industry-woos-sc-african-americans-to-support-offshore-drilling/article_1797390c-d3b7-11e8-84e9-4fe71b9765a0.html

“Time for an Awakening” with Bro. Elliott, 10-21-18 Part 2 guest Filmmaker Jason Black

“Time For An Awakening” for Sunday 10/21/2018 at 7:00 PM (EST) our guest was Activist, Documentary Filmmaker, Jason Black. Mr. Black was back for part II of our discussion, on his third and latest project for Black Channel Films “Race War”.

“Time for an Awakening” with Bro. Elliott, 10/14/18 guest Filmmaker Jason Black

“Time For An Awakening” for Sunday 10/14/2018 at 7:00 PM (EST) our guest was Activist, Documentary Filmmaker, Jason Black. Mr. Black discussed his third and latest film project for Black Channel Films “Race War”.

Time for an Awakening with Bro. Elliott, 09/16/18 guest Activist Amani Sawari

“Time For An Awakening” for Sunday 9/16/2018 at 7:00 PM (EST) our guest was Activist, Amani Sawari. We’ll talked with our guest Ms. Sawari, about the Prison Strike which is set to ended on Sept 9th, and get her assessments and perspectives from the people held in captivity.

‘They was killing black people’ In Tulsa, one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history still haunts the city with unresolved questions, even as ‘Black Wall Street’ gentrifies

September 28, 2018

The black city council member driving a black SUV came to a dead stop along a gravel road.

Vanessa Hall-Harper pointed to a grassy knoll in the potter’s field section of Oaklawn Cemetery. “This is where the mass graves are,” Hall-Harper declared.

She and others think bodies were dumped here after one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history: the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

For decades, few talked about what happened in this city when a white mob descended on Greenwood Avenue, a black business district so prosperous it was dubbed “the Negro Wall Street” by Booker T. Washington.

For two days beginning May 31, 1921, the mob set fire to hundreds of black-owned businesses and homes in Greenwood. More than 300 black people were killed. More than 10,000 black people were left homeless, and 40 blocks were left smoldering. Survivors recounted black bodies loaded on trains and dumped off bridges into the Arkansas River and, most frequently, tossed into mass graves.

LEFT: A man with a camera looks at iron bedframes rising above the ashes of a burned-out block in Tulsa. (Oklahoma Historical Society/Getty Images) RIGHT: National Guard troops escort unarmed African American men after the massacre. (Oklahoma Historical Society/Getty Images)

Now, as Tulsa prepares to commemorate the massacre’s centennial in 2021, a community still haunted by its history is being transformed by a wave of new development in and around Greenwood.

There’s a minor-league baseball stadium and plans for a BMX motocross headquarters. There’s an arts district marketed to millennials, and a hip shopping complex constructed out of empty shipping containers. There’s a high-end apartment complex with a yoga studio and pub.

While almost two-thirds of the neighborhood’s residents are African American, the gentrification has surfaced tensions between the present and the past. Questions about the scope of the rampage have never been resolved. Even the description of the violence is a point of contention, with some calling it the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 and others referring to it as a massacre.

“Before my grandmother died, I asked her what happened,” said Hall-Harper, whose council district includes Greenwood. “She began to whisper. She said, ‘They was killing black people and running them out of the city.’ I didn’t even know about the massacre until I was an adult. And I was raised here. It wasn’t taught about in the schools. It was taboo to speak about it.”

Vanessa Hall-Harper, a Tulsa city council member, and local activist Kristi Williams visit Oaklawn Cemetery, where many think there is a mass grave for people killed during the rampage. (Shane Bevel/for The Washington Post)

Though Tulsa officials decided years ago not to excavate the site of the alleged mass grave, arguing that the evidence isn’t strong enough, Hall-Harper plans to ask the city to reconsider.

“In honor of the centennial,” she said, “I think we, as a city, should look into that and ensure those individuals are laid to rest properly.”

A century ago, Tulsa was racially segregated and reeling from a recent lynching when Dick Rowland, a 19-year-old shoeshiner, walked to the Drexel Building, which had the only toilet downtown available to black people. Rowland stepped into an elevator. Sarah Page, a white elevator operator, began to shriek.

“While it is still uncertain as to precisely what happened in the Drexel Building on May 30, 1921, the most common explanation is that Rowland stepped on Page’s foot as he entered the elevator, causing her to scream,” the Oklahoma Historical Society reported.

The Tulsa Tribune published a news story with the headline “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator” and ran an ominous editorial: “To Lynch Negro Tonight.”

Soon, a white mob gathered outside the Tulsa courthouse, where Rowland was taken after his arrest. They were confronted by black men, including World War I veterans, who wanted to protect Rowland.

A struggle ensued. A shot was fired. Then hundreds of white people marched on Greenwood in a murderous rage.

“They tried to kill all the black folks they could see,” a survivor, George Monroe, recalled in the 1999 documentary “The Night Tulsa Burned.”

There were reports that white men flew airplanes above Greenwood, dropping kerosene bombs. “Tulsa was likely the first city” in the United States “to be bombed from the air,” according to a 2001 report by the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.

B.C. Franklin, a Greenwood lawyer and the father of famed historian John Hope Franklin, wrote a rare firsthand account of the massacre later donated to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“The sidewalk was literally covered with burning turpentine balls,” he wrote. “For fully forty-eight hours, the fires raged and burned everything in its path and it left nothing but ashes and burned safes and trunks and the like that were stored in beautiful houses and businesses.”

On June 1, 1921, martial law was declared. Troops rounded up black men, women and children and detained them for days.

Olivia Hooker was 6 years old in 1921 — the year she witnessed the massacre. (Family photo)

Olivia Hooker, now 103, is one of the last survivors of the massacre. Hooker was 6 when the violence erupted.

Her mother hid her and three of her siblings under their dining room table. “She said, ‘Keep quiet, and they won’t know you are under here.’ ”

From beneath the oak table, she and her siblings watched in horror.

“They took everything they thought was valuable. They smashed everything they couldn’t take,” Hooker said. “My mother had these [Enrico] Caruso records she loved. They smashed the Caruso records.”

Hooker, who later became one of the first black women to join the Coast Guard, has always lived with her memories of that racial terrorism.

“You don’t forget something like that,” said Hooker, who lives in New York. “I was a child who didn’t know about bias and prejudice. . . . It was quite a trauma to find out people hated you for your color. It took me a long time to get over my nightmares.”

It wasn’t until 1998 that authorities began investigating the claims of mass graves. Investigators used electromagnetic induction and ground-penetrating radar to search for evidence at Newblock Park, which operated as a dump in 1921, Booker T. Washington Cemetery and Oaklawn Cemetery.

At each site, they found anomalies “that merited further investigation,” according to the commission’s report.

Olivia Hooker, 103, poses at her White Plains home. Hooker is one of the last surviving witnesses of the Tulsa Race Massacre. (Michael Noble Jr. for The Washington Post)

Then in 1999, a white man named Clyde Eddy, who was 10 at the time of the massacre, came forward and told officials he was playing in Oaklawn Cemetery in 1921 when he spotted white men digging a trench. When the men left, Eddy said, he peeked inside the wooden crates and saw corpses of black people.

Based on Eddy’s story, state archaeologists began investigating the section of the cemetery Eddy cited. The effort was led by Clyde Snow, one of the world’s foremost forensic anthropologists who had helped identify Nazi war criminals and had determined that more than 200 victims found in a mass grave in Yugoslavia had been killed in an execution style of ethnic cleansing.

Using ground-penetrating radar, they made a dramatic discovery: an anomaly bearing “all the characteristics of a dug pit or trench with vertical walls and an undefined object within the approximate center of the feature,” the commission concluded. “With Mr. Eddy’s testimony, this trench-like feature takes on the properties of a mass grave.”

This is sacred ground. The history is being ignored, and I think it is intentional.
Vanessa Hall-Harper

The commission, created by the Oklahoma legislature in 1997 to establish a historical record of the massacre, recommended “a limited physical investigation of the feature be undertaken to clarify whether it indeed represents a mass grave.”

It never happened.

Susan Savage, who was mayor of Tulsa at the time of the proposed excavation, said in a recent interview that she had numerous discussions with officials and raised concerns about the excavation.

“Oaklawn Cemetery is a public lot,” Savage recalled. “I asked, ‘How do we do that without disturbing graves of family buried there?’ I wanted to know how we [could] protect and preserve the dignity of people there.”

A drone image of the Oaklawn Cemetery shows the southwestern corner of the property. (Shane Bevel/for The Washington Post)

Bob Blackburn, who is white and served on the commission, said he agreed with the decision not to dig at Oaklawn.

“Based on all the evidence Clyde Snow looked at, we never could pinpoint something,” he said. “In my mind that is not an unresolved issue. In terms of proving there was a mass grave, there will always be people thinking one way or the other.”

The refusal to excavate was a blow, Hall-Harper said, along with the city’s decision to ignore a recommendation for reparations to survivors and descendants of survivors.

She worries that the gentrification underway does not include efforts to resolve lingering questions about the violence.

“This is sacred ground,” Hall-Harper said. “As developers are making decisions about the Greenwood district, the history is being ignored, and I think it is intentional. They want to forget about it and move on.”

J. Kavin Ross, who wrote about the mass graves for the Oklahoma Eagle Newspaper, a black-owned publication that has been headquartered in Greenwood since 1936, said gentrification has pushed many black residents and descendants of massacre survivors out of Greenwood.

“With gentrification—we say, ‘Now you want to take an interest in Greenwood and pimp our history? And you are going to build these apartments down here, and you know darn well we are not going to spend $1,000 for a closet room,” Ross said. “We will never be able to afford to live in Greenwood.”

At Greenwood and Archer, in the heart of Negro Wall Street, sit 14 red brick buildings that were reconstructed soon after the 1921 massacre. They are all that’s left of the original Greenwood.

Tulsa Drillers fans head to the ballpark downtown. The stadium sits at the edge of the Greenwood Historic District. (Shane Bevel/Shane Bevel Photography)

On a hot summer afternoon, David Francis pushes open the door at Wanda J’s Cafe, a soul-food restaurant where black and white residents mingle.

Francis, 32, lives nearby and loves Wanda J’s chicken-fried steak and green beans. A white man born and raised in Tulsa said he first heard about the massacre when he was in high school.

“It’s unbelievable to think the genuine atrocity took place right here,” said Francis, looking outside the restaurant window onto Greenwood Avenue. “A white woman told me she remembered seeing bodies dumped into the Arkansas River off a bridge.”

The African American diners at Wanda J’s fear the changes in Greenwood, including OneOK Field, the minor-league ballpark that opened in 2010, and the luxury GreenArch apartment complex, which features a yoga and indoor cycling studio. The BMX headquarters and track are set to open next year on the edge of the historic district at Archer and Lansing.

Bobby Eaton Sr., 83, orders a cup of coffee and calls the influx of white businesses and residents “a tragedy.”

Junior Williams, 56, said gentrification is driven by the same forces that fueled the white mob nearly 100 years ago. “There was economic jealously that caused them to destroy Greenwood.”

At Lefty’s on Greenwood, where the crowd is overwhelmingly white, Nicci Atchoey said she moved into the GreenArch apartments because of its history. But Atchoey, a 39-year-old white Realtor who grew up in Tulsa, learned the details of the massacre only six years ago.

“It is really not something taught in schools,” said Atchoey, adding that many white people move to Greenwood oblivious about the history.

“I think that is unacceptable. People come to the area and go to the bars and ballgame,” she said. “The stadium is like building a Whole Foods at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing.”

As evening falls, the crowds heading to the baseball game walk over the plaques in the sidewalk dedicated to businesses destroyed in the massacre.

Near the stadium’s entrance, under Interstate 244, a mural is signed “Tulsa Race Riot 1921.” Someone has crossed out “riot” and written “massacre.” Someone else has crossed out “massacre” and left a scribble of black spray paint.

Next year marks 400 years since first African slaves arrived in Virginia

 

Slavery museum exhibit

 

 

Exhibition at the Hampton History Museum.

The first documented Africans to arrive in the English-speaking colony of what would become Virginia, arrived in August 1619 on the “White Lion,” a Dutch man-of-war ship carrying enslaved cargo from the West Coast of Africa.

The arrival of the ship was reported by colonist John Rolfe who wrote: “About the latter end of August, a Dutch man of Warr of the burden of a 160 tunnes arrived at Point-Comfort, the Commandors name Capt. Jope. He brought not any thing but 20 And odd Negroes, w(hich) the Governo(r) and Cape Merchant bought for victuals.”

The “20 and odd Negroes” had been captured in 1619 from “the Kingdom of Ndongo” in Angola. They were packed with more than 350 enslaved Africans aboard the Sao Joao Baustista, a Portuguese slave ship that set sail from the coast of Africa, bound for Vera Cruz, on the coast of Mexico.

“The ship was overcrowded,” said James Horn, the historian who serves as the president of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation. “It suffered horrible mortality on the voyage to Vera Cruz.”

And in the middle of the voyage on the high seas, the ship was attacked by two English pirate ships — the Treasurer and the White Lion — hoping to steal gold. Instead, they found human cargo.

The English boarded the ship and split the human cargo between the White Lion and the Treasurer. Weeks later, the White Lion arrived at Point Comfort in Virginia, where its captain traded the enslaved people for food.

Among those traded were a man and woman who were later named Antoney and Isabella and whose baby would become the first documented African baby baptized in English North America.

“Antoney Negro and Isabell Negro and William theire[sic] child baptised [sic]” are listed in the 1624 census in Virginia, becoming the first African family recorded in the colony.

That baby was named William Tucker, though not many more details about his life are known.

Telling the history

On Friday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and other state officials visited the cemetery where it is believed the descendants of William Tucker are buried.

Next year, Virginia will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in English North America, who arrived on the slave ship that docked near the seawall of Old Point Comfort —now Fort Monroe — in Hampton Roads Harbor.

What followed was more than two centuries of brutal enslavement. By the time the Civil War began in 1860, census figures showed the slave population in the United States at nearly 4 million.

State planners commemorating 1619 with “American Evolution: Virginia to America 1619-2019,” have made a deliberate effort to be more inclusive in telling the history of the early colonists and Native Americans in Virginia.

“In 2019, we have the opportunity to move forward in appreciating the merging of African, English and Native American history in the Jamestown region,” said Kym Hall, superintendent of the Colonial National Historical Park. “We want people of all backgrounds to see themselves having a history here.

“This is ground zero of what we know became a codified history of slavery and the slave trade,” Hall said.

The Tucker family cemetery, a two-acre site, sits in the historic African-American neighborhood of Aberdeen Gardens in Hampton. The cemetery has more than 104 markers, with burials dating to the 1800s.

“It’s a historic moment for us,” said Verrandall Tucker, 59, a descendant of William Tucker.

His cousin, Walter Jones, 62, said the family believes William Tucker lived at Captain William Tucker’s plantation. “This is the closest cemetery to that plantation,” Jones said. “We did research and found we’re direct descendants of William Tucker. Based on the 19 servants who first came. All of that has been documented.”

English ships first landed in what is now Virginia in April 1607. The English, according to the Hampton History Museum, feared a Spanish attack at sea and sailed farther up the James River, where they established what would be known as Jamestown.

Kristopher Peters, museum educator at the Hampton History Museum, said the story of the first Africans is still being pieced together. Much of what historians know about the first Africans in the English colonies was discovered about 20 years ago, when Spain opened its archives to researchers.

The English-built galleons that attacked the slave merchant ship Sao Joao Bautista were the fastest ships in the world at the time, with superior fire power.

“In a matter of hours,” Peters said, “they subdue the Spanish ship, come aboard and find no gold and silver. Instead they find African slaves down inside.

“Now they have a problem. They have paid a lot of money to outfit this ship and come over here. They cannot return empty handed. They don’t have the provisions to do that. They take 50 or 60 of these Africans, put them on these two ships, divide them in half and they will come to the nearest English port, which happens to be Virginia, specifically Port Comfort.”

Antoney and Isabell

Antoney and Isabell appear in the Virginia census of Feb. 16, 1624, when Captain William Tucker, a slave owner in Elizabeth City County, lists them as part of his household. A year later, Isabell and Antoney are listed in “the muster of 1625” as: “Antoney Negro, Isabell Negro.” Then he added the name of “William, theire child, baptised.”

The first documented African child in the English colony of North America may have been born on Tucker’s plantation near the Hampton River. It is possible that he was baptized in a church in what was then an area where the Kecoughtan tribe settled.

Weeks after the White Lion arrived, the Treasurer docked in Virginia with more Africans. One of the earliest black women documented in the English colony arrived on the Treasurer. She would be called Angela.

“She is the only woman listed,” said Cassandra Newby-Alexander, professor of history at Norfolk State University and author of the book, “An African American History of the Civil War in Hampton Roads.”

Angela most likely came from the Kingdom of Ndongo, where the Portuguese created a fort that later became the Colony of Angola.

“Once the Trans-Atlantic slave trade was established, they would pay mercenaries to go out and seize prisoners of war,” Newby-Alexander said. “They would then enslave them and sell the prisoners through the slave trade.”

In Jamestown, Angela became a servant in the household of Capt. William Pierce, who would serve as lieutenant governor of Virginia.

An archeological dig is underway in Jamestown to find out more about the first Africans. And researchers are trying to find more about Angela.

“How old was she when she died. Did she have a child? What did she die of?” Newby-Alexander said. “We will know more about this person if they find any remains. And we can reclaim her humanity and so many Africans who were brought to the colony and were among that first generation of Africans who helped create America.”

READ MORE AT: https://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/next-year-marks-years-since-first-african-slaves-arrived-in/article_2a5900cd-a85e-56d0-b8d3-0c921da0e1f3.html

The Secret to Keeping Black Men Healthy? Maybe Black Doctors

In an intriguing study, black patients were far more likely to agree to certain health tests if they discussed them with a black male doctor.

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Dr. ChaRandle Jordan was one of the doctors who participated in the study. “It’s something they don’t teach you in medical school — taking that extra step because you appreciate there have been barriers in the past,” he said. 

Black men have the lowest life expectancy of any ethnic group in the United States. Much of the gap is explained by greater rates of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, which afflict poor and poorly educated black men in particular.

But why is that? Lack of insurance? Lack of access to health care?

Now, a group of researchers in California has demonstrated that another powerful force may be at work: a lack of black physicians.

In the study, black men seeing black male doctors were much more likely to agree to certain preventive measures than were black men seeing doctors who were white or Asian.

Although 13 percent of the population is black in the United States, just 4 percent of doctors are black.

The study, published in June by the National Bureau for Economic Research, involved 702 black men in Oakland, Calif., who came to a clinic for a free health screening. They were randomly assigned to a black male doctor or one who was white or Asian.

Neither the men nor the doctors knew that the purpose of the study was to ask if a doctor’s race mattered when he or she advised these patients. As it turned out, the racial effects were not subtle.

Diabetes screening was part of the health check, and 63 percent of the black men assigned to a black doctor agreed to the screening. But just 43 percent of those assigned to a doctor who was white or Asian consented to be screened.

Some 62 percent of black men with a black doctor agreed to cholesterol tests, compared to 36 percent assigned to a doctor who was not black.

“If their first reaction is, ‘No, I’m not interested in that,’ you must explore why they said no and address those concerns.”

Dr. ChaRandle Jordan


Previous studies have been observational — mostly searching earlier data for trends, a substantially weaker form of evidence — and their results mixed.

“It changed the way I think,” said Jonathan Skinner, a health care economist at Dartmouth College, about the new results. “This study convinced me that the effects are real.”

The researchers employed minority premedical students to recruit participants by visiting 20 barbershops and two flea markets in Oakland, offering black men vouchers for a free health screening.

The screening was at a clinic set up by the investigators and staffed by 14 black and nonblack doctors. The men were offered preventive measures like flu shots and screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

The men who came to the clinic offered equal praise for their black, white and Asian doctors. But the patients were far more likely to consent to preventive care — screenings and vaccinations — when their doctor was also black.

If black patients were to agree to this preventive care at these rates in the real world, the gap in cardiovascular mortality between black men and the rest of the population could be reduced by 20 percent, the researchers estimated.

“I don’t think I have ever had such a strong result, so unambiguous,” said Dr. Marcella Alsan, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford University and an author of the study.

Why would black doctors have such an effect? Perhaps they used more nonverbal cues to communicate empathy, said Dr. Amber E. Barnato, a professor of medicine and health care delivery at Dartmouth College.

In another small study, she used black and white actors to study white doctors’ interactions with patients at the end of life. Although the doctors said similar things to both black and white actors posing as patients, they stood closer to the white patients, made more eye contact, and touched them more often.

In the new study, Dr. Alsan and her colleagues did not record patient visits. But some hints of the differences could be seen in comments the patients and doctors wrote in evaluations of their experiences.

The white and Asian doctors often wrote comments like “weight loss,” “tb test” and “anxiety” — cryptic notations that referred to medical recommendations.

The black doctors often left more personal notes, like “needs food, shelter, clothing, job, ‘flu shot makes you sick,’ he got one.” And “subject yelled at me but then agreed to get flu shot because I recommended it.” And “made patient laugh.”

Black men who saw white doctors wrote comments like, “It was a great and fast experience, doctor was great as well.” And “very informative, very appreciated.”

Those who saw black doctors wrote comments like, “The entire day made me feel very comfortable and relaxed” and “cool doctor” — comments that described an emotional response.

Bridging this racial divide is a fraught matter, noted Dr. Skinner.

“It doesn’t seem so controversial if a woman requests a woman physician,” he said. “If a black patient asks for a black doctor, it’s understandable, especially given this study. But what if a white patient asks for a white doctor?”

A white doctor in this study, who asked that his name be withheld because he has black patients, said he felt his interactions with those who came to the clinic were “normal, comfortable health care visits.” Still, he was not surprised to hear the study’s results.

“Anyone going to see a doctor will be nervous,” he said. “If you face discrimination regularly in life, you will go into a clinic with even more apprehensions. If you see a physician who is African-American, you will feel some relief.”

One of the black doctors who participated in the study, Dr. ChaRandle Jordan, noted that low-income black patients in Oakland tend to be guarded in the doctor’s office.

“When you go into the room, you have to ask them about themselves, establish a rapport with them,” he said. “If their first reaction is, ‘No, I’m not interested in that,’ you must explore why they said no and address those concerns.”

“They might say, ‘Each time my mother had it, she would get the flu,’” he said of patients considering flu shots. “You say, ‘How about you try it this time? I bet you won’t get the flu or it will be less severe.’ You are joking a little bit.”

“It’s something they don’t teach you in medical school — taking that extra step because you appreciate there have been barriers in the past,” Dr. Jordan added.

White doctors can reach out just as well, Dr. Jordan said, adding that a lot depends on how familiar a doctor is with black patients.

Could white doctors have more success with black patients if they carefully watched what black doctors do? “Maybe, maybe not,” said David Cutler, a professor of applied economics at Harvard University.

But now that the researchers showed that a doctor’s race can really matter to his or her patients, he said, the medical profession should take heed.

“The magnitude of the effect is so huge, how can you ignore it?” Dr. Cutler asked.

READ MORE AT: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/20/health/black-men-doctors.html

“Time for an Awakening” with Bro. Elliott 8-19-18 guest Reginald Moore and Sam Collins III

“Time For An Awakening” for Sunday 8/19/2018 at 7:00 PM (EST) 6:00 PM (CST) our guests was Texas Activists, Historians, Reginald Moore and Sam Collins II. The discussion centered around three decades of work by Mr. Moore lead to one of the discoveries of 95 bodies of our ancestors buried in a mass grave in Sugarland Texas.  We talked with the founder of the Texas Slave Descendants Society, Mr. Moore, about his efforts to uncover the brutality of the State sanctioned convict leasing and forced labor system (SLAVERY)! Also Mr. Sam Collins joined the conversation to talk about their collaborative efforts to preserve and protect some of our ancestors of legend,and locations in the state of Texas.

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