Sunday, December 23, 2007
Kwanzaa Celebration Attacked in Memphis
Man, 2007 has been a year of hell for Black people in America. Let’s see. Young Black males and females have been brutalized by police departments across the country. President George W. Bush and his band of his conservative brothers in Washington DC as well as states across the nation have rolled full steam ahead in their efforts to dismantle damned near every civil liberty and societal gains ever made by people of color in this country. I believe that he will fight and scratch until his very last day in office to make sure that what he started as President will continue long after he is no longer the President of the United States. The Republican right wingers and the conservative extremists in society have made sure that they have left no stone unturned when it comes to tuning back the racial hands of time. This is on a national level.
Recently, in the city of Memphis, a White, Christian, Conservative politician by the name of Chris Thomas, who serves as the city probate court clerk, reared his ugly racist head by waging an all out war on the cultural celebration of Kwanzaa. He is claiming that an annual Kwanzaa celebration that is hosted by another politician in the city, Shelby County Board Commissioner, Henri R. Brooks (an African American) discriminates against Christians and Jews in the city. You see. Thomas is objecting to Ms. Brooks holding the celebration in the chamber of the County Commission. The reason Ms. Brooks wants to hold the celebration in commission chambers is because The Memphis Pink Palace Museum wanted to charge the tax payers $300.00 and she did not think it was fair to us as tax payers! Way to go, Commissioner Brooks!
Today, I was listening to a local radio talk-show in Memphis, “Real Talk” with Jennings Bernard http://www.memphisrealtalk.com/ when former city councilman and county commissioner, Shep Wilbun, called into the show and stated, “This is an old issue. As a county commissioner, I have held a Kwanzaa celebration in the county commission chambers, the county school board auditorium, and in the Shelby County Building. I think this is an old issue that is being re-hashed by Chris Thomas because of his possible bid for Shelby County Mayor in 2010. I think that he is attempting to gain brownie points with a certain constituency out in the county.”
Chris Thomas is of the personal belief that Kwanzaa is a religious celebration and stated that groups that practice the religions of Christianity and Judaism are not permitted to hold religious events in public facilities. He is basically crying foul in this regard. I am pretty sure that Chris Thomas does not include Blacks in his brand of Christianity. In my opinion, this has nothing to do with whether or not Kwanzaa is a religious celebration or not. I agree with Shep Wilbun. I think Chris Thomas is playing the race card in order to gain brownie points. I think that he is a candidate that has been re-elected because he is white and not because he has done a good job as probate court clerk. He is really showing his true colors (no pun intended) in this situation. Chris, if you want to be the new county mayor in the future, this is not the way you go about the process of becoming the next mayor of Shelby County.
Attacking Kwanzaa is a very poor start, Mr. Thomas. There are so many other real issues in the city that you can attack or even address that would possibly get this voter’s attention. However, if dirty, racial politics has been your strategy all along, I guess you would not be familiar with good old fashioned campaigning. Your argument over whether or not Kwanzaa is religious in its make-up is sad and weak. I am sure the current Shelby County, Mayor AC Wharton, and any judge you cry and moan to will see it the same way. You should be ashamed of yourself for having such bigoted and racist beliefs. Christian? I don’t think so!
This latest attack on Black or African American culture has really pissed me off. Every time you turn on the television, Black people and Black culture is being attacked. It is as if certain segments of Caucasian America have laid down the racial gauntlet and are held bent on putting Niggers back in their place. In the city of Memphis, TN racial division is nothing new. A certain segment of Caucasian Memphis wants to see Blacks removed from the city and this is not an exaggeration. People like Chris Thomas don’t bother me because as history has taught me, his behavior is to be expected. However, I am always concerned about the seemingly intellectual stagnation of Blacks in the city of Memphis and across the country. It is as if we (as a race) are just sitting around waiting for a Jesus figure to come and save us from these wicked racial attacks.
I know that all Caucasians in Memphis and in America don’t think and believe as George W. Bush or Chris Thomas, but it would be nice if the ones that claim to not have a racist bone in their body would speak up every once in a while when a negative representative of their community or race dares to speak-out on their behalf. Also, some Black people in the city of Memphis need to get up off of their frightened, lazy, Christian asses to speak up for themselves for a change when these racial attacks arise! Hell, Henri Brooks can’t do all of the fighting by herself! In closing, I want to take you back to the radio I listened to today, “Real talk” with Jennings Bernard. Today’s guest host was veteran journalist and radio talk show host, Leon Gray. Leon is a widely known in Memphis for his writing and talk show persona. Some may even describe him as being too controversial for Memphis radio because of his unique brand of talk that assures that the intellect in all of us will be challenged and even held hostage at times whenever we engage in dialogue with him over the air about a topic of the day. It doesn’t matter if the topic is local, national, or international; Leon is ready for all callers.
I recalled Leon because as I listened to him discuss the latest attack on Kwanzaa by city probate court clerk, Chris Thomas, with callers, Leon made a statement that struck a chord with me, culturally, racially and even as a man. Towards the end of the conversation and at the end of the show, Leon made this statement, “It is time for a racial war! Let’s have at it! When we have at it, let the better man win. I am not talking about with guns and violence and all of that. I am talking about putting it all on the table; laying it all out between the races.” Amen, Brother, Leon! I, too, think it is past time that we open up the history books to have this intellectual stand-off with people like Chris Thomas. I think this exercise would help to kill the false of sense of racial superiority that many Caucasians in the city of Memphis and across the world feel. Most importantly, I think this exercise would finally help to remove the psychological shackles of fear and inferiority in the minds of so many Black people in the city of Memphis and across this nation when comes to how we view ourselves under this system of white supremacy.
Hmm, somehow Leon, I don’t think that many of the Black preachers in the city of Memphis would go for this historical stand-off between the races. Sadly, many of them have profited handsomely in the city off of the ignorance, fear, and sense of inferiority in the minds of so many Black people that live in Memphis. Well, if any who is reading this article plans to be in Memphis during the Christmas holidays, be sure to make contact with Commissioner Henri Brooks to find out where the Kwanzaa celebration is going to be held and maybe I will see you there.
If you would like to read up on Kwanzaa to see for yourself that it is not a religious holiday nor a religious celebration, please click on the websites below.