Monday, May 23, 2016

We will continue to speak Truth

There is a consorted effort on the part of some Hillary supporters to shame progressives in voting for her. Many of these supporters say nothing when a black woman protested to Hillary Clinton's face and the Sister was thrown out of the vicinity. The Sister's name is Ashley Williams who spoke her mind courageously. Hillary Clinton has told Africans that they need to get over what happened to them 50, 100, and 200 years ago. Hillary Clinton has massive links to Wall Street and corporate interests who desire a duopoly that can control the political processes in the USA. Corporate banks and lobbyists aid the Hillary campaign constantly. Hillary Clinton calling black youth "super predators" and voting for the unjust Iraq War should be criticized by people. Also, her policy in supporting the NATO attack in Libya has brought chaos in Libya. The DNC and centrist like minded "pragmatists" want the status quo. We don't. Many neo-cons like Robert Kagan support Hillary, because Hillary has a hawkish foreign policy. We want real progressive principles promoted like universal health care and an end to imperialism. No one believes that Bernie Sanders is perfect and people have criticized Sanders on many issues (as he has voted for the Crime Bill and voted for the extradition of Assata Shakur, which is wrong. I have mentioned this before throughout the Internet. Many black people opposed the Crime Bill back then too which some people omit amazingly). Yet, it is hypocritical for some to have a pass on Hillary Clinton (who promoted the Honduras coup, the coup in Ukraine, and other reactionary policies). We know that neoliberalism and the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act set the stage for the global recession, which started in 2007. Hillary Clinton is a corportatist and a militarist. Clinton says that revolutionary change is unrealistic, but I recall that many people decades ago called the Voting Rights Act & the Civil Rights Act unrealistic (yet, those skeptics were wrong). I don't support Trump either. The fact is that black people have every right to embrace political independence and not to be shamed by others.

Industrial growth grew into another level by the 19th century. The Pennsylvania state government left Philadelphia in 1799. The United States government left in 1800. During this time, the city was one of America’s busiest ports and the country’s largest city with 67,787 people living in Philadelphia and its contiguous suburbs. Philadelphia maritime trade was interrupted by the Embargo Act of 1807 and then the War of 1812 (where the British and Americans fought each other). After the war, Philadelphia’s shipping industry never returned to its pre-embargo status. New York City succeeded it as the busiest port and the largest city in America. The embargo and decrease in foreign trade led to the development of local factories. These factories produced goods no longer available as imports. Manufacturing plants and foundries were built and then Philadelphia existed as an important center of paper related industries (like the leather, shoe, and boot industries). Coal and iron mines and the construction of new roads, canals, and railroads helped Philadelphia’s manufacturing power. The city became the United States’ first major industrial city. Some of the major industrial projects were like waterworks, iron water pipes, a gasworks, and the U.S. Naval Yard. Many workers were exploited economically. So, about 20,000 Philadelphia workers staged the first general strike in North America in 1832. They wanted to end exploitative working conditions. These workers won the ten hour workday and an increase in wages. In addition to its industrial power, Philadelphia was the financial center of the country. Along with chartered and private banks, the city was the home of the First and Second Banks of the United States, Mechanics National Bank and the first U.S. Mint Cultural institutions, such as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Athenaeum and the Franklin Institute also developed in the nineteenth century. The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Free School Law of 1834 to create the public school system.

In the mid and later 1840’s, immigrants from Ireland and Germany came into the city. This increased the population of Philadelphia and its suburbs. In Philadelphia, as the rich moved west of 7th Street, the poor moved into the upper class’ former homes. These homes were converted into tenements and boarding houses. Many small row houses crowded alleyways and small streets. Some of these areas were filled with garbage and the smell of manure from animal pens. During the 1840's and 1850's, hundreds died each year in Philadelphia and the surrounding districts from diseases such as malaria, smallpox, tuberculosis, and cholera, related to poor sanitation and diseases brought by immigrants; the poor suffered the most fatalities. Small row houses and tenement housing were constructed south of South Street. There were issues of violence too. Gangs like the Moyamesning Killers and the Blood Tubs controlled various neighborhoods. During the 1840's and early 1850's when volunteer fire companies, some of which were infiltrated by gangs, responded to a fire, fights with other fire companies often broke out. The lawlessness among fire companies virtually ended in 1853 and 1854 when the city took more control over their operations. During the 1840's and 50's, violence was directed against immigrants by people who feared their competition for jobs and resented newcomers of different religions and ethnicities. The Gangs of New York film outlined these tensions which were common in Northeastern and Midwestern cities back then. Nativists were bigots and their views are similar to the Tea Party. Many of them were anti-Irish and some didn’t like Catholics. Violence against immigrants occurred constantly. The worst in the Philadelphia was the nativist riots in 1844. Also, violence against African Americans was also common during the 1830's, 40's, and 50's. Immigrants competed with them for jobs, and deadly race riots resulted in the burning of African-American homes and churches. In 1841, Joseph Sturge commented "...there is probably no city in the known world where dislike, amounting to the hatred of the coloured population, prevails more than in the city of brotherly love!"  Several anti-slavery societies had been formed and free blacks, Quakers and other abolitionists operated safe houses associated with the Underground Railroad, but many working class and many ethnic whites opposed the abolitionist movement.

The Great Depression (which was caused by bad policies from many large banking interests) harmed America greatly. In the three years after the stock market crashed in 1959, 50 Philadelphia banks closed. Of those, only two were large which were: Albert M. Greenfield’s Bankers Trust Company and Franklin Trust Company. Savings and loans associations also faced trouble. They had trouble with mortgages of 19,000 properties being foreclosed in 1932 alone. By 1934, 1,600 of 3,400 savings and loans associations had shut down. Regional manufacturing fell by 45 percent from 1929 to 1933. In the same time, factory payrolls fell by 60 percent, retail sales fell by 40 percent and construction had it payrolls fell by 84 percent. Unemployment peaked in 1933 when 11.5 percent of whites, 16.2 of African Americans, and 10.1 percent of foreign born whites were out of work. Mayor J. Hampton Moore was wrong to blame people’s economic woes not on the worldwide Great Depression, but on laziness and wastefulness, and claimed there was no starvation in the city. Soon, he fired 3,000 city workers, instituted pay cuts, forced unpaid vacation, and reduced the number of contracts that the city awarded. These actions were unpopular with the unemployed. The city prevented defaulting on its debts and people say that millions of dollars were saved.  The city relied on state money to fund relief efforts. Moore's successor S. Davis Wilson instituted numerous programs financed by Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal's Works Progress Administration, despite condemning the program during his mayoral campaign. At the peak of WPA-financed jobs in 1936, 40,000 Philadelphians were employed under the program. Encouragement from the state government and labor’s founding of the CIO (or the Congress of Industrial Organizations), Philadelphia became a union city. Many trade unions used discrimination against African Americans for years and they were closed out of some labor advances.  There has been workers’ dissatisfaction with conditions led to numerous strikes in the textile unions, and the CIO organized labor in other industries, with more strikes taking place. During the 1930’s, the Democratic Party began to grow in Philadelphia. This has been influenced by the leadership of the Roosevelt administration during the Depression. A newly organized Independent Democratic Committee reached out to residents. In 1936, the Democratic National Convention was helped in Philadelphia. The majority of voters in the city reelected the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt as President. They also voted for Democratic Congressmen and state representatives. City government continued to be dominated by Republicans, but the politicians were elected by small margins. The beginning of World War II in Europe and the threat of the U.S. becoming involved generated new jobs in defense related industries. After the U.S. became involved in the war in 1941, the city mobilized. Philadelphia has consistently met war bond quotas and when the war ended in 1945. 183,850 residents were in the U.S. armed forces.  With so many men serving in the military, there had been a labor shortage; businesses and industries hired women and workers from outside the city. In 1944 the Company promoted African Americans to positions as motormen and conductors (from which they had previously been excluded) on public transportation vehicles. Resentful, other PTC workers protested and began a strike that nearly immobilized the city. President Roosevelt sent troops to replace the striking workers. After a federal ultimatum, the workers returned after six days. This was the time when African Americans were fighting for their economic rights.

There is that double standard where folks who wear Trump stickers or bottom are not reprimanded (according to her), yet Sister Krystal Lake has been disrespected online by having her hat shown. Many people want to worship America as God. I don't. I don't believe in the deification of America or in the myth of American exceptionalism. Since America's origin, it has been filled with colonization, slavery, sexism, and other evils. Jefferson didn't believe in the principle of "all men and all women are created equal." He and other hypocritical so-called "Founders" owned slaves and wanted a wealthy oligarchy to dominate American society. Krystal Lake has shown courage with her displaying her hat. She took a risk since her action could violate Home Depot's policies. We know that she took a risk. Yet, heroes throughout history have taken risks, sacrificed, and even violated unjust laws in order for them to get their points across and to fight for real social change. I think that the message on her hat has sparked debate. I do realize that we have to use chess not checkers when dealing with the 1%. I do realize that we should be careful on how we execute our deeds, but we should also be courageous too. I think that this story represents a black woman showing an important message that people should think about. She is right that America must improve. She is right to say that many of Trump's supporters (many of them include white supremacists, sexists, racists, and xenophobes) can't stand anyone disagreeing with Trump in a progressive way. She is right that America has a hypocritical attitude towards many people. Therefore, we know the the battle is not won yet, but we carry on. We carry on, because our ancestors carried on, fought against injustice, and suffered the most cruel, inexpressible injustices in human history (and yet, they still survived). We carry on, because it is always right to do right and advocate for social justice. We carry on, because true Love is not wrong and we believe in real principles (like an infrastructure bill to create jobs, policies of increasing the federal minimum wage, actions to promote international collaboration, policies to end imperialism, and investments in science plus technology so diseases can be cured and lives can be saved). That is what's we're fighting as black people. Before the Pilgrims existed in this land, we were here. Our ancestors picked cotton and were abused against their will by barbaric terrorists. Therefore, we have every right to criticize the evils in America and praise Americans who stood up for justice. So, I wish the best for Sister Krystal Lake.

By Timothy

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