Monday, February 26, 2018

Historical Reflections

50 years ago, Robert Francis Kennedy was assassinated viciously by an evil human being. Today, in our generation, we acknowledge Robert F. Kennedy’s life and legacy. One major part of his legacy was his constant evolution of ideological views in being more progressive and expressing more empathy for the liberty of the human family regardless of creed or color. He was born on November 20, 1925 in Brookline, Massachusetts to the large, influential Kennedy family. His family was descendants of Irish immigrants who suffered a lot and became one of the most famous, powerful political families in American history. He was the second youngest of the Kennedy brothers. Being very competitive described his early years. Playing football, getting an education, and seeking approval from his parents definitely outlined his early years. He was the most religious of the Kennedy brothers as he constantly read books on religion and philosophy. He had the tenuous spirit like his father and he incorporated the empathy from his mother. For all of his life, Robert Kennedy would be the friend and defender of his older brother, John F. Kennedy. Yet, Robert Kennedy was his own man. To begin with, he was heavily educated and he studied law. Robert Kennedy helped JFK to be elected into the U.S. Senate by the 1950’s. Back during the 1950’s, he was even friends with Joseph McCarthy (who endorsed the anti-democratic McCarthyism campaign) and he led a crusade against mob infiltration of the unions. This made him an enemy of Jimmy Hoffa, which Robert Kennedy accused of having ties to the Mafia and executing financial corruption. RFK’s zealotry against the Mafia became legendary. By 1960’s, he helped John F. Kennedy to be elected the President of the United States of America. RFK didn’t want LBJ on the ticket as Vice President since LBJ made disparaging remarks about him and his family. JFK could tolerate Lyndon Baines Johnson (as John F. Kennedy thought politically that it would be wise to get LBJ on the ticket to get Texas in electoral votes from the South), but Robert Kennedy disliked him and vice versa.

Once after President John F. Kennedy was inaugurated President, Robert Kennedy was appointed Attorney General. This was controversial and people thought about conflicts of interests. Immediately, Robert Kennedy dealt with civil rights issues. Robert Kennedy was an advocate of equality, but people like James Baldwin, Dr. King, Lorraine Hansberry, etc. said that Robert Kennedy (as Attorney General) acted too slowly on fighting for racial justice. Robert Kennedy back then was more moderate than the late 1960’s. He believed that the courts instead of demonstrations in the streets would be the primary instrument to enact racial equality. The problem with that argument is that we have to use both the streets in demonstrations and the courts in getting real change. You have to do both, because change will come more comprehensively when using both methods. The death of JFK changed him forever. For the longest time, Robert Kennedy became despondent and depressed over the evil assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Yet, he never gave up on life. He escaped his immense grief to promote public service and to achieve his own sense of greatness. He received a standing ovation in the 1964 Democratic National Convention at Atlantic City, New Jersey. LBJ would soon win in a landslide against Barry Goldwater of Arizona after the 1964 Presidential election. Robert Kennedy decided to go into the Senate. He won the Senate race in New York state and he was in Congress. LBJ even campaigned for him. He felt bored, because the Senate can be a tedious occupation. By this time, Robert Kennedy became more liberal. He fought for gun control back in the 1960’s (which was very taboo), he opposed apartheid in South Africa (even giving a speech in South Africa to endorse an end to it), and he wanted to fight poverty (especially in the Deep South like in Mississippi). He saw firsthand the damaging effects of poverty on black families and especially little black children. That was heartbreaking for him to listen to children saying that they struggle to get food. The person who helped to show him these things is the heroic black woman Marian Wright Edelman. Marian Wright Edelman would be a lifelong advocate for social justice. RFK also expressed solidarity with the striking workers in California alongside Cesar Chavez. Subsequently, as a U.S. Senator, Robert Kennedy worked to invest in Bedford Stuyvesant, NYC (which is a famous, historically mostly African American neighborhood). In 1966, Robert Kennedy expressed more questions about the Vietnam War. He opposed the excessive U.S. bombings in the Vietnam peninsula and this angered LBJ. Robert Kennedy went further and wanted an end to the bombing in order for a negotiated settlement to come about, so the war would end. Fulbright early on opposed the Vietnam War too. Robert Kennedy delayed running for President.

Eugene McCarthy announced his run before Robert Kennedy during late 1967. By 1968, Robert Kennedy officially announced his candidacy for President on March 16, 1968. He faced opposition from pro-LBJ forces and from McCarthy (whose supporters viewed him as an opportunist). Robert Kennedy won many primaries (like in Indiana and Nebraska), lost one in Oregon, and advocated for civil rights, union rights, eliminating tax loopholes, and he fought pollution. Robert Kennedy was wise to organize a large coalition of black people (including John Lewis), unions, poor white people, Latinx Americans, etc. in winning the crucial California primary. He gave eloquent words about the assassination of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he was in Indianapolis. Also, he exposed the double standard of how poor and black Americans fought in Vietnam while the more affluent used deferments in preventing them from fighting in that unjust war. By June 1968, Robert Kennedy was shot by a sick person. Robert Kennedy soon died and it represented an end to an era. Robert Kennedy wasn’t a super liberal, but he wasn’t a reactionary either. He was a man who grew to be more progressive by the late 1960’s and he heroically stood up for causes that we must all stand up courageously in our generation too. So, we must continue in political activism, growing our consciousness, and making sure that the Dream for human justice is made real for our descendants. 

Glory and power are found concurrently in art. It motivates our curiosity and it enriches our souls in many ways. We may love it, be offended by some of it, or question it, but we aren’t ignoring its fundamental value to civilization. One of the truisms of art is that it is diverse. Art is found in the structures found in Africa, in the ink paintings found in Asia, and in the sculptures found in Europe. It is also found by works created by Native Americans and the various images found in Oceania too. That is precisely why it is important to embrace the diversity of art. Art is never a shallow force meant to be embraced a small number of human beings. It is meant to expand and spread throughout the Universe. I am an African American, so it is very important for me (and any freedom lover) to appreciate the contributions of African Americans in art. We, who are African Americans, have a long history in joy, in pain, in struggle, and in excellence. We have lived in the Americas for over five centuries and we still rise to not only proclaim our talents, but to be a beckon of light to the world. That is exemplified in how so many other people take inspiration from the African American freedom movement.  African American art, just like the varied forms of art, aren’t just related to one subject matter or genre. African American art is wide ranging to deal with quilts, abstract paintings, dance, spoken word performances, digital art, comic imagery, sculptures, and other compositions.

Time does go fast. It has been almost five years since the Black Lives Matter has existed (which started during the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin trial). It has flourished in a decentralized fashion. BLM has made it abundantly clear that it seeks grassroots organizing with progressive ideologies. Its intention and its goal are clear. It desires to give all black people, regardless of background, spaces of freedom, healing, justice, and human growth. It views the black community as a community since our African ancestors did promote communal growth spiritually and socially. One book that sums up the Black Lives Matter movement succinctly is a book written by one of its founders. It is entitled, “When they call you a terrorist: A Black Lives Matter memoir” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandle (with a forward from Angela Davis. Angela Davis is a well known fighter against the prison industrial complex). I read the whole book and it was an eye opening. A lot of the events in the book relates to the lives of many black people, especially black people form poor or working class backgrounds. Reading the stories about Patrisse’s brother, friends, father, cousins, lovers, and mother certainly reminds us that the terrorists aren’t us. We believe in the love of black people strongly. The true terrorists are those who use unjust force, under the guise of wearing a badge, to harass, to beat, and to murder innocent black human beings. The real terrorism is enacted by the prison industrial complex which has excessive bails, massive abuse of prisoners, and unfair sentencing practices.

Also, terrorism is the poverty, via capitalist exploitation, inflicted on black lives throughout the world not just in America (where tons of people struggle to gain enough income or resources to survive). The book exposes the fact that black people must have true freedom from injustices. Three black women organized the Black Lives Matter movement. Their names are Patrisse Kahn-Cullors, Opal Tomeli, and Alicia Garza. All three women want black men including black women to have their lives preserved, black women having their leadership respected, immigrants to have their lives maintained in the midst of mass deportations (organize by vicious ICE tactics), and an end to the epidemic of transgender black human beings being murdered viciously. They are overt on what they stand for. The far right hates the BLM, because of the obvious reasons (i.e. the far right hates human diversity, they believe in the myth of the nearly infallible police institution meriting no criticism, and they desire the intransigent status quo). The status quo not only doesn’t work, but it is injurious to the lives of so many people. It represents the shattered lives of so many via poverty, discrimination, abuse, police brutality, prison corruption, racism, sexism, etc. that we are frankly sick and tired of. We desire the system of white supremacy to end. In our anger over the harm done to black lives means precisely that we endorse change. A change encompasses not only progressive thinking. It entails that we treat our neighbor as our neighbor (in rejecting Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and any evil). Subsequently, real change entails that people are deserving of health care universally, quality education, housing, compassion, dignity, and total human rights. Human rights aren’t just found in documents. They exist truly in the soul and must be defended and protected by the people. Black Lives Matter isn’t about authoritarian respectability politics. It is about seeing black people are glorious, beautiful, and complex human beings who desire pure freedom in developing true happiness in our lives. We will certainly continue to fight for the people of Ferguson and Baltimore. We do this for our own black beings. Black movements for justice will continue and black liberation is our goal.

By the dawn of the 20th century, a new era existed in the world economically, socially, and politically. More nations used electrification and more innovations of infrastructure (from bridges, light bulbs, trains, and to subways) came about in order for countries to increase trade and exports. There was the replacing of horses for transportation with cars and other motorized vehicles. The expansion of the internal combustion engine grew the development of complex machines and other cars. Assembly lines advanced the creation of engines and other machine parts rapidly. Chlorine and other chemicals were placed in the water supply as a means to kill microorganisms which were viruses and bacteria. There was the increase of the standard of living and more electric appliances from refrigerators to lamps spread in homes worldwide. Also, the labor movement was very powerful. Strikes continued and the evils of imperialism overtly stretched in the four corners of the Earth. Imperialism exploited the resources of mostly areas of color in order to benefit industrialized nations without regard to the human, democratic rights of the oppressed peoples of the world. This sparked progressive movements against colonialism and imperialism to increasingly develop. Black people and others organized themselves in groups to fight Jim Crow apartheid. The events of 1906 caused a temporary recession and the economy grew.  The Panic of 1907 economically inspired the development of the Federal Reserve of 1913. The Federal Reserve was created in steps. Congress among many powerful politicians passed legislation first called the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. This occurred on December of 1913. Afterwards, the Federal Reserve existed nationwide in America.

The Federal Reserve is a central banking system that has huge control over the monetary systems of America. Many cities across the United States of America have Federal Reserve facilities. It or the Federal Reserve can raise interest rates, it can express stimulus, and it can even regulate or supervise many banks in the United States of America. Its power has expanded since 1913 and many people love it or hate (depending on the person to the very day). It acts as an independent central bank, because many of its policies don’t have to be approved by the President or Congress. WWI didn’t decrease the American economy. It expanded it by its production of exports and other resources in the war effort. More credit expanded among many banks and the 1920’s saw heavy financial speculation. This speculation was unregulated and very controversial. That is why the 1929 crash transpired in America. The Great Depression commended. Millions of human beings were in poverty. Banks in the hundreds failed. Many were homeless and laissez faire capitalism wouldn’t be enough to end the financial calamity. That was why Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in 1932 (with a historic coalition of workers, farmers, black Americans, urban community members , women, Southerners, the elderly, the poor, etc.). Roosevelt expanded the federal government massively and was key in developing the ideological framework of modern day liberalism indeed. I will forever be progressive. He used policies from the New Deal as a means to try to get people working and to prevent revolution (as there were many nationwide strikes during that era of time being implemented by heroic workers). He practically “saved” capitalism in essence.

The New Deal included many great programs (like the Works Progress Administration, Social Security, the SEC or the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Tennessee Valley Authority, etc.) and one problem wasn’t the program’s goals (of stopping Wall Street, big business financial corruption. It is no secret that many corporate banking interests hated FDR because of his progressive policies on economic issues). One problem was that many of these programs were targeted mostly to benefit white people and black people were heavily discriminated against in the implementation of these legitimate programs. That was wrong. The New Deal was a key economic experiment to see how government intervention would help those suffering massive financial ruin. The verdict is that the New Deal helped to end the Great Depression and it literally saved the lives of millions of Americans. Many factors ended the Great Depression like the massive industrial production during World War II and other things, but the New Deal caused unemployment to decline, production to increase, home ownership to rise, and GDP to massively increase to make America the strongest economic nation in the world by 1945. World War II also changed everything economically. Economic sectors grew in America during World War II. There were the rations of resources, so military production would develop. Black people, women, people of color, and others were involved in new economic opportunities in factories, and other occupations. Many of these jobs would be either permanent or temporary. It was a new frontier. Franklin Delano Roosevelt would be one of the greatest Presidents in American history having four terms of office (who gave speeches where he indicted financial interests of harming the American people. FDR's Second Bill of Rights is more progressive than Republican and many moderate Democratic proposals in our time). Also, we should never omit FDR's great achievements and great mistakes (like the unjust internment of Japanese Americans). Additionally, during that time (during the early to mid 1940's), there were racial riots, heroic strikes for economic justice, and new social changes involving culture plus music. World War II caused the defeat of the Axis Powers and the Axis Powers’ economies were in shatters as a product of their rightful defeat. After World War II, some of the most important economic developments would transpire in world history.

By Timothy

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