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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:52 am 
The highlight of Monday's, Martin Luther King Day, at WNMU's Light Hall was when Silver City native Rachael Ross sang her version of the iconic, horrifying song "Strange Fruit" written in 1939 and made famous by the likes of Billy Holiday, Nina Simone and Diana Ross, about the black humans hung, lynched, throughout the south and what they looked like hanging from the tree and Rachael did it justice by filling the hall with her voice and penetrating our consciousness.

Before Rachael's music there was some Baptist preacher stuff and an honoring of some volunteers for a senior help program and the MLK Hall Of Fame inductees, Gary Stailey and Senator Howie Morales. After the music was a showing of the mediocre film "Selma"; mediocre because if you weren't at least in high school in 1965 you had no idea what was happening in the film; it was more nostalgia for the old crowd than a teaching moment for the younger generation.

One more thing: for Rachael's second song she partnered with rapper Dezmond Wheeler, which was an exiting concept until he was drowned out and denied equal vocal time; it held so much promise.

 Author: JE1947
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:26 am 
I talked for an hour and a half to an old girlfriend who is a staunch Democrat last night, and the subject of race came up. As a result, I wanted to say what Martin Luther King, Jr., meant to me as I grew from teen to soldier, gung ho for Vietnam to one who by the summer of 1967 was ejected from an Army hospital for writing an anti war letter against the Vietnam War to one who was still in the Army the day MLK was shot.

First, for whatever reason, growing up in Indiana town that was essentially all white, I knew no more than two black boys, maybe one girl, in high school or parochial school before that. My town was a mix of Irish, Italians, Germans, some Poles, but mostly Western or Eastern European white people. My father was a WW II vet who got points for his service & worked as a fire fighter, did two other jobs to help us go to parochial school. One of the kids in our class was a black kid who was kind of odd, but primarily because he was simply so bright ... he had a family in Chicago but his family had decided to send him to his grandmother or she had taken him & he was the only black kid I knew. He was a good kid. I don't think he had a mean bone in his body. Sometimes he would become angry and kind of roar more like a man and scared the shxt out of me when he did that.

His name was Harry Brooks. I do not know what happened to Harry. I remember one time, after i came back from Vietnam, I was drunk as always, and he said something kind to me ... I think like others, he was of the mind ... something happened to Jerry in Vietnam. He was right, but I denied it. To everyone.

By the time I was fifteen or, or so, I'd become so interested n the Civil rights Movement, mainly from the sense of outrage at what I saw happening in the South, that I sent some money to either NAACP or CORE. I want to say that my father, who may have used the "N" word was not, at heart a racist. He grew up as I did, where I did, and he used the word more out of ignorance and habit. He did not, to my knowledge, EVER show discrimination to any African-Americans when I was around. He knew Harry because he was active in our church (My Dad) and we all knew one another ... there were only 16 of us in our graduating class.

However, we would scold him if he used the "N" word. He always said he was sorry, and would try to stop it. But ... as a fireman, he knew the power of fire hoses. Once, watching on a likely black and white TV, Civil Rights workers being savagely beaten,by racist cops in the South, dogs set upon them, and fire hoses used to literally knock them down and roll them along the side walk, my Dad turned to me and said: "That's bullshxt! He had leaned forward and was obviously upset. "Do you know how powerful a fire hose is, Jerry?" I wasn't sure. "If the pressure is on full blast, and a person sticks their arm out straight, it could likely break it." The demonstrators were getting the living hell beaten out of them. He was also incensed as i was, at the use of police dogs. He'd fought in Germany and seen Ordruf Concentration Camp, which he said caused many GIS to want to kill Germans on sight. He had seen German dogs used in concentration camps and as animals that were trained to be set upon prisoners, certainly concentration camp inmates. He despised them. Germans and their dogs.

In 1964, the three civil rights workers were slaughtered, buried under crushing earthen dam, and everyone was "clueless" about what happened to them. The hypocrisy of southern law enforcement was obvious, and to me, represented one of the ugliest sides of America I had seen. I'd wanted to go south for demonstrations, but my parents said "no." They saw the hatred, the violence, the terror, and said "no." I sent money instead.

In the Army, in infantry units,at least half of our strength was either African-American or Hispanic. That was a huge adjustment growing up in a small white bread community. In south Korea, as part of a mechanized infantry company, that ratio held. We also had several South Koreans in our platoon. We were the weapons squad for our platoon. I was an assistant recoilless rifle gunner. Life expectancy for all of us if the North Koreans invaded again was no more than a few days. As a recoilless rifle gunner, we were expected to try & take out soviet tanks. Lots of luck.Fire one round, maybe two, from no more than 100 meters, and if a real tank assault was under way, we'd be blown to bits by the end of round two. It was a sobering notion, and one that wasn't enhanced by never firing a real round at a real tank, even an old American tank. My gunner was an African American named Charlie Burgett. We were friends. We drank lots of booze together. The machine gunners were black and white as was the other recoilless rifle gunner/assistant.

I volunteered for Vietnam and went. Charlie remained in Korea. We wrote back and forth. I got shot on 3 November 1966, and the first guy to cral up to me once the firing diminished, was a black guy who was concerned about whether I was badly wounded. I was. My right arm had nearly been shot off & the first round had gone so close to my left ear I felt it. During a year of hospitalization, I was with many other men of color. On my 21st birthday, 1968, April, a friend who had been in Army hospital with me in Japan and had been reassigned to Ft. Knox, was there. We drank lots of whiskey, as alcoholics do. Lots. We were friends. But, he was a racist from Arkansas. I ignored his comments, or gave him some "shxt" but many men in the Army in the sixties were from the South, or other places. The tension in the Army was palpable over race. It got worse. There were many racial "flare ups" in Vietnam over the disproportionate number of African Americans who were in the combat arms.

As we returned to Ft. Knox the day MLK was murdered, we heard the roar of C-130s on the airbase. they were taking at least a full brigade of combat troops to various cities where riots were underway.My friend was happy. He told me: "I might get me a chance to shoot a "N." They may give us live ammo. I was disgusted. And, devastated at the loss of MLK. Medgar Evers had been killed and I remember that. I remembered the church bombings. I despised the Confederate flag. I still do. It is a bullshxt argument about ... oh, the civil war wasn't about slavery. Bullshxt. It was always about slavery. White people owning black people; white slave owners getting slave women pregnant; denying the obvious; white slave owner wives ignoring the obvious. See "Twelve Years as a Slave" or "Birth of a Nation." Maybe that is one reason women in the anti-abortion movement allow men to run the show. It is a despicable group, the anti abortionists.

Having seen JFK assassinated; then Medgar Evers; the three Civil Rights workers; other atrocities against demonstrators; then MLK; and Bobby Kennedy assassinated three days before I was discharged, I got out of the Army a very, very angry 21 year old man. I despised the bullshxt that came from the South. There were plenty of racists in my home town and North. but, I felt sick by what the underbelly of America had become by the time Bobby was killed. I was drunk a lot from then on until 1982. I never forgot the day my Dad told me about the fire hoses. I know that I was proud of him in a way, because the experience had become personal with that revelation. My Dad did change. He was not a bad man. He was not a mean man. He was an alcoholic like me, we drank alike, but he was a good man at heart. I think of him going to WW II, a tremendous sketch and cartoon artist, who never got to go to art school because depression>>war>>kids>>parochial school>>my Mom raging at him for drinking too much but never calling him an alcoholic. Had she, she might have gotten her own "recovery," and he might've gotten sober earlier. He stopped drinking three months before he died of esophagus cancer. I had gotten sober ahead of him. He read a daily reader I gave him. I am sober 34.5 years but i cant say "how." No big deal. That's a joy and a gift from god.

I bring all this up because of the tyrant we have in the White House. I am extremely sad that as I near 70, this is happening to my country. The man is a malignant narcissistic sociopathic personality, although psychiatrists say, no, not according to the Diagnostic Service Manual. Well, big deal. So he's not certifiably those things. He is a cruel piece of humanity. He has done more damage to America as I know it, especially as a disabled combat vet who went to war willingly, to defend what I felt were our interests. Serving in the military goes back to the Revolution for me and my family.
FORTUNATELY, we have NO relatives who served the cause of slavery that I know of. For a long time, on upper Market, Snake Hill, someone flew a Confederate Flat day and night. I often felt like ripping it down, but this is America. Free speech.

Now, we have a man who is likely to deport Mexicans as soon as possible. By the MILLIONS. I wonder just what will happen. I think he is as vile a person as I can imagine. An embarrassment to me as an American. I have two sisters and probably other relatives who voted for trump. It is baffling to me. but, there it is. I don't know what this means to anyone. I know that I am happy for whatever reason, god put in me a sense of ethics that survived alcoholism and drug addiction and the corrosive effects of war and the after burn. For awhile, it seemed we had made progress on race, but the last eight to ten years, life has become very difficult for black people again. I don't sense Trump will do anything to back that off. The GOP is a spineless organization. they have courted the Southern Dixie Vote ever since LBJ pushed through Civil Rights and voting rights legislation. He did that and has been lambasted as a buffoon, but he did it, not JFK. He may not have had the purest motives, but who does? He did a lot to advance the rights of African Americans. He certainly advanced voting rights, which seem to be curtailed more and more.

It is in a sense, disgusting what we see coming from the White House. It is disgusting to hear my sister blame Obama as a "divider" when he will likely go down as one of our greatest Presidents. It is disgusting that the alt right was able to blast away the possibility of a woman becoming a President. I know many who despised her (my sisters) for whatever reason. Simply for many: I don't want a woman as a President.

I hope that the millions of women who demonstrated the day after the world's biggest inauguration event, "ever," will rise up like so many giants, and kick ass politically in the next two years. I was proud some friends from Dayton were in DC. And I know they are activated against Trump.
It is a shame to think as I grow older, my country will turn to homemade shxt. but, with the attitudes that foster so many young black men being shot and killed without provocation, I see it sinking into a morass. Racism is America's Holocaust.Surely as many lives have been ruined by the racism that the GOP now courts. It courts them and it won. they dominated our congress and many state houses.

Too bad if GOPers don't like that. It is what I see more and more. Racism is evil. You court racists, expect to be tarnished with the veneer of evil. That's how I see it. It's not possible to play with the Devil and not sell one's soul. Literally or figuratively. Such is the slide into the morass. I feel that it is important that we who have been through this crucible, express ourselves. We must share with others, especially younger, that America is
in trouble.And that many freedoms gained since the sixties are in danger of being LOST. L O S T. L O S T.

Please forgive me if this sounds angry. Anger is secondary. Disappointment and sadness over what my country has done is first. God bless you all who demonstrated. I hope that I am feeling better and can demonstrate against the Supreme Court nomination. Trump is at heart, cruel. Business Insider had a very good article on the psychology of Trump. He is clearly a man who feels very inadequate. A very inadequate man. Mocking him as such will be fair. His manly inadequacies are now spewed upon us. It's the least I can do to call it the way I see it. God bless you all again.

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