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While listening to some very early blues players music on youtube a while ago I had an inspirational thought that made me feel even more connected to the music because of the rough history my people have had in this country. I thought about the vileness of slavery, the hell of Jim Crow, the rough journey we’ve taken from being sold as slaves to where we are now… a free people with full constitutional rights. While listening to Arthur Crudup literally inventing a new genre of music it makes that journey seem even more remarkable to me. A very small number of oppressed black people 1 generation removed from slavery creating new art-forms that have become wildly popular all over the world. Blues, rock, jazz, R&B, etc all created in a country that officially amended our constitution counting black people as 1/5th of a person. Just that thought alone inspired me. If musical pioneers like Arthur Crudup could achieve so much with so little, it makes me feel that anything is possible regardless of your current circumstances. Unfortunately someone read my inspirational comment and got offended by it. This person read it and thought what I wrote was racist. It literally makes no sense so I decided to do a print-screen and share the exchange with everyone. Here’s the full conversation so you can decide for yourself. I didn’t edit anything out or add anything in. I did blur his name and picture because I thought it was the right thing to do.
Interesting right? I’ve never had anyone tell me I should be thankful for slavery. That is definitely a first. After the last comment above, I informed him that I would love to share our conversation on my blog which lead him to quickly delete his side of the conversation. I figured something like that might happen so I made sure I copied everything just in case. It’s weird how he saw my comment as being racist against whites. History is history. Slavery happened, Jim Crow happened, lynchings happened, the kkk happened. Using those very hard times as a marker for progress shouldn’t upset anyone and it certainly doesn’t make someone a racist for talking about it. Especially when someone talks about it in an inspirational way like I did. Americans shouldn’t be ashamed of the progress we’ve made. We should talk about it more in my opinion. That’s a pretty stark contrast from then to now. That should be celebrated. Even-though we still have inequality within our institutions we can overcome that as well. Just like the abolishment of slavery, just like ending Jim Crow, just like gaining amendments to protect our right to vote. There’s always progress to be made. In my opinion, I think he knew what he was saying wasn’t right. He probably had some time to think about it and that may have lead him to come back, read it again, and delete it. Misunderstandings happen all the time and we’re all imperfect human beings, so I don’t think any of this makes him a bad person. But that’s just my opinion.
After I posted this blog I got another comment from the same person. Apparently I have angered him. He wanted to call me a racial slur but he stopped himself and left hints about the slur he had in mind instead. So here’s the latest:
Here’s the latest developments (2/2/2016). This guy came back and deleted his comment about calling me a racial slur (the one from the 1st update), then tried to pretend he never said anything about a racial slur, and somehow I hallucinated the entire thing. He should have known I was going to screenshot the comment as soon as he posted it. It was only up for 20 seconds but I was quick enough to grab it. Here’s how it went:
After this last comment he decided he had enough and deleted everything again. People don’t know how to react when they are angry and lashing out but you are cool, calm, and rational. They end up looking like the irrational crazy person, which is what they are usually. When you’re smart, confident in your message, and honest about your point of view, there’s no need for anything extra like insults, slurs, and put-downs. Whenever I engage with people who try to attack me personally instead of debating the merits of my ideas, I try to keep that in mind. It’s hard not to call people like him assholes, but I know measured restraint is always the better option.
Bayard Rustin born on March 17, 1912 – died on August 24, 1987.
An American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, pacifism and non-violence, and gay rights. In the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), Rustin practiced nonviolence. He was a leading activist of the early 1947–1955 civil-rights movement, helping to initiate a 1947 Freedom Ride to challenge with civil disobedience racial segregation on interstate busing. He recognizedMartin Luther King, Jr.‘s leadership, and helped to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to strengthen King’s leadership; Rustin promoted the philosophy of nonviolence and the practices of nonviolent resistance, which he had observed while working with Gandhi’s movement in India. Rustin became a leading strategist of the civil rights movement from 1955–1968. He was the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which was headed by A. Philip Randolph, the leading African-American labor-union president and socialist.Rustin also influenced young activists, such as Tom Kahn and Stokely Carmichael, in organizations like the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
After the passage of the civil-rights legislation of 1964–1965, Rustin focused attention on the economic problems of working-class and unemployed African Americans, suggesting that the civil-rights movement had left its period of “protest” and had entered an era of “politics”, in which the Black community had to ally with the labor movement. Rustin became the head of the AFL–CIO‘s A. Philip Randolph Institute, which promoted the integration of formerly all-white unions and promoted the unionization of African Americans. Rustin became an honorary chairperson of the Socialist Party of America in 1972, before it changed its name to Social Democrats, USA (SDUSA); Rustin acted as national chairman of SDUSA during the 1970s. During the 1970s and 1980s, Rustin served on many humanitarian missions, such as aiding refugees from Communist Vietnam and Cambodia. He was on a humanitarian mission in Haiti when he died in 1987.
Rustin was a gay man who had been arrested for a homosexual act in 1953. Homosexuality was criminalized in parts of the United States until 2003 and stigmatized through the 1990s. Rustin’s sexuality, or at least his embarrassingly public criminal charge, was criticized by some fellow pacifists and civil-rights leaders. Rustin was attacked as a “pervert” or “immoral influence” by political opponents from segregationists to Black power militants, and from the 1950s through the 1970s. In addition, his pre-1941 Communist Party affiliation was controversial. To avoid such attacks, Rustin served only rarely as a public spokesperson. He usually acted as an influential adviser to civil-rights leaders. In the 1970s, he became a public advocate on behalf of gay and lesbian causes.