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I Declare: It HAS Gotten Better!

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message William P. Homans       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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There's this fellow on my regular internet/facebook discussion board called "Natural Thinking" who opined that "race relations in the United States have never been worse," and invited us all to rebut him. The fellow is a self-described center-rightist leaning toward Cruz. A conservative (soi-disant) of the modern day.

Well, we have been trying to pry evidence from him as to why he would hold such an opinion. I finally have given him THIS to either respond to (in addition to the volume of other evidence and information which he has fobbed off in a couple of weeks of thread), or declare that his opinion was shallow and of no import.

So, BUMP for David. Please see my post above, which starts, "But David, it's not just 'a good story.' "

If this is a debate, and not just entertainment, you need to adduce some useful evidence to support your premise. Those of us who grew up in the southern United States, black, white and sky-blue pink, as my grandmother used to say, know that your premise does not hold water.

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Somehow you have gotten an utterly contrary view of the democratic progress that has brought the minds of so many millions of people beyond thinking of themselves as the bosses, the masters-- the massahs-- over the sweep of American history.

Somehow you have failed to witness the progress in racial relations that has occurred since Brown v. Board of Education in 1948, and was solidified, never to step back, by the Civil Rights Act of 1965.

My father, you know, David, was a civil rights attorney, a colleague of William Kunstler, and on one occasion an instructor of F. Lee Bailey. He defended Freedom Riders in the 1950s, when Jim Crow was hanging on as hard as it could. Read his biography, "William P. Homans Jr.: A Life In Court", by Boston College law professor Marc Brodin.

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Dad was as sensitive a weather-vane of racial relations as anyone in this world. And he knew that progress was uneven, and that it would continue to be uneven. And that there would be co-options and distractions.

But there was progress like the Voting Rights Act (which the GOP is trying to get rid of) that we will NOT step back from.

Time does not heal all wounds; it only heals many wounds somewhat. Some would lose the fire in the belly for non-violent change.

Dr. Ralph Abernathy, though a fine man and a legitimate taker of the helm of the Civil Rights movement after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., eventually got tired. John Lewis. Andrew Young. So many great civil rights leaders eventually got distracted enough to lose enough vision of the big picture of change.

Some urban blacks lost patience, once they saw that movement was occurring. What you see in Black Lives Matter is the heir to the King-era movement, who are, I argue, being very patient, given the both statistical and visual evidence that the law enforcement community is (I will not at this time ascribe responsibility for any such policy's origination, that's a whole other discussion) acting with undue force against a disproportionate number of POC, particularly blacks.

That is a downside of unevenness. The upside is that even here in a medium-sized town in rural Mississippi, the county seat, and a popular tourist destination in Mississippi, one of the two or three most historically (and violently) racist states in the country, blacks and whites call each other brother and sister.
Beautiful Little Girls Singing Row Row Row Your Boat
Beautiful Little Girls Singing Row Row Row Your Boat
(Image by self)
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What racism there is is much farther below the surface.

In 1999, I made my first trip to Clarksdale, let my guard down a little, and within hours was mugged, robbed and left for dead in a parking lot. The first I knew of it, I was walking through a hospital with several police, and what turned out to be multiple compound jaw fractures where I'd been beaten with a blunt object, plus a concussion.

The hospital refused to treat me, the cops said, because I was "aggressive." I was beaten unconscious, and there were three cops there to restrain me if hospital personnel couldn't.

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My name is William Perkins Homans the third, but probably more people know me as the bluesman (and artist) Watermelon Slim.

I've been in the fight against war, fascism, injustice and inhumanity for 40 years. I was at MayDay, and at the moratorium March the week before. I was one of the leaders of the Great New Jersey Turnpike Stall on my birthday, April 25, 1971.

I bear the scar on my left shin from a neoNazi jackboot, when I was one of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War who bounced the NSWPP from Flamingo Park at the Republican National Convention of 1972. My father fought the Nazis in the North Atlantic and Anzio, and I met their spawn in Miami.

My formal education has been first-rate. I wouldn't trade my degrees for Harvard ones. I was raised in the finest private Catholic and Episcopal high schools.

Elementary School: Gibbons Hall, Asheville, North Carolina

High Schools: Asheville School for Boys, Asheville Country Day, Lenox School for Boys. Graduated with honors 1968.

College: Middlebury College, 1968-DNG

1984-86: University of Oregon, B.A., Journalism and History, Departmental Honors in History, 1986.

I was also captain of the U of O bowling team, 1984-1986. High game 299.

1997-2000: Oklahoma State University. M.A., History, 2000, plus the school-teaching curriculum. Mentor: Dr. Ronald Petrin.

This was my second great self-reinvention attempt. In both, I got the degrees, but neither worked. After both, I went back to truckdriving and the blues. and now the latter makes my living. I just am not a button-down enough fellow ever to be a schoolteacher or general-purpose news reporter. But I think and analyze, and so I write...

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