Black Angry Women

Ask Yourself: Why Aren't You Angry?


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Black With No Way Out

Life can be a mix of so many things – good and bad and in between. Tellingly, there are times when the chickens, in fact, do come home to roost.

Child abuse is bad in any form. Child abuse at the hands of adults employed by Portland (Oregon) Public Schools is only UNknown by those who truly do not know.

BlackParentSpeaks feels inclined to ‘tell the truth and shame the devil’ as my ‘late’ friend and confidant ‘Black’ Mrs. Matthews often said.

We received the call asking that we attend a private meeting called by the then-Superintendent of Portland (Oregon) Public Schools. We were told that our presence was vital and we were told the location.

Neither Mrs. Matthews nor BlackParentSpeaks knew beforehand the turn that that meeting would take. We had no clue as to what would be revealed at that off-site meeting and, apparently, neither did the then-Superintendent of Portland Public Schools (PPS).

Mrs. Matthews and I arrived at the location early – as was often our tendency. As others arrived – including the then-Superintendent, we were told the ground rules. I expressed that I would be recording the meeting for however long I was able. All who were present agreed.

We were told that changes in staff were being considered at a particular PPS elementary school. US community members and PPS administration persons who were at the ‘private’ meeting were told that staff at the ‘particular’ school had quietly contacted the then-Superintendent with demands.

As the meeting and discussion progressed, we were informed that staff of the ‘particular’ elementary school would be arriving soon to testify in confidence as to ‘why’ their demands should be met. The then-Superintendent said that the promise had been given to school staff that whatever each said in the meeting would be kept confidential. The Superintendent explained that staff was worried about possible retaliation — thus, the need for confidentiality.

The Superintendent asked if I — BlackParentSpeaks — would honor the staff’s request for confidentiality. I responded that I was still going to record the meeting. I did, however, agree to honestly consider the request because I knew that retaliation was a reality.

Staff from the school arrived and the then-Superintendent laid down the format. Each staff member was to speak with us in private – without other staff being present to overhear what was said. The Superintendent also informed all that I – an active and known ‘Black’ community member — would be recording the meeting.

The Superintendent assured staff that whatever each said would be held in confidence by the Superintendent’s office. I expressed that if anyone had problems with me recording the meeting, I would leave. All agreed to me staying and recording the meeting.

One by one each staff member entered the area where we were and told his and/or her story. The stories were ugly and foul. We were told of inappropriate sexual contact between particular staff and particular elementary-school-age-students. We were told of many wrong things at the school, however, the sexual abuse of children was uppermost in my thoughts as I continued to listen. Appalled, I kept my silence as I scanned the faces of all who were present.

At some point, I forgot about the recording and was nudged by Mrs. Matthews as a reminder to continue recording the meeting.

Eventually, we had listened to all the staff who had came to express their displeasure with the Principal and to present their ‘demands’. (As information, every staff person who testified before us was White.)

I proceeded to call each staff member back into our area to answer my questions. My questions included:

l. Did you personally or any other staff member – to your knowledge — ever tell the Principal about the child sexual abuse at the hands of PPS staff at the school?

2. If you are telling us the truth now, why did you deny that such had occurred years ago when you were contacted by the parent and the media regarding sexual abuse by staff at your school?

3. How many other children, to your own personal knowledge, were or have been sexually abused at your school?

4. Why have you waited until now to reveal this and why in this kind of a forum?

5. Did you personally witness sexual abuse at your school?

6. Why did not you stop staff and protect the child?

7. Did you personally or any other staff member – to your knowledge – ever contact the Superintendent of PPS regarding knowledge of the abuses you are now revealing to us?

8. Why did you and other staff decide to deny the abuse and to falsify facts even when one child and her parent went public on TV claiming that such abuse had happened at your school?

9. Has any child at your school ever told you that he or she was fearful of or being sexually or inappropriately ‘touched’ by a teacher or other staff member at your school?

As I asked question after question of each of the staff members, it became more than evident that I was angry and blamed all who had knowledge of the now-revealed sexual abuse. I was not concerned about any of the other allegations – only the sexual abuse of children!

When the school staff was eventually told they could leave, those of us who sat in judgment stayed. The then-Superintendent was also angry and surprised by the revelations; such was stated by the Superintendent to each staff member who testified before us.

If memory serves me well, no one revealed the name of the little ‘White’ child who had reported the abuse to her father so many years ago. I remembered a report on TV – a little child who indicated that she had been subjected to sexual abuse at the school. I vaguely remembered her father – looking angry and then confused as staff at the school denied the child’s allegations. I remembered thinking at the time that surely, if such had happened, at least one of the teachers at that school would have spoken up and defended the child. Instead, all denied that such had occurred – they maligned that little child! Wow!

The meeting I am writing about now was years after the TV news report. I pictured the blurred face of the little child in my memory bank. I recalled the news report on TV. I had no way to know who that child was. I had no way to reach out to that child or her father. There was nothing – absolutely nothing that I could do and I knew that. In spite of that realization, I was angry.

After laying down my demands for CHANGE at that school, we left – with everyone agreeing to my terms.

Sometimes, even BlackParentSpeaks finds herself between a rock and a hard place.

Nuff’ said.

‘Don’t forget our reparations’.

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We are all works in progress.

Undying love for Black people!

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Black Winners and Studies

Secretive and sensitive information was often anonymously relayed to me during my days and nights in the 1960s and 1970s Black Movement.  Whether or not the information was factual or a ploy, I know not.  However, I was faced with the task of evaluating the info and ‘wisely’ handling or not handling it.

Stokely ‘Black Power’ Carmichael (lka Kwame Ture) would say that living for your people will prove to be more difficult than dying for your people.  He explained that anyone can die.  Stokely’s question to me was:  Can you live for your people?

The emotional upheaval was heavy for yours truly.  I saw many of the brothers and sisters who gave and gave and gave literally ‘lose it’ behind their ever-reaching desire to bring about righteousness in America.  America was a cesspool of racism and Whites played that ‘race card’ with ease.  Whites openly argued that nothing-of-worth existed without White validation or White discovery.

Whites equated words like black and dark as negatives while equating words like white and light as positives.  Whites did not like Black people’s use of the word ‘Black’ in describing ourselves.  And, Whites were made uncomfortable when ‘Black’ was linked with the word ‘Power’.  Whites were sent off-kilter by Black men and Black women who rejected being called “girl” and “boy”.  A sister who wore a natural was looked upon with suspicion by Whites who felt it was a sting and a rejection of White values and limits.

Ralph Featherstone (Feather) — a young Black man in the ‘Movement’ — would often and regularly ask me if there was a ‘contradiction in a sister, clad in a mini-skirt, wearing a natural’.  Sadly, Feather died in a car bomb explosion before I ever had the insight or the wherewithal to answer his question.  For a myriad of reasons, Feather’s death – like many others’ — will likely remain etched in my memory forever….

We in the ‘Movement’ realized the seriousness of winning.  We knew that Black people needed to see us win.  Stokely emphasized that our people needed to see us win – regardless of the costs.

There was a real disconnect between Washington, DC’s ‘Black’ Howard University and the Black community of DC.  As we formed and organized the ‘original’ DC Black United Front (the Front), one of the many issues we confronted was the separation of Howard students from the community.  Folk in the community said that the Howard students thought they were ‘better than and different from’  the Blacks in the community.  They spoke of how the students shunned the community and rarely—if ever – lifted a finger to help the community.

In response to the Howard University ‘problem’, we in the Front knew we had to act.  After careful deliberation and strategizing, the Front decided to push for student involvement in the community as well as a Black studies program at the school.  We reached out to ‘active’ Howard students and they reached out to us.

We knew that administrators of Howard University would be most resistant to community involvement.  And, we knew that the strongest possible resistance would come from ‘Black’ Howard University’s administration to formulating a Black studies program at the school.  But, we were determined and, as Stokely explained:  When Howard falls, the other universities and colleges will prove to be ‘mickey mouse’ to us who mean ‘business’.

Stokely’s assessment and familiarity with Howard University was right-on-target.  Active resistance was employed by the University and the school ‘forced’ its students to organize sit-ins and more.  Eventually, Howard University’s administration responded by having its students tear gassed, etc. and the campus was soon ablaze in fire.  Vehicles were overturned and the campus appeared as a ‘war zone’.  In the end, however, the students and community won as Howard University agreed to a Black studies program and more….

Following Howard University’s agreement to institute Black studies, the DC Front sent letters to other colleges and universities reminding them of ‘what had gone down at Howard’….  Needless to say, the response received from other schools was overwhelmingly positive and inviting….  Thus, the advent of Black studies on campuses throughout America resulted from the blood and sweat of both the Black community and Howard’s Black students.

Stokely was never really comfortable with the label “leader”.  He saw himself as a community organizer and often spoke of himself in that manner.  In private and intimate conversations with me, Stokely shunned the idea of being referred to as a Black ‘leader’.

It is interesting that Stokely, Marion Barry, Rev. David Eaton, and so many of us came together in DC at a particular time to help in organizing and formulating a Movement that brought such impactful racial change to America.  How many people know that Stokely used to teach Sunday school to children, Marion studied Chemistry in school, etc.?  Each of us – and others — stepped away from that which was comfortable in order to fight the good fight.  What we accomplished was nothing short of a miracle.  We willingly gave our lives and our dreams to the ‘Movement’….

Black folk in the 1960-1970’s Black Movement knew each other.  It did not matter whether the organizers – or ‘leaders’ as some chose to be called – were from California; New York; Oregon; DC; Philadelphia; Atlanta; or NewArk, New Jersey….  We soon got to know each other as a result of our ‘Black’ activism.

I remember my first time meeting Stokely ‘Black Power’ Carmichael.  The DC head of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (lka Student National Coordinating Committee) vouched for me, and Stokely and I immediately became fast friends and more.  Although I had spoken to David Eaton on numerous occasions via phone, I well remember the first time we met.  David and I, likewise, formed a fast and intimate friendship and more.  Often, we were involved in ‘political’ trips together and I became a part of his ‘family’.  I recall the first time I met Lester McKinney, Dick Jones, H. Rap Brown, Imamu Baraka, Malauna Ron Karenga, Jesse ‘the Country Preacher’ Jackson, and so many many others.

I learned a lot before I ever had the privilege of meeting particular people in the Movement.  I learned a lot while working with and for specific folks in and out of the Movement.  And, I have learned a lot since.  When I was but a child, my father told me that I would soon learn that the more I learn, the more I will grow to realize how ‘little’ I actually do know.  My Daddy was right!

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A Black Woman’s Strength

Looking back at the 1960s – 1970s Black ‘Movement’ from my most-intimate and involved vantage point, I am now comfortable in stating that there were sacrifices – great sacrifices.

My Oregon parents and their neighbors were questioned regarding me.  There were threats from America’s law enforcement community to my livelihood, my life, etc.  I was offered money, a leadership position, and ‘protection’ to sell-out.  My home was entered while I was away.  At least one attempt was made on my life.  I was relentlessly followed.  And, yes, there was more.

It was not uncommon for me to look up from my paid job with the Neighborhood Legal Services Program and see FBI agents coming to take me into custody.  At times, I was placed in handcuffs.  At other times, I was not handcuffed.

I was often escorted from my job, driven away in a car, and questioned at a different location – usually in a downtown DC building.  There were sometimes veiled threats.  At other times, I was told outright that I could or would be harmed if I did not cooperate.  Needless to say, I NEVER knew anything.  Therefore, I was NEVER able to give any information to the FBI or any of the other law enforcement ‘agents’ assigned to follow and monitor me.

I recall one occasion when I was taken away by two FBI agents and interrogated relative to an ‘alleged’ relationship between Muhammad Ali and a ‘Chicken Man’….  Although I responded that I had never personally met Brother Muhammad Ali and I had no idea who ‘Chicken Man’ was, the futile questioning continued.  Finally, after repeated questions, I was told that my life was in danger ‘because of my refusal to cooperate’ with law enforcement.

My position in the ‘Movement’ commanded a keen sense of awareness.  I was trusted with ‘sensitive’ information.   At times, I had to make split-second decisions.  I can truthfully say that never did I waver nor have I ever regretted any of the decisions I made with respect to the ‘Movement’.

Encouragement – for me – came from a c.93+ year old Black woman who mailed us (Stokely ‘Black Power’ Carmichael and me) a note with two dollars to help in the ‘Movement’.  Her note expressed her gratitude and faith in us to keep up the struggle.  She wrote that she could ‘die in peace’ knowing that we were continuing the fight for our Black people….  Letters and sentiments like that brought heaviness to my heart and tears to my eyes.  Our elder sister’s words-on-paper reinforced my commitment to righteousness.  Indeed, I was privileged and ‘chosen’ by a power beyond man….

Because our lives were intertwined with the ‘Movement’, caution and awareness were employed.  I became an intimate confidant of Stokely’s and Martin’s (Martin Luther King) and David’s (Rev. David Eaton) and others’.

I recall being driven around DC by the son of the Ambassador from Pakistan.  I recall dinners in New York and at the home of Tanzanian Ambassador Gosbert Rutabanzibwa.  I recall dancing with Charles Diggs.  I recall contemplating a move to Cuba and changing my mind.  I recall reading Chairman Mao’s ‘Little Red Book’ and the passage regarding men and oral sex.

I recall being ‘almost’ raped by a well-known ‘Black’ man (deemed a “leader” by the White media) who I fought and struggled with to the point of sweat-ridden exhaustion.  The man finally stopped his vicious assault on my person only after I managed to say that if he stuck his ‘thing’ in my vagina, I would tell the ‘world’….

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FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List

My most-intimate life in the Black ‘Movement’ of the 1960s and 1970s was overfilled with purpose and action, learning and growth, responsibility and commitment, tears and more tears….

Many many many unnamed Blacks were ‘intimately’ involved in the ‘Movement’.  This is dedicated to the memory of one such brother.

Media reports of the c.1973 death of a young brother at the hands of law enforcement in New York quickly became yesterday’s news as other stories-of-interest gripped media attention.  There is a story beyond media reports.

Mace Brown was a victim of – and a survivor of — racism up to the time of his death.  Although I only had the privilege of knowing Mace Brown briefly, he had the keys to my home as many in the ‘Movement’ did.

Brother Brown was a Black man in search of answers and solutions.  I met brother Mace Brown at one of the many conventions, conferences, or meetings I attended and/or helped organize.  And, as I often did, I gave Mace a key to my home so that he would have a place to stay whenever he found himself in DC.

Mace Brown – a Black man involved in the ‘Movement’ – was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List and killed by Law Enforcement c.1973 in New York.  Some rumors equated ‘Black’ Mace Brown with ‘Robin Hood’….

Although I never knew the side of Mace Brown reported in the media reports, I publicly thank him for his involvement and encouragement and ‘giving’ spirit.  The Mace Brown I knew was humble, respectful, and a brother who did what he was able to do to further the cause of righteousness as he grew.

Happy Kwanzaa and Undying love for Black people!

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Don’t Forget Our Reparations!

I am today reminded of ‘Black and Beautiful’ Queen Mother Moore!  I first had the privilege of meeting Queen Mother Moore during the 1960s.  Queen Mother Moore was a strong and determined Black elder – a woman who urged us Blacks in the ‘Movement’ to never forget our reparations.  It seemed that almost always after a Black convention or conference I attended, there would stand Queen Mother Moore waiting in the exitway to give me a big hug, embrace, and encouragement.  Queen Mother Moore ALWAYS exhorted me to not compromise our fight for righteousness.  And, Queen Mother Moore always spoke her famous words to me “Don’t forget our reparations”.

Queen Mother Moore was one of the many Black women who supported, encouraged, and lived the Black ‘Movement’.  She inspired me to always remember and to never forget – no matter the pressures and/or inducements to do otherwise.

As I share these words and memories with you, I reach beyond myself to publicly thank Queen Mother Moore and so many many other Black women who lovingly gave and continue to give of themselves.  They – and yours truly — were some of the Black sisters who fought and continue to fight for righteousness.  I am convinced that my life in the ‘Movement’ was and is deliberate and intended – ‘many are called, few are chosen’….

Be Aware!

A trend has developed and is developing that is unsettling at best.  The trend is to have a Black man with White women introduce and present race-related talks and training sessions.  The audience is almost always White or majority-White.  The Black man and White women team receives compensation for enabling the myth that particular Whites are ‘for real’ in their search for knowledge, growth, and racial healing.  Such presentations and discussions are designed to make Whites comfortable … plain and simple.  And, seldom — if ever — does anything significant change following such trainings and presentations.

The Black man with White women presentations almost always applaud those Whites present for their courage in turning out to engage in the ‘most-difficult’ discussion relative to race and racism in America….  The Black man and White women teams express that their presentations are NOT about blame or guilt.  They warn against loud voices (i.e. genuine emotion that could come from any Blacks present in the audience) and urge ‘civil’ dialogue and conversation.

Give me a break!

Applauding Whites for their courage relative to racism is akin to thanking a White arsonist for burning down ‘only’ seven hundred and three Black-occupied homes as opposed to seven hundred and four!  It is akin to thanking a White man for stabbing a 90-year-old Black woman eighty-seven times and not stabbing the woman eighty-eight times.  It is akin to thanking a White person for setting off a bomb at the Boston Marathon rather than setting off the bomb at the Pentagon near Washington, DC!

Reality is that Whites are both historically and currently guilty of racism.  Reality is that Blacks were and are the victims of White racism.  Reality is that Whites were and are the perpetrators of racism.  Reality is that White folk owe Black folk for 400 years of slavery and more….  Fact is that Whites will forever be faced with their own guilt and inhumane ways until they repent-in-earnest and atone.  Blacks are beyond entitled to reparations.  And, until Whites atone for their sins against Black people, Whites will continue on their journey towards hell.

Any ‘real’ attempt at Black and White racial healing in America must include reparations for America’s Blacks.  Individual Whites have the obligation and calling to ‘give’ as able and when able if they truly seek and desire racial healing, peace, and salvation.  The fact is that Whites will continue to condemn themselves and their progeny to perpetual guilt and condemnation as long as they ignore and dismiss their humongous debt to Black folk.  The curse that White folk function under will remain until they do that which is called for, that which is just, that which is right.  Know that the ‘sins of one generation follows the next and generations to come’.

White folk must begin the process of action with regards to reparations.  White folk can start by establishing a Reparations Body-of-Purpose, a body with the sole (soul) ‘initial’ mission of pressuring, influencing, and persuading the US government and US monopolies to pay reparations to America’s Black populace.  America’s Blacks are due reparations and, as a side note, each of us Blacks has the individual right to do with any and all cash payments as each of us chooses!

Do I expect Whites to eventually move in the direction of doing the right thing – to move in the direction of reparations for Black people?  Yes.  Do I expect to receive any of the reparations due me and mine in my lifetime?  No.

‘Don’t forget our reparations’.

Happy Kwanzaa!

Feel free to share this BlackAngryWomen blog with others.  We are all works in progress.  Do YOU know what time it is?  http://BlackAngryWomen.com/

Undying love for Black people!

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