The Attack on Jussie Smollett and the Silence of the “Woke”

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By now, most people have heard about what happened to actor-singer Jussie Smollett, who is Black, gay, and a featured actor on the Fox TV network drama series, “Empire.” For anyone who hasn’t: In Chicago on  January 29 at 2 a.m., as he was walking home from a sandwich shop, Smollett says he was accosted by two white men who called him the n-word as well as a slur meaning homosexual, beat him, poured something liquid on him, and tied a rope or clothesline around his neck arranged to resemble a noose.

As soon as the news got out, Black Hollywood rushed to his support, tweeting encouragement and calling for his alleged attackers to be brought to justice. But where were the non-celebrity Black folks? Silence. Crickets.

The Black community has always been a little ambivalent about LGBTQ people. The Black Christian church, where a majority of the congregants are Baptist, has gradually accepted Black LGBTQ. For instance, Black Protestants’ support of same sex marriage rose from 23% to 38% between 2003 and 2014. But on any Sunday, especially in fundamentalist churches, one can still hear that LGBTQ sexual orientation is a “sin” and an “abomination,” the work of the devil.

I’m most concerned about the “woke” Black folks who identify with Africa politically and culturally. Unfortunately, there are some who are spreading the misinformation that LGBTQ is an invention of white evil scientists who created Black LGBTQ people to destroy the Black community from within, and emasculate Black males. They claim that LGBTQ people were never tolerated in the mother continent of Africa.

Not so.  “The idea that homosexuality is ‘Western’ is based on another import – Christianity,” wrote Bisi Alimi, a gay Nigerian man, in the September 9, 2015 edition of The Guardian. “True African culture celebrates diversity and promotes acceptance.”

Alimi wrote that homosexuality existed in the Yoruba and Hausa cultures in Nigeria. In Uganda, he wrote, there was even an openly gay king of the Buganda Kingdom, King Mwanga II.  Homosexuality wasn’t an issue, Alimi wrote, until the Christian colonizers invaded African countries, and imposed their conservative views on the African people.

Many of today’s African leaders are outdoing each other in who can out-homophobe whom. Former and current heads of Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Uganda have signed anti-LGBTQ legislation, and hate crimes in those and other African countries have increased. Similar to the political situation in the U.S., Alimi wrote, “.  .  . populist homophobia has kept many politicians in power. Across Africa, if you hate gay people, you get votes.”

Which is what the U.S. un-president has done. It’s no accident that the two men who Smollett says attacked him, yelled “You’re in MAGA (Make America Great Again) country!”

Black “woke” people in the U.S. should know better than to write off more than one million Black people who are LGBTQ. We shouldn’t be mirroring the homophobia and racism of whites, or of suspect “leaders” in African countries. We are all in the struggle for justice and freedom together, and to win that struggle, we’re going to need every Black man, woman and child working together to bring about that victory. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with that.

Smollett is Black AND gay, and he shouldn’t have to choose between the two. He’s both, and he has advocated for, and championed, both. Stop being silent, “woke” Black people. Show Smollett some love, and stand with him against racial AND homophobic hate.

 

 

 

 

 

“They Done Taken His Blues and Gone”

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“You’ve taken my blues and gone — 

You sing ’em on Broadway

And you sing ’em in (the) Hollywood Bowl,

And you mixed ’em up with symphonies

And you fixed ’em 

So they don’t sound like me.

Yep, you done taken my blues and gone .  .  . “

From Langston Hughes’ poem,  Note on Commercial Theatre

When is an authentic blues man not an authentic blues man? When the Recording Academy says he isn’t, and rejects his submission for a blues Grammy Award as not “authentic” enough!

That’s what’s happened to Chris Thomas King, a Louisiana blues man who is the son of a Louisiana blues man. Those of you who saw the 2000 film, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” might remember him as the blues singer who joins George Clooney, who plays one of three escapees from a Mississippi prison, on a search for buried treasure. King was also a featured participant in Martin Scorsese’s 2003 seven-part PBS documentary on the history of the blues.

In short, King knows his stuff.  He grew up in his father’s juke joint, where he was surrounded by blues music 24-7. His father played it and sang it. King was even “discovered” by a Smithsonian folklorist. Being “discovered” by white musicologists or folklorists was one of the ways that Black Southern blues men like Huddie Ledbetter  (Leadbelly) and others were first “found,” and their music recorded and distributed in the early part of the 20th Century.

What made King’s newest release Hotel Voodoo “inauthentic”? Some of its songs included a musician playing a clarinet! Apparently, that simply isn’t done on an “authentic” blues album.

What constitutes an “authentic” blues musician in the eyes of the Recording Academy’s blues music Grammy nominating committee? First you have to understand that the blues music category is a subcategory under the overall heading of “American Roots Music.” “Roots music” is defined by the Academy as “Americana, bluegrass, blues, folk, or regional roots.”

Once you weed through all that, there are two blues categories, “Best Traditional Blues Album” and “Best Contemporary Blues Album.” In the traditional blues category, three of the five nominees are Black: blues guitarist Buddy Guy (whose playing influenced Jimi Hendrix), drummer, guitarist and singer Cedric Burnside, and singer guitarist Ben Harper, whose album “No Mercy In This Land” was recorded with longtime blues harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite, who’s white.

Of the Grammy nominees for best contemporary blues album, only one — ONE! — is Black: singer and guitarist Fantastic Negrito.

King has written an op-ed about what happened to him in the online Spectator USA .  He was also interviewed recently on a podcast.  From what King is saying, he’s not seeking white acceptance by winning a Grammy.  The fame and recognition that comes with the award, he said, means getting better jobs at better venues.

Blues already has a wealth of white fans, but they tend to be fans of white “blues” groups or individuals playing and singing Black “blues” music, or an approximation of same. Meanwhile, Black blues musicians go unrecognized, unappreciated, unhired and unpaid. Even sadder is that Black people have left blues by the wayside, like jazz, another musical form created by Black people. Go to any blues or jazz club where the performer is Black. You can count Black people in the audience on one hand. Maybe one finger.

King has said he was told to sing and perform like The Rolling Stones or other white American and British groups who made their musical reputation by imitating Black blues singers and re-recording their blues classics. He shouldn’t have to do that, or prove his “authenticity” as a blues artist to anybody.

King is currently touring the U.S. I hope Black folks turn out in droves to see him, and show the brother some love.

This is one of the songs that got King disqualified due to the presence of a clarinet:

 

 

 

 

“Anti-Vaxxers,” PLEASE! Immunize Your Children!!!

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It’s fashionable these days to blame us Baby Boomers (yeah, I’m almost at the middle of the “Boom”) for anything and everything from the state of the economy to the high costs of housing, maybe even for global warming. This is despite the fact that we were responsible for advancing the civil, women’s and LGBTQ rights movements, came up with p.c.s (Steve Jobs was one of us, y’all), and all kinds of advances in art, science, politics. The un-president is a Boomer, but I don’t claim him as such.  I like to think of him as an aberration.

Among the many things that parents of Boomers got right, and from which we benefited, was immunizing us with vaccines to prevent us from getting childhood diseases, all of which were highly communicable and could be fatal if left untreated.

Vaccinations have been very helpful in keeping Black children and adults from being victims of mumps, measles, chicken pox, yellow fever, tuberculosis, polio, and other infectious illnesses. I remember hearing about life before vaccines. I have an aunt who contracted tuberculosis in her youth and had to spend time laid up in an “iron lung”, a case fitted over her body that pumped air into her so she could breathe. Then she was sent to a “sunshine camp” way out in the country somewhere,  quarantined and isolated from family and friends until she recovered.

Another friend of mine contracted polio back in the day, before polio vaccines all but eradicated it. She has walked on crutches all of her life.

Ignoring such immunization benefits are the “anti-vaxxers,” parents who, in the last 30 years or so, have been opting out of vaccinating their children for “religious reasons” or because they think vaccines cause illness. Then there are those parents who believe in a long discredited connection between the measles vaccine and autism. That myth originated in Britain by Andrew Wakefield, a former researcher and doctor. When it was found that his so-called autism study was funded by people who were suing vaccine manufacturers, he was removed from the United Kingdom Medical Registry, which prevented him from practicing medicine ever again.

These beliefs in false information and research have resulted in an increase of children being exposed to, and catching, what should have been preventable childhood illnesses across the U.S., according to a study by the Public Library of Science journal Medicine.

Repugnantthugs are also in part responsible for spreading misinformation about vaccinations.  Various G.O.P. candidates have supported parents “opting out” of mandatory vaccinations for their children because it’s another instance of “big government telling us what to do.” Some have also supported an end to mandatory vaccinations.

What anti-vaxxers and Repugnantthugs are missing is that not vaccinating children leaves all children who haven’t been vaccinated susceptible to childhood illnesses. Especially babies. The immunization schedule for children starts at birth with the Hepatitis B vaccination. If it isn’t given at birth, it can be given at any age.  Without it, and the other vaccines babies and children are to be given, they can become very sick. What parents want that for their children?

I’m aware that in the Black community, many of us are highly suspicious of “white medicine” because of the infamous Tuskegee Experiment of the 1930s and ’40s.  A group of Black men in Tuskegee, Alabama was injected with the bacterial infection syphilis without their knowledge or consent and left untreated, while another group of Black men received experimental-stage vaccinations  that cured them.The results were compared, but meanwhile, the men in the untreated group became blind, mentally ill, and died before their time.

I get it. But not all science and medicine is evil, or a plot to destroy the race. What will destroy the race is standing by while our children die off from preventable illnesses.  Anti-vaxxers are pressing their luck if they think they can get through life without being immunized. Want proof? Bre Payton, a writer for conservative news site The Federalist and a Fox News commentator, died last month at age 26. The causes of death: H1N1 flu and  meningitis, for which there are vaccines. I don’t know if she or her parents were against vaccinations, but she might have still been alive today if she had been immunized.

Want further proof? My daughter and I are of different generations, but we both had all of our vaccinations, as well as the flu shot every year. We’re both alive, and neither of us is autistic.

Fellow parents, this is a new century and a new year. We should know more, not less, about vaccinations than in previous years and centuries. If you have not yet done so, PLEASE vaccinate your children! Help prevent national health crises, and keep your, and our, children alive and healthy.

The Late President Bush’s Greatest “Hits”

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My mother taught me not to speak ill of the dead or wish anyone dead. However, it’s not always acceptable to beatify someone just because they died, especially an elected official, a public figure, such as former President George H.W. Bush, who passed on Saturday, December 1.

Various pundits, observers, friends and those who worked for Bush remember him as a dedicated public servant who had the best interests of his country at heart, and someone who was devoted to his family.

But there were things that Bush was involved in that were far from saintly or in the best interests of the U.S. They include:

  • The Willie Horton presidential campaign strategy of 1988. To defeat Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, who was Bush’s Democratic opponent in the presidential race, Bush campaign director Lee Atwater came up with the case of Willie Horton, a Black prisoner in the state who was serving a life sentence for murder. While on a weekend furlough, he fled to Maryland, where he raped a white woman. The case was magnified and repeated ad nauseum in a Bush campaign ad,  terrifying people into thinking that as President, Dukakis would be “soft on crime.” which really meant soft on Black criminals. Bush took advantage of white voters’ unfounded fears, and  won on the strength of that ad.
  • The faked “drug buy” in Lafayette Park across from the White House.                During a live speech to the nation on drug crimes in September 1989, Bush held up a plastic bag of crack cocaine to indicate that drug abuse was so widespread and uncontrollable  that drugs were being bought and sold across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park. Turns out that government agents got the bag under false pretenses. Pretending to be drug users, and bought the bag from a dealer who they then arrested. Bush used the bag as justification for harsher sentences and building  more prisons. Today, prison inmates, who are disproportionately Black men, are serving inordinately long sentences for drug sales and possession, while whites serve much shorter sentences for the same crimes, if they serve at all.
  • Bush participated in the Iran-Contra cover-up. Begun under President Reagan, the U.S. secretly sold arms to Iran — which the U.S.  and the world was supposed to be barred by law from doing — and used the proceeds to fund the Nicaraguan “contras” or counter-revolutionaries, attempting to overthrow the country’s popularly elected government. That government happened to be left of center. The Reagan/Bush Cold War mentality claimed that if Nicaragua became Communist, so would the rest of Central America, and the region would provide a home to Soviet and Cuban weapons of war. The Sandinista government wasn’t interested in doing any of that, and found itself struggling to feed and educate its people — many of whom are Black and indigenous or “Indian” — while fighting in a war. The arms sales and the cover-up continued when Bush became President. He refused to turn over any information or documents to an Iran-Contra investigation, and even pardoned some defendants involved in Iran-Contra, among them, Secretary of State Caspar Weinberger.

Among the worst “hits” was the assassination of former Chilean ambassador to the U.S. Orlando Letelier, and his assistant, Ronni Karpen Moffitt, in Washington, D.C. on what’s called “Embassy Row,” a section of the city where many nations operate their U.S. embassies.

Leterlier was a very active and vocal opponent of Chile’s ruling dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, who led the 1973 military coup overthrowing the elected, leftist government of Salvadore Allende. Again, fearing a “Communist takeover” of the country, which would do business with Cuba, the Soviet Union, and other left governments  — countries that the U.S. couldn’t control — the CIA played a role in Allende’s overthrow and Pinochet’s becoming Chile’s leader.  Bush was the CIA’s director at the time.

Pinochet was incensed that Letelier was thriving in the U.S. and increasing opposition to his regime. He contacted an American expatriate who was working with DINA, Pinochet’s secret police, to stop Letelier. The American DINA operative formed a group of assassins with three Cuban Americans, and two other men, who planted a bomb on the underside of Letelier’s car, which could be detonated by remote control. And it was — on September 21, 1976, as Letelier was driving to his job at the Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank. What was left of the car is depicted in the above photo. The impact of the bomb was said to have severed Letelier’s legs, and blown off his torso. Moffitt’s larynx and carotid artery were severed by a bomb fragment. She choked to death on her own blood.  Letlier also died from his injuries. Moffitt’s husband Michael, who was sitting in the car’s back seat, sustained minor injuries.

After the assassinations, the CIA, under Bush, leaked false information to Newsweek magazine that DINA was not involved in the assassination. But the CIA knew beforehand that something was about to happen when it found that Chilean operatives were headed to the U.S. Those involved in the assassinations were tried and given short prison sentences in exchange for information.  All were eventually acquitted.

As a Black woman I am also outraged that Bush was silent during his presidency about the brutal, white, apartheid regime in South Africa — supposedly to give South African President DeKlerk the space he needed to “reform” apartheid before Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and his election as South Africa’s first Black President.

As a Black woman whose ancestors experienced the terrorism of U.S.-style apartheid and enslavement, I am livid that he allowed another country’s murderers to operate in my adopted city. And I hate that Bush would not hesitate to use Black people and other people of color as “monsters” to scare his base into supporting him and his policies.

I cannot forgive or forget these incidents involving Bush. Any tears I shed this week won’t be in mourning for him. They will be for the people he hurt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Mississippi Goddam!”

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The above exclamation has been making the rounds of social media following this Tuesday’s runoff election for U.S. Senate in Mississippi. It’s taken from a song written by the late singer-activist Nina Simone. It expresses her frustration with Mississippi in 1960s, a time when Black residents and civil rights workers were terrorized by whites who did not want Black people exercising their constitutional right to register to vote, and to vote in elections. They did not want Black children integrating public schools, Black families buying homes in all-white neighborhoods, or competing on an equal basis for jobs. Segregation ensured that whites would be in power and rule the state forever.

As a result of its rigid racism and its decades-long fight against change, Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the country. It ranks 48th in its economy compared to that of other states. In opportunity and infrastructure it ranks 49th. It ranks 45th in fiscal stability. Only 31 percent of its population has a college education, which underscores its ranking of 46th in education, and 47th in educating children from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.

So it makes no sense that the majority of the state just elected a Repugnantthug woman, Cindy Hyde-Smith,  to the U.S. Senate, someone who agrees unquestioningly with the un-president’s positions on everything and votes accordingly. Someone who, only days before this week’s runoff election against the Black Democratic opponent Mike Espy, “joked” that if a friend invited her to a public hanging, she would be there in the first row.  For a state known for its violent opposition to racial integration, which often expressed itself in whites hanging Black people, that “joke” was decidedly unfunny.

But the publicity around the her comments did little to stop her from winning the U.S. Senate seat, by a vote of 53 percent to Espy’s 46 percent.

Espy would have been the better choice. The grandson of Thomas J. Huddleston Sr. who founded a Black fraternal society in Mississippi that operated the Afro-American Hospital, Espy earned his undergraduate degree from Howard University, a historically Black college in Washington, D.C. He received his Juris Doctor from the Santa Clara University School of Law in California. He later worked in the Central Mississippi Legal Services. He served as the Assistant Secretary of State to the Mississippi Legal Services, and the Assistant Secretary of State to the Public Lands Division.

Espy was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Mississippi in 1986, the first Black person to represent the state there since Reconstruction. He served three more times. In 1993, Espy was appointed by President Clinton to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he served from 1993 to 1994. During his tenure he was accused of accepting gifts and misusing government “perks.” Although he was charged with receiving improper gifts in 1997, resulting in his resigning from the Department of Agriculture, he was acquitted of all charges in 1998.

Upon returning to the private sector, Espy advocated for poor people in Mississippi, and for Black farmers through his legal representation of the National Black Farmers Association.  He became a staff attorney at the national law firm of Morgan & Morgan.

Given his background, Espy might have brought about some much-needed reforms in Mississippi, which would have benefited all Mississippians, and raised the state’s lower-than-the-bottom status in just about everything. But despite his credentials, Espy still lost to Hyde-Smith, who was educated in the state’s segregated private “academies” rather than attend desegregated public schools with Black students. She, in turn, sent her daughter to such “academies.”

If there’s any remaining doubt that Hyde-Smith is a daughter of the Confederacy, take a look at her photo (above) in which she wears a Confederate soldier cap and proudly displays a rifle.

Then there are the Black Mississippians who voted for Hyde-Smith. One of them was, ironically, Charles Evers, brother of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, who in 1963 was shot and killed in front of his own house by a white man,  a member of the White Citizens Council, the suit-and-tie version of the Ku Klux Klan.

Many voters, Black and white, claimed that they voted for Hyde-Smith as the “lesser of two evils.”  What is more “evil” than a U.S. Senator who embraces her Confederate “heritage” and the implied racism that goes with it?  All one can do is is shake one’s head and decide that there are things one can never understand. It’s just the way it  is in  Mississippi. Goddam.

 

 

If You Think It’s Racist NOW. . .

Television commentators and everyday folks on the street are saying that they have never seen the U.S. as imbued with racial hatred as it is today.

And they place this attitude squarely at the feet of the un-president. He who has made speeches at his political rallies that the hundreds of Central American refugees fleeing to the U.S. to escape persecution in their nations of origin are “invaders,” “terrorists” and “criminals” with “unknown Middle Easterners” among them. Who has disrespected three Black women reporters who cover the White House, calling one “stupid.” Who has said Congressperson Maxine Waters of California, who is Black, has a “low IQ.”

Hate crimes spiked upward last year under the un-president. FBI statistics released this month indicate that 7,175 hate crimes took place last year, an increase from 6,121 in 2016. Three out of five hate crimes were against ethnic and racial groups. One out of five targeted religious groups.

But the last two years isn’t the only time in U.S. history that such hatred has been out in the open, seemingly unrestrained. Ask your grandparents, your great-grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, if they are still living, if they remember seeing, or hearing about, Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi  (1877-1947), or Senator Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina (1847-1918). During their active years in government, more than 3,000 Black people were lynched in the South.

Tillman and Bilbo were both Democrats, or “Dixiecrats” at a time when the party was dominated by white Southern racists. The Republicans were the “liberals” then, and had earned Black peoples’ support as the party of President Abraham Lincoln which freed their ancestors from enslavement.

Tillman made his political career as a champion of poor white farmers, and a scourge of rich whites and all Black people. He was a member of a “rifle club,” or “Red Shirts,”one of several in his state that existed to terrorize and kill Black people, especially those who had entered political office during the South’s Reconstruction period, and those who tried to exercise their right to vote. He boasted about his role in the Hamburg Massacre, in which six Black men who had done nothing were murdered. “The leading white men of Edgefield (city in South Carolina) (seized) the first opportunity that the Negroes might offer them to provoke a riot and teach the Negroes a lesson,” he said.

As a governor of South Carolina, Tillman was responsible for many of its Jim Crow (segregation) laws, and created a new state constitution that prevented Black people from voting or holding elected office. A staunch white supremacist, Tillman opined that educating Black people means ” .  .  . you educate a candidate for the penitentiary or spoil a good field hand.”

In a 1900 U.S. Senate speech, Tillman supported white men in his state who had murdered Black people by characterizing the victims as “hot-heads” who brought their murder on themselves. Black men in the South, he said, had to be killed. Whites would   .  ” not submit to (the Black man) gratifying his lust on our wives and daughters without lynching him.”

Mississippi Senator Bilbo (pictured), like the current un-president, was effective in using the news media to spread hatred. The radio was Bilbo’s Fox News. Commenting on the severe beating  by whites of a Black World War II army veteran in Mississippi who tried register to vote, Bilbo told his radio audience, “.  .  . every red-blooded Anglo-Saxon man in Mississippi (must) resort to any means to keep hundreds of Negroes from the polls .  .  . And if you don’t know what that means, you are just not up to your persuasive measures.”   A lifetime member of the Ku Klux Klan, Bilbo attempted to be taken seriously as an author when he wrote and published his book, “Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization.”

Bilbo supported lynching as a way to keep Black people in their “place.” During a filibuster against an anti-lynching bill pending before the Senate in 1938, he insisted that passage of the bill “will open the floodgates of hell in the South. Raping, mobbing, lynching, race riots and crime will be increased a thousandfold; and upon your garments and the garments of those who are responsible for the passage of the measure will be the blood of the raped and outraged daughters of Dixie, as well as the blood of the perpetrators of these crimes that the red-blooded Anglo-Saxon White (sic) Southern men will not tolerate.”

The current racist atmosphere is nothing new. Many of our ancestors survived the Tillmans, the Bilbos, and worse. Because of them, we are here. We owe it to our progeny to get through this. And to be strong. We are the descendants of the enslaved Africans they could not kill.

Thank Goodness The Pittsburgh Shooter Wasn’t Black!

I was listening to a local radio station in my car last Saturday when the “breaking news” was broadcast: An unidentified gunman had shot up a Jewish religious gathering, killing and wounding several people. Another “breaking news” story aired about 20 to 45 minutes later which said police had apprehended the suspect, Robert Bower (pictured).

“What’s his race?” I muttered under my breath to myself. “What is he?

When I was safely able, I scrolled through national news on my cell phone. The police had announced the suspect’s name. I looked for any photos of the man, and finally there is was. Robert Bower.  White.

I felt so relieved. And relief in learning that someone associated with gun violence resulting in casualties isn’t something unexpected in the Black community. History has taught us that any violence where white people are murdered and the suspect has not been identified yet, means the white gaze will focus on Black folks or other people of color. And that could mean danger for the Black community.

I remember other instances when I was growing up that involved national news stories about mass murders and my mom, or friends’ parents, were heard to say, “At least he wasn’t Black.” Throughout the nation’s history, crimes said to involved Black perpetrators and white victims galvanized white communities into attacking random Black people, whether they had anything to do with the crimes or not. Especially in the Deep South, there were stories of self-appointed white vigilantes, often the Ku Klux Klan, coming for someone they thought was the suspect.  If they had a name, the person was likely to be dragged out of his home, with his wife and family helpless to protect him as they watched, screaming and crying. The person wouldn’t last the night. The next morning, the person’s body would be found hanging at the end of a rope, the other end of said rope tied to a tree limb. The lynching served as a warning to the rest of the community: This could be you. Watch yourself.

The most infamous case of vigilante “just us” in the 20th Century was that of Emmett Till, the young Black teenager who was beaten to a pulp, and whose body was thrown into a Mississippi river by a group of outraged white men for supposedly wolf-whistling at a white woman. Decades later, the woman in the incident admitted that she had lied, and Till was innocent.

The “just us” attitude arose again after the terror attack on the World Trade Center Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a commercial airplane. Anyone walking down any city street wearing a turban or otherwise “looking Arab” could be accosted and beaten by any whites as revenge for the terrorist attacks.  At least then, there was a President who said in a nationally broadcast statement that not all Middle Easterners are terrorists, and we should all unite against terror because those who committed the 9-11 acts wanted to divide Americans.

But today’s “leadership” loves to amplify racism, especially during election season. As we head into the midterm elections, Repugnantthugs have adopted a not-so-new strategy of blaming the nations’ ills on Central American immigrants, those men, women and children who have risked everything to walk hundreds of miles on foot to get away from gang and political violence in their home countries. They are merely seeking asylum in the U.S. once they cross into Texas from the Mexican border.

But taking a page from their hero, the unpresident, Repugnantthugs running for seats in the U.S. House and Senate are painting these refugees as potential terrorists and criminals, a ploy they hope will generate so much fear and panic among white voters that they view such candidates as the only thing standing between them, whites, and certain mayhem and murder.

Two glaring examples of how to use fear and hate politically are the campaign TV and radio ads of Repugnantthug Corey Stewart, who is running against Virginia’s incumbent U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat. The fear-mongering ads call Democrats the party of “mob rule” that “dishonors our flag,” “raises our taxes” and “ridicules our traditional beliefs.”

Stewart claims Democrats want to “open our borders” to Central American refugees, who he describes as wild and uncontrolled criminals who will “assault our daughters, murder our sons, and sell drugs.” Shades of the early 1900s movie “The Birth of a Nation,” in which Black men were depicted as animal-like criminals bent on sexually assaulting all white women!

But playing to fear and racism apparently remain effective in politics. as well as inspire hate crimes. That’s why we’re seeing more unprovoked attacks and harassment of Black people and other people considered “minorities.” It was behind the shootings in Jeffersontown, Kentucky this weekend, where Gregory Bush, a white man, shot two Black people in a Kroger’s grocery store. Before that he allegedly tried to enter a Black church and murder its occupants.

The heightened fear and racism rests squarely at the feet of the Repugnantthug Party members and its nominal “leader,” the unpresident, who have been scapegoating people of color and praising white nationalism ever since 2016 when the party won both houses of Congress and the unpresident began his four years in the White House. I hope that in November, white voters wise up, stop falling for candidates who fan the flames of unfounded fear and racism, and vote intelligently. Otherwise, people of color in particular will have to continue to cringe whenever some unbalanced individual shoots up a shopping mall,  movie theater, grocery store or church, and worry about the implications for their families and communities if the unidentified perpetrator turns out to be “one of us.”  And we’ll then hope that white reaction to the crime isn’t “mob rule.”