I followed a Facebook thread today begun by a former student who was reacting to the unfolding college admittance scandal. She was relating how hard she worked to get into college and to pay her own way without help from others, including her mother. There is nothing unique about this woman, she did it the way most of us did it, on our own merits and our own labors. She wasn’t whining or bitching but instead, just expressing the disappointment she felt that American higher education is so difficult for the most while others can evade the hurdles with little more than monetary bribes from their parents.
Over the weekend my wife and I watched a PBS special titled, Talking Black in America. It dealt with the untold number of African American dialects spoken in America and how it all came to be. I was especially impressed with how important language is in black history and culture and how versatile many are in switching back and forth between standard-English and African American English.
It reminded me of a time I was in a fast food line near the Mexican border and how the clerk had was so adept at switching between English and Spanish. My brain has never been that flexible.
Several years ago we went to Southern State Community College for a performance of Susan Banyas’ play, The Hillsboro Story. It was about a protest by Hillsboro, Ohio’s black community regarding segregation of the town’s schools. In going through my records I came upon a series of photos I took and among them was one of two ladies who I think played some part in what became known as the Marching Mothers. Can anyone tell me more about this and the two women? I believe one’s name is Goodrich and the other Young.
Last evening we watched an Independent Lens (PBS) production titled Black Memorabilia. Basically, it spent an interesting hour focusing on the memorabilia that has and continues to reinforce African American stereotypes. Those stereotypes that have been used to demean, belittle, psychologically harm, instill fear, sell products, and continue to be profitable as the collector market explodes.
In all the flea markets and auctions I’ve attended I can’t recall coming across such items. I have, however, seen a lot of Nazi memorabilia changing hands. Being a child of the WWII era I have a cursory interest in these items but never had the desire to own or collect them. Just touching an SS lapel badge feels kind of slimy to me.
Continue reading Considering Black Memorbilia
This being Black History Month PBS has been running a number of special programs. Recently we watched one titled With Infinite Hope: MLK and the Civil Rights Movement. It began with a synopsis of life in America’s South at the beginning of the fight for civil rights in the 1950s. While I had first-hand experience observing segregation and Jim Crow laws I’m still, after all these years, having my eyes opened.
Everyone has probably seen two side by side drinking fountains in a Southern bus terminal with one labeled whites only and the other colored only. The stupidity, racism, and hypocrisy of this was driven home by an older black woman who simply suggested you look at the common water supply line feeding the two fountains.
Today marks the fourth day of Black History Month for 2019. As has been my custom I try to write about some aspect of the Black experience in America. Here’s my current offering. I hope you both enjoy it and learn a little of our nation’s history.
My father’s family was from South Carolina and during the 1950s I would occasionally spend a summer with them. Because of that, I became aware of Jim Crow or segregation laws. I never tried to understand these things and as a kid just accepted them as being, “the way things were.”
As an adult, I began to learn and question the truth and subsequently became a sometime student of Southern and Black History. This eventually led to an interest in blues music history and from this, I became aware of the Chitlin Circuit, a loose association of entertainment venues that catered to Black performers. Traveling the circuit meant Black entertainers needed services. They needed fuel and car maintenance, food, shelter, medical care and so much more that wasn’t easily found in a segregated America.
There seems to be a movement afoot throughout America. A manic movement to decorate old brick walls with colorful, artistic, and/or historical murals. Possibly the earliest I noticed were huge murals along Cincinnati’s Central Ave. More recently we have visited the historical flood wall artworks of Portsmouth which have become a major visitor draw. The most common visit I’m aware of is to tour the flood walls and then have supper at the Scioto Ribber.
Wilmington has a growing crop of excellent murals in its business district and several years ago Greenfield’s Community Market adorned its east wall with a trio of mostly historical murals. Not sure it’s a mural but I like what the Zint’s do with the Corner Pharmacy wall. The first murals I recall in Greenfield were those painted by Eddie Tipton back in the 1970s. I remember those being more folk art like and I believe most of have faded into the pages of time.
By the spring of 1969 I had two more classes to take to fulfill my requirements. I needed to take public speaking and a literature elective. Public speaking was required of all students seeking a career in teaching. I was so fearful of it I put it off till the very end. Turned out I feared for not, I loved it.
The literature class I decided on was Science Fiction Literature. Both classes were summer classes and I quickly learned that Catholic nuns went to school in the summer and they were serious about getting all the As. The other lesson was that literature teachers who are serious fans of Sci-Fi also take summer classes.
I attended Greenfield schools from 1st grade trough graduation. After 10 years away I returned as a member of the teaching staff in 1970, retiring in 1996. Except for 1 year teaching at a California high school, Greenfield is all I ever knew.
Greenfield schools, by design, are very open. There are many buildings and lots of exterior doors. In my 38 years of being on that campus as either a student or a teacher I can only recall two instances of a potential violent threat. I remember a student in the elementary grades building a bomb and placing it under a teacher’s desk. I don’t remember if the bomb was real or how knowledge of it was learned.
The second occasion took place immediately outside my classroom door when a student shot himself in the torso. At no time were other students in danger. The firearm was immediately sequestered and the student attended to.
The following quote was taken from the Boston Globe. If true it doesn’t say much about Trump or his followers. I don’t know which came first, Trump’s inability to spell and his poor use of grammar or, his Twitter staff deliberately dumbing down his tweets to increase his appeal to the Kool-Aid crowd. Neither speaks highly of the man and/or his administration.
“White House staffers who compose tweets for President Trump’s Twitter feed often add grammatical errors and an abundance of exclamation points to mimic him more realistically, The Boston Globe reports. Two people familiar with the process told the Globe that some of Trump’s staffers believe the error-laden tweets boost the president’s standing among his supporters by making him seem more relatable. The key features the aides use to replicate the president’s writing style include an overuse of the exclamation point, capitalization of random words, and fragmented, loosely connected ideas, according to the report. Staffers generally include three to four sample tweets in a memo to the president any time they want him to comment on a specific topic, sources told the Globe.”
NOT SO OLD PROVERB: “You can drive people to the library but you can’t make them read. ” Chop
If your state is possibly the poorest, least educated, most conservative state in the nation; well, that’s what’s wrong with it. It also doesn’t help if your state’s flag still includes a version of the Confederate flag. Having too many of the people portrayed in the attached video also doesn’t speak well.
I’ve been to Mississippi many times and things are slowly changing. The state and local governments have done some amazing things in creating a blues and music based tourist economy. But despite the steps forward there are too many people who would take it back to the pre civil rights era. Mississippi’s overwhelming support of Donald Trump is a strong statement to this.
Couple of years ago I heard a black Mississippi judge speak of the new Mississippi. The fact that he was black and a judge speaks to things new. Unfortunately there’s too much old in Mississippi.
I just read an article in the Lexington Herald Leader about Pike County, KY’s school board authorizing qualified teachers with concealed carry permits. As a retired teacher I am very opposed to teachers taking on the added responsibility of armed guards. There are many things that I find abhorrent about this but nothing bothers me as much as the level of training, skill, and fitness needed for the task.
We’ve all seen enough TV news about our infantry troops training for urban warfare. These professionals spend months and years honing the tactical skills needed. They are also required to maintain the highest level of physical fitness. They have to be strong, agile, and fast of foot. They also have to make instant life and death decisions. These are things not often found in America’s army of mild-mannered schoolmarms. Before teaching I worked jobs that demanded physical strength and endurance. Once I entered the classroom, however, I spent the next thirty years lifting sticks of chalk and passing out textbooks.
Think about the teachers you had in school and then go to YouTube and look at some videos about police and military tactical firearms training. Looking back over my career I can’t think of a single teacher, including myself, who should have been permitted to carry a weapon in the classroom.
When I was a kid my uncle Homer owned a single shot, bolt-action, J.C. Penny .22 rifle. I would often borrow it and go “plinking” at a trash dump on Wolf Rd. Firing the weapon required opening the chamber with the bolt lever, inserting a cartridge, closing the chamber, and cocking the rifle by pulling back a firing pin mechanism. Very simple, very reliable, very accurate, and very very slow.
Some years ago I traded for a Remington semi-automatic .22 rifle with a tubular magazine that held maybe 10 rounds of long-rifle ammo. The rifle required one trigger pull per round but you could very rapidly empty the magazine. Reloading was pretty slow, nothing like ripping out an empty clip and slamming a full one in.
I’m not sure I ever fired this weapon and later gave it to my grandson along with a .22 nine round revolving target pistol.
When I was in the Navy, and later the Air Force Reserves, I got to fire a variety of weapons and became “qualified” with a couple of pistols. I fired a Garand M1 rifle, a Browning BAR, a Thompson sub-machine gun, a 38 pistol along with a .45 semi-automatic pistol. In boot camp I carried a Springfield 1903 five shot bolt-action rifle. The only one I ever actually fired was a rental I used for my one and only deer hunting experience. My boot camp 1903 didn’t even have a firing pin and the barrel may have been plugged.
I currently own a single shot .16 gauge shotgun and two revolver pistols and though I know how to use them I am not practiced.
I say all this to demonstrate that I’m not firearms ignorant and I’m not opposed to owning guns, hunting, and shooting sports. I basically support the 2nd Amendment but strongly believe, as does the Supreme Court, that it comes with limits. Government has the right to restrict many aspects of gun use and ownership. This said, however, the NRA and other groups deny the Founding Fathers meant there should be limits. They radically oppose any limits on all things gun related.
In the past few years I have wrestled with my feelings about the most controversial of all guns, the AR-15 and I’ve finally arrived at a conclusion. These “assault style” weapons are no different from the simple .22 semi-automatic I gave my grandson. You could go to a gun shop and buy the gun I gave my grandson and fewer critics would complain. But you buy that same weapon made to look like a military rifle it immediately gets labeled an assault rifle and the critics go nuts. The real difference between the civilian and the military weapons is the rate of fire. The military version has a firing option the civilian doesn’t; it can fire (depending on the model) in full-automatic or burst-automatic. Burst function lets the rifle fire three rounds with each pull of the trigger. Full-automatic will fire as long as you hold the trigger in or until you shot all the bullets. The civilian versions are legal to buy, own, and use. The military versions are mostly illegal.
These are some of the basic facts we all need to be aware of. But, in the words of Paul Harvey there is a “rest of the story.” The truth is that any semi-automatic weapon, pistol or rifle, is deadlier than single-shots because they have a much higher rate of fire. In the time it took me to shoot my uncles J.C. Higgins and reload, a ten-round semi-automatic could easily have ten bullets in the air. They could also be reloaded in less time than with my uncle’s gun.
I’m going to make a major compromise with the gun crowd and publicly state that I won’t support a ban on any gun that is currently legal. I won’t support the government coming to your door and defrocking you of your manhood unless there is reason to think you’ve broken a law. But, here’s what I won’t do:
- I won’t support the NRA in any way as long as they remain the radical organization they have become. When the ammosexuals decide they are ready to give up protecting the sale of cop-killer ammo and arming the insane, maybe we can begin talking.
- I won’t support the current loopholes in gun registration and sales. I demand that thorough background checks take place on each and every gun sale in the nation, even private sales. Private sales would have to go through a licensed broker who would perform the background check.
- I won’t support the current manufacturer and sale of any device that increases a weapon’s rate of fire. Example the bump stock that was used by the Las Vegas shooter to turn his AR-15 into a fully automatic weapon.
- I know it is controversial but I won’t support any legislation that bars the registration of all firearms.
I won’t support any legislation that bans waiting periods before buying a gun.
- I will not support the continued ownership of any clip or magazine that holds more than ten rounds of ammunition. All such devices should be totally outlawed and all violations should carry a heavy penalty. General George Patton called the Garand M1 the best weapon of war ever invented. It was the rifle that won WWII, it was a semi-automatic, and it only held eight rounds. With a ten round clip a person can target shoot, hunt, protect their families, and partly get their testosterone fueled rocks off. And unfortunately, they can still wipe out a school hallway.
- I won’t support the sale of any firearm or ammunition via the mail or the Internet.
- I won’t oppose reasonable legislation that limits the amount of ammunition one can purchase.
- I won’t support the increase of age to buy a gun. I will always believe that if being eighteen is enough for voting and military service it should be enough to buy a beer or a gun. Turning eighteen should come with all the rights of an adult.
- I won’t support any decision to permit people with mental issues, a history of violence, a history of serious crime, and other issues that may threaten the public safety to purchase or possess a firearm.
- I won’t support the arming of teachers. These people want to be educators and mentors to the young, not armed guards. As a retired teacher I’ve tried to imagine myself as a fit thirty year old with a weapon. Regardless of training I can’t help but think of all the things that would make that a bad idea. I doubt I could pull the trigger on a student without some delay or hesitation that would only worsen the situation. After all, if four trained sheriff deputies in Parkland, FL couldn’t do it, what makes me think the caring and loving English teacher, Ms. Jones, could do it?
This is my list at time of writing. It is subject to be added to and/or amended. I believe, however, that this is a list of sensible and reasonable gun laws. It doesn’t take away a “good person’s” gun but together it does relieve what I believe the worst truths about guns in America…there are simply too many guns and they are far too easy to acquire.
Oh, one more item for the list…I won’t vote for any politician, regardless of party, who disagrees with me and/or accepts money from the firearms industry or the NRA!
Many of you know I’m a huge fan of Playing for Change. The effort to bring the world’s people together through the universal language of music. I cut my liberal teeth on the protest music of the 1950s and 60s and PforP just today released a new video containing a y. If ever the need for continued protest was appropriate, this is it.
Enjoy, pat your feet, clap your hands, and then somehow join the resistance movement. We have a long way to go!