Posts Tagged ‘Colin Kaepernick’

Generosity and a Turbulent Awakening

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

BOB GAYDOS

The Report … the red shoes, racism and Kool-Aid

If they fit ...

If they fit … 

   They were sitting on top of a trash can outside the entrance to a supermarket we frequent. A pair of red shoes. Women’s slip-on loafers, worn but still wearable. Take us if you need us.

      You couldn’t miss seeing them as you entered the store. They were obviously not trash because they could have just been tossed into the bin on which they were resting. No, they were … a gift. If they had a card attached it might have said: “Times are tough. I don’t need these any more. Save your money for food. And water, if they have any inside.”

     But there was no card. Just the shoes, speaking silently. If the shoes fit, please take them. Do not be too proud. They have served me well. Wear them in good health.

    There’s a lot of pain and anger in the world right now. Also, fear, frustration, impatience, confusion and resentment, compounded by an appalling lack of responsible leadership by many of those elected to provide it. So we are left to our own devices. Generosity. Sharing. Compassion. Small gestures. All we need do is notice.

          — By the way … A few weeks back, I wrote about some “famous” people whose paths had crossed with mine and invited readers to share similar experiences. Here are a couple of my favorites:

— “I suspect this will be rejected as ”no words were exchanged,” but my run-in with Robin Williams was all in “mime.” Thus, words could not be spoken. In a world of exemptions I now claim this as mine. … In the early ‘80’s, while being part of an “art glass ” company, I was coming out of a meeting with architects somewhere in Manhattan. As I bounded the steps to the sidewalk I literally (and I mean literally) ran into Robin and two women. We reared up inches from each other’s noses, made faces, feigned shock and dismay, rotated around each other like an old cartoon and slowly backed away from each other fending each other off with glares and shock. No big deal, but fun to recall and relate.”

Ernie Miller

 — “Ok, here goes …. Trumpeters extraordinaire Raphael Mendez, Harry James, Dizzy Gillespie, Doc Severinsen, and Al Hirt.  (Yes, I used to play trumpet and heard each of them perform in concert.)  Pete Seeger, Allen Ginsburg, Jane Fonda, poet Robert Lowell, Jules Feiffer, Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr., Dr. Benjamen Spock, actors Judith Malina and Julian Beck of the Living Theater, photographer Karl Bissenger, Grace Paley, Tom Hayden, Dave Dellinger, Dorothy Day, Phil and Daniel Berrigan, Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs, Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Al Lowry, and Jesse Jackson.”

Jim Bridges

(Jim noted that many of his meetings were the result of his active participation in the civil rights movement.)

      Unfortunately, the internet has misfiled or erased details on Sean Kober’s dinner with Floyd Patterson, Moe Mitterling’s interview with Roy Campanella, Debra Scacciaferro’s meetings with famous authors and someone (!) shaking hands with Princess Di. Apologies and thanks.

       — By the way … All it took was a worldwide explosion of demonstrations condemning police violence against blacks for the NFL to recognize that Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem was a remarkably restrained and dignified way of expressing his outrage. Now, some team needs to give him a job as a quarterback.

        — By the way … While we’re at it, how about NASCAR finally acknowledging that all those Confederate flags at their races were not a symbol of a proud moment in our nation’s history? It’s as if millions of Americans — white Americans — suddenly realized what the Civil War was all about. And who lost.

      — By the way … It takes an extraordinary amount of chutzpah to go around calling COVID-19 a hoax, not wearing a mask, and encouraging everyone to go about business as usual and to then host a large political rally in a state where cases of the virus are spiking and at which attendees will be required to sign a waiver of responsibility for the host if the attendees happen to, you know, get COVID-19. What it takes to sign that waiver is an extraordinary amount of Kool-Aid.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

The ‘White-on-White’ Crime Problem

Friday, September 9th, 2016

By Michael Kaufman

Colin Kaeperneck ... kneeling to make a point

Colin Kaeperneck … kneeling to make a point

Why is it that no one seems to be addressing the serious national problem of white-on-white crime? Did you know that 85 percent of all homicides of white people in the United States are committed by other white people? Or that most victims of white pedophile clergymen are white children? Speaking of child molesters, weren’t all of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s victims white youths? And when it comes to gun violence, nobody can shoot white schoolchildren, teachers, moviegoers, celebrities, or elected officials better than a white guy.  And let’s not forget the Unabomber, Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy (white guys all).

In our region alone reports of white on white crime appear regularly in the media, although never identified as such. Recent headlines include “Two men plead guilty to elder abuse,” “Kayak murder case could begin in October,” and “RABBI CHARGED IN KJ MURDER PLOT.” So far I haven’t heard anyone say that the “white community needs to have a conversation” about the problem.

On the other hand I have heard many white people decry “black-on-black” crime when talking about shootings in black neighborhoods in cities such as Chicago and Detroit. Last week I heard a white talk-radio host in New York say the black community in Chicago needs to have a conversation about the black on black shootings in that city.

“Suddenly everyone is having a ‘conversation,’” wrote the late great journalist Alexander Cockburn in 2008. “The word has come of age. I see it bowing and scraping on the opinion pages and TV talk shows three or four times a day.” In the above example it is obvious the talk-radio host has no personal contact with anyone who actually lives in a low-income, inner city neighborhood beset by a host of problems including street crime and gun violence.

The rhetorical call for a conversation was part of a longer rant that began with a criticism of Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who has chosen to kneel when the National Anthem is played prior to a game. Kaepernick says it is his way of drawing attention to the ongoing mistreatment of people of color in the United States and an expression of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. According to the talk-show host, Kaepernick is being disrespectful to veterans: “My father is a veteran and maybe that’s why I feel so patriotic … I know there are still some problems with regard to race in this country. I get that, but …” And that’s when the call came for the black community to have a conversation.

Do the people who say these things realize how obnoxious and patronizing they are? Do they not know that people talk to one another about conditions in their neighborhoods?  Ironically, the neighborhoods in question are the same low-income areas once inhabited by Jewish, Italian, and Irish immigrants who faced similar conditions.

The Purple Gang in 1920s Detroit, for example (composed entirely of Jews), has been described as “the most efficiently organized gang of killers in the United States.” According to the Detroit police it killed more people than Al Capone’s mob in Chicago. Most of its victims were other Jews. Members of the Purple Gang grew up in an east side neighborhood described by historian Robert Rockaway as “one of the least desirable areas of Detroit in which to live.” The district was “more crowded, had higher rents, and higher disease and death rates than other parts of the city,” wrote Rockaway.  An article published in the Jewish American, Detroit’s Anglo-Jewish weekly newspaper, deplored the prevalence of “tenement houses that are actually unfit to live in: old, decrepit, polluted and infected hovels, where human beings endeavor to exist and where a young generation is reared.”

“The members of the Purple Gang were bred in this environment,” said R0ckaway. The gang extorted protection money from cleaning and drying businesses, almost all of which were owned by Jews. Those who didn’t pay were subjected to fires, dynamiting, stink bombs, thefts, beatings and kidnappings, and at least two were murdered in cold blood. Would it have been any different if a Gentile on the radio told the Jews in Detroit that they should have a conversation?

Michael can be reached at Michael@zestoforange.com.