Apology…Rejected! (conclusion)

Apology Rejected! (conclusion)

By Michael-Louis Ingram, Editor


(first presented August 17, 2008)


PHILADELPHIA (BASN/BASN NEWSROOM)-– The word compromise can mean, “A settlement of differences where each side makes concessions”; or it can also mean “A concession to something detrimental or pejorative; to expose or make liable to danger, suspicion, or disrepute.”

These facets of this definition punctuate the essence of this series, for a settlement of differences via reparations will one day call for concessions; because this issue will never die, especially now that the apology for slavery and Jim Crow segregation on the part of the United States government is a black and white (albeit muted) reality.

Straddling the pommel horse of this sport / politics dichotomy is the dehumanization of the United States Olympic Team.

A story recently published on BASN from an Atlanta-based writer contends an article by the South China Morning Post indicated government and police officials in Beijing were ordering bar and nightclub owners to bar Black people from their establishments during the Olympic Games.

In some reports, owners were reportedly signing secret statements vowing they would comply with the edict.

After word got out, China’s Foreign Ministry denied the report that any directive by Public Security officials was sent out against Africans or Mongolians, who seem to represent some of the criminal element in Beijing.

Once this word got out, our government should have said something.

“We ain’t going,” the government should have been compelled to say. “If my people aren’t afforded the proper hospitality and respect due them, we don’t get on the plane.”

But, as my Sports MC colleague, Wendell Simpson so accurately surmised, “we are China’s bitch.”

So China says, “Fine, stay home. And enjoy that home while you still have it, because we’ll buy that bitch up — if we don’t already own it — when we finish with the Games; along the rest of your country. We’ll call in our markers — and you’ll be bankrupt in a New York minute.”

“Besides, what the fuck do you care about it? You hate your Black people, too! You only bring them here to entertain like monkeys. You call them names and treat them badly in your own home. If they couldn’t win you medals, and help your own propaganda, and help you make your precious money, you would leave their Black asses home, too.”

“So even if we did tell our people to not serve and watch out for Blacks in Beijing — and we’re not saying we did — we’re only treating them the same way you treat them back in America.

“But you’re in my hut now; and when you’re in my hut, you know what’s what. So kick back and lounge while you take it up the ass — if you want our billions of people to drink your Pepsi and eat your fast food – or stay home.”

Well, when you look at it that way, it’s kinda hard to argue with. Let’s remember: we booed the previous men’s basketball team — booed them — because they didn’t win; and cheered the other team.

Not because they played better as much as to spite the American team. They were called “unpatriotic” and “thugs” over a stupid game — and their citizenship was also questioned; these aren’t our American players; they’re a bunch of disorganized, lazy niggers.

And every radio talking head and columnist looking to put another notch on his or her crotch was saying and doing the same thing. So can we really blame China? When all they’re doing is an Olympic version of “game recognizes game?”

Never mind the track and field members or the swimmers (too bad Al Campanis couldn’t see Cullen Jones swim) or the others; are they more patriotic because they won medals?

Of course not — but then again, the spin cycle has been ongoing ever since this dirty laundry was thrown in. First, the “slant eye” incident by the Spanish men’s basketball team during a photo session; China and Chinese – Americans are outraged.

But nobody here (save Sista girl from Atlanta – we mean no disrespect) said shit about the Beijing government’s barring of Black people. I betcha this was talked about in the Caribbean, or in the African countries. What’s wrong, NBC and USA Network? Is this little tidbit not enough filler material for you during those 30 second pauses?

If China had said no lo fong (white men) would be served in bars, you would’ve taken their asses to the United Nations and called for sanctions!

Oh, but you say Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are worshipped here.

Bullshit; they ignore their Blackness because in this era of a global cult of personality, celebrity trumps color..

And, speaking of elitist, the most disappointing aspect of this revelation is the so-called Black Press.

We have to go “Old Heads” on this one.

Back in the Day, Black radio was the true heartbeat of the community. It wasn’t because of the music; the music was merely reflecting our concerns on issues across the country.

Whether it was WWRL, WLIB or WBLS in NYC; WADO and WNJR in Newark; WDAS and WHAT in Philly; WWIN, WSID or WXYV in Baltimore (fill in the blank for the city — y’all feel me!);

People like Hal Jackson, Eddie O’Jay, Enoch Hawthorne Gregory (the Dixie Drifter), Jocko, Pat the Cat, Duke Baldwin, Symphony Sid, Georgie Woods (the man with the goods), Mary Mason, Curtis Anderson, Chop — Chop Fisher, Vy Higgensen, Frankie Crocker, Vaughan Harper, Gary Imhotep Byrd were proud carriers of the message.

We would gladly pay for the Pittsburgh Courier or the Chicago Defender in Harlem because it mattered that much to know what our brothers and sisters were doing in other cities – even if the papers were stale-dated a few days.

The Black press pushed for change, kept the issues of Black exclusion from baseball on simmer until MLB capitulated; reminded white America of its schizophrenic, hypocritical nature with the Emmitt Till incident, voting rights and the evil that lurked within the minds of those conducting the Tuskegee Experiment.

And even though the “society pages” in the Black newspapers were a poor attempt to imitate white concerns, there was far more substance than self- aggrandizement.

Ultimately, the status quo was very aware the Black media was to be dealt with because of its reach in its efforts to the disseminate information.

Now, that is no longer the case, because we are the ones being dictated to.

As we were discussing this with our extreme Sista Queen from Hawai’i, Rhonda Harper, the conversation got deep as she reflected on things behind the Inkwell Incident she reported on in Santa Monica for BASN and the underreported “apology”:

Rhonda Harper“I look at it like this, Black,” said Ms. Harper, “I’ve been around racist mofos my whole life; my life was threatened behind the Inkwell stuff — several times;

“My mom and dad went through a lot for us… and all I get is an ‘I’m sorry’ on some funky-ass link on Yahoo? Man, please…

“And the Black Press??? Don’t get me started on them! They make me sick right now; when the dedication time came here, they came photo op ready to strike the pose, Buffalo Soldier and all – but the NAACP didn’t have my back.

“I called the NAACP so many times I started to cry,” Sista Girl continued. “Then I tried a professor from the Black Caucus who wrote the original script for the plaque; it was initially rejected for having such strong language on it.”

“Now you see that begs for an interesting premise,” DJ Hunnycomb said. “Can you imagine if we got this ‘apology’ in 1968 instead of 2008? We would have two generations of strong Black men and women with totally different mind sets and skill sets…”

“Yep — but instead you have these fake asses in the photos; check it out; Google Inkwell Beach plaque Santa Monica; as the death threats increased, I called the ACLU as well – no help. I got so many death threats, I even called the FBI — but no one helped.

“Hill Harper’s ass showed up to film some bullshit I have on tape around here somewhere, but he wasn’t even around for it.

“I got on a plane four days later and moved to Hawai’i — just to get out of Los Angeles; now that I’m out here, my brother is trying to do something about it now.”

“The Black Surfing Association — my own people — turned on me. Not one of them ‘negroes’ showed up for the dedication. I’m telling you them shiftless niggas went on a lynching! Had me on the 6 o’ clock news and didn’t show up; but we’re like crabs in a barrel once white folks show some interest.

“Ultimately, we contacted every agency known to man in L.A.– Black ones included — they didn’t cover the dedication either.”

After our Sista Queen caught her breath, she elaborated on some unique information:

“Fellas, Black folks got history over here no one knows; man, it is fascinating stuff! The First Royal Hawaiian Band — the most celebrated in history — Black jazz musicians, playing for the King of Hawai’i; the first millionaire in Hawai’i was a Black man. He owned all kinds of shit over here; the University of Hawai’i – Manoa Law School was started by a Black man;

“Hell, the Chinese who seem to have a problem dealing with us wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for a Black attorney fighting their case;

Damn, sis — that’s gratitude for ya!

“Yeah, ain’t it though? Our state flower, the hibiscus was cross – pollinated by a Black botanist — a professor; she died mysteriously here at 24. It ain’t just Willie Amos over here.”

As our sista Rhonda vented her spleen, it incensed me even more that someone like her was left hung out to dry by the Black press.

The stereotype of the redneck will always be connected with the South; but how Dirty Old South can you get when California can earmark 200 square feet out of thousands of square miles for Blacks to swim on public beach property? Given our sista’s plight, we know 40 years ago, the response would have been different; and therein, lies the problem.

The black press advocated speaking up for causes and accountability. Now, they seem more concerned with titles, cliques and shilling as advertising rags.

None of the major papers see the need to hit the streets; the times dictate the editorial pulse of a publication as being in tune with its community and beyond; not with the cloistering, sequestered, insular world where they literally keep themselves warm with their own perceived self-importance.

Editorially, this mindset seems to be locked in because in an atmosphere where there’s more desperate poverty, and where the culture is more divisive, more covert, corrupt and surreptitious, very few people have come forth to speak truth to power.

With rare exceptions like the Central Florida Advocate (under publisher Kevin Seraaj), and the West Palm Beach Gazette, and entities such as BASN and Emerging Voices, there are very few Black media outlets with a proactive approach.

As writer/lecturer Tavis Smiley brilliantly revealed in the book, “The Covenant,” the information superhighway and those who could navigate it would prove to be the great equalizer.

We saw clear evidence of this in the Jena 6 story. The first line of defense was the Internet bloggers and young Black computer-savvy students who helped give that story legs; they were the single most important variable in that instance.

And our mainstream Black press? They were playing catch-up from Jump Street. Out of these five major commication components; television, radio, printed matter, internet, and bloggers, the first three mentioned as tradition modes have been severely compromised.

In Part IV, where we talk about the Tuskegee Experiment and the American Medical Association’s apology to Black doctors, you have to realize it wasn’t that long ago when, in the aftermath of Bakke v. University of California, which resulted in a dearth of minority medical students in the U.S., Fidel Castro offered to bring to Cuba young Black & Latino American medical students to be trained to be doctors; with the only price being that they had to dedicate a portion of their medical practices to providing free medical care in poor and underserved communities. Why didn’t our country offer that option; instead of distractions, illusions and fear mongering?

Where is the National Association of Black Journalists, that gaggle of pompous, parsimonious peacocks, who strut and preen when the camera is on, but fail to realize they are noticed even more by their lack of response?

Probably out looking for the next “nappy headed cause” with their spineless sycophants, the Pennsylvania Association of Black Journalists (PABJ); they’ll party at the drop of a hat, but Osama bin Laden would be easier to find than these clowns when it comes to speaking up for a cause.

No press conferences, statements, action or reaction as we are three weeks hence this historic announcement — and not a fucking peep.

Where are Black Entertainment Television (BET) and TV One? Forty years ago, we couldn’t dream of our own television station or channel; forty years to the present, and we still can’t dream of our own station or channel.

And before the question is asked, yes there is a sports angle to this as well. The recently deceased Sherman “Jocko” Maxwell, a true pioneer in Black broadcasting died at age 100 of pneumonia.

Few have chronicled the Negro League and its players better than Marshall. We would’ve loved to have met and interviewed him, but of course ESPN ain’t gonna tell you about him — so you may not even know.

It’s almost as if every one of these media functionaries are waiting for permission to engage in a carefully – worded approach that would skirt the subject of reparations and replace it with something disingenuous because they have something besides their self – importance to lose.

This is the same Black press that will say Michael Phelps is God, but Michael Vick is godless. Aside from an editorial in the Philadelphia Tribune by our friend and colleague, Mike Bruton, there is no front page headline of the apology in any Black paper or magazine.

Three weeks later.

Is it not Black enough for Ebony? Did it fly by Jet? Did the Essence of the subject fail to Emerge as relevant? So it simply faded into space where a Black Enterprise could ponder its future frontier? Please prove us wrong…

“Back in the day, the Black press would have blasted this apology all over its front pages and pushed for a class action suit for reparations. Nobody in the mainstream wants this and the current Black press acts as an agent for the dissemination of disinformation,” said MC Goodfoot (Wendell P. Simpson) “Unlike it did in the halcyon days of the civil rights struggle, the Black press is more concern these days with its Jack and Jill, fraternity/sorority affiliations than reflecting what is really happening socio-culturally, politically and economically in the Black community.”

“It has, sadly, become anachronistic and irrelevant, and its editorial leadership petty, bland and obsessed with its inflated sense of self-importance. So-called Black media’s disconnect with the rest of the African American community is reflected in the diminishing circulation numbers. In short, they ain’t talkin’ about shit anybody gives a damn about. ”

Right now as I finish this, I’m flashing back to movies. Images of things in films like “Nothing but a Man,” “Putney Swope,” “Watermelon Man,” and “The Learning Tree” – until this popped into my mind stream.

I want to thank the rest of the MCs – my brothers – Chris Murray, Doc Pinkard, Wendell Simpson and our Sista Queen, Rhonda Harper for their passion and insight.

On behalf of the MCs, I also want to thank everyone who responded and offered their thoughts on what we had to say.

We’ll leave you with this riff, and y’all can do with that as you wish: (paraphrasing)

Believe me when I say we have a difficult time ahead of us. But if we are to be prepared for it, we must first shed our fear of it. We stand here, before you now, truthfully unafraid. Why? Because we believe something you do not? No, we stand here without fear because we remember.

“We remember that thanks to our ancestors, we are here not because of the path that lies before us but because of the path that lies behind us. We do remember that for 400 years we have fought this machine.

We remember that for 400 years they have sent their armies to destroy us, and after centuries of war and dehumanization, we remember that which matters most…


The Constitution mandates that a census conducted every ten years to determine the populations of the States, and this clause provided for a temporary apportionment of seats until the first Census could be conducted. The population of a state originally included (for congressional apportionment purposes) all “free persons”, three-fifths of “other persons” (i.e., slaves) and excluded untaxed Native Americans.

This arrangement was a compromise between the slave-holding states like South Carolina and Virginia, which wanted slaves to count as equal to free persons (including both the majority white population and thousands of free blacks living in both Northern and Southern states) in order to increase their voting strength in Congress and non-slave holding states like Massachusetts and New York which did not want slaves to count for congressional apportionment at all.

This compromise had the effect of increasing the political power of slave-holding states by increasing their share of seats in the House of Representatives, and consequently their share in the Electoral College (where a state’s influence over the election of the President is tied to the size of its congressional delegation).

Following the Civil War, the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments changed this arrangement by (respectively) abolishing slavery, and superseding the three-fifths clause by requiring that a state’s population for apportionment purposes was to be determined by “counting the whole number of Persons” in the state, “excluding Indians not taxed.” Since there are at present no such untaxed Native Americans all persons inhabiting a state—whether citizens or not—count towards the population of that state in determining the state’s congressional apportionment.

(Breakdown of the “Three Fifths” compromise; Article One, Section Two, Paragraph Three of the U.S. Constitution, courtesy of Wikipedia).


thanks to Rhonda Harper Wendell and Chris, Doc Pinkard and Tony McClean for their participation with this series…

always outnumbered…never outgunned.





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