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Black Leadership Analysis

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Why We Can’t Wait: History

The book details the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement (CRM) of 1963. Birmingham was considered the most segregated city in the United States of America. Nine years after Brown v. Board only nine percent of the black children went to integrated schools. Steady growth in the economy did not affect black life as blacks had two times the unemployment of whites. To add to unemployment troubles automation and discrimination in the construction industry added to unemployment.

The CRM had gotten off to an auspicious start with the 1958 Montgomery Bus Boycott. The 1962 campaign in Albany, GA was far less successful in spite of the fact five percent of the black population was willing to be jailed for freedom. Many were looking on the CRM as a flash in the pan that was soon to fizzle out.

In 1962 virulent racist and segregationist Eugene “Bull” Connor was the City Commissioner of public safety. He saw his job as maintaining the status quo and quelling protests. George Wallace, governor of Alabama, supported Connor’s stance. To aid these men in their mission in “state’s rights,” the Alabama legislature created a law that said no foreign corporation could operate in Alabama. Therefore the NAACP, SCLC, SNCC could not have a formal presence in Alabama.

To combat the political climate, Fred Shuttlesworth created the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACHR). The ACHR had many successful boycotts. The white citizens’ mob responded by bombing his house. However, with perseverance, the ACHR was able to become an affiliate with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference headed by Dr. King.

The SCLC began planning to aid Birmingham in the summer of 1962. The now-famous Gatson Motel was the site of the initial planning meetings. The SCLC would lead a protest to integrate shopping centers in Birmingham. The national convention of the SCLC would be held in Birmingham to show solidarity. Also, a boycott would follow in the spring of 1963 culminating Easter weekend. The first mobilization of protests would happen the first week of March. Protests would slowly build to a massive demonstration April 14.

The 1962 SCLC convention had a profound effect. Once business owners realized the best Civil Rights leaders in the nation would all be in Birmingham they needed to pacify the ACHR. The ACHR and local business owners held negotiations to reduce the chance of mass protests during or immediately after the SCLC convention. The business owners remove Jim Crow signs while the SCLC was in town. However, once they left the owners reneged on the deal and put the signs back up. The momentary capitulation of the business owners shows how powerful the SCLC was in the early 1960’s.

Unfortunately, the political climate would not allow for the first execution of this plan. A mayoral election was early March that included Bull Connor. If a protest happened during the mayoral election, Connor would be emboldened, and the white citizens in Birmingham would gravitate toward him. The mayoral election went into a run-off, so the protests were postponed even later. Bull Connor officially lost April 3 protest began two weeks later.

Connor and his supporters had not given up. They filed an injunction to leave the current City Commissioners in office until 1965. Another injunction was filed to stop all protesting by the ACHR until their right to protest had been litigated in court. The injunction to stop all protest guaranteed protesters could be arrested even if the protest was peaceful.

The fact that all the protesters would be arrested after April 10 but Dr. King at a crossroads. If he were to participate in the protest and be arrested there would be no one well connected enough to raise bail for the rest of the protesters. The SCLC was low on funds because of the protests that happened earlier in the month. The SCLC and ACHR debate if Dr. King going to jail will benefit the movement. In the end, Dr. King made the decision to go to jail. Ralph Abernathy, Dr. King’s aide and friend, accompanied him to jail. It will be in the Birmingham jail he writes his famous letter.

Dr.King and Ralph Abernathy stayed in jail for eight days before being bonded out. They left to organize a new wave of protest in which children would be the main participants. Many criticized using kids as reckless. However, these same kids suffer the humiliation of segregation every day. Having them confront the violence head-on is not a far stretch.

As jails filled up, the City Commissioners has few options, but violence. The police used their infamous hoses and dogs. Their efforts were supplement by domestic terrorist using bombs. Kennedy had to bring in federal troops to restore peace.

Ultimately a coalition of citizen and business owners had to be formed for negotiations. The protesters demanded:

  1. Desegregation of private business
  2. Non-discriminatory hiring in business and industry. Black clerks and salesman had to be hired within 60 days
  3. Dropping all charges on all jailed protester
  4. Creation of a biracial committee to work our timetable for further desegregation

The coalition finally came agreed, and the protests ended. A few days later the Alabama Supreme Court forced the City Commissioners to leave office and let the officials elected in April take office. May 23, 1963, a new City Commission took office.

Relationship with Presidents

Eisenhower proved to King he was personally invested in advancing Civil Rights through many meetings. However, Eisenhower has a hard time communicating his passion to the public. Also, his rigid conservatism only allowed for small incremental change. Dr. King did not see a way to defeat Jim Crow without sweeping change to the power structure.

In the 1960 election, King did not endorse John Kennedy. King admits he liked many aspects of Kennedy’s platform and was grateful for his help in King’s release from jail earlier that year. However, King felt Kennedy was an untested politician. The Civil Rights Movement was fledging, and if Kennedy reneged on his platform, the movement could have ended.

Dr. King described a strained relationship with John Kennedy. Kenndy did run on a pro-CRM platform but abandoned the movement in 1961 and 1962 due to his small margin of victory. In 1963, JFK saw that public opinion shifted and began to support Civil Rights again.

Dr. King said he would have supported JFK in 1964 had he lived. Not because King felt Kennedy had fundamentally changed, but the Civil Rights movement was fundamentally stronger. If Kennedy were to abandon Civil Rights again, the movement would survive.

Lyndon Johnson had an intense involvement in Civil Rights intellectually and emotionally. LBJ rekindled King’s faith in the ability of white southerners to change. King attributes LBJ for inspiring him to write an article for “The Nation” magazine on changing attitudes in the South.

Why We Can’t Wait: Philosophy

Dr. King is careful to point out that the current Civil Rights Movement (CRM) is just part of a struggle of freedom happening all over the world throughout all of history. The revolutions in Africa and Asia that created new independent governments was an extension of the same struggle. Ultimately, oppressed people all over the world were beginning to stand up for themselves and fight back against tyranny.

Within the confines of American history, the Civil Rights Movement is the third revolution. The first and second are the American Revolution and the Civil war respectively. Oppressed people in all walks of life have fought for freedom. The black people are no different, and their struggle has been continual.

Many outsiders to the Civil Rights Movement see it as a sudden happening caused by outside agitators. Their evidence is that the black people they knew did not complain about their plight. Dr. King reminds these people that blacks are heavily penalized for talking about their experience. Also, most blacks would assume whites would not care about what they go through.

The method employed by the Dr. King led branch of the CRM was non-violent direct action (NVDA). In NVDA, members would purposely violate the law in such large numbers the jails would fill. Once the jail filled the unjust law would become unenforceable. Also, the oppressor would have to use his violence in public on a large scale. His use of force would show he was unjust to the greater society and increase support for the movement in the general public.

It is important to remember, Dr. King did not see his movement as a replacement for efforts within the courts and government. It was essential to have people sympathetic to the CRM in places of power. It was also essential to support NAACP efforts to fight discrimination in court. To obtain freedom, all three methods had to be deployed.

Dr. King defines freedom as social, political, and economic redress. From a social and political aspect, the rest of America would begin to respect black people because they won their freedom in the face of the most powerful government in the world. The victory would be due to African American’s ability to strategize and have restraint in the face of violence. The victory would disprove the stereotypes and allow African Americans to move through society in a more free manner.

Economic equity would come with black people obtaining positions of power due to the collective effort. These positions of power will not be tokenism, which Dr. King deplores. He defines tokenism as letting a few blacks have power to pacify the masses and slow the CRM. Dr. King supported efforts to give black people economic stability on a mass scale through set-asides. He mentions efforts in India to support Dalits. India had a reservation system that allowed for Dalits to get preferential treatment in hiring and college admittance. So from this book, it is safe to assume he would have supported Affirmative Action.

The principle tool blacks had in their arsenal was the strong faith of black people. Black America had one of the most active religious traditions in the country. The negro spiritual was the hallmark of this tradition. Dr. King was chiefly relying on a supernatural strength to propel blacks to freedom.

The organization Dr. King headed, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was centered around ten points.

  1. Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus
  2. Remember always that the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation, not victory
  3. Walk and Talk in the manner of love for God is love
  4. Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free
  5. Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all men might be free
  6. Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy
  7. Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world
  8. Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart
  9. Strive to be in food spiritual and bodily health
  10. Follow the directions of the movement and the captain of demonstration

Once the foundations of the organization were set the goal is to have many enthusiastic members that were also committed to non-violence. Meetings would include great speakers, the ability for members to explain how they have been personally harmed by Jim Crow, and singing. The singing was very important as Dr. King believed these songs held almost supernatural powers in bolstering faith.

To achieve egalitarianism in the country, the CRM had to be egalitarian itself. Within the movement, a doctor would be looked at the same as a janitor. A senator the same as a garbage worker. Leadership roles and rank would be limited. Instead, members would be encouraged to participate. By standing off to the power structure directly, they would build self-esteem. This self-esteem would supplement the supernatural forces behind their back.

The CRM had an uphill fight with obstacles placed by more than just racist Southern whites. Many black leaders felt that SCLC protest was too radical and could cause more backlash than good. Also, many whites even in the South disagreed with Jim Crow but were afraid to speak up. Apathy and fear in the general public were obstacles worse than overt racism.

Expressed in Letter from a Birmingham jail is the need for people to not stay on the sidelines. The struggle had reached a point were active participation was needed by all supporters. Minor differences in preferred tactics or philosophy can’t keep someone from full support. The 1960’s was not the time for conciliation. It was time to fight.

The methodology for the SCLC was:

  1. Gather information to determine if discrimination was happening
  2. Negotiated with those in power
  3. Self- purification to grow in the faith and resilience for a prolonged fight
  4. Direct action to create tension to force those in power to the negotiation table

It is important to remember King’s goal was negotiation from a place of power. The South as it was in the 1960’s was not willing to negotiate with black people. NVDA would be a mechanism for pressure

Many critics asked how Dr. King could condone breaking the law from an ethical standpoint. King reminds us of the goal of law and order was to establish justice. So injustice laws should not be obeyed. He also makes a distinction between unjust laws by nature such as segregation and unjust laws in practice such as parading without a permit. There is nothing naturally wrong with requiring a permit for parade, unless the permits are specifically held from Civil Rights protesters.

Black people were justified in using extreme methods to achieve freedom. Freedom is his God-given right and should be granted upon birth. Those outside the movement who say black should wait for a more convenient time put their own comfort above other’s self- determination. Also, time is neutral and its passage will not aid or hurt the movement in an of itself. It is the job of those in the movement to make the best use of time. Ultimately, tame time to their advantage.

Alternative Methods for Freedom

Dr. King did briefly discuss alternative methods to freedom done by famous black leaders.

Booker T. Washington taught black people to let down their buckets where they were. Ultimately don’t fight for change just get the best-skilled labor jobs offered now and save as much money as possible. Ultimately, this strategy is not resistance at all.

W.E.B DuBois supported the concept of the talented tenth. The idea was that if the most talented ten percent of blacks took it upon themselves to uplift the race the rest of black society could become stable. The idea of the ten percent leading the race would create a black aristocracy that may not behave any better than their white counterpart.

Marcus Garvey believed that any attempt at integration was doomed. The only hope was to relocate black America to Africa and build an independent nation. However, most black people had been rooted in America for hundreds of years and had few resources for relocation.

The recent phenomenon of the Nation of Islam (NOI) had a similar strategy as Garvey. Instead of relocating to Africa, blacks would build a separate nation in America. Most of the members were disillusioned by the lack of militancy in the CRM. The NOI was still small and few outside of large cities knew about it. The movement was fueled by resentment that would grow and become a danger to all Americans unless America embraces Civil Rights.

The final plan that was not necessary headed by any one leader called for poor blacks and whites to unite over their shared poverty. Efforts to advance this movement were always thwarted by the fact whites did not want to give up the privilege, assumed or real, of being white.

Dr. King and Malcolm X Agree on Kennedy’s Death

As a product of historical revisionism, the public has begun to see Dr. King and Malcolm X as polar opposites. Dr. King is seen as a capitulate and begging white people for acceptance. Malcolm X is seen as someone staunchly focused on self-determination and separation. In reality, their philosophies are closely linked. One example of that was their views on the death of John F Kennedy.

Dr. King said in the book Why We Can’t Wait the following on Kennedy’s death:

The unforgivable default of our society has been its failure to apprehend the assassins (of murdered Civil Rights leaders). It is a harsh judgment, but undeniably true, that the cause of the indifference was the identity of the victims. Nearly all were Negroes. And so the plague spread until it claimed the most eminent American, a warmly loved and respected president.

These words show that King understood Kennedy as a victim of racialized violence, that Kennedy had a hand in helping spread. Some of the Civil Rights leaders King’s mentions as being killed were killed during Kennedy’s presidency. So King is saying that America’s history of racialized violence killed Kennedy.

The infamous “Chickens Coming Home to Roost” quote was given after Malcom X complete a speech in December of 1963. A reporter asked how he felt about Kennedy’s death. In response he said the following:

Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to roost never made me sad; they only made me glad.

The Nation of Islam silenced him for 90 days for this remark. Once the period of silence was over Malcolm X explained to reporters what he meant. He told the reporter he saw the assassination as the result of racialized violence that had been prominent in America since its founding. The same thing Dr. King said.

So King and Malcolm X differed in oratory style, not philosophy. Their philosophy is strikingly similar once one reads both men.

While on the subject of the “chickens come home to roost” quote. It was given after a speech called God’s Judgement of White America. The lecture explains his stance on separation.

Many internet commentators have misrepresented what Malcolm X meant by separation. The commentators say Malcolm X wanted black people to separate without getting their share of wealth from the America they helped to build. The reader can find a link to the full speech below.

Malcolm X wanted blacks to confront the power structure to obtain their share of the wealth America had accumulated on our labor. The wealth could be used to go back to Africa or build an independent nation in America.

To not petition America for our fair share wealth is not militant or radical. It is a capitulation. So again King and X both believed in reparations. The difference is the method of compensation. X wanted to build a separate nation. King wanted to make a welfare state in America that included other races.

Chickens Come Home Speech

Was Dr. King a Republican?

“When a Hollywood performer, lacking distinction even as an actor [Ronald Reagan], can become a leading war-hawk candidate for the presidency, only the irrationalities induced by a war psychosis can explain such a melancholy turn of events.”
Dr. King on Ronald Reagan 1967

The article is a response to many other articles and Facebook comments I have seen painting Dr. King as a conservative. The comments normally center around a few points.

  • King was registered as a Republican at the time of death
  • King never endorsed Kennedy or Johnson
  • King advocated for equality, so he would not be for Affirmative Action

King was not a conservative, and his writings prove such. All these points can be explained by a cursory reading of his work and common sense. I will take these points on individually in this blog post.

Why did King register as a Republican?

The obvious reason is King spent most of his formative years in the South and most Southern Democrats were Dixiecrats. It would make no sense for any southern black person to be part of the Democratic party. In the 1950s when Dr. King would have first been allowed to vote Republicans were amicable to Civil Rights.

The only Republican president Dr. King interacted with was Eisenhower. He said in the book Why We Can’t Wait that Eisenhower was sympathetic to his cause. However, his conservatism prevented him from making the radical change needed to move forward on Civil Rights. If the fundamental power structure does not change only small, local, incremental change can happen. Ultimately, conservatism was not conducive to Civil Rights.

Why didn’t Dr. King endorse Kennedy or Johnson?

In the book Why We Can’t Wait , Dr. King explains his relationship to Kennedy. He says he was grateful that Kennedy negotiated for his release from jail in 1960, but Kennedy was a young politician. King saw the Civil Rights Movement as new and fragile. Endorsing Kennedy could be dangerous if Kennedy turns on the movement. That is why he never endorsed Kennedy in 1960. In the same book, he says he would have supported Kennedy if he had lived until the next election.

Johnson began his political career as a staunch Dixiecrat. Kennedy picked him as a vice president to secure the southern vote. When Kennedy died most of black America was terrified because they did not trust Johnson to care about their interest.

Fortunately, Johnson had a change of heart after working closely with King and Kennedy. Again in Why We Cant Wait King says Johnson restored his hope in the white southerner. King said Johnson was genuinely connected to Civil Rights and was on the right track.

Johnson and King parted ways on the issue of Vietnam. King’s belief in non-violence extends to other countries. King was extremely vocal on the issue of Vietnam even though most of America saw his view as unpatriotic. So King did not endorse Johnson because King was to his left, not right.

Would King have supported Affirmative Action?

King talked at length in his writings about economic redress to black people. He reasoning was redressing the systematic oppression that has destroyed black people is no different from other forms of redress and redistribution. For example, federally subsidized mortgages that were solely given to whites was a way to redistribute wealth to poor people to make them middle class. The GI Bill was implemented because the state understood they had put their veterans in harm’s way and took away important earning years. Giving veterans health care, college tuition, and other advantages were needed to put them on par with others who did not suffer the hardship of war.

As part of his demands from the Birmingham campaign, the SCLC demand the department stores have a certain percentage of black salesmen. The non-discrimination hiring program extended to Birmingham industry. So King advocated and implemented an Affirmative Action program in his lifetime.

Would Dr. King have been a Democrat?

Dr. King deplored party politics. This is an excerpt from Why We Can’t Wait

Negroes have traditionally positioned themselves too far from the inner arena of political decision. Few other minority groups have maintained a political aloofness and nonpartisan posture as rigidly and as long as Negroes…For some time, this reticence protected the Negro from corruption and manipulation by political bosses. The cynical district leader directing his ignorant flock to vote blindly at his dictation is a relatively rare phenomenon in Negro life. The very few Negro political bosses have no gullible following.

In a press conference in the late 1960s King affirmed that he had no interest in politics. He saw his role as an outside agitator and politics would muddy the waters of his mission. The official stance of the SCLC was never to endorse a candidate.

Civil Rights was Dr. King’s political party. He would side with whichever party would advance the cause of Civil Rights. To have a hard stance concerning political party would be counterproductive. Any party can support or abandon the cause. Black people have to be independent.

Why Does This Matter?

It is essential that we as black people study our leaders in their own words. Many people within and outside our community have attempted to appropriate our leaders for their gain. The historical revisionism of Dr. King as a conservative or capitulater has caused us to discount his teachings. Dr. King had one of the most comprehensive understandings of social justice. Without his knowledge, we will be left to reinvent the wheel continually.

Sources
“Inside Dr. Kings Final Radical Year” by W. Pepper http://www.salon.com HERE

King Press Conference Late 1960’s

Houston Group Says Martin Luther King Was A Republican by M. Ashford-Grooms wwww.politifact.com HERE

No Martin Luther King Was Not a Republican by J. Legum http://www.thinkprogress.org HERE

King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968. Why We Can’t Wait. New York :New American Library, 1967. Print.

King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968. All Labor Has Dignity. New York :New American Library, 2012. Print.
MLK Was A Republican and Other Myths by J.Blake http://www.cnn.com HERE

Ancient Indian Commerce

This treatise is a short history of ancient Indian economics and trade based on the Buddha Jatakas, the stories of the birth of the Buddha. It ranges from before the time of Alexanders conquest to the Byzantine Empire.

The ancient Indian economy was mainly agricultural. Being that the economy was agricultural, the oxen and cow became extremely important. The fact bovine was instrumental to the economy led to their eventual reverence.

India skilled labor was advanced also. There were many guilds to train people to make some of the most valued goods in the world. There was a limited amount of banking and cooperative investment. Because India had a relatively advanced economy, there were able to develop trade routes with the Middle East, East Africa, and many islands north of Australia.

Through trade, Indian culture was able to promulgate all over the ancient world. Many teachers in Rome were from the East. Indian architecture inspired many buildings in the Roman Empire. The most pronounced influence of Indian culture are the Tamil origins of the words such as rice, ginger, and cinnamon. It proves these items originated in India.

The full document can be read HERE

Rhetoric of Conflict and Compromise Series

Photo above was taken in November 1864 in Dutch Gap Canal, VA

Rhetoric of Conflict and Compromise

Critique of Rhetoric of Conflict and Compromise

Rhetoric of Conflict and Compromise

Buy the book HERE

Critique of Rhetoric of Conflict and Compromise

Buy the book HERE

Sources

Knights of the Golden Circle / Southern Filibusters

Alexandria VA’s Knights of the Golden Circle https://blogs.weta.org/boundarystones/2016/01/15/civil-war-alexandrias-knights-golden-circle

History of Filibusters https://history.state.gov/milestones/1830-1860/territorial-expansion

William Walker American Filibusters https://hondurastravel.com/honduras-history/william-walker-american-filibuster-central-america/

William Walker King of the Filibusters http://www.historynet.com/william-walker-king-of-the-19th-century-filibusters.htm

Lincoln Fought the Spread of Slavery to Latin America https://www.purdue.edu/uns/x/2009a/090112T-MayLincoln.html

Civil War Times Article http://www.historynet.com/avowed-enemies-country-knights-golden-circle.htm

Knights of the Golden Circle Book Summary https://lsupress.org/books/detail/knights-of-the-golden-circle/

John Bell

Constitutional Unionist Party https://www.nps.gov/arho/upload/Constitutional-Union.pdf

Short Bio http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=b000340

Speech in Philadelphia https://www.nytimes.com/1860/05/14/archives/political-presidential-speech-of-hon-john-bell-at-philadelphia.html

Stephen Douglas

Short Biography http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=d000457

Biography https://www.nps.gov/people/stephen-a-douglas.htm

Biography http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Stephen_Douglas

Northern Democratic Party http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Northern_Democratic_Party

John Breckinridge

Breckinridge speech 1860 https://www.nytimes.com/1860/09/06/archives/the-presidency-speech-of-hon-john-c-breckinridge-at-lexingtion-ky.html

Breckinridge Democratic Platform http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=3&psid=3951

Breckinridge Biography https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/VP_John_Breckinridge.htm

The Man Who Came in Second https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2011/novemberdecember/feature/the-man-who-came-in-second

General

Election of 1860 https://www.tulane.edu/~sumter/Background/BackgroundElection.html

Election of 1860 https://www.nps.gov/subjects/inauguration/election-of-1860.htm

Election 1860 https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/election-of-1860

Slavery poll modern day http://time.com/4236640/donald-trump-racist-supporters/

Video

Dr. Blight Civil War Lecture Playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5DD220D6A1282057

Pre-Civil War Videos https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOoBosrupqYveqlE8c5qsodZC2Oc0oSvK

My Story of Nigrescence: Encounter Part 1

I have recently discovered the psychological theory of Nigrescence. The theory gives a natural progression of how individuals grow to embrace their ethnicity. It also details many pitfalls one can fall in while discovering who they are.

There are five stages in the theory of Nigrescence.

  1. Pre-encounter: A time early in life when one does not use their ethnicity to create a worldview. It can also be used to describe people that purposefully neglect how their ethnicity shapes their worldview.
  2. Encounter: An event or series of events that create psychological discomfort that leads one to modify worldview
  3. Emersion: Individual rebel against mainstream culture and surround themselves with the new ethnic culture
  4. Internalisation: Individual moves past rebellion and can re-enter society with ethnic consciousness. The individual will no longer separate themselves yet interact with people of all backgrounds
  5. Commitment: Individuals have an authentic commitment to their ethnic struggle. Most of their time is used building a better world

This blog post will cover the time I spent in Encounter

Encounter

I had always had a hard time making friends and building relationships. Alot of my stumbling blocks involving relationships involved suffering from depression. To cure my depression I used many methods simultaneously. I began meditating which led to learning Buddhism. In addition, I began to study psychology which eventually led to studying Spiral Dynamics.

So the biggest problem I had in relationships was depth. I knew alot of people but I had no one I really could share intimate experiences with. I could find someone to eat dinner with or going to the movies with, but no one to call when I was really down.

One example of what the trouble I was having was my relationship with Marvin. Marvin is a Jewish guy I met at a Buddhist Temple. He was really gregarious and we always talked after service. I never thought we could really be friends. He was about twenty years older than me and about to retire. I figured we would have very little in common. However, I did find him to be interesting so I decided to do second body practice with him. For those that are not Buddhist, second body practice consist of meeting out in public and talking about how Buddhism affects out life. I usually last about an hour a week for a month and a half.

Over our sessions we got to know alot about each other. He told me alot about his job and how he was glad to retire. I told him about fighting my depression and how I was working to build relationships. I think we really provided each other good advice. Over the session we got really close. He would then invite me to different events over the years.

I was always careful never to talk about race to people that are not black. However, over the course of our talks the subject would come up. I mean my ethnicity is the a large part of my experience. Sometimes I would go into it without even realizing it. Then Marvin would comment and it would normally offend me. He would always say I was above race and should no longer thing about it. In his mind, I very well could have surpassed race. However, to the rest of the world I had not.

Well Marvin called me to hang out with him. He knew I liked dancing and decided to take me to this modern dance recital. He spent a lot of time complaining that his wife never wants to go and hang out with any of his friends. His wife was from the Phillipines and spoke broken English. It was obvious why she would feel uncomfortable hanging out with professors that Marvin was taking classes from. Yet, I sat and listened to make sure he knew I cared.

That night I did not say much. I had just started my blog Black Leadership Analysis. I was really hyped because the third article I wrote got 100 views in a day. He kept asking me what I was up to. So I finally told him about the blog.

His reaction was very telling. He goes on this long diatribe about how I shouldn’t worry about race and I should only worry about my personal advancement. He went on to say worrying about teaching black people is a waste of time. He felt generally black people were unintelligent and not much can be done about it. Needless to say I never spoke to him again.

Now I don’t believe Marvin to be malicious. I see him as a natural product of a spiritual community that bypasses race. If we don’t have a method to discuss and work through race in a constructive manner, we will get people like Marvin. Marvin did not hate people of other ethnicities, he actually made an effort to be around people that were not Jewish. Yet, his meager understanding of ethnicity kept him from having empathy and listening. It also kept him from questioning his preconceptions.

This story is not unique to my experiences in new age spiritual communities. I always censored myself to seem raceless. Not because I was ashamed of who I was, but because I knew most in the community would be insensitive. This led to me just being in their space not making the space ours. I would come, smile, nod, but never really achieve a level of intimacy. My lack of intimacy caused the discomfort that made me move to the next phase.

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