Category Archives: Race Relations

We Shall Overcome (The Next Four Years)

As with most folk-music (I guess including Spirituals and protest songs) from time to time verses get added or revised.  Here are some new verses I wrote for We Shall Overcome.  Maybe this will help us get through this week, a strange combination of the Martin Luther King Holiday and the inauguration of the next President.  Thank you Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) for speaking out.  Maybe this blog post (my “speaking out”) will help us get through the next four years:

We Shall Overcome (The Next Four Years)

We’ll get through the next four years
We’ll get through the next four years
We’ll get through the next four years
Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We’ll get through the next four years

We’ll resist hatred and fears (3x)
Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We’ll get through the next four years

We’ll cross the Red Sea of tears (3x)
Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We’ll get through the next four years

One hundred forty characters (3x)
Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
Ignore his Tweets and racial slurs

Putin’s not our president (3x)
Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
Nor that White House resident

We’ll get through the next four years (3x)
Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We’ll get through the next four years

I remain and Independent voter.  But I say ,“Repeal and Replace Republicans in November 2018”.

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The Only Thing We Have to Fear … are Fear-Mongers

With all the sad news of terrorist attacks in Lebanon, France and Mali, the multi-faceted wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and refugees fleeing Syria and other nations, I can’t help but think of the people living in the crossfire of war and terrorism.  I can’t help but cringe hearing or reading the words of politicians running for President; fear-mongering for personal and political gain (i.e. the Iowa and New Hampshire polls).

I am reminded of my mother’s side of the family, who came to the U.S. after World War II.  I would not be here otherwise, if my mother, siblings and parents had not come to America in 1946.  They came to the United States after living under Nazi occupation in northern Italy, and living under the Mussolini regime.

Using the logic of some politicians these days, my mother’s family would have been labeled as Nazi’s or Fascists, just because of where they came from, and who was in power at that time.

They were just working people of little means who lived in and survived the crossfire of war.  Their region was bombed by U.S. warplanes.  Nearby Lucca was hit hard, and churches were bombed.

They were sponsored by a relative who came to the U.S. in 1938 before the war.  They left behind many other relatives.  Today, our extended family is spread across two continents and four countries.

While there are many, many good and decent Italian families who came to United States, a few bad apple Mafia families were also let into our country as well.  I’m sure Donald Trump and Chris Christie are aware of them being in their region.  A fictional TV show was made about some of them (The Sopranos).

There are a few bad apples from every country.  We have a few here as well…  I am more afraid of Four-Pinnochio Politicians like Donald Trump than I am of innocent people fleeing the crossfire of war.

We should not fall into the trap of “fear-mongers”, who want to divide and conquer peoples for their own personal or political gain.

By the way, in addition to the Japanese internment camps in World War II, there was also internment of Italian Americans during WWII.  This is a lesser known fact about WWII.  I only recently learned this from the PBS documentary, “The Italian Americans”.  Coincidentally, that documentary aired the same week that Rudy Giuliani made his comments questioning President Obama’s patriotism.  Rudy Giuliani said:

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

I wonder if Rudy Giuliani was aware of how Italians were interned during WWII when he made those comments?

Today, Italy and America are again allies and NATO Partners.  Same thing goes for Germany.  Japan is also an ally and trading partner.  Vietnam is now a trading partner.

The world is a lot more complicated then the simple-minded sound bytes from a few fear-mongering politicians.

Our politicians keep telling us that “entitlement” programs like Social Security is going to go bust.  There are not enough people working today to cover the retirees.  Well, many Syrian people are educated (doctors and engineers), and many are entrepreneurs (merchants).

Let’s properly vet those refugees seeking to come to America, and “welcome” them after they pass successfully through the security screens.  Like other immigrants before, like those in my family, they can more safely raise their families, and help build a better country and economy here in America.

Detroit’s Slow-Motion Crash, America’s Race Against Time

When I heard the news Friday, July 19, that the City of Detroit is declaring bankruptcy, I was saddened, but not at all surprised.  Detroit has been under the jurisdiction of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, appointed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder, for four months.  Elected Mayor Dave Bing (and former Pistons basketball player), is effectively out of power, but he has been cooperating with Kevyn Orr during this transition.

Later the same day, President Obama made some heartfelt and personal remarks on race relations in America, in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial over the death of Trayvon Martin.  I see a connection of President Obama’s remarks to the racial history of metro Detroit, and how racial tensions were one of the contributing factors to Detroit’s decline over the decades.  Metro Detroit is one of the most segregated regions in America, north of Mississippi.  In some ways, metro Detroit is a Southern City trapped inside of a Northern State.

The City of Detroit could be compared to a slow-motion car crash, decades in the making.  Imagine a circa 1940 or 1950 Chevy cruising down Woodward Avenue, morphing into other vehicle models over time, up through a 2013 Chevy Volt (one of the few vehicles still manufactured in the City of Detroit), just before hitting a financial brick wall.  When watching those slow-motion crash test videos, you know what the outcome will be, but not exactly when the moment of impact will occur.

Although I moved away from metro Detroit in 1986, I grew up there and still have many family members living there, most of who work in the auto industry, or have since retired.  I travel to Detroit once or twice a year to visit my family.  At a young age, I was able to sense the racial and economic trajectory of metro Detroit.  I decided that I would eventually leave the area when I grew up.  I later moved to the Lansing area, before moving to Vermont.

I will try to describe Detroit’s slow-motion car crash in a nutshell.  Given the state of today’s U.S. economy, unemployment, declining middle class and racial tensions, I think there are lessons to be learned from Detroit’s situation.  Detroit has been the favorite punching bag of the news media and people in other states for many years.  But I see signs of what happened in Detoit decades ago in other parts of the country in recent times, even in Rutland County, Vermont where I have lived for 18 years.

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