Letter to the Editor: Facts really do matter by Gardenia Hobbs – Rocky Mount Telegram

The Political Agitator’s response: They don’t want to hear these trues! I am familiar with all of these facts.

E. B. White said “Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.”

There are people who live their whole life believing over-generalized stereotypes that supposedly set them apart from a particular group of people. The belief that people of color are not intellectually equipped to assume leadership roles is a longstanding stereotype. The election of a people of color council majority in 2003 and the chatter and expressed perils that followed gives credence to this misconception.

The day these council members were sworn in the crusade began to recapture control. They have been criticized at every turn, for every initiative taken to improve economic opportunities and quality of life. This council majority has been criticized for a lack of transparency, yet more issues have been discussed in an open setting than ever before and citizens have been encouraged to attend Committee of the Whole meetings to get direct information.

It was this council majority that brought to light the fact that the city owed hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of a failed utility venture. It was Councilman Andre Knight who was at the forefront of this fight. It was this council majority that heeded the call of citizens and established new guidelines to accommodate those having problems paying utility charges.

At the seating of this council majority, longstanding inequities existed. Only one person of color was serving on the Planning Board and one on the Board of Adjustments. All other boards and commissions dealing with growth and development had none. Goods and services on the east side were almost none existent and plans were on the drawing board to bulldoze the Douglass Block and Booker T. Washington High School. Preservation of African-American history was not a consideration.

Is this the kind of governing that critics are clamoring to reinstate?

The critics leading the charge spent every waking hour trying to prevent the construction of the Event Center so it is surprising that they would be so aggressively interested in the center’s medical contract. It is also surprising that they are so accusatory of downtown real-estate purchases considering they abandoned the area. It is unlikely such untruths would be on display if these critics had been successful in preventing construction of the Event Center.

Al Kersha said, “No matter what you believe, it doesn’t change the facts.” So true.

Gardenia B. Hobbs

Rocky Mount

Letter to the Editor: Council critics offer nothing by Gardenia Hobbs – The Rocky Mount Telegram

The Political Agitator’s response: The Special Cs do not have to offer anything because they are just that special. They have nothing to offer not even common sense because if they had any they would think before they lie.

In the annals of history, there are many stories about African Americans who dared to take a stand for justice and equality and how they faced character assassination and even death at the hands of those who saw them as a threat to their way of life.

In these same annals there are also stories about betrayal by African Americans who would have been the beneficiaries. Sadly, not much has changed over time. The struggle for justice and equality continues, unwarranted criticisms rage on and betrayal still lurks among us.

Activist Martin Luther King Jr., with his nonviolent approach, and Malcom X, with his straight talk approach, advocated for the same thing and were assassinated for the same reason because they dared to challenge the status quo. The Rev. William J. Barber and Rev. Al Sharpton are demonized not because they mislead their audience but because their truth to power undresses the ills of injustice and inequality in a way that is unsettling for those who fear the loss of power. At this writing I cannot think of one African American activist spared misrepresentation of intent and purpose. Indeed, there are those among us who obviously believe they alone have a monopoly on leadership ability. (Read more)

Letter to the Editor: Racial understanding still elusive by Gardenia Hobbs – Rocky Mount Telegram

The Political Agitator’s response: You did a great job on the HRC. I attended the meetings back then and that is when I 1st met you. We served on the Common Ground Study Circles together as well and I totally agree with your observation. You are ab so lute ly correct, “This town, like so many others in this country, appears to have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo when it comes to bridging the racial divide. We hear a lot of talk about working together but it’s just that, talk. To my knowledge, there appears to be no interest on the part of anyone or any group to pick up the baton and organize a coalition to initiate ongoing frank and honest community dialogue that would promote racial tolerance and understanding that leads to improved race relations.”

Not so long ago it would not have been unreasonable to view racism as a smoldering ember, but today that ember has again been reignited.

The mere mention of the word racism brings on an onslaught of denials and finger-pointing from those who apparently feel they are judge and jury. Racism is ingrained in this country’s fabric at every level and injects itself into everyday decision-making that may or may not spark unconscious biases. No matter how you slice it or dice it, racism is real, it exists and it is not a figment of the imagination.

As a person of color, longevity has exposed me to all kinds of racism. I know it when I see or hear it and I do not need an interpreter. Indeed, my upbringing has served me well. It has been the foundation on which I have persevered even in the worst of times. Over the years, in my effort to rise above talk, I have participated in initiatives intended to help bring about tolerance and understanding of the views and life experiences of others. (Rocky Mount Telegram)

Letter to the Editor: Racism flourishes unabated – Rocky Mount Telegram

Donald Trump is testing the institution of the presidency unlike any of his predecessors.

He disdains the rule of law and tramples norms of presidential behavior. He is ill-informed, self-destructive and brazen in his abusive attacks on the justice system and the press. Indeed, Donald Trump is chewing this country up and spitting it out in little pieces. The fear of not being re-elected has caused congressional Republicans to stand idly by while Trump tells lie after lie, alienates allies and enables racism to flourish unabated.

Donald Trump is a Bernard Manoff and Theodore Bilbo rolled into one. A con artist and a racist. He continues to successfully con his supports, many of whom are low information voters, into believing him in an unconditional and cultish manner. Many of Trump’s tweets and comments shine a spotlight on his racism and his appointment of people like Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, John Kelly and Steven Miller further substantiate it. (Read more)

Letter to the Editor: Obama entered White House scandal-free and left the same way by Gardenia Hobbs – Rocky Mount Telegram

The Watch Dog response: Now twist these trues! What about that part? NO OBAMA DRAMA!

I recently watched the unveiling ceremony of the portraits of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle that will hang in the National Portrait Gallery and I was reminded of their grace, poise and professionalism during their time of service at the White House. Whatever negatives the Obama haters throw at them, their dignity and commitment remained unchanged. In the face of unyielding opposition President Obama never let anger win the day. The array of programs and entertainment they brought to the White House gave rise to a new cultural era reminiscent of the Kennedy years.

In spite of the fact that President Obama was not respected as president by some, he never resorted to childish tweets or name calling. He realized the country was not an island unto itself and its economic security was intertwined on a global scale. He did not threaten or insult foreign leaders for effect but worked to build stronger coalitions. President Obama was intellectually astute, well read and did not rely on Fox News for verified information. He was not a con artist who engaged in trickery. (Read more)

Letter to the Editor: Patriotism is about the common good for all by Gardenia Hobbs in the Rocky Mount Telegram

The Watch Dog response: Fa bu lous ta stic!

Patriotism is defined as “love for or devotion to one’s country.” True patriots seek to strengthen, confirm and celebrate the “we” in “we the people.” Patriotism goes far beyond the spoken word and one shoe does not fit all. To make a judgment call about one’s patriotism based on whether or not they adhere to the customary ritual of standing when the National Anthem is performed or place their hand over their heart when the Pledge of Allegiance is recited is shallow at best. True patriotism isn’t simply about conforming to a ritual. It’s about coming together for the good of all.

Much criticism as been directed at NFL players of color who protest by kneeling down during the performance of the National Anthem. The fact that many of their critics, including Donald Trump, are contributors to the very issue they are protesting is ignored. Why is it considered to be unpatriotic for NFL players not to stand during the performance of the National Anthenm on one hand and on the other hand it’s OK to enact and support legislation to suppress voting rights that preclude people of color from performing a patriotic duty to vote? Isn’t it a patriotic duty to work toward a common good that will improve, not destroy? (Read more)

“THE MORE THINGS CHANGE THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME” by Gardenia Hobbs

This article was posted in the Rocky Mount Telegram titled as “Progress On Racial Equality Front Meets New Challenges In 2016.”

“THE MORE THINGS CHANGE THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME”

As I pause and reflect on this country’s promise of justice and equality for all I am reminded of the many barriers that have negated the fulfillment of this promise. Are we destined to continue dreaming an impossible dream? Are we destined to continue living in a country where justice and equality will never be on one accord? Indeed, there is much truth in the old adage “the more things change the more they stay the same.”

Legislation has all but put an end to forced racial segregation yet actions and attitudes remain unwavering. Racial stereotyping is just as prevalent today as it was yesterday. In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act that abolished the Jim Crow Laws and invoked the commerce clause which outlawed discrimination in public accommodations. Today we are seeing new laws enacted like HB2 that give rise to discrimination anew and religion being used to justify the unjustifiable.

In 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed to rectify inequities in voting rights. In 2013 the Supreme Court invalidated key parts of this act citing there was no longer a need. After that ruling the restructuring of voting rights went into overtime. Today we are not asked to count marbles in a jar or read parts of the Constitution but the obstacles of acquiring a voter ID and getting to a polling place is just as daunting.

The Brown v. Board of Education decision was handed down on May 17, 1954 and from that day forward opponents started working feverishly to find ways to circumvent the law. Following this decision home schooling increased, church schools, charter schools and academies started opening at an epidemic rate. Today public schools are being robbed of funding and are just as segregated as they were before the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Affirmative Action was first introduced in the issuance of an Executive Order to create the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. By Executive Order, President Lyndon B. Johnson developed and enforced this order in 1965. From the outset there was strong opposition. Under the guise of reverse discrimination there has been one lawsuit after another. Today, the Affirmative Action Program has been stripped of its original intent and is but a fading shadow.

In 2009 the Tea Party was formed and from day one its members went after President Obama with a vengeance and gave birth to the slogan “taking our country back.” Tea Party members have depicted President Obama in every racist format possible and engaged in verbal racial confrontations even with African American members of Congress. Instead of rebuke the organization has been embraced as if it were mainstream and candidates seeking elected office have been elated to get its endorsement. To the contrary, when Black Lives Matter organized in 2013 critics wasted no time calling the organization racist and a terrorist group. This comes as no surprise because down through the annals of time when people of color have dared to speak out about injustices or challenges the system they have sometimes paid the ultimate price or have been labeled as trouble makers and radicals. Is it the expectation that people of color should suffer peacefully and accept things as they are without question?

In 1968 George Wallace ran for president on a segregationist platform. Today we have George Wallace in Donald Trump, a man who freely expresses racist views and is a Mister “Cure-all” without a how. It is appalling to hear members of the Republican leadership criticize his racist remarks on one hand and endorse him on the other hand. Obviously, for them, it’s all about winning at any cost and sacrificing self-respect is a price worth paying.

John F. Kennedy said “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” So, as long as minds and attitudes reject change, it is not unreasonable to expect that “the more things change the more they will stay the same”.

Gardenia B. Hobbs, Rocky Mount, NC