Black History – Uncle Logan

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-7-33-13-amThat’s my beloved Uncle Logan opening that door in an article about Black Inventors from the February 1990 issue of Ebony Magazine. He is the patriarch of the Logan family which occupies a place on our family tree that requires an asterisk to show both that it is different AND that it means so very much to us.
(But, as usual, that is a story for another day)
He was the Yin to my father, Morris Ware‘s, Yang. Opposites yet perfectly complimentary. Second to my father, he was THE most influential male figure in my life through my childhood. He taught us lessons through his words and actions that, when added to the lessons learned from my father, told you everything you needed to know about being a man.
Emmanuel Logan, Jr. was a brilliant man. A talented musician and songwriter. And not in that “he had a piano that he could bang out a few tunes on and I need something to say about him” sort of way. In that “he got paid money and Grammy nominated” sort of way. You know, musician and songwriter.
His mind was always working. Looking at things and trying to figure out if they could be done better. Seeing a problem. Devising a solution. Determining whether that solution could be monetized. Move on to next problem.
The total and complete entrepreneur
In all things. Which is not always a good thing that is where he stumbled. When that entrepreneurial spirit hit very real world relationships it crushed them. There always seemed to be a whirlwind around Uncle Logan. Events and happenings just seemed to spring up out of nowhere when he was around. That finally ended up in his divorce from Aunt Doris.
Yin and Yang
I only ever remember my parents getting into one real argument. It was frightening and horrible and scary. I don’t know what it was about and I don’t ever want to know what it was about. All I know was that we each got $5 to spend at the 7-Eleven to buy supplies for the trip. Trip? We were off to Alabama and Dad was staying here.
Comic books and candy bars
That trip never happened. Whatever it was, it was resolved that day and we moved on with life. A life of stability provided by a man that was, like Uncle Logan, brilliant. Mechanically gifted, a natural leader and athletic. And not in that “he played softball in the summer league” sort of way. In that “he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox” sort of way. You know, athletic.
My Dad worked 3 jobs to provide the little that we had. His primary job was as a member of the United States Air Force. He’d bring home patch panels, cords and diagrams. We’d lay the panels out on the floor and put the cords in according to the diagrams. We didn’t know it but we were programming the early computers being used at the Pentagon. He worked behind the counter at a drug store and also worked for IBM on weekends.
Dad enforced discipline at home. Brooked no foolishness and had little to say about the whole Black Power movement. Black Power didn’t feed his family. The US Air Force did that and so he focused. And we flourished. Our life was steadily getting better as he advanced in the Air Force. We had everything we needed.
We seemed to spend every weekend with the Logans. We were cousins now. Family stronger than blood. Crabs and cookouts. Cabarets. Sunday morning feasts of gallons of cold milk and donuts. All kinds of donuts. We would gorge ourselves on the glorious nuggets of fried fat and sugar while the grownups would be somewhere sleeping off the effects of the previous evening.
Watching those two men interact. Seeing the way they loved each other. Morris being so serious. So conservative in word and deed and belief. Logan being so freewheeling. Taking chances and winning or losing. And then taking chances again. Both relying on the other to show their children the side that they themselves just weren’t capable of showing. An almost symbiotic relationship that worked out well for all involved.
A relationship that started because a Black kid from up North came to the South and was set upon by some White kids from down South. And a Black kid from down South came to his aid. From that point on, they somehow recognized that together they were better. And they were. Together they were this kind, happy, serious, musical, athletic, liberal, conservative, stoic, joyous, philosophical, silly, loving man that formed my understanding of perfect masculinity.
My Uncle Logan is gone. I do miss him. When he was in the final days and in the hospital, I didn’t go see him.
I couldn’t.
I hope that he understands.
– Eliot
Welcome to Black History Month at the RiverHouse.

Seize the Deification

In The Huffington Post’s The Racial Wage Gap Between Black And White Workers Is Getting Worse, Pay for black workers lags behind that of white peers more than it did in 1979 by Daniel Marans, Marans does a fine job of dealing with the issue in the title. As I was reading it, I kept thinking about something I had recently seen on TV. Something to do with the President.

Then it hit me

In the middle of all this data (as depressing as it is) lurks another strange truth. That could be the ascendancy to the top of the pile of Black American heroes. Leaping over all others, even the sainted Martin Luther King, Jr. Barack Hussein Obama. The first Black President.

Barack Hussein Obama

He is able to preside over a nation in which murder of innocent and unarmed Black men by the police is widely believed (mistakenly) to be at EPIDEMIC LEVELS. Most Americans (Black, White, Red, Yellow & Brown) believe that Chicago, his home town, is a killing zone in which gangs of Black youth indiscriminately kill anyone on the street. And now this news that the wage gap between Blacks and Whites is not only not getting better, it has actually gotten worse.

While he was President

His reaction to this? To get up behind his pulpit and let Black folks know that he will be personally offended if they did not get out there and vote for Hillary Clinton. WE would be offending HIM by not voting.

For all that he did for them while he was President

Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time figuring out just what that was. What did the President do that was specifically designed to help the group of Black folks he was demanding fealty from? Nothing. And he knows it. He wasn’t really making the argument that was coming out of his mouth.

I think he was making the same assumption his opposition makes: Blacks vote as one.

In this case, you vote for Hillary Clinton because I, Barack Obama, am Black and I, Barack Obama, am the determiner when it comes to political goals of all Black Americans.

Hubris? Not really. He is just taking advantage of all peoples instinctual desire to take the easy way out. Nothing easier than letting someone else do your thinking for you. Eh, Democrats? Republicans?

Don’t get me wrong. I believe Barack Obama was the President we needed for the last 8 years. Did I agree with everything he did? Nope. But much of what he did that I didn’t agree with worked. So, there’s that.

Would I vote for him again given the current choices? In a heartbeat but not because I’m Black. It would have to be in spite of the fact I’m Black. Barack Obama has been a nightmare for Black folks. We’ve had virtually no participation in the economic comeback. Much of the improved profits were on the backs of working folks squarely n the socioeconomic classes Blacks routinely inhabit. Once again, Blacks gave a bit of the gains we had made so that the country can bounce back. But there’s been a net gain. As there always is as we continue our journey to truly realizing that “All men are created equal” meant exactly that.

Our young and our children have embraced the lesson of Dr. King. They come on bended knee before the country of their birth. The country that promises them equal treatment under the law. The country that reveres those that fought for those children’s rights. They ask that country recognize that they are afraid. That they are in danger. That they just want their country to say their life matters.

On bended knee.

And on we go.

  • Eliot



Kaepernick and The Flag

“And the big thing that hit me through all of this is that this is a backup  quarterback whose job is to be quiet and sit in the shadows and get the starter ready to play week one.”
– Trent Dilfer
“I think it’s the most pathetic thing in the world and I think the people that support people like Kaepernick are really sick people, and they ought to take a trip somewhere else.”
– Mike Ditka
“I think it’s personally not a good thing, I think it’s a terrible thing. And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try, it won’t happen.”
– Donald Trump
“Your actions were shameful, disgusting, despicable and disrespectful.”
– Allen West

All of these people are complaining because a young man decided that even though he was fabulously wealthy, he should not ignore those who aren’t. He decided to do it in the way our Constitution says Americans should do it. His concern for the lack of concern about Americans being killed by the government because of their skin color led him to quietly and without seeking notice to sit and then kneel during the national anthem. To not participate in the forced demonstration of worship of our national idol.
Those people disagree that these government sanctioned murders are worthy of protest. Mr. Kaepernick and millions of other Americans disagree. Kaepernick is using his celebrity to shine the light of truth on this madness. They are saying that the life of an American is not as important as the flag. Let that sink in for a moment.
The life of an American is not as important as a symbol whose values they do not believe in. That a 12 year old American gutshot and slaughtered like an animal matters less than a pattern on cloth which some of them are not reluctant to make bathing suits out of and wrap their sweaty asses in.
Or to throw their garbage in.
Or to help in recruiting more people to the cause of denying Americans their rights as Americans.
Or its use as a weapon to keep Black kids and White kids from going to the same school.
None of them are confused about what Kaepernick is saying by this protest. Nor are they mistaken in their understanding of whether this protest is in keeping with the Constitution. They do this with the full knowledge of what he is protesting. They are against what he is for: the equal and humane treatment of all Americans by the police.
They rail against the very thought that all Americans should be given equal consideration, respect and be subject to the same rule of law. They rage against the very idea that Black Americans might have the temerity to quietly ask that their rights be respected. They ask with their hands raised. BANG!

Not enough

They’ve gathered in their places of worship and begged God to help them. They did it  sitting quietly in pews for hundreds of years. Over and over again. Praying and singing. Asking the Lord to help them while they were here and to welcome them into heaven once they pass. Welcoming all who came to join them. Even a strange young White man who came on a Wednesday and sat through Bible study. BANG!

Not enough

They listened as people told them how one receives a ticket from the police in order not to antagonize the officer. Window down. Hands on the wheel. Speak only in even, flat tones. Without emotion. Make no sudden movements and always announce your intentions and the purpose of any movement. Don’t look him in the eye. Follow all commands. Especially if he tells you to get your license and registration. Do it. Do it immediately. BANG!

Not enough

They obeyed when an officer tells them to lay on the ground. Arms spread. Don’t move. Even as you try to calm the mentally disabled man next to you. Laying in the street as still as possible while telling the young man you are responsible for that all will be fine. Don’t move. Listen to the officers. Don’t move but yell out to the officers that it’s all under control but to watch out for your young charge because he is…. BANG!

Not enough

Handcuffed in the back of a police car? BANG! Shopping in WalMart? BANG! Walking down the street? BANG! Deaf? BANG! Autistic? BANG! Protesting? BANG!

Not enough

And now comes a millionaire. One of America’s elite.  An NFL quarterback. Not demanding the rights he is entitled to. Not shouting about them being taken away. Not howling about the rights of those who share his heritage being ignored. Not doing any of the things his very humanity demands that he does.
Instead, he comes on bended knee. Begging America to stop killing its own just because of their color. On bended knee. Begging them to stop killing the people that it brought here to build this country. To make the very American dream possible by laboring without compensation build wealth that they were prohibited by law from taking part in.
Some Americans join him in the begging for the never-ending dream that Black Americans have had since December 6, 1865. Too many others simply answer…

Not enough

– Eliot