What ever happened to South Los Angeles Martin Luther King, Jr. Little League?


“A decade of excellence”

a perspective

[caution – this is a lengthy post]

If you ask people if they played organized little league baseball in their youth, most will affirm with a yes response. The facts are while many youth played some sort of organized baseball, odds are especially if they lived in urban parts of our country, they did not play Little League, Inc. baseball. The game of baseball is straightforward, and most cities offer organized leagues commonly known as park ball. On the other hand, Little League, Inc. baseball has a different protocol of how the leagues operate.  Typically, as the civil rights movement became somewhat of a social equalizer, just as people fled urban centers rather than face integration and to share power, resources and responsibilities there was an exodus and the suburbs became their oasis. As they fled, so did their institutions as well as jobs and other infrastructure. Those left behind were defined as urban. Little League, Inc. embraced the movement and they became well known in most suburban communities. Ideally you would not know the difference of play or league structure, and some would argue what is the big deal?

When I moved back to Los Angeles in the early ‘70’s, 39th & Western Avenue was a popular hotspot with Ray’s Café serving up legendary breakfast fare.  Over the years the community changed, and the popularity shifted as blight became the order of the day. As of this writing we have been residents in West Adams for forty-five years. My daughters were born in 1977 and 1982. Despite the blight which redefined the corner, there was a park on the southeast corner. It was nothing more than a large vacant grass lot with some playground equipment. What it also had was smooth concrete pathways. In the late 80’s it was the perfect venue to teach my daughters how to roller-skate.

The 90’s rolled in and in April of 1992 there was the Los Angeles Riots.  In the aftermath leaders were attempting to legitimately engage the community and create something positive from what was a negative reaction following years of neglect.

The exact date escapes me, but it was either 1993 or 1994 and I was operating Professional Realty Mortgage which was a community-based brokerage. At the same time our youngest son, Fred IV was nearing five years old. I heard about this little league being created which would occupy the grass lot on 39th Street. What really drew my attention was the theme of the league would be based on Negro League names. More important the league was to become part of the Little League, Inc. franchise and the first, charged with setting an example so that other leagues could spawn in urban centers across the nation. It was a gesture to create opportunity for youth.

While the venue was being prepared, Harvard Recreation Center was selected as the temporary home location. We met some of the organizers and I agreed to coach my son’s T-Ball squad. Of course, my wife, Judith was also involved and served as assistant coach.

Mark Durrell and members of his family, including professional ballplayer, Art Burke presented a great vision of offering local youth a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only play youth baseball but be part of the prestigious Little League, Inc. organization.   South Los Angeles Martin Luther King, Jr. (SLAMLK) baseball league was born.  They were supported by Eighth District Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Los Angeles Police Department. In addition to the commitment provided by Little League, Inc., they leveraged the support of Peter O’Malley, owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers who appointed Vice President of Community Relations, Tommy Hawkins to serve as liaison to undergird the league.

The excitement of the league demonstrated what could happen with the proper investment and leadership. There were at least 500 youth that first year.  True to form, the team names featured several prominent Negro League teams. They also featured Sammie Haynes who played for the Kansas City Monarchs and was spent his time sharing the legacy of the league. His affiliation allowed the league to feature various players to share their stories with those in the new league. It was quite a site to see the youth and their parents beam at being in their presence.

The promise of creating a dedicated field was like a dream come true. It was going to be like comparing day and night to the traditional open dirt fields offered by local parks. Art Burke took charge of the development and made sure it had the components of a professional field. As an example, since it was a Little League, Inc. franchise there was a scoreboard, grass infield, dugouts symmetrical fencing, a concession stand, announcers’ booth and other amenities that had never been seen, at least not in the ‘hood.

Difference between Park Leagues and Little League, Inc.

Baseball is baseball. I get that but park organized leagues are operated by park/city staff. That is not a terrible thing and while many take pride in their job it simply is much different than the requirements of Little League, Inc.  Most know it through its internationally acclaimed Little League World Series, which is held annually in Williamsport, PA. To get there the road starts at the local level or the District level through its Tournament of Champions series as the winners in respective divsion’s (Minors, Majors, Juniors, etc.) advance. To play in that series teams must be part of a Little League, Inc. franchise. Playing youth park baseball does not reach that height or prestige, although the play is perhaps just as competitive.  Another factor is Little League, Inc. is operated on a 100% volunteer corp. which relies on sponsorship and a concession stand whose revenues provide the league with day-to-day operating capital. The Conrad Hilton Foundation stepped up to provide the core $250,000 funding for the field, thus the name “Conrad Hilton Little League Field,” however there were other organizations who also contributed.

Another critical point is park baseball has access to the many public fields. Little League, Inc. baseball as a private organization using some public space but their fields are owned outright. The experience that SLAMLK was attempting to achieve was putting a Little League field in a public park. It is also worth mentioning youth baseball was already being played at parks within a mile of Conrad Hilton Field, notably Denker Recreation Center and Harvard Park.

The maintenance issues

Even though the city has tremendous resources in maintaining their parks, maintaining a manicured baseball field requires extra focus. While dirt and grass and other components might appear basic, there is a protocol in keeping it groomed so that each game features a fresh look. That is another area where our volunteer corps delivered. From dragging the field, to cleaning up the stands to finely cutting the grass, etc. are necessary steps in maintaining the standard we committed.

Nevertheless, through Ridley-Thomas’ support we were able to bridge a positive relationship with our needs and the city. Again, the experiment of creating a Little League, Inc. venue with the city was worth the sacrifice. SLAMLK was the first and Little League, Inc. committed five additional venues throughout urban cores in the United States (L.A., Houston, Harlem, Florida, etc.). Unfortunately, we assumed the type of support Ridley-Thomas provided would remain constant or assumed from whoever represented the area. Most volunteers accepted the challenge and were willing to make the sacrifice of spending countless hours doing their work if there was the appropriate undergirding. It was a lot of work. We would spend two to three hours per night and at least five to eight hours each Saturday and Sunday to make sure the league could operate.

A bump in the road

Harvard Park was a success and we moved into our cathedral called the Conrad Hilton Little League field in 1996. I forget what exactly happened but if I am not mistaken the 1997 year was postponed to complete some infrastructure.  The parents and players were devastated having to halt play and the feeling of another “dream deferred” settled in. Either way, there was no baseball and local leadership under Durrell became stalled. Professionally he was a Sergeant with the Police Department and had a lot going on, so the league became secondary. As previously stated, a little league field requires ongoing maintenance and before our eyes the jewel became a nightmare. It became unrecognizable as blight settled in. We alerted Mark Ridley-Thomas of the condition and the prospects of losing the momentum the league had built, as well as the reputational damage that “people in the hood” do not take care of investments and run them into the ground.  It was somewhat of an embarrassment considering the major investment so many had made to uplift the community.

The restart

In late 1997 we received a call from Martin Ludlow who had been directed by Ridley-Thomas to reorganize the league, including installing fresh leadership. Ridley-Thomas also made a major step in appointing one of his deputies, Noel Pallis as our liaison to ensure our needs were met as well as developing a positive relationship with Parks and Recreation staff.  He came to our home and laid out his vision while soliciting our support.

In somewhat of a tense environment, he transitioned leadership from Durrell and set a new path for the league. His work ethic was impeccable, and we rallied the community to give us another shot. I elevated from coach to Vice President of Operations and Judith became manager of the Concession stand. In addition to the community, we needed to restore credibility with the sponsors and Little League, Inc. Martin was the face of the organization. He brought in Bruce Saito to handle our finances.  Other board members had various task to generate funding. My task was to handle the day-to-day activities to make sure the operations was smooth including being a direct link in communicating with the parents.

We did not have space at the park to house the equipment to maintain operations.  My residence was approximately 1.5 miles from the field, so Judith and I agreed to house the equipment in one of our garages. I know many would not make this commitment, but Martin was a rare breed and had no shame getting the tractor mower from the garage and driving it south on Western Avenue to the park. Again, this was necessary to keep the grass properly manicured. It is somewhat laughable as of this writing as we did this for approximately six months until we could afford a larger trailer which was placed on site at our field.

Critical to the restart was Ridley-Thomas committing the same type of support her provided to Durrell and his team in starting the league. He conveyed to Little League, Inc. executives his commitment to turning things around.  In turn, they also understood what was at stake. They appointed Tom Boyles who was Western Regional Director and Marcel Van Gerwin who was the Administrator for District 25 to “take us under their wings.”   We were one of seven leagues within the district.

The field was restored to its majestic level gaining positive notoriety throughout the city and throughout District 25.  We elevated Sammie Haynes as a permanent part of our operation. Through his assistant, Marie Goree it was magical to see him come to the park in his wheelchair, with limited vision but willing to share the gifts and tradition of the Negro Leagues.

South Los Angeles Martin Luther King Little League was back in business. Our concession stand was fully operable, our field was in immaculate condition and our announcer’s booth featured youth led by the young Angelo Golden, II.  We developed a cadre of players who gained firsthand knowledge that operating a league required more than just players.    We had pre-game activities as well as post-game activities.   In between innings we featured music which was a delight to the crowd. Another key attribute of our league was getting the community to understand and accept what we were trying to accomplish. Urban lifestyles are full of characters from all levels of society. Most are incredibly positive, but some can be problematic.  Also, because we were using a public park all types of people would congregate. On weekends and near the outskirts of the park impromptu musicians would assemble and play. As you might imagine they would also be consuming their favorite beverage of choice or smoking something which at the time was considered illegal. It must also be mentioned there was a liquor store directly across the street from the park. These types of elements would intimidate those not familiar with urban life. We reached out to those on the periphery to accept the league as part of them. We stressed it was something they could take pride in being a part of. They understood music so I reached out to them asking if they could play the national anthem? Nowhere in Little League circles did you have actual musicians play the anthem. But that was the reality at Conrad Hilton field. It was quite a collaboration and moment of pride for all.

Our district supervisor was so impressed with our progress, he appointed our venue to host the Girl’s Tournament of Championship series. Keep in mind we were the “urban” league and part of the group which included more established or affluent areas such as Beverly Hills, Malibu, West L.A., etc. Our league featured Black and Hispanic players. The other leagues featured White players. The lifestyles were different but that is one of the unique things about sport or in our case; baseball is baseball. Several leagues balked at Marcell appointing our league as host. They were fearful of all the negative urban ills they had grown to accept. A few dismissed the fact our field was more pristine than their own and were not willing to travel south of the I-10 freeway.

Marcell assured them there would be no issues. But in fairness, he was that type of proactive person who saw the good in people versus the bad.  On the other hand, the leagues who agreed to field their team heard about our field as well as the “color” and pageantry we offered, and the way youth participated in announcing the games. For them that was something positive they were willing to sacrifice so their players could experience the joy of what we offered.

I forget the name of the league but there was a game scheduled on Sunday. The opposing team decided to forfeit rather than show up. The manager of the team who fielded his team called me and pleaded if I could dress the field and include all our protocols, specifically having the announcer call the names of the players and coaches so they could assemble on the baseline. He and the families were very appreciative as they understood this was a pinnacle of something the players would never forget.

April 1998

Our field had become extremely popular. We did not realize it at the time it was built but we should have opted for a different configuration to allow for two fields instead of one.  Our divisions included Tee-Ball, Minor, Majors and those over twelve who were Juniors played at Harvard Park.  That again was an oversight of those not familiar with how Little League, Inc. operates. They require additional infrastructure to accommodate those needing a larger field such as Juniors and Seniors. Despite the oversight we were grateful of what we could offer.

I forget the exact day, but I was on the mower cutting the outfield grass and my phone rang. It was the Wall Street Journal who mentioned Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley had provided my number to get some comments as Major League Baseball was commemorating Jackie Robinson breaking the color-barrier. The person on the line wanted to know my thoughts of why there was a sharp decline in Black people playing the game.  I forget my response, but the game had changed with respect to access. Then again, that was one of the reasons Little League, Inc. created the initiative in developing our league. Many in urban communities accepted the fact the National Basketball Association did a better job in marketing the sport to youth. Also, it must be noted it is easier to put up a basketball court than a baseball field. So, youth had options. We were steadfast in our commitment to introducing the game to the new crop of kids flooding into the community.

Martin Ludlow was a trailblazer. He had credibility in organizing but shared the same passion I and others had in taking our league to heights many might only dream about. Through Ridley-Thomas, Ludlow made sure we had the budget and necessary items to successfully operate. On rare occasions some ill-informed parents questioned his motives or deemed him an “outsider.”  I was the day-to-day face of the league and cautioned them not to lose sight of the big picture. Despite what some may have felt, there was no doubt he delivered for the league. We had many discussions. Again, as a political consultant he knew the ins and outs and though that connection was able to leverage support for the league. He eventually decided to step out of the shadows of being the “behind the scenes guru” for politicians and put his name in the hat for an open seat. Thus, he won and was seated as the Councilman in the neighboring Tenth Council district. Due to time restraints he needed to step down but committed to unwavering support to keep the league running. I was elevated to run the league as its president.

Lights shine in the ‘Hood

As the league was nearing the year 2000, we were outgrowing our field. Remember youth are in school during the day. We had to wedge three divisions with multiple teams into one field. Like minds can achieve things some consider impossible. Martin and I played baseball and understood the game as well as operations. Additionally, Dwight James was just as knowledgeable as well as other coaches and supporters. It was determined getting lights on our field was the realistic approach to expand play and accommodate the required schedule. Again, one might think that would have been part of the initial infrastructure but for whatever reason it was not. There was fear of urban issues or being out at night in certain areas of the city? As mentioned, we were operating a Little League franchise at a city owned park and any consideration for obtaining lights would have to come from our resources. Martin went to work and after consulting with Musco lighting was able to secure a $40,000 grant from Fairmont tires. The rest is history and to the chagrin of naysayers who professed kids playing night baseball in South L.A. was too risky, we were set to take the league to the next level.

The ceremony was flawless as on a Sunday night we had the president of Little league, Inc. fly to our field as well as Tommie Hawkins and other supporters to “turn on the light switch.”  The park was packed, and the players delighted those in attendance. Thus, night baseball on 39th & Western was no longer a dream but a reality. Through the years of play there was no negative issues as people who prior to the league opening knew the dangers of venturing out at night, discovered newfound satisfaction and safety.

The $10,000 gift

As mentioned, operating the league always required money. This was more apparent as our quest to keep moving the league higher.  Dressing the infield with the same dirt/clay used at Dodger stadium is not cheap!    In the late ‘90’s the Broadway abruptly left the Baldwin Hill Crenshaw Plaza.  I think it was around 2001 I was doing some work on the field and received a call from a public relations organization indicating our league was the recipient of a $10,000 grant.  I could not believe it as at the time our cash position was very perilous.  I was instructed to come to an office on west Third Street to pick up the check. Anyway, I was told the donation could not be publicly communicated and the donor was Walmart as they were preparing to take over the spot left by the Broadway.

I did not fully grasp it at the time, but Walmart was a political issue in Los Angeles because they were considered non-union.  For me, I did not care as my concern was making sure our players had the necessary equipment and infrastructure to compete.  They wanted to do a press-op at the field and officially vocalize their contribution. It was a nervous time for some in our league leadership as they were pro-union and being seen with Walmart management presented a conflict. We got through it, but everyone understood what was at stake in securing support for the league.

Interestingly after the Walmart grant, we continued to receive support from local businesses, particularly the local Burger King on Western and MLK. Honda had me meet them at the field and unloaded several vans which were full of equipment and gear. During those years we were on the move and on one occasion Little League headquarters arranged for a truck load of equipment to be delivered. The only problem was we did not have the space at the park so it was agreed they would come to me home for delivery.  A large truck drove down Harvard and unloaded gloves, bats, balls, bases….everything you could imagine.  It is no wonder what my neighbors thought was being unloaded in the middle of the street?

The racial dynamic

You would think people appreciate sport as fair play and have the motivation to conduct themselves with integrity. Unfortunately, that is not the reality. We would caution parents who tended to use their kids for their own desires. As great as the sport of baseball is, some youth will profess their most unpleasurable moments were playing the game and being harassed by their parents. Thus, it is not uncommon for some to recant their worse experience in growing up was playing baseball.

Starting a league is tough, especially by Little League, Inc, guidelines. Your recruitment is defined by geographic boundaries. They do make exceptions but that is rare. Once we restarted the league, some saw us as easy prey, especially those with nefarious intentions.

A parent of a player would show up out of no-where claiming to have just moved into the area

Another factor is the league is public and new leagues must play close attention to create fairness. Some adults prey on new leagues and show up with a team already in place. Out league was built on an open draft system to prevent manipulation for teams trying to stack their squads with the best players. Try as one might, you still have issues. There was this coach who was hell-bent on having “an all” Mexican team. We eventually caught on to his hustle and escorted him out of the league. On occasions a coach would show up at the field claiming they were unhappy at their current park league and asked he we would have them? Usually after explaining our commitment to Little League, Inc. regulations which made us different than “park baseball” they would recant and move on. We did make one or two exceptions based on the managers commitment to integrate their team with regular players. In the end it worked out, but it was still remarkable how adults would use youth for their own satisfaction of trying to secure a championship.

In 2001 the league was in good standing. Little League was ready to move to their next commitment in locating a field in South Los Angeles. Wrigley Park was selected and even though as a city run venue youth were playing baseball, it was not the same as official Little League.  Our leadership was charged with nurturing the league as well as demonstrating an example on how to successfully operate. The biggest cultural challenge was getting them to understand our operations was 100% volunteer. They were paid staff and while I am sure they enjoyed developing the youth, it is one thing to get paid to do a job and another to do a job because of the passion you have to participate. The biggest challenge was getting them to understand the nuances, protocols and documentation required. In other words; no hanky-panky would be tolerated just to win a ballgame.

The decline

All good things end, sooner or later.  Ludlow had moved on in his political life. I was with a new company so my time at the park became limited. In 2003 we reached our pinnacle as our Minor League team led by Coach Manny and Coach Frank achieved runner-up status in the district’s coveted Tournament of Champions. It became the pride of South Los Angeles. Ridley-Thomas arranged for the team to be honored during a City Hall meeting. Later in the year Ridley-Thomas was termed out as council member and moved on to State government.  He assured us his replacement would maintain the same commitment he provided. Surprisingly, Bernard Parks was Chief of Police when the league originally started so he knew full well the premise of why the league was created. Interestingly he replaced Ridley-Thomas. We did meet at City Hall with his staff and left with the understanding we would continue to receive support. Unfortunately, that did not happen so operating the league without solid council support was the death knell of our operations. As previously mentioned, the time requirement alone is exhaustive. Some in our organization felt the blow was initiated on purpose as the city could reclaim the field and whatever infrastructure was present and simply rebrand it from Little League, Inc. to park baseball.

Sadly, we acquiesced, and some might label it as abandonment while others might label it as a takeover. Either way, the league came to a streetching halt and the rest is history.

If you’ve made it this far, THANK YOU for taking time to read. It is lengthy due to the complexity and historic nature of the topic.

In addition to those who have been mentioned there were countless parents, coaches, community folk and other who gave their heart in making the dream of Little League, Inc. first urban league a reality. Dwight James, Wayne Kimbrough, and his wife. Angelo Golden, Janet Golden and their two beautiful children. The Randy Robinson family. O.T.. Ramirez, Deon and his brother Marcus, Coach Frank and Coach Manny, Selwyn & Doris Terry, Umpire Mike, Chili, Bill Taylor and his three grandsons and so many more that I cannot remember after all of these years.  It was a great decade, and we were proud to exhibit what could happen when a community supports an initiative.

Hopefully in all that we tried to do, we brought a smile or two along the road and allowed youth and grow up with a positive experience while playing little league baseball.

Jackie Robinson Day 2022 – 75th Anniversary


[Chavez Ravine] Today marks the 75th anniversary that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball (MLB). The impact and folklore of Robinson’s achievement is historic.

Robinson’s playing career ended in 1957 and as the team was preparing to locate to Los Angeles he was traded to the Giants. He traded his glove and spikes for white shirts and suits and became the first African-American in corporate America by becoming Vice President at Chock Full of Nuts.

MLB normally accommodates the Dodgers by making sure April 15th is a home game. We will join the throngs at Chavez Ravine (Dodger Stadium) as they take on the Cincinnati Reds. In addition to the pregame festivities and the thousands who will gather around his statue it will be quite a game to see all players, managers, umpires and field personnel dawn number 42. We remember Jackie!!!!

Postscript

For those lucky to be in attendance it was a memorable pre-game salute. For those who may have missed it the clip below pays homage to Jackie Robinson

Is the American Dream a reality or is it dead?


Much as been communicated about the high cost in obtaining a home. At one time it was a sense of pride in becoming a home owner. My contention is the dream is still attainable, although it will take laser-focused discipline and strategy in making it a reality.

This is a piece which recently was on the iconic 60 Minutes program. It offers a perspective.

Allensworth burial site


Lieutenant Colonel Allen Allensworth is buried at Angelus-Rosedale cemetery located on Washington & Normandie in the West Adams Heights community of Los Angeles.

After retiring from the military Colonel Allensworth lived in what now is the USC area of South Los Angeles. He led a group of pioneers from the area and headed to Central California with the goal to stake out a new life. Thus, in 1908 he is known for creating California’s first town which was financed and governed by African-Americans and named after him; Allensworth, CA


[postscript] Judith and I became involved in the Allensworth project in 1989. Due to low visitor-ship the State Historic park was subject for closure. After developing a relationship with Friends of Allensworth president George Finley and department staff, in 1991 we agreed to launch the first branch of Friends of Allensworth. It was located in the Los Angeles area. The first meeting was held at the Baldwin-Hills Crenshaw mall. We also became state certified docents to assist staff with interpreting Allensworth.

The issue regarding the Colonel’s burial site is interesting but being a docent-volunteer allowed us to explore circumstances of how he died. To the credit of agencies such as the State Park a lot of their interpretation is sanitized or providing as fact, yet lacking detailed information that may add a different perspective. We were able to explore the Colonel’s death and while much of written documentation will reference he died in 1914, our big question was HOW?

After impeccable research which included visiting the Monrovia library and conducting some oral interviews as well as visiting the location of the accident which eventually led to his death, we concluded it was more than a simple passing; it was a conspiracy, a murder, an assassination!

The Colonel was on his way to Shiloh Baptist church. He had just gotten off the train and was walking down Myrtle when two motorcycles ran into him. To us, that is more than just a mere passing. Again, the big questions are how and why, as big a street that Myrtle is?

more to follow……………………………………………

Cuban National Players in MLB v2021


This year’s edition is late but once again we note professional baseball players who hail from Cuba and are now playing in Major League Baseball (MLB). The list is compiled from those making the 40 player roster of the thirty MLB teams. Like many professional sports in the United States the rosters have become more diversified representing players from all over the globe.

Cuba has a tremendous baseball legacy. It is the national sport. It became a key topic in my journey to explore the Negro League’s presence in a country where the teams were welcomed and a strong brotherhood was created. Before the U.S. imposed embargo players and many teams took great joy to make the trek to the Caribbean’s largest country. Even though key players have departed resulting in a sharp decline of their status in World Baseball Rankings, they still pose a threat to teams that take them lightly. In the last decade they were consistently in the top 5 and now find themselves in 11th place. During my recent visit to Esquina Caliente in downtown Havana the sentiment from the locals was it is time for the Cuban Baseball Federation to retool and make adjustments so they can regain their prestige on the world stage.


A couple of notes from this year’s edition

  • The 2021 lineup totals 25 players
  • American league teams have the majority of players at 17.
  • The National league has 8.
  • Surprisingly 15 teams have ZERO players (5 from American and 10 from National)
  • Cuban National players account for approximately 2% of all players.
  • MLB escalated investing in Latin America in the early ’60’s and it is not surprising that Dominican Republic leads the pack.
  • Another important feature of this list is understanding Cuban baseball is still strong but over the years the top talent has been diluted as more players have defected or made it over to the U.S.A.


TEAMS20202021Change 2021 v 2020
Arizona Diamondbacks101
Atlanta Braves132
Baltimore Orioles110
Boston Red Sox000
Chicago Cubs000
Chicago White Sox341
Cincinatti Reds121
Cleveland Indians000
Colorado Rockies000
Detroit Tigers000
Houston Astros532
Kansas City Royals110
Los Angeles Angels011
Los Angeles Dodgers011
Miami Marlins000
Milwaukee Brewers000
Minnesota Twins000
New York Mets000
New York Yankees011
Oakland Athletics011
Philadelphia Phillies000
Pittsburgh Pirates000
San Diego Padres211
San Francisco Giants000
Seattle Mariners000
St. Louis Cardinals211
Tampa Bay Rays220
Texas Rangers121
Toronto Blue Jays110
Washington Nationals101
TOTALS22253

Fred is a baseball historian who has studied and researched the game at length. His relationship to Cuba stemmed from understanding how the Negro Leagues operated during segregation. Further he has been able to visit many stadiums in Cuba while taking in various games. Currently his visits have escalated and allowed him to visit many landmarks as well as interview those in Cuba who understand the current dynamic as well as a historical appreciation of when the Negro Leagues were prominent and how the sport was a common denominator to bridge the communication gap.

Eastcoasttrekv2021


Comprehensive Edition

A trek is all about adventure. It’s not about compromising comfort and resorting to renting a car, taking Uber at every turn or not going to places that might be uncomfortable. We’ve made this trek for over ten years and while the terrain may be the same we try and mix it up for new discoveries. Four states, which included Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and one district, District of Columbia comprised our Eastcoasttrekv2021.  According to my Epson exercise watch which is pretty accurate we covered a tad bit in excess of 76 miles based on walking (or the steps we took). In addition while Renie did drive us to Philly, New Jersey and Delaware, we did most of Maryland and the District of Columbia using a combination of walking, Metro (subway & bus) and very limited use of Uber out of necessity as we needed to catch the last train from Baltimore back to DC.

The annual trek is a combination of activities but the main thrust is to be in the District of Columbia on August 28th as that is the commemoration and anniversary of the March on Washington.  This year’s theme centered around voting based on the GOP’s effort to thwart participation with their myriad of voting laws designed to reduce the number of voting participants.

The biggest achievement

Each trek offers something special.  This year Marty King, III son of Rev., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. presented his original 1963 March on Washington speech to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.  We were able to see it for ourselves on Sunday, August 29th.

Other highlights

For this trip I brought my drone and was able to capture a few scenes in Baltimore and Philly.  Of course, DC is off limits.  Also, while in Philly we went to Reading Market and visited quite a few sites as noted by the photos.

In New Jersey, our time was limited and we barely made to the famous Corrine’s Soul Food.  In Delaware we made a few pit stops before heading back to DC.

DRONE SHOTS

For those who follow us, you may recall it was during our San Jose trek that our dear friend James Bell recommended I look into getting a drone to complement my photography. After experimenting with several different models, seven weeks later I landed the DJI Mavic Air 2 drone. The only thing it is lacking is the ability to Zoom while taking video/photography. Here are a couple of clips:

Camden Yards including M & T Stadium – Baltimore, MD

Fells Point – Frederick Douglas Maritime Museum – Baltimore, MD

Fred’s Water Ice – West Philly

If you are ever in the DC area during August be sure to check out outdoor basketball at the Goodman Leagues. It is located in the Barry Farm community of Anacostia and a place you will see the community come together though sport.

GOODMAN LEAGUE SCENES – CLICK HERE TO ACCESS


These are general shots of our trek

EASTCOASTTREKV2021 CLICK HERE TO SEE GENERAL PICS


FOODIE EXCURSION

Gregory’s Coffee

Ethel’s Creole Kitchen

Ethel’s is one of our regulars because it’s something about the funk or ambience they provide alongside freshly prepared food. This year we decided to do a sampler.

Cindy Lou’s Fish House

Cindy Lou’s is in Fell’s Point and located in the Hilton hotel complex. It is a new venue and they are still working on improving operations. This place was chosen because of their Lobster Po-Boy and we were not disappointed. Prices are reasonable based on the quality you receive.

Reading Terminal Market

The Reading Terminal Market is a Philadelphia institution. Under one roof you are treated to vast array of homestyle food goodies. We didn’t eat at all of them but one of my favs was the Dutch candy store which had a great variety of Reed’s. We heard about Sweet T’s bakery, which is a great venture. The sweet potato pie which folk were raving about was OK. I’ve been raised on sweet potato pies and if you keep it simple……the better. Sweet T’s packages two small pies in one container. The taste was very good but where was the crust???? The Dutch cafe had a good breakfast menu so we opted for the pancake and bacon. In all honesty, it was tasty but I would probably rank it a “C” as it comes with a big hunk of what appeared to be nucoa margarine. The bacon had a terrible presentation as it was not professionally presented as you would expect – meaning in a reasonable strip length. Anyway, more hype than reality. Overall, the venue is a great representation of the region and the type of place you want to put under your belt as far as visiting.

Corrine’s Place Soul Food

Corrine’s was part of our New Jersey trek. The food was fantastic but the journey didn’t go so well. Renie, our dear friend and well-known foodie extraordinaire called while we were in Philly to see about reservations and verify closing time. First of all there are no reservations as there is no in restaurant dining. The dining they do provide is a nicely appointed patio. Second, they close at 7:30 SHARP (umm, just noticed the flyer states an 8PM closing). When we arrived a staff was outside and even though it was 7:20PM, he stated “we are closed.” After some negotiation we were allowed to order and had to make sure we could eat on the patio as our other option would have been to wait two hours until we arrived back in D.C. Anyway, so much for building a business and making sure those empowered to represent you understand how easy it is for businesses to fail, let alone to bad reviews which might further damper the reputation. That being said, Corrine’s provides you bang for your buck as the dinners are piled high and the sides are more than enough. As a matter of fact the portions could easily feed two, maybe three people.

Boog’s – Camden Yard

Named after Baltimore Oriole slugger Boog Powell, Boog’s specializes in pit beef sandwiches. I purchased the combo which came with turkey, beef and ham. It also came chips and I swear there was enough meat to cover two more sandwiches.

Edgar Bar & Kitchen

Had the taste for some fresh pimento & homestyle chips. Edgar did not disappoint, although $9 might seem a bit expensive, keep in mind it is the restaurant which services the landmark Mayflower hotel.
EDGAR BURGERº American cheese, Edgar sauce, lettuce, onion, pickles on brioche (with bacon +2) – $15

Busboy’s & Poet’s – H Street

Picture to follow

Ben’s Next Door

Located in the “U” neighborhood and cousin to the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl, this restaurant offers a full bar and diverse menu.

Sweet Home Café

Sweet Home Cafe is located in the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. A great venue which offers tasty food surrounded by history.

Busboy’s & Poet’s – V St.

A DC favorite right in the “U” corridor. Always great food and an outstanding environment.

R & R Seafood

This restaurant is located within the BWI airport. It is near the “E” concourse section.


Fred’s Water Ice

Located in West Philly, Fred’s Water Ice is a community favorite. Our visit was good but it could have been better as they were out of quite a few flavors and the gelati machine was broken. Anyway, worth a visit as the mango ice I had was very tasty and refreshing as it was very humid the day we visited.


During our trek we stayed two nights in Baltimore at the Loft by Marriott and five nights at the historic Mayflower Hotel which is also part of the Marriott properties. Luckily while the Mayflower is one and done……for us, at least we didn’t have to pay the $900 per night rack rate!!!!!


We lost another Giant!!!! Ms Valerie Whitworth


A special thanks to Mr. Jacques Bordeaux – GHS ‘71 (Bordeaux Collections) and Mrs. Debra Lee- GHS ‘70  for contributing to my thoughts.


My brother Ronald called me last night to inform me Debra Lee had reached out to him to let us know Valerie Whitworth passed.  I immediately called her mother, Mrs. Carolyn Whitworth to convey my condolences and communicated how much I appreciated her allowing me to visit the home last year to see Valerie.  Also, I subsequently spoke to Debra.  Valerie passed on August 16, 2021 at approximately 4PM. 

I live in West Adams and Valerie’s family home is in View Park, approximately 5 miles southwest.

In 1965 I first met Valerie.  As many know even at the young age Greg Jones was like the “pied-piper” of Pomona, especially for those in south Pomona off Mission and White.  If he took you in as a friend, you were also that of his crew, which included Valerie, Ebora, Angela, Steve Shy and later Debra.  They ruled 6th Street between Myrtle and Buena Vista.  We all took pride in attending Marshall Junior High school and Ganesha High School.

Anyway, she will be missed and I am so happy I knew her.  I am happier that she made a contribution during her living days and she is now at peace and rest so that her memories will hold a special place in our hearts.

Valerie was an incredible person.  Stylish, sharp, focused, friendly and all of the attributes that made you happy to be in her company.  Once we all graduated and went our separate ways, like many of you there were friends who stayed in touch and became part of our adult life.  You may also remember Valerie and Bob Ferrell were two of our classmates who were at UCLA during the early ’70’s.  I would visit them frequently, usually on a Friday.  Bob was playing football and Valerie was hitting the books.  She was so amazing and we use to joke because she was one of few that I knew who achieved tremendous the rare academic excellence by gaining her joint degree:  MBA/JD.

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A perspective from CUBA: CENSUSES, SKIN COLOR AND SOCIAL ANALYSIS


Professor Esteban Morales – photo credit Fred Thomas, III

reprinted with permission


For nearly six years Professor Esteban Morales and I have enjoyed a very positive relationship. He has been a valuable source to me for most things CUBA, particularly on the issue of race and social issues.

This article was penned in late June, just days before the July 11th uprising. His article is a perspective and I encourage you to gain many viewpoints so you can better understand the situation.


Author: Esteban Morales.

Although it still moves many prejudices, misunderstandings and challenges, there is no choice but to attend to the color of the skin. Above all, in its consideration within the national media and statistics.

Cuban society is a multiracial society, or rather, multicolored, mestizo. And that reality has to be recorded statistically. Not handling the Census as a matter, simply numerical, but cultural demographic.

It’s about color being a legacy of Slavery. That it is not possible to ignore, because this mark from its origins to the current Cuban society.

When the Spanish arrived in Cuba in 1492, they did so with white credentials and stayed that way. Those who came of their own volition, did so in search of a fortune, which they not infrequently found.

But Spain is not White. Colonized by the Arabs, for 800 years, it becomes impossible to consider it as such. Even when the Spanish does not assume that identity.

Then, the colonizers of our Archipelago, were not white. Being white was not their power, but having arrived with the cross and with the sword.

They arrived in a territory of indigenous people, of low culture and only used them to find gold. They exploited them mercilessly and their population mass, did not last long, although still in Cuba, we have representatives of that original population.

Chinese also came, brought in, through a system of contracts, which made them slaves. The so-called culíes, which since then added their beauty to the population of the island, integrating our nationality. Those three large groups were the ones that formed the Cuban population. Then others joined, Antilleans, although not in the magnitude of the first, merging also with our population.

Although the Spanish Crown, put rules for the care of the indigenous population; in any case, the ambition of the colonizers, together with the Regime of the Encomiendas and slavery, reduced that population to its minimum expression.

In little more than 100 years the so-called Tainos, Siboneyes and guanahatebeyes, almost disappeared, because they were not of an advanced culture, as if it happened for the rest of America. Cultures, Aztecs, Mayans, Toltecs, etc. Those that did, culturally, had practically nothing to envy of the European cultures of their time.

But the indigenous population existing in the Cuban Archipelago, lacked that strength, which gives belonging to a higher culture.

Along with the Spaniards, came the first blacks. Not from Africa, but directly from Spain. These blacks were called “Ladinos”, they were slaves in Spain, they knew how to speak the language and they had a certain culture, acquired in the labor of servitude, for which, they also arrived in Cuba. But they did so in small numbers.

The vast majority of blacks who arrived in Cuba, en masse, did so later, as a result of the slave trade. And massively, after the Haitian Revolution of 1791.Se settled in the Eastern End of The Island. Having a great cultural impact, as they were accompanied by their French masters. Thus I arrived in Cuba, the French contradanza and the so-called French Tomb. All of which, we know as antecedents of our national dances, the Danzón.

Through the eastern region, the Antillean groups entered, to participate in sugar production, hence the mixture that characterizes that region, which covers up to the current province of Camagüey, where we find many descendants of French (Haitians), or English (Jamaicans) and other Antillean groups. This made the situation of racial discrimination in the above-mentioned regions more complicated.

However, they did not lead to the formation of minorities, as in the United States, but merged with the Cuban population, keeping their English and French surnames.

Then, the blacks were brought as slaves to Cuba, for the work of the constructions first and the work of the sugar production later, within an already organized colonial regime. To say black in Cuba, was to say slave.

These slaves, practically, since the sixteenth century, could buy their freedom.

As the Spaniards arrived, men alone. Immediately, they began to mix with the Indies and blacks, thus initiating the miscegenation of the island. And within a complex miscegenation, because it was made up of free or slave people, mestizo or black. Not so the White Spaniards, who never suffered the condition of slavery.

Unlike the blacks who were brought into the territory of the Thirteen Colonies of North America, what later was the United States of America; the arrived, also brought from Africa as slaves to the mentioned territory, these could not speak their languages, but only English, they could not practice their religions, nor their cultures. They were not allowed by the colonizers. In this sense, the slave regime from England was tougher, with an almost absolute separation between blacks and whites. Which is what has ended up characterizing American society.

The blacks brought to Cuba, also from Africa, the Spanish colonization, were allowed to speak their languages, worship their gods and practice their cultures.

It was that, for historical and also cultural reasons, the Spaniards were more likely to coexist with the cultural practices of slaves in Cuba and with different colors.

Unlike in North America, in Cuba, the Spanish lived better with differences in color. To which also contributed the differences that introduced in the slavery of the negro, the existence of a domestic slavery and another of plantation.

In Cuba this did not take place, but in the American colonization, came a type of colonizer, who not having money to bear the expenses of his transfer to Anerica, requested a loan, which forced him to work, practically as a slave or servant. Once the loan debt was paid off, he received a piece of land, becoming a poor farmer. Except for the existence of some slaves, who did not live in the barracks and cultivated a small piece of land, to supply the house of the master, in Cuba there were never serfs as such.

In the plantation, the negro had to work from sun to sun, under the whip of the Foreman or Mayoral; while, in domestic work, their tasks were deployed in the house of the slaveholder, intertwined with the activities of service to the family. There he could be a coach, cook, seamstress, washed and ironed, set the table, arranged the master’s clothes and made a concoction, when he got sick, etc. Performing tasks, which practically prepared him to make a trade, in case one day he managed to obtain his freedom, bought or manumitido.

The contact with the family instructed them and endowed them with a certain culture, which differentiated it from the slave of the plantation. Who was not allowed to work more than in the cutting of cane, or the production of sugar.

The negro, wherever he was, did not cease to be a slave, and the trap, in the face of the slightest disobedience, was upon him, like the Sword of Damocles. For the white master, did not allow them those freedoms, which could instill in him some culture of independence, which was very much monitored. But, in domestic work, in fact, the advantages, they had them and not a few took advantage of them very well.

For example, the girl in the house, took a liking to the nice, docile negrito, and could even teach him to read and write. In the domestic context, the skilled, respectful, docile negro intimated with the father of the house and came to know him even certain secrets, such as his walks with the black, from which, not infrequently, “bastard” children emerged within the family.

The black, knowledgeable of herbs, prepared a concoction that healed a pain to the master. And within that intimacy, he was practically beginning to see him as part of the family. He gave him tasks, shared certain secrets with his slave and so, sometimes, this, already old, earned the manumission, or the letter of freedom.

Inside the house of the master, living together as a domestic slave, the negro achieved advantages, which not infrequently, he took advantage of and that made him advance in social life, while maintaining his condition as a slave.

It is that domestic slavery generated a certain culture and within it, a level of permissibility, which the negro could take advantage of. This allowed him to enter society, even with all the disadvantages of a slave society.

Meanwhile, in the United States, after the Civil War, slavery was abolished in the north, but it had to continue to struggle with it in the south. Blacks escaped to the North, where they became free, but not infrequently, they left behind relatives who remained slaves in the South.

In Cuba, no, slavery was a homogeneous system throughout the island. So, when the laws that attenuated it began to appear, such as the so-called Law of Free Wombs, until its official abolition in 1886, this had a national effect.

Of course, slavery began to disappear, from a long process, in which Spain abolished it, as a first step, giving freedom to blacks who had fought, on both sides, during the First War of Independence (1868/1878) until finally, it was abolished in a general way in 1886.

However, in America, slavery took color. And with it came racism and racial discrimination, which were not born with capitalism, but which hit it very well, as an instrument of power and exploitation.

Therefore, slavery disappeared, but the racism and discrimination that she engendered for more than 400 years remained intertwined within the structure of Cuban society. And so, from the mid-nineteenth century, a society began to emerge, with a racist, mestizo culture and white hegemony. Therefore, racism, racial discrimination and white hegemonism, within our mestizo society, have not yet been eliminated, although they have been attenuated.

Then, The Revolution that triumphed in 1959, met with a society, in which, there is a well-defined structuring. The so-called whites have the power, they always had it; the mestizos are, more or less, in an intermediate position, a few had access to power; blacks are almost always in the subsoil of society. This is the result of a distribution of wealth, which colonialism inaugurated and Cuban dependent capitalism was responsible for solidifying.

It is that, in Cuba, poverty was also massively white, but wealth was never black, and almost never mestizo.

After the Cro. Fidel, almost since the triumph of the Revolution, began treating him in a systematic way; racism, racial discrimination and white racial hegemony have not disappeared.

The social policy that the revolution inaugurated since 1959, has always had a deeply humanist character, but, from the beginning, it focused only on poverty, not differentiating among the poor, treating as the only poverty, which was never homogeneous, without making differentiation within it, according to the color of the skin.

Would it have been possible, so early on, to have considered poverty, taking into account its differences and levels, according to the colour of the skin?

I think not. I believe that this would have greatly complicated the fight that was beginning then, against racism and racial discrimination. I believe that if Cuban society was not prepared, as was evident, to assimilate Fidel’s speech against racism; much less so would have been if, in addition, the existing differences in poverty levels according to the colour of the skin had been introduced. I think that would have meant introducing some level of affirmative action, for which whites, mestizos and not even the blacks themselves, were prepared.

That is why, I believe, social policy, in Fidel’s speeches, began by demanding employment for blacks; meanwhile, everything else: health, education, culture and sports and social security, fell under their own weight and equally for all. When there was a distribution for everyone equally, blacks and mestizos, I touch them, which, in general, had never touched them. Because blacks, and to some extent mestizos, had never enjoyed free, quality education, much less blacks, health care. Sport was the cons. And so, a distribution of national wealth began to occur, which the nation had never known. And, within which, blacks and mestizos, almost never, had touched almost nothing. That is why, although the color of the skin was not taken into account, in any case, blacks and mestizos, benefited, as never before in the history of the Nation. That is why blacks and mestizos did not find it difficult to understand that the revolution was their revolution and that Fidel had cared and fought for their well-being.

This is one of the aspects that, in the last 40 years, we have managed to refine. Without yet reaching, as such, the so-called Affirmative Action. Forms of the latter have been gradually appearing in Cuba, but almost indirectly. And we are still in that perfecting of the path begun. What is beginning to take shape, through a concern and an occupation of the political leadership that no one is helpless.

Having shown that race does not exist, that it is a social invention. But that, nevertheless, the color yes, and that, in our country, after 500 years[M1] of colonialism, the color of the skin, continues to behave as a variable of social differentiation. Which we have set out to fight against.

What it tells us, because, since the beginning of the Republic, in Cuba, there were black and mestizo societies. It is true that they acted within a racist and discriminatory context, which made them respond to it. But they also functioned as fraternal societies, which helped the black and mestizo membership to train themselves, on the basis of free courses for their young people, social and cultural activities, which in general, helped this population to face the problems of inequality. Sometimes they made it easier to get a job and in general, they helped blacks and mestizos to have a certain recognized social presence.

However, at the Triumph of the Revolution, these societies began to disappear, as a result of the consideration that they were not necessary, because the revolution assumed the defense of blacks and mestizos and that they could contribute more to the racial division within Cuban society

However, paradoxically, at the same time, the Spanish Societies, considered as white, were maintained, which in Cuba remain until today. The question remains unanswered: Why did blacks disappear and are they, coincidentally, white, right?

This is something that has brought controversy and unrest, although not only among blacks and mestizos. Today, it is even questioned whether the societies of blacks and mestizos, should not reappear. Today the subject tends to enter the debate again. Above all, because the problem of racism and racial discrimination has not yet been fully overcome.

But the blacks and mestizos, from the beginning, did not make any claim and everything stayed that way.

In Cuba, after 60 years of a radical Revolution, of deeply humanist essence and of an extraordinary struggle against poverty, injustice and inequality, to the very edges of egalitarianism; still, from the point of view of social position, access to certain resources and certain advantages in social life, it is not the same to be white, black or mestizo. This is not a burden, but responds to a structural dysfunctionality, which even Cuban society drags and is able to reproduce.

In particular, the so-called Special Period showed that the economic crisis had not affected all racial groups equally. Being blacks and mestizos the ones who suffered the most. Which became apparent.

Our Government also realized that the difficulties with racism, which surfaced with some force during the Special Period, were indicating that this was a problem that, having been considered as solved, really was not; or at least, it was not being solved, at the rate that many had imagined, but rather, racism, had been hidden, in the midst of the difficulties experienced during those years, in the mid-eighties and early nineties.

He had had, until then, a long period of general silence on the subject, which Fidel broke on several occasions, both inside and outside Cuba, but without achieving then, that the issue of race, definitively occupied the place that corresponds to him in the struggle for a better society in today’s Cuba.

I believe that, in this regard, we must start from the existence of inequalities, in order to achieve real equality. Unfortunately, inequality is what we find at every turn. Equality is the social project, not yet achieved by Cuban society as a whole.

Therefore, we must not assume mechanically that all Cubans are equal; because that was also used as a hypocritical slogan of republican Cuba.

All Cubans are not yet equal. We are before the law, but not socially. They are two very different phenomena. Equality before the law has been achieved. But achieving social equality is a much longer and more complex process. Equality before the law is not social equality. But only, perhaps, a step, to get to the latter.

Today, it is observed that there is a fairly clear awareness that against inequality we must continue to fight, persecuting it to those places where marginality still attacks members of our society and not only blacks and mestizos. So the work with the so-called Community projects gains unusual strength.

Being able to observe the Party and the government, extraordinarily occupied, mobilizing qualified human forces and resources, which are put in function of the solution of multiple material, spiritual and social problems, that the Cuban society still has to overcome.

This task of the Community Projects, are strongly intertwined with the Government Resolution, which serves as an instrument for the fight against racism and racial discrimination.

Fidel had already realized all this and began to take action. Guiding in-depth research, in several disadvantaged neighborhoods, on the situation of sectors, sometimes marginalized.

It was also, then, when the experience of the so-called Social Workers was carried out; the majority blacks and mestizos, which brought as a result, that many young people, who neither studied nor worked, (it is said that there were 80,000 in Havana) arrived at the Universities. Those that had been “bleached” during the Special Period.

Then, from the late eighties, we returned to the subject again. What I think, is the period we’re in now, at the height of 2021.

Previously, during the 20s and 30s, above all, the issue of race had had a presence in the written media, especially in the press of the time. Personalities such as Juan Gualberto Gómez, Arredondo, Guillen, Deschamps, Chailloux, Ortiz, Portuondo, and others had produced important texts on the subject. And he managed to keep it within the debate in the press of the time, including in the Navy Journal.

But that momentum was not maintained and by the triumph of the revolution, it had almost disappeared.

But, already from the 80s, many publications of books, articles, essays, documentaries, and research began to reappear in some universities. A cinema that frequently brought up the subject, the plastic, the theater and the literature as well. Discussion Groups and Community Projects emerged, which today address the issue of race and have endowed it with a growing presence within national culture and life. In fact, for years, the issue did not take on such an important place in the national debate.

Then, the meetings with the Cro began. Miguel Díaz Canel, who attends to the issue, before becoming president and continues to do so now, together with the Aponte Commission of the UNEAC, which replaced the Group, “Como agua para chocolate”, directed by Gisela Arandia. She was the initial promoter of the racial debate at UNEAC. Previously, the racial issue had been taken to the party and later located in the National Library, but it was finally in the UNEAC, where it found its definitive location. And now it’s unfolding. Through the work of the aforementioned Aponte Commission.

All this movement has concluded with the appearance of a Government Resolution, mentioned above, which proposes guidelines for the attention and treatment of the racial issue at the national level. With the presence, too, of all those groups interested in the subject. Aspects of participation, which still require development.

However, I believe that, although we have made progress, we are still far from giving the issue of race the impetus it requires. There are still many situations to be resolved.

Although our society is culturally mestizo, the presence of racism, racial discrimination and a certain white hegemonism are still felt in the following matters:

-Inequalities persist within the racial population structure, formed by whites, blacks and mestizos. Not as a burden, but as a phenomenon of social dysfunctionality, which even Cuban society is capable of reproducing.

-Differences in access to employment also persist. With privileges for the white population, in those most important and best paid: tourism, corporations, state offices, etc. Not so in political positions, especially within the party, the People’s Power and the Mass Organizations, where the participation of blacks and mestizos is becoming more present.

-Differences by color, in access to possibilities of higher studies, universities, master’s degrees, doctorates, etc.

-Racism, prejudice and discrimination, against the black and mestizo population, which tends not to manifest itself in an aggressive way, but which are still present.

-Marked presence of an insufficiency of interracial marriages. With a marked tendency to racial restraint among young people which is indicative that young people are getting rid of prejudices.

-Discrimination in the mass media, mainly in television, in which white faces have dominated, because only recently, black and mestizo faces have begun to appear. In response to a specific, recent complaint by Army General Raul Castro in the National Assembly.

Our written press barely reflects the problems of the racial issue. There is no systematic treatment in this regard. Nor promotion of writers who deal with the subject. There is almost never an article in our press that addresses the issue.

-Our Political and Mass Organizations do not debate the issue of race. They do not promote their discussion, nor do they consider it in their work agendas.

-Discrimination in classical ballet.

-Jokes and racist expressions, abound, in the activities of cabarets.

-Only recently, the Teaching of History has begun to reflect the place of blacks and mestizos in the formation of our homeland history. And teachers are preparing to address it.

– Until very recently, the bibliography used, with honourable, well-known exceptions, did not reflect the role of the black and mestizo population in the construction of our nation. A strong hard bibliographic work is now being done by the Ministries of Education, aimed at resolving this inadequacy of vital consideration for the teaching of history.

-There is no Social History of the Negro or of the black woman, produced in Cuba.

-Even dealing with the issue of race, at any level and in any social space, can generate some discontent, prejudice and discomfort.

Only recently has our national assembly begun to present a structure that almost faithfully reflects the racial composition of Cuban society.

-For those who deal with the issue in a systematic way, their debates are not disclosed, always remaining in the frameworks of interested groups and people.

-In the Cuban school there is no mention of color, leaving personal spontaneity to behave in the face of the problem.

-In our universities, the issue of race is hardly studied. Nor is it included in the teaching curricula.

-Our academic research hardly refers to the issue of race sufficiently and it is practically absent from the student scientific work.

-Only recently, it begins to be observed, that an effort is made to attend to the racial composition of work groups, activities, or situations, in which the negro and the mestizo must be represented. This is seen with special emphasis on television.

In reality, our statistics, social, economic and political, are colourless. Throwing into the trash can centuries of national history. Ignoring appreciating where the problems are.

-Our Economic Statistics do not allow to cross color, with variables of jobs, housing, wages, income, etc. This prevents a thorough investigation of how the standard of living of different racial groups is advancing. Especially for those who were previously disadvantaged.

We believe that as long as the issue of race is not dealt with with systematicity and coherence, at an integral level and is reliably reflected in our statistics and in our media, we cannot hope that socially, the country will make progress on the issue.

It’s that our inherited culture is racist; that is, the practice of racism is cultural, instinctive, responding mainly, but not only, to inherited mechanisms, which work, not infrequently, unconsciously.

Therefore, until the subject enters education, is strongly socially debated, is part of the systematic work of the media and is considered statistically, we cannot aspire to pass it on to culture, or advance in it, banishing it from the forms of habitual behavior of citizens in our country.

It is that the absence of attention, almost generalized, for a long time, on the racial issue, has very negative consequences for its knowledge, understanding and consideration at the social level, as something that harms the Cuban nation. In the case of a very serious problem to overcome, if we want our society and its culture to advance in an integral way, guaranteeing the success of the social project of the revolution.

June 30, 2021.

I’m a 65+ year-old Retiree From Los Angeles, Here’s Why I Chose to Get Vaccinated #InformUniteHeal


Fred Thomas, III - age 69

[Los Angeles, CA]   The first part of the year is usually a busy time for me.  Recovering from the holidays and starting new initiatives take focus to successfully execute.  Even though I am retired I usually have a busy schedule and had committed to being part of the 2020 Census team.  Training was to start in early March but in late January there was news about this flu-like disease spreading in Asia.    Like a wildfire the disease spread internationally and people were warned to take precautions.  By the time training started in Los Angeles on March 16th things appeared normal but news of the disease was escalating by the minute.  Three days into training a pandemic was officially declared.  Our group was immediately shut down and told to shelter in place and await further instructions.

Like many people I was not aware of Covid and while I knew I would need to be more cautious I was not too worried because of my overall health condition.  We live in a family-oriented environment known as the “Harvard Compound.”  We came together and mapped out a strategy in making sure we adhered to health protocols as well as developing a plan on how we could navigate with errands and other measures which required us to leave home.

To be vaccinated or not?

Once it became apparent a vaccine would be available, I never had any question on whether I would take it or not.  For me, the data was clear and all I had to do was look at the number of deaths, which at that time was over 300,000 in the United States!  As mentioned, being a person who treasures life there was never any question in getting vaccinated.  It was more of when my group was eligible?  As a person over the age of 65 my eligibility came around pretty quickly.  I didn’t worry about any ancillary issues or discussions being bantered about regarding the legitimacy of the vaccine.  It was very simple – “better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”  In early February 2021 I opted to get my vaccine at Dodger Stadium because it was defined as a mega-site plus it was only six miles from my residence.  The process was very organized and from start to finish it took approximately 2 hours per dose.

The bottom-line

Having the vaccine is not a cure-all but it gives you the peace of mind in protecting yourself.  We still practice safety and limit unnecessary exposure, especially to those who are not vaccinated.  Also, we have traveled internationally and even though we are vaccinated we had to do mandatory testing.  Maybe we are just lucky or blessed but everyone in our family is vaccinated and we have not experienced any adverse effects.

For additional information please visit:

https://nbcit.org/inform-unite-heal/

Black Bloggers Connect

__________________________________________________________This campaign is hosted by Black Bloggers Connect through the National Black Cultural Information Trust, a non-profit initiative focused on providing information and resources to Black communities while challenging cultural misinformation.