Thomas Reports was created in 2006. For over 30 years Fred Thomas, III developed a successful career in real estate financing, focused on consumer lending. He is a licensed broker (DRE 01097630) and has managed over two-thousand closed transactions. ThomasReports was created to weave writings and passions under one platform; Real Estate, History, Travel & Culture, Politics and Technology. In today's social media demands, Thomas' voice has been recognized as an official Influencer, Tester and Reviewer for international marketing organizations.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!!!!!
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.
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.
[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.
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.
I was in the 11th grade at Ganesha High School and while in Mrs. Anderson’s Spanish class I met James R. Bell. I know he passed the class………I can’t remember my grade??? LOL. Anyway we have been friends since and as you can imagine he is part of our broader family. During the years we have been fortunate to make many historic treks. Recently he joined Judith and myself as we made the journey to San Jose to see remnants of “speed city” and the Olympic Black Power statue which is on the campus of San Jose State University. Of course Tommie Smith and John Carlos made history in 1968 and it was heartfelt to see them bronzed in the statue funded by students.
As a early teen I was watching the 1964 Olympics. They were in black and white. The finals of the 4×100 men’s relay was about to start. As the starting gun sounded the sprinters took off and somehow the favored U.S. team was in trouble and appeared to be headed to defeat. As anchor Bob Hayes took the baton he tracked down all runners ahead of him and miraculously the Russian sprinter who surely thought he would be the first to touch the victory tape was stunned to see this ebony image zip past him. It was a historic leg of the relay race that has to go in history as a legendary comeback. Hayes was known as “Bullet” Bob Hayes and from that race earned the distinction of the fastest human. I was mesmerized.
In 1968 my track and field appreciation had matured so at 16 I had an understanding of the Olympic games as well as the anticipated boycott. The rest is history as while the men’s 200mm victory stand celebration exploded around the globe, all three runners sacrificed something very few could imagine. Their story is an important part of history. The Triumph and the Victory.
In 2005 San Jose State University supported to students who funded the status symbolizing the victory stand. There are several statues of this moment but the “Olympic Black Power Statue” is special as this was the campus Tommie Smith and John Carlos attended. The track team was known for its prowess everyone knew it as “speed city.”
During my stint at the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee it gave me great joy to see Peter Uberroth extend a hand to recognize the greatness of people like Tommie Smith and John Carlos as they too were appointed as staffers. I didn’t have a relationship with Tommie Smith as management of the games were all over the city. However, I did have a relationship with John as he visited my office at Expo Park and our subsequent office at Manual Arts. We attended several community events together and of course he brought his torch from the opening torch relay. It was magic.
Ricardo Gouvela aka “Rigo 23” did an amazing job in creating the statue. I was surprised at its height as well as the attention to detail.
If you have never visited the site, I would encourage you to do so.
To gain more information on this history
There is much more so just do a Google search of items you feel have legitimate authorship
During the past several years the Black Lives Matter movement has been taken more seriously. Some, genuinely have made an effort to understand its preamble. It has evolved into social consciousness not seen in decades. One issue which has been highlighted from the movement is housing discrimination and how it was strategically used to keep non-whites from reaching their potential to secure home ownership.
Ever since African-Americans were emancipated from slavery strategies, initiatives and even public policy has been used to thwart their progress. Jim Crow was the moniker used to define that period. Even though it has been outlawed, to this day its remnants are still part of our environment. Racial Covenants was the legal process used to keep property from being sold to non-whites. Legislation from the civil rights era outlawed the practice, however even though non-whites or specifically African-Americans were eventually able to purchase property, a slew of other schemes were developed with the goal to create a negative impact.
One of those schemes was called “Blockbusting.” In simple terms it literally means to tear up the block or neighborhood. It was accomplished by telling white homeowners in urban areas to sell their properties to the blacks who were seeking improved housing. The whites were motivated to sell not from some benevolent position of integrating the neighborhood. The opposite; they were motivated to act so they could secure whatever favorable price they could achieve which allowed them to move out.
NPR just released an outstanding and more comprehensive article on this topic and others dealing with discrimination in home ownership.
From Donald Trump pulling the ultimate political hat trick of losing the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Presidency in four years to the Derek Chauvin verdict, to the treasonous behavior of those who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021 to the international sea of millions who adopted the Black Lives Matter moniker, our current environment is that of a social reckoning.
Racially-restrictive deeds were a ubiquitous part of real estate transactions. Covenants were embedded in property deeds all over the country to keep people who were not white from buying or even occupying land
Here in the United States a good many of our social ills deal with race and/or class. People who have been sleep a good portion of their life have awakened. Some ponder the question of the racial disparities placed right on their doorstep. Racism is an institutional construct. In other words the system was created and in many cases codified into law.
The wealth gap presents great data for our divide. On the other hand another element to maintain the gap was racial covenants regarding home or property ownership. They were a tried and true method to keep minorities, specifically those of African descent from purchasing property. It was a little secret but it was law (until in was struck down in 1968) and since it dealt with ownership or property rights, it was part of the official title record. Even though we are in 2021 and the majority of homeowners have no idea of its existence (I mean, who has the time or experience to read a title report?). But, if you ever have the time and look, it is there and its purpose was to legally restrict who could purchase property.
Today the Los Angeles Times explored the topic in greater detail. So, I would encourage you to educate yourself of how these elements created the racial disparities that is current social discussion is attempting to correct.
Today is Jackie Robinson Day. All players, field personnel and umpires from ALL THIRTY Major League Baseball teams will have the honor of wearing Jack’s #42 jersey. For those who have a bye today, they have been granted permission to celebrate their game tomorrow. The Los Angeles Dodgers will be hosting the Colorado Rockies at the Ravine. Adhering to Covid-19 protocols there will be approximately 19,000 (28%) fans in attendance.
October 16, 1968 is well over 50 years ago. Tommie Smith captured gold while setting a world record in the men’s 200 meters final with a time of 19.83 at the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico City. Worldwide 1968 was an iconic year.
At the time Smith’s gesture was seen as one of the worse sins a person could make. That is based on the perspective of Olympic officials and many who were in denial of world-wide social unrest, particularly right in the United States. It took years and for some over a half-century to understand and finally recognize the importance of the gesture made by Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman in accepting their medals.
“With Drawn Arms” came out in 2020. It was a great piece produced by Glenn Kaino. It is noted in the documentary that Olympic athletes are usually featured on the Wheaties Box. Unfortunately Smith was passed up. It took over 50 years as someone from Wheaties must have been paying attention or perhaps it was nudging by Kaino but the box recently came out. I was in Panama in December 2020 and received an email from Wheaties that the commemorative box would be produced and advance orders were being taken. The production is outstanding and three months later my box arrived today. By the way, it was even full of Wheaties!!!! Either way, as an Olympic aficionado, particularly the ’68 games I am honored to add the box to my Olympic memorabilia.