Straight No Chaser: A Simple Lesson

By Desi Cortez, BASN Columnist
Updated: June 24, 2009

Reparations: noun 1 the making of amends for a wrong. 2 (reparations) compensation for war damage paid by a defeated state. 3 archaic the action of repairing. ORIGIN Latin, from reparare.

Josh Gibson DENVER (BASN) — Sean Gibson, grandson of famed Negro Leaguer Big Josh Gibson, inherited his grand father’s name, but not his rightful riches, not the accumulated material wealth his grandad should have amassed.

The grandson was deliberately denied a life, a lifestyle, a significant slice of the elusive American Dream by white America. Is this not the story of so many men and women-of-color . . .?

Never receiving the true fruits of our forefathers blood, sweat and tears, then having our “foundation” criticized. Black Americans dug wells, they and they children, and their children’s children could not drink from. Erected ivy-covered walls for colleges we couldn’t attend.

Built with our own hands stores, hospitals and homes we couldn’t set foot in. Never forget – it was a crime to teach slaves to read. Why? Education, the attainment of knowledge and information . . . has always been kept from people-of-color in America, even if we were qualified and could afford it, we were denied the ability to amass power . . .

Black Power

And that denial of our human rights was not by happenstance.

It’s not so much that I want a weak-ass, half-ass apology for 300 years of being treated worst then a dog. Honestly Congress could have skipped pimping this last Juneteenth Anniversary for this hollow “Kum-by-ya’ my lord moment.”

Nor am I demanding or begging for a-quarter-million dead presidents to be deposited into my bank account.

I simply want an admission to what was carried out against Black people in this country. An written acknowledgment of the in-life options and choices Josh Gibson’s generation was denied.

But perhaps more then anything else, anything else, I’d like for White people to concede; logically, a significant portion of the issues which plague Black America – are the direct result of and the connectable consequences of American apartheid . . . and not, I repeat not the Angry White dude gone mad company line not because black folks are actually highly educated apes.

Yeah, that’s right, I’d like a confession . . . those discriminatory actions took place and took a grave, lasting toll . . .

and didn’t cease-to-be on any magical day, on any particular day.

I’ve a buddie, we’re in the public education trenches everyday 7/3, he’s a trained librarian, a Grambling State man, he laid some heavy you-know-what on me; he said it was a no-brainer Black folks, after the Civil War ended, and we went supposedly over night from property to people . . we needed therapy. We needed a big soft couch, a decanter filled with Carribbean Rum . . . and a head shink.

All we got was some Mad-Dog 20/20, some Night Train and a joint . . . with twigs and seeds in it. Where could we have gone to get back our dignity. . . ? His argument – we were mentally, emotionally, spiritually . . . basket-cases.

We needed to be in deep counseling, therapy for years most likely, de-programmed and then reprogrammed – because we’d been stripped of our humanity. The Willie Lynch letter was followed to a “t.”

The attempt was made to remove Black people’s dignity and pride. Eliminate our ability to function within a civilization, a community, a family.

Reduce us to property status, brand us as slaves.

No “brand” – as in red hot poker, just like you would a horse or cow.

I’d never really thought about that singular point; after witnessing, hell living the detailed decadent aspects of the nightmare called “being Black in America from 1609 to 1866,” it would have to be like “Vietnam flash-backs” times-a-hundred.

I read an account once of an event in slave life; Dad ran away, gets caught, brought back. His pregnant wife, strapped to an old oak tree, her belly split open, baking baby inside fall’s to the ground, master stomps baby to death . . . all to send a message to all the other slaves made to gather to witness this barbarity.

Now, I don’t know about you, but such an horrific incident, probably eye-witnessed more than once in a lifetime . . . would impact my ass .

. . for years. My head and heart. . . forever. Talk about “shaping” how I lived my life, how I raised my kids . . .

Can we logically acknowledge the obvious generational impact these acts had on Black society?

Horrific events of such hellish measures played-out endless times over 250 years or so, and still has some ripple-effect in how Blacks see themselves, see White folks and view the world we scratch and claw in.

And that’s not even considering what occurred from 1865 Reconstruction to say 1965, when black folks were enduring life in a separate and unequal U.S., a nation hostile towards Blacks in all meaningful aspects of life.

But hey, that’s way too deep for me to drift out into, I can’t take you to that bridge, and If I do drop you off . . . I want know how in-the-hell to get back to where I don’t feel like Nat Turner or Huey P.

Let’s just focus for a moment here on concrete tangibles, the things we can put our hands on.

Sean Gibson should have inherited his grandfather’s 400 acre cow farm, the classic wooden yacht his dad could have purchased . . . had Gibson been allowed to compete in the majors . . . where he would have dominated.

Think about it – the stock investments, small businesses, Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s franchises, the airplane his dad might have bought. 3 or 4 homes, multiple classic cars . . . .

Inherited wealth, accumulated material resources and possessions, the foundation of “old money.” A prime commodity people-of-color have been purposefully denied by this nation’s “establishment.” for the last century or so.

Black professionals, who for decades couldn’t send their kids to the schools of their choice . . . like Italians, Poles and Irish folk could. Any dumb-ass, blind to the facts redneck want to contradict ninth grade US History?

Let’s get in the “Way-Back Machine”, return to the good ol’ days for a mila-moment, say circa 1918. My grand father, who owned a “Ice and Fire House” in Denver during that time period, despite being successful and prosperous, he could not purchase a home in the neighborhood he could afford, North Park Hill and instead he was forced to purchased a home in the Five Points neighborhood, and a few rental homes.

He was an “OE,” an Original Entre-pu-negro . . . ..

He couldn’t buy the home he wanted for 20 grand – which today would be worth 1.7 million, enough equality in that home to send his only child, my grandmother – to any college they chose.

Now, had grandmother been allowed to attend a college she was “academically qualified to attend” perhaps she would have earned more money in her working lifetime, so would her husband, and their child, my father, would have been educated in only the best schools, probably become a astronaut, a brain surgeon or even president . . . of a small African country.

Instead of McDonnell Douglass machinists during the day and a Black Panther at nite . . . and I ‘d be pounding out this column at the Cortez Family’s Tobago Estate in the far-off West Indies . . . .

But noooo . . . here my ass sits in Dodge City, the Mile Hi Metropolis . . . . High today . . . 7, low tonight 25 . . . below. Far, far from Tobago.

That rendition of my family history applies to virtually millions of people of color . . . had their linage not had with-held the fruits of their abilities and honest labor, Black people would not find themselves with more young Black men in prison then college.

Wang-stas’and tang-stas’ prangstas’ and real gangstas’ wouldn’t kill 500 times more Black men every year then the KKK does, and we, as a people wouldn’t have to defend and rationalize why damn near 75% of Black children are born to single, mildly educated young women.

Had Blacks and Latinos not faced decades of “White Only” and “No Dogs – No Mexicans” signs our unemployment numbers would be lower today, and our credit ratings would be higher.

Little White girls would have wanted to marry a Mike Sanchez in 1957 . . . now god knows we couldn’t have that now could we? Don’t shake your head in disbelief, people of color, my dad’s generation, got the “Gold Cufflinks “

for the years they put in. When will should have got the home in the ideal classic neighborhood, and not the hood. Our folks, who worked from “can’t see to can’t see” were the victims of real estate redlining which the down the road effects are visible today.

Last hired, first fired, underpaid and over-worked. Glass ceilings so-low you can touch them . . .American Natives sadly serve as a perfect example; had they been allowed to keep their land . . . it’s vast natural resources . . . had the “pioneers and settlers not ran over and thru the tribes . . .

We’d have Sitting Bull International Airport instead of Ronald Reagan Mississippi Regional Landing Strip . . . . Indians would have some fair and balanced share of power and juice.

What if Blacks had been allowed to play QB in 1927 . . . . ? 65% of the QB’s in Canton wouldn’t be their? Instead the hall would have black men who earned that recognition . . . it would reflect our investment in the sport.

I’ve raised this point before – because of the impact of not having Black representation/participation at the position. Bob Waterfield, Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, Johnny U, some of these cats would have sat the bench, been cut because they were two, maybe 3 black kids better. And the deeper question . . . how many black alpha males would have been allowed to rightfully shine, and shine a path for others?

Logically any White dude who played sports before the 1970’s . . .

their athletic accomplishments, achievements and accolades must be not merely questioned . . . but openly doubted. Because we all know their stiffest competition was prohibited from participating. End of story.

I have to ask Jack Buck, Dan Patrick, Rome and the rest of the boys in the broadcasting country club; “how have you ignored this perspective throughout your broadcasting careers?”

How can it be irrevelant? Never come up in conversation? Never! Ever!

Joe Dimaggio wouldn’t have married Marylyn Monroe, beecause he may have been stuck in the minors, behind a Black guy who was starting for the Yankees and sleeping with the blonde bombshell.

Not to mention, had we had Black QBs, Presidents, chemist, and architects, I’d argue that today we’d have less high school dropouts and 19 tear old gangsta’ macks.

Had the “American Dream” not been strategically denied to Blacks and Latinos, the overall wealth of both ethnic groups in America would be vastly greater, and our lifestyles and interest would reflect those experiences.

Da! Everything wouldn’t have been a uphiil climb . . . against the wind.

That’s why it strikes my ass as odd when people attempt to belittle and slight individual blacks, and blacks as a group about our accumulated material wealth, i.e., “home ownership,” or the fact not too many of people of color have winter or summer homes, boats, RV’s, and the like.

Apart of the reasons “why” less Blacks can afford those “wants” – we can’t change our families couldn’t change their names and move up and out of “little Italy or “little Poland”.

It was a little more complicated then that.