Commentary

Bob Stannard: Are you WOKE yet?

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Bob Stannard, a former lobbyist, who is still an author and musician. This piece first appeared in the Bennington Banner.

Picture this: Sit on the floor with your knees pulled up halfway to your chest wearing nothing more than your underwear. You can’t sit up straight because the space is only 3 feet 3 inches high. How long can you sit like this? Five minutes, 10 minutes, maybe half an hour? Try sitting like that for 17 days, chained to the floor so that you can’t possibly move. Your feet are touching the person in front of you. You’re on a slave ship bound for America so you can play a role in making America great http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/slaveship.htm The early economy of our great nation was founded and supported by slave labor, black slave labor.

Last week I had the occasion to pay a second visit to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. I went back to take my wife, Alison, to see it. If you’re ever anywhere near Memphis, go to this museum, because it’s important that we understand our own history if we don’t want to be doomed to repeat it.

For hundreds of years one race was treated worse than any animal. As time went on, we ceased the practice of slavery, but we have yet to resolve the issues of race in America. Some may think we have, but we’re not there yet. We need only to look to the likes of people like white nationalist Richard Spencer, the man who’s fighting back to keep the Confederate flag flying in Virginia.

“Fifty years have passed and yet the struggle for minorities in this country continues much in the same way as it always has.”

 

This behavior is unacceptable to many of us, but sadly not all of us. Cretins like Spencer not only exist today, but are feeling more empowered than ever thanks to our president and his appointment of former Alabama Attorney General Jeff Sessions as our U.S. attorney general. Jeff is only five years older than me and although we were raised in the same country, we’ve had very different lives. In 1961 I was 10 and he was 15. The five years between us are significant. When I was 10 the only black people I knew were those who worked at the Equinox Hotel. I could tell they didn’t look like me, but I don’t ever recall harboring any ill feelings towards them. They could come and go as they please if they chose to, but they rarely chose to.

At 15 Sessions’ take on black people was much different. Where he grew up, black people were not allowed to mingle with white people. They were not allowed to go to the same theaters, restaurants, schools, use the same fountain or ride in the front of bus like whites could. Jeff was very much influenced by his environment, just like I was by mine. I never feared or hated black people. I don’t think the same can be said for Jeff, the man who now, at 70, is our attorney general.

Why does any of this matter? Look at the direction in which some are trying to lead us. In 1965, when Jeff was 19, a very impressionable age, John Lewis and others were beaten senseless on the Edmund Pettus Bridge while marching to Selma, Alabama, fighting for civil and voting rights. After all of the hard-fought gains think about how now Congressman Lewis must feel today having Jeff as his attorney general.

Currently there is a move afoot to make voting more difficult primarily for minorities. Fifty years have passed and yet the struggle for minorities in this country continues much in the same way as it always has.

Our lives are based on choices we make. We can choose to ignore what is happening or we can choose to stand up and shout down those who would continue the crimes and sins of the past. There’s a new slang word for this. It’s “woke,” as in “are you woke yet?” If you don’t know what that means go here. It’s time we fight for the rights of all Americans.

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  • maribellvarick@gmail.com

    This documentary on James Baldwin is excellent if very painful to watch. He received a standing ovation at Cambridge during a time of blatant suppression and brutality in the US. As recent events make clear, there is much work to be done, and as you point out, we’re not going in the right direction.

    One scene shows a young black women running the gauntlet of taunting, jeering whites; it’s cringe inducing, and as Baldwin says, you wish you could be there to support and comfort her.

    I Am Not Your Negro review – thrilling James Baldwin documentary | Film | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/apr/09/i-am-not-your-negro-review-james-baldwin-documentary

  • Paul Richards

    ” I never feared or hated black people. I don’t think the same can be said for Jeff, the man who now, at 70, is our attorney general.” What is your point to all of this? What you “think” Jeff Sessions thought or thinks will never be known by you so why bring it up? I could say that I think you hate Trump and all of his supporters but I don’t really know so I won’t. Bob, you remind me of the bumper stickers I see that say “Resist”; Resist, just resist anything and everything you don’t like and anyone who’s thinking does not match yours. Keep coming up with examples of history that fuel the hate going around. What is the point? The media and a lot of the “educational” facilities are teaching that resisting is the order of the day. If it’s against conservatives then it’s revered, applauded and broadcasted on the daily news. The news report on a small number of students walking out on VP Pence gets more coverage than his speech. That is a current day success. The more division and hate that can be spread, the better. No one is perfect including the founding fathers but the current mission of the left is to alter history to erase the parts they don’t like, highlight the worst parts and hang them on whoever they don’t like. This does not give this country justice for all the good it has done in the world and just divides us all and fosters hate. These latest efforts are un American and can only lead to its demise. Time to “Woke” up, stop all the hate!

    • bobstannard

      I think you missed the point I was making. I might respectfully suggest that you read the next to the last paragraph. The fact is that after all these years there are some who are still committed to disenfranchising minorities. The “resist” movement recognizes this and appear to be committed to standing up. They get to do that as freedom of speech is still the law of this land…..for now.

      • Paul Richards

        “The fact is that after all these years there are some who are still committed to disenfranchising minorities.”
        Unfortunately there always will be as long as people like Holder and Obama are there to exploit this. Race relations have worsened substantially due to the way Obama and his followers conducted themselves during his presidency and continue to today.
        The democrat party cannot survive without minorities or others being dependent on them. That’s why they will never really help them in the long run. They must have large groups of people relying on them for support. Look at the poverty rates in cities, states and the whole country under democrat control.
        You are just helping to perpetuate this. Time to stop all the hate and actually do something that makes a real difference in peoples lives. I understand it may make you feel better but continuing to drive wedges will only make it worse. We can see the results of that loud and clear from the last presidency.

        • bobstannard

          We are entitled to our own opinions.

        • bobstannard

          It’s pretty clear to most people that of the two major political parties the Republican Party is working aggressively to discourage citizens, primarily minorities, from voting. Don’t take my word for it. Look it up.

          • Paul Richards

            I’m not sure what discouraging voters has to do with anything I have said but It’s clear to those who are blinded by ideology, hell bent on driving a wedge and demonizing those who have a different perspective on the sanctity of voting that the Republicans are out to get minorities. Did you ever consider that the Republicans view fair elections a priority and want to insure All votes are warranted and valuable including yours? I realize I’m preaching to a brick wall but even if one additional, miniscule voter ID requirement was free and everyone was guaranteed a ride to the poles free of thugs standing out front with billy clubs, fed lunch and then taken on a shopping spree, the liberals would still demonize the Republicans for discouraging minorities to vote. That’s an empty argument. Indeed, you can look it up and I’m sure woven through all of the liberal owned media (which is most of it) you can find the same claims being made.

          • bobstannard

            Of course you wouldn’t. Blacks in America have always been made to feel like inferior second class citizens. When the Republican Party advances initiatives that are designed to keep blacks from voting they are accomplishing two goals; stealing elections and perpetuating the harsh feelings of the past. If you don’t see that then you should look harder

          • Paul Richards

            Sure, just keep bringing up your usual talking points and responding as if I actually said anything about them. It’s a sure way to get your jabs in. Since you introduced the argument; this whole argument that the D’s are for the blacks and the R’s are not is nothing but a diversion tactic and is worn out. It’s simply not true and if you look at the facts you would see that, which is what more and more people are actually doing. There are countless examples; Look at all of the major cities that have been under D control for decades upon decades. Do you see an improvement in the lives of blacks there? I suppose it is somehow the fault of the R’s for the demise of Chicago, for example? Look at Baltimore where the Democrat Mayor instructed the National Guard to stand down and allow the protesters to have their space. They burned and looted the city and Obama invited them to the White House to pat them on the back and tell them they did a better job than he could have. Wow, what a powerful statement coming from the most powerful community organizer to a group of racist thugs. (talk about perpetuating harsh feelings of the past) Now crime and killings are so bad in Baltimore that the new Mayor has asked for assistance from the Federal Government. And all of these Democrat created disasters are good for black people? They are not good for anybody. Look at black crime, black poverty and tell me all of the liberal Democrat policies have helped them. It has helped the Democrats stay in power to the detriment of the blacks and they are getting wise to this ruse and walking away from them. If it wasn’t for the Republicans the blacks would still be enslaved. In a way, many of them are still slaves to the Democrats. Many of them are totally dependent on them for survival. It’s hard to bite the hand that feeds you.

          • bobstannard

            If you fail to understand who is behind voter ID laws then there’s little point in continuing this. You might want to go back and read my column to get back on track.

          • Paul Richards

            You might want to take a trip, go see the monks or something to clear your mind and then read your own article. “Are you woke yet?” That’s a catchy phrase for an article filled with overt condemnation and hate towards our President and Attorney General. Given your examples of people being abused and your added anecdotal commentary you would have us all believe that the President and the AG are capable of the most horrific acts possible.
            Again, what is your point in all of this? If you want to call these 2 men out and blame them for whatever atrocities you think they are committing, may have committed, may commit in the future or for those committed by others that you think they are responsible for just keep it to yourself. The rest of us could use a lot less hate floating around, thank you very much…

          • bobstannard

            The point I was making, which is a valid one, is that hateful people like Spencer et al are feeling more empowered than ever thanks to our president. You don’t have to see if for what it is. That’s your prerogative, but it is what it is. My mind’s clear enough, thanks.

          • Paul Richards

            The point I am making, which is a valid one, is that groups like BLM are feeling more empowered than ever thanks to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake who allowed Baltimore to be destroyed and Obama who invited them to the White House, congratulated them for a job well done and told them they did a better job than he could have. THAT is inciting violence. You don’t have to see it for what it is. That’s your prerogative, but it is what it is. My mind is clear. http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2015/04/25/baltimore-mayor-gave-those-who-wished-to-destroy-space-to-do-that/

          • bobstannard

            Yeah, we could use a lot less hate. I would agree with that, but stop and take a look at who’s encouraging hate. We have a president who’s invited a white nationalist to join him in the Oval Office. He repeatedly says the press is the enemy. He’s advocated violence. As a result this is what we get: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/portland-attack-commuter-train_us_5929362ce4b053f2d2acaf56?aj&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

          • Paul Richards

            Because the Huffpo says so the president is responsible for despicable acts perpetrated by white supremacists? OK…
            Would george soros paid and DNC organized agitators planted at Trump events be considered advocates of violence? Would Obama using the bully pulpit to praise a outwardly racist group, that catapulted onto the scene based on a lie be considered advocating for violence?
            When the press is more intent in driving a narrative, taking sides and destroying people they are the enemy.

          • Paul Richards

            Sure, just keep bringing up your usual talking points and responding as if I actually said anything about them. It’s a sure way to get your jabs in. Since you introduced the argument; this whole argument that the D’s are for the blacks and the R’s are not is nothing but a diversion tactic and is worn out. It’s simply not true and if you look at the facts you would see that, which is what more and more people are actually doing. There are countless examples; Look at all of the major cities that have been under D control for decades upon decades. Do you see an improvement in the lives of blacks there? I suppose it is somehow the fault of the R’s for the demise of Chicago, for example? Look at Baltimore where the Democrat Mayor instructed the National Guard to stand down and allow the protesters to have their space. They burned and looted the city and Obama invited them to the White House to pat them on the back and tell them they did a better job than he could have. Wow, what a powerful statement coming from the most powerful community organizer to a group of racist thugs. (talk about perpetuating harsh feelings of the past) Now crime and killings are so bad in Baltimore that the new Mayor has asked for assistance from the Federal Government. And all of these Democrat created disasters are good for black people? They are not good for anybody. Look at black crime, black poverty and tell me all of the liberal Democrat policies have helped them. It has helped the Democrats stay in power to the detriment of the blacks and they are getting wise to this ruse and walking away from them. If it wasn’t for the Republicans the blacks would still be enslaved. In a way, many of them are still slaves to the Democrats. Many of them are totally dependent on them for survival. It’s hard to bite the hand that feeds you.

    • bobstannard

      In addition, you might be well advised to click on maribellvarick’s link below. I apologize for not writing clearly enough for you to understand what I was trying to convey.

  • bobstannard