Why No One Won the Civil War

The Civil War had always been portrayed as a moral clash between a divided America. I did not know what I would see when I arrived at the battle field of Gettysburg. Nothing I knew about the Civil War had prepared me for what I saw and felt there. I had always imagined the battle field to be about the size of a football field with steep hilly inclines of hundreds of feet. In every movie about the Civil War I had ever seen, the politically incorrect Southern Army, sabers raised, proudly entered the battle field “to defend their way of life.” The Northern Army, “the moral compass of America” would march through a hail of cannon fire and struggle to take a hill where the heavily armed South was perched.

No where in any history class or law school did I ever learn about the real forces that led to the Civil War. No, it was not initially about abolishing slavery, that did not become so until two years into the war, in 1863 when slavery became the cause that ignited the North who up until that point had been losing the war. In January of 1863 Lincoln, under pressure from northern abolitionists signed the Emancipation Proclamation.What the Emancipation Proclamation did besides ignite the North, was that it lured  200,000 slaves into the Northern Army.  40,000 of those slaves died during the course of the war  where the war’s total death toll  was 650,000.

As I walked  the ridge  which must have been a half a mile, and not a football field, every 20 feet there stood a cannon.  The ridge that I thought was hundreds of feet in the air was at its steepest, maybe 12 feet high, but 12 feet is a huge length to climb when cannon fire is raining down on one’s head.  I wondered how this heavily armed Southern Army had lost this battle.

Feeling conspicuous as the only woman of color  and driving a luxury foreign car, I drove the two miles, yes two miles, to where the North would have been encamped. To my surprise there were no more than a dozen cannons spread atop a hill that was hundreds of feet in the air.

It was another reminder  that my mental imaging of the battle of Gettysburg  was completely wrong.

I read on one of the information plaques that the Northern Army had utilized  the physical terrain to protect them. Because they were out numbered and out gunned the Northern Army used sharpshooters to pick off the Southern Army as it engaged on the battlefield below. Below is a picture of me imagining what it must be like to fire a weapon from behind a rock:

The battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, 1863, three days later on July 4, 1863 the Southern Army retreated to Gaithersburg, Maryland. 7,800 men lay dead on that day. The Battle of Gettysburg did not end the war which would continue for another 2 years, but Gettysburg marked the beginning of the defeat of the South which occurred at the Appomattox courthouse in Richmond, Virginia on April 9, 1865. Six days later President Lincoln would die of  a gunshot wound to his head.

What might have happened after the  end of the Civil War  had Lincoln not been assassinated has been the subject of much intellectual speculation. What did happen would encumber the right to vote for 3 milion  newly freed slaves and impoverish many poor non-land owning white people who became sharecroppers along side the newly freed slaves.

 Today’s  racial animosity of America’s poor white rural working class which led to a Trump presidency finds it roots in the years after the Civil War.  Over the next months I intend to study the Reconstruction and how the ruling 1 percent pitted poor rural whites against 3 million freed slaves of which 90 percent were illiterate, but somehow would create a system of historically black colleges and universities.  I will wrap these facts in a modern day novel, tentatively  entitled   Twisted”, where the story will take place in Baltimore. My intent is to entertain while I teach.  I think understanding how America got the way it is today might shrink the racial gap when people realize that the issues of poverty have been hidden under the guise of race. Stay tuned.

 

LET THEM EAT CAKE

It has been heart- rendering to read about the cuts in social and arts programs that this administration has proposed in its budget.

Can they really be this mean?  How  can this Administration gut social programs and the arts to create guns and war and a wall? Meals on Wheels and the eradication of the National Endowment of the Arts followed by a roll-back of protections for student loan borrowers and the dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency cuts a swath across what creates Humanity.   Who is not hurt by these proposed cuts?

America  wake up. Trump is creating an oligarchy to rival the current and past Russian Oligarchies. If not the 1% who agrees with him -then “Then let them eat cake.”

There is no time, in American or World History except for the French and Russian and American Revolutions that more reminds me of what is occurring in this country today.

Each of us must take a side.

 

 

PRESIDENT’S DAY 2017

We talked about presidents today. We talked about Barack Obama and why he did not issue an apology to all African-Americans and enslaved Americans.

We talked about President Jefferson and Sally Hemmings and Monticello. We mentioned his name and wondered if there was some good that could come from America’s 45th president.

Brianna  S. Clark

 

BLACK COMEDY


My Dear Readers,20161122_171542

I am sitting in the airport at BWI as I wait for my delayed flight to Chicago.  This has not stressed me out. I have no connecting flight, no dinner or theatre plans, just a relaxing visit with a relative who is pure joy to be with. Fun.

This is not the Black Comedy which is the subject of today’s post. Last night my travel related activities kept me up late and I got to see the Stephen Corbair Show. His skit was about Mike Pence visiting the Broadway play, Hamilton.  It was funny and I found myself laughing.  It was then that I realized that the next four years would be filled with Hamiltonesq humor provided by the Trump Administration. After 13 days of worry and fear, it’s finally registered as the bad joke of Black Comedy.

This sense of “relaxation”  was enhanced by friends earlier in the day. “Five Supreme Court Judges is a quorum,” they reminded me. “Obama has appointed so many federal judges that cases might never reach the Supreme Court,” they added. “Where will they find the case that will overturn Roe vs.Wade?” “What about stare decisis and legal precedent? These were things that I had not considered.

Lastly, they said “In two years when the wall has not been built; millions of his impoverished supporters have lost their Obama care or have had deep social security cuts, those folks will vote for change, again.” This is likely to be true.

Then my friends and I exchanged tales of white friends and associates who wanted to ensure us that  “they were with us”. This was a comforting and reassuring for me who was shell-shocked.

In fact, the day after the election a very unlikely stranger stopped to reassure me.  It was nice.

While there maybe closet and not so closet racists, bigots, homophobes and xenophobes, most Americans believe in equality for all.

In my heart, I know this to be true. We of the left, near left, center left will remain vigilant and fight to keep the values that have made America great.

A deep sigh.  I remain hopeful, after all, I am a black female immigrant from Guyana with two African American sons under age 30 and who has famiy members who are devout Muslims. In the meantime, when the days work is done, lets watch the Black Comedy on late night television.

In Love and Light

Brianna S. Clark

Your Fellow Journeyer

 

 

 

REMAINING HOPEFUL #ORGANIZED ACTION

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My Dear Readers,

Like many of you, I was disheartened by Tuesday’s election results. I was depressed and felt that I had woken up from a bad dream, in a world I was no longer familiar with.  I like many, felt that the Trump coalition was a tiny voice expressing the worst of our country.  There was no way, in my America, that he would be elected president. But he was.

Like in all tales of good vs. evil, in order to understand  the power of evil, you must experience it.   I guess that is what will happen to us as Americans.  From my view point as a an African American female who has two black sons, I am fearful and yet I remain hopeful.  I was glad to see that 90 percent of African American females had voted for Hillary.  I was disappointed that more than 53% of white females voted for Donald Trump. I am sure they have their reasons, and at a moment when my heart is not so raw, I will perhaps comprehend their actions. I am disappointed that many of my fellow Democrats failed to come out to vote.

I was happy to see that half the nation, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation voted for Hillary.  I was encouraged that many young people between the ages of 18-25 voted for Hillary. I believe that these young people will save the world including our bloated Boomer Generation where many of  us feel that we have been left behind or have failed to keep up and therefore were left behind.

I for one, know that this is not the time to give up. Hillary Clinton may be a lost cause. Perhaps she was the right candidate at the wrong time or the wrong candidate for this time. We will never know. Hopefully, Mrs. Clinton will continue to serve our country in some manner.  Although, many thought she was deeply flawed and was dishonest, I do not believe that many of us could withstand public scrutiny over 30 years,as she has. I know I would have failed.

Over the next two months, I will prepare for my book tour. While I hope to sell books, I want to bring compassion and understanding and education about addiction. For many, addiction has been a moral issue rather than a physical or mental one. Thankfully, medicine and science has advanced to realize that some of us are just genetically pre-disposed to addiction. But more than that, I want people to know that less people would become addicted if they believed their was as social network to support them.

I understand this is a loaded statement. What is a social network? It is people who care and who are emotionally invested in us.  You will ask, “Isn’t this a contradiction to people being genetically predisposed to addiction?” Not really.  A predisposition for addiction, does not guarantee addiction, it only makes it more likely under stress our trauma.

My second point,  that I would like to communicate when I speak on this subject is that there are many kinds of trauma and that poverty is one of them. This statement brings me  back to why I must continue to work and to work quickly, efficiently and tirelessly. With the current administration in place, I fear that many more millions will fall into poverty and they will not have the resources to help.  I fear a America who does not care about health care or addiction or people who do not fit into a narrow neat box.

I will continue to believe and act with ideals of America. I hope you will too.

With light and love,

 

Briana S. Clark,

Your Fellow Journeyer

 

ADVERSITY AND THE PURSUIT OF GOODNESS CREATES STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

“A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them. This museum tells the truth that a country founded on the promise of liberty held millions in chains. That the price of our union was America’s original sin.”

George W. Bush, Former President of the United States of America

The photo of  First Lady Michelle Obama hugging former President George W. Bush at the opening ceremony of the African American Museum garnered a lot of media attention in the past 48 hours.  I am glad that the photo has gone around the world showing people that America has been built and kept strong by it’s diversity. I hope that the camaraderie shown this past weekend will continue to invigorate the America that I believe it can be.Tonight our country and the world will hear two voices. One voice will be one of hope and forgiveness- the other voice will be that of discontent and a desire to create an America that cares about itself first- the rest of world- if it has the time and resources.  I hope that the second America will never occur.

For those of you who have read my blog over the past year, you know that I am a Hillary Clinton supporter. For me, Hillary represents the idea of never giving up. She is that older woman who has paid her dues and is now hoping to reap after the years of hard work. I hope she will win some hearts and votes tonight.

Is Hillary a flawed character? Unquestionably yes. But for those of us who have never  been under the microscope of the public eye; it is easy to dismiss Hillary Clinton as untrustworthy. It is easy to paint her with a broad brush of  double standards. Any other candidate, if he were not a she, would be a sure bet for the White House, But ironically for  Hillary Clinton her “untrusthworthiness” is  partially  because of her long and yes tainted political record. However,  a lot of what plagues Hillary is that she is an old female politician.

Similarly we paint Donald Trump as a racist, a bigot, and isolationist, a demagogue, a wild man, the list is endless. I am not sure if Donald Trump is any of things that he has been called. The scariest thing about Donald Trump is that we don’t know who is. What we have seen of him during this past campaign has been polished and written by handlers- who at this point- Donald Trump has acquiesced to. I think that those of us who have never  been extraordinarily wealthy are fascinated by a man who has created himself a billionaire- even if he’s only worth one billion instead of  the ten billion he claims to be worth. Some how we think a man who can create personal wealth can create wealth for all 300 million of us. It’s a great fantasy, one that I hope does not send voters Trump’s way.

I imagine for those of us who are terrified of  racist in the White House, there are those  who were terrified of a black man in the White House. As it turns out- that black man became a great president not because he was black but because he cared deeply about this country and its people.  I hope that in the next several weeks we as a people will focus on who will create the most common good- and give up our positions of a “first female president” and  “wealth creator”.

I believe as flawed as Hillary Clinton might be that she would make a better president than Donald Trump. I hope that come election day,  all who are eligible to vote will vote. Let’s listen tonight as we gather around to listen to these candidates and listen with the mind set of who will best serve the greater good in this country. Who will care and work for the poor, the ill, the imprisoned, the transgender, the  Muslim, the outcast- all of which make up the richness of America.

I have traveled to many places in the world. No matter how much fun or how beautiful or how advanced that country might or might not be, I am an American. I believe that this country will find its way as it has always found its way to do what is the right thing to do.

Each of us must ask ourselves each day and on election day, what is the right thing to do? Do that.

I pray for world peace. I pray for peace in America. I pray for peace in Maryland. I pray for peace in Baltimore. I pray for peace in my home. I pray for peace in every home. I pray for peace in my heart and every heart that beats on this planet.

God Bless America and let her be the light to  world.

In light and love,

Brianna S. Clark,
Your Fellow Journeyer

FIGHT WITH LIGHT, LOVE, LAW,

My Fellow Journeyers,

Today began with sadness  as 21 year old Tawon Boyd, a African American Male who lived in Baltimore County, died three days after a “fight” with police. The police were responding to a domestic fight where  Boyd’s girlfriend called the police because he was acting “crazy”.  The picture is hard to look at, but I’m glad that the media is showing it. At the same time there was a second day of rioting in Charlotte North Carolina as people protested to the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Two lives blasted to death and the third pummeled to death at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve and meet out justice.  I am so tired of reading about these police shootings.

Originally,  I wanted to write about my coming to terms with the number of male beggars that approach me on my eight block walk from my home at the edge of  the Mt. Vernon historical district to my office in downtown Baltimore. But these deaths of these men by the hands of the people we expect to meet out justice and protect causes me sadness.

I know that we can not let violent acts lead to more violence. Fight the dark with light. What I did today to create light was to meet with a group of lawyers to implement a renovation of Baltimore’s dangerous and blighted communities. We listed our individual strengths and what we could contribute to the realization of a Beautiful Baltimore for Everybody.  I am uniquely placed to make this happen. If I do nothing else but create the team  which transforms my chosen home of Baltimore Maryland it will be will be one of the greatest things that I will have accomplished.

I began at 9:AM with bankers. By 1:PM 4 lawyers had drafted a rough plan to present to local politicans with which we have worked with for years. By 3:PM four developers said they wanted to be in the conversation. I am a happy with the thought of possibility. One person can create positive change.

During these dark days of political ugliness where all the “isms” are raging, let’s keep making light in the face of darkness. Create light.

With love and light,

Brianna S. Clark
Your Fellow Journeyer

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FREEDOM OF SPEECH DOES NOT HAVE TO BE LIKEABLE

My Dear Fellow Journeyers,

I couldn’t take it anymore- I cut off  most of my hair.  The first time I cut off all of my hair was when I was 19. It felt so freeing, as it does now.  The reason I started to grow back  my hair was because I felt that my almost shaved look was intimidating to some people. I did not want to alienate anyone because they were intimidated. I was especially concerned that the people who manage people in re-hab or those who worked with young people, might be put off by my lack of hair. I found out that nobody cared. So, I’m doing what works for me.

Thank you for that digression. Now on to this blog about everyday racism.

There were two disappointments that I want to discuss. I was  trying to support a female owned florist named “The Moderate Florist.” The name of the business should have been the first clue, that she was not suppose to be my florist, but nevertheless she was recommended to me by the staff of Mom’s. For those of you who are not familiar with MOM’s it is an organic food market.  Its importance to this story is that MOM’s doesn’t sell flowers. When I stopped being a Whole Foods customer and switched to MOM’s I no longer had a source for flowers, thus “The Moderate Florist.”

On my first visit to The Moderate Florist she said that her credit card machine was not working and she could only take cash. No worries, I had cash and I bought out most of the remaining flowers in her modest store.

On  the next occasion, she remembered me, but she greeted me with, “You should be glad I am opened. Most florists close at noon on Saturday.” I responded I was thrilled she was opened and proceeded to buy a large bunch of flowers. At my parting she said “September is wedding season, I’m am not likely to be here.” Lo and behold, this Saturday, which was September 17th, I drove to The Moderate Florist during the Hampden Festival. This point is important for two reasons. This first is that I suffered the usually bad parking which was increased by the festival goers  and I waded through dense crowds to get to her store. She wasn’t there.

There was a note, however, saying that she was near one of my favorite antique stores. I walked the four blocks through the crowds and I was happy to see the florist. She had a bucket of sunflowers. I walked up to her and said “I hope I have enough cash to buy all of your sunflowers.”

“They are not for sale,” she said. “They are give-aways for people who sign up for weddings.”

I was disappointed. “Do you know if there is another florist in Hampden that is open today?” I suppose I should have just googled to see if there was, but I was hoping to support a small business.

“No,” she answered. “Your best bet is to go to the Whole Foods in Mt. Washington.”

I sighed.  “I have made a great effort to support your business and you are making it very hard for me to do so.”  She shrugged her shoulders. I felt like crying, which was an over response,  but I have a real commitment  to support female entrepreneurs.

Later that weekend I told my florist tale to a friend of mine. He said “She doesn’t want your business; she’s racist.” I was stunned by his response. He added “Hampden is a poor white working class neighborhood with a history of discriminating against black people.” This made me even sadder.  “I guess, I need a new florist,” I said.

“I think you do.” He replied. I will tell you on Thursday who my new florist will be. I know, this is a a real “first world problem.”

The other event worthy of comment was  last Sunday’s response of the Seattle Seahawks. I had hoped they would have gone down on bent knee to support the   “Black Lives Matter” campaign. Instead the Seahawks linked arms in solidarity. The team has been criticized for their “on the fence” move.  I had to think about  Seattle’s actions as they relate to the “Black Lives Matter” campaign.  After  thinking about what our country stands for- freedom of speech- or non-speech, I realized that I could not  criticize the Seahawks. To do so would mean that I only support freedom of speech when I agree with it. That’s not supporting freedom of speech.   Free speech  does not require agreement.

I extended this concept to include freedom of speech around political speech as well. Most of my Facebook friends are liberal Democrats.  However,  a few of my friends are Republicans. Some of my Republican friends have shown their support to Donald Trump. I realize that while I disagree with most of the statements made by Donald Trump, I must respect his freedom of speech as well. So, I won’t “unfriend” anyone for supporting Donald Trump. I will, however, question why we are friends on Facebook or otherwise.

With love and light,

Brianna S. Clark
Your Fellow Journeyer

PROGRAMMED TO FEAR YOUNG BLACK MEN

My Dear Friends and Readers,

This morning I was in an urban grocery store in downtown Baltimore. The store caters to the high-end employed in Baltimore’s business district. The rest of the folks get to shop there as well, but you won’t find bargains or specials there. You will find unsweetened organic soy milk and gluten free brownies. Back to the point. This morning I saw an African American male child about age 9 or 10- tall for his age,  wearing a Batman mask and costume. For a moment my heart leaped. “I hope they don’t think he’s here to rob the store.”  A few seconds later, the child’s well dress parents walked in the store behind him. I was relieved.

However, it bothered me that, I too have become a victim of “black scare”.  In the few minutes that I remained in the store, I pondered my own prejudicial reaction.  As I was leaving the store, the boy stood at the entrance, and he had removed his mask to expose a well nurtured and cared for young man. I walked out the store and then walked back in ” I forgot to say Hi, Bruce Wayne.”  He smiled and I reminded myself to check my “already always thinking.”

What has caused me to jump to this conclusion? If it were a white child would I have reacted the same way?
I don’t think so. I have become conditioned by the media to expect the worst of young black men and at the same time fear for them.

As I pondered further, I realized that tomorrow I will address an audience of social workers and therapists who work with incarcerated youth.  The statistics that I will present to them are the following:

 Last year’s police  arrest records indicate  that young people under the age of 25  represented  51% of the arrests for violent behavior.
 The same age  group  under the age of 25, made up 49% of the
weapons violation arrests. 

This group is also the victims of trauma. When last year’s murder rate in Baltimore rose to 344, so did the rate of young people entering emergency rooms. The rate of gunshot and knife wounds rose by 5% last year.

We also find that young people in Baltimore have the same out look out about their future prospects as young people in third world countries like Nigeria, New Delhi, India and Johannesburg ,South Africa.

This should come as no surprise because these young people are the victims of trauma induced by  living in poverty; in high crime communities, in homes with domestic violence; drug use; drug sales; incarcerated parents or missing parents. The day to day toll on our youth, 30% which live in poverty is showing up in violence on our streets.

We know that locking up young people, or people in general does not work. In 2005 100,000 thousand Baltimoreans were arrested. That number equals 1/6th of the city’s population.

11 years later, today, we know that the Baltimore police racially profile and violate the rights of African Americans. Now that we have this information, hopefully, the rate that which  young  black people are illegally stopped and detained will decrease. Hopefully.

Last year our young people rioted. The city reacted. They allotted 2.9 million dollars to trauma prevention and 40 million dollars to the Baltimore Police Department for violence prevention. The forty million dollars should have gone to to help our young people and perhaps we wouldn’t need to so much money to prevent violence- induced by trauma.

Finally, in our city of unequals, where the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington D.C., found that Baltimore is one of the most “unequal” cities when it comes to income earnings, let’s hope that
with all of this information in the hands of our politicians and leaders  there will be meaningful change in this city of two cities. Let’s vote for real  change in November and keep close watch on the actions of our elected officials. Let’s make them keep their campaign promises.

Praying for Baltimore and Voting for Equal Opportunity,

Brianna S. Clark
The Addict Writes