Virginia Election 2017 Trump Vs. Pipelines?

The Omni Homestead resort in Hot Springs was the center of politics in the Commonwealth of Virginia. On Saturday July 22nd, the Virginia Bar Association welcomed the current lieutenant governor, Democrat, Ralph Northam and businessman, Republican, Ed Gillespie to participate in the debate moderated by “PBS Newshour” host Judy Woodruff.  
Since securing their respective party’s nominations both candidates have tried to focus their attention on what they believe to be their opponent’s biggest weakness.
The Gillespie campaign has highlighted Ralph Northam’s indecisiveness on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The lieutenant governor has tried to walk a tightrope on the Dominion Project. During his primary race with Tom Perriello, Ralph Northam opted to defer to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality as to what would be the best decision for the citizens of the Commonwealth. His well crated political answers about the pipeline have hurt him. His middle of the road approach has alienated the environmentalist wing of the Democratic party who supported his primary opponent.
Since securing the Democratic party’s nomination, Ralph Northam has sought to make this election a referendum on the Presidency of Donald Trump: whom he has referred to as a “narcissistic maniac.” The lieutenant governor has tried to link Ed Gillespie to the polices, or lack of polices, coming out of Washington D.C. His campaign even incorporated the use of a cardboard cutout of Ed Gillespie in a Facebook live video while reading the proposed GOP healthcare bill.
Both of these strategies, on the surface, are politically savvy, but the Northam strategy is problematic. Making the November election a referendum on Donald Trump is likely to fail in what is expected to be another low voter turnout election. The Commonwealth remains a purple state even though the Democratic candidate has won here in three straight presidential elections. Republicans control the state legislature due to heavily gerrymandered districts and the Democrats off year election apathy.
In the 2016 presidential election (according to the Virginia Department of Elections) 72% of registered Virginians participated. That was up one percentage point from 2012, but down from the 74% who voted in 2008. If the 2017 gubernatorial election follows the 2009 and 2013 trends there could be as much as a 30-percentage point drop in voter participation. This fact doomed State Senator Creigh Deeds in his 2009 gubernatorial race against Republican Bob McDonnell.
Ed Gillespie’s strategy of forcing Ralph Northam to go on the record about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline could prove to be his trump card (pun intended). The interruption at the beginning of the VBA debate by a young man form Loudon County is indicative of where a lot of the Bernie Sanders/Tom Perriello progressives stand on this issue. The lieutenant governor would have to get unprecedented support from the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains if young environmentalist in the progressive wing of the Democratic party take 2017 off.

This election isn’t likely to turn on issues affecting the masses of Virginians. There are a lot of one issue voters who won’t concern themselves with budgets, tax policies, healthcare, or infrastructure spending. Voters who followed these candidates through their primary races likely didn’t learn anything new during this debate. For them, Saturday morning was more performance art than a rigorous dialogue about the issues. For voters tuning in for the first time the candidates painted a Rorschach of themselves and their opponent. Neither candidate improved or diminished their chances of winning in November; If you are a Republican Gillespie will do, and if you are a Democrat Northam is your guy. Both candidates looked like boxers content with letting the judges decide the outcome. A lot can happen between now and November, but the most eventful moment of this debate belonged to a young man who isn’t on the ballot.

Hating The Game: Did Michael Vick Sellout?

"First thing we’ve got to get Colin to do is cut his hair."

Michael Vick offered Colin Kaepernick some unsolicited advice as a guest on Fox Sports 1’s “Speak For Yourself”. After listening to him say, “I really think the stand that he took has nothing to do with him not having a job playing in the National Football League right now.” I was disappointed. Michael Vick was the previous owner of the shoes Colin now fills. There will be over 100 quarterbacks competing for jobs before rosters are cut and Vick doesn't think Kaepernick is better than half of them? Does he really believe 32 head coaches, 32 general managers, and 32 owners simultaneously came to the conclusion he couldn't play anymore?

Vick's words opened him up to ridicule from some of his most loyal supporters in the black community, but calling Michael Vick a sellout does nothing to address the root of Colin's problem. The NFL is ran by people who have very little, if any, vested interest in the issues he was protesting. In the NFL, the only Black Lives that Matter are the ones that are profitable. If you can run a 4.3 40-yard dash and keep your mouth shut you can do almost anything and maintain employment. 

"Listen, I’m not up here to try to be politically correct. Even if he puts cornrows in there. I don’t think he should represent himself in that way (wearing the Afro). Just the hairstyle. Just go clean-cut. You know, why not? You're already dealing with a lot.

The NFL is a meritocracy as long as you don't hurt the bottom line. Kaepernick would have been better off had he beaten up a pregnant white woman. Rapist and domestic abusers are welcomed back to the NFL because their crimes don't cost the league revenue or challenge its authority. When a player, irrespective of race, beats a woman, she's the victim. Colin's protest caused a public outcry that victimized the league. NFL owners don't suffer losses well and aren't willing to face economic backlash for signing an unrepentant Kaepernick. No one knows this better than Michael Vick.

Michael Vick had to kiss the proverbial ring to get his second chance. I'm not sure Kaepernick is willing to (publicly) do the same; his circumstances are a lot different than Vick's were. Vick was hemorrhaging money due to the termination of his endorsement deals and his Atlanta Falcons contract. When Vick filed for bankruptcy protection he owed his creditors 18 million dollars. Kaepernick, who hasn't made as much money as Vick did before his troubles, is in far better financial shape. Vick had no choice but to acquiesce. He was never going to come through his bankruptcy and get his life back together without the NFL. 

“I just think perception and image is everything. This is not the Colin Kaepernick that we've known since he entered the National Football League. I’m just going off my personal experiences. Listen, I love the guy to death. But I want him to also succeed on and off the field. This has to be a start for him."

Michael Vick gave Colin Kaepernick the kind of practical advice any public relations expert or image consultant would give him, but he did it in the company of a toxic sports personality. Jason Whitlock is less popular in the black community than Diabetes. Every few weeks he gives #BlackTwitter a reason to hate him. Vick's statements, if made to someone whose commitment to the black community is unquestionable, wouldn't have been so controversial. Vick never condemned Kaepernick for his protest. He acknowledged the reason for his protest and thanked him for doing it. Vick's advice, however pragmatic, calls for Colin's Submission. If Colin crawls back and begs for forgiveness he could make a lot of money, but that money will cost him his integrity. 

It's easy to attack Michael Vick's​ words from the comfort of a smartphone or tablet. Michael Vick was in debt, had a family to provide for, and had millions of dollars on the line. He gave the right answer for someone in his situation. If Colin wants to wear another NFL jersey he probably knows he has to “play the game”. This is unpopular, it's unfair, but it's the reality in the NFL. A man who kneeled to take a stand might have to bow to take a snap. This isn't right. He is being punished. We can hate the player, but we should probably hate the game that asks brothers to scratch when it doesn't itch.

Blacks Only?

The absence of white bodies doesn’t make a space black only. People of color have been consciously and unconsciously conditioned to see themselves as less than. Physically separating oneself from white bodies does nothing to deal with the psychological damage that comes from being inculcated with the myth of white supremacy. In every black only setting lives the remnants of an ideology that formed the desire to meet outside of the white gaze.
This paradox is often overlooked. I’m not going to attempt to solve a problem this complex in a few short paragraphs, but we need to look at this issue from multiple angles. Black people seeking to create spaces where our thoughts and feelings are a priority harms no one, yet this enrages white conservatives, isolates white liberals and progressives, and hurts black integrationists irrespective of their political leanings.
Many conservatives see black only spaces as a sign of racial hostility, but de facto black only spaces have existed since slavery. Slaves would steal away in the night to fellowship without scrutiny or violence. Today black only spaces are the result of choices rather than a historical necessity. The desire to decenter whiteness from discussions affecting people of color isn’t the same as government policies designed to limit access to opportunity.

White America is in no way negatively impacted by black only spaces. Contrary to popular belief, black only spaces aren’t a form of segregation. When an assembly ends the participants go back into a world shaped by the idea that their skin color is problematic. Simply put, black only spaces are places where black identity and intellect is affirmed. These aren’t “safe spaces”, if you make a weak argument or derail a discussion your feelings won’t be spared. Black only spaces aren’t about running from conflict; at their best, they’re about engaging conflict with people who’ve been negatively affected by the subject matter being discussed.

There have been white liberals and progressives who’ve felt betrayed by black only spaces. There are white allies who’ve worked incredibly hard to get outside of themselves to see what America looks like to people of color. I applaud their efforts and count them as allies. Ultimately, it will be white allies who stop the normalization of racism, but this reality doesn’t give them carte blanche access to black ideas and emotions. Imagine a man so committed women’s liberation that he commits himself to destroying overt and covert systems that oppress and disadvantage women, would his agency negate his manhood? Would he be allowed into the women’s locker room at the gym?
Talking about black liberation without constantly having to remind white allies of their goodness is almost impossible. Too often discussions about systemic racism get hijacked by well-meaning allies who feel the need to make sure they aren’t indicted for the crimes of others. This unintentional microaggression moves the focus of discussion from black liberation to white absolution and we’re not here for that.
Lastly, there are factions inside the black community who find black only spaces problematic. Many of them are so assimilated that they truly believe the path to black liberation is paved with conformity and kowtowing. Some of the most sophisticated defenders and deniers of white supremacist ideologies have black skin. The acceptable negro approach works on an individual basis, but it does nothing to liberate the masses. The irony of black opposition to spaces centered around blackness is that it usually comes from black people who are minorities in their professional lives and isolationist in their personal lives.
In a room full of black people, ideas grounded in white supremacist ideology are still represented. This is a fact no amount of physical separation can deny. I don’t care how “woke” someone is; once they embrace the need to constantly remind everyone they’re “woke” they’ve exhibited a symptom of the trauma they think they’ve overcome. People who don’t smoke don’t walk around announcing it every day. The only space we can truly make black only is the space between our ears and that’s much more difficult than segregating an auditorium for a few hours.

Who Will Be The Next #_________?

Acquittals for killing unarmed people of color will be to this generation what stock footage of police using water hoses and siccing dogs on protesters was to the 1960’s. Almost 54 years after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, unemployment in many black communities is twice the national average, and law enforcement continues to disproportionately use lethal force against people of color. For all of America’s talk about racial progress the underlying disparities that necessitated the original gathering remain in place.

When America is forced to deal with race the conversations have no thematic unity. There are too many people in positions of power defending the status quo while those suffering its affects are questioning it. There are people so invested in the flag and the myth of America that they willfully ignore or disconnect the historical context events happen in. There is no gap between Jimmie Lee Jackson and Philando Castile.

America’s need to reflexively point to past achievements in race relations is a form of generational absolution. Admitting things were worse does nothing to dismantle the racism in our midst. I’m not dismissing the progress we’ve made, but the truth is: we are still as sick as the ghosts of our pasts.

After an officer is acquitted for killing an unarmed person of color social media and the blogosphere explode with new articles chronicling the pain endured by the victim’s family, and the distrust between the community and the police. Brilliant thinkers and writers parse the nuances of the latest case versus the last case in an effort to show how juries keep getting it wrong, but nothing changes. Nothing changes because predominantly white juries often go out of their way to give an officer every benefit of the doubt.

Too many Americans have a Spaghetti Western view of the world where the cowboys are all good guys and the Indians are all bad. Even when a murder is captured on video jurors find a way to sympathize with the fear of an officer (with the gun) instead of the humanity of the man or woman on the other end of it.

We are in desperate need of more cure and less diagnosis. Anyone who cares about these issues understands what’s wrong. Better training and body cameras may limit the number of people shot, but they can’t pick fair-minded juries or assure that prosecuting attorneys will put the best case forward.

America’s race problems are exasperated by a litany of false equivalences and illogical positions. Too many Americans, irrespective of race, uncritically accept (either-or) propositions that further divide us. It’s possible to say BLACK LIVES MATTER as a close ended declaration. The call to end police brutality and mass incarceration isn’t the same thing as wanting police officers harmed.

Calls for justice are not provocations, yet pointing out systemic failures has the effect of gaslighting some reactionaries. This is the minefield racial dialog takes place in. Too often people of color understand white silence as tacit approval of the behavior they see instead of a lack of courage or necessary vocabulary to engage in the conversation. This never-ending cycle breeds distrust.

Marching for justice and writing about justice will never produce enough justice. It can take decades for a society to even agree that a particular form of evil is wrong- much less work to fix it. There were enough Americans outraged by the images they saw in the 1960’s to register a dissent and force a change. I’m not advocating for another dose of “We Shall Overcome”. Those days are over, but we have to put more pressure on the District and Commonwealth Attorneys, and the juries who continue to fail us. We have to create an atmosphere so full of commonsense and righteous morality that the injustices we see can’t be explained away by people wanting to maintain their credibility.

Seperating Church From Hate

On Wednesday, June 14th, the Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution formally distancing themselves from the alt-right. The legislation condemns, "every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as of the devil." Had this resolution passed a day earlier it wouldn’t be newsworthy, but it didn’t. The Southern Baptist Convention’s bumbling of this issue is another stain on a denomination that seems to take a step backwards for every step forward they take.

There are dozens of published statements from evangelicals who were in attendance Tuesday night supporting the first draft of the amendment, yet they lacked the sufficient will or power to push it through. It took public shaming to get the largest protestant denomination in America to disavow white supremacy. All of the work the (SBC) did in the mid 90’s to address their support of slavery and Jim Crow is undermined by the constant stream of micro-aggressions committed by the convention. The (SBC) wants to distance itself from its past, but seems unwilling to make the move from words to actions.

What happened in Phoenix is another example of the disconnect between black and white churches over racial issues. Too often, predominantly white churches take a naval gazing approach to race. Instead of working to address and rectify any role they may play in propagating racism too many seek absolution from the stigma associated with their actions. This resolution is meaningless if the church continues to remain silent about issues that affect people of color.

The German Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave a philosophical treatment to the difference in naming a sin and working to correct the mindset that gives rise to its existence. In his seminal text The Cost of Discipleship He wrote:

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

This is the box Southern Baptist find themselves in. The double standards people of color see feed the distrust that ensures 11:00 am will continue being the most segregated hour of the week. As an ordained member of clergy, and a man of color in the south, I’m invested in the (SBC) coming to grips with the racism that still permeates too many of their congregations. Many of the same Southern Baptists who couldn’t find anything good in President Obama continue to find ways to excuse Donald Trump’s decadence. This convention deserves no credit for doing the right thing after the fact. You shouldn’t have to think twice about the Klan, Neo Nazis, or the alt-right.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed for his public stance against racism and nationalism. The consequences for offering a prophetic (and highly visible) witness against those evils are nowhere near as high today as they were in Nazi Germany during the Third Reich, yet too few seem willing to sacrifice their comfort and popularity to offer it.

I’m not giving up on the (SBC) writ large. There are members and member churches trying to right the historical wrongs of the institution they inherited; sadly, their work is made harder by a political leadership that appears to be more influenced by Washington than Jerusalem. If Southern Baptists are truly interested in divorcing themselves from their past they have to match their words with tangible actions.  

Voting While Black: Georgia Edition

FiveThirtyEight published an article by Patrick Ruffini titled Black Voters Aren’t Turning Out For The Post-Obama Democratic Party. In his piece he argued that the lack of black turnout in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District primary could be a politically disastrous sign for Democrats moving forward. His argument is legitimate but a bit shortsighted. Saying any political party would be in trouble if, demographically speaking, their most reliable constituency stayed home isn’t groundbreaking. Ruffini, like many pundits, looked at the data following the 2016 election and decided that black voter disenchantment with the Barack “Obamaless” Democratic party was the cause for the decline. Why?

Liberal and conservative pundits have written hundreds of articles about black voter participation since the 2016 election. Liberals tend to write these articles as a way of scapegoating black voters for the election of Donald Trump; while conservatives write them to deflect the impact voter suppression has had in Republican led states. Federal courts have written opinion after opinion overturning Republican sponsored legislation designed to make voting harder for blacks, but somehow this fact gets overlooked in many of these articles.

Political commentators on the right willfully downplay or ignore the effects of voter suppression. Since the 2010 mid-term elections people of color have had a number of obstacles placed in front of them by Republican led state legislatures. There’s enough Prima Facie evidence to support the claim that some of the declines since 2010 could be attributed to Republican efforts to restrict early voting while simultaneously cutting the number of voting precincts in minority districts. It’s not a coincidence that the overwhelming majority of federal cases concerning voter disenfranchisement have been filed against Republican governors and legislatures. This doesn’t explain voter decline in states that haven’t had to deal with this type of electoral malfeasance, but it shouldn’t be ignored in states like Georgia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin where the right to vote has been under constant assault.

Omission is a powerful tool. If Ruffini willfully ignored the almost decade long war waged by Republicans in Georgia against black voters he’s part of the problem. It’s disingenuous for anyone to rest the result of the June 20th special election solely at the feet of black voters. Blacks are 13.4% of a district with a population close to 700,000, but If Jon Ossoff loses to Karen Handel the story will be centered around what percentage of the black population voted.

The last three national election cycles have been defined by Republicans making voting harder for black people and Democrats blaming us for their electoral failures. Both groups are acting out of fear. Republicans are afraid of the demographic shifts that place them in electoral peril, and the Democrats are afraid of addressing their failures with uneducated white women. For all of the misogyny Hillary Clinton faced from the left this same group ignores the fact that their mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, and cousins voted for Donald Trump in 2016 by a margin of 62% to 38%. There are more uneducated white women in America than black people as a whole, but this demographic remains free from any serious critique.

On November 2nd, 2016, I published an article titled "We Don't Owe The Democrats Our Vote!" In it I wrote:

There are people in the Black community who are ready to concede the 2016 election in lieu of more political capital in 2020. The Democrats have blackmailed us for so long with the threat of horrible Republican policies that many have stopped listening. Maybe, the best way to leverage our political power moving forward is to sit out 2016? This isn’t that crazy of a thought to someone living through hell. How much worse can life get for someone trapped in a failing neighborhood, in a failing city under a Trump Administration? I don’t subscribe to this line of thinking, but I know some very smart people of color who do. Some live in solidly blue states and some live in deep red states, but there are some in battleground states who have decided they will vote Jill Stein or avoid the long lines and stay home.

I was excoriated by many of my colleagues for introducing them to this line of thinking. The same people who’ve written dozens of articles blaming black voters for supporting Hillary over Bernie, or for not showing up in high enough numbers during the general election have avoided the real 800lb electoral gorilla in the room. No matter what happens on June 20th black voters will either be ignored or blamed. The right is more than happy to continue ignoring our needs, and the left is more than happy to blame marginal drops in black voter participation for their failures. We are damned if we do and damned if we do.   

I Support Black On Black Violence

I support black on black violence! I’m not talking about the World Star Hip Hop videos that get millions of views each month; I mean succinct, logical arguments made by any black person that systematically dismantle truncated and racially insensitive narratives parroted by another black person at the expense of our community. When black people act on behalf of white supremacy they need to be shown the error of their ways and given a chance to make amends; however, if that doesn’t work, they should be intellectually dragged throughout social media and the blogosphere as a sign of what happens to those who knowingly denigrate blackness in favor of their own socioeconomic advancement.

Every ethnic group has some internal criteria they use to create artificial hierarchies. The black community has used skin pigmentation, hair texture, and even eye color as the basis for these distinctions. The psychological effects of generational white supremacist indoctrination are so powerful that they still cause some of us to denigrate our own genetic code. The lie of white supremacy governs American society in implicit and explicit ways, but it also lives in the minds of too many black people. This cruel fact allows white supremacy to show up in places where white people are absent, and fuels the need some blacks feel to measure their intellect and success against white standards. This is a sickness many won’t be cured of. Too often the desire to be viewed as different causes fissures between individuals and community. The lies told about black people can harm members of other races, but they cripple the black people who believe them.

I understand wanting to rise above the negative stereotypes and imagery associated with black life. It’s stressful carrying around psychological baggage someone else packed for you. I’ve lived and worked in predominantly white environments the majority of my life. The temptation to succumb to the trap of white acceptance is as real as the air we breathe. No one’s ever overtly asked me to distance myself from the black community, but I’ve been in situations where the opportunity to slide into the “different than the others” category has been extended. These opportunities take the form of water cooler discussions about racial hot topics and/or other existential questions about blackness in America. You may consciously or unconsciously be asked to center white feelings about race at a time of black suffering. Almost 5 years after the death of Trayvon Martin our community should be united in saying Black Lives Matter, but too many professional blacks have retreated to the political and economic safe space called All Lives Matter.

All of the educational, political, and economic distinctions black people have created to distinguish ourselves from our community are imaginary. They have gravitas in our heads and maybe among our contemporaries, but they purchase very little in a society that stigmatizes black skin of any hue. Here’s a quick question: who had a higher net worth Walter Scott or Terrence Crutcher? It doesn’t matter because both are dead. Denigrating blackness in exchange for white acceptance isn’t a viable solution to America’s race problem. Denial can’t insulate you from racial profiling and discrimination. No level of self-aggrandizement can make someone who’s never accepted you accept you. Racism functions with or without black consent.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an Uncle Tom as: a black who is overeager to win the approval of whites (as by obsequious behavior or uncritical acceptance of white values and goals). This term is almost exclusively used to describe the 5-7% of blacks who identify as Conservative or Republican, but the reality is: Progressives, Democrats, and non-political blacks are just as invested in the fruits of white approval. Dr. Michael Parenti once said, "a journalist who writes for a publication can write what they want, as long as what they write pleases their editor." This is analogous to the way a lot of black people conduct themselves in predominantly white spaces. We talk about freedom, but too many of our people aren't free enough to speak out against systems that disproportionately affect our community. If you willfully engage in the denial of racism or remain silent when a black voice is needed you should look inside yourself and ask what you are putting ahead of your ancestry and progeny.

My goal isn't to deflect or silence meaningful criticism of our community. I’ve intentionally avoided personally attacking my colleagues who willfully engage in this one-sided violence against poor and less educated blacks. The black community loses when our intellectuals and pseudointellectuals act like mixtape rappers. I don’t want anyone physically harmed for their beliefs; likewise, I don’t want people building and maintaining platforms on the back of black suffering. You can’t love people you constantly distance yourself from. As a community, we should welcome a variety of economic and political ideas into the conversation, but not if those ideas are focused on obfuscating the realities black people face. One sure fire way to avoid being labeled an “Uncle Tom” is to support black people in public: especially when It’s not the politically expedient thing to do.

Yes, The Statues Are Racist Symbols

Photo Courtesy of Allison Wrabel
If you live in the Commonwealth of Virginia and were able to enjoy Mother's Day without having to engage in a serious dialog about the white supremacists, Alt-Right Fascists, Neo-Nazis, and the Klan carrying torches in Charlottesville then you were the beneficiary of a gift many people of color didn't receive. The torch lighting ceremony happened the same day the president who emboldened many them gave the commencement address at Liberty University- less than 100 miles away. People think I'm talking about a historical period when I tell them I live in the heart of the Confederacy, but since the murder of the AME Emmanuel 9, and the subsequent removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house, there's been a pronounced increase in Confederate flag regalia and white aggression. This weekend in Virginia was indicative of the advantageous societal predisposition white skin affords. Some people miss the point in discussions about privilege because they think there's a big tangible purchase they haven't received, but too often they ignore, or take for granted, the daily subtleties afforded to them.

I was hesitant to write another article about xenophobia (disguised as economic nationalism) and the racial hostilities perpetrated in the name of God by southern "Christians", but events like these deserve a full throated dissent. What happened less than 100 miles from my house in a city I've given talks in was active racism in our streets. This wasn't a peaceful rally. This was a gathering designed to instill fear. This was hate in our streets and there's no moral equivalence to any of the protest movements we've seen over the last few years. It's not racist when Black people protest because our unarmed brothers and sisters are being murdered by the police. It's not racist when people of color want their children to be treated fairly by law enforcement. It's not racist when people of color demand full access to all of the things citizenship purchases in America, but it is racist when avowed white supremacists gather to talk eugenics while chanting, "All White Lives Matter". The fact that people of color have to keep delineating between what is and what isn't racist is a testament to how invested some of our fellow citizens are in remaining willfully ignorant about race in America.

Being Black in the Blue Ridge Mountains means that I’m often the only Black man in a grocery store, restaurant, or public event. When you're Black in a community like this there's no hiding from race. There’s no amount of denial that can change the reality you find yourself in: you can't escape it. The Stars and Bars, Confederate statues, and the almost weekly Civil War reenactments are daily reminders of America’s dark ages. People of color are asked to make snap judgments about the intentions of people who have admiration for symbols synonymous with Black oppression. This is the equivalence of asking the Jewish community to pick out the good guy with a Swastika tattoo, yet this is how the heritage/hate argument functions when reduced to its simplest terms. Tearing down Confederate statues is a meaningless gesture if we leave the system of white supremacy in place they commemorate.

There are some white people who think of themselves as "good" because they don't engage in overt racism, but what they fail to realize is that willfully ignoring racism is tacit approval of racist behavior. Donald Trump was able to mobilize and activate white supremacists because there wasn't enough tangible outrage at the words he was using. The right tolerated the racist climate his campaign created because they needed the votes; this same quest for power has caused factions inside the progressive left to believe they can find common ground with avowed white supremacists. This could become the new normal because conservatives don't want to alienate a key portion of their constituency, and the left is too busy trying to court them. In the meantime people of color are forced to deal with increasing racial aggressions.

Who's Really Woke?

Every few weeks I get invited to join a pro black Facebook group. These groups tend to be populated with passionate brothers and sisters who use the larger platform to share their perspectives on the continued effects of colonialism, structural racism, and patriarchy on the black community. The best groups I’ve seen have been saturated with positive messages that hinge on unity, economic empowerment, and black pride. At their best, these groups are a source of daily affirmations for people in the struggle. One negative many of these groups have in common is their almost universal disdain for the black church. There are large blocks of the “new” conscious community who don’t view Christians as allies in the fight for social justice. Divisions inside Christian, Islamic, Afrocentric, and secular black movements aren’t new; there’s never been a time when these groups posited the same solutions to our shared problems, but the complete disregard for the Civil Rights accomplishments made by the black church is disrespectful. The conscious community prides itself on being woke, but in the words of Lil Duval, “Some of y’all need a nap.”

I always advise young Christian activists to accept the fact that they share struggles with people who view their religion as truncated at best, or a fundamental part of the black community’s underlying problems at worst. When Christians are confronted by nonbelievers skeptical of our commitment to fighting systemic racism we have to listen to their critiques and take them seriously. This doesn’t mean you spend all of your time and energy defending the church or explaining your personal journey of faith, but you should engage your allies’ conceptions and likely misconceptions about both. How you answer the inevitable “slave master’s religion question” and how you talk about “Prosperity Gospel” can be the difference between deconstructing the image of the church versus involuntarily taking part in its destruction.

The church has always been judged by the actions of its most visible representatives. When television cameras where pointed at the likes of Dr. King, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, and Reverend Wyatt T. Walker the perception of the church was different. These men weren’t perfect and their accomplishments didn’t negate the transgressions committed by the church during the height of their ministries, but their witness helped shape the way a generation of people viewed the church. Social media has enabled those trying to destroy the black church to reduce it to easily shareable memes about Creflo Dollar, the deceased Bishop Eddie Long, and the black pastors who supported Donald Trump. It doesn’t matter how “woke” or active Christians with small platforms are their efforts are invisible to those who view the church through the lens of social media. The silence from mega church pastors about issues important to the black community plays into the myth of a dead church. The fact that one has to do a Google search to find a statement, tweet, or sermon from some of the biggest names in Prosperity Gospel about police brutality or the resurgence of white nationalism is telling. The black church, like the black community, is indicted as a whole for the actions of the minority.

Many of the same people fighting against police racial profiling of black people don’t see the hypocrisy associated with their religious profiling of black people. The anti-Christian sentiment inside the conscious community is more complicated than social media posts and public positions taken by prominent church figures. The black community isn’t monolithic. We share similar struggles, but we don’t share similar thought processes and beliefs. Too often we seek validation in ourselves, and our beliefs, through in-group out-group distinctions that elevate one segment of our community above another. Too many Christians are judgmental and condemning of people who don’t share their beliefs, and too many in the conscious community are condescending and intolerant towards Christians. Instead of us unifying behind the commonality of our struggles we created an artificial hierarchy that doesn’t have any impact on the societal structures we’re fighting. Institutional racism doesn’t care who’s woke and who isn’t. The criminal justice system doesn’t care if you’re a Christian or an atheist. We’re in this together and we need to act like it. As an ordained member of the clergy I admit that there are churches in need of some serious reform, but isn’t it easier to clean a house than build one? The conscious community talks about building institutions and strengthening our communities, but wouldn’t this be easier with a healthy church in place?

We are the freest generation of African-Americans to live in this country, and much of that freedom was paid for by men and women who believed in Jesus. I’ve studied theology and philosophy for over a decade. I understand some of the Ontological arguments for and against the existence of a higher being better than most of the people making them, but I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument for why it’s necessary to diminish the religious beliefs of Christians. Many of the same people who were introduced to Nat Turner through Birth of a Nation are hell bent on destroying the institution that woke him up. I shudder when I think about how many people in the conscious community who didn’t know the name Denmark Vesey before Dylan Roof murdered nine innocent Christians in his church. The theologian Howard Thurman said, “By some amazing but vastly creative spiritual insight the slave undertook the redemption of a religion that the master had profaned in his midst.” Thurman was deeply affected by the dehumanizing evil of racism and was acutely aware of how much damage the institution of slavery did to Christianity, yet he was able to connect to the emancipatory message abolitionists pastors and believers found in the teachings of Jesus. Revolutionary Christians have always rejected the notion that slavery was ordained by God.  Believers in the 21st century should attempt to redeem Christianity from the profane uses of the gospel in our time. The legacy of the black church is worth protecting from attacks both foreign and domestic.


“I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf.”
Donald J. Trump

What can the left do to win the working-class whites who make up the Trump coalition? Democrats, activists, and political pundits have been asking this question since the election. You can’t watch a Sunday show or visit a left of center blog or website without this topic coming up. Minds greater than mine have engaged in long disquisitions and written 5,000 word articles laying out political strategies to rectify this electoral problem; sadly, for all of the intellectual horsepower that’s been thrown at this issue many of those thinkers have overshot the simple answer: not much! This is an unpopular answer with coastal progressives and the academic left; their penchant for a healthy debate prevents them from accepting the reality that their efforts will be wasted on a majority of Trump’s base. There are blocks of the Trump faithful who have no desire to hear nuanced political and economic arguments: even if they are broken down into campaign slogan sized bites. It’s politically irresponsible for Democrats to ignore the Trump coalition, but I have to be honest and admit that trying to reach some of these folks isn't worth the time and money it would cost. With that said, how do we determine who the politically redeemable are? We ask them about Trump’s golfing!

A lot of persuasive arguments get wasted on the wrong person or group of people. Making an argument in which all of the rhetorical devices are strong, the syllogisms are based in solid logic, and the analogies are easy to understand is worthless if the listener or reader isn’t invested in challenging their core beliefs. We have historically accurate records (election results) of working-class white voters routinely giving their political power to candidates who make getting access to healthcare harder and dismantling unions easier. I’m skeptical of arguments that hinge on better healthcare and wages. The last 8 years have been plagued by refusals to accept federal funds for healthcare and state referendums on “right to work” laws. It's hard for me to believe these folks have been serially misled; they willfully send the same people back to their state houses and Washington. Our arguments aren't the problem their dissonance is. This is a critics dilemma of Foucauldian proportions. If those of us who are embedded in Trump country don't let our coastal allies know what the reality on the ground is they will continue publishing politically useless articles, but if we are too brutal in our assessment some might see our efforts as useless. I choose to be abrasive and hope it wakes people up. Your arguments aren't working!

We can’t ask every Trump supporter where they stand on his golf hypocrisy, but we can poll districts that flipped for Trump ahead of the 2018 primaries. If there are districts where his constant lying has poisoned his electoral well, the DNC and DLCC should disproportionately invest more resources in those senate and congressional races. I’m hoping the Democrats don’t take another midterm election off: I’m not convinced the left can keep up the momentum we’ve seen over the last two months. There are 34 senate seats up in 2018; if we play this right we can reclaim the senate and cut into the huge majority the Republicans have in the House before an important 2020 census year election.

All of Trump’s supporters aren’t deplorable, but I’m not willing to sift through them to separate the dissatisfied and misguided from the white supremacists and Neo-Nazis. The bigots who supported him will do what they do when the opportunity presents itself: ask Jared Kushner, but we may be able to reach the socially liberal conservatives who aren’t wedded to the culture wars. The golf question may seem like a joke, but I’m dead serious. Anyone incapable of being honest about his words and tweets about something as inconsequential as golf is too far into their dissonance for us to waste time trying to flip.

Our arguments are TRASH to people who take Hannity serious.

Stop Taking The Bait

Bill O'Reilly's sophomoric attempt to shade Maxine Waters wasn’t funny: you don't go after our Auntie no matter what! He thought he was being clever with his James Brown joke, but ended up stepping in a pile of his own oral feces. He tried to diminish the points she was making about the Trump administration and got away with it. We should call out his ignorance, but we can't allow it to overshadow the statements that put it on display. a lot of the outrage I’ve seen on social media has been just as distracting as his failed attempt at humor. After 20 plus years in public life we know O'Reilly is a bigot and that Fox news will defended him no matter what he says or does; these facts have no bearing on this issue. Representative Waters was engaging in a monologue on the House floor about the legacy of discriminatory practices in our country and the faux patriots who seem to sit out every fight for equality. Instead of addressing that issue O'Reilly chose to punt. Bill O’Reilly’s childish response to her polemic has gotten more traction than the substance of the comments she was making: this offends me more than any bad joke the serial misogynist, racist, and domestic abuser could ever tell.

Bill O’Reilly, like a lot of people tasked with defending this administration, would rather obfuscate the real issues at hand with ad hominem attacks and faulty logic than address them. We have to stop taking the bait. O'Reilly succeeded in changing the conversation. He issued a weak apology on his show and then proceeded to slyly attack the congresswoman further proving her point about the way "patriots" address discrimination and equality. Yes, we have to address the ignorance around us, but we don't have to reward it with wall to wall coverage. We have to find a balance. The media should start treating this administration and their defenders like petulant children and stop rewarding their bad behavior with attention. I know this seems hypocritical in a blog about this subject, but we have to do better- All of us!

No Wins: Money, Power, And Disrespect

I don't care if Colin Kaepernick ever plays another game in the NFL! Don't get it twisted: I'm deeply troubled by the prospect of a law abiding citizen having his dream stripped from him for making a political stand about an issue that's important to millions of Americans, but I don't care if he ever plays again. Colin is trying to get a job from a league that prefers "the help" be subservient rather than independent. His crime was far more egregious than not standing for a flag and a song: Colin is being punished for disrupting the herd. The moment he didn't kowtow to the wishes of the league and end his protest he became a nuisance, but when he inspired others to protest he became an enemy.

I had close to 1,000 words written juxtaposing the way NFL owners and general managers have publicly treated players with domestic violence, assault, and rape arrests versus the way some of them have spoken on and off the record about Colin Kaepernick's National Anthem protest, but the truth is: that's a false dichotomy. Rapist and domestic abusers are welcomed back to the NFL because their crimes don't challenge the authority of the league. When a player, irrespective of race, beats a woman, she's the victim. When Colin and the players who joined him in protest defied the wishes of the commissioner and their owners, the league was the victim. Power doesn't like to be disrespected. I don't believe all of the owners refusing to sign a quarterback who can help their team win are racists: I'm sure some just really love money and aren't willing to risk losing any for a few more wins. What does the owner of a 4-12 team gain by signing a guy who gets them to 7-9 if they miss the playoffs, their team faces boycotts from "real Americans", and they are at the center of weekly tweets from the petulant child who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 4 days a week?     

What we're seeing is the NFL equivalence of an unruly slave being beaten in public to send a message to the rest of the plantation. I know some #wypipo get upset when anyone references slavery, or compares athletes to slaves, but William C. Rhoden hit the nail on the head in his 2006 book Forty Million Dollar Slaves when he wrote, "Black athletes still find themselves on the periphery of true power in the multibillion-dollar industry their talent built." There's a dynamic at play in sports and entertainment that rarely occurs in other fields: the "help" has the ability to become more famous and almost as powerful as their employers. There are very few owners in any professional league who are as popular as their star players. For every Mark Cuban or Jerry Jones there are 25 owners who could walk into a mall and not be noticed. In the trailer for the Justice League movie one of the characters asks Batman what his super power is; he responded, "I'm rich." Being rich is only a super power if people acquiesce to it. The moment the boss can't control you with money he/she can't control you at all. The NFL couldn't stand a dozen or more liberated men on each team. This wouldn't affect the product on the field, but it would challenge the hierarchy team sports thrive on. Colin has to be sacrificed to keep the rest of the league in line.   

Most quarterbacks hit their prime in their late 20's and early 30's, so there's a chance Kaepernick's best seasons are ahead of him. It's hard for me to believe that he will make it through the preseason without a contract, but stranger things have happened. We live in a country that prefers their protestors dead. Muhammad Ali died last year and America posthumously resurrected his legacy. Many of the same people who hate Muslims and protest movements for justice pretended to love a Muslim who inspired many to protest for justice. Colin upset a fragile subset of the American population; these are the people who throw tantrums when they hear traffic has been blocked by protestors, yet they ignore the reason for the protest. If Colin Kaepernick never throws another pass he has already solidified his place in American history. He was Black Lives Matter in front of the American people every week. He didn't ask for the attention his protest received. He didn't ask others to kneel in solidarity with him. Colin didn't talk about what he was doing until he was asked. He literally protested the way white people have told Black people to protest since the end of slavery; he proved to the world that there isn't an acceptable way to highlight racial disparities in our society. He forced Americans to go on the record about police brutality and race. I don't care if he ever plays again, because one day Americans will be forced to save face and pretend like they supported what he was doing. I hope he manages the money he's made responsibly: this could be the end of his lottery ticket.

No Justice In A Sleepy Little Town?

In less than 16 months the current Bath County Board of Supervisors have done everything in their power to show the citizens of Bath County they are incapable of governing without controversy. Every time it looks like they've put their latest imbroglio behind them the second Tuesday of a new month rolls around and some new drama grabs our attention. This new normal has damaged the the reputation of the county regionally. One of the unintended consequences of this board's actions is the damage they've done to the legitimacy of the Bath County Sheriff's Department, the Commonwealth Attorney's office, and the General District and Circuit Courts. Every level of the legal system has had to ignore or excuse the insults and violations of the law committed by elected officials. This has created a double standard in the community that feeds the disenchantment many citizens feel towards their local government.  

The latest addition to the growing list of embarrassing behavior by Bath County politicians occurred on Tuesday, March 14th, when another Board of Supervisors meeting ended in what the Commonwealth of Virginia code § 18.2-415 classifies as disorderly conduct in public places. The statute reads:

A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, with the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he: A. In any street, highway, public building, or while in or on a public conveyance, or public place engages in conduct having a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person or persons at whom, individually, such conduct is directed; 
(There are two other provisions that deal with intoxication, but they aren't relavant to the antagonistic and disrespectful atmosphere created by our elected officials and seemingly condoned by law enforcement.)

For 15 months the citizens of Bath County have witnessed the public execution of civility and decorum at the hands of their elected officials. In addition to the half dozen incidents of disorderly conduct committed in front of law enforcement, the current board has racked up questionable terminationsrecall campaigns, resignations, arrests, court dates, and a Noelle Prosequi that completely disregarded a Virginia State Police investigation and a Grand Jury's indictments. There are audio and video files of elected officials chastising citizens and issuing threats against them. Local law enforcement has chosen to view these incidents as disconnected from each other. Part of law enforcements inability to act is fear of political retribution. I had a law enforcement official say off the record, "I'm worried about my pension...This board has gutted whole departments. I have to think about my family." Most of the deputies know if they make an arrest or issue a criminal complaint the odds of getting a conviction against any elected official are slim to none. This impotence has only made public gatherings more contentious as certain people know there will be no consequences for their behavior. This makes the job of security that much harder.

An organized crime syndicate wouldn't be able to destabilize the Bath County criminal justice system as effectively and efficiently as the Board of Supervisors have. This is a shame because there are some admirable people who are having their reputations flushed down the drain because of their affiliation with a governing body that hasn't shown the ability or willingness to govern. Bath County faces some very serious economic challenges over the next few years. I hope this board can get it together and govern, but I haven't seen sufficient evidence of that happening anytime soon.

This is a tangential sequel to another post about abuse of authority.

Corporate Thug Dealers

As I was reading about the drug crisis in West Virginia there was a passage from the article that really stuck out to me:

A Charleston Gazette-Mail investigation last year found that...drug wholesalers shipped over 780 million doses of opiate painkillers hydrocodone and oxycodone to the state, or roughly '433 pain pills for every man, woman and child in West Virginia.

After reading the article I had a some questions: If wholesalers are shipping the drugs into West Virginia through legal channels, at what point in the distribution network do they go from controlled substances (contained in government regulated environments) to the streets? The wholesalers aren't shipping these drugs into West Virginia on a whim, so who's ordering them? If a reporter could collect all of this information, why can't federal and state prosecutors?

Breaking Bad was a huge success, but I don't know any street level guys who can turn opioids or synthetic opioid derivatives into oxycodone or hydrocodone, yet the victims of pharmaceutical malfeasance are the public face of this epidemic. The pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and distribute the drugs are never seen as complicit. If law enforcement doesn't get serious about locking up chief executives and doctors, poor whites throughout Appalachia will continue dying from the drugs that are flooding into their communities. If Isis was doing this to rural America their would be a concerted effort to end the carnage.

The reaction to this crisis by local law enforcement in many counties has been feeble at best. Opioids are easier to get than Marijuana. In the new war on drugs the courts double down on the punishment for black and brown people involved in the crisis, they provide treatment for whites who are the "victims", and law enforcement completely ignores the white collar criminals making the money. As long as there's no consequences for those at the top of the supply chain we won't see a change. 

During the Vietnam War, U.S. soldiers were the victims of a similar drug epidemic; they were getting hooked on heroin. The heroin they were using was coming from Afghanistan. It was some of the best dope in the world. How did heroin from the middle east find its way into a war zone in the far east? (For those interested, research the Golden Triangle and Air America.) Vietnam was a drug dealer's heaven: highly stressed young men with disposable income. This is similar to what we see in rural America, but with less money. There are pharmaceutical companies getting richer at the expense of the misery poor whites are experiencing. I've heard more ineffective politicians address this issue than I can recall. They talk tough, but none of them are delivering. I'll take this new version of the war on drugs serious when I see coordinated raids on distribution sites, pharmacies, and clinics. When I see people pulled off of golf courses and out of hospitals I'll know America is serious about opioid addiction. Until then, I'll watch what passes for justice in the absence of justice.

Here's the link to the article.

The Outrage Will Not Be Televised!

When six Muslims were killed in Canada Donald Trump gave us silence. Last week, when a legal immigrant from India was killed in Kansas we got the same. Our president and his administration seems to be more comfortable talking about the fictional terrorist attacks that occurred in Atlanta, Bowling Green, and Sweden than it is addressing the renaissance of white nationalism. I hope people of color and religious minorities are taking these slights seriously. This administration's silence about white supremacist attacks on racial and religious minorities, their houses of worship, and their burial sites says more about their concern for you than the lawyerly crafted statements about bigotry they've been guilted into reading days and sometimes weeks later. Don't get it twisted: you were not a key component of their electoral victory and your otherness isn't endearing to them or their conception of what it means to be an American. In other words: you are collateral damage in the fight to "Make America Great Again".

President #TwitterFingers never misses an opportunity to tweet about the media, or call for boycotts against companies he doesn't like, yet he struggles to get his tweets off when it comes to attacks perpetrated by the white supremacists who've aligned themselves with his brand of nationalist populism. His silence is compounded by the silence of his supporters. I’ve been impressed by the lengths some #Trumpstans are willing to go to disconnect the actions of white supremacists from the rhetoric espoused by the president.

Hate crimes committed against Muslims are up 67% in the last few years. Srinivas Kuchibhotla (a man of Indian descent) was killed because xenophobia, bigotry, and hatred have become a (re)normalized part of American life. Sikhs, Hindus and other racial minorities have been the victims of bigoted attacks by people too ignorant to understand who they were supposed to be hating. This could become the new normal. I have friends of Puerto Rican heritage who've been mocked with chants of build that wall. The Trump administration may not be directly responsible for the actions of their supporters, but they put the battery in their backs. At rallies, Trump plays to the fear and hatred of some of his supporters and when something bad happens he denies any culpability. This is a dangerous game. I would rather have a treacherous enemy than a weak-willed ally.

I've read social media posts from people who live in the Blue Ridge Mountains (isolated from racial and religious diversity) that echo the calls for a soft nationalism as advocated by the Alt-right/white supremacist wing of their party. These aren’t inherently bad people; some of them are angry and others are afraid, but all are being misled for the sake of ratings. Many of them don't know the difference between a Sunni Muslim and a Sikh, but they see them both as potential members of Isis. Fox news and conservative talk radio has disseminated so much blatant xenophobia for so long that many of their supporters have tacitly accepted the fact that all brown people want to kill them. When "real" Americans or people of European descent are the victims of terrorism the presses stop and there’s wall to wall coverage, but when black and brown people are the victims of American terrorism there's a noticeable difference in the level of outrage. Here I was thinking #AllLivesMatter. Sadly, there will be more blood spilled by those who equate “Making America Great Again” to making it less colorful. There are people who are questioning what place, if any, they have in America.

Stop Dancing: Milo Isn't Dead!

“ doesn't matter if people love you or hate you, as long as they feel strongly one way or the other. The worst place you can be is in the middle.”

― Eric Bischoff, Controversy Creates Cash

For years, I thought the worst byproduct of the conservative media and blogosphere bubble was the habitual misinformation or "fake news" that’s made political dialogue virtually impossible. I was wrong; in my newly revised opinion, the normalization and profitability of bigotry has been far more damaging than the propaganda disseminated by these outlets. Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, and a plethora of lesser known radio personalities built large audiences (and larger fortunes) by manipulating the fear and (sometimes) hatred of racial, religious, or cultural others. Milo Yiannopoulos is the natural evolution of normalized bigotry. The most successful conservative talking heads use promotional strategies that have more in common with professional wrestling promoters than the politicians trying to gain access to their audience. Milo, Tomi Lahren, and Tommy Sotomayor are picking up where Ann Coulter, Michele Malkin, and Glenn Beck left off. This is the third generation of this brand of vitriolic media conservatism.

Social media is full of people tap dancing on the proverbial grave of Milo Yiannopoulos; sadly, they don’t understand that this isn’t the end of him or his brand of bigotry. Milo is likely to be more powerful this time next year because of the attention he’s receiving. Rush Limbaugh built his EIB network and Glenn Beck built the Blaze in spite of being hated and receiving negative media coverage for their controversial statements. Milo is every bit as capable as they were of setting up his own production and distribution networks; he has the most important thing any media personality needs to be successful: a core audience willing to financially support his ideas. He’s not dead! He will still give the kind of talks he was giving before he lost his book deal. Speaking at CPAC would have helped legitimize him, but it wasn't going to make him anymore influential among his most loyal supporters.  

The right to report, dissent, or satirize without criminal prosecution is often confused with the right to do so without facing any consequences. If Milo is smart he will learn that insulting and dehumanizing black people, brown people, feminists, and Muslims is far more profitable than engaging in the sort of sexual dialogue that caused his corporate sponsors to pull their support. There’s a segment of America that will always support his kind of bigotry. If he self-publishes his book, sets up his own monetized blog or podcast, continues touring, and remembers to limit his attacks to the kind of people corporate America doesn’t mind offending he will be just fine. Pedophilia was a bridge to far for an industry built on pushing the lines of decency.  

Long before Frank Luntz and Republican think tanks were crafting the language Republican politicians use to convey their message, Rush Limbaugh was dropping conservative thought bombs on the mainstream media, intelligentsia, and college campus culture. Many on the left still foolishly believe we are one clever campaign slogan away from winning the hearts and minds of the mythic working-class white voters and young college libertarians who are the core of Milo’s base. This kind of thinking has been around since Dr. George Lakoff wrote “Moral Politics” in 1996. Here’s a news flash: people who use terms like “Cuck”, “Libturd”, or “Libtard” aren’t worried about cogent arguments. I know this feels pretty good for some on the left who were the victims of Milo's verbal assaults, but this isn't his end. I can assure you we will be dealing with his brand of hate for a long time!