The following picture is courtesy of the creative efforts of Marc Olmsted, a very talented man. It features Star Jones, Michelle Obama, and yours truly. Hopefully, you will understand the inspiration for the picture and its caption by the end of this post. Thanks, Marc, I’ve always wanted to be a Supreme.
I’ve been anxious to get back to my blog and comment on the many things going on in the world but I have been delayed because Paris Hilton stole my life, forcing me to have to work for a living. As always, there is much in the world that grabs my attention; well, okay, maybe not the entire world, mostly my own little world. One thing that caught my eye this week is that Bill O’Reilly has been helping black people again.
You may recall that I asked him not to help us anymore in a post, It’s Always Something, that I wrote about his charitable impulses a few months back. On that occasion, Mr. O’Reilly helped us by declaring, after a visit to Sylvia’s, a well known Harlem soul food restaurant, that black people were just like any other group of people. He expressed his amazement that the patrons were well-behaved and asserted that not once did he hear anyone screaming, “ Mother****er, I want more iced tea,.”
I was bowled over by Mr. O’Reilly’s words of praise for my race; I made a vow right then and there, that should I ever meet Mr. O’Reilly, I was going to return the favor and compliment Bill on his ability to walk and chew gum at the same time. Believing that too much praise isn’t good for any group of people, I had hoped that Bill was done with praising black people. However, he’s come to our defense again. This time, he spoke up on behalf of Michelle Obama, potential First Lady of the United States.
Mrs. Obama has been taking a lot of flack for her statement that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” Her words didn’t make me blink or pause. If you don’t understand why a black person may not have warm and fuzzy feelings of pride in this country, maybe you could do with a little study of history. No, I’m not talking about slavery, it was immoral and degrading, but humankind has enslaved each other since the beginning of our time on this planet. It’s the subsequent era of Jim Crow, intentional racial segregation and degradation that lasted well into the 20th century that is the shame of this country. No, I don’t want to leave; it’s my country built on the sweat of my ancestors, and I’m not going anywhere. No, I don’t want your pity or sympathy; it’s not needed, but I totally get what Michelle Obama meant by her comment.
However, a lot of people have been a bit peeved with her, accusing her and by association, her husband, Barack Obama, of being less than patriotic. One of those angry people called Fox News Channel’s ‘The O’Reilly Factor,’ and shared his ire with host, Bill O’Reilly. Bill, having forgotten all the attention that he received the last time he complimented black peolpe, valiantly came to Michelle Obama’s defense.
“I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that’s how she really feels – that is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever – then that’s legit. We’ll track it down.”
It would take me far too long to go into the whole history of lynching and lynching parties in this country. By the way, lynching was a post slavery practice that achieved popularity during Reconstruction and peaked again in the 20th century. Records indicate that there were more than 4,500 lynchings in the US between 1882 and 1968, although many historians think that there were significantly more lynchings that went unrecorded. There were no official records kept and most accounts came from local newspapers in stories written after the fact. A lynching party was a community event, entire families attended, including the children. We know this because some enterprising souls took pictures, even made them into postcards and sold them at the General Store.
When I read this story earlier this week; I planned to write a thoughtful discussion on lynching and the inappropriateness of O’Reilly’s helpful commentary, but Star Jones beat me too it, posing a series of questions that precisely echoed my sentiments, “What the hell? If it’s ‘legit,’ you’re going to ‘track it down?’ And then what do you plan to do?”
In an open letter to helpful Bill, she writes,
Bill, I’m not sure of where you come from, but let me tell you what the phrase ‘lynching party’ conjures up to me, a black woman born in North Carolina . Those words depict the image of a group of white men who are angry with the state of the own lives getting together, drinking more than they need to drink, lamenting how some black person has moved forward (usually ahead of them in stature or dignity), and had the audacity to think that they are equal. These same men for years, instead of looking at what changes, should and could make in their own lives that might remove that bitterness born of perceived privilege, these white men take all of that resentment and anger and decide to get together and drag the closest black person near them to their death by hanging them from a tree — usually after violent beating, torturing and violating their human dignity. Check your history books, because you don’t need a masters or a law degree from Harvard to know that is what constitutes a ‘lynching party.’
Ms. Jones is a fellow North Carolinian and in southern parlance, she gets him told good. Her entire letter is availabe online, click here if you would like to read it.
I really do hope that Bill O’Reilly gets his altruism under control and stops trying to offer helpful comments and observations on the behalf of black people. I don’t know which is worse, his helpful comments or his lame apologies. Anyway, just so that Mr. O’Reilly knows that I’m not mad at him, I’ve posted a musical plea asking him to cease and desist.