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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A DIFFERENT LIGHT--- BILLIE HOLLIDAY SINGING "STRANGE FRUIT"


Do you remember our recent conversation about the noose that appears on one of the Duke Chowderhouse Ads...
I wrote a note expressing to DukeTalk duketalk@dukeschowderhouse.com
Here is the response I got Wednesday, April 2

"Joseph, Thank you for the email and your expression of your feelings. The intent of the email was to have fune with the idea of blaming me for the recession and was in no way intended as a connection to anything racist. I have a quirky sense of humor and have always taken a self effacing approach to our advertising and marketing. I love to poke fun at myself. Over the years, I have been applauded for this approach and, even when I have done something controversial, it is with a light heart. The noose was no different. Both white people and black people have been hanged. Some people think it is a symbol for racism, others think it a symbol for those cowboys that stole cattle. There are many interpretations. Fortunately, out of 165,000 emails sent to our data base, we received only two objections similar to yours. I am not discounting your feelings but the comments from a vast majority indicate that found it to be funny and not connected to race. I am hopeful that you can look at this ad in a different light, the one for which it was intended which is to have fun blaming me for the recession."

A DIFFERENT LIGHT...
Recent national and local headlines

Noose costs MBTA worker his job, Camille Roane; University Wire; 03-25-2008
"An MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) supervisor fired for allowing an employee to wear a noose as a Halloween costume cited ignorance of racist symbols as the cause of a misunderstanding leading to his termination."

Another article from the University Wire, Mark Milian, Bill seeks to make hanging nosses in Maryland a crime; 03-28-2008
"When police began investigatin a nosse found hanging from a tree outside the University of Maryland at College Park Nyumburu Cultural Center last September, an incident initially classified as a hate crime, no actual law had been broken.
But if the Maryland General Assembly passes the No Nooses Act, such an incident would be classified a crime. The act bans the placement of a swastika sign or a noose-- a symbol historically representing the lynchings of blacks during the 19th and 20th centuries--on public or private proerties without permission of the owner, said Delegate Victor Ramirez (D-Prince George's), one of the bill's sponsors.
'We cannot have people living in fear,' Ramirez said. 'I heard about the issue directly from a constituent. I belive in it; that's also why I support it.'"



Recently something strange has reared its ugly head in the light of day at Bethel High School... hard words, a noose hanging where students could see it, blows exchanged. Here are some citations from an article printed today on the news tribune website:
Locally, Tacoma News Tribune, Bethel High comes together to talk race, Debby Abe, April 2, 2008
"Community members and civil rights representatives express concerns about the incidents, even if just a few kids are involved.
On Friday, Alton McDonald, president of the National Action Network's Tacoma branch, and a half-dozen black parents and community members held a news conference outside the high school saying the district needs to do more to eliminate racism in schools.
Also on Friday, representatives of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (a black labor group in Tacoma) and a regional labor coalition met with Principal Wanda Riley and district Superintendent Tom Seigel to discuss the incidents and offer assistance."

What do you think... can we afford to quirkly put a rose colored light on images that are causing pain in various parts of our country, including right here?
I and 165,000 emails need to know

Here is a picture of a tree taken Fall, 2007, on Martin Luther King Way, Tacoma,


Are we ready for a new conversation? Can we hope for fresh growth in 2008?

Billie Holliday long ago put a hard, hard light on a lynching she saw

5 comments:

EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

Duke Moscrip, owner of Duke's Chowder House, would have you/us believe that he has received 165,000 e-mails about it. That appears to be the inference: that he sent out 165,000 e-mails and would have us believe that all 165,000 recipients have responded. What a crock! They may have SENT the e-mail ad to 165,000 e-mail addresses, but you can be darn sure he didn't receive 165,000 e-mail comments about it. That would mean that one out of every two people in Tacoma and Pierce County wrote a comment. Totally NOT believable. He wants you (a po' little colored boy) to stay in your place and he wants to ensure that you KNOW your place by putting you down, by putting you into such an infinitesimally small group (1 of only 3 people out of 165,000) who thought the noose was was objectionable -- and worse -- that he is still defending it! What a complete crock! Damn it all to Hell! I'd like to see Duke's business records and e-mails and see all 165,000 of the responses myself.

Lorraine Hart said...

A really well done post Joseph...a difficult, painful, honest sharing in this New Day of communicating we have been challenged to greet.

It's my belief that, the more we talk, the less power symbols will have over all of us. I honestly believe we can (if we each hold to a personal code of honour, respect, humility and love) talk our way into the heart of fear that lies within and between any colour of skin...or, indeed, any other way separations are made.

I'm sorry "Duke" this isn't about a majority vote. You've built a reputation on being a gracious host. To disregard potential guests' comfort so egregiously is to become the antithesis of said gracious host...period. I hope the news of the noose at Bethel sat uncomfortably in your heart. We all bear a responsibility in the actions of our children and grandchildren's generations.

Lady Day...you can still make my heart break with this song. Your courage to perform it, in that black and white era, still humbles me as an artist.

Mon frere Joseph, merci bien again for this loving honesty. You show that difficult doesn't mean impossible by your writing.

Lorraine Hart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JosephMcG said...

Tomorrow will mark the fortieth anniversary of Dr. King's assassination. I see that PBS is doing a two hour special on King Sunday night.
Emeraldp: thank you for your earnestness and I respect your anger... I am very, very hurt too...
So I would encourage you to keep writing, keep speaking, and keep loving...
L: thank you for affirming me and keeping us moving.

L and Emp: I have invited Mr. Duke to come and join in the Neighborhood conversation...

Let us walk and talk and act with love... the desire that every human being be safe, healthy, and respected
Joseph McG

Lorraine Hart said...

I deleted my earlier comment, feeling it's not my place to tell others how to write theirs...but I will repeat that the core of writers on this blog pledged to keep honour, respect, humility and love high on our proof-reading list.