- Monday, 12 August 2019
- Written by Rep. Richard Hudson
This week, Bill Bowman yields his space to Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., to share his thoughts on mass shootings in America and what Congress is doing to pass meaningful legislation to deal with gun violence.
“Mom, it’s happening again.” Those were the words of a 13-year-old girl in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3. Then, it happened again. This time in Dayton, Ohio. And just four months ago, it happened here at UNC-Charlotte. It seems — yet again — that no community is immune to gun violence and the evils of a deranged person.
Like you, I was sickened by the innocent lives lost and the horrific violence. As a father and a husband, I can’t help but put myself in the shoes of the victims and their families. Two more communities mourning. Countless families grappling with grief and burying loved ones. And one country — yet again — searching our souls for answers and wondering why this sort of sickness is overtaking our communities.
I refuse to accept this as our new American reality. We must recommit ourselves to ending this kind of violence.
All Americans are affected by these shootings, and we all want to do something. It should be harder for people who shouldn’t have guns to have guns. Congress needs to work together to address this problem and not just “do something,” but do something in a bipartisan way that will actually make a difference.
I have cosponsored legislation that has been signed into law that puts more resources in mental health, provides training for guidance counselors, funds grants for law enforcement, provides money to harden schools and strengthens background checks. I also introduced legislation that passed the House last Congress to strengthen background checks, address bump stocks and deal with the patchwork of concealed carry laws.
In addition, the House recently passed a spending bill with my amendment to double the money available for research to study the root causes of gun violence, including the impact and effectiveness of grants authorized under the STOP School Violence Act. I support legislation in the current Congress to strengthen background checks and to improve communication between state, local and federal law enforcement so potential shooters don’t keep falling through the cracks.
At the end of the day, it is not our government alone that is going to solve this problem. Racism and hatred have no place in our country. It’s up to all of us to get serious about addressing the root causes of this violence: the breakdown of the family, culture, media, mental health and many more. As President Donald Trump said last week, one thing we must recognize is the internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds. I applaud the president for directing the Department of Justice to work in partnership with local and state agencies, as well as social media companies, to develop tools to detect mass shooters before they strike. It’s time to tone down the rhetoric and work on bipartisan, common sense solutions.
At the end of the day, it is not our government alone that is going to solve the gun violence problem.
- Monday, 05 August 2019
- Written by Karl Merritt
I doubt that Leonard Pitts, Jr. has ever read anything that I have written, and we certainly have never engaged in conversation. If either of those were the case, I am certain he would contend I fit the description of an “honorary white” as he presents it in his column titled, “Honorary whiteness must be one powerful drug.” The column appeared in The Fayetteville Observer Thursday, July 25. Pitts, who is black, is an American commentator, journalist and novelist.
His column starts by explaining that “honorary white” was the status assigned to black performers from the United States who visited South Africa during the apartheid regime. He says The O’Jays, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, and Eartha Kitt were among those who received that designation. Pitts explained that receiving this designation allowed them “access to hotels and restaurants from which black Africans were barred.”
At this point, Pitts lays the groundwork for defining people like me as “honorary whites” in America. He writes:
“While there is no official “honorary white” status in this country, American politics has evolved a rough analog. As lily-white conservatism has lurched deeper into a brazen racism and xenophobia reminiscent of the 1950s, black and brown people willing to use their color to give it moral cover have seen themselves eagerly embraced by those whose sins they abet.”
Then Pitts reports the reactions of two supporters of President Donald Trump. This was in response to Trump telling “four congresswomen of color to ‘go back’ to their countries.” He said:
“But ultimately, the joke is always on them. In recent days, we’ve seen that lesson learned painfully and publicly by two men: a black Donald Trump voter named Kevin Martin and a Donald Trump friend of Puerto Rican heritage named Geraldo Rivera.
“The former told CNN last week that when Trump told four congresswomen of color to ‘go back’ to their countries, it ‘just came out of left field’ and ‘hit a lot of us in the gut.’ The latter, while loyally insisting Trump has ‘been treated unfairly,’ conceded to The New York Times that, ‘As much as I have denied it and averted my eyes from it, this latest incident made it impossible.’
“To which, the only appropriate response is: ‘Wow. Just ... wow.’”
The writer goes on to rehearse the usual list of Trump comments and actions that his accusers point to as indicators of him being racist. Then comes his claim that it is acceptable for blacks to be conservative as the term was once understood. His caveat is: “But this modern iteration doesn’t care about small government or muscular diplomacy. Rather, it is working to normalize racism and enshrine xenophobia, and if you’re black or brown and still don’t realize that, well, again, wow.”
The following statements go to the heart of what Leonard Pitts, Jr. thinks about people like me:
“One can only conclude that honorary whiteness must be one powerful drug. Side effects include cultural amnesia and (the) inability to process reality.
“You are not special, only useful. You’d be wise to learn the difference.”
What Leonard Pitts, Jr. presents is not unique to him. It is the dominant message to black Americans who have the unadulterated audacity to break free of “black group thought,” pursue facts and, at least, attempt to reach rational conclusions. If that process takes a black American to any other conclusion than that which is rooted in consistently seeing racism in every action that calls our people to individual responsibility; promoting the mental state of victimization and being entitled to all kinds of governmental assistance; distrusting white Americans for simply being white; justifying civil and criminal behavior; when beneficial to the black group thought” agenda, totally disregarding the rule of law; and the list goes on in similar fashion … we are called “honorary whites,” “Uncle Toms” and other demeaning names.
The aim is to, through intimidation and shaming, drive into silence or compliance with “black group thought,” any black who dares to think for him or herself and contrary to the tenets of “black group thought.” I confess to thinking, speaking and writing in ways that bring the wrath of the Leonard Pitts Juniors of the world squarely down on me.
However, I find reassurance in knowing that, although the group might be small, I am not alone. There are other black Americans who refuse to be controlled in their thinking who will not bow at the altar of “black group thought.” For instance, there is Dr. Ben Carson. Here is a black American who grew up in poverty in a single-parent household headed by his mother, dealt with anger issues early in life, but went on to become a renowned neurosurgeon, author and capable presidential candidate. He now serves as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump administration.
There is absolutely no reason to think Leonard Pitts Jr. has spent any time in civil conversation with Trump. Carson clearly has done so on many occasions. Here is Carson’s assessment as reported in an article by Sandy Fitzgerald titled, “Ben Carson: Trump Is Not a Racist and Neither Are His Comments”:
‘Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson Wednesday rejected claims that President Donald Trump and his comments about four Democratic freshman congresswomen are racist.
“’I have an advantage of knowing the president very well,’ Carson told Fox News’ ‘America’s Newsroom.’ ‘He’s not a racist and his comments are not racist, but he loves the country very much and, you know, he has a feeling that those who represent the country should love it as well.’
“He added that Trump’s policies have resulted in minorities being lifted out of poverty through expanded work opportunities, and said a racist would not be interested in helping minority communities.
“Carson also on the program discussed the ‘opportunity zones’ program, which aims to make it easier for investors to take advantage of tax breaks to help benefit low-income communities.”
Like Carson, I am watching Trump’s actions and assessing him in light of those actions. That is my approach in dealing with people no matter who they are. When examined in light of actions, words that are contrary to the actions become meaningless. Even though Leonard Pitts, Jr. would assign “honorary whiteness” to Carson, me, and others who are black but support Trump, I will continue reading his commentary.
That is because of something my father said to me many years ago. I walked into a room where he was listening to a preacher on the radio. That preacher was not saying anything that made sense to me. Realizing Daddy must have recognized the absence of value in what was coming from that radio, I asked why he was listening. He responded, “No matter how senseless something seems, you can always learn from it.” Daddy was right; consequently, I will keep reading Pitts’ commentary so that I am constantly, and profoundly, reminded not to join in “black group thought.” Thank you, Mr. Pitts, Jr.
There are other black Americans who refuse to be controlled in their thinking who will not bow at the altar of “black group thought.”