Monday, February 18, 2019

'Cultural appropriation' is tantamount to identity theft of African Americans

The late Ralph Ellison, an African American author, wrote an essay on America’s identity in 1958. It has always been common knowledge that African Americans were never a part of America’s identity, as detailed in the three-fifths compromise, in which African Americans are not counted as full human beings. African Americans are viewed through jaundiced eyes, discussed in negative narratives supported by warped descriptions of a group of people. 

Ellison wrote: “America is a land of masking jokers. We wear the mask for purposes of aggression as well as for defense when we are projecting the future, and are preserving the past … the joke is at the center of the American identity”. 

Blackface in America is the masked jokester. African Americans are targets of the jokesters seeking temporary identities at the expense of Black folks, some of whom get angry and are embarrassed by the showboating.
Jim Crow

Blackface is not a new phenomenon suddenly attaching itself to African Americans. Thomas Dartmouth Rice, an itinerant performer, was credited with popularizing blackface. His first performance was at a New York theater around 1830. Dressed in tattered clothes, Rice copied slaves’ dialect, their dance, their music and songs. His plagiarized “Jump Jim Crow” routine was such a hit in America, Rice took the act to England, where it was just as popular. 
There was also another blackface character called “Zip Coon”, first performed by George Dixon in
Zip Coon
1834. Zip Coon was created to mock free Blacks. “An arrogant, ostentations figure, he was dressed in high style, and spoke in a series of malapropos and puns that undermined his attempts to appear dignified. Jim Crow and Zip Coon eventually merged into a single stereotype called simply ‘coon.’”
Blackface and buffoonery are not characteristic of African Americans. They do not strut around like simpletons proudly donning blackface, oversized red or white lips, kinky Afro wigs, plaits and braids going in all directions, consuming water melon, talking in broken dialect, mumbling unintelligently. 
Webster Dictionary . . . pickaninny: “a black child.”  African American girls are not  pickaninnies; boys and men are not oversexed brutes and rapists; older women and men are not Aunt Janes and Uncle Toms. Blackface, when worn by White folks, implies that African Americans are quick footed and ignorant, never not quick-witted and intelligent.
African Americans entertainers wanting to perform had to wear blackface to be accepted by White audiences. They could not perform in their natural state, even if they were naturally dark skinned.  They had to wear kinky wigs, black grease paint or burnt chalk on their faces, and white gloves to cover their hands. 
Depiction of a pickaninny
Looking at photos of racist memorabilia along the lines of "Little Black Sambo", first published in the U.S. in 1900; blackface yard jocks; jet black babies eating slices of  watermelon; head-rag wearing, overweight Aunt Jemimas. Jet black skin and large red lips are not inherited by African Americans. It is not in their DNA, or passed down generation after generation. None of these assumptive portraitures are “cultural” realities in Black communities. During the era in which these images were created and performed by White folks, slaves did not have the power to fight back, or disagree with how they were portrayed.
Blackface. Blackface.  In whose homes do you live? Cultural appropriation of blackface was summarily adopted by White folks, and passed down from generation to generation. In Australia blackface is more common than in America. An Australian writer summed it up thusly: “At its heart ‘blackface’ is about power. Specifically, using one’s power to take something important from someone else, and use it for ridicule or entertainment.” Blackface is widespread in many European countries.
“Blackface performers have stolen from us a complexion denied to them by nature to make money and pander to the corrupt taste of their White fellow citizens”. Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, politician, writer.
Blackface is an tool to dehumanize African Americans. But how do White folks dehumanize a people that were declared three-fifths human in 1787 at the United States Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia? They were slaves with no power. They were partial humans. They had no American identity. 
Supreme Court Chief Roger Taney in the Dred Scott v Sanford case declared that Scott, suing for freedom for him and his wife, had no right to sue the United States. As a Black man of African ancestry he was never intended to be an American. Taney said slaves were not included in the Declaration of Independence. They were not naturalized citizens. Scott was born a slave in 1799, Southampton County, Virginia.
Centuries later, Ralph Ellison wrote: “I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquid—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me”.
Singer Joni Mitchell posed as an African American man in blackface for an album cover in 1977. She said she did the cover in blackface because she had “experienced” being with a Black man. One would assume that her intimate involvement with this Black man entitled her to plagiarize his perceived identity.
In 1993 Ted Danson, star of “Cheers” appeared in blackface at a New York Friars Club Roast. He
Ted Danson in blackface
performed a nigger laced comedy routine. Comedian and actress Whoopi Goldberg was the guest of honor, and Danson’s girlfriend at the time. His skit and blackface did not impress African Americans. Whoopi said she had no problem with his routine or blackface.
Outlandish TV and radio personality, Howard Stern, posed in blackface, large white lips, wearing a tux. A light skinned, kneeling mustached man smiled up at him. On the coffee table sat a quart bottle of Colt 45, a box of fried chicken, a black yard jockey on a stand was behind him. Stern was holding a framed photograph of Aunt Jemima. He hit almost every stereotype of an African American he could think of.
Megyn Kelly, former TV host on Fox and NBC, was terminated last by NBC, because of a noted entertainer she chose to imitate on Halloween. Although she did not paint her face Sambo black, she did darken her skin somewhat to imitate singer/actress Diana Ross. When she was at Fox, Kelly was chastised on Twitter for her racially charged posturing. In a heated dispute with a guest she insisted that Jesus is Black, and so is Santa Claus. Kelly insisted that she had irrefutable proof to back her assertions.
After the Ross flap, Kelly, on her NBC morning show, had a panel of three Whites to discuss race relations. She wanted to explain darkening her skin to imitate Ross. She said, “When I was a kid that was OK so long as you were dressing up as a character”. Kelly reduced Diana Ross to a Halloween “character.” She could have achieved the look by simply wearing an extravagant evening gown and a long, black wig, two of Ross’s trademarks. Darkening her face in the slightest was not necessary.
In 2002 a Syracuse University student, and member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, went bar-hopping college at bars one night. He did not go as himself, or a frat brother. He blacked his face and bar-hopped as golfer Tiger Woods. It was not Halloween; he had not attended a costume party. With all the famous golfers in America, why a blackface Tiger Woods?
Is this identity theft a deep-seated desire of White folks to be African Americans, so long as they can return to who they are when the fun ends? Is the exaggerated imitation of African Americans symbolic of something deeper? Is that what tanning their skin is about? “. . . a complexion denied them by nature . . .” said Frederick Douglass.
“The stock characters of blackface minstrelsy have played a significant role in disseminating racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide. Every immigrant group was stereotyped on the music hall stage during the 19th Century. But the history of prejudice, hostility, and ignorance towards Black people has insured a unique longevity to the stereotypes. White America's conceptions of Black entertainers were shaped by minstrelsy's mocking caricatures. And for over one hundred years the belief that Blacks were racially and socially inferior was fostered by legions of both White and Black performers in blackface”.
John Howard Griffin as a Black man
In my limited library of old movies I have “Black Like Me” and “Birth Of A Nation.” In Black Like Me, actor James Whitmore played White journalist John Howard Griffin, who decided to discover what life was like for a Black man living in the South. Griffin’s journey began in 1959. An adaption of his book was made into a movie in 1964. In real life Griffin wore sunshades to hide his the color of his eyes, but not in the movie. His skin transformation was not as dark as it was in the movie. There were no dark contact lenses in the 1960s, so James Whitmore eyes were light.
***Stares of hate and disgust can be seen on the faces of these White women. They do not want Griffin walking on the sidewalk with them. Realizing that he is in danger as a pretend Black man, Griffin knows not to walk too closely to the White women, which could lead to trouble. Keeping his distance is the realization of the era. Griffin had a photographer travel with him to capture his journey on film.
John Howard Griffin, himself
A SparkNotes summary states: “John Howard Griffin, the author and main character of Black Like Me, is a middle-aged White man living in Mansfield, Texas in 1959. Deeply committed to the cause of racial justice and frustrated by his inability as a White man to understand the Black experience, Griffin decides to take a radical step: he decides to undergo medical treatments to change the color of his skin, and temporarily become a Black man. 
"After securing the support of his wife and of George Levitan, the editor of a Black-oriented magazine called Sepia, which will fund Griffin's experience in return for an article about it, Griffin sets out for New Orleans to begin his life as a Black man. He finds a contact in the Black community, a soft-spoken, articulate shoe-shiner named Sterling Williams, and begins a dermatological regimen of exposure to ultraviolet light, oral medication, and skin dyes. Eventually, Griffin looks in the mirror and sees a Black man looking back. He briefly panics, feeling that he has lost his identity, and then he sets out to explore the Black community”.
Griffin makes friend with shoes shine man in New Orleans
A Black man in skin color only, Griffin witnessed, experienced, felt and tasted the bitterness of being a Black man in the South. He learned that a Black man’s life simultaneously tittered on the edge of hell and earth, fraught with uncertainty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Griffin, a resident of Mansfield, Texas, was lucky and blessed with white privilege. He could make choices about his life. He could embrace white privilege or reject it. No choices were available to the Black man Griffin was imitating.
“Griffin expects to find prejudice, oppression, and hardship, but he is shocked at the extent of it: everywhere he goes, he experiences difficulties and insults. The word ‘nigger’ seems to echo from every street corner. It is impossible to find a job, or even a restroom that Blacks are allowed to use. Clerks refuse to cash his checks, and a White bully nearly attacks him before he chases the man away. After several traumatic days in New Orleans, Griffin decides to travel into the Deep South of Mississippi and Alabama, which are reputed to be even worse for blacks. In Mississippi, a grand jury has just refused to indict a lynch mob that murdered a Black man before he could stand trial”.  SparkNotes
After six weeks Griffin decided that he had enough of the unadulterated hatred for his black skin, the endless name calling and unprovoked discrimination. His article was published in Sepia magazine, 1960. TV and the print media wanted to interview him. The story went world-wide. The old adage, “You can always go home” did not apply to Griffin. When his hometown learned what he had written, how he changed his skin to be a Black man, White folks in his hometown burned him in effigy. Hometown folks made his life so miserable and drama-filled, Griffin and his family moved to Mexico to escape the hate. He had betrayed White folks. He had exposed the ugly, racist side of them.
White actor in blackface captured by the KKK
In the 1915 movie “Birth Of A Nation” African Americans were played by blue-eyed White actors, wearing terrible kinky wigs and blackface. The few real African Americans in the movie played minor, demeaning roles. The movie was over three hours long, and debuted in Boston. African Americans held demonstrations in front of the theater. The NAACP and Black folks protested in whatever states the film was shown. They confronted politicians—from mayors to governors--and initiated petition drives. Some scenes offensive to Black folks were edited out of the film. By today’s standards it was a blockbuster among White moviegoers.
Actors in the 1903 movie “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” were Whites in blackface. The “Amos and Andy” radio show were two White actors pretending to be Black, as was a supporting cast member called “Kingfish.” For years African Americans actually thought they were Black because of their jokes and dialect. “For its time, it was perfectly ok to portray Blacks as generally poor and uneducated. But in time, civil rights groups would object to the way it depicted Blacks in America”. Classic TV Archive
Universities, colleges and graduated students are checking their yearbooks for photos that are totally inappropriate. Some universities are already offering belated apologies. Blackface, KKK and Nazi costumes seems to be the most popular. A Snapshot of a Auburn High School student wearing a black face mask wrote a caption that asked: “Is this what being a nigger feels like”?
Ralph Northam's yearbook page in med school
The blackface scandal that hit Virginia in February 2019, spread like a wild fire. Because two politicians wearing blackface are White, the media jumped on the story immediately. Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam, 59, got a butt shock when a 1984 photo of him in blackface leaped off the page of the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. Northam, then a tall, skinny 25-year-0ld White male, and a medical student, was standing next to a shorter male (or woman) dressed in full KKK regalia. The tall male was smiling. His white teeth were a contrast against his shiny black face. 
At a news conference Northam conceded that one of the individuals in the photo was him but would not say which. The next day he recanted, saying he was not in the photo. He did not take responsibility for submitting the photo for the yearbook, suggesting that someone else submitted it. There were three other photos of him alone in various poses. At the time his nicknames were “Goose” and “Coonman.” Harlem Globetrotters Reece Tatum was nicknamed “Goose.” Did Northam steal that nickname from Reece, wanting to imitate him? “Coonman” has racial overtones any way you look at it.
Hosting another press conference the next day, Northam admitted that in 1984—the same year as above--he entered a dance contest in San Antonio, Texas. He put black shoe polish on his cheeks rather than his whole face. No photos have been uncovered so far. Taking on the persona of Michael Jackson, Northam said he dressed like the famous singer, and danced the moonwalk. 
In an interview with NBC’s Gayle King, Northam said he did not understand the power of his white privilege. As an adult he said, “I’ve learned why the use of blackface is so offensive. And, yeah, I knew it in the past, but reality has really set in”. 
A few days after Northam’s confession, Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring, 57, admitted that as a 19-year-old college student he wore blackface to a party in 1980. He dressed like Kurtis Blow, a popular rapper that he and his friends listened to at the time. Instead of black polish, Herring said he put brown polish on his face and wore an Afro wig.
During a February 8 interview with TMZ, Kurtis Blow let it be known that he was not impressed upon learning that Herring imitated him wearing brownface. He said Herring’s characterization of him was “disrespectful, ugly and degrading”.
Michael Ertel, hurricane victim
Florida’s Secretary of State Michael Ertel, 49, was asked by the governor to resign in January (2019), after a 2005 photo of him in blackface was uncovered. He was dressed like a female victim of Hurricane Katrina. The devastating hurricane killed an estimated 1,800 New Orleans residents, the majority of whom were Black and poor. The hurricane left even more victims homeless. Attending a Halloween party, Ertel wore a colorful bandanna on his head, large colorful earrings and a T-shirt bearing the words: Katrina Victim. His insensitivity reduced the hurricane victims to caricatures.
“Blackface is the joke that comforts White Americans, who consciously or otherwise, are terrified of nonwhite people. . . . The critic Elias Canetti argued in “Crowds and Power”, that laughing allows us to take power over the one we laugh at; perhaps this is why, even now, blackface still exists, a crude attempt by certain White Americans to retain a sense of racial superiority. Blackface as a ghost we may never be able to exorcize. It is too deeply, painfully American”.  The Guardian, 2/2019.
It is not unusual to read about White fraternity members posting blackface photos of themselves and friends in their yearbooks and social pages. They exhibit no sense of right, wrong or shame. Blackface is fun! It doesn’t hurt Black folks. The most basic excuses they use is:  “I was young. I didn’t think I was hurting anyone.” Some assert   African Americans are “too sensitive” when they complain about the images and stereotypes. Opting for blackface fun can ruin careers. These bite-you-in-the-ass images usually pop up when an individual runs for a political office, or some other high profile occupation. 
Rev. Al Sharpton, long time civil rights activist and MSNBC TV host, spoke February 7 at Virginia Union University, Virginia’s oldest historically Black college. He told the audience, “If you sin, you must pay for the sin. Blackface represents a deeper problem where people felt they could dehumanize and humiliate people based on their inferiority. When we’re reacting to blackface, we’re not reacting to what the act represents. Forgiveness without a price is not forgiveness—it’s a pass”. Richmond Times-Dispatch

Elvis Presley stole and copied Black folks music and rhythmical styles of singing. That is cultural appropriation. Pat Boone never had a hit song until he stole Little Richard's music and claimed it as his own, making it "acceptable" to White folks. That is cultural appropriation. In the day of tap dancing, Hollywood's Gene Kelly, Fred Astire and Ginger Rogers stole steps from Black tappers like The Nickholas Brothers and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who did not get credit for the stolen choreography. That is cultural appropriation, not the popularity of blackface so acceptable to White folks.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Billy Graham's prediction of a Jesus sighting came too late for me; I already saw Him at the mall

On Sunday, Franklin Graham,  son of  celebrated evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, said in an interview with Christiana Amanpour on This Week, “. . . every eye is going to see (the second coming). How is the whole world going to see (Jesus Christ) all at one time? I don't know, unless all of a sudden everybody's taking pictures and it's on the media worldwide. I don't know. Social media could have a big part in that. Everybody's got their phone up and everybody's taking recordings and posting it on YouTube and whatever and sending it to you, and it gets shown around the world."

This is so true! But Graham’s prediction came too late for me. You see, I saw Jesus at a Texas mall last Saturday. He was shopping at a reasonably priced shoe and garments store that specialized in Christian wear. I instantly recognized him. 

When I was a kid, on the way home from school one day, I saw Jesus’ face in the clouds. I waved at him and went straight home. I told my mother what I saw. She said I was losing my mind.  I could not get her to believe me! I knew my religious grandmother believed me. She talked to Jesus all the time. Sometimes she shouted and talked funny in the middle of the conversations.

 I didn’t go outside to play with my buddies that afternoon. Jesus was watching us. I didn’t want him to see us harassing our favorite neighbor,  “Mr. Devil.” My grandmother said,  "God don't like ugly and he ain't crazy about beauty."  
Billy Graham, son of famed Evangelist Billy Graham
For some unexplainable reason we (neighborhood kids) thought this particular neighbor was the devil. We dared him to send us to hell “in a hand basket." We heard older religious folk say that’s how sinful people were going to hell if they didn’t find God or Jesus. We later leaned that our neighbor was red-faced and angry because we irritated him with our incessant teasing and silliness. We eventually apologized to him. He didn't accept the apology. A few days later we found a new victim. We called her “The Witch.”

Anyway, back to the mall and Jesus. I was nervous and humbled by his presence. I spoke to him, my voice wavering. And then the community news reporter kicked in lik
e humidity on a Texas summer day. I had the good sense to know this would be my one and only opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with Jesus. Nervous and still humbled, I asked Jesus what he was doing on earth. “Your second coming is supposed to occur . . .” He nodded his head and smiled. He knew about all of the prophesied predictions. God didn't say when it would happen.

Jesus said he didn’t want to publicize his re-appearance. He said he has a lot of work to do while he's here, and he needs a new pair of scandals for all the walking he plans to do. He said his mother,  Mary, was with him. She was walking around the store, looking at a variety of scandals. Jesus said his mother wants to make sure he picks a good looking pair of scandals. She wants him to look nice on YouTube and TV when the word spreads around the world.

“Jesus-- as you probably know-- people are pulling you into their politics. Republicans, Democrats, Independents. How do you feel, being used as a political pawn?”

Jesus said, “ I don’t participate in politics. I can’t stop those who use me as a pawn. I am also called a socialist, which I am. I believe in helping the poor. My name is used for many
things. I don’t approve but I understand.”

Shoppers in the mall were beginning to stop and stare. They were not sure who Jesus was. It was hard to believe he was on earth, shopping in a Texas mall. One woman asked doubtfully: “Didn’t you used to be Jesus? I mean I saw pictures of you! I mean you’re supposed to be coming back in a big way! Everybody will knows it!” Jesus smiled and nodded yes, he is Jesus.

 The shopper couldn’t believe her eyes. “Get outta here!” she said. “You’re gonna be a movie, right?” Hollywood is always making Jesus movies.” Jesus continued smiling. Another shopper answered the woman’s question. “This guy is not real. He’s straight out of a Hollywood casting.”

“If you’re Jesus, can I get your autograph?” He obliged. The woman walked off, mumbling something about eBay.

Jesus’ mother had selected about ten pairs of scandals. The salesman followed her, packing boxes of scandals. When he stooped to slip the scandals on Jesus’ feet, he looked up, staring at Jesus, his eyes on his face. He grasped and said, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” The salesman was trembling so profusely he could barely slip the scandals on Jesus’ feet. To ease his nervousness, Mary said with a straight face, “That’s what I said when I was giving birth to him.” The Bible never revealed that  Mary has a sense of humor.

Franklin should have called me. I would have told him that Jesus and his mother, The Virgin Mary, have already returned, shopping for new scandals in Texas. 

Later I called Gov. Rick Perry’s office for a comment about Jesus being in Texas. Of course, my call wasn’t taken seriously. The person on the other end of the line said bluntly: “The governor is not interested in your joke. Jesus has no reason to visit Texas.”

Friday, January 11, 2019

Senator Barack Obama makes speech about immigration reform on Senate floor in 2006

April 3, 2006, Floor Statement of Senator Barack Obama

Senator Barack Obama

Mr. President, I come to the floor today to enter the debate on comprehensive immigration reform. It is a debate that will touch on the basic questions of morality, the law, and what it means to be an American I know that this debate evokes strong passions on all sides. The recent peaceful but passionate protests that we saw all across the country--500,000 in Los Angeles and 100,000 in my hometown of Chicago--are a testament to this fact, as are the concerns of millions of Americans about the security of our borders.
But I believe we can work together to pass immigration reform in a way that unites the people in this country, not in a way that divides us by playing on our worst instincts and fears. Like millions of Americans, the immigrant story is also my story. My father came here from Kenya, and I represent a State where vibrant immigrant communities ranging from Mexican to Polish to Irish enrich our cities and neighborhoods. So I understand the allure of freedom and opportunity that fuels the dream of a life in the United States. But I also understand the need to fix a broken system.
When Congress last addressed this issue comprehensively in 1986, there were approximately 4 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. That number had grown substantially when Congress again addressed the issue in 1996. Today, it is estimated that there are more than 11 million undocumented aliens living in our country. 
The American people are a welcoming and generous people. But those who enter our country illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of law. And because we live in an age where terrorists are challenging our borders, we simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked. Americans are right to demand better border security and better enforcement of the immigration laws. The bill the Judiciary Committee has passed would clearly strengthen enforcement. I will repeat that, because those arguing against the Judiciary Committee bill contrast that bill with a strong enforcement bill. The bill the Judiciary Committee passed clearly strengthens enforcement.
To begin with, the agencies charged with border security would receive new technology, new facilities, and more people to stop, process, and deport illegal immigrants. But while security might start at our borders, it doesn't end there. Millions of undocumented immigrants live and work here without our knowing their identity or their background. We need to strike a workable bargain with them. They have to acknowledge that breaking our immigration laws was wrong. They must pay a penalty, and abide by all of our laws going forward. They must earn the right to stay over a 6-year period, and then they must wait another 5 years as legal permanent residents before they become citizens.
But in exchange for accepting those penalties, we must allow undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and step on a path toward full participation in our society. In fact, I will not support any bill that does not provide this earned path to citizenship for the undocumented population--not just for humanitarian reasons; not just because these people, having broken the law, did so for the best of motives, to try and provide a better life for their children and their grandchildren; but also because this is the only practical way we can get a handle on the population that is within our borders right now.
To keep from having to go through this difficult process again in the future, we must also replace the flow of undocumented immigrants coming to work here with a new flow of guestworkers. Illegal immigration is bad for illegal immigrants and bad for the workers against whom they compete. Replacing the flood of illegals with a regulated stream of legal immigrants who enter the United States after background checks and who are provided labor rights would enhance our security, raise wages, and improve working conditions for all Americans. But I fully appreciate that we cannot create a new guestworker program without making it as close to impossible as we can for illegal workers to find employment. We do not need new guestworkers plus future undocumented immigrants. We need guestworkers instead of undocumented immigrants.
Toward that end, American employers need to take responsibility. Too often illegal immigrants are lured here with a promise of a job, only to receive unconscionably low wages. In the interest of cheap labor, unscrupulous employers look the other way when employees provide fraudulent U.S. citizenship documents. Some actually call and place orders for undocumented workers because they don't want to pay minimum wages to American workers in surrounding communities. These acts hurt both American workers and immigrants whose sole aim is to work hard and get ahead. That is why we need a simple, foolproof, and mandatory mechanism for all employers to check the legal status of new hires. Such a mechanism is in the Judiciary Committee bill.
And before any guestworker is hired, the job must be made available to Americans at a decent wage with benefits. Employers then need to show that there are no Americans to take these jobs. I am not willing to take it on faith that there are jobs that Americans will not take. There has to be a showing. If this guestworker program is to succeed, it must be properly calibrated to make certain that these are jobs that cannot be filled by Americans, or that the guestworkers provide particular skills we can't find in this country.
I know that dealing with the undocumented population is difficult, for practical and political reasons. But we simply cannot claim to have dealt with the problems of illegal immigration if we ignore the illegal resident population or pretend they will leave voluntarily. Some of the proposed ideas in Congress provide a temporary legal status and call for deportation, but fail to answer how the government would deport 11 million people. I don't know how it would be done. I don't know how we would line up all the buses and trains and airplanes and send 11 million people back to their countries of origin. I don't know why it is that we expect they would voluntarily leave after having taken the risk of coming to this country without proper documentation.
I don't know many police officers across the country who would go along with the bill that came out of the House, a bill that would, if enacted, charge undocumented immigrants with felonies, and arrest priests who are providing meals to hungry immigrants, or people who are running shelters for women who have been subject to domestic abuse. I cannot imagine that we would be serious about making illegal immigrants into felons, and going after those who would aid such persons.
That approach is not serious. That is symbolism that is demagoguery. It is important that if we are going to deal with this problem, we deal with it in a practical, commonsense way. If temporary legal status is granted but the policy says these immigrants are never good enough to become Americans, then the policy that makes little sense. I believe successful, comprehensive immigration reform can be achieved by building on the work of the Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee bill combines some of the strongest elements of Senator Hagel's border security proposals with the realistic workplace and earned-citizenship program proposed by Senators McCain and Kennedy.
Mr. President, I will come to the floor over the next week to offer some amendments of my own, and to support amendments my colleagues will offer. I will also come to the floor to argue against amendments that contradict our tradition as a nation of immigrants and as a nation of laws. As FDR reminded the Nation at the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, those who landed at Ellis Island "were the men and women who had the supreme courage to strike out for themselves, to abandon language and relatives, to start at the bottom without influence, without money, and without knowledge of life in a very young civilization.''
It behooves us to remember that not every single immigrant who came into the United States through Ellis Island had proper documentation. Not every one of our grandparents or great-grandparents would have necessarily qualified for legal immigration. But they came here in search of a dream, in search of hope. Americans understand that, and they are willing to give an opportunity to those who are already here, as long as we get serious about making sure that our borders actually mean something.
Today's immigrants seek to follow in the same tradition of immigration that has built this country. We do ourselves and them a disservice if we do not recognize the contributions of these individuals. And we fail to protect our Nation if we do not regain control over our immigration system immediately.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Laura Jean Ockletree Floyd, 10/6/1960-11/12/2018

Family Genealogy 

Her Hand
by Maggie Pittman

Her hands held me gently from the day I took my first breath,
Her hands help to guide me as I took my first step,
Her hands held me close when tears would start to fall,
Her hands were quick to show me that she would take care of all.
A Family Tribute to Laura Jean Ockletree Floyd

 by Dorothy Charles Banks

Laura Jean Ockletree Floyd
Laura Jean Ockletree was the first daughter born to Marie Ockletree. The special bond between mother and child commenced the day Laura came into the world one early morning October 6, 1960. Marie recalls her joy at becoming a mother. The tiny baby that she held in her arms was her precious pride and joy. 

Marie recalls that her baby girl taught her how to be a mother; how to be responsible at 18. She had the hands and love filled heart to guide and push her child through her teenage years, through womanhood; eventually watching her experience marriage and motherhood. 

When Laura and J.D. Floyd got married two children were born from that union: Jonathan and Whitney, her first born daughter.

It goes without saying that first born sons and daughters are stealers of their parents’ hearts. No other child in the world is cuter or smarter. Even though Laura gave birth to a daughter, when she adopted her six months old niece, it was like giving birth to another daughter. That’s how tightly she embraced the baby girl born to her sister Everea. 

Sharita Ockletree was born with multiple problems, but Laura did not see a baby that was less than a perfect. Love ruled. Laura’s love was not going to let this fragile baby girl get entangled in a state system that would have stifled her life, and her growth. The bond between these two was unbreakable. They were each other’s world.

The Bible tells us that our days are numbered. They are few and full of trouble. We enter the world like a flower and then fade away, says the Bible. Those numbered days begin at conception. Death is the dreaded enemy that stepped forward when Laura’s number was posted on God’s bulletin board. Death, despite being a part of life, has the power to snatch all joy and happiness in the blink of an eye. 

Just like Marie vividly remembers the day Laura was born, she remembers the day Laura was taken from her, a mere 37 days after her 58th birthday. Marie’s protecting hands could not grab Laura out of death’s jaws. Whether it was intuition or God preparing for a death in the family, Marie began having dreams about Laura. Her self-analysis of the dreams were troubling. She prayed and talked to God, asking him to take her, “not my child.” As a mother she was ready to exchange her number for Laura’s. Parents tend to reason that their children should bury them, not the other way around. After Laura’s death Marie’s dreams stopped.

“On the day I learned of her death, all I could say is, ‘No! No! No, not my baby!’ When I saw her lying on the floor, not moving and cold, I had a feeling of disbelief. When the coroner put her on the gurney, they let us say our last good-bye. I couldn’t accept her death. I still haven’t.”

Following the usual holiday routine, Laura planned on going to Marie’s house for Thanksgiving. Because Marie is the better cook everyone gathered to her house. Together,

mother and daughter were going to cook a Thanksgiving feast. Laura had already decided that she was going to make potato salad. 

Sadly, Laura had another unforeseen date that she had to keep; a date that was planned in advance long, long ago. On November 12, 2018 she departed this earth, sealing her predetermined destiny. 

Although Laura has traveled “up yonder” to meet her Lord, memories of her spirit will live on through family and friends, many of whom spoke glowingly of her at the funeral. Her sons recalled memories of their mother, paying emotional tributes; acquaintances recalled the friend who was always ready to help them when they needed it. Laura's former pastor recalled her determination and drive to increase the church’s membership, which she did. Her mother Marie is already missing the daily phone calls and conversations. Despite of her physical loss she still have years of memories to hang onto.

Whitney and Laura

Replica of funeral program

In Loving Memory of

Laura Jean Ockletree Floyd

Sunrise   October 6, 1960                  Sunset  November 12, 2018

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. Sot then, whether 
we live or die, we are the Lord's. Romans 14:8

Saturday, November 17, 2018                                       12:00 PM

King Tears Mortuary Chapel                              1300 East 12th Street    Austin, Texas 78702

Officiant                                        Rev. Robert Paul Jacks


Laura Jean Ockletree Floyd was born October 6, 1960 to Marie Ockletree and Dave Ockletree, Austin, Texas. Laura passed away on November 12, 2018. Laura had a heart of gold and
was loved by everyone. Her grandsons adored their "Mamaw" immensely. She touched many
lives  and will be sorely missed.

Laura leaves to cherish her memory three sons, Christopher Ockletree, Quincy Ockletree and Jonathan Floyd; two daughters, Whitney Floyd (Clinton Kerr) and Sharita Ockletree,  all of
whom resides in Austin, Texas; mother, Marie Ockletree of Austin, Texas; father Dave Ockletree,
 Jr. (Billie) of Temple, Texas; two sisters, Everea Wilkins of Temple, Texas and Sandra Elaine Ockletree of Round Rock, Texas; two brothers Dave A. Ockletree (Latoya) of Vidalia, Georgia 
and Erick Adams (Khasi) of Temple, Texas; grandsons, Caleb Kerr, Clinton Kerr, Jr., Aniyah Ockletree, Masiah Ockletree; nieces Shanna Castelan and Shametra Ockletree-Horton (Allen) and a host of nieces, nephews and friends.

Order of Service

Processional                                                                              Clergy, Casket, Bearers and Family
Scripture Reading                                                                              Rev. Robert Paul Jacks
Prayer                                                                                                  Rev. Robert Paul Jacks
A Family Tribute                                                                                        Quincy Ockletree
Remarks                                                                                            Please limit to 2 minutes
Musical Selection                                                                          "His Eye is on the Sparrow"
Eulogy                                                                                                   Rev. Robert Paul Jacks


"Goin' Up Yonder"

Casket Bearers

Christopher Ockletree                                                                  Quincy Ockletee
               Drailand Bell                                                                                  Jose Castelan
 A.G. Green                                                                                      Fontae Ockletree

Honorary Casket Bearers

Caleb Kerr                                                         Clinton "C.J." Kerr
Eric Moran                                                        Clinton Kerr

Family Acknowledge

Our family extends our sincere appreciation for the heartfelt condolences and prayers extended to us. Our hearts have been warmed by your expressions of love and concern.


Cooks-Walden Capital Parks
14501 N IH-35
  Pflugerville, Texaa