Saturday, July 31, 2010

What author Laura Wexler learned about the 1946 lynchings in Walton County, Georgia

Author Laura Wexler
 Chapter One
Excerpt from Laura Wexler's books  
Fire in a Canebrake

"I don't want any trouble," said the white man, Barnette Hester. He stood on one side of the dirt road, and his two black tenants, Roger and Dorothy Malcom, stood on the other side. They were shouting and cursing, their voices echoing through the Sunday-evening quiet. The noise had reached Barnette Hester in the barn. He'd stopped in the middle of milking, run out to the road, and issued his warning.

At twenty-nine, Barnette Hester was tall and thin, so thin he appeared boyish, as though his body hadn't yet filled out. His three older brothers were broad-shouldered men who spoke in booming voices, but he, the youngest, was shy to the point of silence --except on Saturday nights, when he drank liquor and talked and laughed a little. He'd been born in the modest house across the road. When the other men his age went off to the war, he stayed home to help his parents, and his father made him overseer of the family farm. They owned one hundred acres: a few behind the house, and the rest beyond the barn. That afternoon, after returning from church, Barnette had walked through the rows of cotton and corn and reached the same conclusion as many of Walton County's farmers: it was the beginning of lay-by time. The crops were nearly full grown, and fieldwork would be light for the next month or so, until the harvest.

When it was harvest time, Barnette would work in the fields from sunup to sundown, snatching the cotton from the bolls and stuffing it into burlap croker sacks. And Roger and Dorothy Malcom would work alongside him. As children, Barnette and Roger had been playmates. But in January, when Roger and Dorothy moved onto the Hester farm, they'd become Barnette's tenants. Once, earlier in the spring, he'd found them fighting in the road in front of his family's house and told them to go home -- and they'd obeyed. They'd walked to the fork in the road, taken the path down a small hill, and disappeared inside their tenant house. Barnette issued the same warning this evening, and he expected the same reaction.

Instead, across the road, Roger Malcom charged at Dorothy. She dodged him, then ran down the road, into the front yard of the Hesters' house. As she passed, Barnette heard her say, "Roger's gonna kill me."

Roger went after Dorothy. He followed her into the Hesters' yard, and to the big fig tree, where he lunged at her again. Just then, Barnette's wife, Margaret, stepped out the front door of the house onto the porch. She watched Roger and Dorothy in the yard for a moment. Then she looked up and called to Barnette, "He's got a knife, and he's going to cut her."

Barnette crossed the road and entered the front yard. When he neared the fig tree, Dorothy darted onto the porch and she and Margaret rushed inside, leaving only Barnette's seventy-year-old father on the porch. Roger started up the porch stairs, and Barnette hurried to catch up with him. He stepped close, smelling the liquor on Roger's breath. He put his hand on Roger's arm and tried to turn him back toward the road. "Get out of the yard," Barnette said. And then, for the second time: "I don't want any trouble."

Roger Malcom shrugged off Barnette's hand and hunched over. Then he spun around and charged, his arm outstretched. The blade of the pocketknife entered the left side of Barnette's chest, just below his heart. After Roger Malcom pulled out his knife, he threw his hat on the ground. From the porch, Barnette's father heard him say, "Call me Mister Roger Malcom after this." Then he ran away.

When Barnette clutched his side and began stumbling toward the house, his father, Bob, assumed Roger Malcom had hit him hard in the stomach. Neither he, nor anyone else in the Hester family, realized that Roger Malcom had cut Barnette -- not until Barnette collapsed onto the porch. Then Margaret saw the blood and cried out, "Take my husband to the hospital. He's bleeding to death."

With the help of Barnette's eldest brother, who was visiting from next door, Bob Hester carried Barnette out to the car and laid him across the backseat. Pulling out of the driveway, they turned toward the hospital, located nine miles away in the Walton County seat of Monroe.

By then the white people who lived near the Hesters had heard the commotion. These neighbors --whose surnames were Peters, Adcock, Malcom, and also Hester -- were related to Barnette's family and each other by blood or marriage, or both. Their ancestors had claimed farms in this section of the county during the land lottery of 1820, and they'd set their modest frame houses close to each other and to the road, preserving every inch of dirt for cotton and corn. 

The settlement had been dubbed Hestertown in the early days, and the name stuck because the families stayed. In 1946, roughly thirty Peters, Malcom, Adcock, and Hester families still lived along Hestertown Road. Some of the young men drove fifty miles each day to work at factories in Atlanta, and other men and women worked at the cotton mills in Monroe -- but they remained in Hestertown and remained tied to the land and the community. On this July evening, some had been gathering vegetables in their gardens, preparing for the evening meal, when they heard the disturbance at the Hester house. Now they walked out from their farms to see if they could help.

Barnette's cousin Grady Malcom had already reached the road when the Hesters' car passed by. "Get Roger," Bob Hester called out the car window, "because Roger stabbed Barnette."

Grady Malcom, in turn, called to his brother, and together the two men, both in their fifties, ran toward the Hesters' house. When they saw Roger Malcom dart into a nearby cornfield, they followed him to the edge and yelled, "Throw down your knife and come out."

From deep in the cornstalks came the muffled sound of Roger Malcom's voice: "Who are you?" When the brothers shouted their names, Roger Malcom said he wouldn't come out. But then, after a few minutes, he stood, tossed his knife to them, and surrendered.

By the time the brothers took Roger back to the Hesters' front yard, a crowd of neighbors had gathered. One man drove to the closest store to telephone the sheriff. Another man held Roger down while several others bound his hands and feet. Like Barnette, they'd known Roger Malcom for years, and they knew he was a fast runner -- fast as a rabbit, everybody said.

It was nearly dark when Walton County deputy sheriffs Lewis Howard and Doc Sorrells pulled into the yard. They untied Roger Malcom, handcuffed him, put him in the backseat of their patrol car, and drove off in a cloud of dust. The sheriffs retraced the route Barnette Hester's father had taken one hour earlier, driving roughly a mile to the end of Hestertown Road, and turning onto Pannell Road. Heading northeast, they traveled through the heart of Blasingame district, which lay near the southern point of diamond-shaped Walton County and contained the county's richest farmland. In Blasingame, as in the rest of the county, farmers planted corn, small grains, and timber--but their livelihood depended almost entirely on cotton. 

Since the beginning of agriculture in Walton County, cotton had been the major cash crop, comprising roughly 85 percent of the county's total agricultural profits each year. Under the guidance of the local extension agent, farmers planted only certain varieties of cottonseed and used only certain fertilizers, and their care paid off. Year after year, Walton County ranked at the top of Georgia's cotton-producing counties. In 1945, the county's farmers had averaged more than a bale per acre, shattering every cotton record in state history.

By 1946 farmers farther south and west had begun to employ mechanical cotton pickers, which did the work of forty farmhands, more quickly and more cheaply. But the rolling hills of Walton County, which was perched on the midland slope between the flat fields of middle Georgia and the mountains of north Georgia, made mechanical cotton pickers unusable. And so, despite the innovations -- electricity, automobiles, radios -- that had modernized much of rural life in Walton and its surrounding counties, farmers still depended on human labor to pick their cotton. In that respect, the harvest of 1946 would be no different from the harvest of 1846.

Within fifteen minutes of leaving the Hester house, the sheriffs had left the fields of Blasingame behind, passed a small forest known as Towler's Woods, and were entering the outskirts of town. They crossed over the railroad tracks -- where several trains daily made the roughly forty-mile trip between Monroe and Atlanta -- and drove by the town's two cotton mills, hulking brick structures that employed eight hundred white people. At times the mills ran day and night, but it was Sunday evening, and they were still.

A few blocks west, the sheriffs entered Monroe's downtown, a grid of paved streets containing banks, a department store, a hardware store, a pharmacy, and several restaurants. These were the standard establishments found in every county seat or trading center of the day, but Monroe had more to offer than most. It had two public libraries and two public swimming pools -- one for Colored -- as well as a city-owned ice plant, meat locker, and power and light system. Though a small town, with a population just under five thousand, Monroe boasted ten lawyers, fifteen doctors, and more than one hundred teachers. It was known throughout Georgia as a wealthy and progressive community, the first in the state to offer a groundbreaking public health-care program for both white and black citizens. And, as the birthplace of no fewer than six of the state's former chief executives, it had earned the nickname Mother of Governors.

Monroe's prosperity was partly due to the continued success of Walton County's farmers, who drove into town weekly to do their banking and buying. But it was also a result of its location as a midpoint on the highway that connected Atlanta, to the west, with Athens, to the northeast. Since its completion in 1939, the Atlanta-Athens highway had funneled tourists and businessmen through downtown Monroe, where they mingled with locals in the shadow of the town leaders' pride and joy: a stately brick courthouse topped by an elegant four-sided clock tower. Recently, Monroe had also earned bragging rights with its new electric streetlamps, which were aglow as the sheriffs drove through town with Roger Malcom.

Earlier in the day, men, women, and children dressed in their Sunday best, had filled the pews of Monroe's thirty-six churches; the town fathers were proud to report that 95 percent of their citizens belonged to a church. After morning services, the streets emptied, and Sunday evenings, as a rule, were quiet. But on this Sunday evening, downtown was bustling. Groups of white men stood on the street corners and clustered around the Confederate memorial on the courthouse square. Some passed out pamphlets, signs, and bumper stickers; others gave impromptu speeches in support of Eugene Talmadge or James Carmichael. These were the two names on most Georgians' tongues that summer, the two lead candidates in the most hotly contested governor's race in state history. It was July 14. The election would take place in just three days.

The sheriffs turned onto Washington Street, drove two blocks north of the courthouse, and parked in back of the two-story cinder-block jail. Deputy Sheriff Lewis Howard, who served as the county jailer, took Roger Malcom from the car and led him into the group cell on the jail's first floor. After locking him in with two white prisoners -- the county jail wasn't segregated by race -- he walked down the hallway leading to the adjoining brick house where he lived with his family and secured the heavy metal door behind him.

Across town late that Sunday night, two doctors left the operating room and met Barnette Hester's father and brothers in a corridor of the Walton County Hospital. They didn't have good news. The blade of Roger Malcom's pocketknife had sliced through the upper region of Barnette's stomach, lacerating his intestine and puncturing his lung. The doctors had washed the protruding section of intestine and reconnected it. Then they'd inserted a tube to drain the fluid in the lung. The risk of infection was grave, the doctors said. They weren't sure Barnette would live out the week.

Copyright © 2003 by Laura Wexler

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

1946 lynchings of 4 African Americans in Monroe, Georgia

What do you do when you want to call attention to four lynchings that did not have happened July 25, 1946 on the Moore’s Ford Bridge in Walton County, Georgia?  

If you’re Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-GA), an honorary member of the biracial Moore’s Ford Memorial Committee, you advocate reopening the lynchings and perform a reenactment of that dark afternoon, a little after 6 p.m., in Walton County, where four Black sharecroppers were ambushed, physically attacked and mindlessly slaughtered in a hail of bullets fired from the rifles, pistols and shotguns of 15 to 20 Ku Klux Klan.

In 1946 a NBC news broadcast described the mass killings as “one of the most vicious lynchings to stain our national record". Though none of the victims were hanged by the neck, they were, nonetheless lynched by definition: Lynching is the unlawful hanging or otherwise killing of a person by mob action.

The 1,000 member Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials unanimously passed a Resolution March 1999 in which they outlined reasons the cold case should be reopened. 

Lines 2-32 through 2-39 in the Resolution stated: “. . . . after the atrocity, poet Wilborn Victor Jenkins had called the Moore’s Ford Bridge ‘a spot made horrible forever’ and it will remain so, a blight on the national conscience until justice is done".                                                                                      
GABEO president of
Roger Malcolm
said: “This is a stain on our history, and a burden on our soul. But the stain can be erased, and the burden can be lifted".

An afternoon reenactment was staged at the entrance of the Moore's Ford Bridge. It was performed was by an African Americans cast. They played the roles of victims and the KKK, wearing white theatrical masks.  About 200 people attended the reenactment. Some of them were so overwhelmed by the sheer brutality of the murders they were brought to tears. The performance was designed to generate new interest in the 65 year old lynchings. Brooks believed that a couple of the killers were still alive and living in Monroe County as of 1999.

Walton County District Attorney Ken Wynne said June 23, 2010 that he understood the need to bring closure to the case with a successful conviction. However, without new evidence, eyewitnesses, and names attached to an indictment, DA said his hands are tied. A 2001 investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation failed to uncover new evidence and witnesses.


The murdered sharecroppers were Roger Malcolm, 24, his wife Dorothy Malcolm, 20, sister to George Dorsey, 28, and his wife, Mae Murray Dorsey, 23. Dorothy was seven months pregnant. Like many lynchings in the South that made Americans gasp in shock and disbelief, these horrendous slayings, also known as the "Monroe Massacre" demanded international attention, enlarging the blood stain on America’s racial history.

The Atlanta Daily World, a Black newspaper, covered the mass lynchings from beginning to end. Reaching back into its archives, the paper’s July 28, 2005 issue reprinted some of its 1946 headlines: “Lynching Bee Staged At Monroe”; “Monroe Massacre”; “$10,000 Reward Offered For GA. Lynchers”; “FBI Probers Take Over Monroe Massacre”; “Lynch Victims laid to Rest on GA. Black Sunday”; “White Methodists Blast Monroe Mob”; “Negro Publishers Ask Arnall, Truman to Act On Mobsters".

The murders put people’s rage on edge for two reasons: two victims were women, one seven months pregnant and George Dorsey was a veteran who recently return to the state after being in World War ll.


As the story is told, Malcolm stabbed a White farmer, Barnette Hester, in the chest with a pocket knife. The farmer tried to break up a fight between Malcolm and his wife, Dorothy. Hester was not fatally stabbed, but his life stood on the edge of death for a several days. Malcolm had been drinking the day of the stabbing. His wife ran into the yard of Hester, who told Malcolm to leave. He refused. Malcolm was arrested, spending 11 days in jail. His bond was set at $600. Loy Harrison, a White farmer, paid Malcolm's bond.

Dorothy Malcolm and her brother George Dorsey, who had worked for Harrison, as the farmer for help. Reportedly he refused at first but then changed in mind, paying the bond. He said Malcolm could work off the $600 on his 1,000 acre farm. Both couples worker as sharecroppers. Harrison picked up Dorothy, George and Mae Dorsey, taking them to the Walton County jail to bail out Malcolm. 

Speculation is that the ambush that followed was hatched in advance. Harrison took a different route to his farm. FBI investigators said it was not necessay to cross the Moore's Ford Bridge to get to Harrison's farm. The carload of people was abruptly blocked by another vehicle on the one lane wooden bridge. The couples were forcibly removed from the automobile, and taken down a dirt trail out of sight along the Apalachee River, on the border of Walton and Oconee counties. 

Whereas Harrison life was spared, Malcolm (born March 22, 1922), Dorothy (born July 25, 1926), George (born November 1917) and Mae Murray (born September 10, 1922) were tied to a tree or trees, severely beaten, and shot an estimated 60 times at close range. After Mae Dorsey was shot her fetus was cut out of her stomach with a knife by one of the terrorists who ambushed the couples.

According many stories written about the 1946 massacre the sharecroppers were shot so many times it was difficult for family members to recognize them. Malcolm’s body was the most mutilated.  Dorsey had recently returned to Monroe after serving almost five years in World War ll in the Pacific War.
Loy Harrison (L) who bailed Malcolm out of jail is shown in this July 26, 1946 photo, talking to Sheriff  J.  M.  Bond (C) of Oconee County, and Coroner W. T. Brown at Walton County, where the four Blacks were killed near Monroe, Georgia a day earlier. Bond is holding a rope allegedly used to bind the hands of two of the four victims. 

Loy Harrison described a well dressed man who was orchestrating the action. "A big man who was dressed mightly proud in a double breasted brown suit was giving the orders. He pointed to Roger Malcolm and said, 'We want that nigger'. Then he pointed at George Dorsey, my nigger, and said 'We want you, too Charlie'. I said, 'His name ain't Charlie'. Someone said, 'Keep your damned mouth big mouth shut. This ain't your party'".

Over 20 FBI agents were dispatched to Walton County at the request of President Harry Truman, who ordered an investigation into the mass lynchings. As an incentive for eyewitnesses to come forward with information that would lead to an arrest and prosecution, the FBI offered a hefty $12,500 reward. The reward amount was later raised to $64,000, with donations coming from the NAACP, The Chicago Defender Newspaper, labor unions, religious and civic organizations.  

Unfortunately, no one in the tight-knit rural community stepped forward to talk and collect the reward. With the threat of a visit from the KKK, not only were Blacks scared to tell  what they suspected, Whites were equally afraid of vigilante retaliation. The Truman administration formed the President's Commission on Civil Rights are a result of the lynchings.

Harrison was an eyewitness to the massacre, but he said he did not recognize any one in the lynch mob. None of whom had their faces covered. After a six months investigation the FBI named 55 suspects in a 500 page synopsis. Some of the suspects told the FBI they could not remember where they were on the day the massacre. The case was closed without anyone getting arrested or prosecuted. The report revealed that Harrison was a former Ku Klux Klansman, and a well known bootlegger in the area.

It was pointed out in a September 1946 issue of the New Republic magazine that there were several unanswered questions surrounding the investigation. Questions such as: "Why was the bail set so low for Malcolm? Why did Harrison bail Malcolm out of jail? Why did Harrison take a lonely road to his farm instead of the paved highway”? (The Spokesman, July 1, 2005) A New York Times story dated March 31, 2005 stated that Monroe’s Police Chief Ben Dickerson told the FBI that “a mob of White men gathered days later in the woods south of town to figure out how ‘get Roger out of jail,’ presumably to lynch him for the attack on Hester".


For four years Laura Wexler, a White woman from the North, conducted her own investigation of the lynchings. She wanted to help solve the case with new discoveries. But she ran into a town full of stumbling blocks. She read an uncensored copy of the FBI’s original report, leading her to writing Fire In A Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America, published in 2003. In an interview with NPR’s Renee Montagne, Wexler said, “. . .  in [the] early days after the lynching, telegrams arrived at the White House at the rate of one every two minutes".

Wexler said she got the title of her book after listening to local people. During a Morning Edition interview on NPR, Wexler said, "A canebrake is a thicket of river cane which almost looks like bamboo". When she tracked down some of the names on the FBI list of suspects, she looked them up in current phone books for Walton and Oconee counties. Her next step was to start knocking on doors, seeking interviews. All but two of the suspects had died.

“I ended up talking to a lot of widows,” she told Montagne. “One White man told me, ‘this lynching is like a pile of dog crap. The best thing to do is bury it and go on.’ I did confront two men whom the FBI named as suspects in the lynching in 1946. It was eerie talking with them, but not frightening". she said.

Wexler writes that George and Dorothy Dorsey were the first to be buried. She related that many friends and relatives stayed away from the funeral out of fear. Their “own mother missed the funeral because she had trouble finding someone willing to drive her there. At the funeral the relatives of Mae Murray Dorsey intimated that she was the ‘most innocent’ of the four lynching victims--that she’d been lynched by association. Mae Murray Dorsey, unlike the faces of the three other victims, was not destroyed by gunshots".

She said only 10 people attended Malcolm’s funeral. After the funeral, his grandmother who raised him, fled to Chicago. “I can’t explain the way I felt when I was notified of his death,” she later told a reporter in Chicago. “But something in me died too. They took my boy away from me like a dog".

Wexler writes that Dorsey was entitled to a burial with full military honors, which he received. In 1999 in a military memorial service was held for Dorsey, which was organized by the bi-racial Moore’s Memorial Committee.

Though all four victims were prepared for burial by the Black owned Dan Young’s Funeral Home, they were buried in unmarked graves. The graves were abandoned until the Moore’s Memorial Committee was formed in 1977 to commemorate the victims. The Committee found three of the unmarked graves, giving them proper burials and headstones.

In April 2005 Rep.Tryrone Brooks said this of the 1946 Monroe Massacre, “This was the most heinous collective crime ever perpetuated against African Americans in this state". Sixty years later, no one has been prosecuted for the crimes.

Researching this story I discovered there are many versions of the lynchings. Some writers omitted details; whereas  some writers embellished details, giving a fuller picture of the lynchings. Read Chapter One of Laura Wexler's detailed story of the murders.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Freedom of speech is fine as long as it works in favor of Mark Williams

Mark Williams
Former National Tea Party Federation spokesman Mark Williams was riding cloud high a couple of weeks ago. "He pissin' in tall cotton," my Texas grandmother would say. Racism and fear mongering are ripe for the picking, and the media loves the controversy. Williams was bent on picking  his share of the fruit. But he got greedy and overflowed his basket. He decided to make the NAACP a side order to compliment his fruit of choice.

Williams said the NAACP is irrelevant and racist. The noted civil rights organization had asked the tea party to denounce their racism.  Williams is hot under the collar because the NAACP passed a resolution to fight the overt racism in the tea party. Basically, African Americans have been silent, completely ignoring the tea party movement. If they spoke out the media ignored them. The mainstream media were interested in the tea party screeching and posturing and claims that President Obama is a socialist who wants to take away their rights.

At a tea party gatherings racist signs are held by various  participants, including teenagers and small children who had no idea they are surrounded by naked hate, acrimony and theater of the absurd. The wording on the posters are particularly demeaning and derogatory; as were the photoshopped pictures of President Obama. Getting called out by the NAACP got Williams's attention. He was going to get his revenge on this Black racist organization come low or high water. He intended to do it publicly, using the media as his messengers and attack dogs.

Williams went five steps farther than his “grassroots” followers. He wrote an imaginary letter to President Abe Lincoln. He told the deceased president about the plight of “Coloreds” who did not agree with his Emancipation Proclamation. Freedom from slavery meant the poor ol’ “Coloreds” had to take responsibility for themselves. Williams, in his letter to Lincoln, felt that “Coloreds” were not ready to take care of themselves. That would mean cutting all ties with their White “Massas.”

I suppose if I were one these so-called" Coloreds" I would be saying to Mr. Williams in my best slave voice: “Oh, Lardy! Lardy, Massa Williams! What is we po' ol’ coloreds gone do widout a massa to lead us. We's can't help ourself!

Below is an exact copy of the letter that caused Williams' expulsion from the tea party.

Dear Mr. Lincoln,

We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!

In fact we held a big meeting and took a vote in Kansas City this week. We voted to condemn a political revival of that old abolitionist spirit called the ‘tea party movement’.

The tea party position to “end the bailouts” for example is just silly. Bailouts are just big money welfare and isn’t that what we want all Coloreds to strive for? What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare? What they need to do is start handing the bail outs directly to us Coloreds! Of course, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the only responsible party that should be granted the right to disperse the funds.

And the ridiculous idea of “reduce[ing] the size and intrusiveness of government.” What kind of massa would ever not want to control my life? As Coloreds we must have somebody care for us otherwise we would be on our own, have to think for ourselves and make decisions!

The racist tea parties also demand that the government “stop the out of control spending.” Again, they directly target coloreds. That means we Coloreds would have to compete for jobs like everybody else and that is just not right.

Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government “stop raising our taxes.” That is outrageous! How will we Coloreds ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?

Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.


Precious Ben Jealous, Tom’s Nephew NAACP Head Colored Person

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tea party protesters and their favorite descriptions of President Obama

President Barack Obama has always been called  names by those who despise him. The acrimonious language begin the minute Barack Obama announced that he was going to run for president. His staunchest critics, namely the tea party, have shown that there is no limit to their nastiness and Caucasian-Brain-On-Fire Derangement.

Who is responsible for spreading this brain numbing disease that has no cure? One lone African American man that was elected President of the United States. His name is Barack Obama. 

President Obama awakened these people's interest and apparent fascination with Hitler, Stalin, socialism, Marxism and communism.  They say that God was a capitalist, and President Obama is a commie socialist!

Their sick fascination tells me that these people have the personalities of the dictators they seem to love and hate simultaneously. What's funny is they are endeavoring to project those communistic personalities onto President Obama, who bears no resemblance to a communist or dictator, neither of which these Southern grassroot tea party can define.

I have complied a partial list of names President Obama is called by tea partiers along with their meaning.

1. Antichrist: One who denies or opposes Christ; specifically, a great antagonist expected to fill the world with wickedness but to be conquered forever by Christ at his second coming; a false Christ.

2. Stupid: Slow of mind; given to unintelligent decisions or acts; acting in an unintelligent or careless manner; lacking intelligence or reason..

3. Reverse Racist: Racial prejudice or discrimination.

4. Elitist: Leadership or rule by an elite; the selectivity of the elite; especially consciousness of being or belonging to an elite.

5. Tyrant: An absolute ruler unrestrained by law or constitution ; a usurper of sovereignty; a ruler who exercises absolute power oppressively or brutally; one resembling an oppressive ruler in the harsh use of authority or power.

6. Criminal: Guilty of crime; also of or befitting a criminal; a criminal mind.

7. Totalitarian: Of or relating to centralized control by an autocratic leader or hierarchy; authoritarian, dictator.

8. Corrupt: To change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions; also bribe; to degrade with unsound principles or moral values.

9. Should be Impeached: To bring an accusation against; to charge with a crime or misdemeanor; specifically; to charge (a public official) before a competent tribunal with misconduct in office; to remove from office especially for misconduct.

10. Brownshirt: Nazi, storm trooper.

11. Fascist: A political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascist) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition; a tendency toward or actual exercise tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.

12. Idiot: A person affected with idiocy; a foolish or stupid person.

13. Witch doctor: A professional worker of magic, usually in a primitive society who often works to cure sickness.

14. Communist: A member of a communist party or movement.

15. Socialist: One who advocates or practices socialism; (b) national socialism--Nazism (c) socialist realism--a Marxist aesthetic theory calling for the didactic use of literature, art, and music to develop social consciousness in an evolving socialist state; (d) utopia socialism--socialism based on a belief that social ownership of the means of production can be achieved by voluntary and peaceful surrender of their holdings by propertied groups.

16. Marxist: The political, economic, and social principles and policies advocated by Marx; especially a theory and practice of socialism including the labor theory of value, dialectical materialism, the class struggle, and dictatorship of the proletariat until the establishment of a classless society.

17. Immigrant: Some one sneaks into America illegally.

Tea partiers adore sound bites and slogans such as President Obama is the:

A. New face of Hitler.
B. Obama is a racist pig.
C. Black Beard Obama, king of the tax pirates.
D. Obama bin lyin.
E.We are not slaves.
F. He's a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.
    (musician Ted Nugent)
G. The American taxpayers are the Jews for Obama's ovens.
H. Obama-nomics: Monkey see, monkey spend!
I. We need a christian president!
J. Congress=Slave Owner=Taxpayer=Niggar.   
 (poster displayed by president of Houston's teabaggers' movement)
K. We came unarmed this time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Battered Woman: Who Is She?

The battered woman. Who is she?
She is anybody's daughter

Domestic violence is a catastrophic problem that power-minded politicians refuse to address when on the campaign trail speechifying and shamelessly pandering for votes. Politically speaking, the abuse of women and young girls is not a popular topic of discussion in public. The better idea is to keep it private. For some people the subject is either too boring, or too scary to tackle. Abuse of women and young girls is not sexy or glamorous. 

Far from what some individuals accept as truth, spousal abuse is not a short-winded lover’s quarrel, that ends with no permanent damage done.  It is in-house terrorism, nonstop.

Unfortunately, not enough women are grabbing hold of this issue with both hands, especially high profile women sitting in high seats of power. They are not speaking loudly into their giant megaphones, using their power and influence to help prioritize “the world’s dirty little secret.” In this book of poems when I talk about “committed relationship”, I am referring to a woman cohabitating with her boyfriend. In a number of states cohabitation or common law marriage is recognized, provided the couple meets certain requirements as specified by each state. Too many parents--foremost role models for their sons and daughters--are not talking to their teens about domestic violence. They are not teaching their sons that it is wrong to verbally and physically abuse a woman. They are not teaching their daughters that they do not have to suffer the indignity of abuse in a relationship for the sake of love and acceptance. Just as importantly, parents are not explaining to their sons and daughters that hitting and love are not synonymous. They are not telling them that hitting does not make a boy a loving man; getting hit does not make a girl a loved woman.

Beginning at an appropriate age children must be taught the simple A-B-C’s of resolving their disagreements without loaded words, animosity and violence acting as in-house-counselors. There can be no holding back. Parents should not deflate the words “Violence” and “Abuse” when they have these crucial conversations with their sons and daughters. Softening of these words diminishes the focal point of the discussion. Teens need to envision the absolute destruction that abuse and violence causes in a relationship or marriage.

Unlike some politicians and armchair quarterbacks, I personally see violence against women as a front seat issue. There is no reason for it sitting alone and abandoned at the rear of the bus. Likened to the much touted politics of same sex marriage, homosexuality and abortion--all front seat riders--domestic violence, apparently, is not that horrendous in the mind of some people. Never mind violence often leads to the death of a wife or girlfriend.

Regrettably, it takes a high profile case of abuse and murder to capture the public’s attention on a national scale. The death of a plain Jane living next door does not warrant 24/7 media coverage. Too often she becomes a cold case on file. However, if Jane is attractive, preferably blonde, has a face the media can sell to the public by soliciting remembrances from family and friends, in conjunction with happy faced photographs and joyous videos--the grieving family will attract all the attention and coverage they want. These carefully collected components are sewn together with orchestrated media language, and spoon-fed to the public. And like magic the “pretty woman” tragedy swiftly evolves into a full-fledged feeding frenzy. Family members of poor Whites, Blacks and Hispanics and others can expect no more than four or five minutes of local coverage. They can dismiss any thoughts of around-the-clock national coverage. The definition of “interesting news” does not apply to every woman or young girl killed by her abuser.

Thus, the poems in The Darker Side Of Violence Comes Faster Than The Brighter Side Of Love (publication pending) were written recalling the words other battered women, and my own memories, all of which are stored in my mind, patiently awaiting their chance to resurface and be heard. These poems are multicultural, short tempered, heartless, cruel, combative, deadly. They offer no apology for being raw, truthful and unsophisticated. They are not impressed by fancy words, ethnicity, religion, skin color, education, profession, income or age. They do not waste time wondering where the abused woman resides. They already know that she lives in public housing, modest homes with fences, trailer parks, farms, condos, boarding houses, fabulous mansions replete with household help, expensive cars, designer clothes and credit cards. She might even be homeless, where hell is what it is: butt naked and undisguised. Like an insightful psychiatrists, these poems know that a woman who is regularly abused and bullied, constantly comes face-to-face with physical and psychological abuse. 

In the section Crossing Over To The Brighter Side of Love, the poems are about love, lust, passion and sensuousness. These sensations should be prevalent in all marriages and relationships; unfortunately, they are lost in action when spousal abuse is the dominant commander on the battle field.

I dedicate these poems to liberated women and young girls, who are presently living in a world filled with happiness and freedom. They do not know about abuse. They do not  understand the plight of a truly battered female: her emotions, her isolation, her despondency, her lack of self-worth, her inactive spirit. I can fully appreciate these self-governing women and young girls who do not, and will not accept strolling shoulder-to-shoulder with homemade misery and homemade hell; physical and psychological abuse. 

Standing some distance from fists intent on harming them; foul words intent on dismantling their spirit, there is no reason to feel threatened. There is no reason for them to believe they will ever  be victims of abuse. I can understand them saying they will never allow themselves to get trapped in a violent relationship or marriage. “I deserve better than that,” they say. With conviction, I might add. Congratulations. Applause. Bravo. Cheers. Right on. These women and young girls are self-confident and smart. They value and respect themselves. That’s the way it should be. They deserve praise for knowing what they will not tolerate.


 How come you crying Mommy?

8 year-old Tammy asked.

She was a young child

with adult eyes and

wide-open ears.

She was not easily duped.

Her ears heard words

but her eyes saw truth.

Daddy hit you again, Mommy?
Yes he did,
Tammy disputed.

How come your arm
is hurting? Is it sore?

Daddy hit you
Last night, Mommy.
I saw him. 
I wasn’t sleeping.
I heard you crying.
Daddy yelled at you.
He called you bad names.

I’ll kiss your arm
and make it all better.
Don’t cry no more, okay?

I love you, Mommy.
You’re nice.
I’m not going to marry Daddy
When I get big.
He’s too mean.

The law says she 
Shouldn’t have shot him.
He hadn’t attacked her. 
She had no evidence
Indicating she was in danger.
No physical threat was made
The night she pulled the trigger, 
Releasing the bullets
That killed her husband 
Of 20 long arduous years.
Multiple years of 
Homemade Misery 
and Homemade Hell 
didn’t count.
The law says she has got to pay
For her crime of passion.
Her flare of fatal rage wasn’t 
Self defense simply because
She has mistreated eyes
And permanent battle scars. 
Killing was no excuse 
Just because
Busted lips and impaired health 
Escorted her to court. 
Call the police for protection?
She had been there; done that.
The law says
She wasn’t in serious danger
The night of the shooting. 
She doesn’t have a right
To go free, the legal system says.
The same system that
Refused to protect her 24 
Hours before she 
Shot her abuser to death.

(C) poems by dorothy charles banks