Social Music

I was in a parking lot recently, waiting in a long line of cars. I had music blasting out the window, which is what I do in traffic jams. Much to my surprise, a young black girl wearing cat-eye shades started looking at me with solemn intensity. Her mother pulled her arm but she turned around and stared at me some more. I knew it wasn’t my 2003 Ford she was looking at – it was the sound she wanted, “Tribute to Jack Johnson,” by Miles Davis.

Art has the capacity to reach out far beyond its own borders, far past 1970, far past New York City, far past the musician who composed it or played it. No amount of politics can kill the appeal of Art. Art is a necessity. As we go forward into the uncertain future, remember we can all develop our ability to appreciate Art.

Book Review: “The Other Slavery” by Andres Resendez (2016)

Resendez has written an excellent book which could drastically modify the study of slavery in the United States – if someone would pay attention.
From the 16th century to 1940, Native Americans were pressed into slavery and near-slavery by Spanish colonials, Mexicans, and each other. Instead of a great divide between black and white, this slavery was between brown and brown, and one day you might be free, the next day, a slave.
Other forms of servitude such as debt peonage and convict slavery came into use after enslavement of Native Americans was formally abolished. A timely topic given the current discussions of using prisoners to build a Border Wall.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in this subject.

Marilyn Sue Michel

My legal name change hearing is set for December 6, 2016. I am changing my name after learning family secrets, and my true genetic identity.

Hans Michel Walck arrived in Philadelphia from southwestern Germany in 1732, at the age of 23. Ben Franklin was just a local merchant and publisher at the time. He lost an election in 1764, due in part to antipathy from Germans, whom he criticized as “swarthy” and “boors.” On the other hand, his loss resulted in a new job representing Pennsylvania in England, thus launching his career as an international statesman.

I’m looking forward to a new year, with a new name, and hopefully, a President I can tolerate.


Light in St. Maarten

St. Maarten is on the edge of the Atlantic, far from everything. The night sky is amazing. I saw Venus shining on the water, and a moonbeam, a column of light striking the water.

St. Maarten is one of those international places, where you can find many languages, customs, and wonderful food. It is easy to get a cab into town, or cross the border to the French side, St. Martin.

I was there to see my friends, Laura and Donna. We were celebrating our birthdays, and the trip we took in 1987 when I was a Washington, D.C. intern for my last semester of law school. Travel is broadening, and a lot of fun!


Book Review: Warriors Don’t Cry

“Warriors Don’t Cry,” by Melba Pattillo Beals (1994), describes the experience of integrating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. It is a good reminder of all the ways people can be hateful, and feel justified doing it. The South was encouraged to be lawless and discriminatory after the Hayes Compromise of 1877, when the Federal Government agreed to turn a blind eye to any means of controlling the African American population in the South.

It is wrong to use the color of law to create a concentration camp atmosphere complete with the Ku Klux Klan, economic warfare, and shutting down high schools and pools, simply to avoid integration. It can happen again, and we should not be complacent. Beals had to move to Santa Rosa, California, to complete high school. She is a good example for all of us. Highly recommended.

Black History Month: A Necessity

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a lightning rod for white trolls, published a mild, thoughtful column about “Black America and the Class Divide” in the New York Times yesterday. It has already collected 347 comments, most of which blame black people for being poor.

What is most astonishing is that news about increased mortality rates for older white Americans, including drug overdoses, received a much more sympathetic response, just last month.

When white Americans are defended, and black Americans are attacked, for having the same problems, this is a classic case of racism. These responses are based on stereotypes which have been flogged for centuries: the laziness and fertility of blacks, the industriousness and spotless morality of whites.

With so much ignorance, we need the annual opportunity to concentrate on morphing racist attitudes, and the education needed to combat them. Black History Month is a necessity, until proven otherwise.