THE ECONOMY

While billionaires like Bill Gates buy up all the nation’s farmland, Wall Street investors snatch up every home they can get their hands on.

Medieval illustration of men harvesting wheat with reaping hooks. Wikimedia Commons

For Father’s Day a few years back, my wife and kids surprised me with a trip to Medieval Times, an immersive dinner theater featuring staged Arthurian-styled games, such as sword-fighting and jousting. Anyone can enjoy the forgotten age of kings and queens for a reasonable price, at least for an evening.

For the next several hours, we sank into the fantasy world of wealthy lords and ladies. As we watched knights battle each other on horseback, the wait staff, dressed as lowly serfs, served overflowing plates of food and poured wine into our faux-jewel-encrusted goblets on demand. …


THIS IS AMERICA

My parents turned the racism around us into a game to help us cope

“Holiday Inn — Vincennes, Indiana.” Image: Jordan Smith/Flickr

Hillenbrand Industries is the holding company for two operating businesses. One is Hillrom, which operates in the health care industry, selling and renting hospital beds, furnishings, and other hospital accessories. If you’ve ever needed to spend a night in a hospital, chances are you’ve slept in one of their beds.

Hillenbrand’s other operating business is Batesville Casket Company. Although the name is probably unfamiliar to most people, Batesville is the largest coffin manufacturer in the country, controlling nearly half the U.S. market. Funerals may be uncomfortable to discuss, but it’s a $20 billion industry.

No matter what anyone tells you…


THIS IS AMERICA

When it comes to racism and classism, Republicans aren’t the only offenders

Screenshot by the author of the Spouting Rock Beach Association (aka Bailey’s Beach Club) website

Last summer, Democrats rode the wave of what’s come to be known as America’s racial reckoning. White Democrats, in particular, went to great lengths to prove their “wokeness.” First, they paraded through the Capitol wearing Kente cloth, topped off by taking a Colin Kaepernick-inspired knee. Eventually, the attempts by the White political left to show their anti-racist bona fides bordered on pandering.

At the time, I tolerated it as I’m sure many others did. I knew a little performative pandering was par for the course politically. The sight of Reps. …


THE ECONOMY

For the first time in decades, it’s a worker’s market

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

There is an unspoken agreement between Williams Sonoma and its store-level employees. In exchange for wages well below the poverty line, workers get discounts on the company’s upscale kitchen supplies. My wife’s employment there a few years ago is a case study on wage inequality.

Shortly after we relocated to North Carolina in 2012, my wife worked as the assistant manager at a local Williams Sonoma. Like many of the company’s employees, she was there primarily for the discounts. The employee discounts were as much as 40% off. …


HIDDEN BLACK HISTORY

The Wilmington Coup of 1898, America’s only successful overthrow of an elected government, has eerie parallels to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol

The remains of the office of the Wilmington Daily Record, Wilmington’s Black-owned newspaper, after its destruction by a mob of White supremacists in the Wilmington coup and massacre, November 10, 1898. Image: Wikipedia Commons

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does often rhyme.” ~Mark Twain, American author and humorist

On January 6, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters, consisting of White supremacist militias, members of the military, and law enforcement, attacked the U.S. Capitol in an armed insurrection. The objective of the rioters was to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

As the world watched in real time, the predominantly White crowd ransacked the seat of American democracy. …


HIDDEN BLACK HISTORY

Wall Street broker Jeremiah G. Hamilton was ultra rich in mid-1800s New York City. Here is his story.

Image credit: JeremiahHamilton.org

In 1983, there were only three Black financial services professionals in the entire state of Arkansas. I was one of them. A decade later, I started the first Black-owned investment bank in Arkansas. For a little more than a decade, I was part of an exclusive club — the world of Blacks on Wall Street.

For more than thirty years, I navigated the universe of Black-owned investment firms, ultimately building and managing a successful program trading operation for one of the largest minority-owned investment banks on Wall Street. Most people are unaware of this, but there is a rich history…


THIS IS AMERICA

Click or bang. Black people never know how their encounter with the police will end.

U.S. Army Lt. Caron Nazario. Photo: Winsor Police

I saw a movie once called The Deer Hunter. Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken starred as childhood friends who end up as prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. Russian roulette was one of the forms of torture used by their captors.

In the film, the Viet Cong forced their prisoners to play the game against one another, making them spin the barrel of a pistol, hold it to their temples, and pull the trigger. Their captors gambled as the prisoners played until, finally, a “bang” replaced the “click” of the empty chamber. …


POLITICS

Tanden’s mean tweets are only part of the story

Photo: Neera Tanden/publichealthpost.org

The Senate recently confirmed Shalanda Young as the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Young will serve as acting chief of the OMB while President Joe Biden seeks a replacement for his original nominee, Neera Tanden, who withdrew from consideration last month.

Tanden’s nomination failed after Republicans and Joe Manchin, a purported Democrat, voted not to confirm Tanden, ostensibly due to her previous social media comments. If not for Manchin’s no vote, Tanden likely would have managed to squeak through the confirmation process.

Republican Senators pitching a fit over Tanden’s mean tweets is unsurprising, given their…


Thirty years ago, I rolled my eyes at the trope. Now I don’t.

Photo: New Line Cinema

When Eddie Murphy’s rom-com Boomerang premiered in 1992, the critical reception was lukewarm at best, but over time, the film earned its place as an underrated ’90s classic. Arguably one of Murphy’s best films and the launchpad for several now-familiar Black entertainers, from Halle Berry and Tisha Campbell-Martin to John Witherspoon and Chris Rock, the movie portrays a vision of Black culture that was probably over the heads of most movie critics of its day.

One of the film’s most interesting characters is Tyler, the best friend to Marcus, Murphy’s character. Portrayed by Martin Lawrence, Tyler is a Black man…


CULTURE

Why my son’s brush with prison was the closest I’ll ever come to knowing how white privilege feels

Photo: MSN.com

Binge-watching is one of my family’s guilty pleasures. A few weeks ago, we powered through Your Honor, a limited series on Showtime starring Bryan Cranston. Without spoiling the plot, Cranston plays a judge whose son is involved in a hit-and-run accident resulting in a fatality. Set in New Orleans, the series explores just how far outside the law he will go to keep his kid out of jail. Cranston uses his power and authority as a judge to illegally manipulate the wheels of justice— including the police and even the jury in a different criminal case.

After watching the show

Marlon Weems.

Raconteur. Recovering Capitalist. Bylines in GEN, Momentum, An Injustice, and The Journeyman. Connect: https://linktr.ee/thejourneyman

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