Thoughts from a Frustrated Black Woman Part 2
A Montgomery, Alabama Sheriff's Department booking photo of Mrs. Rosa Parks.
She was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man.

Thoughts from a Frustrated Black Woman Part 2


“At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this,” Mrs. Parks said 30 years later. “It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.”

...if we are going to demonstrate our rights to exercise our freedom of speech and rights, remember let us have an agenda for invoking a positive change, and not petty mayhem.

By Aretha Frison
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First published: November 29, 2005


Click here: Thoughts from a Frustrated Black Woman Part 1


Some African countries, like Uganda, are working with foreigners and generally doing quite well for themselves. They make their own laws, enforce them, and change them whenever they want—whether its good or bad for the common good is another matter—but they have the power and the freedom. They have also established some sort of economic power and investing authority, too. For example, observe the enhanced infrastructure in Botswana, the business savvy and improved race relations of South Africa, the relatively new stock market and the expanding agriculture market of Uganda, the plans of a united East African community, and the tourism power and the voting referendum for a new constitution in Kenya.

Consequently, where the money goes and how it is spent from these endeavors and initiatives is another story. The stories we hear mostly about these countries are filled with poverty, AIDS, HIV, and constant war, which is also true, but their freedom is still there.

Farrakhan is right about blacks owning and investing more. But, I think that universally black people must comprehend that if freedom is given, that the responsibility must be implemented, or beware of the consequences.

Currently, lacking capital in black and African nations is not a just a direct result from the foreign colonial rule or slavery. I believe it is also a result of not simply being responsible of newfound wealth and freedom (recently, Zimbabwe discovered uranium deposits in the country. The country is known to have close ties with Iran and North Korea, two countries in the spotlight for their nuclear polices. President Mugabe said it would be used for enhancing the government rural electrification program. Let us hope so.) And when this occurs, a nation and its people, who are literally free, are actually figuratively free because they have become irresponsible slaves to their own debt and abused freedom, therefore, they must be assisted from the outside.

So, if blacks are going to protest, march, or convene, then protest with a purpose to get positive results. March for a cause that will implement obvious change. And, convene to expect to receive a new relationship that will give blacks literal freedom to progress with each other and with other nations and races.

Within the past 10 years, Farrakhan’s Million Marches have not shown any specific or obvious positive changes in the black community and for Black Nationalism.

But, they have been very peaceful when they march to the Washington Monument.

See, our forefathers fought for freedom and got unquestionable results. But nowadays, we think about our freedom. We talk about our freedom. We see our freedom. We hear about our freedom. We discuss our freedom.

But, we don’t fight for our freedom anymore.

The Democratic Myth
For instance, what would the late civil rights activist Rosa Parks say about the current situation of democracy in the world today, especially among the black race around the world?

In October, I was saddened by Parks’ death. A native of my hometown of Detroit, I remember her attending my high school graduation. Serving as the class president in high school, I was humbled that my graduation speech was being heard by one of the 20th century’s most prolific pioneers of democracy and equality.

Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man sparked the modern civil rights movement, died at the age of 92. Parks was 42 when she committed an act of defiance in 1955 that was to change the course of American history, to introduce the world to the leadership of Dr. King, the NAACP and earn her the title “mother of the civil rights movement.” At that time, the Jim Crow laws in place since the post-Civil War Reconstruction required separation of the races in buses, restaurants and public accommodations throughout the South, while legally sanctioned racial discrimination kept blacks out of many jobs and neighborhoods in the North.

Her contribution to exercising her constitutional rights during America’s Jim Crow era, even though blacks were denied and killed if they even attempted to do so, was a motivation for me to not be afraid to stand up for my rights in America, and now, wherever I go in the world.



"Colored" drinking fountain from mid-20th century.

In Uganda, I have encountered many Ugandans who would not consider the idea of displaying this kind of peaceful fight for equality. Many believe that it is not constitutional and it wouldn’t work. And if it did, it wouldn’t work because the government is so corrupt, which is giving the false impression that the government is totally in control—a false sense of the democratic process.

Even though Ugandans have the right to freedom of expression to their individual views through the Parliament of Uganda, according to Article 29 of the Uganda Bill of Rights, many refuse to practice this motive saying it is a challenge to get instant results and to find someone to help a cause without bribes.

But, King, Parks and Caesar Chavez did it and got results because they were patient and they took a chance. They took a risk. Later, Parks admitted that she wasn’t even trying to start a revolution.

“At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this,” Mrs. Parks said 30 years later. “It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.”

Global Pandemonium
Next, even though we, as a global society, have examples of the peaceful flight for social justice, the most popular and chaotic result is violence. Recently in several countries, there have been consecutive incidents of violent protesting and riots to respond to various degrees of unfairness.

For example, in November, the recent Makerere University riots that killed one Makerere student and injured several others. According to WBS news reports, the Ministry of Education would soon address the retake fee for students to pay to take failed university courses again, which sparked the riots. The students reported that the original retake fee, as small as Ushs 6,000, was recently increased to as much as Ushs 200,000, depending on the course.

Then earlier this month, after thousands of West African immigrants and other foreigners in Paris felt that they were treated unfairly by the government, their protest against discrimination turned into a disastrous and grievous riot lasting more than 18 days, where the riot enabled looting to persist in and out of Paris city limits from evening into the wee hours of the morning. Looters ransacked stores, homes and burning buildings to display their anger.

And also this month, the Forum of Democratic Change (FDC) rally turned into a two-day display of violent unrest after members of the FDC and the Uganda Police Force retaliated against one another. This brawl also infused looting within the city center leaving several shops, automobiles destroyed and an Ushs 800 million bill for Parliament and the owners to pay for. Plus, many innocent bystanders were injured and enraged by the FDC and the police, looters arrested by military police, several embassies closed, and everyone fearful to look forward to the political future of the country.

However, many are sighing for relief or shaking with frustration because the local newspapers have reported that the National Resistance Movement (NRM) has endorsed President Museveni to run for a presidential third term in the 2006 election (and the reigning President said it was after he was “pressured and persuaded” to do so, and recently that he will retire from the presidency at the age of 73.)

Now, Ugandan lawyers protest this week against the November 16 siege of the High Court by armed military men, pegged “Black Mamba.” I just hope it is peaceful and will produce a change for the better.

And, let us not forget the response from the black community about the poor and slow response by FEMA for Hurricane Katrina in America that resulted in the profuse looting and gunshot battles between new organized gangs and the New Orleans Police.

The definition of a democratic country is “a country with a government that has been elected freely and equally by all its citizens.”

However, even though we are briskly moving further into the 21st century, we are still facing the overwhelming battle to invoke the dream of democracy throughout the world. We are still seeking to eliminate poverty throughout the world, especially in many black nations, and the motivation to push all blacks to the voting polls.

These are overwhelmingly difficult challenges since there are billions of people in the world, with 25 million in Africa alone. And recent press reports states that thousands of children are facing severe malnutrition in southeastern Madagascar and 1,600 people are on the verge of death if they don’t receive food soon, according to the country’s government.

I sincerely believe that if the world continues to have poverty, then the poor in many of the countries around the world will continue to fight the rich and capitalism.

Right now, the World Bank predicts more poverty wallowing in sub-Saharan Africa, plus it also reports that “the actual number of people in the region living on $1 a day or less has grown since the 1980s, and is expected to rise further.”

And this method of thinking will indirectly promote governments to continue playing a cat and mouse game with democracy, while Communism is their real agenda. The poor feel comfortable with Communism because in most cases, it provides an illusion for security in the present and for the future while the past has shown to be unstable, war-torn and horrific. And the governing body feels like victors reigning over their newly conquered land, with the citizens constantly providing them a lifetime tribute to their fame and glory.

Exercising Futile Freedom
Lastly, I would like to look on the other side of the recent incidents of freedom and violence and review what can happen if freedom is abused and taken for granted.

According to recent Washington news reports, earlier this month students at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C. were outraged when President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush carried out a youth summit at the Blackburn Center, the school’s dinning hall. Apparently there were conflicting reports between the students, Howard’s administration and the Washington Post about why the student riot started. Yet, the Washington Post reported that many students were not upset because the First Lady didn’t invite them to the summit, but because the event occurred during the popular “soul food” dinner night.

Post columnist Courtland Milloy wrote, “It was Soul Food Thursday at Howard University last week, and many students were looking forward to their favorite meal: fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and cornbread...Apparently, many of them did not know that President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush had arrived for a “youth summit” at the Blackburn Center, where the dining hall is located. Stomachs began to growl, tempers flared, and eventually, a student protest ensued.”

The Howard Hilltop, the university’s student newspaper, stated in an editorial that it believed the students didn’t take a risk to be shot by The Secret Service over cornbread and greens, but because their classes were cancelled without a notice.

Well, whatever the reason, I know the issues of college students and I especially know the issues of black college students, since I graduated from a historically black university and participated in a peaceful student protest during my tenure there. And generally, I believe that some black college students take more pride and maintain a higher priority in their step shows, band performances and Mr. and Mrs. Pageants than their local, university and national issues that will determine the impact on their lives.

According to the Washington Post, fewer than 2,000 of about 7,000 undergraduates voted in student government elections in March. And many students said they protested against the summit because they did not like Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, yet this year’s homecoming step show at Howard was sponsored by the U.S. Army, that included recruiting tables to enter the armed forces.

Again, if we are going to demonstrate our rights to exercise our freedom of speech and rights, remember let us have an agenda for invoking a positive change, and not petty mayhem. Violent riots are useless, and riots over soul food are just futile and preposterous.

If the global black race is ever going to achieve freedom and true democracy, then it will have to master the method of implementation and participation in its respective nations to achieve successful and positive results to uplift, rebuilt and better the black race, the human race and the world.

Otherwise, we are going to continue to get temporal satisfaction and face disgrace internationally by looting for DVD players in floodwaters, wearing P. Diddy “Vote or Die” t-shirts and not voting, burning cars in order to been seen on the evening news, stoning our classmates because we failed our classes and don’t want to pay the retake fee, raiding shops and hawking mobile phones on the street for Ushs 6,000, inhaling tear gas, fighting President Bush over fried chicken, and having potential presidential candidates go to jail over decade-old rape charges.

Let us broaden our global agenda. Whether you are in the ghettos of urban America or the slums of East Africa, our conversations are getting more complex because of our increased racial, social, ethnical and religious divisions. They are becoming harder to understand and more challenging to discuss. We have to combat and ratify these issues together for the betterment of not just one race, but the entire human race.

Click here: Thoughts from a Frustrated Black Woman Part 1

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By Aretha Frison
more from author >>
First published: November 29, 2005
Aretha Frison, a native of Detroit, Michigan, and a graduate of Florida A&M University, is currently living in Kampala, Uganda as an independant media consultant for media houses and publishing companies.

She has written, edited and been featured in the Detroit Free Press, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, the East African, New Vision, The Daily Monitor, Vibe, and other trade magazines and newspapers.

Living in Uganda as a resident, she is actively involved in the Uganda writing arena, local church activities, and volunteer organizations. She can be reached at rereb@hotmail.com.