Leave it to Donald Trump to run brazen subversion — refusal to accept the decision of the voters in the presidential election — as a clown show, marked by wingbat lawyers, delusional tweets, and hailstorms of lies. The noise, however, should not delude us: Trump is leading an American counterreformation right to the edge of secession, if not beyond. And at the core of this is America’s continued struggle with race. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the president’s lapdog, who just survived a challenge by an African-American Democrat, gave the game away when he declared — on Fox TV, naturally — “If we don’t challenge and change the U.S. election system, there’ll never be another Republican president elected again. President Trump should not concede.”
Trump’s defeat revives the horrors Republicans felt with the election of Barack Obama: the stark realization that a party built on racial division as the party of white sanctuary could not survive in a multiracial democracy. Beginning with Barry Goldwater, Republicans grounded their party in the South, building a majority with race-bait politics to divide working people.
Trump was the extreme expression of the strategy, rising to notoriety by questioning Obama’s citizenship, winning with a campaign raising racial fears of lawless immigrants, and governing in the interests of the wealthy, the country club and the special interests. Trump has sought to undermine this election from the start. For years, he and his party engaged in systematic voter suppression — using gerrymandering, voter intimidation, purges of the voting rolls, restricting the time and places for balloting, imposing new ID requirements and more.
Then, even before a vote was cast, Trump charged there would be massive electoral fraud. If Trump had won, he would have said it was against the odds. Having lost, he claimed it was rigged. Then he unleashed his clown lawyers to paper the courts with lawsuits challenging votes without evidence. When even Republican judges rejected his claims, he continued to claim the election was stolen, even as he uses his lame-duck period to deepen the crises he leaves Biden. He has withdrawn from the open skies agreement with Russia.
His Treasury secretary has closed down loan facilities for small businesses that the head of the Federal Reserve says are important in fighting the recession. He’s done nothing to get the Republican Senate to pass a rescue package to aid the millions still unemployed. Legislators fear he will shut down the government unless he gets big money to build his wall. Trump won’t succeed in maintaining power, but he is already succeeding in convincing his followers that the Biden presidency is illegitimate. The last time the election of a president was contested — with race at the center of the dispute — was in 1860 with the election of Abraham Lincoln, when the slave states seceded and the country descended into the Civil War.
The Jefferson Davis of this time, Donald Trump is not likely to lead a formal secession. Instead he seems intent on using this lame-duck period to undermine the incoming administration. As a lame duck, he is essentially unaccountable, particularly with the Republican Senate not willing to provide a check on his misfeasance. Clearly, there should be a bipartisan committee drawn from both houses of Congress to oversee the lame-duck period and limit the damage a bitter untethered president can do. After he leaves office, Trump is likely to set up a sort of shadow government, using his tweets and media appearances to denounce the Biden administration. Republicans, in fear of the wrath of his supporters, will obstruct Biden at every turn.
What Trump has made clear is that this subversion won’t end when Biden is inaugurated. It is likely to get more turbulent rather than less. The stakes are very high. Will the multiracial majority be able to build a governing coalition that can begin to address the fundamental reforms that Americans so desperately need? Or will the embattled minority sabotage that possibility, divide the country or even move toward secession once more? In rejecting the verdict of the voters, Trump is charting a road to division. Americans must find a way to reach out, come together and go a different way.
Music was always prevalent in my home. My mother sang all the time — sometimes singing songs from her Top Ten list — a hodgepodge of gospel, R&B, Motown and tunes from the ’40s and ’50s that I never really liked.
And yes, she could sing, serving as a soloist in one of the choirs at our family’s place of worship, St. Andrews AME in Detroit. But the music which seemed to energize her, and by extension me, my sister and my dad, was Christmas carols.
Back in the day, long before there were things like early holiday shopping deals, Black Friday or Christmas advertisements which bombarded the public as early as late October and Halloween, my mom would begin to dust off the covers of her favorite Christmas albums and begin playing them during the week of Thanksgiving on our trusty record playing situated in the family dining room.
I can still hear the sounds of the scratch and hiss that the needle made as the album rotated on the turntable. In fact, while technology has since provided us with improved methods of ways to listen to music — from eight-tracks and cassettes to CDs, there’s been a recent resurgence of and demand for albums.
I can only imagine the money I could make today on e-Bay if I hadn’t sold my collection of LPs decades ago. Anyway, back to the music! Just like when I was a little boy anxiously waiting for Santa to arrive on December 25th, I still love the sounds of Christmas.
Johnny Mathis was the MAN and we had every Christmas album he ever released. Sometimes, while shopping in a mall or visiting someone’s office, you’d hear, ever so softly, Johnny’s voice serenading you with carols that have become fixtures for the season. Before there was “the voice,” there was Mathis.
And while I didn’t like Barbra Streisand as a child, I have since become a real fan. Prior to my mother’s death, while trying to make her laugh during a moment when she was feeling really badly, I acted out Streisand’s rendition of “Sleigh Ride,” followed by “My Favorite Things.” My good friend, Christopher, captured my antics on his phone. But he’s been warned not to share it.
Then, there was the Jackson 5. Michael and Jermaine took the lead on that album and every song was fantastic. I would bounce and jump and leap and twirl around the house, singing soprano while Mom took the alto line. That was a long time ago — now I’m a bona fide bass.
From “Up on the Housetop” to “Christmas Won’t Be the Same This Year,” to “Give Love on Christmas Day,” the Jackson 5 could do no wrong.
Later, I would add other more contemporary singers to my list. Whitney Houston’s album, “One Wish” remains my ultimate favorite. She was at the top of her game when the recording broke in 2003. Actually, I play it in March, July and September if I need a pick-me-up. And the couple of songs on which Houston was accompanied by her only daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, are heartwarming.
I cannot overlook one of the classiest and most-talented sisters in the business, Fantasia. The last time we spoke, she actually called me to talk about a recent release. But, as I’m known to do, I asked her about her Christmas CD. Her singing, as the choir with whom I sang years ago at Big Bethel AME in Atlanta would say, was so moving that you couldn’t help but “take off your shoe and throw it at her.”
Rounding up my list — Mervyn Warren’s (a founding member of the incomparable a cappella group Take 6) “Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration.” I guess almost everyone’s either heard Handel’s masterful “The Messiah” in its original form. Perhaps you’ve even had the joy and pleasure of attending a church service or concert where you were able to sing along as his masterpiece was performed by orchestra, choir and soloists.
But for Black folk who consider themselves vocalists, there was nothing better than the nuanced, if not spectacular arrangements on what we referred to as the “Soulful Messiah” — a gospel album that featured various artists including Stevie Wonder, Tevin Campbell, Take 6, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Daryl Coley, Tramaine Hawkins and Dianne Reeves, Patti Austin and Howard Hewitt.
I could list more but I hear the music playing. It’s beginning to “sound” a lot like Christmas.
I recently received a note from my dear and evergreen friend Maria Nhambu with wise counsel that has circulated for many years under titles like “The Balance Sheet of Life” and “Things We Should All Know.”
In a world where so much is uncertain and confusing, this message is timeless and includes tenets of all the great faiths that help bind us together as human beings:
The most destructive habit: Worry.
The greatest joy: Giving.
The greatest loss: Loss of self-respect.
The most satisfying work: Helping others.
The ugliest personality trait: Selfishness.
The greatest “shot in the arm”: Encouragement.
The greatest problem to overcome: Fear.
The most effective sleeping pill: Peace of mind.
The most crippling disease: Excuses.
The most powerful force in life: Love.
The most dangerous act: Gossip.
The world’s most incredible computer: The brain.
The worst thing to be without: Hope.
The deadliest weapon: The tongue.
The two most power-filled words: I can.
The greatest asset: Faith.
The most worthless emotion: Self-pity.
The most beautiful attire: A smile.
The most prized possession: Integrity.
The most powerful channel of communication: Prayer.
The most contagious spirit: Enthusiasm.
Edelman is founder and president emerita of Children’s Defense Fund.
As I write today, our nation has reached significant milestones, which in their differences are connected. We’ve experienced the loss of a QUARTER-MILLION Americans to COVID-19. We’ve moved past an infection total of 12 million. This upswing in the disease has overburdened and threatens to break our health care system. Under the weight of COVID-19, many hospitals are unable to provide for “routine” care, including accidents and emergencies. These facts often leave the level of stress upon our nation’s health care providers ignored and underreported.
Consolation for those facts rests in the report that Pfizer and Moderna pharmaceuticals are ready to request emergency use for vaccines with 95% claimed effectiveness in laboratory tests. That good news poses the challenge of developing a viable plan for production, distribution and administration of the vaccine to over 330 million people. Forthcoming vaccines cannot ease the pain of loss, but there is some emotional relief for potential protection against this deadly menace.
Concurrent with the clinical impact of COVID-19, the nation teeters on the edge of disease-related economic devastation. The disease has created major impacts on workers and essential businesses in almost every sector of our economy. Reduced demand for travel services (air, rail, hotel, etc.) have sidelined equipment and personnel in a limbo of undetermined duration and depth. Our restaurant industry has been among the hardest-hit by closures ordered for the cause of reasonable health practices. Economic uncertainties created by the disease generally reduce demand for all goods and services and the personnel required to support production, sales and delivery. Excluding the wealthy or those with specialized technologically essential skills, COVID-19 has had an unquestionably negative economic impact on millions of citizens.
I’m struck by the insufficient emphasis placed on COVID-19’s impact on education. While school infection rates and clinical safety protocols are debated, funds to refit schools and protect teachers are on-pause. As a result, many school districts are faced with the question of whether to start, close or restart in-person teaching. For most, these stop-again, start-again options construct a learning foundation which can only be described as uncertain.
Overreaching all these facts is the outcome of a national election, contested only in the mind of “THE LOSER” and the actions of those who give him their nominal support. And this brings me to my starting point for the week. I hold certain that at noon on Jan. 20, 2021, we will celebrate a new president and administration. I’m also certain that a significant portion of the 74 million voters for “THE LOSER” will deliver nonstop resistance to President Biden.
Observations of the Obama administration inform me that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, orchestrator of opposition, will remain as an obstructionist against President Biden. With political philosophies complementary to the dictator he serves, McConnell has:
– Loaded federal courts with (many unqualified) conservative appointees.
– Stolen two SCOTUS nominations.
– Withheld Senate action for 6-plus months on a stimulus (economic relief) package submitted by the House of Representatives.
– Emphasized policies beneficial to the wealthy and demonstrated little or no concern for the welfare of the ordinary citizen.
Removal of McConnell as Senate majority leader is the only viable change required for the accomplishment of progressive aims of the new administration.
– Support Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the Georgia Senate runoff elections.
– Donate to their campaigns.
– Encourage every eligible Georgian to register and vote.
– If a Georgia resident, VOTE!!!
Remember, voter registration deadline for the January runoff is Dec. 7. Voting in this runoff is more important than you think. It transcends where we live. Our opponents know this, and we must show that we know this, too!
Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.
“Because of the racial inequities we have built into our essential systems, they have become combustion engines of misery. The virus flows freely in high-risk areas like holding cells, police encounters, low-wage workplaces and public transit. The pistons of residential segregation, generational poverty and targeted disinvestment along racial lines apply pressure. … We can only defeat this pandemic by accepting those essential truths and making the choices to shut down the engines of misery for good.” — Phillip Atiba Goff, Amelia M. Haviland, Tracey Lloyd, Mikaela Meyer and Rachel Warren, authors of the Center for Policing Equity’s COVID-19 Modeling Project
This week, just as the nation reached the tragic milestone of more than a quarter-million deaths from COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that Black, Latino and Native American people are being hospitalized at nearly four times the rate of whites.
Just a day after the CDC’s findings were reported, Stanford University researchers published a study that found more than half of hospital deaths from COVID-19 were Black or Hispanic patients.
Bringing the pandemic under control in the United States starts with controlling it in the worst-hit communities. And that starts with the guidance and expertise of Black health professionals.
For the past several months, a task force formed by the nation’s oldest Black physicians group has been monitoring the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The National Medical Association’s task force of infectious disease and immunization experts has been reviewing data to confirm the strength of scientific evidence and that diversity is represented in clinical trials.
“We’re really doing this to be a source of trusted information for our physicians and our community … in order for us to speak to the safety and allocation within the African American community,” NMA President Dr. Leon McDougle told CBS News.
This week, the National Urban League joined forces in that effort, initiating a first-of-its-kind conversation between Black journalists and a coalition of Black health professionals including NMA, the Black Coalition Against COVID-19 have partnered with Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, the National Black Nurses Association and BlackDoctor.org.
On December 10, we will present a town hall on the development and potential distribution of a vaccine.
The National Urban League has repeatedly demanded that any vaccine distribution plan avoid the mistakes that were made with test distribution in the spring. Rather than rely largely on private physicians and chain pharmacies – largely absent from poor Black neighborhoods — distribution must incorporate community-based providers like churches and other faith-based organizations, community centers and Urban League affiliates.
The equitable framework for vaccine allocation developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommends that “special efforts are made to deliver vaccine to residents of high-vulnerability areas.”
The first of the framework’s four phases include people with underlying conditions such as cancer, serious heart conditions, or sickle cell disease, that put them at significantly higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease or death. African Americans are disproportionately represented among this group. As the National Academies noted:
Black, Hispanic or Latinx, American Indian and Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 with higher rates of transmission, morbidity and mortality. This reflects the impact of systemic racism leading to higher rates of comorbidities that increase the severity of COVID-19 infection and the socioeconomic factors that increase likelihood of acquiring the infection, such as having front-line jobs, crowded living conditions, lack of access to personal protective equipment and inability to work from home.
While we are making every effort to plan for an equitable vaccine distribution plan, it’s important to remember that there is no vaccine right now. FDA approval may be imminent, but it hasn’t happened yet. Until a vaccine is available, our best chance of survival is to mask up and avoid large gatherings.
Avoiding large gatherings is a bitter pill to swallow during this holiday time, when we’re missing our friends and family, especially after more than eight weeks of social restrictions. But there is a light at the end of this tunnel, and we’re working to make sure it shines equally on Black America.
Morial is president/CEO of the National Urban League.
This hasn’t been a normal year, and it isn’t going to be a normal Thanksgiving.
Instead of looking forward to family and feasting, many of us are listening to health officials begging us to avoid large gatherings, and we’re weighing the risks against our deeply felt desire to be with our loved ones.
Let’s be honest. 2020 has been a brutal year. Many are grieving the loss of loved ones. Many have lost jobs and businesses and the security they bring our families. Students and educators have had to learn and teach in new ways. Some struggle with isolation and others with forced confinement in uncomfortable or unsafe situations.
On top of that, we have all been let down by our national leaders, especially a president who played politics with public health — and is now trying to undermine whatever faith Americans still share in our democracy.
And still, Thanksgiving is here.
My faith encourages us to try to be thankful in all things. I think that may be most important during the hardest times in our lives. During a year like this one, I appreciate the wisdom of our having a national tradition of pausing to count our blessings no matter what else is happening.
Thanksgiving means family to me. I’m thinking about my 104-year-old grandmother, who has given thanks through periods of war, civil strife and economic devastation. I’m grateful for the lessons her life teaches me about commitment, calm, courage and perseverance.
I am also thinking about my children and my gratitude that this election gives me hope for their future. It renews my faith that together we can create a country that will give them every opportunity to follow their dreams.
Thanksgiving and nationalism can be mixed in unhealthy ways. Yet this year, I feel a special patriotic gratitude to live in a country where we are free to choose our leaders.
And I’m proud that Black people showed once again that we can shape our future by pushing back against the corruption and unprincipled power plays and institutionalized racism that are used to try to keep us from participating fully in our democracy.
I am grateful for the multiracial, multigenerational social justice movement that has been brought into being to challenge unjust policing. I’m grateful for all the young people who made their first run for public office. And I am especially grateful for leaders and organizers who use their God-given talents and their hard-won skills and experience to organize, motivate and mobilize our people — leaders like Stacey Abrams and so many others who worked to bring change to their cities and states — and our country.
Of course, there’s more to do. We have important Senate elections coming up in Georgia. And next year, we’ll make many demands on local, state and national officials to address the issues that affect our lives and our future.
For now, let us be grateful for new hope and new direction in our nation and for everyone who has given of themselves to help our neighbors and strengthen our communities.
And after we pause to give thanks for our freedom and our accomplishments, let’s resolve to be, in the words of the great gospel song, “in no ways tired” of seeking justice and creating positive change. Then we’ll have even more to be grateful for next Thanksgiving.
Ben Jealous, the former president and CEO of the NAACP, is president of People For the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation.
On Jan. 5, Georgia will hold a runoff election for both of its Senate seats. The races capture national attention because control of the Senate is at stake. If the two Democratic challengers, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock. both win, the Senate will be effectively split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.
If one or both lose, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell will retain his ability to obstruct the incoming president. The races will be determined by whether Georgia’s voters choose to embrace and build a New South coalition or revert to the Old South. Georgia has been changing ever since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.
The civil rights movement was anchored in Georgia, led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, the pastor at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Julian Bond and John Lewis, historic leaders of that movement, also came from Atlanta. After the civil rights movement transformed our laws, Georgia began to change. Major businesses like CNN located in Atlanta, the city “too busy to hate.”
Professional football and baseball teams could thrive, once their teams were integrated. Blacks and whites played together in college sports like football, with fans divided by the color of the jerseys, not the color of the players’ skin. In recent years, Georgia has grown in population, in diversity and in sophistication. Blacks, Latinos and Asians grew in number. The college educated flocked to the Atlanta suburbs.
This year, for the first time since 1992, a Democrat, Joe Biden, won the state in the presidential campaign, by a margin of less than 15,000 votes. Biden’s victory was a fusion victory. African American registration soared, in significant part due to the work of Stacey Abrams, who most thought lost the 2018 governor’s race only because of brazen voter suppression. The young, single women, the college-educated, Latinos — all joined in Biden’s winning coalition.
They had to brave long lines and overcome Georgia’s notorious efforts to suppress their votes. Over 4.9 million voted, a new record, with 4 million voting early. Now the choice facing Georgia is stark: between the sitting Republican senators peddling racial fears of yesterday and the Democratic challengers representing hope and tomorrow. Both Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, are multimillionaires. (Loeffler is the wealthiest politician in Washington.)
Both were caught making large stock transactions in the wake of secret briefings on the pandemic. Both support Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Both oppose expanding Medicaid. Loeffler described herself in her ads as “to the right of Attila the Hun.”
She touted her endorsement by Qanon believer running for Congress. She was denounced as a “greedy insider” seeking to “profit off the pandemic” by her Republican opponent in the primaries. Loeffler is challenged by Reverend Raphael Warnock, the distinguished pastor at Dr. King’s famed Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. He favors common sense in dealing with the pandemic, and bold action to put people back to work.
He calls for defending the Affordable Care Act and its protections of pre-existing conditions and seeks to add a public option that will help lower prices and provide real choices. He’d vote to raise the minimum wage, to pass the rescue plan vital to workers in the pandemic, and to invest in rebuilding America. Millions will be poured into these two runoffs. Neither Perdue nor Loeffler is popular, so both will feature negative ads designed to drive up doubts about their opponents.
Loeffler has already sunk a million dollars into two attack ads labeling Warnock as “anti-American” and part of the “radical left.” Perdue has charged his opponent, Jon Ossoff, with everything from being a socialist to being a pawn of the Chinese communists.
They are following the playbook of Donald Trump: sow fear, feed racial divisions, and distract workers from the reality that they and the Republicans in the Senate stand in the way of making this economy work for working people.
Or as Rev. Warnock summarized, “If you don’t really have an agenda for working families, I guess you have to distract working families.” Despite all the mud, Georgians will have a clear choice. Will they respond to those sowing fear or those raising hopes?
Will they side with those seeking to divide us or those seeking to bring us together? Will they support those who would revert to the Old South or those who would continue its progress into the New South? The vote on Jan. 5 will tell us much about Georgia, about the New South, and about America’s ability to deal with the crises we face.
Although this election season, this November, this year is like no other, I can truly say, I feel like I’ve been here before.
First, it was 1976, after the nightmare that had been the presidency of Richard Nixon and his second Vice President turned President Gerald Ford. Then, thanks to a decisive role by Black voters, Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter was elected, ending what seemed like a nightmare — a law-and-order mantra which fueled the “Southern Strategy” that lured segregation-minded White voters and elected officials into the Republican Party.
I was working at the Chicago Daily Defender at the time, and my brilliant boss, Louis Martin — the architect of John F. Kennedy’s “Kitchen Cabinet” of Black advisors who could not be brought formally into the Oval Office — Martin told me: “Why don’t you go down to Washington. Black voters just put Carter in the White House, and it’s going to be a new day for us in Washington.” Carter managed to endure one turbulent term.
In 1992, also thanks to unprecedented Black voter support, Bill Clinton, another Southern former governor ended another, even more conservative White House season of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush policies which had given us the “welfare queen” rhetoric and Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.
After the next 16 years, Black voters again closed another dismal chapter, this time that of George W. (for worst in history) Bush, who had given us endless wars and even more disastrous tax cuts for the rich, when they pushed Barack Obama over the top, and the nation sighed, “Yes we can.”
Now, 12 years later still, after four years of reversals and presidential humiliations which literally exhausted the book of ugly adjectives and descriptors for him, Black voters have decisively closed the door on the Donald Trump regime. And while each time their role in electing Democratic chief executives has been verbally acknowledged, Black folks have watched each successive Republican president turn the clock back further than before, and it seems like the Black agenda is even further from being fulfilled.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is now poised to take over — if The Donald and his not-ready-for-prime-time cast of characters will ever exit the stage, that is.
Again, the Democratic leadership offered fealty to the Black vote, and maybe will respond with appointments of Black folks to key roles, in addition to his V.P. choice Sen. Kamala Harris, and maybe will even push for policies which make a difference in Black lives. But, don’t hold your breath waiting for it.
Biden seems to want to win over those 73 million White voters who voted for Trump — never mind his own 80 million vote base. Trump is literally a laughingstock in this country and on the world stage, but he’s a White guy.
Biden is reportedly flirting with putting Republicans in his cabinet, hoping such concessions will cause his “pal” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) from his Senate days, to play fair and go along with some of his own liberal policies and appointees.
Right! Like he did with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland who didn’t even get a hearing nine months before the election, as compared to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who McConnell rushed through confirmation, just weeks before the ballots were cast.
He’s even suggesting he might be merciful about prosecuting The Donald’s many crimes while he was in office, so the nation can heal.
To that absurd proposition, I suggest there’s still time to impeach the Recalcitrant One again, as he appears to be prepared to use every dirty trick in the book to remain in office after his ugly term expires, even though he lost the election and lost it Big Time, both in the popular vote and in the Electoral College.
Sadly, White Democrats who have relied on Black votes to put them in the White House in every election going back to John F. Kennedy, just don’t seem to get it. The GOP is clear.
Republicans, now led by Trump, are waging war on Black people and their Democratic Party surrogates like they are a foreign enemy, while the Dems, now led by Joe Biden, seem to be approaching this like it’s a crochet class.
EDITOR’S COLUMN: My Thanksgiving Plans for 2020? Staying Home Alone, Staying Healthy and Staying Alive for Next Year
When I was a little boy, one of my favorite times of the year was the beginning of the week that marked Thanksgiving Day. My mother began preparations for dinner several days ahead of the big family gathering that we hosted every year. And her list was long with tasks for everyone to complete: polishing the silver, pulling out decorations including Christmas ornaments from dusty boxes and making sure we had enough food and libations on hand to satisfy an army.
Sure, my family had its share of those who ate so much that they had to unbutton their pants after dinner. Others took full advantage of my dad’s “open bar” — pouring heavy-handedly, sipping or guzzling and refilling their glasses until all they could do was babble incoherently.
There were tables and several fresh decks of playing cards ready and waiting for those who savored the thrill of achieving unbridled domination in bid whist showdowns. In the family room, with the fireplace roaring, football aficionados shouted at the television screen as our home team Detroit Lions did their best to make us proud.
Early Friday morning, after the party was over, my mother would send me and Daddy outside where we would decorate the bushes with Christmas lights. Meanwhile, she and my older sister would handle things inside — assembling the artificial Xmas tree, putting candles in the windows and addressing more than 100 cards so they could be ready for the mailman on Saturday.
Sadly, those days are long gone with many my loved one, including both of my parents and most of the adults who I would grow to love and admire so much, no longer alive. But the magic and the memories remain — and they bring me inordinate amounts of joy and solace — particularly when I am alone with my thoughts.
Now, I have become the elder, taking over the reins of those warriors of yesteryear who wore their badges of honor with pride and made our house a home — a safe place filled with love. Now, I have donned the role of father and grandfather, remaining diligent and ever prayerful as my children and grandchildren continue to discover their own passions and achieve their dreams.
But today, as the temperature falls in 2020, we are met with challenges — strange and frightening ones — which neither I nor the elders who once mentored me could have ever imagined. We now face a horrific health pandemic — coronavirus — that has pervaded our lives and changed the world, bringing sickness, death and fear on its heels.
So, while many Americans fortunate enough to have their own families and cherished friends struggle with sadness and depression because they’re unable to safely gather in groups or travel to other cities and states for Thanksgiving Day celebrations, I find myself strangely at peace.
Unlike my children or grandsons, I grew up in an era in which we learned how to be patient.
I was lucky — no, I was blessed — to have parents who rarely said no to my requests for things that really mattered to me. Yet, at the same time, they taught me how to wait for things worth waiting for.
They taught me the importance and necessity of “delayed gratification.”
They showed me how wonderful things could be when we dreamed and hoped and planned for outcomes that could easily come to pass — but only in God’s time.
And so, while I want to go home for the holidays and play cards, and laugh until I can barely stand and eat to my heart’s content and sip on my favorite holiday beverages, I know that I must wait.
We all must wait as we use our collective knowledge, creativity and experiences to battle and defeat this deadly virus.
This year, there will be no traveling over the river and through the woods, as the song suggests, “to grandmother’s (or grandfather’s) house we go.”
But there’s always tomorrow.
And I plan to be in the house, at the table and with my arms open and ready to envelop those who I love gently against my chest. I’ll hold on to my memories of the past for now — grateful that I have so many beautiful, treasured experiences to recall and remember.
There’s always tomorrow for dreams to come true.
And if I have my way, when tomorrow comes, I’ll be there making brand new memories — better memories. Memories that my children and my grandchildren will one day cherish as I continue to celebrate those that live within my heart and soul and mind.
It’s almost Thanksgiving Day. Isn’t it wonderful?
Comments for the week must be preceded by congratulations for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Compared with most elections I have experienced, the wait for confirmation of their electoral victory seemed interminable. The wait was at times painful, but the outcome exquisite! As expressed during many television interviews, when the Biden-Harris ticket was declared victorious, I felt that our long political nightmare had ended.
Whether relief is realized or not, their victory portends a reawakening of a movement toward national unity. At noon on Jan. 20, 2021, the fractious, divisiveness of the #45 administration will come to an end. I am not suggesting that one-on-one hostilities will immediately end, but I know that the bully pulpit of the presidency will no longer promote cross-cultural animus. The never-ending expression of grievance politics will come to an end and I hope we’ll then focus on what should be our commonalities.
True to promise, the first act of the Biden-Harris administration is a program to bring control to the Coronavirus Pandemic in the U.S. Nationally and for inhabitants of the rest of the world, COVID-19 has reshaped our respective cultures, methods of social interactions, and economies. Through words (encouraging COVID-19 best practices), actions (exemplary wearing of face masks), and a proposed national plan to control/end COVID-19, the Biden-Harris administration has articulated an intelligent and viable approach to reducing the effect of or eliminating this disease.
Unfortunately, my sense of relief lasted little more than 24 hours. I guess it was foolish for me to expect expressions of familiar norms or propriety from #45’s campaign or the Republican Party. No congratulations! No concession! The presentation of contrived non-evidentiary, legal objections to election outcomes came! Firing of the secretary of defense came and poses an immediate and existential threat to national security! Then came a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) before the Supreme Court, which could remove health insurance coverage for over 20 million citizens and for over one million citizens with preexisting conditions! The nightmare continues!
It’s a nightmare of negativity promulgated by maniacal, ego-driven psyche of insecurity. Like a petulant child, #45 has established handicaps that retard the ability of Biden-Harris to engage in the transition process as established by law. Through an agent of discord, General Services Administration Commissioner Emily Murphy, the Letter of Ascertainment that provides legal authority for the Biden-Harris transition team hasn’t been issued.
With the post-election behavior of #45 and his Republican supporters, there’s nothing that gives reason to believe that they have taken a more reasoned or conciliatory approach to governance. The remedy available to us requires that we reject conditioning that allows us to believe that we only have a right to challenge issues unique to our specific jurisdictions. Contemporary logic dictates that we understand our broader requirement for engagement.
If we endorse the Biden-Harris agenda, we must work to eliminate impediments established by their opposition. Mitch McConnell and the majority-Republican Senate pose the greatest threat to a successful Biden-Harris administration. Just as they frustrated the efforts of the Obama/Biden administration and tried to make it a one-term administration, it’s likely that they’ll do the same for Biden-Harris.
The most logical way for us then is to eliminate the Republican majority in the Senate. We can do that by supporting the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in their Georgia Senate run-off elections. If we are not Georgia residents, we can donate to their campaigns and call every eligible voter we know in Georgia to encourage them to vote. Additionally, the voter registration deadline for the January run-off elections is Dec. 7. Once more, we must vote as though our lives depend on it — they do!
Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.