“If an American Black man works as a butler in the home of a poor white man, the weak economic position of of the “Boss” will reflect itself in the overall appearance of the black butler. If the “Boss” suddenly becomes wealthy, naturally the butler will also make more money and become wealthy, too. He will wear better clothes, he will eat better food, and perhaps house his family in a better community and his children may have access to better schools. A casual observer will think this black butler has made great material progress. But has he? His position has not really changed. He is still a servant and the white man is still his boss”.
On February 29, 1965 the above statement was given to A. Peter Bailey by Malcolm X. Bailey was the editor of The Organization of Afro-American Unity News Letter. Malcolm X was assassinated the next day February 30, 1965.
In 2019 the median white household held $188,200 in wealth—7.8 times that of a typical black household ($24,100). If you are black and looking for an “Even Playing Field” you won’t find it in America!
As we remember black soldiers on this Memorial Day lets remember those who fought on every battlefield that an American white soldier fought on defending America, but once the black soldier returned home it was the same old song. They returned to the back of the bus, to homes on the wrong side of the tracks, red lining at their banks, they were spat on and hung from the nearest tree, while still in their military uniforms. Never forget “Black Wall Street, Emit Till, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and the list goes on and on. Let us forgive, but not forget. Let us also remember U. S. Army Coporal Rupert Trimmingham!
TIME MAGAZINE by Mathew Taub July 28, 2020
For Coporal Rupert Trimmingham, it came as no surprise that he’d have to eat inside the lunchroom’s kitchen, he was invisible to the diners enjoying table service. This was 1944, and the deep south. Trimingham and eight other Black soldiers were en route from Louisana’s Camp Claiborne to Arizona’s Fort Huachuca and, as he later wrote, he knew the only boss was “Old Jim Crow”.
But what Trimmingham and his companions saw as they looked out at the lunchroom from inside that kitchen defied even their expectations. About two dozen German prisoners of war entered with their American guards sat at the same tables, had their meals served, talked, smoked, in fact had quite a swell time. In a April 1944 letter to Yank, a weekly Army Magazine, Trimmingham asked the obvious: “Are these men” Nazi troops who’d been captured while fighting on Hitler’s behalf—swored enemies of this country? Then why are they treated better than we are?”
Nineteen years after Corporal Trimmingham encountered white U. S. soldiers dinning and entertaining Nazi German prisoners. My younger brother Earl “Bull” Bell a Military Police staff sergeant in the U. S. Army had a racist encounter in downtown Mannheim, Germany, it was 1963. He had served two hitches in Germany, was the country’s heavyweight boxing champion, first string fullback on the Army football team, ping pong champion, and served as a platoon supply sergeant in Nurenmberg from 1966 until his overseas tour ended in August 1968. Along this military journey he was noticing racial bias in promotions and in disciplinary actions against black soldiers.
Blacks who dared to speak out were labeled “Troublemakers,” and sympathetic whites were branded “nigger lovers” and were disciplined as badly as blacks if they violated any rules. Worse still, my brother complained, black officers (spooks who sat by the door) protecting their own positions, did little to correct inequities.
In 1965 Earl tried uncuccessfully to have segregated off-base housing in Nuremberg declared off-limits, but was rebuffed. He complained to Rep. Charles C. Diggs (D-Mich) and the Pentagon. Finally, he obtained adequate housing at the Army camp for his wife and two children, but the struggle for equality never ended.
My brother’s relentless drive for his and other’s human rights reached a head in downtown Nuremberg at a segregated discotheque called ‘The Cage“. He had been refused admission previously because of the color of his skin, but this time he returned with 35 black militant troops on a march that almost ended violently. Military Police his co-workers (mostly white) were rushed to the scene to quell the disturbance. He turned out to be the peacemaker and out of respect for him everyone backed off.
A month later May 30, 1969 after the night club incident, his perfect service record was marred while he was umpiring a softball game. He drew a $30 fine for identfying himself to a white lieutenant as “Mr. Bell”! He insisted that normal military courtesy regulations are waived during athletic competitions. The lieutenant was a spectator and grandstanding. He joined the argument between the two players and my brother on the field of play. He was out of order and still wrote the citation to get back at Earl. It was then my brother said enough was enough and decided not to sign up for a 3rd tour of the U. S. Army–too much racism.
I remembered my freshman year at Winston-Salem State during homecoming weekend, Earl hitched hike from DC to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He made the trip to tell me he was going to join the U. S. Army. I was so happy he was going to get off the mean streets of DC. We were not expected to survive those mean streets, but we did.
I found it interesting how Jet Magazine (July 31, 1969 & August 28, 1969) made it looked like while my brother was fighting racism in the military I was home playing footsie at the White House with Richard Nixon.
The stories read, ” With their contrasting outlooks, Harold and Earl share the same poverty-ridden background. The four Bell brothers (including Alfred, now 31, a tire salesman; and William, 20, a Marine Corps Private/First-Class) were raised without their father in a DC low-income housing project. Still youngsters when their mother was on welfare , they grew up on the black ghetto’s proverbial “Dead-End street.”
I am proud of all three of my brothers who served this country, William the youngest separated from the Marines and returned home to be an outstanding photographer. He worked for the notorious boxing promoter Don King for several years. My older brother Bobby and I never served in the military, we were classified 4-F (health issues).
Bobby graduated from Maryland State on the Eastern Shore and he was a U. S. Marshall for 20 years. He inspired me to pursue athletics. I was in middle school when I spotted him playing second base for Armstrong High School with the great Willie Wood (NFL). I had no idea he was an athlete. He was raised by our hero and matriarch, Grand-Ma Bell. My mother Mattie, I am sure was proud of all four of us–not bad.
Malcolm X knew America like the back of his hand. As we close out Memorial Day, we must remember “Black Wall Street, Jimmy Lee Jackson in Selma, Eric Garner in New York, City, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and hundreds of other black unarmed men and women shot and killed in American streets by racist cops, too many were white and some black.
One-hundred years later Anneliese Bruner the great-granddaughter of Mary E. Jones Parrish, a teacher and a journalist lived to tell her story in a book. Ms Bruner who now lives in Washington, DC says from accounts as described by her great-grandmother, “the Tulsa race riot was actually something that was akin to an act of war where the country turned on its own citizens.” Philonise Floyd after visiting the White House made one of the most profound and provacative statements I have heard in my life time. He said, “If Congress can pass legislation to protect endandered birds, they can also pass legislation on police reform to protect people of color.”
He is hoping that civilized white men can come together and pass legislation on police reform when they can’t come together and pass a anti-lynching law, that is like pissing against the wind and exposes who they really are in America!
Racism is embedded in our fabric, its a baby white America cannot throw out with the bathwater-its here to stay! White folks do not have a copyright on racism, there are some black folks who could teach them “Racism 101”.
Black America has always famously preached how to beat the system of racism in America. The logical choice has always been education. I have some good news and some bad news for Black America. Education is great to use as a deterrent, but the real deal to success in America if you are black, you need a white man or white woman in your corner and avoid the spooks who sit behind the door (family and friends)! They can truely be crabs in a barrell.
I am speaking from what I know and not what I heard. A lot depends on what your definition of success? It maybe money or it maybe peace of mind–but peace of mind is not for sale.
It has always been peace of mind for me. I have traveled in the circles of the rich and famous and the life style was never a good fit. I was an eye witness up close and personal as 30+ pro athletes, radio and television personalities became millionaires and benefactors of my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc. and Inside Sports, my radio talk show. I watched 2% come back and reach back to help a black child.
Thousands of blacks, hispanics and white children participated in our Christmas toy parties for forty-five straight years (1968-2013). My wife Hattie and I owe our success to, Dr. Nicholas Long (Director of the Hillcrest Children’s Center), Richard M. Nixon (U. S. President), Red and Dotie Auerbach (NBA Boston Celtics), Bert R. Sugar (Boxing historian) and Angelo Dundee (Boxing trainer) all white/Jewish men. They are the reason, I closed out my sports talk shows with, “Every black face I see was not my brother and every white face I see was not my enemy”! I am living proof that success is not measured by a dollar sign. The road to success is helping others.
This Memorial Day I remember my brothers Earl and William and the brothers and sisters (black and white) who are in this struggle to be free, but they must remember, freedom ain’t free and “This America is Us”.