Cruel World : An Analysis of “From Cruelty to Goodness” by Philip Hallie

“From Cruelty to Goodness” is an article by Philip Hallie and defines what cruelty means and also identifies institutional cruelty. He begins by analyzing the different possible definitions of cruelty and comes across some that would make sense but still are not concrete. Once cruelty is shown, the victim will have emotional pain, physical, and their dignity and self-respect are crushed. Additionally, they will feel embarrassed and helpless to defend themselves from the cruelty. He goes into describing all these characteristics as being part of what is known as institutional cruelty. Cruelty can be seen throughout many institutions such as the political system, religion, and economics. In this case, some people become oblivious to the cruelty that goes on in their society, ignore it, and wait until there’s some kind of solution. One criterion of cruelty is the power imbalance and how the powerful do anything and by any means necessary to get what they want from the powerless. This is evident with institutional cruelty where a dominant group controls and inflicts fear, and violence towards their victims. The power imbalance between the two cannot be removed but could help put cruelty to a halt, but there are still repercussions that still exist. The victims still maintain their dignity, but cruelty would still be inflicted and remain. On the other hand, many would agree that kindness is the opposite of cruelty or the solution, but can be a problem on its own. First off, it can come across as the “ultimate cruelty” and if the kindness is being shown that doesn’t compensate for the fact that cruelty is still going to happen. This is called “Gilded the chain” and Fredrick Douglas compared it to the experience between slaves and their master. Hallie believes the opposite of cruelty is hospitality, and he describes that as showing unconditional love and affection. Hospitality can be effective because it can temporarily eliminate the power imbalance and help restore the victim’s dignity and self-respect. He gave an example about how the villagers’ o Le Chambon accepted and welcomed the Jews who escaped Germany after World War 2? In contrast, other nations didn’t accept them and turned them away. Once the Jewish families came to Le Chambon the villagers provided them with everything they needed and treated them as their equals. The Jews went from being dehumanized to feeling wanted and cared for, and that helped their terrified hearts. Hallie would tell this story while in the U.S. and felt glad that a French woman thanked him for telling the story and the village that saved three children. Le Chambon was the rainbow in the perspective of the refugee Jews and the institutional cruelty they faced was the storm. This article followed a pluralistic principle and those would be “be your brother’s keeper”. In this story, the villagers were helping the weak and afraid. Also staying true to not killing or betraying, but showing love and gratification should be learned by the villagers of Le Chambon. 

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The Warsaw Ghetto Beat Back Typhus. There Are Lessons For Today's Pandemic  : Goats and Soda : NPR

Mary Turner and The May 1918 Lynchings

  • This entry of Black History 365 has situations of graphic violence. Reader discretion is advised.

This true crime story I’ll be presenting in this entry Black History 365  is an event in history that I for one didn’t know about and you might not have known. The horrors of slavery and Jim Crow segregation complied an array of racial terror attacks that were brutal and some of them did make it front-page news i.e. Till murder.  This true-crime story in Black History I’m going to present was one of the many deaths that served as in the inspiration for Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit”. With that said, onto the events that occurred on the date of May 19th 1918 in Southern Georgia, United States. 

May 19th 1918 in Southern Georgia, United States was a terrifying day that ended in the gruesome murders of a group of black individuals in the form of lynchings. The most notable death was a woman by the name of Mary Turner. Not much is know about Mary Turner’s background, but what is known is that she was a soon to be a mother before her murder. 

Mary Turner, a black woman who was eight months pregnant, was lynched by a white mob from Brooks County, Georgia at  Folsom’s Bridge 16 miles north of Valdosta for speaking publicly against the lynching of her husband the day before. What I’m about to say is going to be graphic, so you’ve been warned. When the white mob captured Turner, they bound her feet, hung her upside from a tree, threw gasoline on her, and burned her clothes. The mob took their heinous actions and brutality to the extreme that led to the still alive Turner’s abdomen being torn by a mob member’s butcher knife, resulting in them cutting the unborn baby from her. Brace yourself for what you’re about to hear. Once the baby fell from Mary Turner, a member of the mob crushed the crying baby’s head with his foot. Afterward, Mrs. Turner’s body became target practice for the mob. They went to riddle her body with hundreds of bullets, killing her. 

I’m going to backtrack to what caused and led to Mary Turner’s capture and death. Mary Turner’s husband Hayes Turner had been lynched the day before. Hayes Turner was accused of being an accomplice in the killing of a notorious white farmer, Hampton Smith, who was well known for his abuse of black farmworkers. Mr. Smith would bail black people accused of petty crimes out of jail and then require them to work off the fine at his farm. Avoiding jail time to work off his fight might seem like the better deal, but Sidney Johnson, a black man working to pay off a legal fee for “rolling dice” or simply gambling confessed to killing Mr. Smith during a quarrel about being overworked. Police officers killed Johnson in a shootout. When news reached the white community, Mr. Turner and other black farm workers who had been previously accused by Mr. Smith were targeted and accused of conspiracy. 

Many black people during this time were lynched based on mere accusations of murder against white people. The same was true here, at least seven confirmed black individuals were lynched by the white mob in response to Hampton Smith’s death, inflicting community – wide racial terror and violence.

Mrs. Turner was grieving and spoke out against her husband’s death, promising to take legal action. Enraged by this, the white mob made an example of Mrs. Turner, despite having not to fear actual legal repercussions from her promise, as black people at that time were afforded judicial processing. The lynching of Turner and her unborn child from the white mob’s perspective was to maintain white supremacy, silence her, and communicate to the black community that no dissent from the racial order would be tolerated. To no surprise, no member was ever held accountable for the lynching of Mary Turner and her unborn baby. 

The grotesque execution of a black woman eight months pregnant reveals a great deal about how  black women were dehumanized with impunity. There has been a documented number of 594 racial terror lynchings between 1877 and 1950 in the state of Georgia. Brooks County had the third – highest number of documented racial terror lynchings.

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The Ole Miss riot (Black History 365)

Welcome to Black History 365 a series where I explain, educate and explore historical events, unsung black figures in world history and recount the struggles and triumphs of black people worldwide. In this entry I’ll be presenting the story of the riot at Ole Miss in 1962.

The year is 1962 in Oxford Mississippi and James H. Meredith, an African American student, is escorted onto the University of Mississippi campus by U.S. Marshals, which then provoked a deadly riot. Two men were killed before the racial violence was quelled by more than 3,000 federal soldiers. The next day, Meredith successfully enrolled and began to attend classes amid continuing disruption.

Meredith, a native of Mississippi and former Air Force veteran was accepted to the University of Mississippi in 1962, but his admission was revoked when the admissions office found his out about his race. Subsequently, a federal court ordered “ole miss” to admit him, but when tried to register on September 20th 1962, he found the entrance to the office blocked by Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett. Eight days later Barnett was found guilty of civil contempt and was ordered to cease his interference with desegregation at the university or face arrest and a fine of $10,000 a day. 

In 1966 Meredith returned to the public eye when he began a lone civil rights march in an attempt to encourage voter registration by African Americans in the south. During this March Against Fear, Meredith intended to walk from Memphis Tennessee to Jackson Mississippi. However, on June 6th two days into the march, he was sent to a hospital due to a sniper’s bullet.  
Meredith had assistance with continuing the March from Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokley Carmichael. It was during the March Against Fear that Carmicheal the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, first spoke publicly of “Black Power” his concept of militant African American nationalism. When James Meredith recovered he rejoined the movement the march he started successfully reached Jackson Mississippi.

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Solomon Northup’s 12 Years a Slave (Black History 365)

In this entry of Black History 365, I’ll be presenting the story of an African American man who was a farmer and musician, but his life as a person seeking a prosperous life was halted when taken hostage and sold into slaverly in 1841. This is the story of Solomon Northup’s 12 years as a slave.

Who was Solomon Northup

Solomon Northup grew up a free man, working as a farmer and violinist, all while being a family man. Northup’s life took a drastic turn to a path that would lead to constant pain and servitude. In 1841 he was drugged and kidnapped to work in the deep south, specifically a plantation in Louisiana, where he would be enslaved for more than a decade. As a free man he never had to endure persistent torture, but once enslaved he would endure horrible violent conditions. Northup would once again become a free man in 1853 with help from colleagues and friends. His experiences as a slave became a narrative, titled “12 years a slave.” 

Early life   

Northup was born in July 1808 in Minerva, New York. His father Mintus was a former slave but was released by his former master’s death, hence leaving Solomon and his older brother Joseph growing up knowing freedom. Northup worked with his father on a farm growing up, while also taking to books and the violin. 

Established Family and Farm   

On Christmas Day in 1829, Northup married Anne Hampton, a woman of multiracial descent. They would go on to raise three children, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Alonzo. Solomon and Anne established a farm in 1832 in Kingsbury with Northup also having a reputation in the community as the most excellent fiddlers. With the help of his wife, Northup was able to earn income for her in-demand cooking skills, the couple did well and moved to Saratoga Springs in 1834, where Northup would land a job in the United States Hotel, among other jobs. 

Taken Captive

In March 1841 while seeking employment, Northup met two white men who claimed they were affiliated with a circus. Northup initially intended to accompany the men and help provide violin performances for their act, but Northup was convinced to travel with them to Washington D.C. From there the trap was set. Northup was drugged by the men, help captive, severely beaten, and sold into slavery in Louisiana. 

Horrors of slavery

While in captivity Northup was forced to do a variety of daily strenuous tasks slaves had to do. While being among other slaves, he never revealed to them that he had once lived as a free man for fear of him being sent further away. Furthermore, he observed and later recounted the plight of others like Eliza, whose young son Randall was sold and taken away from her at auction in New Orleans.    

Northup’s eventually sold in 1843 to Edwin Epps residing in Bayou Beouf. Once arriving there he had to learn to survive under barbaric conditions with his peers. The constant vile and violence led him discovering a woman named Patsey, who was targeted by the sexually abusive Epps while having to fear attacks from his hate-filled wife. Patsey’s side of the story represented the ordeals of many slave women subjugated in the slavery system. 

Free in 1853 and Death

Northup fortunate changes when Samuel Bass, anti-slavery Canadian carpenter visiting the Beouf Plantation, befriended Northup and reached out to friends of the musician back in Saratoga Springs looking for verification that he had been a free member of the community. Lawyer Henry B. Northup, who was part of the family Northup and his clan took their name, traveled South, and facilitated Solomon’s release in 1853. 

It was in that year Northup published the memoir “Twelve years a slave”. The work was known for its meticulousness and thoughtful quality became a top seller and vital historical document which would be an aiding factor for the abolitionist cause. 

Northup subsequently gave lectures on his experiences and worked with the Underground Railroad in helping those fleeing slavery to reach Canada. He later disappeared from the public and is thought to have died around 1864.

Legacy and films 

Solomon Northup’s life has been adapted into motion pictures and other media. Filmmaker and photographer released an American Playhouse film on Northup’s life, Solomon Northup’s Odyssey in 1984. And at the end of the millennium, Saratoga Springs resident Renee Moore created the event Solomon Northup Day: A Celebration of Freedom,” which is an annual event set by the city that began in 2002. Lastly, in 2013 a film by British director Steven McQueen was adapted from Northup’s memoir. 

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Till Death to Confess: The Murder of Emmett Till (Black History 365)

This horrific story is one of the most recognized crimes in America’s racist history. I remember watching a Dave Chappelle special that he had a few years back when he made his comeback, and near the end, he brought up the true crime story that was a fuel that ignited the civil rights movements and that was the murder of Emmett Till. 

The date is August 28th, 1955, and 14-year old Emmett Till an African American kid from Chicago is brutally murdered for allegedly flirting with a white woman four days earlier. His assailant, the white woman’s husband and his brother forced Till to carry a 75-pound cotton gin fan to the bank of Tallahatchie River and ordered him to take off his clothes. Following that, the two men then proceeded to beat Till nearly to death, gouged out his eyes, shot him in the head, and then threw his body tied to the cotton gin fan with barbed wire into the river. 

Who was Emmett Till? 

Till grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Southside Chicago, and though he attended a segregated elementary school, he was ill – equipped for the level of segregation he would encounter in Mississippi. Till would receive warnings from his mother to be careful when embarking the deep south due to his race. Emmett was an upbeat kid and liked pulling pranks but a place like Mississippi back then had no tolerance for expressive nature. On August 24th, 1955, while standing with his cousins and some friends outside a county store in Money Mississippi. Till was acting braggadocious saying that his girlfriend back home was white. His friends, all young black boys, disbelieved him and dared Emmett to ask the white woman sitting behind the store for a date. 

He went in, bought some candy, and on his way out was heard saying “Bye, baby” to the women. Interestingly enough there were no witnesses in the store, but Carol Bryant the woman behind the counter claimed that he grabbed her and made lewd advances towards her and topped it off with a wolf whistle at her as he walked out the store. It was his word against hers if her accusations were to ever go to court against Till, but things escalated quickly before any truth was ever to be discovered. 

Till’s Murder

Roy Bryant, the owner of the store and the woman’s husband, returned from a business trip a few days later and was informed how Emmett had allegedly spoken to his wife. Irate, he went to the home of Till’s great uncle, Moses Wright, with half-brother J.W. Milam in the early morning hours of August 28th. 

The pair demanded to see the boy. Despite pleas from Wright, they forced Emmett into their car. They drove around in the night and took their time torturing Till in a toolhouse behind Milam’s residence. Thereafter, they drove him down to the Tallahatchie River. It was three days later that Till’s corpse was recovered but he was so disfigured beyond recognition that only his great uncle Moses Wright could identify him by an initialed ring Till wore. Authorities wanted to bury the body quickly, but Till’s mother, Mamie Bradley, requested it to be sent back to Chicago. 

Emmett Till Is Anne Frank To Black America'

Open – Casket Funeral 

After his mother saw the mutilated remains decided to have an open-casket funeral so that the world could see what the racist murderers did to her son. “Jet” an African American weekly magazine published a photo of Till’s corpse, and soon the mainstream media picked up the story. Furthermore, less than two weeks after Till’s body was buried Milam and Bryant went on trial in a segregated courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi. Other than Moses Wright, there were a few witnesses who could positively identify the defendants as Till’s killers. 

On September 23rd, 1955, the all-white jury deliberated for less than an hour before issuing a verdict of “not guilty” explaining that the reason they came to that decision was that they believed the state had failed to prove the identity of the body. Subsequently, many people around the country were outraged by the decision and also by the state’s decision not to indict Milam and Bryant on the separate charge of kidnapping. 

Carol Bryant’s Confession

The Emmett Till murder trial brought to light the brutality of Jim Crow segregation in the south and was the early catalyst of the civil rights movement. In 2017, Tim Tyson the author of the book “The Blood of Emmett Till revealed that Carol Bryant recanted her testimony admitting that Till never touched, threatened, or harassed her. “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” she said. 

The living legacy of Emmett Till's casket | Facing South

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They deserve better #ThursdayThoughts

  • It does not matter if you’re a black American woman, Caribbean black woman, or an African black woman, justice seems to always elude the misrepresented, marginalized, and neglected women in this nation. News that is to no surprise but is always disheartening and enraging came out yesterday on the Breonna Taylor case. A Grand jury decided to not charge Louisville cops that killed Breonna Taylor. This has been a recurring theme of justice not being served to dating back to the murder of Emmit where the jury only needed an hour to make their decision to acquit his killers. In regards to that, the faces of the killers taking the lives of these black people to change, but the mentality of racism and hate remains to be passed down by generations. Protests have been ignited in the streets once again and rightly so, and the cycle of injustice continues under this land that states “liberty and justice for all. Leave a like and comment if you’d like to chime in. Also, give my page a follow so you can stay up to date with my future posts.
Breonna Taylor Commemorated with 7,000-Square-Foot Mural

Riot Ready

“And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? … It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

“We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary“. – Malcolm X

The U.S. is in pandemonium with these riots in Minneapolis, and the anger seen is justified with the slaying of George Floyd in Minneapolis by officer Derek Chauvin. These “badged terminators” will continue murdering black folks with or without a video recording as evidence. There is no resting in peace (r.i.p.) when this man died in the hands of hate. You remember when in the Summer of 2014 when Eric Garner was choked to death by the hands of a degenerate cop? His dying words were “I can’t breathe” the same as George Floyd and both cops didn’t give a damn about these men’s lives, they all were thinking “fuck your breath, because I and my racist background has always seen you as a threat”. Hysteria towards this injustice is making its way overseas and as I’m writing this, riots are happening in London and Germany. America has seen its plethora of riots and protests and no matter the outcome of this case, injustice, racism, and all-around hate will continue to live in this land until the end of time. With that said, unification needs a strategy, and one that can disseminate to people all over the nation who share the common goal of conquering injustice, but destroying the communities and losing soldiers in the process are majors losses that cannot be conducive to a victory. If you’re someone who is going to protest or know someone who is, let your presence know but stay safe out there. Leave a comment if you’d like to chime in and give my page a follow so you can stay up to date for future posts. As always peace and keep it real.

Hate and Love

  • In the memory of George Floyd

Hating is easy, but loving takes a lot more effort and integrity. For example, I’ll equate love to earning an “A” in school. You have to exert a lot of effort to be prepared for and do well on exams, do your homework, and attend classes regularly to get that coveted grade. That’s what love exemplifies, you have to work very hard to get the best outcome. On the other hand, hate can be equated to earning an “F”. As mentioned before, hating is easy and earning an “F” is just as easy. For one by neglecting to demonstrate any effort and providing mediocre attempts at applying oneself in their studies, the outcome would be inevitable. It all comes down to change, a failing student can always right his or her wrongs and become an “A’ student and so can hateful people towards people and things they discriminate against. 

While you’re praying for things to change, your enemy is PREYING. – TheRhymeRula

Rosewood Massacre (Black History 365)

Hello readers, 

Welcome to another entry in Black History 365. It’s been a bit of a while since I last posted a topic in this series. Anyways, in this post I will be discussing and explaining one of the most devastating events not only in Black history but American history that is usually overlooked and that is the Rosewood Massacre in 1923. 

Before I get into the events that happened I want to backtrack and set up the scene with situations that occurred beforehand. Prior to the destruction that would be the Rosewood massacre, there were a series of incidents that stirred racial tensions. For one in the Winter of 1922 a white school teacher was murdered in Perry and on New Years’ eve of 1922 the Ku Klux Klan held a rally in Gainesville not too far from Rosewood. 

Now the catalyst to the massacre began with the outcry of a white woman by the name of Fanny Taylor claiming she was sexually assaulted by a black man in her nearby home in Sumner. A group of white men began a manhunt to capture an ex-convict and alleged rapist by the name of Jesse Turner. They believed Turner wasn’t alone in this attack and went on to also look for his alleged accomplices Aaron Carrier and Sam Carter. Carrier was captured and incarcerated while Carter was lynched. The white mob of men believed that Aaron Carrier’s cousin Sylvester a Rosewood resident was hiding him away from the mob’s wrath. 

Three days later the mob made their way to Sylvester’s home in Rosewood a group of twenty to thirty white men approached Carrier home and shot his dog. When Sylvester’s mother came to the porch their anger intensified and they began firing their guns on her leading to her death. An irate Sylvester defended his home with all the strength he could muster and killed two men and wounded four before he was killed. I want to get back to Sylvester and the way he was portrayed in the motion picture from John Singleton later in the post. The remaining survivors fled to the swamps for refuge where many of the Rosewood black residents went to avoid conflict from the racial tensions. 

The white mob men had the momentum of their hatred at full speed and began to proceed by burning down the Carrier home and now the small total of 30 white men went to a total of 200 as their reinforcements came down and they were also livid that a black man allegedly raped a white woman in from their town. As nights went on the mob attacked and destroyed other black residents’ homes in Rosewood, slaughtered animals, and bombed businesses. An official report claims that six blacks were killed and two whites were killed, but accounts suggest the total casualties are much larger. Once all the carnage ended only two buildings stood standing, a house and a general store. 

Many of the Rosewood residents who fled to the swamps were evacuated in January 1923 by two local train conductors John and William Bryce. Other Rosewood residents were hidden by John Wright a general store owner and some went to Gainsvielle which eventually led to Rosewood becoming deserted. 

After the tragic events, the initial report less than a month after the massacre did not provide sufficient evidence for the prosecution and therefore no one was charged for the Rosewood murders. However, in 1994 as a result of new evidence and newfound interest in the even, Florida legislature passed the Rosewood Bill which entitled the nine survivors $150,000 each in compensation. The compensation is understandable but there will never be any amount of anything tangible in my opinion that would erase the suffering, pain, and death this massacre caused. Rosewood (Two-Sided Disc): Steven Dubin, Ving Rhames ...

Rosewood Massacre (1923)

I said earlier in the post I would get back to Sylvester the man who gave his cousin Aaron a place to remain safe and protected his family with dignity and courage against hate and violence. In 1997 the late filmmaker John Singleton directed the film Rosewood which starred Ving Rhames, Jon Voight, and Don Cheadle who played Sylvester. Furthermore, this film was outstanding for depicting a forgotten event in American history that people were somewhat oblivious to, and with Rhames and Cheadle playing characters Mann and Sylvester they fought back against white supremacy that threatened the lives of their people. Even though Rhames character “Mann” was fictional and wasn’t based on an actual person during the events he provided the residents of Rosewood resilience, courage and strategy to fight hate without surrender. It was fitting his character was a World War 1 verteran because he came back from a war overseas to a domestic war with the same level of hate in the oppressors’ eyes. If you’ve haven’t seen the film I highly recommend you do because it is one of Singleton’s best works and he had plenty in his illustrious career. 

Remember to give the post a like if you enjoyed this hidden gem of history and comment if you’d like to chime in. Also give my page a follow so you can stay up to date for future posts. As always peace and keep it real. 

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