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Music and the Creative Spirit

Curtis Mayfield: After the Rain

By Published: December 26, 2010
According to census data, black college graduates are only two-thirds as likely as whites to be employed in a professional or managerial position, while Latino college grads are only 44% as likely to be employed in such jobs. Furthermore, black men with college degrees earn on average, about $20,000 less annually than their white counterparts, which is a difference of 50%; whites with master degrees earn about 10% more than comparable blacks, on average, and whites with professional degrees (like medical or law degrees) earn, on average, about $30,000 more than their black counterparts each year.

In Joe Feagin's book, Systematic Racism (Routledge), published in 2006, he found through unconscious stereotyping that nearly 90% of whites, who took the test, implicitly associate the faces of black Americans with negative words and traits such as evil character and failure.

Even though over half of all crime is committed by non-Hispanic whites, almost all whites and a large number of participants of color believe that these crimes are committed by people who are black or Latino.

The United States incarcerates a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid.

We continue to question China on its record of human rights, as we should but it's important to note that of China's population of 1.3 billion people, 1.6 million remain in prison. In contrast, the population of the U.S. is considerably less at 309 million, yet the number of blacks incarcerated is at over 2 million, which is more than the entire prison population in all of China.

According to national surveys, roughly three out of four whites refuse to believe that discrimination is any real problem in America. In fact, there isn't a time in the history of our country that white people have thought that blacks have had less than themselves. As a result, and this is critical, African American's are reluctant to bring up race in the work place since it will likely be questioned by most, bring further suspicion to their integrity and character, and even possibly place their jobs at risk.

And finally, when Arthur Ashe was asked in an interview about the pain and struggle of dying from AIDS, which he acquired through a blood transfusion, he would reply that growing up with racism was far more painful.

On August 13, 1990, Curtis Mayfield was in Brooklyn, New York to perform at an outdoor concert at Wingate Field in Flatbush. As Mayfield walked up the steps and took the first few steps on stage for a sound check, an unusual burst of wind would take down the stage light scaffolding, falling on Mayfield and paralyzing him from the neck down. As he lay motionless on his back and people began to scream, he would remember that it also began to rain. Six others would be injured but it was Mayfield who would remain a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.

Eleven years later, his message continues to live on as he remains a mirror of our social conscious and the voice of the oppressed. He is a light that shines in the midst of struggle, the hope for those that continue to sacrifice in the name of brotherhood and human rights. He had the sensitivity and wisdom to love all people and his search was one that confronted the problems that faced all of humanity. He was a brother, a gentle and spiritual man with a dignified and soulful voice who also understood the power of love and understanding. And though the rain has passed and he is no longer with us, his integrity and truth shall remind future generations of an extraordinary man who exemplified the very essence of nobility and compassion.

May he rest in peace.

"We the People Who are Darker Than Blue"

We the people who are darker than blue,

Are we going to stand around this town

And let what others say come true

We're just good for nothing they all figure.

A boyish, grown up, shiftless jigger

Now we can't hardly stand for that

Or is that really where it's at?

We people who are darker than blue

This ain't no time for segregatin'

I'm talking about brown and yellow too

Hey yellow girl, can't you tell

You're just the surface of our deep well

If your mind could really see

You'd know your color same as me

Get yourself together; learn to know your side

Shall we commit our own genocide?

Pardon me brother

As you stand in your glory

I know you won't mind

If I tell the whole story

Now I know we

Have great respect

For the sister and mother

It's even better yet

But there's the joker in the street

Loving one brother and killing the other

When the time comes

And we are really free

There'll be no brother's left you see

Pardon me brother

I know we've come a long way

Let us not be so satisfied

For tomorrow there can be

An ever brighter day

"People Get Ready"

People get ready

there's a train a coming.

You don't need no baggage

You just get on board

All you need is faith

to hear the diesels humming.

You don't need no ticket

you just thank the lord.

So people get ready,

for there's a train to Jordan.

Picking up passengers

coast to coast.

Faith is the key

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