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Uncharted by Jarrette Fellows, Jr.

August 1, 2015 Comic book icons simply painted Black — a violation of the Holy Grail How does America atone for the miscarriages of our youth when the social fabric was tattered with snags and injustice? The

August 1, 2015

Comic book icons simply painted Black — a violation of the Holy Grail

How does America atone for the miscarriages of our youth when the social fabric was tattered with snags and injustice? The ethnic malpractice was like a bottomless bog. There were only two sides to the story — one Black; one White. Civil and social discrepancy abounded. You know the narrative.

Jarrette Fellows, Jr.

Jarrette Fellows, Jr., attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and founded the Compton Herald several years after his tenure as executive editor at Wave Community Newspapers in Los Angeles.

Even within the sanctity of the “Super Hero,” there existed a void. Black crusaders who sought to enter the realm of the anointed Justice League were halted at the gate and forbidden entry. Anointed credentials were required for a seat at the roundtable — special powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men with a heart for truth and justice. The newcomers met the hallowed criteria in every way, except one: White skin was an unforgivable absolute.

Amid the ingrained injustice of Jim Crow and the turbulent 1960s, Blacks sang,“We Shall Overcome!” In many respects African-Americans did overcome; in many respects we did not. There remains a significant distance to cover to reach the “Promised Land of total equality.”

Tremendous progress has been made as some of the layers of inequity are unraveling. I will focus on one — film and television in Tinseltown. Specifically the ultra make-believe of comic book heroes in print and in film and television.

Keeping up with the exploits of Marvel’s and DC’s comic book heroes from my early youth was a genuine passion. The adventures of Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man, Daredevil, the X-Men, Atom Ant, The Sub-Mariner, Thor, Iron Man, Captain American, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four and their counterparts at DC Comics — Superman, Batman and Robin, the Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern — and the nemesis these super gifted men and women battled was enriched entertainment back in the day and kept me transfixed for hours on end.

The fraternity of the super-set was all-White; they did not look like me, but the idea of Black superheroes was only a passing thought. By the time Falcon, the first Black comic book superhero, and Luke Cage, another superhero, came along, my passions had shifted to other pursuits like sports, college, dance parties, and babes.

The idea of equity in comic book lore didn’t resurface until I’d become “conscious” amid the tumult of the 1960s Black Power movement and the “Black-Radical-I’m-Hip-Right On” influence of the post-Hippie college years of the early 1970s.

At the time I thought — why not Black superheroes? Black folk needed heroes, too! Some folk considered it simple enough to fix — just re-cast the current cast of characters in “black face.” That was never a workable construct for me. A Black Superman, Batman, Flash, Spidey, a Black Fantastic Four — nooo way! Those guys represented the Holy Grail. You can’t cast them in black. Then, you’d have to write parallel stories, re-create their origins. That wouldn’t work.

ComptonHearald.com | Johhny Storm "The Human Torch"

“The new Black Human Torch in the Fantastic Four is a mistake. Fire the White guy, give the role to the Black guy (a type of affirmative action). That approach to parity doesn’t work for me.” — Jarrette Fellows, Jr. Art by Adi Granov from Fantastic Four #542 (January 2007)

The new Black Human Torch in the Fantastic Four, played by Michael B. Jordan, is a mistake. Fire the White guy, give the role to the Black guy (a type of affirmative action). This approach to parity doesn’t work for me. Johnny Storm is the Human Torch! Always will be—just as Clark Kent will always be Superman, Bruce Wayne will be Batman; Peter Parker will be Spiderman; and Bruce Banner the Incredible Hulk.

By the same token, Santa Claus cannot suddenly appear clutching the reins of the sleigh with a permanent tan, and Idris Elba is not James Bond. Let’s be real! Let’s be original, shall we?

My idea has always been to create believable original Black superheroes … not just some “ripped” guys with swollen calves, bulging biceps, forearms, 32-inch waist, barrel chest, and mountains for shoulders.

A South L.A. doctor attempted in the late 1970s to bring to life a real flesh Black superhero to raise the self-esteem of Black youth. The doctor meant well, but “Earth Man” (not his real name to spare ridicule) failed miserably because the character possessed no special powers or skills, didn’t have rippling muscles, and couldn’t fly — even though he was outfitted with a red cape. To make matters worse, he was adorned in light pink leotards, black boots, black gloves, and a black mask to conceal his identity. Everyone knew it was Leroy Jones (not his real name to spare ridicule).

The fact that he walked about from place to place when he visited elementary schools, was just plain boring. That equated to “unbelievability” among his targeted fan base — Black youth — who weren’t buying it and saw him as a clown. Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and the Flash were pretty hard acts to follow.

As one wise-cracking pre-pubescent critic noted — “If you can’t fly, take off the silly cape, man!”

Other attempts were made to craft real-life characters, but they failed, too. Those were the first attempts to create a fraternity of urban superheroes, but they were roundly ridiculed for lack of originality, as well they should have been.

But, new and creative Black superheroes fashioned beyond the stereotypical molds without “Black-face,” have a fighting chance to win over a tough new audience in America and around the world not easily persuaded when it comes to whom they will herald as the newest “Mr. Extraordinary” to save the day.


June 22, 2015

Terrorism by ‘Black Destructionists’; I’m mad as hell about that, too!

You know unprecedented evil is at play when scarcely one day after a White supremacist mows down nine Black Americans in a church bible study, marauders in Detroit shoot 10 other Blacks, killing two at a party.

White supremacists need not waste their bombs and ammo, when “Black Destructionists” (yes, I coined it!) destroy “Black Lives” more efficiently than they ever could! According to the Violence Policy Center, a think tank that tracks mayhem in American, Black destructionists are averaging 4,000-6,000 murders annually of their own kind in the United States.

This fratricide goes back to the early 1970s when Black-on-Black murders exploded in Compton, Calif. with the emergence of the Pirus, Bounty Hunters, Crips and Blood street gangs, then morphed into a living pandemic rapidly replicating itself, spreading to urban centers nationwide.

Now, in 2015, it is a resistant hard-to-kill disease that, since 1974 when it germinated from a diabolic seed, the total number of Black lives that have decayed in graves may number in the ten-upon-tens of thousands perhaps more than 100,000 more than the war casualties in both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts combined. The urban bogey man has excised a terrible toll on Black America.

The real irony is that Black urban terror seems to be running awfully hard to catch-up to the blood-letting spilled by albescent-induced terror through lynchings and other home-grown violence dating back centuries.

For those among us who would rail that this latest urban violence is some kind of conspiracy to deter attention from the violence that occurred at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Church last week, I ask that you consider the extended mayhem that has occurred throughout urban American dating back 40 years. What was this violence meant to deter as a conspiracy? When you think about it this way, seems ludicrous, doesn’t it?

The violent methodology never changes. The morbid script remains the same. Black destructionists use the same ol’ bloody pen.

It happened, again, June 20, when attackers fired at least two semi-automatic weapons around 8.30 p.m. during a child’s party that included a barbecue attended by families with small children in strollers and others playing in a bouncy house. Some 400 people were gathered for the event on Detroit’s west side, police said. A 20-year-old man was killed and a 46-year-old man remains in hospital in critical condition. Eight others were injured including five men and three women ranging in age from 21 to 46.

By God’s grace, no children were shot in a scene that was described as “chaotic” by police, with people running wildly and dashing for cover. It easily could have been exceedingly more tragic.

One mother in tears, lamented, “my kids [were] out here. It’s real scary that Black people want to kill each other over nonsense.”

Sound familiar? Violence perpetrated against Blacks; not by White supremacists  but by Black destructionists!

Where can Black Americans turn their backs to shield against hurt, harm, and danger? Appears nowhere!

And I, for one, am mad as hell about it!


June 15, 2015

Standard professional journalistic style and social/race ethics is my lead topic this issue — professional standard versus what’s right.

I am going to deal with style usage of “Black” as an official ethnic reference. This could ultimately have wide-ranging impact throughout the journalistic profession and, therefore should be broached intellectually to drive the argument, countering any debate by journalistic purists, linguists, or “nit-picks” who’d consider the capitalization of “Black” as an ethnic term — in error.

Firstly, the initial reference to Black people, style-wise in the Compton Herald, is “African-American.” According to the Associated Press stylebook, considered the “holy grail” for journalists, correct style is to capitalize proper nouns, i.e. Latino, Nigerian, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, the names of states, countries, official titles and designations.

Historically, the term ‘black’ has served as an adjective in the eight parts of speech —  a descriptive term relating to any of various population groups having dark pigmentation of the skin, i.e., Black Americans; of or relating to the African-American people or culture, i.e., Black literature, a Black college, Black pride, or Black studies. But, in mainstream journalism, the term, as it relates to a people is never capitalized.

Additionally, neither has it ever officially been deemed an “official” ethnic designation, probably due to the fact that historically African-Americans have been confused about their identity as several namesakes over the course of 150 years can attest — Negro, colored, Black, Afro-American, African-American, and Nigritian, have all been ethnic identifiers at one time or another.

“Black,” singularly has always been written in the lower case second-class reference, example: “The anti-police abuse unity march in Los Angeles was comprised of a broad minority coalition — Latino farm workers, Asians, Jewish rabbis, and black clergy.”

Under standard AP and traditional journalistic style, “black” is always lower case, which has always bothered me because it devalues the Black race. Black-owned newspapers generally capitalize “Black” to give it more validity, but make the mistake of lower-casing, “white,” which is discriminatory in the reverse.

Herewith and henceforth the Compton Herald officially designates “Black” as an ethnic reference within our official style guidelines, thereby ascribing dual usage as both an adjective and a proper noun. This editorial policy applies only to Black and White because of the frequent interchangeable use of the terms — African-American (Black) and Caucasian (White).

No other ethnic group will be accorded similar “style” because the same interchangeable usage is not common with any other ethnic group— including Native American (Red), Latino (Brown), or Asian (Yellow).

ON ANOTHER NOTE: The Compton Herald is spearheading a campaign to organize individuals in Los Angeles County who receive oil and gas royalties derived from oil properties in East Texas leased to Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.

Owners have little to no knowledge of how royalties are calculated, what they are based on, and the total value of the mineral reserves in their property. The campaign will involve a class-action initiated probe into Anadarko’s revenues and ultimately what is due in royalties. I don’t believe the $20 to $100 dollars the average property owner receives over the course of six months to a year is credible. That would mean Anadarko Petroleum’s extraction of oil and gas resources from the earth in East Texas is negligible. But research shows the truth to be otherwise.

Anadarko’s revenue from the sale of the oil and natural gas it extracts from the earth accrues hundreds of millions, annually. That’s why we desire to know the truth. Property owners have made it known they have reason to believe they have been woefully underpaid in the royalty assessment.

Anadarko Petroleum has been sued before for underpaid royalties by property owners in East Texas and Oklahoma, where the oil corporation’s considerable U.S. claims are located.

A class action lawsuit in lieu of investigative proceedings may be in the offing. The Compton Herald newspaper and its parent company, Metropolis Media will aggressively drive this issue.

If you own property in Texas or are heir to mineral rights from property leased to Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and suspect you have been underpaid in mineral rights royalties, contact the Compton Herald to register your name and information under the banner, “Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Underpaid Mineral Royalties.” We have contacted a mineral rights attorney in Texas and will contact you with further information.

E-mail your information, including address and telephone number ASAP – visit our Contact page HERE

AND FINALLY regarding the racial identity issue swirling around Rachel Dolezal. Really, now, people, you ought to stop! Black folk have exceedingly more serious issues to ponder than Dolezal’s racial preference. If she wants to assume Black ethnicity, that’s her prerogative. Black Americans should focus on the issues that are killing, robbing, undermining the race, and destroying progress made over the past century. Too many of Black folk major in the minors and flunk the majors! This is a good example.

We invite you to write to us. It doesn’t matter whether or not you agree with this viewpoint, the Herald would just like your feedback. Comment below on this page.


June 8, 2015

‘Sable Man Windbreaker’ : The credo of the African-American male, written out of hope, stresses dignity and self-respect.

Driving down a major boulevard in Los Angeles one afternoon in August, 1991, I noticed an unusual number of black men panhandling at service stations, convenience stores and fast-food restaurants, begging mostly white individuals for the opportunity to clean their car windows for small change.

I witnessed motorist after motorist hastily roll up their windows or withdraw from the men, all of whom looked as though they hadn’t washed in days, maybe weeks. The only difference between those men and me was that I was groomed and wore clean clothing.

Those men were being treated as though they were contagious or were some kind of dangerous subhuman species. But I reasoned then that I could have been one of those pathetic individuals if I allowed myself for a moment to lose all hope and dwell on a false notion that striving and laboring for a better tomorrow was futile. If I allowed that kind of hopelessness to permeate my thinking, yes, I could be out there begging quarters too.

But realizing that every man—whether black, white or brown—is not equally strong, and that for black males in particular, whose numbers greatly contribute to the ever-rising casualties in a society whose compassion grows colder by the day, I knew that as the Holy Bible commands the strong, I had a duty and a responsibility to “bear the infirmities of the weak.”

And not looking for the U.S. government or any civil-rights organization to come to the rescue of downtrodden African-American males, who undeniably stand square in the cross hairs of homicide, cancer, AIDS, penal incarceration, unemployment, hopelessness and despair, I took it upon myself to contribute to the cure for this disease that preys heavily on African-American males every moment of our existence.

I penned “Sable Man Windbreaker” early one morning. The message flowed from my spirit like a stream. It was, and is, for every sable male whoever fell low and struggled to get back up, reached headlong and missed the mark, been ridiculed, lied on, derided, labeled a “deadbeat,” and told you’d never amount to anything, this Credo is for you. Commit it to your memory; hide it in your heart to be summoned when your ebb and flow have weakened. Call on it to re-affirm who you are, to re-fuel your will and energize your faith to finish your course. Recite these words in your heart:

I, Sable Man, will be downtrodden no more. No longer will I think of myself as inferior, nor will I ever again lose my dignity and self-respect.

I was not made by God to be a footstool, nor am I of a lower creation.

I am like the light of the sun, the roar of a storm, the surge of the Nile.

I have the strength of kings and the gentleness of lambs. I am a lover of self, not possessed of self-hatred, and I am endued with a measure of greatness foreordained by God, and now I stand ready to re-assume my rightful place in God’s earthly order as a sparkling jewel, for He has favored me to be many wonders for my people who cry for the leadership of the men. . . .

I am the wind breaker. I walk into the teeth of the wind and bear the brunt of the gale. I am an oak tree, tall, strong and true . . .  rough around the edges, bearing the harsh elements, scraping the cosmos, shielding the little flower. . . .

I was formed by God from the dust of the earth to be like the rugged hills…brawny, coarse, unbending, enduring all that falls toward my face, yet soft enough for growth. . . .

I am a mighty, rushing river. . .forever onward I surge, shaping valleys, carving canyons, unceasingly, eternally, full of life and vitality, brimming with peaceful rage. . . .  

I am like the lightning, immeasurable volts of power, brazen, emboldened, leaving my scorched imprint in the earth. . . .

I, too, am like the rainbow, a gentle arc of peace coolly bending in the mist like a neon apparition, a soothing calm, whispering assurance for tomorrow. . . .

I am like the clouds, ever-evolving motion stretching for ages . . .able to replenish, to shield, to caress away pain and sorrow. . . .

And, like the ocean I am majestic. . . abounding, alluring, enduring, extending deep, yet reaching high, a preserver of life soothing to the Earth. . . .

Here, I stand undeniably a man; a real man with a heart that reaches to the heights of Kilimanjaro, with sensitivity greater than the expanse of the Serengeti, and passionate like unto the burning rubescence of the setting sun cooled by the sea.

I was fashioned this way by the Most High God, rich with compassion as the dark sable earth is rich, ordained undiluted and manly full measure to be a leader, the apex, Crown jewel, point to the spear, and yes, a father and a comforter. . . .

Here, I stand at the vanguard, brave and bold, steady as the ancient pyramids, ready to meet any searing challenge.

Hear my prayer, ol’ Lord!  Help me to lead my people from the caverns of despair to the mountain peak of pride, prosperity, and promise for tomorrow!

For, I am the Wind Breaker, yes! I walk into the teeth of the wind and bear the brunt of the gale!

©1992 by Jarrette Fellows, Jr., Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


May 25, 2015

Love makes a man gentle

I reach out to a lot of African-American men –– exchanging, dialoguing, and debating. In the parlance of the street, “It’s all good! We’re not all at war as some in the media suggest.

Thinking about the fragility of relationships between Black partners, a condition that erodes faster than a sand castle amidst a rushing tide, I wondered what I could offer for the betterment of the institution of marriage within Black culture, as the state of marriage as it now stands, is deplorable. Better than a 70 percent failure rate –– not good for Black families, destructive for our culture, endangering future generations. Relationship experts point to a lack of communication as the blame. I go deeper.

Speaking directly to my brothers

The problem is a lack of love from both ends, or simply from one. Either way the union is doomed. Success in a relationship has to exceed mere infatuation. Physical looks are the initial attraction, but it must go beyond that for a sincere bond. That must occur before any real discussion about marriage can be had. How do I know? One failed marriage and a second successful one that has withstood many challenges through forgiveness and nurturing. You must work at it. And love is the main ingredient.

Love is the only kindling required for the success of holy matrimony between couples; for the man who seeks the path to fiery romance, and for the woman who longs for more. During a time when marriages dissolve faster than the ink on the marriage certificate can dry, the following kindling is for the man to tickle the fancy of his significant other and assure her that love can last forever.

Passion is like a sauna simmering with gentle heat, gingerly massaging our bond, making it supple, responsive, and overflowing with love, caring and concern. Romance’s fire is not only for new-found love; it provides warm oil to creaky, time-worn marriages, too –– those having weathered the test of many years telling two people that matrimony can be forever.

An old man may not be able to carry his damsel over the threshold anymore, but romance’s fire can restore crackling joy to his soul and loving appreciation to hers. It can rebuke any frigid encroachment by apathy to chill the love that always burns hot in the beginning. Romance’s fire keeps love alive because it is unquenchable when the flames are fanned. When the sun shines in our relationship our union is golden.

Even so, we are ever perfecting it, and sometimes an arctic wind does intrude, chilling our bond, making our love shiver. But it only strengthens us because the sunshine always returns, reminding two of a blessed union that is golden.

And, brother, here’s a gift to you to share with the woman you find to share a sealed union.

Because I Am Mortal

If you and I are flowers growing side-by-side,

It is not my desire to grow superior and stunt your growth;

I do want to share the sun, earth, wind, and rain.

And, if my petal should overshadow your petal,

nudge me and I will humbly move it away.

But I am a vulnerable flower with mortal frailties,

and if I should find damage during my growth,

fall limp and wither –– I ask only this:

that you nurture my roots. soothe my weakened stem,

and believe in me, that I may regain my strong posture

to again reach for the sky!


 

May 11, 2015

I’m just having a little fun penning my thoughts at 4:15 a.m., as I often do.

Back to Earth. Gnawing from the inside. The City’s woes continue. Perturbed by the close proximity of unlawful marijuana dispensaries to public schools here, the Compton Unified School District has levied a lawsuit against the city for failure to interdict the “pot” houses. That, the enterprises are illegal is one thing, but brazenly setting up shop near school age children, is yet another. Not one, not two, but six of the pot operations are believed to be operating in plain sight within city limits. Is that bold or what?! Stay tuned.

Residents that moan and belly-ache about the lack of leadership on the part of their duly elected council representatives, again have an opportunity to do something about it on April 15 when the polls open to keep or oust council members in districts 2 and 4.

If you don’t vote and leave it to 200-300 ballot-teers to decide who remains in office—who will in turn decide the city’s fate—you shouldn’t have a right to open your mouth at council meetings and act like a gadfly. You should voluntarily tie your tongue and seal your lips with duct tape.

Finally, TrammellCrow, one of the nation’s biggest developers has been approved by the city council to finally plug the eyesore variously known as the “Brickyard,” a 59-acre virtual “hole” in the cityscape situated at 138th St. and Central Avenue. That occurred March 24 and appears to be a win-win all around — at least on paper. Compton’s property value will improve, much-needed tax revenue will be generated for the city, and TrammellCrow promises to hire hundreds of local residents to work on the development of a light industrial warehouse facility at the site.

Additionally, the developer promises to contribute resources to local schools and create a job-training program. Detractors fear more broken streets from heavy truck traffic after the facility is completed, diesel fuel pollution and noisy engines near private homes located near the site.

Now, we will see how the project pans out.


May 4, 2015

TIME REALLY DOES FLY.

We’re already in the first week of May! The “new” year is literally racing by—“ late spring reaching for winter’s coattail,” to coin a phrase. What are we to expect? Only time will tell

There is something I’d like to clear up before it spreads any further. A rumor has been crawling along the grapevine that the Herald is not owned by an African American by virtue of its first-class journalism. The rumor even made its way to the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), which queried Betty Pleasant, a nationally syndicated columnist now employed by the Herald, why she left her previous blacked-owned employer to work for a white-owned newspaper.

Well, for those of you who might be hanging onto that deliberate prevarication, the author of this column would never be mistaken for anything else, but Af-Amer. Proof beyond a “shadow” of doubt! Really.

I have written and verbalized this time and again, and I will keep on writing and verbalizing it, no matter who gets furious! A national discussion on errant cop killings of black males cannot be had without a companion discussion on black-on-black murder. When the issue is broached, people become silent; some even angry! I make no apology.

According to Violence Policy Center, a national non-profit that researches violence in the U.S., in 2011 (most recent statistical pool) black-on-black murders nationwide totaled 6,305. That’s akin to 6,305 Michael Browns. That should shake your sensibilities! The figure does not include years 2012, 2013, 2014, or the years prior to 2011. The total for 10 years based on the morbid tabulation for 2011, could very well be in excess of 60,000; over 20 years, 100,000 or more! That’s more death than the combined U.S. fatalities in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If cops in America deliberately killed that many black males in a single year, there would be a race war. But the self-extermination—African American killing spree—is not by the hand of ill-nature cops; but rather, by the blood-slathered hands of other African Americans. There should be a national moratorium on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Black History Month celebrations, and Juneteenth festivities until we effectively rivet black attention to this obscene “Black River of Blood!” The only reason there isn’t more outcry against this insanity is because it is a searing embarrassment! How can we celebrate our legacy, while we shoot it full of holes and watch it bleed! Dr. King squirms in his grave!

Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton once said he wanted to be like Dr. King. Well, here’s an opportunity, to seize the time! But, he’s mum about it. So is Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., the Congressional Black Caucus, black clergy leaders, the black community! The only beneficiaries are mortuaries. There are numerous extenuating circumstances, but there is no excuse ever for fratricide. We, alone can do much to eliminate the causes of our grief, but first we’ve got to stop the bleeding which continues to stain the urban landscape.

The African American community is endangered! We talk about cancer, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, HIV-AIDS, white racism, neo-Nazis, the resurgence of the KKK, and trigger-quick racist cops, but our own callous hatred for one another displayed in the yearly self-annihilation of thousands is morbidly insane. We should be policing our ranks, applying pressure with political and responsible law enforcement support.

But we hardly utter a mumbling word.

Here’s ending on a cheery note. Two new businesses have dropped anchor in town adding to the City’s growing tax base—Menchies Frozen Yogurt in the Compton Town Plaza next to Chipotle, and Pizza Studios, next door to Menchies.

Menchies offers frozen yogurt lovers a wide selection of flavors and a variety of tasty toppings that patrons make according to their individualized tastes.

Pizza Studios, as far as I know is the only pizza joint that allows you to make the pizza to your own specifications. “Have It Your Way Pizza,” if you will!

Pay Menchies and Pizza Studios a visit. Don’t forget to tell them the Herald sent you!

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. is Publisher and Editor of Compton Herald. He attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and is an alumnus of California State University, Los Angeles.

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