“Dr. Ben”: Covered in “Tongues”: Acted in “Legalese” ©

         Billie Holiday “”Lady Day” was born in Philadelphia, PA(Baltimore, MD) on April 7, 1915.  One hundred years after her birth, she is still unknown in the Black community despite her impeccable voice, her indictment of racism, ill-conceived drug policies of white supremacists and hypocrisy.  Only a journal could cover her.  Newspapers and tabloids are unable to do her any justice.

            One hundred years after her birth, I am unaware of a Black university sponsoring a “Billy Holiday Institute.”  After Yosef ben-Jochannan’s death, I had hoped that a “Symposium on Race and History” would examine his life as a symposium on Billie Holiday could have examined her life.  There must be a “Dr. Ben-Dr. Clarke Institute.”

            In March 1827, our revered ancestors, John B. Russwurm and Samuel E. Cornish, gave Blacks Freedom’s Journal(“Righteousness Exalteth a Nation”).  Even though these men were born during slavery, they were able to distinguish between a journal, a newspaper, a tabloid and a pamphlet.  Blacks are nearly back to printing pamphlets and flyers.  This is a precipitous drop in writing.

            Most Blacks, today, view the New York Amsterdam News as the official organ of the Black community even though it is only a tabloid.  Whites, on the other hand, rank the National Law Journal, the New York Law Journal and theWall Street Journal as being at the top of the publishing pyramid and enjoying the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Legalese.”

            No Black person should leave home without a copy of the U.S. Constitution.  When Blacks are immersed in hot water, they call on an attorney.  They are only seeking personal justice.  A class action is invariably ignored.  Whites pursue preventive justice.  They take precautionary measures to prevent injustices.  This is only a contributing factor to the Fourteenth Amendment being unbalanced. 

            I was told by a law school professor that the Bill of Rights was prioritized.  The Second Amendment follows the First Amendment in legal import.  The Second Amendment is silent about a “standing army.”  Therefore, Negro leaders who call for disarmament, believe that “what you see is what you get.”  These same leaders favor faith-based initiatives (FBI).

            Only Wilbert Tatum, publisher of the New York Amsterdam News, in publishing circles, seems to have understood that whites were bilingual.  They only understood “legalese” and “military science.”  This is the essence of the First and Second amendments.  He insisted that I become a fixture on its editorial page.

            It prompted Tatum to reserve space for me in his newspaper despite criticism from Elanor Tatum, Rev. Al Sharpton and then NYC Councilman Charles Barron.  As the tabloid related to me, Tatum was opposed to any form of censorship. He asserted that my voice had to be heard in the Black community.  In other words, Blacks needed to learn “legalese.”

            The front page of the New York Amsterdam News (Mar. 26-April 1, 2015) read, “LEGEND PASSES ON.”  Three articles were specifically written by Nayaba Arinde: (“Dr. Ben makes his transition, funeral details announced”); Autodidact 17: (“Dr. Ben joins the ancestors”); and Herb Boyd (“Dr. Ben in his own words”).

            In a New York Times article by Sam Kestenbaum dated March 27, 2015, the reviews may have been mixed but it raises this question:  How does a man who died as a pauper will be remembered as a king?  This question will be answered later in a symposium and proffered remedies will be fashioned in an institute.

            Whether “Dr. Ben” died as a “pauper” or will be remembered as a “king” is irrelevant.  The relevant point is that he lived his life engaged in “legalese.”  White supremacy will always make sure that a controversial person will always have a date with “legalese.”  If the Anti-Defamation League had standing to sue for group defamation, Dr Ben would have been at the top of its list. Thankfully, I would have been the middleman.  Blacks, on the other hand, can sue for group defamation. 

            A tabloid usually fails to address “legalese.”  If it did, the New York Amsterdam News would have pointed out the import of Minoo Southgate v. United African Movement and Maddox. Although United African Movement was the victim, “Dr. Ben” and Dr. John Henrik Clarke were its targets.  Whites engage in legal dichotomies.

            In her deposition, which has historical value for UAM, Southgate described herself as an “Iranian Jew” and noted that she was acting on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League in monitoring the United African Movement.  Mayor Rudolph Giuliani endorsed this move which, if left unchecked, would have constituted a “badge of slavery.”  This was in 1994.

            In 1982, the New York Public Library went after the research base of “Dr. Ben” and Dr. Clarke by attempting to place all of their research materials under the control of a white archivist.  Both men strenuously protested this act of censorship.  In a rare decision, the New York Supreme Court ruled that Blacks enjoyed the right of self-determination in the selection of research materials.

            The legal analysis of a landmark case is usually beyond the ken of a tabloid.  This legal decision allowed Dr. Clarke and “Dr. Ben” to continue on with their good works.  All Blacks were third-party beneficiaries.  Good writing emanates from critical thinking.  Both “Dr. Ben” and Dr. Clarke were prolific writers.

            Both Earl Caldwell and Mark Riley declared that my op-ed pieces in the New York Amsterdam News were the best in the business for Blacks.  I have no doubt that Wilbert Tatum would have offered me at least One Hundred Fifty Dollars for each article to cover basic publishing costs.  This would yield at least Seven Hundred Fifty Dollars a month.  Most Blacks are unwilling to pay any amount to, at least, appreciate “legalese.”  I chose to suffer publishing costs personally.


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