Fight Against Racism Must Continue in America

Americans buy at least $20 billion worth of counterfeit goods annually. Unless you’re an unusually suspicious shopper, chances are that you, too, have at one time or another purchased an item that was really a shoddy — maybe unsafe — copy of what you meant to buy.

Fast-buck rip-off artists have been netting ever bigger sums peddling counterfeit watches, jeans, tennis shoes, shirts, handbags, oil filters, toys, CD/DVD’s, computers and software, perfumes and even medications. “The problem is growing almost geometrically,” says Jack Fox, one time head of the Commercial Counterfeiting Control, a California company. Counterfeit sales in America have quadrupled in the last four years, he says.

Consumers aren’t the only victims. Counterfeiting cuts into company profits, reduces federal and state taxes, takes and eliminates jobs. Companies are spending millions of dollars a year to stop the culprits, either in civil actions or under a 1984 federal law that makes the manufacturing or sale of counterfeit goods a criminal offense. Rolex spends over $1 million a year to battle counterfeit versions of its expensive watches.

It has often been said that the best way to spot a counterfeit is to know the genuine article. When I worked for the Federal Reserve Bank as an auditor, they trained us how to spot counterfeits by studying the real McCoys. If you know the truth, you’re not likely to be deceived by some smooth-talking, look alike deceiver trying to hurt you.

I believe the events that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, a couple of years ago were a form of counterfeit patriotism. The events would turn out to be a catalyst for dramatic events that would tell us how far we have come or not as a country concerning racism. It is where protesters and counter protesters would meet and not settle anything, but pull back the curtain and reveal the political mindset of some who, I pray, are in the minority with their hate group.

It would give cause for some to say they “think there is blame on both sides.” It is true that things should have been or could have been handled differently. It is also true that only one participant on the anti-hate side died and two officers who were trying to monitor the event died in a helicopter, giving their lives for their country. In my opinion that doesn’t sound two-sided, that sounds like death on one side. In my thinking process it’s like blaming the bank because a robber came in to steal money. If the bank didn’t have any money then nobody would break in to steal it.

I wonder what Dr. King would say about this past few years’ events. I was blessed to get married to a wonderful lady two years ago. Little did she know that a number of our trips, vacations, conferences, etc., would end up as class trips on civil rights in America. We went to Atlanta, Georgia, for a meeting, then spent several days visiting Ebenezer Baptist Church, (church home of Daddy King and Dr. King), the Civil Rights Museum, birthplace and tour of childhood home and neighborhood. Then, earlier this year, we went to Birmingham, Alabama for a meeting and stayed extra time to visit tyhe Birmingham Jail were Dr. King was held, the 16th Street Baptist Church, (where the church got bombed and kids died), Kelly Ingram Park, (where the marches were staged and a memorial was made), Bethel Baptist Church, (where they were bombed three times on Christmas 1956, June 28, 1958; December 13, 1962. Amazingly, no one died in any of bombings. Their pastor at the time was Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth). We also went to Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in what is now a historic district.

Then just a few days ago, we went to Cincinnati, Ohio, and visited National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. I not sure if she signed up for all these classes, but she is passing them with flying colors.

While in Birmingham, we went to the place Dr. King wrote his letter from the Birmingham Jail. Here is a paragraph of what he said in a letter dated April 16, 1963: “Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience. We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.” He went on to write, “Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

This month is the 56th anniversary of the March on Washington, held August 28, 1963. This event has special meaning to me. Maybe it’s because my father did march with Dr. King during the Civil Rights Movement. I still remember as a young man meeting Dr. Martin L. King Sr.; it was my father who introduced him to me.

I was so young I don’t think I really appreciated the fact that this was Dr. King’s father talking to me. My mother-in-law at the time worked for Ms. Coretta Scott King. I was once blessed to go to their house in Atlanta, Georgia, years ago, although I never went in the house, because we talked with the portion of the family that was there on the steps.

One thing we can all agree on is that the southern states were known for their in-your-face racism, but the northern states were always racist behind your back, but smiled in your face. It makes you wonder about who is really for you, verses someone just pretending. I guess you find out who your real friends are when you are in trouble.

Sometimes you hope you never have to find out, because you don’t want that trouble. All the signs are down now, all over the U.S.A., but racism is still alive and well.

Let me leave you with a portion of his speech on that day during the March on Washington. We believe this portion of his speech espoused what true patriotism is all about. Dr. King said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'”

Cummings is pastor of Bethlehem Temple in Wheeling and Shiloh Apostolic Temple in Weirton.

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