Friday, May 30, 2014

Making Walorf Dolls

I started making Waldorf Dolls a few years ago and I find this craft really rewarding. it has been so much fun to make a handmade cloth doll and watch her become a darling little doll. Each doll seems to take on a personality of her own. For my next project I will be making a 16 inch Waldorf Doll with wefted curly hair. Come along with me as I share with you how I make my Waldorf Dolls.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

 Tuskegee Airmen: They were expected to fail
 
 
 
     In 1941 with the world at war, a select group of African Americans traveled to Tuskegee, Alabama. They wanted to be part of an experiment to see if Blacks had the intellectual and physical capacity to fly an aircraft in combat. These young men traveled into the heart of segregation in the deep south. They dreamed of becoming the nation’s first Black fighter pilots. They were determined to become Tuskegee Airmen. They were the best of the best, the cream of the crop. They had degrees in such disciplines as: Electro Engineering, English Literature, Science, Biology and Pre-Law. (PBS movie) They were Du Bois’s “Talented Tenth.” The eyes of the Black community were upon them, and they did not want to disappoint. From the very beginning they were expected to fail (Homan & Reilly p. 15).
In 1925 under the direction of the War Department, the War College, devised a study examining the combat records of Black servicemen during World War I. The study was titled, The Use of Negro Manpower in War. This document was “preordained to be very negative.” It concluded that “Black men were cowards and poor technicians and fighters lacking initiative and resourcefulness” (p. 16). It further stated that the brain of the average Black man weighed only thirty-five ounces compared to forty-five ounces for the brain of an average white man” (p 17). In the eyes of the military, this document “proved” that Blacks should be kept segregated from Whites and were qualified only for menial, closely supervised jobs. This negative and biased report concluded that Blacks were “…a subspecies of the human population” (p. 17). This was the stance of the War Department concerning the use of Black men in the military.
The battle for African American men to enroll in military pilot training began as early as 1917 during World War I. When African Americans tried to enlist in the Air Services of the Signal Corps as Air Observers, they were told that “No colored aero squadrons were being formed at the present time…but, if later on, it was decided to form  colored squadrons, recruiting officers would be notified to that effect.” African Americans would not take “no” for an answer and in 1922,  African American leaders urged the War Department to establish Negro Army Air Force Reserve Units. The War Department’s response was “that since no Negro Air Units existed, there was no justification for the appointment of Negroes as flying cadets” (Francis & Caso p. 37).
African American leaders refused to accept the word no. In 1931, Walter White, Secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Robert R. Moton, President of Tuskegee Institute,  pushed once again for the acceptance of Blacks into the Army Air Corps for pilot training. And once again the response was a resounding no. The War Department argued that “from the beginning the Air Corps had selected men with technical and mechanical experience and ability, that the colored man had not been attracted to flying in the same way or to the extent of the white man”(p. 38).
White wrote in response “It is obvious that colored men cannot be attracted to the field of aviation in the same way or to the extent as the white man, when the door to the field is slammed in the colored man’s face…”(p 38). Because of the response of the War Department many leaders felt that only legislature through Congress would assure African Americans of acceptance into the Air Corps. In April 1939, Congress passed Public Law 18, authorizing the private training of military pilots by civilian schools. This law did not apply to Blacks or black schools (Homan p. 18).
Senator Harry Schwartz of Wyoming, introduced an amendment to Public Law 18, and when  the Appropriation Bill passed on April 3, 1939, it authorized the Secretary of War to
“…lend to accredited civilian aviation schools…designated by the Civil
Aeronautics Authority for the training of Negro Air Pilots…aircraft,
aircraft parts, aeronautical equipment and accessories… such articles
as may appear to be required for instruction, training, and maintenance
purposes” (Francis & Caso p. 38).
Passage of Public Law 18 seemed to be the victory for which Blacks had long fought; but the War Department, the C.A.A, and the Judge Advocate General were haggling over the interpretation of the bill. In the meantime African American organizations expressed that they would continue to agitate Congress for more legislation if the training of Negro Pilots was continuously delayed (p. 39).
In 1939 with war raging in Europe, the United States remained officially neutral; but as the war loomed President Roosevelt recognized the nation’s participation in the war as unavoidable. He ordered the nation’s military to prepare for war (Moye p 23). Brigadier General George V. Strong, called for “a civilian pilot training program a hundred times greater than that which existed in the past” (p. 23). The President was deluged with letters from Blacks seeking to enroll in the Civilian Pilot Training Program (C.P.T.P.).  Also, Presidents of historically black Wilberforce University, Hampton Institute, and Tuskegee Institute, offered their campuses as training sites (Moye p. 24).
During the hearing of the House of Representatives, on June 5, 1939; Congressman Louis Ludlow of Indiana offered an amendment that one million dollars of the eight million dollars proposed for expanding the training of military pilots and for materials, be set aside for the training of Negro Pilots. It was then proposed that a training camp be established at facilities “offered free of charge at Tallahassee, FL, and at Tuskegee.” Congressman Dirksen proposed that “this training camp be established at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama” He proposed that
“Tuskegee had a Reserve Officers Training Corps at the present time…
officered by a Negro First Lieutenant…a graduate of West Point, and
whose father…is the Colonel of the fifteenth Infantry in New York…”
(Francis p. 40, 41).
Dirksen was referring to First Lieutenant Benjamin O. Davis Jr., son of Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Sr., who would become Brigadier General B. O. Davis Sr. (Earl p. 33).
Tuskegee Institute was selected by the C.A.A. for Negro Pilot Training. On October 15, 1939, Frederick D. Patterson, President of Tuskegee Institute was notified that Tuskegee Institute had been approved for participation in the Civil Pilot Training Program (C.P.T.P.). While young African Americans were allowed to be trained as civilian pilots, they were not given the right to enter the air corps. African American leaders realized that Public Law 18 did not gain acceptance of Blacks as military pilots. The War Department simply ignored the act of Congress (p. 44).
When the Selective Services Act of 1940 was enacted by Congress, African American leaders and Congressmen proposed amendments to assure that African Americans would not be discriminated against and that the Act would not be misinterpreted as Public Act 18 had been.  African American leaders also sent a memorandum to President Roosevelt, Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, and Assistant Secretary of War, Robert P. Patterson. The memorandum proposed among other things: the use of available Negro reserve officers, training camps for work in all branches of aviation corps, and the selection of officers and enlisted personnel without regard to race. As a result of this memorandum, the Army informed the President that it planned to give Negroes “proportionate shares in all branches of the Army, in the proper ration to their population—approximately ten percent” (p. 47).
They Were Expected to Fail
      The Selective Services Act of 1940 required all branches of the military to enlist Negroes with no discrimination regarding race, color, or creed (Rose p. 12). The Army Corps took weeks to decide where to train African American Pilots as well as African American mechanics to service the planes. The Aeronautical University of Chicago was considered, but it’s all White student body was housed in the Y.M.C.A. The Air Corps wanted to keep the races segregated and therefore, decided not to utilize the University of Chicago (p 12).
The Air Corps Technical School at Chanute Field, Illinois, was chosen by the Air Corps as the training facility. But the Air Plans Division feared “disturbances and riots will probably ensue both at the field, and within the nearby communities” (p 13). Tuskegee Institute was suggested as the place to start training, Tuskegee had the capacity to house both mechanic service schools, and pilot training (p. 13). The Army Air Corps was a separate program from the Civilian Negro Pilot Training Program  established under Public Law 18 in 1939 (p. 13).
In December of 1940, The Army Air Corps submitted plans for an “experiment.” Tuskegee Institute was chosen for pilot training for the United States Army Air Corps.  The all Black 99th Fighter Squadron  would consist of thirty-five pilots, and 278 ground crew members (McKissack p. 42). White commissioned officers were to be used as instructors, inspectors, and supervisors until they could be replaced by qualified Black personnel (Rose p. 13). The announcement of the all Black squadron received mixed reviews from the African American community.
W. E. B. Du Bois editor of Crisis magazine praised the 99th Squadron as “a step in the right direction” while William H. Hastie, advisor to the Secretary of War, refused to endorse the “experiment” he said it was a “national disgrace that a program was needed to prove Black men could fly an airplane.” Hastie sent an official report to the Secretary of War pointing out that Blacks were not ten percent of the total military, and that keeping the military segregated was “demeaning and demoralizing” (McKissack p. 42).
In response to Hastie’s report, General George C. Marshall, the army chief of staff intimated, “Segregation is an established American custom. The educational level of Negroes is below that of Whites; the Army must utilize its personnel according to their capacities; and experiments within the Army in the solution of social problems are fraught with danger to efficiency, discipline, and morale” (p. 42). It was official, the Army did not intend to end its racist practice of segregation. Furthermore, it  did not believe that Black men were as intelligent as white men, and certainly not more intelligent than white men. Some historians, after examining Army documentation, concluded, that the Army hoped, even expected, the program to fail (p. 45).
In 1940, the average income of Blacks in Alabama was 60 percent less than that of whites, only 2 percent of Black citizens could vote, and the Ku Klux Klan was very active, many Black leaders were against this experiment being conducted in Alabama, the stronghold of racial intolerance (p. 44).
Also in 1940, according to the Census Bureau, there were 124 licensed Negro pilots in the entire United States out of a total population of more than 12 million African Americans. Out of these 124 Negro pilots, seven held commercial pilot ratings, none were in the Army Air Corps (Moye p. 28). According to a press conference released by the War Department on January 16, 1940, thirty-five Black men would be chosen under the Civil Aeronautics Authority form the Civilian Pilot Training Program to be trained at  the  99th Fighter Squadron of Tuskegee Institute (Holman p. 29).
      Benjamin O. Davis
     Benjamin O. Davis Jr. graduated from the United states Military at West Point in 1936. He ranked thirty-fifth in a class of 276. After  graduating from West Point, Davis was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry and told to report to the Infantry Regiment in Fort Benning, Georgia. In March 1938, Davis was assigned to Tuskegee Institute to teach military science and tactics. In 1940 Davis’s father Benjamin O. Davis Sr., was nominated by President Roosevelt for promotion to the rank of brigadier general. In 1941 Davis Jr. was assigned as his father’s assistant and joined him in Fort Riley, Kansas. It was during this time that the Tuskegee experiment was initiated, and Brigadier General Davis Sr. received a letter from the Office of the U. S. Army Air Corps requesting that his son be released for pilot training and then command an all African American flying Squadron, the 99th Fighter Squadron (Earl p. 34).
The first class began with twelve outstanding cadets and one officer trainee (B. O. Davis), contrary to the official report that stated there would be thirty five pilot trainees. Of the thirteen, only five “made it” and received their wings. The “wash out” rate was 50-60 percent (McKissack p. 54). Years later through the Freedom of Information Act, Tuskegee Airmen discovered there had been a quota for how many Blacks were allowed to graduate. The phrase used to wash (cadets) out was,  “eliminated while passing, for the convenience of the government” (Jefferson p. 26). It is clear that many cadets passed  basic training but were eliminated for the convenience of the secret government quota system.
Active Duty
     During WW II Black airmen destroyed or damaged 409 enemy aircraft, including the last four victories of The Army Air Corps in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. They flew 15,553 stories, and 1,578 missions. Two hundred of these missions were as heavy bomber escorts. Not one of the bombers flying over the Rhineland was lost to enemy fighter opposition. Four hundred fifty Negro pilots of the 99th, 100th, 301st, and 302nd , Fighter  Squadrons, collectively known as the 332nd Fighter Group distinguished themselves according to the Presidential Unit Citation as
“displaying outstanding courage, aggressiveness, and combat technique, the 332nd Fighter group reflected great credit on itself and the Armed forces of the United States of America…”
(Rose p. 9).The Tuskegee Airmen did not fail, they surpassed all preconceived expectations and did not disappoint their country or the Black community.

Double Victory
     When the Tuskegee Airmen returned home to America they found that race relations had not changed, they were still treated as second class citizens. But they had tasted victory and would not settle for second class citizenship again. Inspired by the contribution of the Tuskegee Airmen, President Harry S. Truman announced Executive Order 9981, calling for “equality of treatment and opportunity in the armed forces, regardless of race, color, or creed.” This act led to the end of segregation in the Armed forces and marked the beginning of the Civil rights Movement, according to many historians (George p. 29).
Many Tuskegee Airmen remained in the military. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. was promoted to the rank of Four Star General by President Bill Clinton in 1998. At the ceremony President Clinton intimated that  Davis is “…a hero in war, a leader, in peace, [and] a pioneer for freedom, opportunity, and basic human dignity” (George p. 28).
Annotated Bibliography
Earl, S. (2011). Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Air Force General & Tuskegee Airmen Leader. Mankato: ABDO Publishing Company. I used this source to cite the performance of Benjamin O. Davis Jr. when he graduated from West Point Army Academy. It also was used to explain how he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry  and told to report to the Infantry regiment in Benning, Georgia. From this source I also retrieved information concerning the promotion of Benjamin O. Davis Sr. to the rank of Brigadier General.
Francis, C. E.  & Caso, A.(1997). The Tuskegee Airmen The Men Who Changed A Nation. Boston: Branden Publishing. This source was used to explain the battle experienced by African American men to enroll in military pilot training as early as 1917. This source also is utilized to show how Afro American leaders urged the War Department to establish Negro Army Air force reserve Units. It also explains the amendment to Public Law 18 proposed by Senator Schwartz of Wyoming in 1939.
George, L.  (2001). The Tuskegee Airmen. New York: Grolier Publishing. This source was used to explain how the Tuskegee Airmen inspired President Harry Truman to announce Executive Order 9981, calling for equality of treatment and opportunity in the armed forces regardless of race, color and creed. It also details the rise of Benjamin O. Davis Jr. to the rank of a Four Star General.
Homan, L. M. (2001). Black Knights the Story o f Tuskegee Airmen. Greta: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. This book was used to explain that from the very inception of the Tuskegee Experiment the cadets were expected to fail. It also explains the study conducted by the War College, that concluded that Black’s were a subspecies of the human population. This source also explains how Public Law 18 did not provide for the private training of black men in civilian pilot training schools
Jefferson, A. C. (2005). Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free. New York: Fordham University Press. This source is used to explain how the Tuskegee cadets did not find out until years later that there had been a quota for how many blacks would be allowed to graduate. It also gives the explanation of the use of the phrase “wash out” used by the government to eliminate African American cadets from the Tuskegee Experiment, even though they passed the training/
McKissack, P. &. (1995). Red Tail Angels. New York: Walker and Company. This source cites how W. E. B. Du Bois editor of the Crisis magazine praised the 99th Squadron as a step in the right direction for allowing African American to be trained as pilots in the Tuskegee Experiment.. It also points out how General George C. Marshall the army chief of staff, expressed his feelings that the education level of the Negro is below that of whites.
Moye, J. T. (2010). Freedom Flyers The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. New York: Oxford University Press. I used this source to show that in Alabama blacks earned 60 percent less than whites. It also explains that many black leaders were against the Tuskegee Experiment. This source also shows how in 1939, President Roosevelt was advised by Brigadier General Strong calling for a civilian pilot program a hundred times greater than that which existed in the past.
Rose D.D.S., R. A. (1982). Lonely Eagles The Story of America’s Black Air Force in World War II. Los Angeles: Tuskegee Airmen Inc. This source shows how the officers of the 99th Fighters were white officers to be used until they could be replace by black officers. It also explains the combining of the 99th, 100th, 301st  and 302nd Fighter Squadrons, as well as their collective successes during World War II.

Yestrday's Blues

Yesterday’s Blues  by Donna McKanders

Don’t cry Sister, don’t cry
Life ain’t supposed to be easy
I know you ask why
Don’t cry, not for long anyway
Why so much pain? Why so much sorrow?
Humph, Why not?

Sister, you got something inside of you
That you haven’t tapped into yet
That gifting will cost you some tears,
perseverance,
and sweat!

Don’t cry,  don’t cry too long
Get up from there and sing a pretty song
What kind of song you say?
A love song,
A song full of the blues you experienced
yesterday

Sing a song that only sisters understand
Sing me a song Sister
Tell me about your pain
Share with me what you learned along the way
Make me laugh and cry and sing along

Sing me a song of the blues you experienced… yesterday
I’ll dance, and sing, and shout, and sway
sing me a song of yesterday's blues
And remember my Sister,
That was yesterday…

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
















Dream Deferred
Paraphrase

What happens to a dream not realized?
Does it wither up and die?
Or simply fade from the dreamers eye
Does it decay and smell
Or get old and stale?

Does it lie asleep in hibernation?
Maybe its just waiting  for the right generation
When it can rise up and awake a nation
And cause a mighty reverberation!

Jabberwocky (paraphrase by Donna McKanders)


 
Jabberwocky
 paraphrase


‘Twas hot and blimy
In the streets called grimy
Wilted were the weeds, so erry
And slippery shadows, feary

“Beware of the Jabberwocky my son!”
The jaws that tare, the eyes that stare
Beware the Boogeyman, and run
A kabillion shadows were everywhere!

He stood with his 357 in his hand
I  ain’t  scared of no boogeyman
So he rested for a while
And then I saw him smile

And in nofearish swagger, He did not stagger
As Jabberwocky came with eyes like daggers
He parted the path
With a bonechillish laugh

Boom, boom, pow and with a grow
The magnum asked “what now?”
He left him dead, with one shot to the head
Dad said “you done killed him now go to bed”

Did you kill the Jabberwocky, did you do it boy?
Now put down your 357 toy
Oh joy, my boy
Killed the Jabberwocky with a toy

“twas hot and blimy
in the streets called grimy
Wilted were the weeds so eery,
and slippery shadows feary…






Jabberwoky

by Lewis Carroll
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe
















 

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Don’t Miss Your Destiny

(Memoir)
When the bus pulled into the depot in downtown Detroit, Eunice was waiting there for me. I felt limp. My mind was spinning like a whirl wind. It was as if I had stepped back in time and picked up right where I left off. This dreadful city with its garbage strewn in the streets laughed at me for trying to release myself from it's maniacal grip. While the derelict buildings and colorful graffiti grimaced me as if to say "We don't want your ass here!" Even the bus driver literally growled at me as I  walked past him. The yellow-green halo of smog that emerges upon you as you travel north on Interstate seventy-five seemed to hover over me as I took one giant step back from my destiny. It was all so gloomy, all so familiar; dread, failure, emptiness, and fear, engulfed me. Had I missed my destiny? Why did I have to come back to this awful place?

Dawn was happy to see me, it had been three months since I sent her back home to live with my mother. Mom had us in her control again. We were paralyzed like flies in a spider’s web. I allowed myself to fall apart. I took that old worn out suitcase, the one that daddy found on the curb, the one that had been in his basement for years before he died, the one that I packed with high hopes and deep aspirations when I threw caution to the wind and took the Grey Hound Bus to Atlanta to pursue my dreams, yes that one. I lifted it up each stair at Mom’s house till I reached the top. It felt like dead weight, my dead weight. I plopped it down in her spare bedroom, the room that used to be Lynn’s room, the room where I made the alcohol torch, the room where the demon hit me in my back, the room where some dark spirit hovered over me and Dawn when she was six months old. I set it down and sat down on the bed. This was the second time that I came back home to this dark, dusty room.

My marriage to Wesley only lasted six months. He was some sort of demoniac when we got married. I didn’t know much about demons but I knew that Wesley was not the same person that he was when I met him at the tender age of eighteen.

It was the end of my first semester at Mercy College of Detroit. we had just finished taking our last final exam. Vernita wanted me to go to a house party with her. The party was on the west side of town so I felt safe. When I descended the basement stairs it took my eyes a minute to adjust to the darkness. I seemed to be stepping into a cloud of smoke. Music invaded my senses. It felt heavy and annoyingly loud, as if the beat of each note leaped and danced right before my eyes. The smell of cheap wine and weed wisped past me and then encircled my head and lingered. Unfamiliar voices and laughter echoed from wall to wall. Dark shadows lurked, peeping,  prowling, sensing fresh innocence. Darkness stretched out his hand to me.

"Wanna dance?"

He was an average looking, unassuming man, with soft brown skin, and small eyes, wearing a blue walking suit, psychedelic print Nik Nik shirt and black leather Florsheim shoes.

 "What’s your name?" He asked, as he danced all up close and personal.

"Dana, Yours?"

"Wesley"

I could almost taste his Royal Copenhagen cologne.

"I’m going to marry you"

What kind of Negro is this? We just met, he must be high. We danced and laughed, and danced, and smoked Kool cigarettes, and talked and laughed and danced, all night. Then we exchanged phone numbers. I usually gave the wrong number, but not this time. I was hooked. He had me in his grip and I didn’t want to get out.

Wesley picked me up every night. We went over Ron and Niecy's house to play cards. Spades or tunk, was always the game of choice, rise and fly. The topic of discussion was always sex. How to do it, how often to do it, how many women to do it with. Wesley was the facilitator of this group discussion. In the wee hours of the morning Wesley, Ron, Darryl, and Pierre went down stairs to the basement to play ping pong. All the ladies were married except me. Niecy, Gina, and Deborah would continue the discussion on sex. I couldn’t figure out why the only thing these people could talk about was sex. Niecy was very curious about everybody else’s sex life. I never joined in on the conversation. If Wesley was having so much sex. It wasn’t with me. We had not slept together.


During the winter break of 1975 Wesley and I became inseparable. I started to lose interest in school. Wesley was like some kind of drug. I moved back home the next semester. Wesley picked me up and drove me to class everyday.

“I want you to be addicted to me, like a junkie is addicted to dope.” He said as he slowly lifted my blouse over my head, unsnapped my bra and kissed my breast.

 “Do you love me?”

“Mmm, yea I love you so much. You make me feel so good.”

Every day, every night, all night long we made love.  I was addicted, obsessed, in love, young love is so blind.  We did it In the front seat, the back seat, his bedroom, the four hour hotel, under the stars at Belle Isle. No, I refused to do it there, so he ripped off my pants and took it. This is rape, isn’t this rape? I thought.

 “I said NO! You don’t own my body when I say no, it’s NO!”

“You are my woman, you belong to me, I want you everyday baby, any time, any place. Don’t you want me every day, any time any place?” I cried as I fixed my clothes.

“Take me home”

We drove to my mom’s house in complete silence. Wesley kissed my lips softly before I went inside. My head was spinning. My mind was racing.

“Dana, are you crying?”

“No Mom I’m alright”

“You are staying out too late with Wesley, don’t let him pull you down..."

I turned on the hot water in the tub to drown her out. Why did I let him talk me into moving back home? I need to move back into the dorm, I need to finish school. I was safe in the dorm, no male visitors on weekdays and only two hours of male visitation on weekends. Mercy College was a safe, quiet, Catholic College. Home was a den of iniquity. I was eighteen and wanted to be free but at what cost?


 Wesley showed up the next day with a bag full of gifts.

"I got you your favorite Donna Summers album. Love to Love you Baby, that’s your favorite song, right? And look at this blue blouse with these bell bottoms to match, and these platform shoes!”

He wrapped his hand around my head and pulled my face close to his mouth, while holding my head tight next to his lips he started kissing my ear, singing “Ah love to love you baby.”

Then he kissed my eye lids, my lips, my neck, “Ahh love to love you baby.”

On August 8, 1976 we moved into a four family flat on North LaSalle Gardens. My grades were starting to drop, but school was no longer a priority.