Category Archives: Black/White Relations

My Story Is Spelled My.Stery

“Deja vu” is the mind affirming a familiarity with a circumstance. Was it a dream or a coincidence? That moment that causes us to stop and question ourselves, when we look around and know that somehow we’ve been here before–that is the moment that we realize that there’s a higher consciousness and a heightened sense or awareness.

We are leaving clues for our future selves intermittently. Pictures, mementos, and miscellaneous scribblings that capture something meaningful are unimportant at any given point in time except for the one moment that means everything.

Our mental health is gauged not only by how we interact with the world, but also by how we manage our own thoughts and feelings. A person who collects things assigns meaning to each souvenir. Awards and trophies are merely framed papers or inscribed tin fastened to molded plastic or crafted bark. The more important, the more likely we display these artifacts to the world. And what the world honors, we covet.

We are proud of those things that we’ve been taught are valuable. Yet we treasure most those things we’ve come to craft and mold on our own. Our creativity spawns all kinds of ideas. From our flesh comes offspring, and from our conceptions come legacy. Any deviation is an opportunity for evolution. And as convoluted as this may seem, we all have that moment when we hear a familiar sound or whiff an almost forgotten aroma. It triggers memory. It’s at that moment that we question our being and recognize that we are not just present in that moment, but we’ve become increasingly aware more than we once were.

Wise men don’t know everything. But they earn wisdom from learning that they can not know everything. There’s a calmness from surrendering a need to have more, to know more, or to understand everything. Some call it bliss in ignorance. Others call it letting go to let God.

That higher consciousness is merely a lack of consciousness. An unknowing, un-relentless, unfamiliar mystery for which the end is neither foreseen nor aforementioned…

This is where we are right now. Only a fool would assure us otherwise. The clues we leave are the clues we find later… and this prescription for fulfillment is what we call happiness. Because in that moment, we believe that things happen for a reason.

Until we are again clueless…

Birds Singing

For most of my life, I’ve lived in the midst of the woodlands. I was never far from the sound of traffic though. Rarely do I get to sit and watch people go by because we are all in a hurry to get somewhere.

Dogs bark and birds tweet, but I’m rarely able to get past the gossip hounds or the twitter rants. The coffee is never fresh brewed and the tea is always cold. I’m living in excess, but my needs are barely met.

I suppose my reflection has once again prompted my personal call-to-action. I WILL (for a moment) put down the phone. I will brew a fresh cup of java; even though it will surely make me sleepy. I will donate the things that I don’t need; and want a little less.

I won’t contemplate the lies I hear; I’ll be listening less. I won’t turn on the news because it’s usually the same old things expressed… differently.

I will ignore the news that the president’s spokesperson has retired her voice; even though I am entertained at the thought that the president will resume speaking for himself.

I will ignore that another black man was shot by police in the Deep South; even though it will be characterized as a righteous kill.

I will ignore that my clients make transactions right before my eyes. The battered doors and smashed windows weren’t warning enough for me.

I’ll ignore the bloated bank account because I remember that last week’s debits were overdrawn. The gas bill is low this week, but the electric bill is rising.

I’m just going to park the car, lock up the bike, and walk

Down the street

Watching

People go by.

Missing the One That’s Gone (mistreating the one that’s here)

The title suggests that relationships are backwards. But consider a deeper concept. We mourn at funerals, but the emotional commitment to sadness doesn’t usually last long. We eventually level out…chemically emotional, spiritually. And although the memory stimulates disappointment for the loss of a loved one, it also allows us to recall the good times.

We reminisce!

We are learning more about our genetic code. Commercially branded exploration such as 23andMe, Ancestry and myHeritage.com connect us to lives that we never knew, experiences we would not endure, and family we’ll never meet. But doesn’t it seem awkward to pursue “extra-” life when our own is right before us? The option to abandon the present in exchange for knowledge of the past lineage.

It’s every history teachers’ fantasy to have so many students of the world want to know where they’ve come from. In one way or another, we are all connected to some legacy.

But what of the present?! Can we be motivated to enhance our lives to do better? What lessons have we’ve absorbed from our ancestors? The history books could only convey a story from the perspective of the story tellers. But are these new methods of history-sharing impartial and unbiased? Is someone really telling us our story. Or are we getting a digitized rendition of similar narratives all dressed up with political correctness? Has our DNA been exploited to sell stock?

Pharmaceuticals are the capital for the scientists and bioengineers. DNA testing could be the conduit to normalize scientific explanations of the past–all the while omitting the gemological data that resembles all that is wrong with the world. Who is dealing/selling/marketing this to us? And raise your hand if you’re buying it.

Perhaps we as a society are so eager to embrace the positive and exciting aspects of our history. We don’t want to be burdened with the condemnations of a society gone array.

Ellis Island was a new beginning for many, but for others it was a resting place for family, cultures, and tales that could no longer be passed down to the next generations. (You absolutely must go back a click on the link). But please don’t forget that there were many nations that were torn apart and destroyed only to be reconstructed poorly in the new world. The original coming to America is vastly under-told. No cotton swab can ignite a recollection like that (and we wouldn’t want it too). American can’t handle it. We’ve become obsessed with the obsessed and numb to the pain.

Tabloids and opioids…junk for the mind, junk for the body. THIS is where we are. Reactive, we ponder treatment options in lieu of reconciling the pain. Mass shootings become last week’s news because the anxiety of “now” is too great. The precautions and the prohibitions do nothing to make us safer; instead these menial drills grasp at our insecurities and ignorance of the present.

We will react to the loss(es) of (un)loved-ones. We will pick up the pieces. We will search for something to ease the pain. As our eyes roll back and our existence begins to fade, your choice of chemical (or tactile) will ultimately determine (or UNDERmine) your future.

The art is longer imitating life. Our lives have emulated art.

Eighty years of radio/television, forty years of video games, thirty years of internet, twenty-five years of music videos and reality TV, ten years of smart phones and tablets, five consecutive years of hate, violence, and mistrust of organization and institution…equal the destruction of safe spaces.

We miss what’s already gone. We are mistreating what is already here.

Let’s digress. After all, it is just the day after Friday!

When Black Becomes White

Every time I hear a report of an egregious crime, I cringe. All crime is bad, but crimes against humanity get my attention.  Cruelty, violence, and social injustice fuel my curiously.  I’m not the only one.  These are the ingredients for most television crime dramas.  But the reality sets in when a public figure, celebrity, or ANY person I may have held in high regard has been alleged.  


Social injustice though?  This is an interesting twist. Who commits these crimes?  And who are the victims. Crimes against humanity have  numerous victims. The punishment never fits the crime.  The damage is immeasurable and confidence is lost. 

Active shooters and serial rapists trump fraud and imbezzlement (which are also crimes against humanity).  How many Americans will truly recover from preditory loans, pension scandals, retirement fund fraud?  But these are not juicy enough to hold our attention unless it becomes a personal loss.  There’s this old adage:  if it bleeds it leads!  The first 10 minutes of the nightly news proves this.  Politics encompasses the second third of the news, leaving the final portion to public interest “feel good” stories for which no one stays tuned.  

We are driven by fear.  Our culture feeds on the angst.  We are anxious for everything.  And    we panic over a lot of what we digest from the news.  But the news is spoon-fed to us based on our steady diet of sensationalism.  They sell what we are buying.  


We are offered few choices.  We have liberal news or conservative politics.  The truth is slanted and the viewing public doesn’t ask enough questions.  There’s no major media outlet for the conspiracy theorists, leaving the an entire market ripe for the picking.  Underground reporting, research, and responses to legitimate concerns are only slowly surfacing.  YouTube and Facebook are the primary source for so many Americans only because the information flows at a steady stream (and the palm-held technology is already providing an endless timeline of informal content).  

“Snopes” and other fact checking sources are no more reliable than Asking Geeves (ask.com).  Our search for information is abbreviated the moment Google tells us just how quickly it gathered 2 million results on any given topic.  

Sensationalism

There are certain types of criminal events that recurr, however.  And we rarely question their validity.  Human interests in a socially sensitive climate, race-related and gender bias stories lead.  I don’t think I’m lending a bias when I suggest that our socio-political climate lends itself to crimes against humanity.  The abrasive comments that the political leaders, presidential candidates, and their media correspondents spews are the biggest crimes committed in the past 8 months.  These are the train wrecks that we can’t look away from.  

There’s another crime against humanity that holds our attention just a tad longer.  It’s sad really because this type of social behavior has no solution and yet ties up our judicial system and challenges our community resources far greater than any (ignorable) election.  


Cruelty Through Violence

Rape, molestation, serial crimes…  Are these crimes more rampant or are they simply reported more frequently?  The perpetrators are looking less and less familiar.  Or are they?  A certain demographic seems to be the audience for these news events. 

The New Jim Crow suggests that for decades a systematic injustice has been perpetuated to jail black men.  The war on drugs has yielded prison over-crowding and a renewed fear of the black community. And these manipulations and untruths have perpetuated a mistrust of law enforcement in many “ethnic communities.”

Now through mass media, we are learning about crimes that are committed by ethnic minorities.  When allegations are made against black celebrities like Bill Cosby or Michael Jackson, America cringes. We begin to accept that no one is above the law.

We’ve witnessed that a nation of oppressed minorities can become a powerful force that can seize authority and change the cultural landscape–politically, socially, and economically. Conversely, powerplays can expose white America to a new kind of hatred and fear of anything non-white. The tables have turned, and the word minority no longer has the same meaning.  Term such as “urban” and “economically disadvantaged” were coined to disguise a demographic that was once black, but is now simply poor.  When we speak less of race and more of class, what we are really talking about is wealth and power. 


And what we are learning is that although the wealthy and the popular have the means to escape penalties, no amount of celebrity can cloak public opinion.  Our society condemns more now than it ever did during the conservative “good old days”.  There’s no escape.  

Will we see more bankers, CEOs and corporate managers go to jail for their misdeeds?  Not likely.  Celebrities however are more likely to endure the wrath of the justice system.  Wesley Snipes or Martha Stewart–neither could escape.  Juicier crimes like sexual molestation, sexual assault, or murder will offer the viewing public the opportunity to play judge AND jury. 

When the public reacts to tabloid journalism, we can not at all be surprised that we have a presidential candidate whose former career was in business fraud and reality television.  


 Afrika Bambaataa Victims will tell their story. The media will exploit them. Hip Hop music will get a black eye (no pun intended); and the news-makers will suggest that if “they” could do it, no one is beyond reproach.  
Put on your seatbelt America!  As African Americans embrace the kingdom that was always denied them, there will be a recognizable force that will shine a spotlight on the indecency of our actions (while demonstrating indifference to its own injustices). 

But don’t believe me. Click here for more.

We Are The Revolutionaries!

“Stand up and fight back!”  No matter what side of the political isle you call home, you are going to experience a significant change in the socio-economic climate in the WORLD.  What we are witnessing now is not merely an American condition.

As Canada prepares for American refugees, and Mexico shakes it’s head in disgust, there’s a burning sensation to revolt against the true neo-fascist.  The political infrastructure for decades to come will be built on the decisions we are making in 2016.

Every conservative AND every liberal has a position on all of these issues:

Decent living-wage.  Some defend the status quo because they’ve “earned” their place in life building a skill set based on hard work and opportunity.  Others are demanding a better working condition as they watch their managers and handlers profit from their hard work.  They call it oppression.

Disenfranchisement. The good ol’ boy network has evolved to include a new demographic, but it maintains the same elitist restrictions.  The club is now comprised of both “old money” and new wealth, but a general disgust for anyone looking to evenly distribute the opportunity.  If there’s a way to hamper the positive change on the other end of a registered voter, it will be exploited.  Selma exists in every region of our nation via gerrymandering, pole taxes, residency requirements, and basic literacy expectations. What would result if every ex-con, homeless citizen, naturalized immigrant, college freshman, or disenfranchised senior actually were guaranteed their human right to choose their destiny?

Social Justice. The same injustices that the “privileged” dismiss as delusions of grandeur are the badges of courage for every man, woman, or child who dare wear a hooded sweatsuit while grasping a bag of skittles.    Martyrs are created from the innocent and under-privileged. Civil disparities prompt prejudice and bigotry based on skin color, gender, and creed (with a twist of poverty).  The ultimate sacrifice is minimized and summarized into sound bites and hashtags.  And a cry to go back to a “better time” is embraced by anyone with good credit, a stable job, and…outstanding student loan balances.  The advocates for change are the same folks who have been denied access to the very freedoms for which they’ve paid!  The protectors of those freedoms are the very ones who’ve enjoyed them for generations.

Criminal Justice.  A system that has incarcerated more minorities per capita than any nation in the world is founded on the premise that anti-social is pro-criminal.  But systematically, who is enforcing these norms? There are inmates serving prison sentences for crimes that have been repealed; for peddling drugs that are now legal; while while celebrities glamorize these same norms  and exploit the very same legal system.



Economics.
Profits would be generated on all of this except for the fact that the top one percent has their banks off-shore (and they’re not spending any of that fleeced wealth). Our government can no longer generate revenue from (foreclosed) property, (unearned) income, or (unsold) merchandise.  The money that was spent on industrialized prison complexes, charter schools, and weapons of war…has long-since been directed away from law enforcement, public education, and social services.

“We can do much better!”  This is the new freedom cry, but it’s almost too late.

We are the new revolutionaries!  

But the freedoms for which we are fighting have already been given away.

Angry Black Man

In recent months I’ve been dubbed by my friends as the “angry black man.”   My whole life I’ve been pretty happy-go-lucky.  I’ve been serene, getting upset only when things happen that are within my control.  All other problems were either surrendered to God or they simply slid into the abyss.
Life gets in the way…

Life!

It gets in the way of our hopes and dreams.  It also gets in the way of our problems.  Especially as every nuance of our lives gets translated into a sound bite or 15-minutes of temporary fame for the headliner.   Life just..happens.

Problems either dissolve or get handled in due time.  But we exert emphasis on the life problems that are important to us–those life problems that have been ignored too long.  The hashtags and the rally boards are all we have to keep the memories of martyrs intact.

2015 was a tough year.

I don’t think that this year is going to be much better.  In fact, I think that last year’s headlines will only be exacerbated by current headlines.  We’ve learned nothing.  Or maybe we’ve learned plenty, but we haven’t figured out how to apply our new found knowledge.

Yes, I’m angry.  Don’t I have the right to be?!?

Everything that I’ve trusted has been proven otherwise.  I was led to believe that we had a justice system that protects the innocent. I see people who look like me (and behave like me) in the most precarious situations.  We find ourselves in situations that would cause discomfort for anyone.  But we are not referring to harassment, wrongful imprisonment, or brutality.  Death is the sentence for anyone who resists.  Wrongful death, accidental death, or even alleged suicide are par for the course if we are too loud, too independent, or try to defend ourselves.

Forget about exerting my Constitutional rights!   Or my human rights!! Don’t even try to explain the misconception.  Or the misunderstanding!  “Guilty while black” has never rung more true.  Why?  Because our society has been given permission to let their hate flag flow freely.

Educators must be more selective than ever when teaching current events in school because of the content of our “leaders” actions.  “Do what ever you have to,” is the freedom call for anyone who feels that they are entitled.

Police are more guarded because of the threat of retaliation for bad police policy.

Business is booming for lawyers and doctors though.  Everyone has standing to litigate and everyone has the ability to see a doctor.  As a result we are collectively bolder than ever. The elitist are protecting their legacy, and the working-class are fighting the downward spiral of becoming more like the the homeless.

It’s getting real. And I’m getting mad!

It’s become too easy to hate others!   No one is focused on giving peace a chance.  A nation of entitled “adult-children” have awakened under the leadership of a man who weekly affirms their complaints.  They rant that America is not the land of opportunity that it once was.

Fact is that we’ve not yet reached our goal of freedom and liberty for all.  Instead, we’ve been derailed.  That light at the end of the tunnel is a train.

But who is to blame?  It doesn’t really matter now, does it?  Anger doesn’t care who’s wrong.  Anger just fights!   Anger will destroy everything and everyone until there’s either no energy left or nothing left to destroy.

Am I that angry?  No!  But I’m no longer tolerant.  I’m no longer going to tolerate imbeciles who are careless in their acts.  I will not entertain tomfoolery at the expense of others.  I can not answer to subordinates who are incompetent and too inept to do their job.  I am unwilling to tolerate individuals or organizations who are not generating positive energy or positive outcomes.  If this makes me an angry person, I need you to check YOURself.

I’m not nearly as angry as I’m going to be.  I’m AM battling though.  I’m batting not against flesh, but against principalities.   I’m not the only one fighting.  I know what it’s like to ignore, avoid, and even give in to a confrontation.  No more!   My resistance doesn’t make me angry.  It makes me strong.

I am a wall.  A wall is not angry.  A wall is not kind.  A wall is a wall–strong, sturdy, dependable.

Am I that angry black man? Do you want me to be?

I Don’t Like You, But I Tolerate You!

I don’t like you but I tolerate you. 

In the past 24 hours, I came to a realization that I could be liked and used at the same time. As a matter fact, it’s because I am so likable (and non confrontational) that I’m a likely candidate to be mistreated at the hands of people who seek to exploit my kindness.

Without going into all the details, I will paint a very narrow picture. I was appointed to be the chairperson of the committee for an organization for which I am passionate. That same organization trusted me to be trained, to be efficient, and to be ethical. I did not disappoint.

But when the time came to demonstrate my work product, I was asked specifically by the leadership to be more flexible; to allow them to make changes (in my stead) that would more accurately represent their personal needs. Sadly their needs did not represent the needs (and the diversity) of the organization. I stood my ground. I refused! And for this I was judged. 

Or was I judged? And was it a bad thing to be judged?? Either way, I was angry. 

I was angry because my hard work had been compromised. Our objectives were not aligned. And it would be perceived that I did not do my job because the people who appointed me had an objective that was different than mine.  

But my objectives were the objectives of the organization. My objectives were clearly outlined for me before I accepted the responsibility. There was nothing in those objectives that allowed for the type of flexibility that was being requested. The objectives were changed without my consent.

This did not sit well with me at all. I slowly looked around at the people that I worked with. I asked questions that they thought I should not ask. I carved a wedge of resistance that they did not appreciate. They got nervous because my dissent could cause their embarrassment and expose their biases. 

Because this is a feeling that is not unique to me, I thought that I would share it here so that others may be able to identify. 

What do you do when you’ve been asked to compromise your integrity?  I suppose it bothers me because I’m asked more often than I’d like to be asked. It also bothers me that this does not seem to be a problem for the people who do the asking–people for whom I used to hold in high regard.


Golden Rule

Just as I would prefer not to be held to someone else’s standard. I don’t hold others to my standard. I am simply disappointed in them. I’m angry because I was wrong. I held them to a standard that was higher. I shouldn’t have. 

But I need to say this for my own edification. When I volunteer my own time and my own energy, I expect gratification. It’s not a lofty expectation. And if I cannot earn some type of satisfaction from my hard work, I will not volunteer my time. I already get paid to do a job with ever-changing objectives. I am asked daily to compromise my personal line of decency in exchange for a paycheck. I won’t spend my free time doing the same.

So where do I go from here? Do I quit volunteering? Do I stand up for my “rights”? Do I stand up for the rights of others?? Or do I give ’em hell?!?

I haven’t yet decided how I will proceed. One thing is for certain–I will not go quietly. I will not allow so-called leaders to diminish my worth OR my work product. I will not allow them to think that I will fold to unrealistic demands. I will stand up for myself. And I will represent the people of the organization. This is called “integrity.”