Friday, November 28, 2014

Dear Black People or Thoughts on How to Move Forward From Ferguson

The Michael Brown grand jury case was doomed to fail before it even started.  The decision was made to try to cool down the protest and the anger and to create an illusion of due process to appease the public.  What is more alarming than the result of the grand jury was the decision to release it 8pm local time.  All the chest pieces were now set: that National Guard was put on alert, the national media swarmed in to broadcast the reaction with questions and placing gasoline on already fiery build up to an unpopular and downright wrong decision, and we had protesters and rioters (yes there is a difference) ready and we the people prepared not to be surprised.

I remember just seven short years ago when some said the election of Barack Obama as President was supposed to be the beginning a post racial society where we saw the world without color or prejudice.  The reaction and the behavior since has been much different.   I am not sure in the world of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the 24 hour cable news cycle that the violent interactions between black citizen and police are more obvious or mainstream that racism and subversive racism is more apparent but the protest in Ferguson has become a “Mockingjay" moment. People have seen too many miscarriages of justice from Michael Brown to Oscar Grant even going back to Rodney King and have become tired, angered, frustration, and now enraged.

I understand what a cosmic farce the grand jury was and allow me to explain.  Johnnie Cochrane once said that a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich.  All a grand jury does is say that there is probable cause to hold a criminal proceeding where a defendant has the right to a trial and legal defense.  This grand jury was unguided and misdirected by the prosecutors who provided through tons of evidence and witnesses to the wall and did NOT take a stand to recommend charges against the accused.  

The accused did not get a through cross examination of the details of what happened that night. We all know that the conclusion was decided before the grand jury even started and the public’s intelligence was insulted.  The angles were being made and the chest pieces were being played all along.  When someone stacks the deck and then is surprised why people are so upset of the result it is because we saw the trick, we saw the hand in the cooke jar red handed.  We see time and time again that  justice as “just us” and continue to see that there are two legal systems in this country.  We see that one person’s life does not have value of other lives and that this system will continue to operate because it benefits those in power and those in control.

I agree that the case of Michael Brown was different from most others.  The accused was an actual police officer and Mr. Brown was suspected of committing a crime directly before.  Mr. Brown may have not have been an angel but there are real questions of what happened between him and the officer accused of killing of him.  Was killing Mr. Brown the only choice that he had?  I agree that Mr. Brown should have been arrested and sent to county jail that night but we may now never know because there will be no trial.

With that said, with the rioting and the protest, with the anger, and the boiling points of having seen all of this before, what do we do next?  Burning down businesses, Black businesses, and destroying property and becoming a criminal in a blaze of anger only perpetuate the stereotypes that the public has for African Americans and minorities in general for years.  Now is not the time to destroy with anger and fire but to build with a movement of words and non-violent actions, to build support, coalitions, alliances.  It is time for to re-think about how we raise our children, how we interact with the police, how we spend our money and how we treat each other.  

I know while those who are outraged that another white police officer has killed a black teenager for the x-teeth time, we must remember that black teenagers kill other black teenagers daily and there are no riots and no anger for them.  There is no anger when a African-American life is taken by another African-America, it is our huge dirty not so secret.  It is time for our hypocrisy to end and take ownership of the “Black on Black” crime that plague our streets.  Yes, we have our own business to handle, but we must value our own lives before we expect others to. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

There Is a Thin Line Between a Preacher and a Pimp

Imagine a man.  He is well suited, drive nice cars, charismatic, and he has many followers.  His words can be used to uplift or to divide or ultimately to get what he wants. Who is he?  He could be a Preacher who inspires and ministers to his flock or he could just be a Pimp, who is all about his money and his hustle.

I'll just say this right now that most of my readers will not understand this phenomenon and connecting the dots can be very tricky.  Most of you may not attend church regularly (or at all) and I may disclose more than a few dark secrets of the Black church, but these need to be brought out.  There are plenty of Preachers out there who are doing the LORD's work and I have high esteem for them, but this is for those few Preachers with a Pimp's mindset and attitude.  Let's try this simple rule: if a Preacher is offended by anything that I say next, you may be a PIMP in preacher's clothing.

I grew up in a legendary church for which I have not yet found an equal.  The Pastor of that Church was above reproach and the church felt like family with soul and brotherhood.  He was a true man of GOD, who also happened to love his cars, but his focus on the Church and making it the best it could be.  This man baptized my sister and me and we are still connected to his family to this day even though he passed away almost a decade ago.

Since leaving that Church after an ugly change of leadership and its aftermath, I have found it very hard to look at Pastors and ministers the same way again.  Usually the first thing that I hear is the Pastor say that infamous part of the Bible (Malachi 3:8) that brings up my shield instantly, "Will a Man rob GOD?"  It is then when I look at the Pastor or minister's wife and ask myself is that hat more expensive than the suit that I am wearing and whether the church is thriving or are all the resources going to the Pastor and into his pocket.  I swear that there are more Black churches than 7 Elevens because Pastors especially Pimp Pastors want to have his own church so he can be in charge and in control.

So now we get to the Pimps and let's run through the similarities.  They both usually have nice cars, clothes, married nice looking women while single women cling to and are fascinated by them. They both have huge egos, demand attention, can speak well, want to control everything, and have the skill to manipulate especially if one is not properly armed to think for him or herself.  One main difference is that a Pimp will say what be has to get what he wants.  For the Pimp Preacher he will justify himself and quote any scripture he has to in order to add more money to the collection plate for his benefit, not the church's.  You will usually see this in the form of one month long Pastor's Appreciation Services that a honest Preacher would conduct in one day or other schemes to have members compete to see who can raise the most money for the Preacher's benefit and not the church's.

Even the Holy Bible warns as such.  Read Matthew 7:15 where Jesus says, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."  In fact, you should probably read Matthew 7:15-23.  The last thing I need to hear from Pimp Preacher is that GOD told HIM that I should put "X" dollars into the collection plate and by that action alone, I will be blessed.  I'm not easily influenced and while I don't know my Bible as well as I should, I know how to check the source before I ever believe or follow a Pimp Preacher and I hope you now do too!


Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Sum of All Fears... A Realistic Version

We as a nation have this notion that there is only one way to tell and view a story which is only through our own point of view.  Our lives and our experiences are individual to us, the more diverse the people, the more diverse the experiences.  In this melting pot of ours, there are so many experiences that are different from our own and this causes misconception, stereotypes, judgment and misunderstanding.

The movie The Sum of All Fears is based on a book by Tom Clancy and is a great piece of fiction. Without giving the movie away a group of terrorists try to push the United States and Russia to the brink of nuclear war by playing up their misconceptions, preconceived notions, and their fears about the other.

Allow me to present to you our real version of this story, the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in the killing of Trevon Martin.  We all know the dividing lines to start with.  Just like the Russians and the United States in the movie, this real version majorialy deals with African Americans and "White America".  There is nothing more "nuclear" here than the state of race in the United States and yes the fear is on both sides.

For African Americans (which I am one of) it is the unjust criminal justice system that sends mainly African American males to prison in a higher proportion than other racial groups, higher unemployment, a higher rate of single parent households mostly led by unmarried women, and by far a higher murder rate of young African American males committed by young African American males.  We also have fewer opportunities for justice and it is usually unlikely that a white person will be found guilty of murdering an African American than the converse.  When an unfair or what is considered an unjust verdict is made like in this case or the Oscar Grant murder case that happened in my hometown, protest and riots ensue.   Now take note that most of these people who riot, made the choice to riot before they arrived at these said protests and the media is there because they as well as everyone else knows that this will happen.  After all of the rioting and the civil disobedience is over, we (through the media,) have a conversation about race (like CNN just had this week) and some action happens, but somehow we return to the status quo, because once the passion of anger and outrage passes, we become numb and inactive to more young African American males being killed and we remain silent.

For White America, my best guess (which all I can do since I am not White) is that they perceive most African Americans mainly young African American males as threatening, not intelligent, and lazy.  What doesn't help the situation are the assumptions made upon African Americans based of reality and daytime television that African Americans are in and the "hip-hop culture" of baggy pants, 20-24 inch rims (which I especially detest), men wanting to be hustlers, gangstas, wanna be pimps, professional athletes and rappers, and the belief that every African American male is this way.  Just to let you know, we all not this way and while this is prevalent in the African American community, we as African Americans have a responsibility to do what I would like to call "family business" to take care of these idiots that give us real men a bad name.

Here's where the fear comes in.  When a young man wearing a hoodie can't walk home without the fear of being shot and killed because of fear, stereotypes, and misjudgements that he was grouped into. While I wear a shirt and tie to work almost everyday, like President Barack Obama said, this could have been me while taking a morning jog on a cold day.  While these judgments still exist, there are forces that continue to divide us, the media, which points and counterpoints to delirium and the extremists on both sides that have no common sense and want to tear down walls instead of building bridges of understanding.

This ending must be one similar to one portrayed in the movie.  Both sides must back down from their fears of the other and in time we just may start to understand each other.

Oh and one final thing, ALL life is precious regardless of skin color.  Whether it be in Florida, Chicago, Oakland, Colorado, or Connecticut the families of those departed have lost a child, a brother, a father, or a husband. They suffer with their loss and that pain never goes away.  I just hope that your family don't have to endure what the Martin family is right now.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mr. Trump...You're Fired

I don't usually post video but Donald Trump doesn't know when to leave well enough alone.  The "issue" of President Obama's birth certificate has been beaten to the ground.  If you are on this "birther" bandwagon, you may need to see a doctor and get some help.  If Mr. Trump does not like the President's politics why doesn't he discuss his dissatisfaction on the issues.  Barrack Obama is the President of the United States, he's Black, he was born in Hawaii, and had done some good things for our nation.  Get over it...and Mr. Trump...you're fired!

For the benefit for those who have not seen this here is the entire interview with Wolf Blitzer.  Credit goes to CNN which was the network that aired this interview.


Monday, May 28, 2012

If We Really Want to Honor the Troops...

Today is Memorial Day, a day when our country honors the men and women who give their lives so we can have liberty and enjoy various freedoms.  Today, the American flag waves proudly in countless American homes and on top of various buildings.  Tomorrow we will all go back to work and continue with our normal lives.  For two days a year, we pretend that we care and appreciate about our military and on this one we have parades, fireworks, have barbecues, and we eat tons of apple pie.  Lately we have taken our basic freedoms for granted that our troops defend and die for willingly.  We bicker, we argue, and our politics are so dirty the military is now just another political football.  I say this because this is the sad truth of the state of our military, the one we say that we cherish and appreciate so much:
  1. The unemployment rate for our discharged military is estimated to be as high as 28%
  2. The suicide rate in the Army is up 80% in the last four years.
  3. 1,985 U.S. troops (and counting) have died in Afganistan, and 4486 U.S. troops have died in Iraq with countless others returning with brain damage and lost limbs.
  4. The rate for PTSD is estimated to be at 11-20% among those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 10% for the first Iraq war in 1990 and 30% of Vietnam vets.
  5. The military homeless rate is as high as 1 in 3 (33%) of homeless men
  6. There were 19,000 estimated violent sexual assaults by the Department of Defense in 2010 alone.  20% of women in the military are or have been sexually assaulted and are more likely to be raped by their fellow soldiers than be killed by enemy fire.
This like many issues doesn't often prompt significant attention until an election is on the horizon.  More is being done to reduce the suicide rate among the troops and there has been a recognition by the Department of Defense that violent sex assaults on women (and men) need to be addressed.  One topic that should be most relevant on this day is why are we still in Afghanistan?  Wasn't the mission to hunt and bring Bin Laden to justice?  Mission Accomplished, right?  Why can't we pull the troops.  These troops that have obeyed commands and risked their lives, and for what purpose now?  Are we attempting to install democracy in a place that may not be ready for it?  Speaking of that, why do we want to clone our country else where because we only recently cleaned our act 50 years ago and for a democracy we are still far from those "socialist" European countries.  We are one court ruling away from not having universal health care before it started, our crime rate is horrendous, speaking of which our criminals have better healthcare than our citizen, and maybe our military.

If we really want to honor the troops we would give them the best opportunities to succeed: a home, health care, therapy from illnesses like PTSD, and an economy that supports their exit from the military and entry into the workforce.  We would bring them home so we can begin to "nation build" here and allow Afghanistan to rebuild itself, find its own identity, and form their own government.  

With that said, thank you military men and women for all you do to defend us (and corporations and oil) and for all that you sacrifice.  I just wish that we as a country treated and appreciate you better.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Year Wiser...

To My Readers,

I have been away for a very long time and if you have checked this blog for the past year yearning for new thoughts and opinions, I appreciate your loyalty and your hunger for real, true conversation and discourse.

For the past year, I have been rebuilding my life in the real world, defining my career, and discovering or I should say rediscovering many lessons not only in life but also in general human behavior.  I recently had a birthday and I have also had some great conversations that have brought some exciting breakthroughs.

I have thought about these lessons and at the urging of many including one of my mentors and friend, BlackWomanBlogging (a great blog if you haven't read her) to post some of these thoughts that are listed below.

The 2012 Practical and Common Sense Lessons Learned:
  1. People lie, and lie often even when they think that they are not.  
  2. OK does not mean ok, OK means be quiet, my thoughts are on something else.
  3. Ownership means that when something is YOUR fault and YOUR responsibility you fall on your sword and admit it.
  4. A distinctive "NO" is always better that a bullshit YES!
  5. Reality Television is an addiction and does not depict positive thought.  It rots your brain and can make someone fall for anything.  It boggles my minds that the Kardashians, the Basketball Wives, The "Real Housewives" and other can make that much money acting so dumb.  In fact most of these shows don't even feature wives. They are ex-wives, baby mamas and the formerly engaged.  
  6. Take the time to live your life critically.  Before you argue about what a woman can do with her body or who can marry, make sure that your own house is in order.  Which leads to....
  7. People in general are hypocrites!!!  Many persecute too quickly and spend to much time in judgement and not enough time reflecting on their own thoughts and actions.  It's time to look into the mirror folks because we all have skeletons in the closet.
  8. If you form your opinions solely by watching CNN or Fox News or MSNBC or listening to one viewpoint on radio then you are drinking the kool aid.  These interviews aren't even interviews anymore, they are gotcha questions.  People don't even answer questions anymore, they just pull talking point after talking point.  Which leads to...
  9. WE must take action to help ourselves because the government is like the police in the movies.  They arrive in force way too late.  We blame government for much of what has happened in the past few years which I fully agree with.  After years of deadlock, we must realize that the solutions must come from Main Street which means that we must grow a pair and vote out the imbeciles who are playing politics and sound bytes and get to some solutions.  And finally...
  10. If any of these hit home for you and you find yourself upset, frustrated, or you think that I am full of it, GOOD, because the truth hurts and denial is weakness.  It is very easy to blame others for our own circumstances.  It is always someone else's fault when you should instead look into the mirror.  We are offended when someone says something controversial that we don't agree with.  I would prefer someone tell me to my face what they think about me than the politically-correct banter we tolerate today.
  11. And a postscript: One that I couldn't resist putting up:  Life really begins when one stops caring about what people think of you.  No matter who you are or what great things you may have done, certain people may never like you for some unreasonable reason and guess what that's fine.  There is a word for people like that: haters!!  Ignore them and live the best life that you can. Better yet channel their negative energy to drive you because the best revenge is success. 
There is plenty more to talk about so I will be around.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Back to Business as Usual

In the next few hours the party formerly known as the Party of No, will have its first "political victory" and fulfill one its first promises to the American people.  The newly Republican House of Representative is on the verge of repealing the Health Care Reform bill of 2010.  Keep in mind that this reversal will not change anything because the Senate is Democratically controlled and the President would certainly veto this act if this miraculously passed the Senate (trust me, it won't).

I certainly agree that the Health Care Bill did not do everything that was promised and needed to solve.  A lot of matters were sacrificed in the matter of compromise and while this was landmark legislation, it is just a start to correcting the health care issues of our nation that was years in the making.  A majority of the Americans have a problem with this law for one reason or another and it is by no means perfect, but with 309 million people what is.  Some say it doesn't do enough while other state that it intrudes too much.  I will just say that this is like everything else in Washington, political posturing to an audience, to the people at home that I gave an half-assed effort to fix health care without promoting new ideas or solutions.  People unfortunately, the Party of No is back to business as usual.  Their sole goal is 2012, long term aspirations at the sacrifice of the short term help for millions that are plagued with access to good and basic health care for them and their families.  I seriously hope that in eve of all that has happened this month that Congress can actually solve problems, but then again hope was so 2008.