How Racists Are Useful Idiots

In 1901, Russian scientist, Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, conducted a series of experiments called “conditioned reflex” [also referred to as “classical conditioning”]. Pavlov attached a device to a dog to measure the amount of saliva produced when he rang a bell. He rang the bell just before he fed the dog so that the dog associated the sound of the bell with food and thus, would salivate in anticipation of eating. After doing this several times, he would ring the bell without feeding the dog – the dog would still salivate as much as before because it had been “conditioned”. In American politics, certain politicians ring a bell [by using special code words] and white racists salivate just like a faithful dog and cast their votes for those politicians. With regard to voting for certain politicians, white racist voters are useful idiots.

They are racists and thus, idiots. They are useful in that certain politicians can “ring that Pavlovian bell” knowing that the racists will eagerly cast their vote in response. Once in office, however, those politicians can submit legislation and enact policies designed to cater to the desires of their wealthy constituents. Catering to those desires often comes at the expense of the Pavlovian racist dogs’ economic and social well-being. In short, those politicians have methodically performed the calculus in how best to get elected. What is also quite possible is that, personally, some of those politicians might be mildly racists or perhaps not racist at all but they know which “bell” to ring to get votes.

To be a racist one must first eschew logic and reason at all costs – and above all, avoid the truth and ignore basic reality. This kind of utter stupidity lays the groundwork for being a faithful idiot. As long as racist beliefs are stoked, politicians can bend the racists over and have their way with them. Their racism is so deep-seated and logic-defying that given a choice between having more if blacks can have as much or having less if it means that blacks would have even less, the racists would, more often than not, choose the latter. Thus, many politicians nurture this inbred state of emotions to win elections. More exactly, those politicians exploit the cleavage between the races by providing the white racists with a convenient scapegoat; a group of people to blame because “those people” are dangerous, lazy, criminal and less intelligent.

This manipulation and use of idiots is nothing new. Hitler noted the utility of racism with respect to the Jews and thus, stated, “The masses are… stupid. Only emotion and hatred can keep them under control.” [emphasis mine]. Anton Chekhov asserted the same thing when he declared, “Love, friendship, respect, do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something” or some group.

But we need not refer to the distant past for examples of how some American politicians ring a bell that racist hear very clearly and who salivate like Pavlov’s dog and eagerly cast their votes for those politicians.

Richard Nixon, employed what is called the “Southern Strategy” to win the votes of racist useful idiots of the South who became disenfranchised with the democratic party. This strategy was perfected by Lee Atwater, political strategist for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He described it this way:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, N*gger, n*gger, n*gger.” By 1968 you can’t say “n*gger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So, you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial is saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N*gger, n*gger.” [the edited spelling N*gger, is mine]2

In other words, to exploit the idiocy of racist voters, politicians reference things associated with African-Americans – rightly or wrongly – without mentioning African-Americans directly. The politicians speak with “code words” such as crime, drugs, urban areas, welfare, fatherless children, unwed mothers, reverse racism, quotas, food stamps, etcetera. Use of these words gives them plausible deniability if they are accused of racism.

Sometimes, instead of code words, politicians ring that special bell that makes the racist salivate like Pavlov’s dog by using code pictures.

In 2006, Harold “Ford was up against a white Republican, Bob Corker. The Republican National Committee bankrolled an ad that included a simpering, wriggling blond gushing about how she’d met the bachelor Ford at “the Playboy party.” The spot ended with the winking blond whispering, “Harold, call me,” – and began an angry debate over whether the ad exploited, as the NAACP put it, “a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African-American men and white women.””

This was also reported in the LA Times as follows: “A new Republican Party television ad featuring a scantily clad white woman winking and inviting a black candidate to “call me” is drawing charges of race-baiting, with critics saying it contradicts a landmark GOP statement last year that the party was wrong in past decades to use racial appeals to win support from white voters.

Critics said the ad, which is funded by the Republican National Committee and has aired since Friday, plays on fears of interracial relationships to scare some white voters in rural Tennessee to oppose Democratic Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. Ford is locked in a tight race, hoping to become the first African American senator since Reconstruction to represent a state in the former Confederacy.
“It is a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African American men and white women,” said Hilary Shelton, head of the Washington office of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, the country’s oldest civil rights organization.

A former Republican senator, William S. Cohen of Maine, was more blunt. Cohen, who was also Defense secretary under President Clinton, said on CNN that the ad was “a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment.””

Remember, many American politicians need racist voters to advance the economic agenda of the wealthy which is also deleterious to the economic needs of those white racists. Much of what the racist voters want does not conflict with the economic interests of the wealthy. Most of the states of the former Confederacy can be characterized by the observation of Claude-Frederic Bastiat. He asserted, “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

For example, when the legislature of North Carolina was taken to court for gerrymandering designed to suppress the votes of African-Americans, the US Supreme Court sided against North Carolina in Cooper v Harris. The Supreme Court, in 2017, also struck down two of the state’s congressional districts earlier this year, saying they were impermissible racial gerrymanders.” This was in complete agreement with the finding that the North Carolina legislature “enacted a voter ID law that a federal appeals court struck down, saying it targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.”

Race is like a shiny trinket that distracts the idiotic racists from looking at where the politicians’ ultimate objectives are revealed. It is not in the economic interest of many of the wealthy for racism to be shut down. There is much to be gained from white racism in America. Such gains are possible because, as Niccolo Machiavelli explained, “Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived.”

Many American politicians have been so successful in dealing the race card to win elections, Russian propagandists took a seat at the table and dealt the same race card to disrupt and sow more dissension.
Yes, even the Russians can see that racists can be played like a cheap dollar store fiddle. Play it and the racists will dance like an elephant in a tutu – completely unaware of being used for the will of the one playing the fiddle.

To best illustrate how severely stupid racists are and how useful to the politicians and wealthy they can be, note the following. In the Pre-Civil War South, plantation owners would rather pay a black slave nothing than pay a white man for the same tasks. Later, during the Civil War, stupefied by racism, those non-slave-owning whites fought and died so that slave-owners could keep their slaves and not pay whites for the same tasks. True, the plantation owners were racists also, but could not have perpetrated a self-serving exploitive system without the useful idiots to support it. Proof-positive that racists are intellectually anemic at best and just dangerously damn stupid at worst. In either event, politicians use them like toilet tissue.

One final note: Prior to 1964 – 1968, Southern Democrats were unabashedly segregationists/racists. Later, they abandoned the Democratic party and tied themselves to the Republican party and subsequently painted the southern states solidly “red” [as opposed to “blue”]. This is not to say that all Republicans are racists [after all, many Democrats are also] but it is to say that a profoundly significant number of racists comfortably identify as Republicans as evidenced by how their social interests and those of many Republicans are aligned. And that alignment can be exploited to advance the economic interests of wealthy donors.

In any event, racists are dolts – always have been and always will be. They are Pavlovian dogs who wag their tails and salivate like useful idiots each time politicians ring that bell.


Trying To Keep A Dead Horse Alive

I have written a few times about how three of my four children have ostracized me because I eventually rejected the religious cult in which their mother and I originally raised them. Thus, I am considered a heretic or an apostate and therefore, by fiat, I am to be treated as a “leper” by all, including family, who follow the creeds of that cult.

I achingly miss my children and their children; it has been years since my children have spoken to me or since I have hugged their children. I have been hoping — hoping, that they will somehow, at sometime, someway change their mind and let me be their “father” and they, my “children”.

But hope can be both a source of strength or source of angst. I used to hope that the three who have rejected me would escape and come to embrace me once again so that I can do what fathers and grandfathers do to those they love. But I do not hope anymore. I give up; I surrender to hopelessness. George Bernard Shaw once asserted, “He who has never hoped can never despair.” I no longer want to despair and grieve; to hope for what will never happen. I want the pain of despair to stop. The only bright spot is that my youngest son has not turned down that path of rejecting me and for that I am beyond elated and joyful. His love stops me from bleeding out.

Freidrich Nietzsche explained,“Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.” Hope may not be the worst of evils, but it certainly stands tall against many of them. So, given that my children [except one] refuse to answer my frequent texts, calls or letters, I will no longer despair. I will no longer hope because to keep hope alive is tantamount to keeping a dead horse alive. How foolish and futile – because the horse is “dead”.

Published in: on November 1, 2017 at 3:00 PM  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , ,

The Purpose of Education_My Philosophy of Teaching

To many, teaching is defined quite simply as imparting knowledge or information about a subject. The student is seen as a sponge ready to soak up all the teacher has to deliver. Typically, the emphasis is on the content of the subject matter so that, for example, an accounting instructor will discuss how to make a journal entry and post to the ledger or how to generate a cash flow statement. Or, a professor of engineering would provide information about how and why mass, velocity and force interact. In these and other cases, instructors impart knowledge, assist in understanding the subject content or demonstrate how to apply the subject-specific information. I agree that educators are commissioned by society and by a sense of responsibility to accomplish all the above, but I also believe that educators have an equally important, if not more important, duty – to challenge and teach students to think in a higher-order manner. Thus, teachers are to present challenging material in concert with critical thinking demands.

Teaching content without teaching critical thinking is to create students who are veritable biological tape recorders that play back thought for thought the ideas of the teacher or a textbook. Such an educator creates mindless parrots and awards them grades that correlate with their facility to regurgitate on demand. Too often, critical thinking, if considered at all, is viewed as ancillary or possibly a separate course altogether, as opposed to something that should be etched and dyed into the fabric of the course.

In other words, learning is best achieved and superior long-lasting results can be achieved when students are challenged to both know and understand the subject and to think critically. To reshape the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in education, the subject or course is the ‘tool’ (and there are many) but critical thinking is “the handle which fits them all”. Thus, my philosophy is two-fold:

1. The subject matter should be sufficiently rigorous so that students must exert themselves mentally to succeed in the course

2. The course should be designed so that critical thinking is necessary if the student is to be a top performer

Challenging The Students

Regarding the first point, I embrace the belief espoused by John Stuart Mill who so brilliantly stated, “A pupil from whom nothing is ever demanded which he cannot do, never does all he can.” Or, as I have often stated in my classes where I speak of a girl who tells her coach, “I never knew I could run a mile until you told me I had to run two.”

Learning is best accomplished when the mind is challenged, pushed, pulled, stretched and otherwise subjected to the paces so that the student comes to know and understand the subject as best she can. This is not to say that a course should be taught in such a way that it is impossible to learn it sufficiently, but it is to say that it is a disservice to students when they are not required to exert themselves beyond their mental set points. (Of course, there are statistical outliers, namely, those for whom what is challenging for the majority is either impossible to attain or comfortably and easily attained.)

Many students have set points or limits to their abilities that are either self-imposed or internalized as a result of embracing limits others have imposed on them. Education should be, in part, about bursting through those limits and reaching just beyond what was presumed to be their maximum reach. No matter the course or class a student takes, the educator should move appropriately from being a life jacket to a life-guard. Ideally, she should inspire the student to welcome the pursuit of the difficult and to convey to the students that they are best served by attempting the difficult.

This is not to say, however, a fifth-grade student should be taught analytic geometry when all she knows is fifth-grade arithmetic. I am saying, however, that a fifth-grade course can be designed with the intent to push the student beyond assumed limitations so that her reach extends farther; her boundaries have expanded because the educator has laid the basis for such expansion. The educator must strike that sweet spot between the easy and the impossible. The course subject matter should never be easy but never be impossible. It is the responsibility of the educator to know the difference. In short, the student, in concert with the educator, should create new limits (that, it is hoped, will also be exceeded later) in the same way a personal trainer prepares and pushes her clients to new levels of performance.

Pushing students beyond their current limits may cause frustration or dismay. Though it is the obligation of the educator to challenge any initial excessive confidence a student may have, she also has the duty to save the student from sinking into a state of abject defeat when the challenge seems too great. Being challenged will often create discomfort just as physical exertion during exercise creates discomfort. This assignment is certainly a challenge for the educator but failure to embrace such a challenge would amount to dereliction of duty.

Lastly, it should be noted that a rigorous course has more to do with the quality of the material and not merely the quantity of work to be done in the course. Piling on tons of homework or reading material rather than developing challenging material is simply a gross disservice. Quality first – quantity second. Once again, this may be a challenge to the educator but such is the path we have chosen in life.

Critical Thinking

With respect to the second point, namely, critical thinking, there are several different definitions or perspectives such as Francis Bacon’s: “Critical thinking is a desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and hatred for every kind of posture.” Francis Bacon [1605].

As if elaborating on Bacon’s formulation, W.G. Sumner in his work entitled, Folkways: A Study of the Sociological Importance of Usages, Manners, Customs, Mores, and Morals (1940) writes: “Critical thinking is… the examination and test of propositions of any kind which are offered for acceptance in order to find out whether they correspond to reality or not. The critical faculty is a product of education and training. It is a prime condition of human welfare that men and women should be trained in it. It is our only guarantee against delusion, deception, superstition, and misapprehension.” (Emphasis mine).

Mr. Sumner expands on the role of education with respect to critical thinking by asserting: “Education is good just so far as it produces well-developed critical faculty… A teacher of any subject, who insists on accuracy and a rational control of all processes and methods, and who holds everything open to unlimited verification and revision, is cultivating that method as a habit in the pupils. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators.”

He then cites the benefits of critical thinking. Persons who think critically “are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty … They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence … They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens.” (Emphasis mine)

Thus, education should be a rigorous mental exercise with the intent to learn the subject matter content complimented by exercises in critical thinking. One without the other is like a hand without an opposable thumb. Subject content are the bricks and critical thinking is the mortar.

To define critical thinking less eloquently, critical thinking requires that one confronts a claim or assertion, punch it, kick it, stomp on it and if it stands back up, then it is worthy of qualified acceptance – until it no longer is. Stated otherwise, in my own words: There is no idea or belief I so dearly cherish so as to shield it from rigorous scrutiny or thoughtful challenge. There is no idea or belief I esteem so highly that I will not alter it or abandon it – sacrifice it in favor of standing even closer to the truth. Thus, critical thinking, of necessity, demands that one also “audi alteram partem” (hear the other side) and to be willing to change one’s ideas or beliefs out of respect and adoration of accuracy or truth.

To embrace such a credo, one must constantly embrace critical thinking and therefore be suspicious of “certainty” and approach it with caution. That does not mean that cynicism should be the norm; it means, that healthy skepticism should be the practice – healthy skepticism as one of the functions of critical thinking. an experienced critical thinker raises sharp questions and identifies assumptions. She gathers relevant data and information and uses them adroitly to reach a well-reasoned and logical conclusion that can withstand intelligent scrutiny. She is open-minded and is willing to dismiss what she formerly believed if by doing so, she is more correct than before.

At this point I want to compare the value of learning subject matter content versus learning critical thinking. Learning to think critically is the superior one of the two. Firstly, subject matter content is a product of critical thinking. For example, whoever developed the formula for the quadratic equation, or whoever discovered the structure or shape of the DNA molecule had to use critical thinking. In short, all subjects taught are primarily (though not always) derived from critical thinking. Even if the content turns out to be incorrect, the correction is also a function of critical thinking.

Furthermore, critical thinking has a vastly more utilitarian function than learning a particular subject matter. As I tell my students, ten years from now, some of them may not remember how to determine the net present value of an investment or what the four Ps of marketing are. Knowing how to amortize a corporate bond that was sold at a premium is important but learning to think critically is priceless. Critical thinking trumps content and content is almost always based on critical thinking.

To further confirm the superiority and importance of critical thinking it should be noted that critical thinking is uncommon; in fact, it is essentially unnatural. Too many people merely swallow the ideas fed to them from youth up without pushing back or questioning the veracity or logic of assertions presented to them. They follow the crowd and often fear casting doubt on commonly-accepted premises and their subsequent conclusions. Accepting what one is told is much easier and much more comfortable than deciding to challenge whether an idea or belief is actually correct or logical. Educators should encourage students to reject such fears and to live a life in which critical thinking becomes as nearly as important as oxygen.

Thus, critical thinking is a vital life skill. Failure to have and exercise it can have baleful consequences. Adolph Hitler stated, “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.” And to reveal how rare critical thinkers are, when Governor Adlai Stevenson (who was considered erudite and scholarly) ran for President it is claimed that one reporter shouted out, “Governor Stevenson, every thinking person is on your side”. The Governor reportedly said in response, “That’s not enough. I need a majority.” It is because people fail to think or that many do not, that they are misled “by stump orators” or that they are victims of “delusion, deception, superstition and misapprehension.”

All too often, people seek confirmation rather than truth. They reject or ignore what is contrary to their untested ideas or beliefs. It is the responsibility of the educator to subject her students to the rigors of critical thinking. Even if truth is elusive, the student is better for having been put through the paces of critical thinking.

Another aspect of critical thinking is creative thinking. Critical thinking involves synthesizing information as well as analyzing it. Creative thinking is a specialized way of synthesizing information to produce something “new”. Creative thinking to a lesser or greater extent requires the other aspects of critical thinking, namely, evaluating, and seeking proof and challenging assertions.

Looking at the relationship between the teacher and the pupil from a different angle, there may be specific points in time when the teacher can learn from the student. Napoleon Bonaparte stated, “I am never angered when contradicted; I seek to be enlightened.” If an educator is going to weave critical thinking throughout the course there may be times when she is respectfully challenged. As a devotee of critical thinking, she should welcome any demonstration of critical thinking even if it is presented as a respectful challenge. Sometimes, the teacher can learn from the pupil. To that end, it is better to be enlightened than to be “right”.

Being taught the subject without being taught to think produces an educated fool at worse or a mediocre student at best. Hence, the true mission of an educator.

Published in: on September 14, 2017 at 12:19 AM  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,

Weird Things

For more than twenty years I attended religious services three days a week. The meetings began with a song/hymn and ended with another one. This religion did not have a choir; the entire congregation sang from the hymn book. Each and every time the congregation sang I did not. I merely mouthed the words but never sang a word in twenty years. I did not sing because I have immense respect for the art form. I simply believe that singing should be done by those whose voices are euphonious. Yes, even as a devout believer I would not sing praises to “God” because I [and almost all the other members of the congregation] did not have a good singing voice. To me, people who can not sing should leave the singing to those who can. Weird thing #1.

About one week after I received my driver’s license I began to do what most drivers do not; I brake with my left foot. It just makes sense to me to use the foot closer to the brake rather than let it just rest there while the right foot does all the work. Weird thing #2.

When I button a shirt or coat, I start with the bottom button and button up; most people do the opposite. The first time I did it, it somehow made more sense to my mind since my hands are already close to the bottom button. Weird thing #3.

I do as many things with my left hand as I do with my right even though I am right-handed. I shave, eat, train [KM] with my left hand to name a few. I have two hands and to my way of thinking, why not use one nearly as often as I do the other. Weird thing #4.

Sometimes I choose to listen to songs that sadden me and make me cry because I want to feel the pain — but not often; only when I think the tears will wash away the dust that has accumulated on top of certain memories. Weird thing #5.

I have decided that I do not like bagels even though I have never tasted one. I do not like the way they look; but I love donuts. Weird thing #6.

I do not watch or follow sports at all — I’m just not interested — except I do watch the Super Bowl each year, intensely, as my dose of sports for the entire year. The next day I could not tell you who played or what the score was because my interest does not last beyond the end of the game. Weird thing #7.

I have more books than I have money. If I have the money to lend and a book to lend, I would rather lend the money. Weird thing #8.

Whenever I see a group of young children I wonder, almost automatically, will any of them be a murderer, a rapist, a thief or racist, or some other type of miscreant? Odds are, at least one will be. Weird thing #9.

One of the things on my bucket list is to take calculus I. Somehow, I feel I have been deprived by graduating from both High School and college without having to take it. Weird thing #10.

Knowing that my mother would love me no matter what, I often fantasize about her being so damn proud of what I have done and so damn ashamed of me for what other things I have done. Despite the certainty of love, I painfully wonder would pride prevail or would shame? Weird thing #11.

To be sure, I am not the only one who has “weird” things that are characteristic of himself. But what I believe to be especially “weird”[but not uniquely weird] about myself is this: I want to hear from “God” because everything I have read or heard that is supposedly from or about “God” is ambiguous, contradictory, fanciful and useless. Albert Einstein said, “I want to know God’s thoughts. The rest are details.” I believe the rest is pure unadulterated bullsh*t and I am just so very tired of it; it hurts. Weirdest Thing of All

Published in: on January 10, 2017 at 9:30 PM  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Reciprocity & Limitations

When I was in my twenties, one of my cousins, with whom I was raised, responded to a concern that I had presented to him. He spoke of being quite willing to solve my problem. His solution was to kill the person who was my source of angst. At the time, that statement did not move me one way or the other; what he said afterward was indeed profound.

My cousin was “street-wise and street-tough”. He saw himself as my protector since I was “book-smart” but “street-dumb.” During this discussion, he casually and mater-of-factly concluded with an insightful comment: “I would easily do that for you but I wouldn’t expect you to do the same for me.”

I never forgot those words. He was not calling me a coward. He was acknowledging and accepting who I was; he was the killer – I was not. He respected who/what I was – and all my limitations. He never tried to change me. He accepted my limitations as easily as I accepted his proclivities toward violence. (For the record, I resolved the issue another way. My cousin did not have to kill the person.)

In a relationship, no matter its nature, there are context and structure, resulting in the way things work. Relationships can be uneven or lopsided – sometimes deliberately or sometimes unconsciously. Coping with an asymmetrical relationship [and they all are, in one way or another] can pose a challenge because it can be a source of angst and grief at worst or excitement and variety at best. Understanding and accepting this phenomenon will go a great distance in avoiding disappointment. Such was the case in the above two examples. I did not disappoint my cousin; he accepted that there would be no reciprocity.

We all have our limitations. Limitations are part and parcel of being human – the nuts and bolts of a person’s identity and thus, they also define friendships. Friends accept or adjust to each other’s limitations. This being so, consciously or unconsciously, we know that people are not likely to erase or redraw the lines that mark their limitations. We also know or feel that to express a dislike for a person’s limitations may rock the boat resulting in sinking the friendship – or, at best, stabilizing it.

This approach has served me well. Nonetheless, I must admit it is more of a defense mechanism than anything else. Sometimes I resign myself to the reality that to avoid hurt/disappointment, I should accept that sometimes I will give more than I receive (and sometimes I will receive more than I give).  If I am wrong, then I am delightfully surprised. If I am correct, then I am spared pain. Only when I fail to do this, am I disappointed and grieved; then I quickly resort to the safety of this defensive frame of mind. In short, I try to do unto others without expecting they will do the same unto me.

After reflecting on the various friendships/relationships I realize that my limitations have created problems for others – and vice versa. Sometimes you end up being the better friend or not. Sometimes you give more and sometimes you give less but almost never the same amount as you receive. Reciprocity is desirable but not always achievable.

The reggae singer, Bob Marley, asserted, “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” My sentiments might be classified as a corollary to that statement: You will disappoint others and others will disappoint you; but never disappoint yourself. In short, it is others’ limitations that often result in one being “hurt” or disappointed — unless you learn to accept that that is the way life spins. You should know your limitations and know them honestly and thoroughly. More importantly, however, you should pay close attention to know the limitations of others, especially of friends or others that occupy your space.

One way to think of reciprocity: One person has two hands and the other one does not. One person scratches the back of the other but the other one can’t return the favor.

One way to think of the limitations in a relationship is that it is a rose. If the rose is not worth the thorns, then don’t pick it; otherwise, enjoy the scent as blood drips to the floor.

Published in: on December 30, 2016 at 12:34 AM  Comments (1)  

A Letter To My President

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Re: Your Reactions to Personal Attacks

Dear President Barack Obama:

I am writing this letter to express my amazement and near adoration at your [and Michelle’s] equable persona in the face of unadulterated vitriol from many in Congress as well as from far too many in our country. How you are able to retain a graceful composure and speak in measured terms in response to vile racial epithets is worthy of mention.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time contemplating the human drama and its condition. For the most part, humans pain me more often than impress me. Though not quite a misanthrope, I find it challenging to see the “divine” in the devil called humanity. You and Michelle, however, are a unique combination of grace and equanimity [not to mention intelligence].

But let us be clear, Mr. President, I do not agree with some of the things you have done or positions you have espoused. For the record, I have to admit, I do not agree with everything “God” has done either.

Nevertheless, when I hear or read what your opponents and detractors hurl at you, it is clear that much of it has to do with your being Black as opposed to simply being President. They paint Michelle as an angry black virago and you as the embodiment of how they see black men – someone not worthy of the same measure of respect as your White counterparts.

If their critique is not overtly racist, then there is often an underlying tint of disdain based on your race. What is fascinating is that you never play the race card even when your critics deal it to you.

What I especially respect is that neither of you responded as would an “Uncle Thomas” or as an “Auntie Dash”, but that you reacted like people who personify dignity and self-respect; an example for others of our race. [Except that I would have added a bit more “pepper” to their “Kool-Aid” but I suspect you love people more than I].

Being supremely educated and having a scandal-free family is not enough to shield you from the vomit spewed at you and yours. It is as if some believe, “How dare you be black and not be a buffoon”. “How dare you be black and be the leader of the free world.”

I do not believe in heroes as others do. I am my own hero for who could be a better champion for me than I? Nonetheless, I must admit, I am impressed with you and Michelle as well as your two daughters. I hope that history will not only honestly acknowledge your record but that you accomplished much good in the face of intractable and virulent racism. May history note and emphasize that you two stood as giants who neither truckled nor savaged when too many of us would have done one or the other.

William Feather once stated, “One of the indictments of civilizations is that happiness and intelligence are so rarely found in the same person.”

I say, that one of the indictments of our nation is that the combination of grace and intellect in a black person is so rarely honored, but is feared and loathed as if she or he were neither intelligent nor refined.

Do and be well, my President

Published in: on July 28, 2016 at 4:46 PM  Comments (10)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

A Letter From a Pain-Filled Heart to White People of America

Suppose you were told that later on in the day, you would be stopped by a white police officer for an alleged traffic violation. But before you got into your car you would have to decide to either remain white or suddenly look every bit as African-American as can be [dark skin, full lips and kinky hair]. Which of the two [and you must choose one or the other] would you choose to be? In your heart of hearts, what would be your choice? Why? Why not? But before you answer, please note that the Washington Post, in June 2016, found that blacks are 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than whites.[see also: The Guardian – Black Americans Killed by Police Twice as Likely to be Unarmed as White People]

Other data indicate that blacks are more likely to be stopped and frisked by police than whites even though they are less likely to have contraband than their white counterparts [this according to data coming out of the city of New York and other municipalities]. Each encounter with the police creates the possibility of a deadly outcome — especially for black people. Thus, I suspect, that most whites would rather be white when they encounter white police officers.

Since the advent of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, many whites [or their colorfied servile surrogates — the type Harriet Tubman would have left face down dead in the mud because they would have warned “masssa” about her plot to help other slaves run away] have responded by saying “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter”. Such a response reflects an inane line of thinking. After all, if “All Lives” really did “Matter” then the likes of Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Philander Castille, Walter Scott and too many more, would not have been victims of lethally immoral police actions. A cursory review of available government data clearly reveals that there are some lives that do not matter as much as others. To illustrate:

What if those unarmed black victims were white and the officers who killed them were black? And what if the officers were almost never indicted or if indicted, almost never convicted? How would white America react? Here is what history tells us: From 1882 to the 1960s almost 5000 blacks were lynched for crimes or alleged crimes. Many of them were either innocent of a crime or were lynched before they enjoyed due process that would have been afforded whites. The cases are well documented. [From 1882 to 1901 there were an average of 150 lynching per year; from 1924 to 1955 no more than 30 per year] The reasons for lynching ranged from sending an “indecent” note to a white girl or owning land that might have oil on it or talking back to a white man to alleged rape or murder.

That is not to say those hypothetical black police officers would be summarily taken outside, bound, mutilated, hanged and burned as were blacks for almost a hundred years but they surely would be indicted, convicted and sentenced to the maximum. KKK membership would soar and FOX news would be at the forefront of a sustained campaign to do something about “the blacks”. White America would not tolerate a string of killings of whites by black police officers. White lives matter more than any other lives in America. There is no need to form an organization called, “White Lives Matter” because everybody already knows it.

A typical response by many white people about “Black Lives Matter” is, “What about black-on-black crime?” That response lacks the weight of a cogent argument. For one, it serves to deflect from the point under discussion. The issue is the killing of black people by white people who have taken an oath to protect and to serve. The black guy who robs me has not taken such an oath. This argument is also weak in that “black on black” crime is predominantly a function of poverty and poverty among blacks has long been established to be an inextricable function of white racism which has historically and currently denied many of us access to jobs, education, healthcare, affordable housing. To deny or dismiss this connection and reality is to prefer ignorance and or the comfort of a racist’s view.

Which is why whenever I am stopped by the police, I wish I were white. If I resist arrest, or flee, or curse at them, I am very likely to not be shot or choked. Or, if I cooperate and be nice, I still will not be shot. At the very worst, the encounter may be brutal but far less likely to be lethal. Being white would have its privileges one of which would be that police would protect and serve me. If I were white my life would absolutely matter without question.

To conclude: It is easy to blame the victim and exonerate the perpetrator in the name of “they put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve.” Though not publicized as much by the media, blacks do protest and bemoan crime in their neighborhoods more often than police criticize their batch of bad cops. Too many police officers simply refuse to break ranks and stand against their “brothers in blue” who go rogue. To be sure, there are criminals in the black community and there are criminals among law enforcement. We in the black community do not try to defend those criminals, so why, all too often, do police try to defend their criminals?

In the past, whenever law enforcement investigated lynchings, if they did at all, the investigation would conclude that death was caused by “persons unknown” or “suicide.” Today, investigations often make determinations that exonerate white police officers by asserting that the officer “feared for his life.” Feared because the victim was running away, or the victim was handcuffed and on his stomach, or the victim struggled trying to breathe, or the victim tried to run him down while the car was in park, or to cite the one reason that is not spoken but applies more than any other reason, the victim was black. And how dare we be black!

Published in: on July 9, 2016 at 10:38 PM  Comments (14)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Show versus Show and Tell

As a kid, I ran away twice because of words not spoken.

After my mother died, my maternal grandmother took me back to Detroit to live with her and her daughter, my maternal aunt. My aunt had five children and supported us all by cleaning rich white folks houses as well as receiving ADC/Welfare. [Later, after I left home, she eventually got a full-time job at Chrysler]. My aunt was almost always shouting mainly because her two oldest sons, [especially the second oldest] were always doing something they should not. Though she never shouted at me, I found the shouting to be disturbing; I never got used to it. I never understood it.

Nonetheless, living with her was far more wonderful than living with my mother’s husband. I lived in utter fear of him. My mother and siblings and I were terrified of the man who eventually murdered her after beating her and us for ten years. Living with my aunt was like a paradise by comparison and she treated me as if I were one of her own — her shouting, notwithstanding. I cannot overemphasize how so much better living with her and my grandmother was by comparison.

But, while living with my aunt, I ran away twice. After the second time, she asked my why. I told her I did not think she loved me. She said just because she does not go around saying “I love you” doesn’t mean she did not. She was correct. Yes, living with my mother, I was her confidante. I was special to my mother; we suffered together at her husband’s hand [he would often torment us both at the same time while leaving my siblings alone]. She expected me one day to save her. I knew my mother loved me. True, my mother never told me she loved me; she demonstrated it — ultimately, dying because she did. Yes, if she had not loved me, and her other children, she could have grown old instead of being murdered at age thirty.

Indeed, my aunt loved me, too — the best way she knew how. She did not have to take me in after my mother died. She could have treated me differently than she did her own – but she did not. I was never mistreated, never neglected, never ignored. My aunt’s love was real and genuine — different from my mother’s but just as heartfelt.

Years later I was able to understand and appreciate this fact. It took hindsight for me to have insight. Sometimes time has to pass before we can understand the past. Ruth loved me and unfortunately it took growing up to realize that. Hers was a different generation. Not a generation that hugged and said, “I love you”. It was a generation that showed rather than told.

It is true that actions speak louder than words but the sound of words can be like the spices in a feast of good food. It is better to love both ways: show and tell. But one of them should always be the least one does if one does not do both.

Published in: on June 30, 2016 at 11:34 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Time, Thou Can Be Heartless


19,358 Days

Time is a thief.
It steals the little things that are the spices of life.
I do not remember the song of my mama’s voice.

Time never stops marching.
It does not even look back as it rolls on.
It marches on as if she were never here.

Time stands still.
I still see her cry for him not to stab her not knowing he was going to shoot her instead.
Eleven times.
The image of that moment stands still in my heart.

Time never moves backward.
So that I can beg her to stay away …
run farther away than she did and leave us so that she might live –
maybe 19,358 more days.

Time runs out.
She died before her grandchildren entered this world so that they might know the warmth of her hugs.
It ran out before I was able to “get bigger” and save her from him.

Oh, if only I could be its master, time would have been,
if not a friend, at least a kinder and more gentle enemy.

Published in: on June 17, 2016 at 1:10 AM  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,

Different Experiences – Same Person?

I,as many others, have often stated that I wish I could go back in time with all the knowledge I have now. Oh, how I would avoid the mistakes and take full advantage of the positives. I almost never wish that anymore, however, since it is simply a futile exercise. [Life does not come with a rewind button.] More specifically, the reason I no longer indulge in the fantasy of time travel is because I like who I am [for the most part] and I am who I am because I am a product of all my previous experiences – good and bad, the horrific and the delightful.

But, I do wonder, could I be the same person I am but because of a few different experiences? In other words, am I who I am due to very specific experiences or could some of those experiences been different and I still end up being who I am? So, if I could go back in time and change some things, would I risk ending up being someone different [a little different or quite a bit]? For sure, it would depend on which things or events I would change.

For instance, who would I be if I had had seven or six children instead of four? What if they were all girls or all boys? What if I had chosen Harvard University or the University of Michigan instead of Wayne State University? No doubt, some experiences push one onto a different trajectory while others might make a minuscule difference. But is it possible to end up as the same person but with very different experiences? Not every experience alters us or reveals us. But those that do, must they be specific or singular?

For instance, could I be who I am today if I had not witnessed my mother’s murder, or lost her at all at age twelve? Would I still be the Carlespie I am today if I had not become a member of a cult-like religion from age fourteen to thirty-five? Who would I be if my heart had not been snatched from my chest and used a toilet tissue by someone I loved? Could I be all that I am without having experienced those and other tragedies?

By now it should be obvious that I wish I could have avoided the tragedies and pains and experienced only the joys [winning an academic scholarship to a private school and to college, fathering my children, being young and healthy at the same time, etcetera]. But, I suspect that maybe I am who I am specifically and only because of both the specific tragedies and specific joys. If not for those I suppose I would be a different person – maybe better, maybe worse – maybe the same, or not.

Published in: on June 4, 2016 at 11:55 AM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Why I Vote

We are told that the right to vote is a sacred freedom that grants us a voice, no matter our stature in society, in what our government does. It is called, democracy and is supposed to be the challenge to dictatorships and monarchies. We, the people, have a voice in what our politicians do and how our government works. That is what we are told from almost every direction.

I believe, however, that the political system in the United States serves most of us less than well. It is designed to make the middle and lower class think they have influence and power when in essence a plutocracy is what we have. Proof? Lobbying and campaign financing, which is a system by which democracy can be bent and twisted toward the highest bidder. [Thanks to a few Supreme Court rulings such as Buckley v Valeo in 1976 and Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, 2010 as well as the raw power of money in and of itself]

To be more accurate, voting is a tool given by the powerful to make the less powerful think that what they decide really matters. The rich and powerful provide the fuel for our political system to run via campaign financing and lobbying laws. Occasionally, the masses throw a tantrum and the politicians reluctantly heed their will but not often enough to make significant gains for the other than the rich and powerful. Stated more personally, I am not rich or powerful [in the sense I am referring to in this piece]. Therefore, my voice and the voice of the vast majority, is but a whisper drowned out by the money that shouts into the ears of our politicians.

So why vote at all? I do not vote thinking that my one vote out of millions would make a difference. In fact, I can recall times when my vote did not preclude someone from winning whom I did not want to win; I have voted for some winners also. Nonetheless, for one vote out of millions to be the deciding vote would be a near impossibility.

I cast my vote because many people before me shed their blood and sweat so that I would have that right. Their time, effort and lives gives my vote merit and worth. So I exercise that right to honor their sacrifice. Thus, to not vote would be tantamount to spitting on their sacrifice. The fact that at times the choices put before us are either bad or very bad is effectively beside the point. In short, better to have the right to select a bad choice than to have no right to make a choice at all. Stated another way, I would be less inclined to vote if that right had never been denied to my people.

Thanks and gratitude to those who made it possible for my vote to be counted among the millions.

All this may sound cynical the many or to some it may sound realistic to the few. So what is the difference between a cynic and a realist? I am.

Published in: on May 28, 2016 at 9:50 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Being Illegally Beautiful

Aristotle once commented on the subject of beauty: “Personal beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of reference.” Well, even though I am not in Aristotle’s league, I thought I would comment on beauty by writing the following “International Warrant of Arrest”. I gave this to my wife.

This document serves as an INTERNATIONAL WARRANT OF ARREST duly issued and executed by the International Court of Justice for the Average-Looking Human Being. It is declared forthwith that you, [________________], be placed under arrest immediately for the felonious and pre-meditated crime specified below:

Being Illegally Beautiful

It is hereby alleged that your supernatural and sublime beauty has led to all the following:

• Your beauty is your introduction, more so than your name; it gives you a decidedly unfair advantage over us ordinary-looking people

• Your beauty disrupts and undermines the mundane order of things in society; it jeopardizes the necessary ordinary [e.g., stopping traffic when walking down the street or causing clerks to eagerly spend extra time attending to your concerns]

• Your beauty seduces women who are not gay and men who are to desperately lust after you as do we straight men; you are a powerful aphrodisiac and an irresistible force of nature

• Your beauty incites people to stare at you – some overtly, others surreptitiously – thereby making the observers fantasize about you or envy you as opposed to doing whatever they should be doing at the time

• Your beauty intimidates and overwhelms – even the powerful and influential

• Your beauty distracts, mesmerizes and enchants – it bewitches – causing persons to behave irrationally, irresponsibly or even ridiculously – without shame or compunction

Therefore, given that you have deliberately [and with forethought] presented your stunning superior beauty, knowing full well its effects on citizens of this planet, you are hereby served with this INTERNATIONAL WARRANT OF ARREST

You have the right, however, to challenge or negate this INTERNATIONAL WARRANT OF ARREST by simply being a sincerely pleasant lady AND pleading to one of the following:

• Pleading Guilty to the above-cited crime of being Illegally Beautiful and solemnly swearing to be more discreet with your power.

• Pleading NOT Guilty to the above-cited crime of being Illegally Beautiful by reason of your purpose – you are the definition of beauty – and so you cannot help but be so.

Whichever option you choose [I personally favor the latter of the two options], I hereby declare that it was a memorable delight to witness your beauty firsthand but dare I dream and hope you are even more beautiful within.

Carlespie Mary Alice McKinney
Eye Witness To Your Crime of Being Illegally Beautiful

Published in: on May 24, 2016 at 4:03 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Forgive Me Mama, For I Was Weak

Which is worse?

At age 40 someone I loved ripped my heart out, used it as toilet tissue and flushed it. I was reduced to a wretched imitation of a man. I was swallowed by pain, lost 40 pounds and ended up with nearly without bread or bed. I was broken, pathetic and lost. I wept during the night and cried during the day. Eventually, however, unlike Humpty Dumpty I was put back together – better, stronger but with scars to never let me forget.

Or, at age 26, someone else I loved was stabbed her 19 times by a man who wanted to rob and rape her. Each night for more than a year, I begged “God” to let me die. I did not want to wake up and live through another day of throbbing pain. Her murder altered me but eventually I accepted the reality that life is death on its own terms and that we live at its discretion.

Or, at age 12 standing next to my mother, the first person who ever loved me, when her husband pulled out a gun and shot her nearly a dozen times. I panicked, jumped off the porch and ran. Once I stepped onto the sidewalk, I merely calmly walked away as if nothing had just happened. I did not cry. I did not feel. I simply walked to a store, purchased two items and then finally after I don’t know how long, returned. I could see the pool of my mother’s blood from a distance; but the police refused to let me see my mama, the first person I ever loved.

As was later explained, my mind shut down and refused to let the horror of what I had just experienced rush in and drown me. But that did not account for never crying, never weeping, never being in pain over her murder:

Indeed, I never cried. I never wept. I never begged to die. I did not break. In one sense, I defied the statistics that said I was to become abusive, dysfunctional, damaged and probably criminal; by most measures, however, I excelled and thrived academically and otherwise. Nothing about my behavior would indicate the story of what happened to my mother and me.

For thirty years, I would think of my mother and feel something, but never grief or pain. Until I was 42.

Thirty years later, on my mother’s death day, I decided to face the questions I had avoided since the murder of my friend or the loss loyalty of a lover: Why did I not even shed a tear after seeing my mother shot down mercilessly? Why did I not grieve? How could I be devastated after the death of a friend or after the ripping apart of my heart and not be at least likewise regarding the loss of my mother? I loved my mother; but did I love her less? Were the other two events more tragic or was I some sort of foul anomaly?

The answer came to me on that day in 1993.

For ten years, from age two to twelve, my mother’s husband ruled the household with tyranny and brutality. I witnessed on many occasions my mother being savagely beaten and crumpled; and I, too, bore physical and emotional scars of his madness. He terrorized us. I was a scared little boy who could not protect his mother. I would literally shake and tremble when he went on his rampages.

So, somehow, without conscious thought, after my mama’s death, I was overcome with relief. I no longer lived in quaking fear of a man whose cruelty was egregious. The realization that I was free drowned out any grief or pain I should have felt for my mama. I was selfish and thought only that finally I was free. Instead of weeping over my mother, I was joyful to be free of his brutality. It was as if I was too selfish to feel both pain and relief; I was guilty of choosing the easier of the two.

Once I realized this truth, I felt profound shame. My heart dropped to a jagged bottom. How could a son be like that? What kind of son was I that I missed my mother but did not weep at losing her? I loved her – always did – I missed her – always did. But I never felt any pain at losing her because the joy of not being terrorized left no room for the pain of her loss.

It was then that I broke down and howled and screamed in pain and agony. I sobbed for days begging for forgiveness. I hurt and there was no relief. It was if mama had just died instead of thirty years before. That realization smashed open the door to all the pain, the sorrow and grief that I should have let in on that day in 1963. The agony was raw and unfiltered.

After rising, I needed to manage my shame and my guilt [because there was no way to rid myself of them]. I decided to honor my mama’s memory by celebrating and mourning [celemourning] her birthday and death day, each year, by engaging in her “vices” [Pepsi, vanilla creme-filled cookies and strawberry ice cream]. And each morning, without fail, she comes to the front of my mind – and I feel a sadness. I take time and think of her each night – and tears fall from my heart. Lastly, I legally changed my name; my middles names are her first and middle name. I sign as such each and every time as a matter of endless pride, undying love and deep guilt.

Published in: on May 17, 2016 at 4:47 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Being Black In Reverse

I submitted my DNA for analysis and the results were interesting to me. Now I am a dark complexioned African-American. I clearly look like an African-American in every possible way. In other words, no one would look at me and wonder about my “race”. Nonetheless, what I found interesting was not that 87% of my DNA was identified with West African countries such as Cameroon, the Congo and Mali. Also, I did not find it interesting that 1% of my DNA was identified with Native Americans. What I did find interesting was that 12% of my DNA was identified with Europeans – specifically British, Irish and Northwestern Europe.

To me that means there are probably White people whose DNA is 12% Black African but they look completely European White. What if such a person were racist and discovered he was 12% Black African? Imagine being one-eighth of what you despise, one-eighth of what you would not want to live next to, one-eighth of what you would not hire or promote, one-eighth of what you really are.

At what point [or percentage] does a White person with Black African DNA, cease to be recognized and accepted by the White community as being sufficiently White? What about 18% Black African but still looking White? What about 50% but still looking White? Also, is it possible for a person who has less than 12% Black African DNA, to not look White? Would that person be rejected because she does not look White but the White person who has a larger percentage than 12% Black African DNA would be embraced by the White community as White simply because she looks White? In other words, just how stupid must a racist be before his own stupidity dawns on him?

So, if my lips were not full, my hair not kinky and of course, my skin not dark, that could be all the difference between second or third class stature and first class stature, no matter my intelligence or character.

Of course you cannot tell by looking at a person what percentage of his DNA is whatever, but that goes to my point. Sociologists assert that race is an artificial construct designed to divide and then dominant. Race is utilitarian in that it is a useful tool for people to justify different treatment for different people. Though racism is incompatible with intelligence, it is an easy and convenient identifier [usually] and thus can release one from making decisions based on an individual’s character. It is so much easier to paint an entire group with a broad brush [hatred, ignorance and stupidity] as oppose to using a fine delicate instrument [respect, kindness and a keen insight into humanity] with which to draw a specific conclusion about an individual.

Published in: on May 2, 2016 at 11:10 PM  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

Proceed w Caution If You Must_The Argument

Every argument need not be started. Every argument started need not be won and every argument won need not be as if it were won. Every argument is an opportunity to adjust, rebuild or destroy and thus should be approached with these possibilities in mind for it is a sword that can cut many ways. Arguments can define boundaries and note where the lines that should not be crossed are drawn or arguments can slowly erode the foundation causing the relationship to eventually come crashing down.

Arguments bubble up from conflict [conflict is a function of the confluence of opposing ideas, values, beliefs or agendas] and like most things in the human drama, arguments can take on different colors – from the near benign to the violent to the deceptively pernicious.

In an argument, both can win and adjust or rebuild. Or, one can lose and the other win – beware the possible danger for the victor – especially a pyrrhic victory [a victory won at such a high cost that winning really was not worth it]. Lastly, both can lose. If so, then danger is more than possible — it is almost certain. I do suppose, however, there is a fourth possible outcome and that is a stalemate. A few stalemates here and there are probably innocuous but too many can be deleterious because they can amount to an eventual loss on both sides.

Compromise is a term often heard when discussing arguments. It is characterized by neither party getting all [but enough] of what she/he wants. Otherwise, in lieu of compromise, one is left with the decision to dig in one’s heels and stand in firm opposition or simply acquiesce – give in completely and getting none of what you want. But what if even compromising amounts to losing a bit of oneself or undermining one’s fundamental notion of self because the issue at hand is deemed extremely important?

Also, beware of shadow boxing. To shadow box is to argue about one thing when it is actually something else that is the cause for consternation. It is a waste of precious energy and is never productive. But it takes a diligent and honest effort to determine the real issue at hand. In short, is falling off a 100-story building the problem or is it the sudden stop at the bottom that should be the issue?

In any event, most arguments are usually relatively minor in scope and impact but some are malevolent and can spring from the most innocent beginnings. So beware the argument because even the strongest relationships are not safe for even a single argument [depending on the context] can decimate a life-long relationship. Above all, be honorable and fair in victory if victory should occur. For every little victory, unfairly won, can bring with it a small hidden defeat for the victor. When enough such victories have occurred, those defeats can boomerang into one total and over-powering loss to the victor. The victor becomes the loser because the seeds of defeat were planted in each unfair victory.

That begs the question, however: What is fair? Fairness is fluid and amorphous. It all depends on the players and their state of emotions. In other words, fairness is a moving target — a target that tries its best not to be hit. It is like a favorite food; it depends on who is doing the eating.

Lastly, there is the human who chooses not to argue because she has deemed it fruitless and so she quietly yields. The other party incorrectly translates that as successfully reaching an accord that both parties can live with. It could be, however, that she has simply refused to invest any energy in disagreements. She does not want to argue because the other party would bring more heat to the situation than necessary or because she no longer cares enough. Either way, in this instance, not arguing can be as baleful to the relationship as an ugly argument.

No wonder: Beware the argument. If you choose to engage, due so with caution. Count the cost, if you can. For an argument can be like the wind – a gentle breeze or a raging hurricane.

Published in: on April 12, 2016 at 3:20 PM  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

A Message From A Grandfather to His Granddaughter[s]

For you, Baby-Boo, the world can be an unforgiving and even a dangerous place. Do not be afraid, however, but be careful, shrewd and even cunning when necessary. For if this world is unfair to men, then men will be unfair to thee. Simply because you are female.

Of course not all men – but enough of them so that your world will be different from theirs.

I have seen much and now there are more years behind me than in front of me. Before I was even able to grow a mustache, the singer, James Brown sang a song called, “It’s A Man’s Man’s World”. The opening lyrics were, “This is a man’s world, this is a man’s world. But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.” Despite those lyrics, many men do not behave as if their world would be nothing without a woman or a girl or they behave as if women exist so that this world can remain a man’s world.

Many men will see you as female first as opposed to human first because to them, they are male first and then human. That order of things allows them to emphasize the differences and marginalize what women and men have in common. The emphasis on the difference justifies relegating you to a station below theirs. Thus, as a girl/woman, your voice, your opinion and even your facts are less than their voice, their opinion and their facts. Such men have erected and fight vigorously to maintain a structure in which they are dominant so that they may enjoy the accouterments of power and privilege at your expense.

These men are beneath you. They lack substance and depend on dominating you to maintain their form, their facade. Read them well for they often will appear accommodating as they hope to hide their hand. Eschew them like you would a poison well.

Other men will want to make you responsible for their actions. You are the “devil” that makes them behave badly and you are never the “saint” that makes them behave respectfully. These men are weak, pathetic and unworthy. Do not spend time with the likes of these for you will always be the blame for their nocent behavior.

To some men you will be a mere accessory as would a watch or pair of cuff links. Your prettiness clogs their mind and feeds their childish ego. You make them look good but they make you look cheap. Dismiss these men for they care only about the glitter and not the gold.

Many of them will see you as mere meat whose only purpose is to gratify their desires. They sexualize you because they measure their manhood by the number of women they bed. These men are boys impersonating a measure of man they can never live up to. Their definition of manhood rises no higher than below their belt. Play with them, if you will, but only on your terms. Otherwise, keep them at a distance or deal with them in small doses only for you have better things to do with your time.

Then there are men who will demean you, abuse you and try to possess you. They are jealous and needy because they build their identity and self-worth around you so that without you they are nothing. They do not see it that way but it is that way. Leave them and their world. To stay is to die one way or the other. These men can charm, beg for forgiveness in sweet words and pleading tones. But, as what happened to my mother, you can end up face down in a pool of your own blood because you believed the sweet loving tone and words. No, these type of men are not all killers, but never give them a chance for you to find out. And if by some chance you are deceived, run at the first instance and never forgive. Ignore your heart and heed my words: Never forgive. Never stay.

On the other hand, a few will honor your humanity and respect you as different but still equal and that you are the other side of the coin; there are no one-sided coins. These men are worthy of your energy and of who you are. Let them grow in your love and flourish in your respect. But never swim farther than you can swim back — otherwise you can drown if he swims away.

Give completely, if he does. Set the boundaries early and never yield at the expense of who you are.
Treat your needs as vital but your wants as luxuries – know the difference [never compromise on your needs for they are non-negotiable]. Understand, too, that respect and appreciation for you does not mean that a man fully understands you because no man will ever know what it is like to be female in this man’s world — no matter his orientation.

Once you choose to love [be it a man or another woman] love in such a way that you become a better person and if he values you, he too will become better.

Sex is a gift that should be given only to the worthy or as something you wish to use for your own relief — but never equate it with love; do not be confused. Lust can confuse, unless you know it.

No man is perfect as is no woman, but men wear the mantles of power and thereby, control much of what happens in the world. True, you have personal power and never relinquish it. Do not confuse it, however, with the levers of power that men pull to make the world turn. Life is unforgivably unfair. So hold on to the only real power you have.

Two more things to know:

Beware other women because men have constructed a system in which women often view each other as competitors for the attention and adoration of men. They will view you as such for as long as they believe you have what a man wants. Understand that phenomenon. It is not personal as much as it is the workings of men exploiting and flexing their power to maintain dominance over women. Some women will define other women as a threat when the real threat is the system that men have constructed to keep you fighting each other for scraps.

Secondly, you are black and as such, most of the world will view you as stationed at the the dirt end of the totem pole. [Proof-positive that the world is egregiously stupid.] In any event, your burden is double that of white women. This is not to say that all whites are racists. It is to say, far too many are – enough are so as to make the distance you must travel twice as far. Nevertheless, wear your blackness not as if it were a royal garment [yes, it is something to be proud of, however] but as if it were who you are.

Baby Boo, I know what I have said is not easy to accept and do, but I would be unworthy if I did not warn and teach you. They say this is a man’s world and because it is, the world is a cesspool. Knowing that it is, you can keep much of the stink off you and stand in a spot less foul. Be human then always be woman.

Pop-Pop loves you.

Published in: on March 30, 2016 at 12:54 AM  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

Something From My Book of Poetry – “I Need”

I need

I need love
Because it is the purest link between my living and my existing
But I need more than love

I need respect and appreciation
Because it nourishes my humanity
But I need more than respect and appreciation

I need passion
Because it is best way to know I still matter
But I need more than passion

I need insightful intellect
Because mental agility is supremely erotic
But I need more than insightful intellect

I need beauty
Because it comforts my eyes
But I need more than beauty

I need scorching, sizzling sex
Because that connection transcends my flesh and lifts me near the sublime
But I need more than scorching, sizzling sex

I need pure and simple understanding
Because any other kind of understanding would be pity
But I need more than pure and simple understanding

I need all of the above
Because anything less would be incomplete
But I need more than all of the above

I need someone who needs all these things too
Because it is easier to give what I need
But I need more than just someone who needs all these things too

I need that particular someone who would touch me in a way that seduces my resignation and softens my cynicism. I need that uncommon someone who would soothe the soul of my fractured spirit. I need someone I am easy with.

Someone who is more than the sum of all I need.

Published in: on March 22, 2016 at 7:14 PM  Comments (4)  
%d bloggers like this: