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  
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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  
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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  
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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  Leave a Comment  
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