That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

What can I get for two smashed flies?

The last two weeks have been very tough.

Three weeks ago, my wife went to a sort of family reunion that her folks have every year around Memorial Day. I wasn’t able to go because I had to play in an annual Marvin Gaye tribute the same day. (I wish I could post the audio. We had a six-piece horn section, with strings and four background singers! It was AWESOME!)

In attendance was an uncle (my mother-in-law’s brother), who  rarely visited, due to numerous factors — he lives in Denver, and he has been involved in self-destructive behavior. According to my wife, he was very bitter and angry. I say “was” because while at the reunion he demonstrated a dramatic change.

He was kind, joyful, and he went from person to person apologizing for years of hurt and damage. He had gotten saved and was part of — and resident of — a church mission in Denver where people struggling to get back on their feet came to live and worship. He was known to go out into the streets and preach the Gospel to drug addicts and alcoholics.

Kathy told me about it when she got home.

A week later he was dead.

Just like that. Kathy called me crying and saying that someone had shot him. MURDERED him. A man that he had mentioned, Leon, had been “bothering” him incessantly — taking his things and provoking him. He told his family about it at the reunion. This was corroborated by Uncle’s friends. Leon, who had a gash on his forehead, shot him twice in the stomach. In the kitchen of the church!!! The police arrested Leon.

And Kathy made another trip down to the country for a funeral of a murdered man ten days after he had been the source of so much joy and relief. A man not even sixty years old, and not sick, in a box built for someone — anyone — else. It was horrible! There was, through the anger and anguish, comfort and amazement at how God allowed Uncle to neatly organize and stack his affairs before calling him up.

Insult was added to injury, however, when Kathy got a phone call as she was walking into the funeral home for the wake. They let him go. They let Leon go, saying that it was SELF DEFENSE, substantiated by the cut on his head!!! So just as family members had steeled themselves to view the body, the Denver police unleashed the cruelest cut of all!

I am angry. We ALL are. It is said in the black community that black life is worth decidedly less than white life. I have seen schoolmates killed, neighbors killed, and the perpetrators received “11/29”. Less than a year, or no time at all for killing another black person. I have said and heard it said in fights and arguments that, “if I kill you, I’ll be out before they bury you!” and I saw it happen two weeks ago!

I think about Natalie Holloway, and The Runaway Bride, and countless other white men and women who go missing or are killed by their husbands, or are abducted. The world stops spinning. “Inside Edition,” and “Nightline” run them as lead stories, while all I see about my wife’s uncle are the racist comments left by so many online cowards: “Way to go, Leon! That’s TWO niggers off the streets!! Let ’em all kill each other!” I had to make Kathy get off the computer. She was torturing herself.

It is amazing that a man can be shot in the belly in the kitchen of a church mission only to have the investigation wrapped up before the wake, with the killer released because he was defending his life!!! Against what? Why did he have a GUN?!!? What about unlawful possession and/or discharge of a firearm? Throwaway People, I guess.

Curiously, my wife’s own inquiries revealed that:

A. The “Pastor” of the mission got into an argument with Kathy’s uncle right before he left, the argument ending with Uncle’s declaration that he was leaving the ministry.

B. The “Pastor has been under investigation for shady practices.

C. Leon was heard more than once threatening to kill certain people at the mission, Uncle being one.

D. The “Pastor” has — get THIS — taken out life insurance policies on his congregants (homeless and down-and-out people with no one else to fight for them) with himself as the beneficiary!!!

Smoking guns indeed!

It is cold comfort to know that if I suffer the misfortune of being slain, I don’t have the intrinsic worth to get the necessary attention. Justice’s blindfold has a slit in it when it comes to me. And mine.

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June 22, 2010 Posted by | Christianity, Death, Life, Life Lessons, Race, Racism | 1 Comment

In the words of the great prophet, Rodney King…

Sweet Jesus y’all, can’t we all just get along this eeenin’?!?

Whether you fall on the conservative side of the issue or the liberal, can we all agree to be at least HUMAN in expressing displeasure? Does it take spitting on people, calling people racist names, and carrying loaded guns and signs about watering trees with blood?

And when somebody gets killed, it’ll be, as we used to say, a lot folk throwing rocks and hiding their doggone hands!

There are arguments to be made on both sides of the health care issue. I for one don’t want to be forced to buy something if I can’t afford it. Car insurance is bad enough, but I understand that. But I can’t be entirely angry about people unable to be made healthy now getting a chance to walk and breathe without pain.

I have been in the position of needing to go to a doctor and not being able. As a Christian, I cannot just be all up in arms about it. And I have heard too many times that that is the Church’s job, not the government. Miss me with that!!! The Church can do a lot about a lot and still sits idly in many ways! That is just a passing of the buck.

The government had to make Americans let slaves go, and a hundred years later, let them be FREE! While many Christians fought those fights, the majority — as today —  elected to show shameful selfishness instead: “I worked hard and got what I needed! Let them do the same!” (Regardless of the innate systematic inequities.)

Now, it appears that the REAL truth is blooming like turnips. Peoples’ lives are being threatened, and epithets are being hurled in Birminghamian waves. And what worse thing can you do than to spit on a man?!!? Spit on ME and I won’t be able to take Communion! One reason will be because of the pending charges! And all this from the “Party of God.”

I haven’t read the thousands of pages in the bill, and neither have you. We listen to Rush (is he gone yet?), Beck, Olbermann, Maddow, Boehner, and Clyburn and we believe the way we are inclined to believe, and we run out and pass it along.

Forgive me if I take it a LITTLE personal when I see the black first lady compared to a chimp, and when I see the first black President called all manner of animal and devil spawn. All this talk of “Taking America back…” from whom? From WHOM?!? Who took it? You mean black folk? Surely not! I know that Evangelical, Christian, God-fearin’ folk would not resort to such thinly veiled rhetoric…

But here we are. And believe me, I live right in the middle of a nest of white American conservatism! Across the street from me lives a (purportedly traumatized) Vietnam vet who claims Christ.

When it looked like Obama was going to get elected, he came to me in a hushed voice and asked if I had enough ammo, guns and fresh water, because an economic collapse and anarchy were in his words, “a mathematical certainty” based on what he had been reading and hearing on conservative talk radio. He has hundreds of gallons of water stored in his back yard. He has been driving around town for a little over a year with a beg tin sign hanging from his back bumper all about Obama and how he is going to bring about Armageddon or something. And he put four huge hooks in his roof and put a sign up there bigger than a taxi cab ad, saying, “OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST” Now, HE is the one I’m watching! Not the liberals! I would not be surprised to see him coming out his front door with a duffel bag full of mayhem. And I got a wife and three babies to protect, so…

His next door neighbor is not much different. He’s a perpetually angry little fella with a hair-trigger temper! I see it all up and down my street.

What about God? Isn’t He our portion? Our strength and refuge?

How can those so supposedly at odds with the government so fearful at the “loss” of it? Who scares me more, my own NEIGHBORS, or a bunch of folk who want to send the poor and the sick to a DOCTOR?!!?

And don’t give me that “Isolated Incident” junk! EVERY incident is isolated unless you back up to the doggone moon to get some freekin context!! (I laughed when I wrote that…)

Words are more than just words. To educate you Word of Faithers out there who misuse the quote, THIS is what was meant when God said that “the power of life and DEATH are in the tongue”!

I yield the balance of my time…

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Christians, Conservatism, Conservatives, Democrats, Health Care, Politicians, Politics, Race, Rachel Maddow, Racism, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh | 2 Comments

Who’s God IS God? (or do they work by committee?)

A couple of days ago, on facebook (of all places), I became involved in a discussion on a hypothetical scenario:  If a Non-Christian saves 3 children from a burning building and dies…And a Christian saves 3 children from a burning building and dies…Who has the most favor from God the Christian or Non-Christian??

I was greatly distressed — but not surprised (is this possible?) — by the responses.

I don’t expect most people to be Christians. But it is sobering to see how unsaved so many of us are. And how unconcerned they seem to be at the fact.

These were black folk, and most of them seemed to filter their views through the screen of their race. That is, their pro-blackness seemed to take precedence over who God may or may not be.

The responses were relativistic and pluralistic. And, of course, the Christian POV was lambasted. We were called arrogant and short-sighted.

There were a couple who told the hard truth — No Jesus, no Heaven — but most of them put the emphasis on the goodness of the deed and judged that they BOTH should go to Heaven.

I said:

“I’m glad God is not like us, judging on personal merit, or else no matter HOW many good deeds I did, the stuff I did wrong would overwhelmingly condemn me!”
I naively thought that that was a debate-ending argument. I leaned back with pride and read and RE-read what I wrote. I usually try to formulate those kinds, but I constantly forget that most people don’t debate by the Marquis of Queensbury rules!
They went on, saying things like, “Who’s to say that Christians have a monopoly on what is the right way? I believe in Jesus, but who am I to be so arrogant to think that my belief is the only way to ‘The Creator’? Religion is what separates us and causes problems. I’m not bashing Christians– I grew up in the Baptist church — (So! If I grew up in a can would that make me sardines?!?), but who wrote that book? Was Jesus a Christian? There are people who have no religion at all who are more Christian that most Christians I know?”
 
I said: One thing I can’t STAND is arrogance! So that’s not me. But in matters like this, I try to say what GOD says, so when He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” I say, “Okay,” and get on board! If a dude can lay His life down and pick it up again, I tend to believe what He says.
God may not label us as WE label ourselves,
but He has this book called “The Lamb’s Book of Life” in which HIS are written. He sent His Son to save us, and if we reject Him, we get to spend eternity just as in life — separated from Him — according to our OWN will.
The end of it all for me is this: We all leave our fates in the hands of an Infinitely fair Judge! He will deal squarely with us all… even those in the remotest corners of the Earth (whom we seem to mention only during debates like these). I trust that He will judge us based on the degree of light and revelation we have through Him. All of us on FACEBOOK have heard the name “Jesus” and know what Salvation means.
 
I thought that was pretty good. But they just totally ignored what I said and continued with the idea that good deeds should be the measure of eternal life.
 
I guess I knew that that would be the way it would go, but I just wanted to leave no one with the idea that they had never heard the Gospel.
 
The guy who brought up the whole subject basically told me that I was narrow-minded and had my nose stuck in a book somebody wrote and corrupted, and that I pretty much bought whatever the preacher said on Sundays. He thanked me for being reasonable and told me that I needed to get out more and think more critically.
 
This was, to me, an hiLARious mischaracterization of who I am! No one scrutinizes what preachers say more than I! But as I told them:
Thanks, man! It is ALWAYS good to be reasonable! (I DO look at more than just what I hear on Sundays. Christianity is waaaay more than just a Sunday worldview! Plus, I have to try to understand where others are coming from and not be myopic. But at some point, a person has to reach a conclusion. Based on study and information. Nothing wrong with that.)
I don’t know… This kind of thing bothers me. It is the main reason why I write this blog. I hate to see people NOT GET IT!!! What seems so obvious to me is foolishness to those who are perishing, and I  just want them to see the logic and seamlessness of God’s methods as it relates to soteriology.
And I rail against racism largely because young, progressive black folk take the hypocrisy,evils, and mistreatment of our national history — and present — and cast Christianity out with the dirty bathwater. They assume — erroneously — that the White Man’s God (born in Africa!) must be bad because His messenger is bad.
We got work to do!

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Evangelism, Faith, God, Jesus, Race, Racism, Religion, Salvation | 6 Comments

This has always bothered me…

Why is it called “REVERSE RACISM” when white folk are injured?

It implies, or outright states, that the PROPER DIRECTION OF RACISM IS FROM WHITE TO OTHER!

I know what you mean, Sean and Rush! You’re supposed to be the ones discriminating.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Pet Peeves, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Rant, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity | 4 Comments

“Love thy like-skinned neighbor.”

You know that look you have when somebody ticks you off? That look that says, “I can’t stand you! Please get out of my FACE!”

I get that look all the time. From my neighbors.

See, we’re the only black folk on the street. And they don’t like it. Two days ago, I was leaving home to go to a sound check for a gig that was really stressing me out. I had a lot on my mind, and I was praying that God would bring it all together because the people who hired me to play are people for whom I care deeply. The last thing I needed was what I got…

So, I’m trying to make a left at the stop sign at the end of my street, which lets out into a high-traffic thoroughfare, and one of my “neighbors” who lives three houses up, was waiting for cars to pass in order to turn. As she made HER left onto our street, we made eye contact, and I waved.

I knew what was about to happen because it happens so often.

She glared at me as she passed me and neglected to return the neighborly gesture. Her eyes said it all, “I can’t stand you! Get out of my neighborhood! Why do you want to live here? Go live with your own kind!” I’m absolutely SURE she thought, and said, worse.

Later that day, as I was on the way to the actual gig, the same thing happened, except this time it was Kendall’s wife, who lives next door to the house directly across the street. I’m waiting to make a left, she turns in, I wave, she glares. Happens all the time. Right here smack dab in the middle of this “post-racial society.”

And these people have NO call to be snooty! This is a three-bedroom, one-thousand-square-foot-house area. Kendall’s yard is a perpetual dust-bowl, they leave their dumpster out at the curb year-round, they park in the yard, and they’re just generally dirty. And rather than park his car in front of his own house or the one directly across from his, he routinely parks in front of mine. Once, he left his old, broken-down truck in front of my place for two weeks. Luckily, I didn’t have to cut the yard in that time.

My family and I are quiet, neat, and clean. You wouldn’t even know we’s heah, boss. My pop gave me Jerry Baker DVDs with tips on making grass green and such when we moved in almost four years ago, and we have what my two NICE neighbors called “the best yard on the street!” I take my dumpster to the curb Monday night, and bring it back Tuesday afternoon. Our visiting friends are not rowdy, and I — being a night owl — keep a look out all through the night for anything out of order. I am a great neighbor. I have a thing about peace where I live, and *durned* if I’m going to let selfishness ruin someone else’s quality of life!

Recently, my neighbor, Keith — a good guy, informed me that he was purchasing a house and moving. It turns out he was renting! I never would have known! He treated that house like a sick baby! He kept the yard up, and when I left town for gigs, he would look out for me.

As all conscientious people do, I wondered what kind of folk would replace him.

Well… Some more white folk moved in. A woman who appears to be a mechanic, with two sons who appear to be either high school age or just a bit older. These boys are shiftless with shiftless friends.

These things ALWAYS happen to me! As soon as these folks moved in, the place turned into a *durn* Jiffy Lube! A tow truck brought an old Delta 88 there within a week, and they have a Suburban that was parked — not running — in front of my house for almost a month. At any given time there are five vehicles all over the place in various stages of repair. They just woke up my wife and babies from a nap this past Saturday, gunning truck motors and blowing horns.

The boys and their friends smoke weed and feel up little school girls in the back yard among other suspicious activities on a regular basis — day and night. (I get in late from gigs, and I always see shadows outside under the carport at two and three in the morning.)  They are a mess! And summer hasn’t even gotten here yet!

I just find it “funny” that while the people who live on this street glare at us in disgust, mostly refusing to even nod the head, while they lamented our moving in, thinking we would destroy their peaceful, white way of life, these white folks moved in right next door to me and began to do all the stuff they say blacks do! How about THAT for a twist?!?

So why do they hate US? What did I, my wife, and my two little babies do to them? Did we rob them? Do we blare loud music? Did I threaten the women folk? Do I let weeds overrun the lawn?

Or do I just breathe the same air they do? Do I just exist?

And I say all this in light of the fact that this is not indicative of all white people. The man who hired me, and paid me well, to do his newlywed daughter’s party, Eddie, GAVE me his truck! Just gave it to me. Not because I’m destitute, but because I always complimented him on it. And it is a great blessing! Bill and Karen Wells, who read this blog all the time, are some of the best and most sincere people in the world. They offer to keep our kids because they know that I get no sleep. And they MEAN it. We just can’t bring ourselves to impose… A character flaw on our part, indeed. They, as well as Eddie and Becky, have had us in their home often. (As have Hamp and Nancy Holcumb, and Sydney and Paula Payne) These people are incredibly affluent, and have a lot more reason to be snobbish and stand-offish than the dull-minded cretins on MY street, yet you would never know it. They are as regular as old jeans. They have helped us and others when in need.

(There are guys like my friend and fellow musician, Marc, who is one of the real friends I have in life, guys I knew in the military, Kathy’s old boss, Kerry, and dozens of others who don’t look at life through a racial prism.)

 And they have shown me and my family enough love to salve all the hatred that we receive from our “neighbors.”

March 24, 2009 Posted by | Christian Life, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Rant | 6 Comments

Back on the ‘Tation

Want to guarantee your residential subdivision stays all-white?

Put the word, “Plantation” in the name! Baileyville Plantation, Brentwood Plantation, Plantation Estates, Deerfield Plantation… No self-respecting brother, I don’t care HOW much money he has, will be caught living there!

I just heard an ad for one on my local Christian radio station. Slick move, guys. Verrrry slick.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Conservatism, Conservatives, Humor, Race, Racism, Segregation, Stereotypes | 2 Comments

The Devil You Know

Last week, while Christians were lamenting the loss of the Lord’s party and portending the end of the world because a pagan black Muslim OBVIOUSLY managed to circumvent the will God by being elected president, a far greater slaughter was being perpetrated on those who sought to find salvation.

Ravenous wolves were feasting on the poor of pocket and of knowledge via satellite in front of the ENTIRE world! And Christians did nothing. They sent up no hue and cry. They shed no tear. They kicked no dog. They tossed no popcorn. They cried no foul. They mourned no loss.

Rather than trust in the sovereignty of God and even for a moment consider the source of the joy, they cried, “God must be dead!” Rather than speak for those unable, they turned the channel on the carnage and let it go on unseen.

TBN was broadcasting their periodic “Praise-a-Thon.” (I call it the “Preys-a-Thon”) I am often asked why I watch this trash. I do it because it is like having the devil’s walkie-talkie. I do it for the same reason the feds bug mafia phones.

The most valuable thing we own is not our 401k, our homes, our economic stability, or our very lives! The most precious thing we own is our soul. And with souls dangling over the abyss, Christians cry and launch invidious invectives while these heartless hyenas prey on the desperation of those who have been taught to do church the wrong way for years.

They wrench passages out of context and hit the undiscerning over the head with the wrench.

Evangelicals claim to love God and thereby, His people. Especially the unborn. How noble. The unborn have one advantage over those who in ceaseless waves place their own butts into the gaping mouths of roaring lions: The unborn are not in danger of the flame.

While Godly people were crying in their chai tea about an OBAMA(!) having the gall to get elected, these “mend” and “womend” of God were sinking their fangs deeper into the souls of the seeking. Preying on greed and ignorance. And no one raised a finger to stop it.

You know why they are pimps? Benny Hinn, Paula White, T D Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Steve Munsey, Rod Parsley, Eddie Long, the Crouch’s, and the rest? Let me tell you who may not know one of the things a pimp does; A pimp pushes the envelope. He will say to himself, “I’m gonna see just how far I can go with this female… I’m gonna tell her to do the craziest, nastiest thing I can think of (hear me, R. Kelly?), and if she does it, I GOT HER MIND! And once I get that mind, thass IT! I can get anything I want! I can get her to do whatever to get money and give it to me. I’m the baddest pimp out there, an’ I’m gonna prove it by buildin’ up the biggest stable out there!”  I know guys who have done this! (I’ve been to college. YOU know it’s true!) I have seen and heard withering things.

A pimp has an ego that is never filled.

I have seen it. I have heard preachers brag to each other about how they “preached ’em under the pews!” They brag about who has the biggest congregation, the most cars, and yes, the most women.

Listen to this;

And this;

This stuff is the equivalent of a guy telling a girl, “Let me (perform all manner of perversion on your body — I cleaned it up).”

I guarantee you these guys were backstage afterward comparing (biceps). They were bragging,“Man did you see how those phones lit up when I quoted Matthew to ’em? They eat that stuff up! I’m telling you, the more predictions you make, the more they love it! At the end if I told ’em that at the ascension, Jesus turned into a crow and flew to the moon to build timeshares, they would have knocked each other down to sign up! They want MONEY, baby, money!! And it takes “money” to get money! My congregation gave me a Rolls Royce Phantom when I told ’em the Trinity was nine people and Adam could fly!”

Pimps! Pimpin’ h&es an’ slammin’ Catlack doe’s*

And rather than fight THAT fight and save SOULS, evangelicals were crying and expressing fear (and bigotry) because their candidate lost. God  lost. Do you know how many evil kings ruled over Israel? My goodness! Sunday, five days after the election, my pastor in an effort to quell growing despair and disrespect, quoted 1 Peter, 2: 13, which basically commands us to respect the authorities placed in charge. I was not allowed even twenty-four hours to enjoy the fact that this country had taken such a great step. It was like wrecking a new car as soon as I drove it off the lot. Regardless who you voted for the fact that America grew to this point deserved more from the Christian Right, who is already tagged with the label of not caring for minorities.

We need to get our priorities in line and do something about those who do ETERNAL harm. GET THIS TRASH OFF TV!!

 

*doors

November 11, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, Benny Hinn, Charlatans, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, Elections, Evangelicals, Evangelism, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Jesus, John McCain, Paul Crouch, Paula White, Politics, Praise-a-thon, Pro-Life, Pulpit Pimps, Race, Religion, Religious Right, Rod Parsley, Steve Munsey, TBN, Televangelists, Word of Faith | 50 Comments

Got a Brand New Funky PRESIDENT!*

Here we are. The world has not cracked in two. The stars have not refused to shine. Life is as it was. But…

NOW, as I shake off a headache from so much unexpected, hard crying, I feel that after two hundred and thirty two years the final missing piece has been found and placed into this American puzzle.

The long cracked foundation has been sealed. A black face is the face of America!

I had never felt fully part of the American family until now. I had always looked at history from the perspective of a mistreated child. I had always wondered how the words of that founding father, Patrick Henry:

         [ “It is in vain, sir, to extentuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace–but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” ]

could be so hypocritically immortalized in light of the fact that these very men themselves owned human beings! I could never fully reconcile the brutal irony.

Tonight, though, it has been made manifest that no more American doors are locked to me and mine. As I held my son as he held me and asked what was wrong, I told him that I was happy. Happy that now for him greatness not only included intellectual achievement or financial success, but also the highest office in the most powerful nation on the earth.

I was happy that now his maternal great-grandmother, who fought the Klan for the right to vote, and who hid freedom riders in her home on “Number 8” in Jim Crow Mississippi, had not fought in vain. I was happy that his paternal great-grandfather, who genuflected and called eight year-old white boys, “sir,” and lived a life of menial servitude while raising seventeen kids to honorable adulthood, had finally won.

I was happy to know that the last time black people collectively cried this hard was when, forty years ago, a bullet burst open the face of the face of the search for equality, and that now his sowing bore African fruit.

African! An African name! After so many African names went unremembered and changed. An African man who came to America not in bondage to anything but hope. The way it should have been. The way it is. An African man willingly cleaved in a Godly manner to the hand of a white American woman and produced a descendant not steeped in the brew of oppression, and destined to caulk that fundamental crack. 

I did not know this would mean so much to me.

I care about the plight of the unborn, and about the tenuous religious freedoms we have. So, how can I be happy knowing that innocent babies will continue to die?

I can do so the same way I did it the last eight years when “immorality” and infanticide increased in the last eight years. I can do so by praying to God that He work through His body, the Church, to effect change in this culture a heart at a time.

Obama’s election does not for me signal the end of all hardship. His election does not mean that all problems will be Divinely washed away.

What it DOES is symbolize the fact that there is hope that in this country, with its keloid scars and twisted sinews, people of ALL races — primarily black and white — can grow past ingrained adversity and see each other as the same. But different!

We have loved and desired to be loved in return. We love those who love us. And those who don’t. We embrace the white guy who plays basketball like we do, or who dances like we do, or sings like we do, or swaggers like we do. All we wanted was to make it known that we are worthy of humanity, and the fact that so many NON-black people had to come together and lift this symbolic individual to the highest human height, means that we are getting it!

I remember when, in 1988, Doug Williams lead the Washington Redskins to the Superbowl championship.  was so proud to be black that day. His win meant that we could do it, whatever IT was. There have been a number of those moments, where door after door is knocked down, and this is the last one.

Some racists have said things like, “I’m scared if Obama wins, the BLACK gone take over!” I submit that this sentiment comes from those who know that they have not done right with the power they have had and are projecting their own unGodliness onto us.

Obama’s election does not mean that white folks have to stay out of the fast lanes on the highway, and give up their floor seats and fifty-yard-line spots in sporting events. We will not raid your country clubs with booming music, spinning rims, gold teeth, and chitlin’s. We have just been allowed an invitation to the American house party, and are glad to not have to any longer stare through the window.

So, rather than be defined by the thug image, the gang lifestyle, we have President Obama — cool, dignified, brilliant, clean-cut, erudite, straight, true to who he is, and in love with one dark-skinned, kinky-headed woman, and living in the same house with his kids.

50 Cent, you don’t define me! You never did, but I shake you off! P.Diddy, Pacman, T.O., O.J., Li’l Wayne and the whole Cash Money crew, Flava –Lord hammercy!- Flav! Snoop Dogg, American Gangster, drug dealer, dropout, deadbeat baby-daddy, you are not who I am. You never were, but you never will be.

Get off the stage! Put the mike down! Pick up a book!

My son will not emulate YOU. My daughter will not desire you!

‘Cause we got a brand new, funky, President!!* Gimme Five, America! On the Black hand side!

 

*James Brown

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Barack Obama, Black Life, Conservatives, Culture, Current Events, Democrats, Elections, John McCain, Obama, Politicians, Politics, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Religion, Republicans, Sarah Palin | 10 Comments

“The Persecution Rests.”*

You know, when I hear John McCain demonstrate the nerve to get all indignant and hurt about being called out by Congressman John Lewis for the not-so-subtle racist rabble-rousing done by him and his people, I get a burning anger in my belly. We know code language when we hear it. Keep the game fair. Win on the ISSUES. That’s what I want.

When I hear caucasians downplay discrimination by saying blacks “play the ‘Race Card’,” I feel as though we have not really come as far as we think we have.

How dare a beneficiary of bias show such manufactured outrage at those who are hurt by it?!? All that is happening is that those with bigoted hearts are too cowardly to outwardly say what they really feel, but cloak it in semantics. I know how to do that.

“How dare that uppity so-and-so try to represent this great and Godly nation?!? KILL that TERRORIST! Off with his HEAD!!”

I submit into evidence Exhibit A-Z my entire case that Obama’s Democratic nomination and possible election does not cure that insidious infestation:

All the usual suspects are seen; Friiiied Chicken! Bobbecue Ribs! Redddd Kool-Aid! And that ol’ faithful standard —  Walla-mellon! Lawsy me! I’s jess a bubblin’ allll ova. I shole is! All on a food stamp! Cuz you knows that sweet ole Gub’mint print ’em all up jess fuh us Color folks! White folks is too good an’ too hard wekkin’ to need ’em. All them folks in them trailer parks is jess FREE SPIRITS! Dey ain’t PO!
The “Religious Right,” the Moral Majority… Give me  break!
Oh, yeah, A Republican in California is responsible for this.
*Or, “Manufactured Outrage: One Job We Haven’t Outsourced.”

October 17, 2008 Posted by | Conservatives, Current Events, Democrats, Elections, John McCain, McCain, Morality, Obama Bucks, Race, Racism, Rant, Republicans | 30 Comments

I’ll Just Stay on the Couch.

My pop called me yesterday and told me that NBC (msnbc) had demoted Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann for, I guess, inordinately biased commentary during coverage of the Republican National Convention. They did this at the urging of the GOP. Wow.

So, Republican officials are so bothered by partisan coverage that they go to the trouble to (and have the power to) have the two top msnbc anchors publically embarrassed in this fashion?

I don’t deny that they are, in many cases over there, in the tank for the Democrats — and Obama in particular. The aforementioned, as well as Rachel Maddow, David Gregory, and many of the guest pundits, don’t hide their leanings.

But my point is this:

FOX News does the same thing! Hannity, O’Reilly, Brit Hume, FOX and Friends, and practically all their guests don’t just lean TO  the right, they lean ON it. Heavily. In fact, Hannity has basically said that it was his job to make sure McCain gets elected. In order to get a real picture of how the race is really going, you have to do your own homework and look at all of it.

I have a point of view. YOU have one, too. Being on teevee doesn’t excuse one from being human, it seems.

For me to join a party — either one — means that I have to swallow a lot of stuff I wouldn’t eat at gunpoint. To call myself a Democrat, I would have to be cool with folk like Maddow and Maher ridiculing me for my hard and fast stances on Creationism, God, gay marriage, and abortion. I would have to deny the very existence of “sin” and play ball on a team populated by atheists, anarchists, feminists, and folk who have no moral compass whatsoever.

To call myself a Republican, I would have to be at ease riding on a bandwagon alongside people like this. And with people who live on my very own street who drive by me while I work in my own yard and stare at me as though I am made of the stuff I am spreading on the grass! To call myself a Republican, I would have to align myself with many people who would claim to serve God while harboring hatred in their hearts for anyone of a culture or ethnicity different than theirs. I would, generally speaking, have to be like the Jesse Lee Petersons, Ken Hamblins, and Larry Elders of the world and act as though racism is either non-existent, or entirely black folks’ fault. I would have to look the other way when they do things to people that I find heartless and un-Jesuslike.

 Yesterday’s move crystallizes the problem I have with those in power on the Right. They spent months decrying Obama’s lack of experience, and in a purely — transparently — political move, selected a very nice lady with five children and conservative views who had presidential qualifications slightly better than my high school guidance counselor! And just as they tried to make me think that stuff running down my back was rain (Iraq being part of the search for 9/11 justice), they tried — with astonishing, dismaying success — to tell us that Mrs. Palin was the absolute best choice to very possibly be President. I like her. I really do. But I like my mama, too, and she ain’t qualified to run this country!

The thing is, when black folk down the line have been up for high-profile positions, the first and last thing brought into question was their qualification. We have had to jump through a million hoops (even to the point of having to take tests in order to vote!), to become coaches, general managers, business owners, college students, and doctors.

You can say whatever you want about whether Obama has the right political positions as far as taxes, abortion, homeland security, or health care, but you can’t argue (convincingly) that the man isn’t qualified through his education and public service history to be President.

No one was talking about “Executive Experience” until Palin got selected.  Republicans say it so much that they forget that McCain himself  has none. By that reasoning, Palin should be running for the head job!

Another thing: I am 6′ 3″ tall, and over 240 lbs. All my adult life, I have had to play the role of “Mr. Nice Guy” in order to put white folks at ease. Black folk are generally not intimidated by size. When I go into a store, or into a business situation, unless I am in a hostile environment, I make an effort, mostly unconsciously, to not be mean-looking. I don’t want to perpetuate any stereotypes.

Obama has had to run as well as he has without resorting to the same tactics Hillary and McCain used against him. He has the added burden of being tagged with the “Angry Man” label. Michelle, his wife, has likewise been hit with the “Sassy Black Woman” tag. While both sides use ads that exaggerate the position of the other, there has been that extra little bit of spice in the GOP spots.

And the convention was filled with the kind of divisive rhetoric that makes a lot of people like me not really feel welcome at the party. I know this was just fine with some on the convention floor…

I’m sorry. When I close my eyes and think, “Republican,” (not “conservative”) I see “Sean Hannity” with his “Great Americans” and his leading questions designed only to corner and squash his opponent. I see Karl Rove — who should be in jail — Ollie North — who should be in jail — and that racist Mark Fuhrman — who shou — you know what I mean. How do they always end up as guests on FOX?

The Democrats had their share of ad hominem stuff, too, but as objectively as I tried to be, it seemed that the Republicans shoved the knife in deeper. I want people to deal with the issues, not see who can make the snidest, cleverest remark. Especially when one side cries “foul” and has people on the other side fired for trying to play by the same crooked rules! And they call the Democrat thin-skinned.

The extreme jingoism, masked as patriotism, was unsettling to me. “DRILL, BABY, DRILL!!!!” “USA! USA! USA” “GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!” (and NOplace else) They claimed Obama had a Messiah complex, but it suuure looked like there was some flag-worship/monument-idolatry going on in Minnesota. And what was up with the 9/11 video in the background?  Would a Democrat have been able to use that footage as a badge of honor in that fashion? Rhetorical. Don’t answer.

It was all “win at any cost.”Why else would the party of traditionalists and evangelicals who think that a woman’s place is best in the home raising her kids choose a woman with a whole slew of young-uns and the busiest job in her state? For the first time in history? When the other side had millions of angry, disenfranchised women with nowhere to go? That was a brilliant, slick move. And it is working. I don’t fault you for supporting her. But if Obama had a degree in journalism and mayored a town of five thousand, he wouldn’t have made it past Iowa! Can you say “flip-flop?”  Maybe if he pronounced his name, “O-Bamma” like Alabama…

It is as though there are two separate countries at war with one another to decide who will get to exercise power. It really saddens me.

Yes, Olbermann makes me cringe. But Hannity makes me want to fight!

The point is that to get into bed with either party means compromising certain of my “Essential Issues.”

So, rather than do that, I’ll just stay on the couch.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Barack Obama, Christian Life, Christianity, Conservatives, Democrats, FOX News, Hillary Clinton, Hypocrisy, Jesse Lee Peterson, John McCain, Larry Elder, Liberals, McCain, Obama, Politicians, Politics, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Race, Racism, Rant, Religion, Republican Convention, Republicans, RNC, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity | 5 Comments

A Few Words About the WORD…

Last week, on that feminist staple, “The View,” a big dust-up broke out about the use of THE “N” WORD. The thick-tongued titan of civil rights, Jesse Jackson was caught saying it in an off-air moment. The black cast members of the show were trying to explain to the white ones why there is an acceptable double standard in the usage of that fully loaded word.

Off the subject, are we still looking to Jesse for guidance? For what to do or NOT to do? That’s like me trying to get my butter from the milkman. I was through with him when he went on Bill Maher’s show and talked about “the mythology” of the Genesis account of creation!

I have a few hairs I have to wax off my chest…

Who is really surprised that some — many — most — black folk use it in their speech? Is it really that , “OMG! I can’t believe the Right Reverend would stoop to say such a vile thing!”? Or is it that, “If HE says it, why does the world stop when someone white says it?”

I posit that it is the latter. By a landslide.

The truth — that only God (and I) know — is that many white folk use the word, too. At the very  least all those white kids who buy up all the hip-hop can’t help but use it! More on that later. White folk, represented here by Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Barbara Walters, imply, “If YOU use it, why can’t I?”

I will tell you why, and in the foregone words of my parents, “Don’ asss me no moe!” I’m tired of this!:

The reason you can’t say that word is the same reason you can’t come into MY house and call My kid ugly. (My kids ain’t ugly!) The reason is that there are certain things that can be said in certain environments by certain people at certain times that are unacceptable for others to say. That’s the way it is, and you know it! There are certain things I would say to my own that YOU had better not say. They are the benefits of having a shared experience. People who have been through the same stuff have a fraternal bond that anyone outside that group cannot share. Football players, holocaust survivors, Italians… That is life.

Listen, people are crude. All of us. That’s why we need a Jesus. We do and say rough things. Two old friends greeting each other after a long separation; “Hey! Howya doin, ya tub a’ lard?!? Who’s ya’ barber? God?” Guys talk to each other like that when they are close and are sure of the affection of the other guy. That is key!

Women regularly use the infamous “B” word, a word almost as loaded as that other one. I used to work for the blues singer, Denise LaSalle. She used the word in reference to her self on her album cover. But had I called her that (I love her, but she used to make me really angry when we would stop for her to eat an hour away from home on a twelve hour trip!), I’d have been fired like a Saturday Night Special! Like a cop’s gun in the ghetto. Too rough? I haven’t been what she is, and I haven’t suffered what she has. And I don’t sit and freekin’ long for the right to call her a female dog!

Women can call each other, “girl,” “honey,” and “sweetie” without issue. A man can’t. I’m cool with that.

There are disparaging terms for every racial group. Who sat and thought up these words? The popular ones? Ask yourself that one… And every racial group has within it people who regularly employ those terms in reference to each other. To NO offense! I have heard it, and so have you. I don’t cry about why I can’t use them.

It is funny that the most innocuous racial terms are the ones used in reference to white folk. Shoot, you can still hear them clear as day on Nick at Nite, for goodness sake! “The Jeffersons,” “All in the Family”… Incidentally, the word, “cracker” is NOT a reference to white folks’ skin color. It refers to the fact that in slavery, the white man was the “whip cracker.” Dig that! That makes it a whole ‘nother kind of slur.

When I hear Barbara Walters ask why she can’t say the word, I ask myself why she would want to.

This is what black people have to do; When we meet white people, we have to figure out whether they are genuine or not. When we get overlooked in a store, the added element of, “I wonder if it is ’cause I’m black, or are they just absent-minded” always factors in. We have to add an extra step to most of our inter-racial interminglings. That’s the way it is. And when white folk whine about why “the blacks get to say it and we can’t,” it makes our Spidey Sense tingle. It makes us wonder “You mean, ‘the blacks get to say it, and we can’t in public’, right?”

And when I hear Mrs. Hasselbeck suggest that no one be allowed to use it, I say that if you are saying that on the basis that all crude speech is wrong on a Christian level, I agree. But if you are saying that I cannot, by your edict, refer to myself or a member of my “family” in a certain way, you are out of your yard and need to hit the brakes. Black folk didn’t invent the word anyway. I submit that it is not wise to go around trying to tell those at the bottom of the pile what they can and cannot say.

To be honest, that word is a rope that pulls every bit of centuries of shed blood, broken families, hacked-off limbs, raped women, forced labor, disconnected heritage, “Christian” hypocrisy, castrated bucks, burned and lynched bodies, subjugation, segregation, disenfranchisement, misrepresentation, beating, terrorism, third class education, and intimidation with it, and rather than deal with it, many would simply wish it away than hear it.

White people, in spite of the rantings of The Angry White Man, have all power — Obama notwithstanding. And just as television makes the daddy the buffoon and comedians make endless jokes about politcians, the person on top has — or should have — thicker skin due to having all the control and all the privilege. Black folk have pig knuckles and chitlins ’cause that was all that was left. All the little people have is a joke or two. Do you have to say the word, too?

It is the same reason that it is more acceptable to mock a white person’s vocal inflection than a black, asian, or Mexican’s way of speaking. They have more likely had the benefit of a high-caliber education. It is hard to slur someone who has all the stuff!

And all that stuff about “we took the pain out of the word” is a bunch of Bug Snot! (Can we still say bug snot? ) That word still has pain. Black folk never had a meeting and said, “How can we take the pain out of that word? I know! Let’s take it from white folks and use it among ourselves all the time and on records and in various media, and soon it won’t hurt no more and white folks will have no power!” The fact is that people often say rough things. That is why folks aways want to learn the curse words when visiting a foreign-language-speaking country. The “N” word is no different. There was no conscious effort to take the sting from the word.

The entertainers and rappers I her parroting this nonsense make me as angry as the folk who want to say it do! It is a cop- out. A one-legged rationalization! (No offense to all the one-legged folk out there…) You say it because it is fun to cuss, and that is all. There is no artistic, scientific reason behind it. Quit trying to be DEEP! (Richard Pryor was a genius, I think. He took authentic black life, language and all, and made it political satire)

I am ashamed when I hear the word used around white folk. And with the devolution of hip-hop, we have critically injured ourselves artistically and are probably being laughed at by many of those who hear it. I am a musician, and I think that hip-hop is very close to being the black face, Jim Crow minstrelry of the new millennium! Being a musician, I can say this without repercussion. I’m in the group…

A lot of times when black folk see other black folk engaging in embarrassing behavior (house shoes and rollers in the grocery store) that word is uttered in shame. “They makin’ it hard on the rest of us!”

A lot of the white folk who use it in secret will say that they only use it in reference to those who make trouble, King, Malcolm, Sharpton, Jackson, Ali, etc. In other words, those who holler when they get hit! In still other words, black folk they see!

Interesting dichotomy.

My kids will be taught not to use that word. But on the basis that God doesn’t accept crude speech. Not because it offends white people.

I wish the word didn’t exist. I wish rappers would stop using it. I wish that I didn’t KNOW that some of my neighbors mutter it when they see me outside. But I also wish that leaves wouldn’t die and that milk didn’t turn sour.

July 22, 2008 Posted by | Barbara Walters, Black Life, Celebrity, Civil Rights, Culture, Current Events, Entertainment, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Rant, The N Word, The View, Whoopi Goldberg | 18 Comments

What a Difference a Play Makes

Wow. The world is inside out. Who’da thunk it? Here we are with a black Presidential nominee, me (the perpetual uncle), married with two kids, and I’m pulling for the Celtics, and against the Lakers!!!

“Daddy, who you want to win?” I asked, at ten years old.

“The Steelers,” he answered, eyes never turning from the screen.

“Highcome?”

“Cause they tough! They’ll knock yo’ (bleep) outdowes! Plus, they got a black quarterback!” Daddy loves toughness. So do I. Leopards and rhinos are my favorite animals for that reason.

The Steelers became my favorite team.

“Daddy, who you want to win?”

“The Yankees.”

“Highcome?”

“Reggie Jackson. He can knock a aspirin to the moon, and he got a rifle for an arm (most people forget that). Plus, the Dodgers ain’t got no Brothers on the team.” I hated the LA Dodgers, then.

“Daddy, who you want to win?”

“Ali!!”

For all those obvious reasons. Plus, he was cocky! Not Arrogant! He said what he was gonna do, and he did it! Flat out. He never made one feel as though he were innately inferior as a human being. He was as fun to listen to as to watch. My folks loved Ali, Mom too. So, I hated Frazier, Liston, Foreman — the first one, Norton, and Quarry.

Daddy loved Jim Brown. So much so that he wore the number 44 because that was Brown’s number at Syracuse. (And that was my number when I played basketball in the military) If I had a doggone scanner(!) I could show you how much like Brown he looked.

My parents grew up in Jim Crow Arkansas and Florida. If your team had a black player on it, they liked you. If you didn’t, they rooted against you. It seemed, I guess, that if you had black players on your team, it was proof that you were not a racist. It was one of the signs we had in the new free America where it was all of a sudden not vogue to utter overt racist statements.

So they — and by extension, I — loved USC and hated Notre Dame and Alabama and Ole’ Miss. I Loved UCLA and Georgetown basketball, and hated Indiana and Kentucky. And I hated the Cowboys. And the Utah Jazz. (Utah=Jazz?!? That’s like saying that John Philip Sousa played bebop!) If you didn’t like me, I didn’t like you.

So (Post Bill Russell) my daddy hated the Boston Celtics. And so did I. My whole life. Till now…

Daddy went to coach and teach at an all white school which had always been easy win, and by a string of track and basketball victories,  proceeded to inculcate a thirty year culture of winning that exists to this day. He had those white kids running and shooting to the point that they were whipping black schools all over the county! The track team won so much that the other schools protested (Germantown had their own track on campus) and in a knee-jerk move the school board cut their track program.

As a kid, I never saw so many white folks love a black dude as much as those rich white folks loved my daddy! And not as a servant. He taught their children, made men and women of them. At Christmas time, it was a ritual for my sisters and me to see how many presents he got from the kids and their parents. They loved him and he loved them. He was fine with white folks as long as they were fine with him. Daddy was hard.

So, it is under that cloud that I find myself where I am today. Living in a paradox.

note: I use the word “hate” here in the competitve sense only

All through my childhood, I hated the Celtics. Havlicek, Cowens, Hot Rod Hunley. Even Jojo White and Tiny Archibald. “How they gone sell us out like that? Playin’ for them white Boston folks who hate black folks!” I was just a kid, y’all…

And in ’79 when Larry Bird went to– where else– the Celtics, I hated him, too. Although I had started to hate him the year before when Indiana State dared to try to beat Michigan State for the NCAA Championship. I couldn’t stand him or Danny Ainge or McHale or that bandwagon jumper, Bill Walton, when he played for them. And I hated those “Oreos”* Cornbread Maxwell, M.L. Carr, Robert Parrish, and Dennis Johnson (whom I loved when he played for Seattle and beat those Washington Bullets whom I hated ’cause I couldn’t stand that fat butt Wes Unseld! I was only a kid, y’all)

I had always said that I wouldn’t pull for them blankin’ Celtics if my own MAMA played on the team!

The Sixers were my team during that time. Along with the Lakers. I rationalized that I would pull for the Lakers unless they were playing Doc and the Sixers. Dr. J. was the coolest display of power on the Earth! Till Jordan came. But Magic Johnson was smoother than Stacy Adams’** on a greasy floor! I loved that dude!

I remember when the Celtics beat the Lakers in the finals in the eighties… I walked outside and felt that the whole doggone summer was ruined. What was the point?

— Enter Kobe Bryant stage left–

 I was still a Laker fan — the Chicago Jordans were my hands down favorite, though– when through a trade, Kobe was made a Laker. I was, however, put off by his high school press conference(!) when, sunglasses on head, he announced his intent to forego college and jump straight to the NBA (cue the screeching teenyboppers…). But I managed to give him a clean slate.

There was a moment, just a fleeting moment, in the finals of the first of their three-peat when I noticed– in a flash — a display of supreme arrogance. I can’t adequately describe it. It was the crossing of that fiber-thin line that separates cockiness, confidence, from arrogance. Arrogance. That flimsy film that delineates pride from excessive pride. I saw it. Maybe he didn’t mean for me to see it, but I did. And I was then and forever through with him and whoever he played for.

As cool as I thought Shaq was, he was on Kobe’s team, so he was the enemy. Sorry, Shaq.

From that point, Kobe proceeded to prove me right. We began to hear rumors about a rift between him and O’neal, the consummate team guy. Kobe went from a guy who shot three or four airballs in a playoff game to the point where he thought he was good enough to not need his big man. He wanted to do it himself. Did Magic run Kareem off?

He has developed a reputation for being phoney. I saw all that.

So, after a lifetime of pulling for the Lakers, I jumped ship.

I will pull for the San Diego Satans before I root for a Kobe Bryant team. I hate arrogance.
I’d root for the Arizona Anti-Christs first.

Sorry, Rick Trotter. I know he is your man, and I know that you will say that (MY man) Jordan was the same way. I disagree. But I can no more explain to you the difference than I can explain the degree to which my right knee hurts more than my left! Besides,he got his whole style, his whole game, from Jordan! He walks like him, uses the exact same gestures, and must have been fed Jordan game tapes intravenously his whole life! Jordan is his DADDY, and you can’t be better than yo’ daddy! (I say this knowing full well that I stole everythang I got from Kirk Whalum! Robbed ‘im blind!)

When Doc Rivers got the Boston job, My pops and I hollered, “NOOO! Don’t do it! Don’t you remember the busing riots of the seventies, and Chuck Stuart who killed his wife and blamed a Brother?!?” When they made the trade this season to acquire Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, I was like, “Oh well… Garnett, I dig ya, but I gotta pull against you.”

And I was fully prepared to do so until these stars and planets all lined up to force me to make some hard choices.

And here I am, going against my very DNA and rooting hard for them Celtics, baby!

Some say Kobe has matured. I say it is easy to be mature when your team gets you the players you think you want. It is easy to be mature when everything is going your way. As Aretha says, “You can’t prove that by me!”

 My sister and her husband love him. And so do their sons. Me and Daddy hate him! When they asked me, “Unca Bo, highcome you’on’t like Kobe?”

I answered, “There ought to be a point at which your bad behavior costs you something!”  You don’t get to act a fool and still have ME as your fan! Even if you ARE the best player in the league. Which He is. I hope my nephews learn that lesson soon. 

 

*Black on the outside, white on the INside.

**Shoes often worn by black deacons and dime store pimps

June 14, 2008 Posted by | Arrogance, Basketball, Celtics, Humor, Kevin Garnett, Kobe, LA Lakers, Magic Johnson, NBA, Race, Ray Allen, Sports, The Finals | 4 Comments

Look at You, America!

Medgar Evers. Shot dead in the back in his driveway in front of his family. Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman. Civil rights workers, murdered. Four little black girls. Blown up in a church, for goodness sake. King. Shot in the face. Black women and men, sprayed by fire hoses, chewed by german shepherds, beaten with sticks, spat upon, hanged, burned, castrated, terrorized, cheated, miseducated. All these atrocities and countless more in attempts, mainly, to keep black people from that one central symbol of human, American freedom: The Vote.

The crux of the Civil Rights Movement was the right for black people to vote. Voting was the most direct route to economic fairness, education, and basic human rights, and both sides knew it! That was probably why there were so many trumped-up rules and restrictions. That was why so many black folk, and sympathetic white folk, died premature deaths. Voting is more “America” than that fabled Apple Pie.

I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. And I am not a “Bill O’Reilly Independent,” either. I have true non-negotiable differences with both parties.

I don’t support a woman’s “right” to have an abortion any more than I would be expected to have the “right” to kill my two-month-old daughter sitting next to me. But I also think that there are life-and-death repercussions for systematically leaving whole segments of the population to perpetually, generationally fester and prey on each other. Spiritually speaking, I think there are souls being lost in poverty, gang and drug-infested areas of America, and frankly, God says that loss of the soul is more serious than loss of the body to death.

You think white girls are not getting pregnant, too? Look at the “Girls Gone Wild” phenomenon. Look at Ft. Lauderdale and Cancun during spring break. Come with me to an Ole Miss frat party! I submit that if their conservative daddies were not paying for so many abortions, the white out-of-wedlock-birthrate would look like the black one.

I just don’t think that either party is the “Party of Christ.” Were that so, eight years of George Bush would’ve done something to curb — not advance — gay rights and abortion. Twenty years out of the last twenty-eight of Republican presidency would have decreased some of the moral ills that plague us. Practically speaking, Republicans don’t appear to love God any more than do Democrats…

This is not about for whom I am voting or endorsing. Don’t dismiss me as just another Brother voting for a Brother because he is a Brother. I don’t do that. Besides, we black folk have been voting for white guys for years! We don’t tend to discriminate like that. We get or surgeries from white doctors, we get our teeth pulled by white dentists, we get our loans — when we can — from white bankers, we buy our homes — or rent them — from white realtors, we fly planes piloted by white pilots, and on and on…

We even worship a white Jesus! And we don’t care! (melody: I Dreeeam of Genie…) “I wor- ship Je-sus – with the light – brown – hair…!”

But there is a reason why so may blacks were Brooklyn Dodgers fans. There is a reason why so many black folk moved to Detroit to work in the auto industry back in the day. They gave us a chance. That is the reason why so many blacks vote with the Democrats.

But never did I really think that even democratic white voters, West Virginia notwithstanding, would en masse vote in favor of a black dude with an African name for the highest office in the most powerful nation! I am nonplussed! My wife cried her eyes out as she listened to his ostensible acceptance speech. This was US up there! Our dead sharecropper, housekeeper grandparents. Our lynched great-uncles and stepped-on progenitors.

I am so proud! Michelle Obama was skewered for daring to hint that her American experience was anything but idyllic. But as someone who was — and occasionally is — persecuted for my pigment, I totally understand her perspective. I have never been ashamed to be an American. In fact, when I was in the military and overseas, I was almost overconfident in my Americanness! But black folk see the country from under the stairs. I am overjoyed that America has come this far in this struggle to take an unknown black guy and rocket him past a woman who started this race five feet from the finish line.

I really feel like an American now, like I have a chance, however remote… And if you ave a problem with me just now saying that, I am not bothered. 

I never once thought I could tell my son that he could grow up to one day be President. Now, I can. My folks told me that if I applied myself, I could be a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer. They never told me I could be the President, though. If they did, it rang hollow like knocking on a pressboard dinner table with an aluminum spoon. That ceiling was plaster and concrete! They never thought this day would come. In a way, the nomination is more significant than the general election would be. It speaks of possibilities, of what might be, of living on stars.

When he first got into the race, I was totally dismissive, not believing that this country would ever let a Negro run the show. And then he won the Iowa caucus… I never thought I would see it.

The Republican machine can be treacherous though. Sean Hannity, et al, will not go gently into that good night to be sure!

This nomination definitely does not kill all racism, not even most of it, but it shows that the ship is actually turning.

Hank Hanegraaff, a theologian whom I admire greatly, and from whom I have learned a countless amount, often is known to have said that “the Bible says nothing about race except to run the race.” The problem that I have with what appears to be only lip service to the realities of racial disharmony is that he does not address the fact that we still have to live. We still have to “do life” in this country. How does his statement make those people feel who have had to start from a mile behind the starting line? How does that statement play out in this current predatory lending crisis? How does it work when I have to read racist jokes written by co-workers in a black magazine? What does it do when a racist neighbor confronts my wife?

It is fine to say that when you get to come and go as you please, and play golf at whatever country club you please without stigma, but it does me little good when I have police walk up on me with their hands on their guns because my tags were out.

And the Bible certainly does deal with race! Moses’ own sister was struck with leprosy when she rebuked her brother for marrying a Cushite — a black woman. And Peter, Jesus’ own disciple, was reprimanded by Paul for showing racial prejudice towards non-Jews. So, while Hanegraaff is a kind of mentor to me, his seeming dismissal of racial issues hurts those like me who expect a prominent “evangelical” to echo the heart of God on the practical application of Christians on everyday racial issues.

It makes it look as though “evangelicals” don’t mind us serving the same God as long as we do it from our own neighborhoods, our own churches, and with our own women. Surely this is not the case!

But regardless of the political ramifications, regardless of how this affects potential Supreme Court demographics, how doggone cool is it that people of all hues can truly look past exterior differences and cultural unfamiliarity to nominate someone unlike themselves? THAT is America! That is a glimpse of what this country can truly be! Irrespective of how you see the role of government, how great is it that the most historically oppressed group of people in this country can be finally equal enough to win the nomination of a major party in a cycle when the OTHER major party has so alienated people that it is highly likely that the latter will likely lose power?!?

No, Obama is not someone to whom I would look for Spiritual guidance, but neither was Reagan or Nixon or Clinton or Carter or Bush. Maybe Huckabee, but definitely not Romney or Gore. But we are not electing pastors. We are trying to find someone to competently run this nation’s business. To govern and legislate justly in the best interest of every American, not just the rich, the Spiritual, the privileged.

Race doesn’t determine my politics. But I refuse to be angry that someone who lives life through the same prism that I do has a chance to sit in the Top Chair.

I am exceedingly proud to finally, really, be able to tear up my Three-Fifths of a Man card and step into this full surrogate American humanity.

This is like Joe Louis versus Max Schmeling. Jesse Owens versus Hitler. They run, they fight, for themselves, but for the rest of us, too.

So, gimme five, America! On tha black-hand side! You got soul!

June 4, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Barack Obama, Christian Life, Christianity, Civil Rights, Conservatives, Democrats, Elections, George Bush, God, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Martin Luther King, Obama, Politics, Pro-Life, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Sean Hannity, Vote | , | 8 Comments

Niagra Without that First “A”

I was a nigra Saturday night. A good ol’ fashioned, 1932 model, down home, Jim Crow, Miss’sippi nigra. If that offends you, imagine how it offended ME to not just READ it, but to LIVE it.

I play a lot of wedding receptions in the “Band I Don’t Want to Be In.” I hate playing them. The music is cheesy, the clothes are uncomfortable, the stigma itches, and we usually are treated coldly.

Most of the functions we do are white (as a way of denotation…) because for some unknown reason, black folk usually don’t have enough money, generally speaking, to pay a fair wage. We are ALWAYS hired by white folk.

The bandleader books most of our gigs through an agency. There is, on their website, a long list (photos included) of acts available to do any type of function requiring entertainment. Prospective clients can choose who they want.

The gig in question was at a country club. Yes, I hate playing at country clubs, too. The pictures on the walls NEVER have any black faces, as all of the members over decades have always been white. (A young debutante named Cybil Shepard was in one of them) It makes one of my particular hue wonder why we are viewed as we are… The wait staff is ALWAYS all black. Always. Not good enough to join, but good enough to cook and clean. Still. Thank God that God values service over status! I know we’ll fit in in Heaven.

Here’s where the rub is: As soon as we began to play, the bandleader stopped us, “Hey, hey, hey, y’all! When we git through playing, don’t nobody go eat none of the weddin’ food! We been told they got a room for us around in the back, an’ they gone bring us some samwitches to eat. So when we git through playin’, less jus gone to the back.” It may not have been as Stepin Fetchit as that, but it was real close!

I have played hundreds of these things over the years, and when this happens, it is clear what is going on! It is usually offensive enough to me that we are totally ignored until we play some “Motown” or the dreaded “Mustang-doggone-Sally”! (Who made that song the Beethoven’s Fifth of this era!?!?) We don’t even exist. But even then, most folk have had the decency, the courtesy, to let the band partake of the buffet! It is almost understood.

I must tell you that in my younger days, I was what would be — and was — considered militant. Militant not in a racist sense, but in the sense that I didn’t overlook acts of injustice, racial or otherwise. I never disliked white people, but I disliked CERTAIN white people! I was always Christian.

I would be the victim of some mistreatment or another and would try to rally friends to rail out with me and I would only get the chirping of crickets… and a cough from somewhere in the back of the room.

So, now I was hot. I was already frustrated at having to be here, but now I was in Medgar Evers mode. (Keeping in mind that I was to work as though for the Lord, and that this was somebody’s wedding day)

“So they want us to play music for them,” I thought, “They want us to display our natural gifts of rhtyhm and daincin’, but we can’t eat their food, or even remain in their regal presences once we finish?!” I was sure it would have been better for them had we simply vanished through the bottom of the floor rather than walk through the crowd to our quarters!

I’ve done gigs with this band where we were told to eat in the kitchen! (You better believe I didn’t eat in nobody’s doggone kitchen!) And I have done country club gigs where Amos and Andy tapes were stacked on a tv on the stage behind the curtain. This stuff is more the norm than most would care to admit.

So I walked, fuming, past a wasteful embarrassment of victualage to a room around in the back of the building to water, cokes, and– fifteen minutes into our break– cold-cut sammitches a pickle spear, and some random ruffles in styrophoam containers.

That was the black eye. This was the dirty word: After all that, after all the specific warnings not to mingle or eat, while we were performing the second set, a waitress was sent to the stage to tell the band, “to be sure not to eat any of the cake” when they cut it!!

Didn’t we already know this? Weren’t we capable of taking a hint in the form of a brick to the head? Did we not see the disdain with which we were held? The upturned noses? The downturned mouths? Why did they even hire us? Why not hire some white guys to do all these black songs and not have to worry about us ogling the young girls? “Don’t eat the cake!” I knew where I wanted them to put the cake. Prob’ly wouldn’ta fit though… But I only thought it. This Christian bit in my mouth…

Here is what made it worse for me: I am no stranger to this kind of treatment. But there were at least two members of my church in attendance. The church I rave about. This is no indictment of the church or the people. I know that any human organization will have to get the oil changed or the head gaskets replaced from time to time.

I met one member who was very nice. I didn’t even recognize him since we are growing. He thanked me, and complimented the band.

But there was another guy whom I knew by name. I see him and his wife at church all the time. He works with the the kids sometimes and is crazy about Max. When he passed in front of the stage, I thought, “Hey, I know him!” and tried to make eye contact. He “didn’t see me.” And he kept right on not seeing me the rest of the night. Even though — aside from the newlyweds– we were the focal point of the whole deal. I am the tallest guy in the band, maybe in the room, but he didn’t notice me. Or seemed not to… I just wanted to wave.

Now as the night played out, I thought: this is the world he REALLY lives in. Not the one where races are forced to live out the Gospel. Not the one where issues are lain on the table, splayed open for autopsy.

In this world, the only faces that matter are the paler ones, unless tanned to brownness from a trip to Cabo or Greece. He would probably not have recognized the waiter serving him who manicured his grass either. In this world we don’t exist unless we are on the news or approaching down a dark street or booming bass in the adjacent Crown Vic at the red light.

Maybe now I know how God feels… to not be there until and unless there is a problem…

Whether my church member ignored me or not, the problem was that he was, by appearances, friends with these people. Or a business associate. But he was in lockstep with the behavior that had us in the band — including my friend Marc who is white– feeling so less-than. This may sound unfair, but it seems that lately people are being held accountable for their associations, so… 

So here is where my activism kicked in. On the second set, we played “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” and during my solo, I shoved my horn way up into the mic and played boldly, “Weee Shaaall Overco-o-ome”! Dadgummit! On somebody’s wedding day. Guys in the band were howling! “He crazy, man!” The bandleader wasn’t laughing, though… Only a tight nervous slash of a grin/grimace. Even if I swing and only hit air, at least I swung.

On the second break, I noticed that the guys were huddled together outside, and when I approached them to see what “revolution they were cookin’ up,” I found that they were only telling a dirty joke about… well… a dirty joke.

Once again in the face of injustice, we were content to just let it slide. Once again when presented with the opportunity to strike a blow against racism, we found stuff to laugh about instead.

That, I think, is what has lead to the mistaken assumption that black folk aren’t hurt by things like being slaves or being poor and uneducated. “They are so resilient,” they say, letting themselves off the hook, “Look. After a whole day of whippins and work, they jus’ huddle under the sycamo tree an’ sing Spirituals. See, they’re po as dirt, but they still tell jokes and jus’ laffff! They don’t care what you do to ’em, they jus’ shake it off! Our nigras are happy.”

Maybe I should just let it go, too. But I rock these kinds of boats.

 I told them that I had to do something. So when we went back for the third set, we were told by the coordinator to announce the departure of the bride and groom. As they were leaving, I got on the mic and said, “Save me some cake! Is it okay to git some chicken fangers now? Can I have a couple of wings?” No reply. A small gesture to be sure, but they heard me, and they were exposed. I know it was a little bit unprofessional, but I had to let it be known, as I always say. It was kind of like dealing with a roomful of hecklers. Sometimes real life gets in the way of the minstrelry.

The bandleader was not happy that I did that, but the guys were.

As was said by Marc, the bandleader could have put a stop to that kind of thing a long time ago. All he had to do was tell the booking agents that if those kinds of requests were made, book another band. I don’t need your money. I don’t need the kind of money that comes with cork smeared all over it.

Yeah, I was a nigra Saturday night. According to them. I can live with what they think. But can they live with their secret shame knowing God, and now we, know?

 

May 19, 2008 Posted by | Arrogance, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Music, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Weddings, Work | 8 Comments

“He’s Quite Reticulate.”

“I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. Ahhh… I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.” 

Hillary Clinton.

Why is it that the same people who blast black people for poorly elocuting the English language always seem to give people like Obama, Jesse Jackson, and most black preachers so much faint praise for being “eloquent”? How can both generalities be simultaneously true?

Up until the Iowa caucus, calling someone black “articulate” was thought to be a gauze-covered racist insinuation. (“Wow! Look at that! That monkey can pick a banana from a coconut on demand!”) 

When did being able to artfully arrange words become a weakness? Especially in politics! All politics IS is freekin’ words! (Campaigning anyway…) All any of them do is talk! About what they have done, allegedly did, will do and won’t do! Don’t try to be like Aesop’s fox and act like the grapes are sour just because you can’t reach them!

To the extent that Obama and I share the same race (and gender), I am insulted when I hear this from Clinton. Most of what I do is word-based! Am I to think that deftly using language is a bad thing? Maybe I should just shut up and go get a job at the Post Office. And deliver other peoples’ words…

Regardless of political affiliation this tactic is offensive. It has nothing to do with abortion, Affirmative Action, gay rights, or Christian Rights (hint hint…). Win based on YOUR attributes, not by misrepresenting the strong points of your opponent! 

April 25, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, Barack Obama, Christianity, Conservatives, Hillary Clinton, Liberals, Martin Luther King, Politics, Race, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Words | Leave a comment

“Outnumbered” Chapter one

Jeff, being a newly-graduated police officer liked the fact that he could drive around in his squad car while off duty. “It saves gas, and wear and tear on my own vehicle,” he always told his friends when they asked. It wasn’t as cool, they thought, for a brother to be seen in a po-leece car as it would be to be seen in his own new Mustang. Jeff Stout had always been kind of practical, though.

As he turned in to the main entrance to Hunter Park, he wondered if his boys had gotten started without him. It was after 4:00 in the afternoon, and he was supposed to meet up with them at 2 o’clock for some hooping. Basketball was the one thing that connected him with some of the guys from his childhood. Being grown took everyone in different directions, and paying bills took precedence over hanging out.

It was the first week of good weather after a hard winter, and the brothers were out in full force! It was barely March, but the hoochies had their butt-cutters on, and the dudes were at them hard like bears on a riverbank checking for salmon! Negroes everywhere! And fifteen different kinds of music blasting.

Hunter Park was huge. One of the biggest parks in Scofield. And pretty much all black since all the whites left the surrounding area. You could drive your car through it for twenty minutes and not cross over the same road. It was easy to get lost. There were shaded barbecue and picnic areas, camping grounds, and a few basketball courts. There was a golf course, too, but it hadn’t been kept up in the last ten or fifteen years.

As Jeff drove through the park, he noticed the hard stares he got as he passed people. He was beginning to get used to being seen as the bad guy, but it bothered him. He had always tried to be cool while obeying most of the hard rules.  That was a tough line to walk having been one of the few kids in his working-class neighborhood to have a mother and a father. He got into a lot of fights after being called “preacher boy” or “mammy’s boy” or some other slight designed to make him seem soft. A soft kid in that neighborhood didn’t have a chance.

His parents, though, stressed education and obedience, and made him pay for any transgression with the “rod of correction,”as it was often called in his home. Jeff had to figure out how to stay out of real trouble — theft of any kind, shooting hooky, sex — and still be an allright enough guy to not have to scrap every day. It was tough, but it developed in him good negotiating skills and diplomacy. He had friends from many different walks of life.

So, yeah, the stares and the muffled taunts stung him a little, but not so one would notice.

Up ahead, a group of about eight or nine guys were walking, all in the street blocking the way. They were dressed in the usual baggy, sagging jeans, basketball jerseys, and baseball caps.

As Jeff approached them, he bumped the horn lightly. They kept walking, not even looking back.

“My people,” he muttered, sadly. “Whass up wit us?” He blew again, longer this time. Still no response.

It was said, and is known, that in North Scofield, if a brother is leaning into a car window in the middle of the street, even the cops wait politely until he gets finished! Hunter Park was in North Scofield.

Jeff gave two short blasts from his siren, and said on his intercom in his best cop voice, “Get out the street!”

They stopped. Turned.

“Man!” he thought. “It’s about to be on!”

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Action, Black Life, Drama, Life, Race, Short Story, Writing | 1 Comment

Lest We Forget…

 I deal a lot with the topic of racism on my blog. I hate it. As a Christian, I find it impossible to juxtapose racism and true saving faith. As a result of a posting of Pastor Ben Parkinson’s sermon a couple of weeks ago, I received some comments from a couple of fellows which pull the curtain back from what is hidden in the hearts of many. I don’t know if they claim Christianity, but I think that their views are echoed by many who populate white evangelical churches.

I have met some truly wonderful people in this blogging endeavor — white black and otherwise —  and I want to be clear that I know that they and multitudes do not share these racist perspectives!

It is just that, in the Utopia that is my diverse church, I can easily forget that not all people have the desire to love honestly and openly.

Mr. Roach, whose comments follow, is one of the people who has poured cold water on my way of thinking and reminded me of racism’s thriving heart. He is a conservative in the vein of Hannity, Limbaugh, Buchanan, Rove, and yes, even Reagan. He has been kind enough to openly share the true nature of a lot of the rhetoric we hear nowadays. His comments (part of the thread entitled, “Go, Tell it in the Suburbs”) follow a lengthy discussion on Affirmative Action, reconciliation, and reparations, etc. You may check it out further to get the context… Please excuse his language. I did not edit any of it.

We paid at the office, home boy. Have you seen a rich white person’s tax return lately! Wow, it’s a lot of dough going to welfare queens, midnight basketball, and paying for all those section 8 housing vouchers.

 To this, I replied:

  1. Who are you, Mr. Roach? Do I know you? Did we grow up in the same neighborhood? Or the same city?
    How is it that I am your “home boy”? Or ANY kind of “boy”?
    No, I’s ain’t privy to you white folks’s bidness, NawSUH!
    But I know THIS: There are a whole lot more white folk on welfare than black folk!
    I know that a whole lot of white folk know how to manipulate the tax laws so that they don’t pay nearly as much as they (you) should! That’s a lot of your hard earned tax money going to military defense, too, buster! Law enforcement, fire departments, etc! Thank you, Mr. Roach, for not scurrying back into the cracks while the light has been shed on your (and so many other of your compatriots’) true feelings, as is the norm for those like you, Mr. Roach.

So, you think that you have summed up what the black experience is, huh? Section 8 and basketball. You got us all in a bag, huh? I think YOUR comments sum you up, buddy.

There is a whole lot more behind why blacks in this country are in the state we are in, and your either admitting it or throwing up racist smoke screens do nothing to change the facts.

  1. And one more thing: Basketball was just fine when it was George Mikan and Bob Cousy, wasn’t it? It was just fine when black folk were not allowed to play against whites.But now, since it is not being dominated by those who look like you, Mr. Roach, it is turned into a racist cliche! Just like dancing, singing, and ANY other activity that ALL people love to partake of! If you don’t get to be the best at it, the SUPERIOR one, why not just act like Aesop’s fox and act as though you never wanted the sour grapes anyway! Turn something great into a negative.Michael Jordan is “naturally gifted” but Larry Bird “works hard.”Why don’t you tell us what YOU want, Mr. Roach. Tell us where YOU want black folk to go and where YOU want us to go. As if we don’t already know. Since we can all jump so high, I guess it would be peachy with YOU if we leapt to the moon, hunh?Comment by maxdaddy | February 27, 2008 <!– @ 3:24 pm –>|
  2. Roach continued;

Actually, I don’t want you to go anywhere, unless you hate this country like Michelle Obama. Then you can move to the country of your choice.

I just don’t want to see any more affirmative action. Do well in sports, you’ll get people’s respect. Do well because affirmative action, and white people think what you worry they think: These black people around us sure are kinda dumb, incapable, privileged, and all the rest. It’s little different than nepotism or legacies; if you don’t get somewhere on your own merits, you’ll never have the respect of others, nor will you have self-respect.

Midnight basketball, incidentally, is a feel good social program designed to reduce urban crime. It gives kids a place to go. It also has never been shown to have any effect whatsoever. I don’t care if blacks do well in sports, but to make a big deal about sports over other more attainable middle class jobs is silly, and it leads to a lot of young people haveing unrealistic “hoop dreams” that would better be directed into hard work in algebra class. 

Affirmative action doesn’t threaten me. I’m a lawyer and I make a lot of money. Affirmative action, however, is unjust. It also makes people like Michelle Obama feel bad about herself. Affirmative action is the mirror image of Jim Crow. I support merit, IQ tests, and treating people as individuals when individual information can be found out through things like standardized tests, GPAs, etc. For this reason, high IQ Asians have done very well, in spite of the supposed epidemic of white racism. Why is that do you think?

As for whites resisting blacks for centuries, that’s certainly not true of all those whites–including my relatives–who came over around 1900-1924 is it? I mean, we were broke and I’m the first one to go to college, so I don’t feel too bad about rich Southern plantation owners because they have nothing to do with me and my bloodline or family. I do know, however, that I like blacks that act like white people, and I don’t like whites that act like (most) black people. I like civilized behavior, and most majority-black areas don’t have it. But I’ll give anyone a chance, particularly if he does well in school and is as smart as his white competitors. But I see no reason to cut blacks any breaks with affirmative action. Slavery was 150 years ago. Jim Crow ended at the very latest in 1965. It’s time to take some personal responsibility for your individual and collective circumstances. Racism didn’t make a cult of the pimps in the 70s. Racism doesn’t make blacks call “doing well in school ‘acting white.’” So get the fuck over it already, grow up, act white (i.e., civilized), and you’ll do just fine.

emphasis added

Comment by Mr. Roach | February 28, 2008

I am sorry if this disturbed you. Imagine how I feel. I know that every day I leave my front door, or turn on the TV I face the possibility that my neighbors, or the guy walking in the store ahead of me, or the mechanic, the real estate agent, the waiter, the potential boss, the cop, or the LAWYER all feel the same way. Yet I am not bitter, not hateful, not perpetually angry, not the victim, and not the failure. It is life. It is my America, OUR America. This Roach, Mr. Roach, has done me a favor!

February 29, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, Arrogance, Black Life, Christianity, Civil Rights, Conservatives, Diversity, Larry Elder, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity | 41 Comments

Makin’ Grosy

So, since I work at night, and Kathy is on max-swole* right now, I do a lot of the grocery shopping. Trying to be a good husband. I tend to make fun of the way we black folk tend to speak down here in the South, and as such, what follows is the phonetically-spelled-out list of items for purchase:

                                                    Grosy Liss

Mennit Rise

Gobbitch Bags

Pento Bens

Hole Chikums

Crem uh Chikum

Crem uh Mushrome

Unyun Soop Miks

Bred

Shuger

Murk (a Memphis thing, sadly)

Jeffey Conebred Miks

Sereul

(And then I had to go to the)

Butey Suplie Stoe (to buy an afro)

Pik

The problem came when, because of my own smart-aleckiness, I found myself repeatedly standing in the middle of an aisle (dodging old ladies) frowning, trying to figure out what the– heck “Sereul” was! I thought I was being funny, and instead wound up being the butt of my own joke! No social or underlying Christian message this time. Just something funny that happened to me today.

The black folk will know what these words say. White folk, ask your black friends…

*Extremely Pregnant!

February 25, 2008 Posted by | Family, Humor, Language, Life, Marriage, Race, Words | 4 Comments

“Go, Tell it in the Suburbs!”

Last night, I was listening to black conservative radio host, Larry Elder, the author of “Stupid Black Men”, tell Hannity and Colmes that “this is not your grandfather’s America anymore,” and that blacks can have whatever they want through hard work. He then proceeded to buttress his point by mentioning Colin and Condoleezza, and Oprah. Anecdotal evidence.

 I found myself trying to figure out why he and guys like Ken Hamlin, Clarence Thomas, and the Re’m Jessie Lee Peterson irritate me so! Even though I myself possess many conservative values.

Why, if I agree that the black out-of-wedlock birthrate and absentee father rate is the root of many of our problems, do I find these guys so unpleasant? Why, if I agree that crime should be punished effectively, do they bother me so? Why, if I agree that personal responsibility is paramount, do they make me so angry?

What I came up with is this: These men freely spout — to whatever white (possibly racist) teevee talking head and radio yapper — the ills and sins of American blacks. But the trouble is that they leave NOTHING for white folk to do! They completely leave their “in” box empty! No “post-it notes”, no “to do” lists. Guys like Hannity regularly trot them out whenever they want to show America that racism is largely, like a musket, a bygone entity. And then they proceed — like they did last night — to run down a list of cases where democrats made racist statements, killing their own premise in the process!!! The Elders and the Petersons leave them feeling that the house has been painted — that the tumor has successfully been excised.

This does as much harm as does outright discrimination. Who would continue to run hard if he thinks the race is through? I have NO problem dealing with my folk when it is necessary, but in fairness, (as I’ve said before) there is a reason why there are so many of us in jail, in trouble, in menial labor, in poverty, out of school, out of a job, and out of the loop! We are NOT cursed, lazy, (My wife asked me, “Who is the lazy one? The slave, or the one who works the slave so he can sit and sip mint juleps?) or genetically inferior.

The problem will not be solved until we address the core issues and hand out the “work orders” to the proper parties! And if you don’t believe it from a black mouth (mine), take a few minutes and hear it from a white one:

This past Sunday, as part of my church’s Black History Month series, a sermon entitled, “Being White in America” was preached by Ben Parkinson, a white member of our leadership. It is, to say the least, groundbreaking and unprecedented! Please take the time to listen, and come back to let me know what you think!

http://www.fellowshipradio.org/?p=147  

He has said things — in public — that no black person could tell a white person. With biting, unvarnished truth and introspection. As I told him, “put these words in the mouth of Farrakhan or Sharpton, and Fox News (which I like) would be all over it!” He desires no pats on the back, and in fact, doesn’t see it as being controversial. He says he just told the truth.

As I have said before, we don’t play at my church! We are about the business of doing life the way God intended it to be!

Edit: Mr. Roach left this interesting and revealing comment;

We paid at the office, home boy. Have you seen a rich white person’s tax return lately! Wow, it’s a lot of dough going to welfare queens, midnight basketball, and paying for all those section 8 housing vouchers.

February 15, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, Christianity, Church Life, Civil Rights, Clarence Thomas, Diversity, Larry Elder, Politics, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Sean Hannity | 24 Comments

“Daddy, when will racism be over?”

“Racism will be over, Son, when cartoons hire black people to do the black voices instead of using white guys to put bass in their voices and butcher the way they think we talk.”

see: “The Simpsons”, “King of the Hill”, “Family Guy”.

February 14, 2008 Posted by | Humor, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Stereotypes, Television | 4 Comments

“Thanks, Dr. King, for Everything. I’ll Call You When I Get Off.”

Don’t take this the wrong way… I thought this was ironic, and genuinely funny!

Today is, of course, the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday. A federal holiday which, I remember, was strongly protested back when the campaign was in full swing. A LOT of White folks saw no need for it. (The picture of the man is rosy in hindsight, but he was hated in his day!)

Kathy, my wife, works in tech support at a cellphone company. The personnel are pretty much all Black while the management is largely White. She is at work today. They are mostly off.

I play music for a living. Tonight, Monday, I play at BB King’s club. The band is pretty much all Black, while management and the mostly tourist audience is White.

There is an NBA basketball game being played here today. The players are… aww, YOU get it by now.

“Ain’t this supposed to be our day? Well, why are we all workin’, an’ all the White folks (who didn’t even want the Day in the first place!) are off?!?”

HiLARious! I’m not angry. I’m just saying…

January 21, 2008 Posted by | Civil Rights, Humor, King Holiday, Martin Luther King, Race, Racism, Work | 3 Comments

“See How They Love One Another!”

This post is lonnnng overdue.

I want to — need to — tell you about my church.

I grew up in a Black Baptist church. I began going there when I was a pre-teen. I got baptized at fourteen years old. My church experience was the typical one: get up early,  go, listen to many songs, some shouting and crying, many announcements, stand for the entrance of the pastor, give tithes and or offerings, turn to my neighbor and say, “naaybuh…”, listen to some more songs (an “A” and a “B” selection), listen to a sermon, more shouting and crying, some falling out, watch the “urshers” attend the fallen, watch as “the doors of the church are opened,” listen to testimonies, sit through still MORE announcements, hear the benediction, wake my baby sister up, go home.

The service was replete with emotional outpourings. I, being a complete introvert, often felt uncomfortable with the displays, and was usually made to feel that I somehow did not love the Lord enough because I did not jump, shout, dance, and fall out like some of the others did.

Even though I knew that the Lord made me that way, this way, it took a long time for me to understand that there was more than one way to worship God, and that they are acceptable. I never thought the dancers were wrong (except for those I “discerned” were doing it for show), and I never once gave in to the crushing pressure to be untrue to my own character and worship Him in an insincere fashion.

But as I grew and learned, and visited, or played in, many other churches, I discovered two disturbing things.

1. While the adoration for God was ever on display, there simultaneously existed a frustrating absence of intellectual balance in the congregation.

2. The Church in America is painfully segregated.

People at my church, and others that I attended were sorely lacking in the knowledge necessary to love God “with our minds” as well as with the heart and soul as we are told to do. False doctrine was rampant, especially the prosperity teaching. Folk would break out in “tongues” with the impunity of knowing that no one had the information to challenge them for interpretations, stuff was being named and claimed, blabbed and grabbed, and legalism not unlike that of the Pharisees ran throughout. People were easily misled, and spouted the many disjointed Scripture verses they knew woefully out of context. No one seemed to be learning anything at all except how to shout like sister Davis, and “hoop” like the pastor.

And I rarely saw any White people. Unless some judge or prospective city councilman stopped by to ask for a vote.

I had always thought that if one were a true Christian, prejudice could not exist. I foolishly thought that racism was hatred and that one could not enter Heaven if he hated anyone. Stupid me! I live in, what I understand is, the second most segregated city in this country, next to DEtroit. That fact plays itself out in no more vivid way than on Sunday. I pass Methodist and Presbyterian and Southern Baptist churches and see NO Black people! There are churches here that I remember being White years ago that are now Black, not because they were outgrown, but because the neighborhood went Black and the Whites went away. Far, far away.

It always broke my heart that it appeared that the Christian life wasn’t being lived out because we could not open our hearts and truly allow God to reallychange us. The same people who denied me jobs, clutched purses when I walked by, ignored me when standing in line, pulled me over for no good reason, called me “nigrah”, and moved out when I moved in went to — go to — these churches. I am not fooled. Heck, the Klan burn CROSSES! Crosses, not pentagrams or some other symbol of racism, but the very emblem of suffering and shame by which God saved His people! Some of the people in my all-White-but-for-us neighborhood who never speak to us go to church, too!

Even the music is segregated! Go to a Christian music store and notice the “Christian” category versus the “Gospel” category.

After years of frustration over these two issues, I left my church (not the Lord, though) in the hopes of eventually finding a place where God was both worshipped AND known, and where people of all races felt welcome.

By the time I got married five years ago, I wasn’t even going to church. I was sick of all the empty, clanging emotionalism that was void of even the basic hermeneutical understanding necessary to avoid falling into the trap of materialism and cult worship. My wife grew up in the Church of God in Christ (Which is the Baptist church on Red Bull and amphetamines!I certainly wasn’t going there!), and I didn’t want to take her to my old church and expose her to the status quo. Many Christians today, yes many Black people, get caught up in false teaching because of the charisma and style of the speaker. They can’t see why Oprah is not a Christian. I am speaking in general, of course, but I have spent most of my life being Black. I have seen these things first hand. The “Black Church” is largely driven by emotion, and the congregants often don’t know God the way they need to. This grieves me.

While in Lifeway Christian Bookstore one day a few years ago, my wife and I ran into one of her co-workers. Their conversation eventually led to the church, and after hearing Kathy’s friend talk about hers, I told Kathy in the car afterward that that was our church! It was doctrinally sound and it was run by people who had moved here (Memphis) from all over the country to specifically reconcile the races here! Sold!!

We have been members of Fellowship Bible Church, Memphis since July of 2005, and for the first time in my life, I love church. It is not all of one thing or the other. There are those who are (politically) liberal, and those who are conservative. There are those who throw up hands and sing, and there are those who don’t. There are doctors and there are African refugees. There are Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, and just about any other race you can think of. And there is this…

They LOVE!  Hard! All the way! They break open their lives like biscuits and share them freely without pretense or prejudice. I have never in my whole life experienced the openness and acceptance evident there. From all sides. It is Christian life in HD, 1080i, one billion megapixels, on a two mile screen. Believe me!

There are three teaching pastors, (Bryan Loritts, John Bryson, and Ben Parkinson) the lead teacher being Black. We don’t shy away from issues of race as many do in diverse environments, and they don’t give lip service to injustice. The idea is to take people from the comfort of the common ways of thinking and force them to live as Christ demands: loving thy neighbors as thyself, even the ones who look funny, dance off beat, or laugh loudly in theaters!

Growing up in Memphis has afforded me the opportunity to experience racism on a first-hand basis. I know what it looks like, which is why I hate and confront it here. I know what it feels like to be left out, unwanted. I know what the stares and the codewords mean. I have spent time away from Memphis, and have interacted with those of other races. But I have never had the wonderful fellowship I have now. We love each other like family! We spend time together, in each others’ homes. We use each others’ bathrooms!

I have stories of selfless acts of love that made Kathy cry (I don’t cry!) and that amaze us. I can’t recount them all. This church has shown me what I suspected but never witnessed; that God has true Christians of various hues who love each other unconditionally. And be sure that this love extends like climbing vines beyond the church and into the community in a tangible way. We give money and time to schools, and certain members have sought to live in rough neighborhoods in order to be change agents.

Maybe you have seen this but I, and those I know, never have. When Kathy gave birth to Max, we were amazed to find that every day women were coming to bring food until she was well enough to get around. Just the other day, one of the members, Megan, brought her son to the house and spent hoursputting our sunroom together. (Kathy is eight months pregnant, and we have never cleaned that room out) Wendy, (these ain’t Black names, you see…) came to the house last week to measure the windows in the kids’ room in order to hand make some curtains. Much, much more could be said. Much more.

Some of them read my New Year’s Eve post and chided me for not letting them keep Max when I was in a tight spot. These people take actual time and serve one another. Without seeking anything in return. I have never met so many affluent-yet-unpretentious people, White OR Black, in my life! (It was a whole year before I knew that “Eddie” was a freekin’ doctor! He was just Eddie to us)
These folks love us to death! And not as pets, which used to be the case back in the day. We are all equals. I don’t have to dilute my “Brotherness” in order to be seen as viable. And we love them! I would not trade this church for any other. And I tell my Black friends about it all the time.

We Black folk have a comfort zone, too. We like our food seasoned a certain way, our chitlins cleaned just so, our Gospel music sung a certain style, and our preachin’ hooped at a particular point in the service. I wish that we all could open ourselves up to the fact that God is not an American, that He made us all, and that we all find our reflection in Him. But we have been burned. Rejected and relegated. It is hard to break old habits. Not ALL White folks hate you.

Lest you think I am unwittingly in some CULT, understand that this church is populated by those who seek a full-orbed relationship with God. They know why they know what they know. And if they don’t, they are being taught by those who do. Our leaders are schooled, educated, and qualified. And they are humble. There are no titles, and we do not rise at their entrance. They stress servant leadership, not forced exaltation. They expect us to check their biblical work and are not offended by being questioned.

Of course there are differences in non-essential issues. No human-run organization is perfect. There are dispensationalists, amillenialists, charismatics, cessationists, Calvinists, and Arminians. But we all agree on the essential points of the Faith. And the spiritually sick are ministered to.

We are not taught the Bible in bullet-points, but by books. In context! We just got through with Ecclesiastes.

There is no Word of Faith doctrine or Prosperity pimpin’ going on here. No focus on the accruement of stuff. Rich and poor, sick and well alike, all enjoy the true prosperity of real life and Heavenly hope. Money is a tool and not a goal.

We worship individually and collectively in the way that God designed us to, and there is no peer-pressure. Some answer with “amen” and some nod quietly. Some stand and sing, and some simply stand.

Of course, there are problems that arise, but they are handled in a measured, Godly fashion. I truly feel that I have, in Fellowship, a small glimpse of what Heaven will be like in terms of our interaction with each other.

I know that some of you feel the same way about your place of worship. I hope you do. I know that some feel that if you are not of their particular denomination (CoC?) you are lost. This is in no way my assertion. It is just that in the course of writing my blog, the impression may be that there is a level of displeasure and despair, and that I don’t experience true Christian fellowship. Not true.

I just wanted to introduce you to my Family. The people I love.

January 15, 2008 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Church Life, Culture, Diversity, False Doctrine, False Teachers, Hypocrisy, Love, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism | 24 Comments

Denzel Kissing Marilyn Monroe. Those Were the GOOD Ol’ Days!

I often hear those on the “Religious Right” (with whose Christian, MORAL stances I agree, by the way) such as Dick Bott, James Dobson, and Phyllis Schafly, and the late Marlin Maddoux lament the sweetness of the bygone halcyon days of the past.

Crime is rampant, security companies and locksmiths are booming businesses. Drug use is almost the norm.

The words “sex” and “immoral” are rarely associated with each other anymore. Anything goes. What FEELS good IS good!

NO one is safe.

So what should we do in order to regain or obtain a more morally upright society? Return to the fifties as some conservative reminiscers wish? Can’t do that, because real life ain’t like picking the peanuts out of Cracker Jacks.

For you, it was, “Leave it to Beaver,” sock hops, soda jerks, and maybe a Pat Boone knock-off of a Bo Diddley record. Father went off to the office in the morning, and Mother stayed at the house and made home.

You lived an open and free life. You could go where you wanted, eat in any restaurant, sit in any section, live in any neighborhood, relieve yourself in any restroom, try on any outfit in any department store,  stay in any hotel, and vote in any state. You could drive any car, without worrying about being stopped by the police for a dubious “unsafe lane change.”

The fifties were, for us, a time of terror, exclusion and submission. We had to know our place. We were “boy,” not “sir.”  We looked no White man in the eye. We were lynched for the slightest supposed misstep. We were not on television unless we danced or served, and we could not vote. We lived life on our knees, praying and cleaning other folks’ floors.( I use “us”, and “we” the same way YOU do when referring to the past)

We lived like the mice in the walls: life was great until it was time to get some cheese, then we had to deal with all the cats trying to kill us.

It just shows that we live in different worlds.

Was life perfect then? You would say “practically,” but my parents would disagree. The fifties look cool in the movies. Until the lead character asks for a mint julep, and the maid walks in! YOU don’t have to suspend reality when you see Robert Mitchum kiss Sophia Loren. I do. I love old movies, but I have to turn my sensitivity meter down. I have to ignore all the steppin’ and fetchin’ and grinnin’ and shinin’. I have to try to find context when Butterfly McQueen declares with fright, “I’on know nuthin’ bout burthin’ no babies!!”

I couldn’t have played baseball with Wally and the Beev. I wouldn’t have even been allowed in their neighborhood.

And before you lambaste me and call me a perpetual victim, I must tell you that I have experienced some of the same things my very self. Heck, as children, we were drilled on the art of not looking back when being followed by the Po-leece!

Yes, I want a lower crime rate, effective punishment, no legalized abortion, prayer in schools, and a more civil societal manner, too. But I also want equality in education and opportunity, and justice.

 I want my pregnant wife to not be interrogated by a “neighbor” for parking her own car in front of her own house on our all White (but for us) street!!! Don’t tell me racism is anecdotal and largely in the past…

God can deal with a man’s private sins, but when they become public POLICY, we all bear a responsibility to do something to change things. Discrimination was just that back then — the law.

The Dobsons and the Schlaflys and such simply prove that, at best, they don’t even think about us when they say such things. There is a cavernous divide which still exists.

So, be specific when you long for those “good ol’ days,” because we Black folk can take that to mean that you want us out of your neighborhoods, schools, lives, and back in our “places.”

December 13, 2007 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Conservatives, Life, Morality, Race, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans | 6 Comments

Race Your Awearness

Step inside my life,

Make yourself at home.

Sit down in my favorite pastime.

See if you like the way my culture fits.

Try on a pair of my circumstances.

Walk a mile in my issues.

Take a nap in my nightmares.

Turn the channel to my point of view.

Look in the pantry and taste my reasonings.

Try to wash off the smell of my common sense.

Walk up the frightened stares.

You can have what you find in my perseverance.

Can you spend my occurrences? 

No me like I no you.

                                  

Derrick L. Williams                                                                                                     

November 20, 2007 Posted by | Poetry, Race, Racism | 2 Comments

A Link In the Change…

My best friend and I were talking about the “Dog, the Bounty Hunter” dude, and I said something to him that he insisted I put down here.

A lot of people who don’t come from those enslaved in this country like to tell us, when something like what Dog Chapman was just caught saying comes to light, “Just get over it!” This incenses me! But I am learning that peoples’ minds sometimes cannot be changed by the facts. Hearing that oft-repeated phrase just lets me truly see who I am dealing with. We should, they say, just get over the anger we feel at hearing that Notorious term hurled about in reference to us. Just get over slavery. Just get over second class citizenship, brutality, educational inequality, and discrimination of any sort. “Just Get Over It!”

That term is, to me, the new version of, “Some of my best friends are colored.”  I SEE you.

 “Actions ALWAYS have consequences.” This is what I told my friend. Like the Bible says: the father eats bitter grapes and the children get that stinging pain in the glands behind the jaw. I think that’s a direct quote…

By way of analogy, I told him,

 “Let’s see, there are, what, a hundred and forty-two years since slavery ended? How ’bout this: how ’bout I get one of those folks who say we should just get over slavery since none of us were slaves, how ’bout I get one of them to hold the end of a chain with a hundred and forty-two links in it, and I get a live wire and shoot about 50,000 volts through the other end of it! I bet they’ll feel the effects of it! I BET they won’t just get over that!

Every action that has occurred between the races in this country has had a consequence, positive or negative. My grandfather had to call a ten year old boy “Sir,” and as a result, I will not make my children say “Sir” or “Ma’am,” because I didn’t have to say it because my mother saw it happen and vowed that her kids wouldn’t go through that when bused to schools run by White teachers who didn’t want them there.

While we’re talking, why doesn’t God “just get over it”, too? I mean, by that same logic, why should I, or you, Mr. Insensitive Conservative, have to pay for what some guy named Adam did countless thousand of years ago? Right? Yet, WE all have to bear the penalty for his sin, right?

Discrimination is the thriving spoiled brat child of Slavery and Racism in this country. Wishing it away will not make it GO away. Dog, the Bounty Hunter just pulled back the curtain and let the light in. That uneasy feeling you have right now? Just get over it!

November 6, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, Culture, Dog Chapman, News, Race, Racism | 7 Comments

Quips

The KKK:

Dressed to oppress!

November 2, 2007 Posted by | Humor, Quips, Race, Racism | Leave a comment

F.O.D. Not What You Think… Wait. It MAY Be.

Okay, this one may get a little scatological…

I used to be in the Air Force in one of my other lifetimes. I was a missile technician. Sometimes we would work on the flight line and be around the fighter jets. We were constantly warned about foreign object damage (f.o.d.). Screws, gravel, ink pen caps… all this type stuff, anything on the runway that can be sucked into the jet engine, is considered FOD.

A few years ago, well after my time in the service was completed, I played in this band, Three Nice Guys, that used to do all kinds of stuff;  jazz, pop, country, r&b, everything. An executive at FedEx here in Memphis had an idea of incorporating live music into their monthly (I believe) status meetings. I’m not a corporate guy, so I’m probably not calling it what it was.

We would meet at the front gate of the “Hub” at the unGODly hour of around 7 am, get passes, and drive our vehicles onto the highly restricted and secure flight line to set up for the 9 am meeting. It felt kind of cool to see the stares of the working stiffs who seemed to think, “Who are these guys who get to drive their vehicles onto the highly restricted and secure flight line?”

What was to happen was that we would, in this room that seated about 50 people, play while the corporate types drank coffee and ate and mingled and such. When the main speaker got up, we would do some Johnny Carson-type fanfare stuff. When each new person was introduced, we would play something appropriate from a TV show, a commercial, or anything. For instance, If the person was from Chicago, we would break into “Chicago” as he approached the podium. Breck, the keyboard/keyboard bass player, is a genius and knows a million songs. He has perfect pitch (google it) and almost perfect recall, so we had a library of tunes at our disposal.

Now, what I must mention here is that the band was set up in the front of the room on the stage. Directly next to the podium. Remember that.

This one particular meeting is the point of this post. A lady got up to talk about the status of “foreign object damage” and what improvements there had been in its reduction. She spoke about how important it was to be vigilant in the prevention of foreign object damage and how much money was lost at each incidence of foreign object damage. After a while, she abbreviated the term to F.O.D., and a minute or so later, she just shortened it further to “fod” to save time.

 It is important to note that White folks and Black folks speak differently. This woman was White.

FedEx is a company known and admired for its fairness is diverse hiring practices. at least half the room was Black. The band was all Black.

The speech went something like this:

“I just want ya to know, you’re doing a bang up job in keepin’ yer fod to a minimum. But we can do better. The Memphis hub has had a 30 per cent reduction in fod over tha last quarter, but in tha last month, you had 3 cases of fod. What happened? Why the increase in fod? You managers are gonna have to do whatever it takes to keep the fod down.”

Right here is where I tell you that, phonetically, the word WE use for the Godly act of passing gas sounds UNCANNILY like “fod”. Now, I pride myself in not being inappropriately silly. Certainly, as a musician, I have heard all the stereotypes about how irresponsible we are. I did not, sitting right up front in front of all these corporate executives, want to appear silly. But this woman had “fod” on the brain. And being White, she appeared to have no IDEA that what she was repeatedly saying was like poking us in the side. I’m ticklish right there.

We were cool the first couple of times she used the word, but Lord have mercy, she talked for about thirty minutes!!!

“Fod damage is dangerous and costly, folks. It costs us in lost equipment, but also in lost man hours. I can’t tell you how much looking at the fod numbers leaves a bad taste in my mouth! When a plane has to be repaired. It’s cuzza fod. When guys haveta do extra duty (doody?)? It can usually be traced back ta fod. We GOTTA keep it down folks! Fod is a stench in the nose of a company like FedEx!”

It started with a shiver.

We in the band were set up in somewhat of a circle, facing each other. I could see every attempt they made at trying not to laugh. It only made it funnier.  When something embarrassing happens onstage, I usually try to avert my attention by fumbling with my reed or mouthpiece, or by otherwise occupying myself.

Like the time when Kevin, my best friend, and I were doing this wedding…

The church was set up so that the whole back wall was glass. CLEAR glass. From floor to ceiling. The preacher’s back was to the glass, and the audience was facing it. Kevin sings, and while we were waiting soberly for his turn, we noticed this big flock of birds sitting in a tree outside. A squirrel or something scared the birds and they suddenly flew away in our direction. Now, the preacher was praying, I think, so everyone’s eyes were closed but ours. We were working. Playing soft music.

Most of the birds veered sharply away at the last moment, but one       missed. He didn’t see the glass.

BAM! flutterflutterflutterflutter. Dead. I squeezed my eyes shut!! Tears forming. Shuddering. Bowing, praying now. “Lord! Pleeeeeze help me!” I snorted and snotted a little bit… I fumbled with my reed to busy myself.

But Kevin outright laughed. In the middle of that solemn prayer. For just a nanosecond. But that was all it took for him to get glares from a lot of the people there… So when I have moments like these, I PRAY to the Lord to take the funnyness away.

Breck shivered. He and Herman, the drummer, weren’t saved back then, and they didn’t seem to have the compulsion to be serious. I fumbled around with something or other, praying to the Lordthat this woman wouldn’t say “fod” no more, and I think He was laughing, too! I had to close my eyes. It worked for a few seconds. I thought it was over. “Cool. Okay. I’m cool”

“So, what can we do to prevent fod?”

I know you all have had those moments. In class, or in church. You tell yourself it’ll be funny later, but it suuure ain’t right NOW! Even though it is.

We were all looking at each other pleeeading for something to make it stop! But she just kept on, culturally blind to what she was doing to us! I mean, we were in the front of the room! And I could clearly imagine what would happen if one of us undisciplined musicians lost control.

“What can we do to keep the fod down? Fod fod fodfodfodfodfod.” She would    NOT    STOP!  

Herman, who was crying, let out a squeak that sounded like when someone steps on a dog’s foot. My face was mashed all up as though someone really waspassing gas, and when Herman squeaked, Breck, who was sitting on a swiveling stool, jerked around, away from the audience in this small room.

At that point, the Lord heard my prayer. Someone in the audience, someone Black, probably heard Herman and broke out laughing, and the room erupted! Exploded in laughter! Relieved and thankful, we all did the same! It felt like making it to the bathroom juuuust in time. We spent the next two or three minutes in uncontrolled head-shaking, knee-slapping tripping!

I was just so glad that it wasn’t one of us musicians who broke that particular iceberg. What surprised me was that so many of the rest of the people in that room were trying to fight off the same onslaught. White and Black. The only person clueless was the speaker, who looked up, startled, trying to see what had happened. The head guy, who was Black, came up and whispered it all in her ear. She was mortified!

Those times happened to me a lot. It is proof that God DOES have a sense of humor. He HAD to have been laughing. Flatulence was His invention, although the word for it is probably ours…

It is cool that in spite of all our supposed differences, we of different races find common ground in times of humorous adversity.

God invented laughing. He is all right wit’ me!

October 27, 2007 Posted by | God, Humor, Life, Music, Race, Work | 8 Comments

Jena In A Bottle

I was out of town on a gig (I need to write about THAT experience…) when Jena, Louisiana was made the object of national observation. Some of my church members, White and Black, drove down. Of all the back and forth about whether the 6 kids deserve to be charged with attempted murder (outrageous!), one thing occurred to me that hasn’t been discussed. Yes, I have heard the argument that if the perps were White and the victim Black, Black folk would want them charged likewise and convicted. Maybe so… I’ll leave alone the fact that the power structure in this country causes a different dynamic in that scenario. (What n*$%er-equivalent word could a White person be called that would cause him to possibly kick somebody in the head? That’s just for starters. Fair or UNfair.) The scales are simply unbalanced. Even if we SHOULD be, we are not at the point where race doesn’t play a significant role in America. To reverse the roles and make the aggressors White does not address the issue I have in all this.

The thing that struck me when I saw all of the coverage was this: The point is not that the PERPETRATORS were Black, it is that the VICTIM is White. Put bluntly, Black Life is not nearly as valuable in this country as is White Life.

I watch news shows a lot. More than I probably should, and more than I ever thought I would when I was a kid and saw my father doing it every night. It seemed so BORING!! I watch O’Reilly, Hannity, MSNBC, and CNN. In the last couple of years, I have seen a number of stories on kids fighting on video. I have seen the hosts decry the decline of our society. In most of the stories I’ve seen, the victims were White. Just the other night, in fact, Bill O’Reilly- whom I don’t hate- did a piece on four Black boys beating up a White boy. He wanted to know, in light of the recent controversy, what implications race had in the fight. YouTube is full of videos of children fighting. They often make the news shows.

For every missing Black college girl profiled, there are stories done on fiftyWhite girls! Does Chandra Levy ring a bell? Laci Peterson? Natalie Holloway?  We all have been inculcated with the fact that a missing or murdered White person is infinitely more valuable to society than some random Negro, since “all they do is kill each other anyway.” Some of you have said this. The vitriol is only amped up further if the perpetrator is Black. Or ASSUMED to be Black. 

Don’t Black babies disappear, too? Don’t Black kids get snatched by pedophiles? Or do they all just die at the hands of baby-mama-boyfriends? Where are all the “Breaking News!!” stories on them? One would think that only White babies are kidnappable.

I have seen cases first hand where murder was committed against a Black person and the time served was little, if any. A lady three houses down from me was murdered by her husband in broad daylight, practically in my sight, when I was about twelve, and we used to see him driving down our street all the time afterward. A boy was stabbed to death at an after-school party when I was in high school, and I doubt if the murderer did three years! There are dozens of examples like these that I could give.

It is a well-known fact that if two Black guys get into it and one dies, the sentence will be light. When someone broke into our home when I was about seventeen, the first question the White cop asked when he pulled up was, “Didja git ‘im?” The implications of that question were not lost on me. Brothers know that “if I shoot you, I ain’ gone git but 11/29.” Meaning that they will only serve 11 months, and 29 days. Not even a year! And if you shoot a Black burglar, just drag him in the house and call the cops afterward. Black Life.

There is a story out of Texas, I think, about some White guys beating a mentally disabled man into a catatonic state recently. I don’t think anyone has been jailed, and I do remember hearing more than once that the guys just “got a little bit outta hand”. They were not bad guys, just rambunctious boys. This man was called “monkey,” the “N”word, and other slurs. He was made to dance for the amusement of those “rambunctious boys,” and now, he cannot function. Black Life.

The startling ramification of all this is that Black folk are more at risk from other Black folk. Cultural genocide is the offspring of the mindset that White folk will watch us kill each other off and occupy the abandoned land, as is being done in parts of the city in which I live. 

The irony is that, as scared as White folks are of people like me, the LAST thing a brother would do is hurt a White person because he knows that the book will be filled with cobras, packed in C4 and thrown at him! On my gig in Gulfport, MS this past weekend, the guitar player and I went to get on the elevator after having eaten. An old White lady got on before us, and when she saw us, she stiffened up and forgot to even push the button for her floor! We did it for her, and when she arrived at her stop, she walked out of that elevator as though two vampires were stalking her! It was funny to us. And sad. We were probably the two least threatening people in the whole hotel, but because of that fear, she was unable to tell.

Cases like the one in Jena are rare. Most Black violence is directed at other Blacks. But when nooses are hung on a tree that Black kids had to ASK permission to sit under, and when racial slurs are hurled about, and when Black kids are whupped, and when shotguns are wielded in Black faces with no repercussions, things may get “out of hand”. My daddy used to tell us that when someone tells you to leave them alone, you’d better do so, because if they pick up a brick and hit you with it, the fact that they were in the wrong won’t put your head back together. And, no, I’m not saying that those boys were right for doing what they are accused of doing.

Maybe Mychael Bell was a thug. But the point is not that he was an angel, only that there are White thugs in this story, too, and they weren’t charged with doggone felonies! I have seen, and been in, many schoolyard fights. I have seen kids get jumped. I have never seen charges filed. If Bell had been expelled, I don’t think anyone would have been upset, other than perhaps his mother. But the excessiveness of the charges just serves to further ingrain what we all already know in America. White Life is more precious.

 “Y’all can kill each other, but leave us alone!” As though we ALL are not in the same human family. I get it. To you, I’m not worth as much.

September 26, 2007 Posted by | Bill O'Reilly, Jena, Jena 6, Race, Racism | 1 Comment

Sean Hannity or Rosie O’Donnell. Pick Your Poison.

Anyone who knows me, or has read my words, knows my positions on most issues and knows that I stand outside of any particular demographic. I am watching Sean Hannity and forcing down the bile that rises, and wonder:

Where’s MY party?

 I am a Christian.

I am a Black male.

I am actually MARRIED to the mother of my son.

I was in the military. I’m not a pacifist, but THIS war is creating problems, not solving them.

I make my living in the arts.

I believe Affirmative Action is the best known way of closing the opportunity gap in America. (Uh Oh…)

I believe in gun ownership, and tough crime enforcement.

I believe that there are policemen who abuse their power, and let their racial prejudices influence their work. I have experienced it. Recently.  

I believe in abstinence before marriage, and that Godly marriage is between one man, and one woman.

I hate taxes.

I think that the government owes me protection and opportunity since they take my income before I even get it.

I don’t hate, or even dislike, White folks.

I HATE racism, though. I don’t ignore it when I see it, and I talk about it when it happens.

I think that (this will probably hurt some of you…) The “Christian Right,” is populated by a LOT of people who are flat-out racist. 

Abortion is a dealBREAKER!

So, I ask you: Where do I go? For whom do I vote?

Democrat? I can’t, because as I stated, abortion cut that tie. Also, being a Christian, I do not agree with many other of the moral positions they, as an organization, take or endorse. For example; school prayer, gay marriage and all things pro-gay, EMBRYONIC stem-cell destruction, partial-birth abortion, (the regular kind is bad enough!) feminism, and the eradication of my faith from public discourse or display. Besides, any voting atheist would likely vote democrat. Even though atheist Christopher Hitchens is in favor of the war, he’d rather drink a gallon of holy water and tattoo the Cross on his right cheek than vote for Mitt Romney! How can I vote with those who hate God?

They are cotton-soft on the punishment of crime, to the point that practically NO murder is heinous enough to warrant the death of the perpetrator, even with indisputable evidence. Prominent democrats are known to bash active Christians to mush at every opportunity. The Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John Kerry kind of Christians are cool though, because their faith has never been taken out of the package. Christians are the last group that it is still politically proper to ridicule.

Democrats (and once again, I am generalizing…) would tell me that if I hear an intruder in my house, I should cower in the closet and wait for the police to come rather than shoot him myself. That’s because they have enough money that the cops will come RUNNING if they call. I shouldn’t even own a gun, according to them. But who’s going to stop the crooks from getting guns? THAT bell can’t be un-rung. 

The only time they quote the Bible is to mis-quote “Thou shalt not kill,”and “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

If you are engaged in almost ANY immoral activity and need an advocate… Get a democrat! You want to smoke weed? Get a democrat.  You want drug use legalized? Get a democrat. You want to marry another YOU? Get a democrat. You want to say all manner of foul things on the air, or join NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association ), or teach second graders about using condoms, or get rid of all those offensive nativity scenes at Christmas? Call the ACLU. The PUPPET of the democrats. Are you a female who wants to join a football team, or are you a gay male who wants to teach young boys how to camp in the woods? Get a democrat. They’ll get it done for you!

You make a lot of money? Get a democrat! They’ll take a third of it before you get a penny and propose to spend it on some unGodly enterprise you abhor. They don’t care, they don’t have to tithe. Let the ignorant Christians worry about all that junk. Rather than actually care, they simply throw money at a problem and pat themselves on the back for it. 

Maybe they weren’t about this stuff in the past, but they are now.

The Democratic party came into my awareness as the party of those who freed us from the bonds of Jim Crow. They were the Kings, and Kennedys, and L.B.J.’s of the sixties who obtained for us the right to vote, intermarry(!), and attend any school. They were the party of fairness and equality. Generally speaking, of course. My parents voted democrat, and so did I. But in the last few years, as society has become more permissive, the party has done the same. 

They are populated by a lot of passive, pacifist, communist-minded, put-all-our-resources-into-the-same-pot, anything-goes-except-for-anything-I-don’t-agree-with folk who don’t see that there is no perfect society, and that their way of operation is plunging us all into an orgy of moral debauchery that is rotting us from the inside out… WHEW! They love animals, but hate fetuses. They think that men and women are exactly the same. Democratic women value career over family, and sex over marriage, abortion over the right of the unborn.

Ask Rosie O’Donnell who she votes for. Susan Sarandon. P.DiddyPuffDaddyPuffyCombsHoneyCombsPufftheMagicDragon*. Oprah. Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Eddie Murphy, any rapper, or pop singer, (if they even vote at all!) Gloria Steinem. Ask Madonna, or the head of Planned Parenthood. Ask Al Sharpton. Jessie. Ask any atheist, or random college professor. Democrats don’t worship God, they worship their own Righteousness.

 I don’t care what anybody says, my vote is a mark of my loyalty, and I refuse to align myself with those whose beliefs and sentiments are diametrically opposed to the God whom I worship. I will not give my loyalty to those who operate in contradiction to my worldview. As stated in an earlier post, my beliefs inform all my decisions.

So… Does all this mean that I am a         republican?

NO! Just as emphatically, if not moreso.

Yeah, republicans say that they believe in upholding the same moral values I have, but they repulse me in other ways. (again, for you knee-jerks, I generalize)

I mentioned Sean Hannity at the outset. For the purpose of this lesson, he will be my prototype. He claims Christ, he is clean-cut, and fiercely patriotic. He loves the police, and is willing to give them as much rope as they need. Until, like tonight, one is caught on tape threatening a motorist with trumped-up, made-up charges for sassing him. (I don’t dislike police, some of my friends are cops, I just happen to be of an ilk that has seen what those with “God Complexes”- a term a cop friend gave me- can do when motivated) Hannity is, apparently, God first, America first, family first. But it is my considered opinion that, after exhaustive research, he, Laura Ingraham,  Ann (tiChrist) Coulter, and Rush (to judgment) Limburger will be riding the four horses at the Apocalypse! I’m just sayin’…

Hannity appears to be a nice guy, but there is something in he way he speaks that bothers me. When he interviews someone with whom he disagrees, he does so only in an attempt to corner them, not to advance the discourse. He is a shill, a sycophant for his party, and (facetiously) if I am better than anybody, I am better than he, because I at least try to look objectively at all political sides! He may not be a racist, but he looks just like one!

Republicans, in general, are the party of the Cold. They ignore the plight of the haven’t gots. They are sincere in that, unlike democrats, they don’t care and don’t care that you know  that they don’t care. And rather than throw money at a situation, they just throw empty platitudes, peppering their rhetoric with terms like, “bootstraps,” and “self-made.”

Republicans are the party of law enforcement. As I stated earlier, I am Black. I know some of you may have wondered what difference THAT made. (many republicans view the “Race Card” the same way Dracula looks at a Cross!) Being Black makes me sensitive to issues of wrongful incarceration. Being Black also has made me a victim of unfair treatment. In the last few years, DNA has acquitted many unjustly imprisoned Black men. Republicans would have said, “Why are we wasting so much time on this case? He was convicted by a jury of his peers!” They forget that juries are populated by people. Not twelve Jesuses!

I am in favor of the Death Penalty insomuch as it is justly applied. Which it is NOT. I have a friend who, when working for a public defender, was involved in a case in which a mentally retarded teen was put to death for accessory to rape and murder. He was in the car and was not allowed to get out when the incident began. He did not have the reasoning skills to make the right decisions. He WAS RETARDED! and now he is dead. This has happened many times. We are a country that executes mentally deficient Black people. Republicans look at the news and say, “He’s Black. He’s on the news. He’s guilty.” Tell me I’m wrong, Hannity.

I was in the military, so I cannot be accused of being a pacifist. War is sometimes necessary in order to restrain great evil. I understand that it is not an exact science, and that sometimes innocent people die. But there is point at which talking is done, and one must fight.

When those planes hit those buildings, I said, “Let’s get whoever did that. Not arrest them, but kill them.” Terrorists are punks.  I think all terrorists need to go see the Lord. Flat out. I was on board, honestly, when we went into Afghanistan, but when the President started to turn that big machine left towards Iraq, I jumped off. When he said that they had WMD’s I gave him the benefit of the doubt -more doubt than benefit- until it became apparent that Iraq was on the table from the beginning.

I am against this war now, not for the pacifist’s reason, but because if you ask me to loan you my car to go to the store, and you drive right by the store and proceed to Vegas, I will rebuke you and doubt your word in anything else. I will not, as Hannity does, hang in there with you truth or lie, right or wrong. And that does not make me a bad American. (Hannity regularly calls those he agrees with, such as Ollie North, G. Gordon Liddy, Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, or Charlie Daniels, “Great Americans.”)

The Religious Right are republican, and as I said earlier, I agree with their moral stances on certain Christian issues, i.e. abortion, sexual purity, gay rights issues, self-protection etc. However, there are other moral issues, too. Jesus commanded us to care for the poor, and parentless, and to show compassion for the weak, but I don’t see them crusading about that. It is often said that the (late) Falwells, and such tend to love the fetus and hate the baby. This seems to be true.

It appears that the Religious Right say all the religiously right things. But when I see you in the street, or in the store after church, or in your schools, or dating your daughters, your actions and glares tell the TRUE story. Your faith has a loud, powerful-sounding motor, but no transmission! You say that you love the Lord, and follow His tenets, but your lives rat you out. You say racist things, you think racist thoughts, you live apart from any unlike you. On purpose. You go to all White churches, send your kids to all White schools, if at all, join all White country clubs (are there any other kind?), and live in all White suburbs. I know whereof I speak: I am the only Black man on my street!

When you close your bibles, and speak on political, social matters, you begin to sound like a party full of Archie Bunkers. You eschew government programs clearly designed to help the poor, neglecting to notice that there are more White folk on welfare than Black folk, and you talk about quotas as though someone made you eat mud. You take your kids from schools that get too Black, and you defund them and wonder why Black kids are undereducated. I have even heard some of you, in true Bunkerian fashion, dare to say that White men are the most discriminated against! REALLY?!

So you get profiled, and shot 51 times while unarmed, and targeted for predatory loans?

YOU have to ask permission to sit under a tree, and get charged for attempted murder for a school fight, too?

Oh. Is this about a JOB you didn’t get?! Is that all?! You know how many jobs I didn’t get?  ALL of ’em! Except for the busboy job, or the stockboy job. You’ve got the world at your FEET! You know how long my WIFE has been trying to get a better job? And SHE graduated magna cum oh lawdy! Did YOU have to disguise, change, or alter YOUR name because it sounded too WHITE? Miss me with all your boo-hooing!

 Government programs, such as CETA, gave me, and countless other inner-city teens, jobs when I was a kid. That ended under the reign of the Great Reagan. That is just a fact. When I was young there were NO gangs in my city. Crime, drug abuse, and teenage pregnancy were anecdotal and not ubiquitous, as they are now. We had government mandated programs to provide us with the diversionary activity not needed by privileged republican children. That was one significant block in the Jenga pile that, when removed, began to topple Black youth. Republicans don’t like government programs.

 I’ll have to do another enitre post on Affirmative Action, but I’d like to ask an honest question. Give me an honest answer: How would you, Hannity, or Hannitite, propose to FAIRLY deal with the opportunity gap that has been in the very DNA of this nation since its inception? How do you propose to even up a race that has been going for generation after generation after generationaftergenerationaftergeneration? Someone whose father’s father’s grandfather was allowed to obtain a grant or land rights or inherited a plantation or a Harvard admission that allowed him to enrich his great-great grandchildren when my great-to the third power-grandfather couldn’t, by law, learn to read, or own a horse, or vote, or get a bank loan. Those are the cold hard facts. We are here now, all of us, and we have to figure out the best way to do things.

When you ignore the pus-filled, bleeding pimple on the nose on your face, and tell me to “Get over it! None of you were slaves,” you expose yourself as heartless and worse!

You know what? When Beaver Cleaver was going to school in an air-conditioned building, and learning from new, state of the art books and equipment, my mother was being taught by a woman who didn’t even finish high shcool, in a school in the weeds, with inadequate books, if any at all! This still happens to this very day! My grandfather “worked hard,” according to your simple formula, and HE didn’t get to live out the fulness of the American Dream. My mother had to watch him call eight-year-old White kids “Sir.”

My sister, an aviation major, had to endure having a flight instructor LIE and tell her that the plane in which she had to train in order to complete her flying hours for graduation was out of order for months. When we had a White woman call to request the same plane, he said, “Sure! When can you come in?” My sister is now an elementary school teacher. You want more? I got a million of ’em! 

It is a cold and heartless person who can look at this evidence and say that all that needs to be done is to hire the most qualified person regardless of race. By that reasoning, you know, Hannity, that the Haves will Get, and the HaveNots will Get Screwed! Being poor doesn’t equal being stupid. Those with none have the same capacity to learn and achieve if given a fair shot as those with everything.

One final point: Who do the racists vote for? Who do the KKK that vote, vote for? What party does David Dukes Claim? What was Strom Thurmond’s affiliation? After the civil right’s era? Stop someone with a rebel flag in their back window and ask them whether they voted for,

Bush or Clinton.

Clinton or Dole? 

Bush or Gore?

Bush or Kerry?

The prosecution rests. Racism and hypocrisy, like abortion, are dealbreakers.

I will not be voting alongside those who hate me! That would be the same as going to the Grand Wizard’s restaurant and orderin’ up a mess a’ fried chikken an’ greens! What would be the chances of my getting some added substances, some special sauce along with my order? I won’t vote for who the racists vote for, because their programs and such might cause harm to those who don’t share their hue. They might ignore real cases of racial mistreatment in order to feel good about themselves. Republicans don’t rock those kinds of boats. I will not look ahead in the line and find out that I and the disingenuous, dual-faced Hannity are buying the same items. 

I will not vote with those who claim Christ, but don’t SHOW Christ.

So, to my earlier question: Where is my party? How do I vote and maintain loyalty and integrity. I recognize the sacrifices made by those courageous forebears of mine. Blacks, of all Americans, have an obligation to vote. But what do I do? Independents are often irrelevant. How would Jesus vote? Would he align Himself with the baby-killers, or the racists? With the militant lesbian feminists, or the dispassionate Pharisaical hypocrites?

Where is the party of the morally upright (sex, crime, punishment, pro-life, family), fiscally sound (reasonable taxes, programs), socially compassionate (education, underprivileged compassion, racial fairness) American? Show me. Tell me. Write me.

 Before I close, I want to say that I attend a church that is iconoclastic in the sense that they tear down every negative stereotype about the interaction between Blacks and Whites! They are multi-racial, mostly White, and WONDERFUL! Our church has actively plunged into the torrid waters of racial reconciliation. They love me and I love them. They have almost made a liar out of me in this post, which is partly why I continually stated that I was generalizing. If the whole world were MY church, I dare say, we’d all be living just one floor below Heaven!

*Sean Combs, a hip-hop performer.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Abortion, Ann Coulter, Barack Obama, Christianity, Conservatives, Democrats, George Bush, God, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Liberals, Mike Huckabee, Political Correctness, Politics, Race, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Sean Hannity | 9 Comments

“Please Don’t Let Him Be Black!”

Thank you, Pac Man Jones.*

Thank you, Chris Henry.*

Thank you, Tank Johnson.* Thank you, Michael Vick.*Thank you, Ron Artest.**Thank you, Kobe.**

Thank you, gangsta rap.

Thank you, BET.

Thank you, video hoochies.***

Thank you all, and all you others that I forgot. Oh, yeah. Thank you, Flava Flav, and all of your “ladies.” YOU know what time it is…

I just wanted to thank you guys for all you’ve done to advance the worthy cause of racism today. We needed to keep those stereotypes and presuppositions going, and you all have done an exemplary job in keeping them alive and thriving! I love “fitting the profile!”

We ARE all sexually irresponsible criminals who only live to drink, drug, and dance. We can’t be faithful to our wives. We are all inappropriately loud, unraised, and devoid of decorum. We all drive and wear our net worth. We are all more violent and threatening than Vikings or Cossacks could have imagined.

What’s the use of talking through a disagreement when we can SMOKE**** a fool?! We are all wary of books and of education. If we had our choice, we would all either pimp women, or prostitute ourselves. Sex, money, crime and violence. That sums us up. Thanks, guys, for making sure no one forgot that.

I surely don’t want to hear that tired argument that the White man just plays up Black crime just to make us look bad. The White man didn’t make you drown dogs, or buy those guns, or get into all those strip club fights, or paralyze bouncers, or write those “lyrics,” or shake it in those porn-eos, or AIR them. You’ve got the receipt for that stuff!

The fact is that when you blame others for what is so clearly your own work, you make it nearly impossible to cry foul when racist acts do occur! How can I righteously rage against the Sean Hannitys of this country, who cloak and disguise bigotry with the flag, when they bask in the sunlight of stories like yours, revelling in the use of racist code language like “The Race Card?” As if all those years of slavery and Jim Crow, all they have wrought to this very day, can be boiled down to a card in a deck!

Thank you for making it so easy for me. I’m so popular nowadays. When I walk into a grocery store in a good (read: White) neighborhood, all those nice White people stare at me in awe, admiring my got-it-going-on-ness. The security people are so curious of my shopping habits that their cameras follow my every move!

When I shop for clothes or big ticket technological items, the salespeople are courteous enough to not bother me with questions or offers of assistance. They know I have the money to afford the merchandise, but they are kind enough to let me find what I need on my own.

Cops are so concerned about my well-being that when they see me, they make u-turns in traffic to ensure my safe arrival at home! They give me tickets to courtroom dramas, in which I get to play pivotal roles.

They’re so nice to us that when we kill each other, we get little, if any, jail time. And that’s if they even bother to investigate.

(I mean, who would care if all the mosquitoes or slugs wiped each other out?)

They’re so interested in our input that when a South Carolina woman drowns her kids, or when a Boston man shoots his wife, the cops round US up to hear what we think. That’s so thoughtful.

When I seek to buy a home, the real estate agents, knowing that birds of a feather need to live in the same cages, thankfully steer me away from those stuffy, boring, quiet neighborhoods. And they make sure that I get the good kind of financing that changes with the market so that I can get a better percentage rate later.

 Dey sho looks out fa me!

Thank you Al, Jesse, and all the Supreme Black Thinkers for shifting the focus. Thank you for blaming the White Man while the seventy percent baby-mama rate goes unlamented, uncrusaded.

Thank you for ignoring the astroromical dropout rate.

Thank you for showing up (rightfully so) when a cop does something wrong, but giving only weak kool-aid lip service to Black-on-Black cultural, and actual, genocide.

In terms of number of offenses, you dump an ocean on a lit match, and spit on a wildfire!

We don’t need our “dirty laundry” aired publically anyway. All those gang killings and drive-bys will thankfully continue to go unnoticed. The wider society would get a wrong notion of who we are if we marched and protested about all of the murdered school children and innocent bystanders.

Thank you ”leaders” for raising all that noise about Don Imus, instead! We know who our real enemies are. “WE can kill each other by the thousands, but a White man bett’ not even SAY nothin’!”

Keep on keepin’ it real!

I truly believe that, although only God could get them to admit it, there are those in law enforcement, on television, and in my own neighborhood, who want us all either in jail, in graves, or in Africa! But overt racism is no longer chic, and has thus gone COvert. I am not a fool. I live it.

Do you think that even the CHURCH, the last bastion of accepted segregation, would be so if that were not the case? Even those who (falsely) claim Christ don’t want us around them.

The aforementioned Sean Hannity, and many of his conservative contemporaries claim to be fair, but try every other option rather than admitting a single case of racist behavior.

(The thing these conservatives seem to “conserve” most is compassion. They need to be more liberal with the love!)

“Oh, it’s out there, but it’s rare. The great Dr. Martin Luther King cured it!” Well, why is it that I see it so often, when I’M the one they try to hide it from? Wouldn’t they logically display it to “one of their own,” believing him to be of like mind?

Regardless of your selfish, irresponsible acts, guys, “they” who would degrade you will do so anyway. They will laugh at your lips, noses, and skin color. They will belittle your accomplishments. They will still deny you job opportunities. They will still not want us in their neighborhoods, schools, and stores. They will still see us all as shiftless, unteachable criminals out to rape all the women. They don’t need reasons to hate us, but you all continually hand them excuses to point the finger.

Thank you for giving a bat to a head-beater! (obviously, I am speaking here of racists, not everyone.)

Yes, I know what atrocities occurred to get us where we are. Black folk are not intrinsically dumb, or project-prone. There is a reason why we always end up being the porters, busboys, dishwashers, maids, cooks, sharecroppers, garbage men, ditch-diggers, country club servants, defendants, laborers, bathroom attendants(!), and custodians.(yes, we can get  some other jobs, but we are the only ones who get these!) We want good educations. We want to live in tree-lined communities. But SOMETHING has kept us from “the good life” as a norm, and it ain’t laziness!

This is not about transferring blame, though. This is about realizing that, like it or not, fair or unfair, groups of people are judged by their negatives. For minorities, Black folk in particular, this fact means that the fullest measure of the “American Dream” is not achieveable for the whole. We have to speak better, know more, work harder, and act more civilly because each misstep affects the perception and opportunity of, and for, the group.

(Yes, we have it harder. If you don’t think so, go to the ghetto and look at all those poor children and try to believe that they did something to be born there. They are just the current link in a loooong chain. Their starting line is MILES behind even poor White kids.)

I know that you fellas don’t care about that fact. You don’t give a… HOOT what White folks think about you! But because you don’t, the burden is made heavier for the rest of us. We care to have an accurate assessment made of our character. We don’t want to be measured by your rule. We are tired of being embarrassed by your uncouth actions. We are tired of hoping the “perp” isn’t Black when the news comes on. I don’t want my child, or yours, to suffer because of what you have done.

You get stuck with the pin, and I feel the pain.

Christian love is thinking first of the next man.

Quit being selfish and show some personal responsibility!

THANK you.

*NFL player

**NBA player

***Spectacularly endowed, sparsely-clad women of nebulous morality.

****Shoot, kill.

July 25, 2007 Posted by | Al Sharpton, Crime, Current Events, Jesse Jackson, Personal Responsibility, Race, Racism, Sean Hannity, Segregated Church, Sports | 8 Comments

Words. They make a STATEMENT!

“Words are the most powerful human force in the universe.”I know that that is not a statement dripping in profundity, but sometimes the most powerful Truths are the most simple. A genius in a wheelchair can cripple a strongman with a well-turned insult.A word as simple as ”What,” can cut a parent, husband, or wife swiftly and cleanly through sinew and bone straight to the heart easily enough to make a scalpel seem like a wet sock.

Had I, as a child, uttered that word in response to a summons from either of my parents, I truly would not be here to write this blog. At best, I would not be a whole man. (Words are so strong that my critics will feel justified in completely ignoring the hyperbole implicit in that statement and accusing my parents of murder or, at least, assault and battery)

In that way, and NOT the magical, mystical misinterpreted sense of some popular preachers (Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen, Oral Roberts, Juanita Bynum), ”There is life and death in the power of the tongue!”

If my wife innocently calls my name while I’m watching a game and I reply with a sharp, ”What!?,” the bells I’ll hear ringing in my head won’t be from the sublime soundtrack of my life! I’m only joking, but I know that that is probably the reality of some of you readers. For you, the ringing will mean that it is next week and you can go ahead and get up off the floor.

Kids, in only four or five years of study– less time than it takes one to get through medical school or seminary training– can become expert enough at the use of words to scar their little playmates forever. They are cruel urchins unencumbered by the burdens of tactfulness and decorum. Who among you doesn’t still feel the slightest twinge of anguish at the memory of that cute girl telling you, from above her nose ,

“Uhhh! Naw, I don’t wanna GO wit chu!!!” Or of a kid in your neighborhood telling you,

”Those shoes outta style, an’ you wore that shirt yesterday. You can’t afford no new stuff, ‘cuz yo daddy ain’t got no job, an’ y’all on food stamps, an’ y’all lights always gittin’ cut off!”

And Lord help the one who had the nerve or dubious judgment to say, ”Thass ya MAMA!”

 At least, that’s the way it was for Black folk! SOMEbody was gonna catch a mouth full of folded up fingers!

In all of those cases, the proper choice of words would have wrought a different outcome. Words have gotten me into fights and arguments, and they have saved me from getting stabbed or fired.

A well-placed, unsolicited, ”I love you” can carry a person through a lifetime. It doesn’t cost a thing to tell someone ”Thank you.” Call a friend or relative out of the blue and say some nice things about them- genuinely- and watch the blessing that follows. Don’t use harsh words with your spouse, use EFFECTIVE words. There is a difference.

Stop your kids from ”talking crazy” to you, for they WILL carry that behavior with them elsewhere.

This country, America, has a history which is stained indelibly by the fact that some people chose -choose- to believe that they were- are- intrinsically superior to any others. See how I used words to dance deftly around the word, ”racism”? There are many words used in our language to slur, slander, demean and diminish those of other races. We all know them, and many of us use them. (The funny thing is that all who do still consider themselves “good people”) These words, uttered by the wrong person at the wrong time, will drag the needle across the record and stop the party!

I have been victimized in often subtle ways by the negative application of words of this fashion. It is a strange feeling to go through life knowing that a group of people with the most power often use that power to press into the mud the faces of those who look different. Words are usually the conveyance of that action.

While nowadays overt gestures are frowned upon, the words are still alive:

“He is so articulate.”

”He is a naturally gifted athlete.”

”We have already rented that property.”

”Blacks were the first here, in an evolutionary sense. 

And as the species developed, intelligence increased.”

“Yes, Mr. Williams, let me show you the radio in this new Cadillac!” I could, of course, go on and on…

Language. A beautiful, ingenious concept. The ability to do more than make indecipherable gestures and grunts to communicate with each other, and we choose to use it to attempt to crush the esteem and Godly image of those with whom we live. Simple words. A collection of letters and a group of sounds combined to either uplift or enrage. They can bring unexpressable joy, or unbearable despair.

The engine of politics and international diplomacy is the spoken word. Every single letter is parsed with achingly tedious detail. Words determine war or peace, amity or enmity. Tone and context are only of minor import when held up next to what was SPOKEN. They won’t care what you meant, only what you said.

Athletes, often unaware of the dangers inherent in public speaking, fall prey to unscrupulous reporters (the new ”lawyers”?) itching only to stoke the embers of controversy. They wind up with a twisted quote attached to them for life.

Said Charles Barkley; “I am NOT a role model.”

What I heard was, ”Parents, be your kids’ role models. Don’t let them admire some athlete or musician more than they do you! Teach them the value of hard work and education.”

What every sports reporter (Jay Marriotti, Skip Bayless, Jim Gray, etc.) heard Barkley say was, ”I will do WHATEVER I wanna do, and I don’t care about what no KIDS think about it!”

What l’m saying is; Think long and hard about what you say before you say it, and make sure that you can convey EXACTLY what you mean to. Don’t give anyone the power to twist your words into something else. Don’t say what you don’t mean to say.

Learn to use language, like currency, to your advantage. Learn to turn a phrase, or cleverly construct an argument.  To young , Black kids I would say, “There is no shame in being well-read.” I would love to get to the point where I don’t hide all my pin numbers and money in books when I leave the house, because the OLD adage no longer applies!”*

As I said to my wife once upon having used a word the meaning of which she did not know, “You gotta go where the WORDS are!” She laughed. I hope you did, too.

Words are free but valuable. They flow like rivers, fluidly, endlessly. Sometimes safe to use, sometimes not. But never to be wasted. They are to be saved and calculated. Prudently utilized. God will check our accounts when we meet Him. Shall we pour them all out carelessly in caustic showers upon the heads and hearts of those with whom we share this existence?

Words can be chosen like clothes from a closet, and the more of them you know, the more options you have at your command. The more of them you know, the more hues and shades you can use to color your conversation. The more wisely you choose them the more accurate impression you can make. Choose your words as though they were the shirt, jacket, and tie you wear at a job interview or on a date. Clothes don’t make the man, WORDS make the man.

* That adage being that Black folk won’t ever crack open a book.

July 19, 2007 Posted by | Charles Barkley, Creflo Dollar, Encouragement, Humor, Joel Osteen, Juanita Bynum, Language, Parenting, Political Correctness, Politics, Race, Racism, Respect, Semantics, Word of Faith, Words | Leave a comment

Fried Chicken: The Ugly Girlfriend of Foods

White folks like chicken, too.

And watermelon.

And “Catlacks.” * Don’t be fooled.KFC, Popeye’s, Church’s, and Mrs. Winners (hmmm, must not be a feminist) didn’t come into business just to serve the Black man’s love of friiied chick’n! I have stood in line behind many of my caucasian brethren in thesehallo-wed establishments.We kept the jheri curl industry alive on our own, but we need some help with the chicken.

And White folks with the cacciatore and the cordon bleu and the cornish hens step up to the plate with no shame.

So, I reject the shame of that stereotype and order that fried or grilled or baked yardbird proudly every chance I get.  In broad daylight.

I still have to deal with myself about the watermelon and the bro-ham**, though.

Seriously, this is what racism does to us here in America; we are stigmatized for enjoying good stuff, too.

Everything ends up being a putdown.

*Cadillac.

**Brougham, a type of Cadillac.

July 12, 2007 Posted by | Humor, Race, Racism | Leave a comment

TURN LOOSE THAT MICROPHONE!

TOO MANY PEOPLE HAVE A VOICE

Everybody has a forum today, and many of them don’t deserve it. And, yes, I DO taste the irony in my mouth… Everybody has a mic in his mouth and a camera in his face speaking his opinions and attitudes and predilections to the world, changing the idea of what is acceptable.
We — Blacks– are marketing a version of ourselves to the world that is distorted and degraded. We aren’t ALL about sangin and daincin and runnin and jumpin, which IS beautiful. We have surgeons and mechanics and pilots and programmers. But prison, gang life, and “skrip clubs”* are the prevailing images we present. We appear to be childishly materialistic and distressingly carnal.
We, like all cultures, have a well-rounded array of attributes to offer the world. Sadly, though, our entertainment-obsessed society refuses to be distracted long enough to notice anything except all the “Mantanning.” Just as the internet was immediately commandeered by porn-peddlers and identity thieves, hip-hop, once upbeat and promising, has been given over to the basest of human behavior in a relatively short time. As the beats got better, the content got darker. And I don’t want to hear that, “lt’s no different than ‘The Godfather’ ” argument! Marlon Brando never got into a fight with Robert DeNiro at the Academy Awards. John Wayne’s security never shot Kirk Douglas’ “manager” over some beef about who was the baddest fake gunslinger. Theirs was truly just MAKE BELIEVE!
Okay, you have a forum, now. Don’t use it to glorify the aspects of ghetto life that everyone generally wants to escape. Why is that not a fair request? Drug infestation, sexual irresponsibility, high crime, illiteracy…. What is good about any of this?

”If I wasn’t rappin’, I’ll probly be in jail.”

Nowadays, with the glorification of prison life I don’t see where that would be seen as a bad thing! Why not be in the midst of that which you glorify? Sagging pants, tattoos, untied shoes, ”down-low” brothahood, all these trends are said to come from jail. Prison chic. Whoda thunk it? What do you expect, though, with more brothers in jail or on probation than in college?
Let’s just get this straight: Ain’t NUTHIN cool about jail. If you wanna do something that proves how hard you are, join the Marines or go to Africa and kill a lion with a knife. Or marry the girl you impregnated, and stay there and raise freekin’ citizens! At least then, you wouldn’t have to worry about getting shanked in the throat or being raped or being forced to braid hair in a halter-top!
Another thing, everybody “on lock” ain’t a political doggone prisoner! Some people in jail actually did it! They ain’t all heroes or victims of racism (some are, to be sure). Let’s worry about rehabbing and returning to society with a positive story to tell. Prove to your people that you didn’t deserve to go, or that you regret what you did. Then you would be truly respected. As it is now, I don’t want my kids being role-modeled by some cat with a prison mentality.

“lf l wasn’t rappin’, l’ll probly be climbing through your window.”

And if l heard you, you’d probably be getting shot! Just kidding. No, l ain’t. So, your point is…? That if it weren’t for us giving you platinum chains, 22 inch rims, and a boat, you would just take what WE have? What makes that a cool thing to say? How does that make me wanna say, “Ooh, l gotta go get that ‘Gangstafied’ cd, cuz he so HORD! I gotta keep him paid so he don’t jack nobody.” So, you get it from us one way or another… l admire strength and power, too, but l want to know that a person has some artistic integrity before l go out and spend what l earned on him. People spend their food money on a lot of this trash, and all they get in return is a mind full of rotten potatoes and used baby diapers masquerading as art.
Kids who can barely speak (toddlers AND teens) quote this musical iodine like Scripture, talking about pimpin’ and stripping techniques and drug transactions and prison sentences.
But they can’t write a sentence!
The videos are so explicit, that I feel I need to put a trench coat on before I watch them. I’m not a Puritan, or a prude, but sex belongs in a context – a category – and a music video is not it. I don’t go to “skrip” clubs, or solicit prostitutes, or violate my marriage vows. Not because I’m so good and pure, but because I’m tethered to a Standard way higher than my own ability keep from to slipping and falling prey to my weaknesses. Stop pouring grease on a wet floor!

”If I wasn’t rappin’, I’ll probly still be sellin’ drugs. Thass how I paid f’ my firss album.”

Well. That’s cool to know. Selling drugs. At least you’re not perpetuating any STEREOTYPES and making it hard for me to, say, drive my nice car through a White neighborhood! Matter of fact, l can’t even BUY the car l like because that’s the one the ‘dope boys’ drive. What you do now is no different than selling drugs, anyway. The wanton, glorified violence and irresponsible sexuality you peddle is probably more insidious. And it is just as addictive and generally devoid of hope and purpose.
The “Not My Problem” rationale you employ so lamely is the same as the dealer’s:
“Iss the parent’s responsibility.” lt’s so obvious you heard somebody else say that.
“If you got a prahlem wit it, turn the channel.” To what? it’s everywhere! I can’t even watch a sitcom without hearing cursing! And every month, a new word gets admitted. Pretty soon, the only reason to watch pay TV will be to see snuff films and executions. Am I to be expected to walk through life blindfolded to keep from being offended? Is it now MY responsibility to sidestep your un-scooped poop?
“If l wasn’t givin’ it to ’em, SOMEbody would.”
But, why does it have to be YOU?
Well, take your ample share of the responsibility and wear it proudly. Wear proudly the fact that in so short a time, we have gone from martyrs in a righteous cause to the office joke. From glowing accomplishments to debauchery, from jazz to sequenced ignorance, from scatting to Ebonics. Be proud that in a community on the precipice of collapse, where practically NO one has a father, where children learn nothing in the way of discipline and order, where all they learn from the outside world is of the excess and permissiveness of the majority, where their souls are hemorrhaging at the brink of extinction, be proud that rather than help stop the bleeding, you instead rummage through their pockets taking what little hope they have left. The lessons they learn, YOU teach them, for you are all they hear. Your foul lyrics are the words to their too short life stories. “Selfish” is way too soft a word for what you do to your own people, your FAMILY, in a sense. And don’t bother thanking God for your “Shake it Like it’s Hot Up in Here” award, unless you mean to thank Him for not smiting you for producing so much gabbage! Don’t say you love Jesus for your material blessings, because HE said that,”What you do to the least of these, you do to ME.” Marinate on THAT!
And now ain’t the time to talk about what the White Man did. The White Man didn’t cause the over 70% out of wedlock birth rate or the outrageous murder rate. The White man didn’t tell you to drop out, or to not read a BOOK! He didn’t force the production of gangsta rap or the glorification of thug life. Nope, the Blame the White Man peg, sometimes justified, won’t fit in THIS hole. We did this one to ourselves. Deal with it. Change it. And GIVE that durn microphone to somebody who has something to SAY!

*Strip Clubs

July 2, 2007 Posted by | Art, Celebrity, Fame, Gangsta Rap, Hip-Hop, Music, Personal Responsibility, Race | 3 Comments

FOR THE RECORD

Let me say this For The Record: I completely disagree with mistreatment of anyone based on a belief or way of living. If my opinion differs with yours on a subject, don’t falsely label me as a basher, or a hater, or a ‘phobe. My beliefs prohibit me from any prejudice or hatred or such. My beliefs, however, absolutely REQUIRE me to not fall in line with behaviors antithetical to those beliefs, and if something you read here offends you, understand that my words do not stem from hatred and are not designed to communicate such. I am allowed to agree or disagree with whatever I choose to, and to express said opinion. At times, maybe at all times, it will appear as though I am pointing my finger and lecturing. The way I feel is that one can only be a passive passenger for so long, and this vehicle is to the left of the double yellow line and headed for a semi. Urgency requires that I speak up. If someone told me the things I will tell you (and someone has), I would listen. So, please listen. That being said, those inclined to contort the context of these opinions for whatever reason are requested to REFER TO THIS ENTRY before doing so.
I Believe;

The Bible is inerrant AND infallible. Read those words CLOSELY! I did NOT say there are not bad translations.

Homosexuality is STILL a sin, but not the unforgivable sin. I neither hate nor fear you. But l won’t lie to you.

Sex outside of marriage is wrong.

Spanking (whuppin’) kids is not, in itself, abuse. Neither is saying ‘no’.

“Timeout” is a joke.

Abortion is the killing of a baby, and not about the woman, but the baby. It is a human rights issue, not a woman’s rights issue.

I didn’t evolve from a single-celled organism.

God made me Black, so I love it, just as much as the Dutch or the Italians love their heritage and culture. No sin in that.

Our ice is just as cold as White folks’ ice.

Even though there are Whites in this country who want nothing more than our destruction, we Black folk are often our worst enemy. No one gets a free pass.

Christianity is the Christians FIRST loyalty, therefore mine.

Racism and racial prejudice are wrong, and still exist.

I think our history is largely responsible for the plight of the Black poor, BUT we have no right to marinate in that reality and be socially irresponsible on so many distressing levels.

The ”Christian Right” don’t do much, if anything, to heal racial wounds.
Neither do ”Black Leaders.”

Homosexuality and Blackness are not equal. Race is not a way of behaving. It can AT LEAST be argued that homosexuality is a way of thinking, feeling, or acting. The act is a sin. And I don’t hate you in saying this, so don’t shout at me.

Democrats AND Republicans make me equally sick. Really.

Just as all photography isn’t pornography, all hip-hop isn’t trash. But probably most of it is now. Rap, in and of itself, is no more insidious than singing. What is being done with it? Does a thing get to be art just because someone calls it art? Is my son’s dirty diaper art when I frame it? The beats are funky, though. So don’t kill me…
Messengers should not be shot. Or stabbed, or kicked, or shunned. Those who would do so will be exposed as simply trying to suppress dissenting opinion through intimidation. I love you all. MaxDaddy

June 27, 2007 Posted by | Abortion, Art, Christianity, evolution, FOR OPENERS, Hip-Hop, Homosexuality, Immorality, Marriage, Morality, Music, Parenting, Politics, Race, Racism, Religion, Respect, Sexuality, Spanking, The Bible | 1 Comment