Monthly Archives: September 2016

A New Day

11:57 PM

Just three minutes left, the day’s end rapidly approaches. I’ll allow myself one last look back to mourn what was lost but also to rejoice at what was gained. But only a moment will I take because a new day is dawning and my canvass is blank.

11:58 PM

Only two minutes left and uncertainty is all around. What will the new day bring? What if I’m not ready and does it really matter if I am or not? It does not matter move ahead I must because a new day is dawning and my canvass is blank.

New day

 

11:59 PM

Now less than a minute to go the countdown has begun. Ten seconds nine seconds, it is time to pick up my brush their is no looking back now, no fear of what lays ahead, no time to waste because a new day is dawning and my canvass is blank.

12:00 AM

Midnight! Time to let my mind run free, let my dreams be my guide, My brush grazes the canvass and it is no longer blank, it starts to come to life. There are no rules now, no boundaries on what it can be only what my mind may think and where my dreams dare say I can go.

A new day has dawned and my canvass is no longer blank.

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We as a country will forever be divided…Until

Another shooting. Another unarmed person of color killed. Another night of unrest. The racial divide continues to grow. Yet here’s what the dimwits who dismiss the protests taking place in the NFL and other places as nonsense and disrespectful or who say to those who do protest if you don’t love this flag get out, still don’t get. It’s not about respect for America it’s about demanding America live up to what it is suppose to be, what it was founded on. In theory if not practice in 1776.

I’m a 50 year old African American who:

Loves both humanity as a whole and America as my country.

Who respects and is grateful to the police and the job they do everyday to keep me and those around me safe.

Who has never been in any kind of trouble with the law.

Yet anytime I see a police car in my rear view mirror there is a sense of anxiety that comes over me as a person of color because at that moment I don’t know who’s in that car and what their intentions may be. That’s a feeling if you are not a person of color you nor your children will ever have to deal with and if you’re not a person of color is something you should be grateful for because the reality is it’s something people of color and their children always have to deal with.

Simply put:

Until we stop telling people to turn a blind eye, chant USA, wrap yourself in the flag and assume that 100% of the police shootings in America are justified.

Until we understand that it’s the principle this country was founded on, we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, not the flag itself that is what is worth defending and worth dying for.

Until we understands there is a problem with race in this country that isn’t going to get better by ignoring it but rather by having an open and honest discussion that leads to real solutions.

Until we stop pushing the false narrative that by calling for justice and the removal of the few rotten eggs that smear the reputation of the hundred of thousands of men and women of all ethnicities in blue who put their lives on the line to keep us safe is not an attack on the police but rather on those racist individual who simply put on but do not deserve to wear the uniform.

Until we start to do these things we as a country will forever be divided.

Never Forget – Our Four Little Girls

Four days ago we remembered and honored the men and women who lost their lives in a callous and evil terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. One of the mantras of the day was never forget. Why do we remember such sorrowful moments? Because it is part of our history, the events of that day while tragic will forever play a role in who we are today. But it is also so we remember the past so that history does not repeat its mistakes. Fifty three years ago today another horrific terrorist attack shook the very foundation of this nation when on the morning of September 15, 1963 an explosion ripped through the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four little girls, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Carol Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14), were killed in the attack. Like 9/11 we must never forget our four little girls taken from us, simply because of the color of the skin, before they had a chance to live their lives. While it is true in the subsequent 53 years since that tragic Sunday we have as a nation made many strides, so much so that 45 years after Governor George Wallace who just one week before the bombing had stoked the fire of racisms and hatred when he said in a New York Times interview, he believed Alabama needed a “few first-class funerals” to stop racial integration we elected our nation’s first African American President. But there can be no denying we have a long road still ahead. It was only little over a year ago that Dylann Roof walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina and killed 9 people. His motivation? His support of racial segregation in the United States and his intended to start a civil war. Today the NYT released a poll that showed that Donald Trump was in a virtual tie with Hilary Clinton. This is a candidate who has run the most racially divisive presidential campaign in recent history. Whose campaign rallies routinely have supporters who spew racial expletives while wrapping themselves in the American flag. Yes we’ve come along way since that Sunday in 1963 but we still have a long way to go and that’s why we must never forget September 15, 1963 and our four little girls.

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Heroes rush in

It has been said “Heroes are made by the path they choose, not the power they are graced with.” On September 11, 2001 thousands of NYC first responders choose to rush into the danger others were fleeing, many did not come back. We remember them today along with the thousands of innocent souls they were rushing in to save, all taken from us far to soon by hatred and evil. Let us pray that one day we come together as human beings so that we never know the sorrow of that day again.

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Maybe in the next life

For the longest I wondered what if I had walked away from that last argument. Would things have been different? Would we still be together? The answer of course is no. Maybe we would have stayed together another day, a week, maybe a month but the end was as inevitable as the start. Drawn to each other, needing each other really for our own separate and selfish reasons. We were destined to be together, but we weren’t destined to stay together. We were lovers before we had a chance to lay a foundation to build on, to become best friends. Without that it was easy to take each other for granted, to push our own wants and needs to the front of the line. No one would ever confuse our relationship as being built on compromise. Yet there was something there wasn’t there? Something that even long lasting relationships don’t have. An electricity between us, an aura, that distinctive quality that seemed to surround and be generated by us being together. You could feel it, other could sense it, the way they would look at us it was clear that two of us together were something special. But love does not last based on an aura. Love last when two people put in the time and effort to keep it alive. An even if two people truly do love each other if they don’t put in that effort the aura will dim, the love will fade. For us the effort was simply not there. It wasn’t our destiny to stay together, not in this life. But maybe our souls will cross in a future life and we’ll get it right as I suspect we have done in past lives. Destiny simply can not be denied.

Silence does not equal Patriotism

Love it or leave it. So has gone the refrain from many in response to San Francisco Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest of sitting for the National Anthem. Kaepernick has stated that “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kapernick isn’t the first and he won’t be the last high profile athlete of color to speak out against the treatment of people of color in America and while you can choose to agree or disagree with the matter in which he chooses to protest you cannot voice displeasure with his right to protest and simultaneously say you stand for the principles on which this country was built.

“If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.”— George Washington, first U.S. president

The crux of the public outcry over Kaepernick’s protest centers around his patriotism and as an extension the patriotism of those who support him, especially those in the African-American community. Lost in the uproar of Kaepernick’s decision to sit for the National Anthem are the very real concerns that triggered his decision in the first place, central among them police brutality. Anyone that has read my blog knows that I have the upmost respect for law enforcement and the job they perform every day. You also know that I recognize that the police department is an institution like any other and is therefore susceptible to have with-in its ranks a few bad apples. Regrettably we have seen that the abuses of those bad apples disproportionately impact communities of color. To remain silent or to condemn those who speak out on these issues neither shows bravery nor can be seen as a sign of support to the police departments across the country as silence only emboldens the few evildoers and devalues the good accomplished by the many. In the case of police brutality those among us who do speak up do not do so to see police departments across America dismantled or police officers targeted. Rather it is because we believe that the institution of policing is one that is better than to allow itself to be sullied by those who do not deserve to wear the uniform and when those who abuse their power are allowed to continue that abuse because of the silence of the masses we become despondent at the system in general.

“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
― H.L. Mencken

Now there are those of you who will say – Ok I hear you but sitting for the Anthem? Dishonoring the flag? There has to be a better way to get your point across? To me no matter how you slice it Kaepernick’s actions and those who support those actions are unpatriotic? Maybe one could see it that way until you recognize that the African-American experience in this country is a unique one and patriotism is part of that unique experience. We did not leave our homeland seeking a better life for ourselves and our families rather we were taken forcibly from our home and brought to this “new world” in chains landing on the shores of Jamestown in 1619 as slaves and remaining as such for 246 years until 1865. During that period our history, our language, our culture, our very identity were all stripped from us. Today we cannot look to a specific country and call it home rather we can only look to the African continent as a whole and wonder who and what we once were. With our culture robbed from us we forged a new culture, a new identity here in America. Everything the African American is today is born of this country. One could say more than any other group, save the American Indian, America is OUR country and time and time again we have shown that by putting our lives on the line to defend her. In fact we are the only people to fight for the right to put our lives on the line in defense of this country.

When we were slaves, when our men were beaten, our women raped, and our families ripped apart and sold off as property we fought for this country’s independence.

When we were freed from the bonds of slavery but still denied basic fundamental rights supposedly guaranteed to all men in this country such as education and the right to vote we fought for this country.

When were held down by the institution of Jim Crow and terrorized by groups like the Ku Klux Klan we fought for this country.

We fought and we did so with one simple belief, that despite all we have endured this country, OUR country, would one day live up to its promise, live up to the words on which it was based – that all men are created equal.

“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” – James Baldwin

The subjects of racism, discrimination, police brutality, etc. may make some uncomfortable. Some may want to quietly turn a blind eye to them. But there will always be the brave who rather than standing for the status quo will use the freedom of speech afforded to them in this country to push America to live up to her promise to treat all men and women as equals. It is after all the patriotic thing to do.