50 Days to 50 Years: Day 28, Happy Independence Day!

4 07 2016

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.”
― Thomas Paine

Despite the horrid events of late, and all that is wrong in our political and social processes, I am still grateful to have been born in the U.S.A., and proud to be an American. You want my opinion on those two other things, go look at my page at Communities Digital News or some of my posts here from years past. Today is a day to honor the establishment of the United States as a free nation, and to commemorate our Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, when said document was first read to the people.

Freedom isn’t free. It is bought and paid for by those who have the courage to stand for it. Every point of freedom I possess today was paid for by someone: from Crispus Attucks, to Harriet Tubman, to Frederick Douglass, to Ida B. Wells, to Martin Luther King, Jr., a price was rendered, and a sacrifice was made. What I find most tragic is many of today’s young people go in one of two directions: they either consider the day simply about fireworks and barbecues, or they rail against celebration or denigrate the U.S. because of the dishonest and twisted claptrap they learned in the public school system or a liberal college environment. Yeah, I said it; what they learned is no better than the whitewashed or sterling accounts about the U.S.A. peddled in certain conservative and right-wing circles.

Part of the reason for the social and political ills mentioned earlier is that many people have abdicated their freedoms for security, ease, and perpetual entertainment. Others spend their lives fighting battles that have nothing to do with life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness and wonder why they are unhappy and nothing ever changes. The two likely nominees of both parties are a clear indication that we have lost our moral compass and are far to easily swayed by pablum and promises. But I digress….

I pray a generation emerges that has the courage to right the ship. But while we still have some freedoms left, I choose to celebrate the reason why we can.

Here is the preamble to the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

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Illustrating Absurdity: Rachel Dolezal wins the “WTF” award

12 06 2015

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This is a comedy sketch that’s writing itself. Rachel Dolezal, head of the Spokane chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. has been “passing” as black. She was born Caucasian and raised by two white parents who apparently grew tired of her deception—so they’ve outed her.

I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

Armed with pictures and a birth certificate, Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal are taking to newspapers, cable and network news shows to let the world know this Black activist who has filed police reports about nine different hate crimes perpetrated against her, who is touted as an academic expert on African-American culture, and teaches African-American studies classes at Eastern Washington University is their estranged daughter who is… white.

After the obvious jokes and the laughter subsides, you then start to think about how many people this fraudulence hurts, not in the least her Caucasian parents.

I explore the role of the feckless N.A.A.C.P. in this mess, and social media reaction over at Communities Digital News: The self-loathing Rachel Dolezal marks the irrelevant N.A.A.C.P.’s demise.

In the meantime, listen to her seemingly shell shocked parents talk about the daughter who has rejected them and her race, because #whitelivesdontmatter.





Black History Month 2015: Condoleezza Rice

10 02 2015

“Race is a constant factor in American life. Yet reacting to every incident, real or imagined, is crippling, tiring, and ultimately counterproductive.” Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice grew up in the Jim Crow South, so she knows of what she speaks when she talks about reacting to every incident of racism and marginalization. As the first female African-American National Security Adviser, and the first African-American female Secretary of State, she was constantly criticized by her own people because she chose to be a Republican and part of the administration of an unpopular president, and also because she refuses to play the victim.

The so-called civil rights protesters and #BlackLivesMatter activists could stand to take a page from her book. In my article, #BlackLivesMatter–a hashtag bandaid over the gaping wounds of Black problems, I posit:

“Protesting is an American right, whether over social media or done in an orderly fashion as is happening now in the cities of New York, Boston and Chicago over the Garner decision. Here is the problem: it is not Blacks being targeted by a white, militaristic police system or a justice system that is fatally flawed. It is Blacks’ devaluation of their own lives and the refusal to deal with systemic issues in urban communities.

“Had #BlackLivesMatter remained a consistent mantra over the last 50 years, we would not have the fatherlessness, crime, and poverty that perpetuate the vicious cycle of violence, excessive policing, and loss of life.

“Enough Black leaders have pointed to poverty, lack of fathers, and the street culture as causations. So why do we keep harping on race and an “other”, rather than truly addressing what we have pinpointed is the true problem?”

Read more here at Communities Digital News.





Black History Month 2015: Zora Neale Hurston

5 02 2015

zora-neale-hurston

“It would be against all nature for all the Negroes to be either
at the bottom, top, or in between. We will go where the internal drive carries us like everybody else. It is up to the individual.”

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora is one of my favorite writers. Her language is beautiful, uplifting, elegant, and scarcely seen in modern literature. Literacy across the board is becoming a thing of the distant past, much to the detriment of of our people.

I explore this a bit more over at Communities Digital News, Black History Month 2015: Let’s promote a return to literacy:

“Sadly, the richness of literacy exhibited by her and her contemporaries—like Langston Hughes, who would have been 113 this week—is sorely lacking in today’s literature. Do our young people even know the names of these and other great writers, or the titles of their works? If the crisis in our culture is any indication, we are failing our children by starving them of the substantive words and sweeping vision of great writers while spoon-feeding them the steady pabulum of gangster rap and reality television.”

Read more here.





Black History Month 2015: Harriet Tubman

2 02 2015

harriet-tubman

“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand
more if only they knew they were slaves
.
-Harriet Tubman

This famous quote by the “Black Moses” could well be applied today. The chains of slavery are evident in the mind, attitudes and allegiances of our race, and are being reflected in the lack of leadership and focus in the modern civil rights movement:

“Seeing the power, presence, and passion of Dr. King artfully portrayed by actor David Oyelowo, as well as the re-enactment of the give and take between Ralph Abernathy and Andrew Young of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and John Lewis of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, merely spotlights the total lack of conviction or moral authority in the civil rights movement of today. In place of an intelligent, articulate, and anointed Dr. King, we have the mush-mouthed Al Sharpton, and the empty bumper sticker slogans of “No Justice, No Peace,” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Dr. King is flipping in his grave.”

Read the rest at my Communities Digital News column: Martin Luther King Day, Selma, and the moral scarcity in modern-day civil rights.





In My Orbit: the legacy of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

16 08 2013
Over 200,00 marchers met on the Mall that day in 1963--are we honoring and living up to the legacy? Some are, others not so much (Wikimedia/USIA)

Over 200,00 marchers met on the Mall that day in 1963–are we honoring and living up to the legacy? Some are, others not so much (Wikimedia/USIA)

The Girl has been bouncing around her universe and the country, so the Blog has been a bit neglected. Sorry about that, and I plan to do better, even if it means shorter posts.

We are approaching the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. These types of milestones always get me reflective, as well as watching PBS and other documentaries like an obsessed person. My Washington Times Communities column does a bit of reflecting on what the legacy of this pivotal Civil Rights march means, and gives props to Don Lemon of CNN, and writer Danielle Belton for their perspectives. Give it a read.

Who I don’t give props to is Oprah Winfrey, and Russell Simmons. Oprah’s naked efforts at self-promotion with pegging a clerk’s supposed refusal to let her see a $39,000 purse as racism jumped the shark. Then to pretend she didn’t want to mention the name of the shop so as not to draw negative attention to them? You are frickin’ Oprah–the mere mention of it from your lips already did this. I am so glad that the shop owner and the clerk challenged her racism gripe. The whole brouhaha served its purpose, to promote her latest project, “The Butler”. I’ll wait for Redbox or DirectTV thank you very much. Way to go, Oprah: not only are you an entitled baby, but a poor example of honoring the legacy.

Russell Simmons ups the ante on Oprah by allowing a “Harriet Tubman sex video” on his All Def Digital YouTube site. Also an entitled baby, on top of being ridiculous and misogynistic, Simmons ultimately had the video taken down because his “buddies” at the NAACP asked him. Real big of you…

Simmons non-apology:

“‘I’m a very liberal person with thick skin,” wrote Simmons. “My first impression of the Harriet Tubman piece was that it was about what one of actors said in the video, that 162 years later, there’s still tremendous injustice. And with Harriet Tubman outwitting the slave master? I thought it was politically correct. Silly me. I can now understand why so many people are upset. I have taken down the video. Lastly, I would never condone violence against women in any form, and for all of those I offended, I am sincerely sorry.'”

Pathetic.

But the NAACP takes the cake. A rodeo clown at the Missouri State Fair chose to don an Obama mask and mock the President. In poor taste? Probably. A hate crime? Doubtful. Rodeo clowns have done the same thing to former Presidents George H.W., Clinton, and George W. so was it hate speech when they did it to them? Michelle Malkin takes it one step further by reminding us of the truly hateful speech and imagery directed at President George W. Bush during his eight years. So please, NAACP, cry me a river…

It took a Texas senator to call this group on the carpet for its inconsistency on what issues they choose to become outraged about:

“’A rodeo clown is really a nominal thing and it hurt no one,’ Stockman told FoxNews.com. ‘They didn’t speak out when George Bush was being portrayed as a murderer. To become relevant again, they need to become more of an honest broker and not have contrived anger.’

Stockman said the NAACP would better serve its constituents by focusing on ways to decrease unemployment among the black community. He also noted that the national civil rights group was silent after a July incident on a Florida bus where three black teens beat a fellow white student.”

Ouch. That must have stung.

 





In My Orbit: A viral article and CNN

29 06 2013
Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I talked to my dear friend Anna last night and said to her “I could not have scripted this day.”

That would be yesterday (Friday), when my morning was supposed to begin teaching a 6:30 am Yoga class. My alarm did not go off, so I woke up at 6 am–the time I’m supposed to be at the studio. Through my ingrained pre-planning (thank you, Mom) and Los Angeles traffic being non-existent (yes, Jesus lives!), I made it to my Yoga studio in 15 minutes, and was still able to teach the class. I’m grateful for that, as I wouldn’t want to disappoint the students–I know how important it is to start your day centered.

Unfortunately, I did not get that luxury!

I had no idea when I wrote my usual Washington Times Communities article on Thursday night that it would go viral. Rachel Jeantel’s testimony in the George Zimmerman murder trial was a hot topic for all the wrong reasons, and I wanted to speak to what I felt the heart of the issue should be. I took great pains to be consistent in writing a good story that I was passionate about, and attempted to file on time, knowing that I had a packed morning the next day.

Within an hour of my posting the piece, my editor emailed me to say it was trending at 2,495 hits. I was surprised, but immediately dismissed it, as I had to go to bed so that I could be rested for that early morning class.

After the eventful morning, I came home to a mailbox full of comments from the Communities page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.  That didn’t include the comments from “Shares” done by Twitter followers and Facebook friends to their pages.

I figured I would sit down, respond to what I could, and start writing an article for my other gig, Examiner.com. The best laid plans of mice and men…

My phone rang, and the Caller ID said “CNN” with a 212 area code. I thought, Seriously? This can’t be… but I picked up the call, and it indeed was. A producer from the Erin Burnett Outfront show asked if I could be a part of a panel. I let her know I needed to check with my editor and I would get back to her. My editor did not hesitate in approving this (she was over the moon about it), so I immediately called the producer back and said it was go. Wish everything went that quickly in Hollywood!

Two hours later, I was picked up by a car service, whisked to the CNN building on Sunset Boulevard, put in a make up chair, seated in a black box studio, and fitted with a mike and earpiece for the show. Ten minutes later, it was done.

For those interested, here’s a brief snippet of the panel:

Erin Burnett Outfront CNN Panel: Zimmerman Witness on Trial?

I was thanked for my time, the car service whisked me home and it was back to Friday as usual.

Or… not. The story is still striking a chord, and the commentary continues to come in, especially after the CNN appearance. Some positive, a lot of negative, some downright ridiculous. I hope the conversation grows stronger, and goes toward making a difference in how we train our children for the world.

I’m still bemused by the whole thing, almost like viewing it from a dream state–but it’s quite real. I was especially humbled by a woman’s comment on Twitter: “Brilliant. No words.  I’ve printed it out for our daughters. Sometimes it’s ‘easier’ hearing it from someone other than a parent.”

You become a writer to express your voice, and have an influence. It is quite sobering to see when you’ve done just that.

A friend just messaged me to check in to see how I’m doing, for which I am very grateful. He said, “Most people only talk about cultural influence…you actually did it… Hang in there boss.”

Hanging in. We’ll see where the next wave lands.








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