Ok Middle Class White Male, Let’s Talk About It Then

To My White Middle Class Friends and Acquaintances: This one is all about you.  Let me start with some words spoken by the outgoing President.  These quotes are from his last speech.

If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.

For blacks and other minority groups, it means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face — not only the refugee, or the immigrant, or the rural poor, or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy who, from the outside, may seem like he’s got advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change. We have to pay attention, and listen.

I’ve heard the dialogue for the last several years:

White males in this country feel left out.  The ‘left’ only care about their liberal sensibilities which include minorities and immigrants.  Since 2008 we have been neglected and our interest are no longer prioritized.  This is why I voted for Donald Trump. I may not agree with everything he says.  But he cares about the needs of me and my family. 

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I have found these sentiments both alarming and insulting.  There are a plethora of reasons that I won’t get into as this is not about me.  Against my first thought I recently picked up and read a book called, “Hillbilly Elegy,” A Memoir of A Family and Culture In Crisis, written by J.D. Vance.  The book focused on what would seem to be the idea Trump voter.  Vance grew up in Rust Belt towns in Kentucky and Ohio.  They are the epitome of  America’s white working class America.  I was hesitant to give it the time of day initially.  I knew that Vance was going to attempt to explain a group of people who have some ideas about people who look like me that I wouldn’t find amusing.  But I kept hearing it wasn’t that simple. With that I scooped it up.

I found the book to be riveting.  I found parts of his family to be a little crazy.  I also found some of them to be endearing if not equally tragic.  Even with some ratchet behaviors that could rival any family’s, they had their principles, values and specific codes they lived by.  They are perfectly understandable codes.  I was able to understand more than I previously figured.  But that didn’t exactly allow me to understand why and what it was that promoted this mindset that they were being mistreated or disenfranchised in whole or in part because they were Caucasian.  I didn’t understand what was so attractive about a man like Donald Trump to them.  What was he telling them that endorsed these ideas of victimization and more importantly what did they believe Trump would actually offer them?

I tried to get these answers previously before the election.  But I couldn’t get a straight answer.  I got soundbites and talking points about the opposite candidate.  But I never got anything concrete that I could believe or take seriously.  I don’t even believe the people telling me these things believed them either.  But nevertheless, I write this today asking for understanding.  I ask this in all sincerity.  What is it that white males are going that’s different than what I’m dealing with?  How are your needs been neglected what are you afraid of someone else getting that you won’t because you happen to be a White male?

There is but one condition.  While it’s not mandatory to agree, the conversation must be 100% intellectually honest.  There is no reason to waste one another’s time.

You talk, I’ll listen, then we shall see if there is a an opportunity for more dialogue.  I am seriously and honestly wanting to get this.

But we’re not where we need to be. And all of us have more work to do.  If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. – President Barack Obama

 

 

On Officiating and Relations…

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Here are a few little tidbits about officials, officiating, communication and common sense:

  • As an official, when a team is getting the breaks beat off of them, it’s good judgement to let the coach whine a bit.  There are even times when he/she should be able to get away with a little more than usual.  It ain’t personal.  We should get that!
  • I expect that a coach will lobby for his players.  There is a way to keep an open dialogue and lobby for an official to see things the coaches way in certain situations.  On the other hand, when a coach is constantly debating every play, (Foul!  Traveling!  Moving Screen) that coach will be tuned out.   At some point the coach may have a legitimate point, but by the time that happens their credibility is spent.
  • Good officials respect dialogue, but we don’t respect intellectual dishonesty.  This too will get a coach tuned out.  Don’t argue against what you know to be obviously true.
  • Officials who are too prideful to admit a mistake suck!  Other officials hate working with them as much as coaches hate seeing them on the floor of their games.
  • Officials who don’t listen to other officials who try to help them suck!  And their performance will will never improve.
  • Like players and coaches, no matter how hard we try,  there are nights when we just don’t have it. We are going to suck, and we know when we sucked!

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  • Not that we are there for the compliments, but a coach that can compliment a good call or acknowledge a diligent official working hard at his craft is wise.
  • The less a coach complains, the more credibility he/she has when they do express displeasure.
  • Officials who love the craft of officiating and doing a great job on behalf of the players rock!
  • Coaches and administrators whose motivation are educating their players through team building sports and competition rock!
  • Sometimes conflict is good, healthy and necessary.
  • Some officials hold grudges.
  • Some coaches hold grudges.
  • Respect should be a given.  Only earned respect is maintained.
  • There are coaches and officials who are doing what they do for all the wrong reasons.
  • Officials, coaches and players are human.
  • There is way more to being an excellent official than some officials and most fans would ever understand.
  • I learn something new and see things I’ve never seen before often while officiating.
  • Officiating and coaching are both fun and honorable jobs to have.

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Megyn Kelly, Not Buying This Act

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Minding my own business but ole Megyn Kelly just keeps on coming with her book tour.  Great!  It’s America after all.  But I just can’t buy her shtick!

Don’t get me wrong… I’ve learned to challenge myself by reading what I may not agree with.  I was very reticent to read JD Vance’s, “Hillbilly Elegy, A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.”  Initially I had no desire to read about the hillbillies who live in the small towns of Northern Kentucky and Southern Ohio.  I didn’t care about the way they think nor the reasons they think them.  After hearing how well the book was written and seeing JD on television talking about it, I sucked it up and took it on.  I was very happy that I did.  JD’s piece is brilliant and I hope to interview him one day.   The same can’t be said for the Fox News host.

You see though I would would never bother watching her show, being the nuanced brother that I am, I was Team Megyn when she stepped to The Donald during the debates hosted by Fox News.  I thought her question about his statements regarding women were heartfelt and sincere.  When Trump clapped back at her on Twitter, his tool of choice for midnight saber rattlings and insecure bullying tactics, I had her back as well.  I didn’t expect that as a reporter she would get into a war of words with him.  But I did expect her to stand her ground on her principles, ethics and integrity.

Instead she waffled.  One one hand she wanted to have the empathy of her audience, the image of being a strong female journalist, and yet still access with a willingness to interview Trump again without an apology; thus helping the Trump brand in his bid to seek election.  Kelly wants that 20 million from Fox and I don’t blame her for that. If she wants to be the female Bill O’Reilly more power to her!  She’s not a good interviewer either.  But neither is O’Reilly.  My point is don’t play the fences.  Fox News is nothing more than entertainment mean to generate ratings and revenue.  So are all the other cable news and mainstream news stations. Journalism as I knew it growing up is dead!  It’s pure show business. I’m empathetic to the path women (even white women) have to walk to prosper in her field.  But she can’t be Sara Palin and still expect Erin Brockovich respect.  This is why I’m not interested in reading her book.  If it’s anything like her life in this business, it’s shallow and inauthentic.

Thanksgiving, Traditions, Native Americans and Evolved Self Definitions

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It’s that time of year again.  The heaviest travel day in the United States.  The time when family and friends gather to feast, mingle, catch up, argue and watch a little football. Since the expansion of social media, it’s also the time where we are reminded of the horrific tragedy that befell our original citizens, the Native Americans.  The memes are have been prepared with care, ready to remind America of just one of it’s original sins.

I get it.  As a matter of fact, I endorse the expressions of truth regarding the historically accurate facts of our nations history and hypocrisies.  Those that know me, know that I do that just about everyday.

But there is another side to this as well.  As a people, especially people who have been the abused, the tortured, the terrorized and murdered, those who have been placed in the under caste status; Those of us who have survived in spite of the fact that we are still in a battle for our lives; With our ingenuity and ability to adapt on the run, we have managed to turn what was originally a negative into our own divine positive.

I remember as a boy in school hearing that story about the pilgrims and the settlers.  I remember drawing turkeys by tracing the body and head around my spread apart hand.  Like every  other school kid, that part about the small pox blankets and slaughters were left out.  But you know what, growing up at MY house, we never talked about that crap anyway.  For my parents, grandparents, aunts and elders, it was about the fellowship around a meal that took several hours of hard work and dedication to perfect.  (Or at least try to perfect)

Listen, as a people, even as we come into new knowledge, we should also embrace our abilities to make lemonade out of lemons, sugar out of sh#!  And you know what, there is no need for us to apologize for it. One of my biggest realizations in life is that two things can be true at the exact same time.  Yes Thanksgiving as is being told to us traditionally is a farce.  One could compare it to the Nazi’s telling a false narrative of how they collaborated with Jews in Europe.  We should know that history.  Equally true, is that like many other things in life, we as a people have created our own narratives and definitions thereby turning a tragedy upon its head and making our empowering choices work for us.

I’m a social and political warrior.  Many of you are.  Even in war time, troops get leave, rest.  In order to fight the long game and not die of exhaustion, you must come away.  Traditions are neither good nor bad. They are the product of who and what we decide to make them to be.  Though I am mindful to thankful everyday, there is something good about much of our activities stopping, folk taking the time to slow down, be present and enjoy a few moments where we are all focusing on the same things.  I can do that and still fight for and stand with Standing Rock.

Bless You All~

The Warmth of Other Suns ~ Isabelle Wilkerson

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Been reading this wonderful book about the great migration.  I can’t say enough about it. Though I am not finished yet, there are some things I would love to share about it.

I’ve heard of the Great Migration here and there.  But never thought about it in terms of the gravity and significance of detail.

Here are some interesting, Did You Knows:

During an 8 year period, 8 million people of African descent moved North and Westward from the South. Can you imagine 8 million people per year?  Most without any assurance of what would await them.  It created such a labor crisis in Southern states, that the in some cases, white police officers would literally rip the bus or train tickets out of potential travelers hands so they couldn’t leave.  Many had to sneak out as if it were the Underground Railroad, though it was during the 1900’s.  People were lynched for plotting to leave.   Many packed themselves up in wooden boxes and had themselves shipped like cargo on trains. In spite of starting from the bottom, they were the least to use welfare and public assistance than any Caucasian immigrants coming from Europe.

Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (and in many cases afterwards) if you were traveling by train from the South to the North or vice verse, a person of color would have to ride the Jim Crow train car in Southern states.  It was an intricate process.  For instance, if you were traveling from Boston to South Carolina, in Boston you would board an integrated train.  You could sit where you wanted with whom you wanted.  When you got to DC however, the train would stop and the conductors would disconnect the integrated cars and attach Jim Crow segregated cars.  The passengers with melanin would have to get off their previous train car and then enter the Jim Crow cars before they crossed into Virginia. The opposite would happen if the train was coming from Virginia to Boston or New York.  Train arrives in DC, the Jim Crow cars would be disconnected and the integrated cars attached.

The two worlds (North and South) were so vastly different, that when Southern migrants came North, it was impossible to hide.  The differences were so magnified compared to a second generation “Northerner” that there was for many blacks, a reticence and resistance of the incoming black population.  They were reminded of where they came from and what they quickly tried to forget and separate from.  There were programs and classes to teach Southerners ‘how to live in the North.’  For instance, the were told not to wear head scarfs in public.  Don’t hang out your windows yelling.  Don’t walk barefoot.  It made you stand out looking beneath the race.  The migrants didn’t know any better.  Their way of living and resources was all they had.

This book interweaves these stories around 3 individuals, Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson Starling and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster.  But most all of the historical figures we know of, from James Baldwin, Duke Ellington, Malcolm X, Adam Clayton Powell, they all are the fruits of The Great Migration. New York, Newark, (Newark was heavily populated because many Blacks heard of New York, intended to go to New York, but when the train stopped and said, “You’ve arrived in Newark,” many thought to themselves, Newark… I guess that’s it!  They thought it was New York.

It literally is the ULTIMATE American story.  I highly suggest reading this book.  The Great Migration is something that every American child should learn about in school.  It’s possibly the most Unsung story of American history.  I’ve couldn’t begin to cover the intricate and painstaking details the author put forth in giving this gift of historic significance.

For more details about the author and information on the numerous awards and acclimation this work has received, click on the link.

Of Symbolism, Ritualism, Cowardice and Hard Truths

Now I know the birthday of a nation
Is a time when a country celebrates
But as your hand touches your heart
Remember we all played a part 
In America to help that banner wave

  • Stevie Wonder, Black Man 1976

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What thoughts do you have as you view these symbols?  For some these symbols either represent or remind them of their faith in god and country.  For others these represent institutions of hatred and oppression.  For me, they represent all of these; faith, god, country, hatred and oppression.  They also represent neither.  The meanings of symbols and the meanings thereof are strictly up to the person interpreting them.  As people, we interpret symbols through the lenses of how we are raised, our learned experiences or how we have evolved.  By nature I am sentimental but I hardly hold on to what I deem are empty traditions.  I am an American.  But I didn’t have the choice of being an American.  I was born here.  I see from a distance some of the advantages I have from people in some other countries.  But my experiences and knowledge are limited, unlike, for example a first generation immigrant.  I can’t say America is the best country in the world.  Because ‘best’ is subjective depending on a person’s needs.  ‘Home’ is home for most people in the world.  Most people have conflicted feelings about their homes.

I served in the military, but I didn’t have a particular affection for the flag.  I grew close to a few of the people I served with.  I was a Christian, but I didn’t love the cross or the bible as a symbol.  I loved what I believed they stood for according to my faith.  I admit that I’ve had my superstitions.  Back in the day I would never put a glass or anything else on top of my bible.  There was something in me that felt it wasn’t right.  I’ve learned in time this was my hangup.  Experience has taught me a few things about symbols.

The flag, whether decorated with stars and stripes or crossbones and skull in an inanimate object.  The bible is a book.  It’s people who bring value and significance to things.  Not the other way around.  What the American flag and the Holy Bible represent to each person they encounter will be determined by the representatives who carry and present them.

I cannot speak for other nations, but Americans are really into symbols and rituals. However, far too many have little interest in an authentic manifestation of what they say the symbols stand for.  Take Colin Kaepernick and his decision to sit for the Star Spangled Banner. He expressed a grievance that has long been expressed by African-Americans as well as many other minorities in this country.  He desires that America as a whole live up to the ideas that she claim for all of it’s citizens. But Americans, are using the flag (the symbol) as a shield to cover over the subject matter Kaepernick described when asked why he sat.  Clearly, his critics don’t want to recognize Kaepernick’s grievances or even entertain a serious discussion about them.

I think ESPN’s Stan Verrett spoke for most Americans who happen to be woke, Black Americans in particular.

“I’ve always stood for the anthem because I believe in the promise of America, what the flag is supposed to symbolize even though America often falls short of what it’s supposed to symbolize. I mean, my dad served in the Army, dealt with discrimination in the Army, came back from his service in World War II and was not afforded the same rights as a U.S. citizen after his service, so don’t talk to me about sacrifice and the military. My mom was the valedictorian of her high school, couldn’t go to college in Louisiana and other mainstream universities because they were segregated. They didn’t want to hear about her grades. You can’t go because you’re black. “There’s still (discriminatory) problems in housing, hiring, the justice system. These are real problems. People aren’t making this up and they’re trying to find ways to speak out about it. You’re not always going to agree with the method. But let’s pay as much attention to the substance as we do to the symbol.”

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*Is burning this jersey (a recent ritual against scorned black athletes) any different that burning this cross?

Unfortunately, many of the loudest detractors of critical thought, nuance and self examination are fixated on the symbolism.  In the case of ‘patriotism’ they love the worship of the flag and the ritual of standing for the anthem.  They love the idea of what the veteran does to protect their rights to be self absorbed while enjoying a false sense of exceptionalism.  They aren’t willing to give two damns or one f#@! for veteran returning to the United States traumatized with PTSD.  They don’t invest in the welfare of military spouses and families left here when soldiers are deployed, wounded or killed in action.  They aren’t even the least bit put off about how the NFL charged the United States Military millions of dollars putting on tributes in stadiums during football games.

But they sure are mad as hell at a man who peacefully sits down for 90 seconds of the anthem.  They burn his jersey in effigy.  They tell him to leave the country.  They use his income as an excuse to condemn him to silence; as if money is an elixir to racism.  The ignore poor and middle class people who share the same griefs that Kaepernick is talking about.  So the question has to be asked: Is patriotism really the issue here? Or is there something else more sinister at play?

Images and rituals are useful when they serve as a reminder or an inspiration; when they celebrate ideas of hope, service, strength, and compassion, or a solemn recognition of memorial.  However, whats most important is that these images, symbols and rituals remain what they are, reminders. And that we the people with the power to make the meaning of our symbols a reality do so.  Without substance, we (and by ‘we’ I mean they or you if it applies) are liars, rattlesnakes pretending to be eagles!  This fact is easily verifiable when one acts as if not standing for the anthem is treason while ignoring the reasons a man chooses not to stand.

Finally I will echo the words of San Francisco Chronicle Columnist, Ann Killion,  …the truth is, standing for the national anthem before a sporting event is an equally empty gesture for many people. Though many are reverent during the anthem and think of their freedom and those who have died for our rights, just as many are buying a beer, daydreaming or looking at their phones. Raising their butts off the seat doesn’t make them better Americans than Kaepernick.

She continued,  …To those who say he “should” be grateful, and that he has a good life, take a look at the racist comments posted on his Instagram account. They’ve been there for years, long before this controversy. He has plenty of reason to be concerned about what’s happening in our country.

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I say, the fact that many are still holding on to their patriotic bumper sticker phrases, despite the many veterans who have come to Kaepernick’s defense, (#VeteransForKaepernick) your stance merely reveals your nationalistic narcissism!  You can’t hide in plain sight.  We see you naked and inept.  When former Attorney General Eric Holder said, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been and we — I believe continue to be in too many ways essentially a nation of cowards, he was talking about you, oh “patriotic” one.

Hillary’s Debate Mission, Get Trump to Order The Code Red

We all know that The Donald is what Bill Maher calls, A Whiny Little Bitch! (#WLB) He doesn’t have a presidential bone in his body.  His appeal is only to bluster and bully his way through the most basic of issues we face as a nation.  There is no substance, only self aggrandizing shit from the mouth spatters.

As Hillary Clinton pointed out, he can be baited with a tweet.  While one must be ambitious to be president he has no self awareness or self control.  He has no discipline.  He’s 70 years old.  This is who he’s always been and it’s worked for him.  This is what Clinton should focus on each and every time she takes the debate stage with this clown.

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The first of four scheduled debates between the candidates is scheduled on Monday, September 26, at Hofstra University.  Honestly I have a hard time believing the #WLB will show to each of them.  With Hillary’s experience of public service as First Lady, a senator and as Secretary of State, substance wise he will be easy prey to humiliate on national and worldwide television.  She can make substantive arguments on topics ranging from jobs, the economy, and especially national security.  Meanwhile, #WLB will enter the debate(s) with some prepped talking points.  But if Clinton plays it smart she will have him off script within 30 minutes or less.  Once she dazzles with facts and he fizzles with empty phrases, he will resort to what he knows best.  Before you know it, something stupid, sexist of violent will come flying out his pie-hole!  The more he becomes unhinged, the more she should go in for his throat with a statement, a look, or a smile.  He is sure to address her personally, so she should address him as well.  Target his insecurities and lack of knowledge. Before long, he’ll lose it and make an open show of himself.

In the movie, “A Few Good Men,” Lt. Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise) used Col. Nathan R. Jessup’s supreme arrogance against him during the court-marshal trial of two marines. .  The Col. tried to play it cool initially.  At one point while being questioned on the stand, Kaffee purposely appeared muffed and confused.  This only fueled the Col.’s confidence.  Jessup was about to walk off the stand before being excused.  Then Kaffee flipped the script on him.

KAFFEE – Excuse me, I didn’t dismiss you.

JESSUP – I beg your pardon.

KAFFEE – I’m not through with my examination. Sit down.

When Kaffee caught Jessup in a contradiction of statements, he pounced!

JESSUP – Sometimes men take matters into their own hands.

KAFFEE – No sir. You made it clear just a moment ago that your men never take matters into their own hands. Your men follow orders or people die.

So Santiago shouldn’t have been in any danger at all, should he have, Colonel?

JESSUP – You little bastard!

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cont.

JESSUP – You want answers?

KAFFEE – I think I’m entitled to them.

JESSUP – You want answers?!

KAFFEE – I want the truth.

JESSUP – You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep Santiago and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me there. We use words like honor, code, loyalty… we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ’em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I’d prefer you just said thank you and went on yourway. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to.

KAFFEE – Did you order the code red?

JESSUP – I did the job you sent me to do.

KAFFEE – Did you order the code red?

JESSUP – You’re goddamn right I did.

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When #WLB loses his mind, he will show less restraint than Jessup did.  Its possible he will even try to physically strike Hillary. He said he wanted to hit some of the speakers at the DNC convention just a few days ago.

Let’s face it.  When it comes to the angry racist, those who hate the thought of hearing the words Black Lives Matter, #WLB represents the last stand of the angry white man.  To them nothing will convince them not to vote for #WLB.  Not sexism, not the three wives, not the violence in his ravenous crowds, not teasing the disabled, not his refusal to show his tax returns, not NOT having any plan for national security, not calling for our national security to be compromised by Russia, and not viciously attacking gold star parents whose son gave his life for an America that #WLB enjoys – after being a draft dodger.

BUT for those who may be on the fence, seeing him unravel and lose control would be enough to open blinded eyes closer to November.  With that said, there are a total of four debates scheduled before election day.  There is no way in hell that #WLB is going to do all four of them.  He can’t win them against Clinton.  I’m sure he will try to all but write the questions and dictate the rules.  He will try to out talk Clinton, filibuster and change the subject.  But for Hillary Clinton, her entire life and career has led her to these moments.  She has no excuse not to break #WLB within this one on one format.

None!