The NBA, China, and Hong Kong in Bullet Points

A friend recently asked me what I thought about the NBA and Chinese kerfuffle. There was too much to text.  I figured by the time I’d get to it the story would be over; at least till next summer when NBA players make their next pilgrimage to the People’s Republic where over a billion fans await.  But a certain NBA player decided to make a public statement so it’s back to the front pages. I’m not going to offer an essay. But I will share some observations I’ve pondered of view through bullets.

  • If you are not too such what the big deal is, at the very least it would help to do a simple Wiki on the relationship between China and Hong Kong. I’ll provide a link here.
  • When Daryl Morey tweeted, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,’ almost 2 weeks ago, I thought it was the most ‘woke’ thing ever associated with his name. I was surprised he tweeted it, but impressed nonetheless. IMO Morey is a GM obsessed with analytics with no common basketball sense. This is why his teams always underachieves in the playoffs. On the flip side, he obviously didn’t count the cost nor was he willing to pay the cost to stand behind his statement. Soon afterwards he rescinded the tweet, and replaced it with something soft with his tail tucked between his legs. Bottom line, if you ain’t no freedom fighter, if you ain’t willing to stand on that hill with your chest out, just stay quiet. Morey is in management. He has no union to protect his job. And from the little I know about Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, he’s lucky to still have one. Side note, I’m thinking Adam Silver talked Fertitta into keeping Morey out of expedience. If he fired Morey, he would look as if he is submitting to a communist government. Besides, we already have a president for that. But if the Rockets don’t win the NBA Championship in 2020, oh he’s gone faster than you can say Crab Rangoon! Save your $$ this year D!

 

  • I had to admit I was surprised by the Chinese government’s response. Not that they were pissed. Don’t get me wrong, I knew they were serious about their communism over there. They ain’t about that free speech life and every bit of media communications is distributed by the state. I’m talking TV, radio, newspapers and so forth. Imagine if Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity are in charge of all the news coverage of the president in the whole United States. That’s China but on steroids! What surprised me was just how incredibly butt hurt and in their feelings the government was. Though the Morey drew back a nub and Fertitta separated himself from the tweet, China went berserk! They wanted Morey executed! Or at least fired. But as I already said, Silver didn’t want the NBA, the ‘wokest of the major sports leagues’ firing dudes over tweets. Especially tweets he knew had some level of validity. So Silver rides the thin line of wanting to maintain a partnership with China, but not turn into a Chinese sycophant. That wasn’t good enough for President Xi Jinping; no sir! Instead, the he doubled down, cancelling games, removing signage from buildings and shutting down press conferences. Talk about having a hissy fit. Somebody needs to give ole boy a binky!

  • As the NBA and the remaining players in China lodged in their 5 star hotels tried to get their bearings, there appeared a big ole elephant in the room. “Hey guys, we make a lot of money off these dudes. And these dudes are really serious about their anti-human rights campaign.” Even as The Rockets trotted out James Harden and Russell Westbrook to talk about how much they love China, they appeared fragile and uncomfortably childlike. It was a terrible look. Especially considering what the Hong Kong citizens are fighting for. Let’s not forget them in all of this!

 

  • So, time went on. The players flew back home and that was supposed to be it. At least till next summer.  I thought to myself, “I know they can’t WAIT till opening night and put all of this to rest for a few months.”  But no! Somebody put a microphone in LeBron James’ mouth and he started talking crazy. “I don’t want to get into a … feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke. So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually. Just be careful what we tweet, what we say and what we do. Yes, we have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negatives that come with that as well. … Sometimes social media is not always the proper way to go about things as well…. “When you’re misinformed or not educated about something, and I’m just talking about the tweet itself, you never know the ramifications that can happen. We can all see what that did, for our league and for all of us in America and people in China as well. Sometimes you have to think through things that may cause harm not only for yourself but for the majority of people.” WTF?

 

  • Let’s examine this: LeBron James is the same dude who told Laura Ingram he will not shut up and dribble. This is the same LeBron James that stood up for Travon Martin and wore an, “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt for Eric Garner. LeBron has been that athlete that has made so much money and garnered so much equity that he has 0 fucks to give about Donald Sterling losing the Clippers or what many in White America think of his opinions. Well, it turns out perhaps one of the reasons he has so much money and equity is because of the money he makes from China. According to Fox Business, James holds a lifetime deal valued at $1 billion with Nike. Nike’s sales in China were up 27 percent to nearly 1.7 billion in the most recent fiscal quarter alone. This makes James’ comments seem as if he is numb regarding the hell Hong Kong citizens are catching from the Chinese government.

  • I don’t know this for sure. But I suspect like when Harden and Westbrook were thrusted into the camera to offer China a verbal hand job, making a comment about Morey’s tweet wasn’t LeBron’s call. Somebody else involved with Nike asked him to do it. But his comments put him a very bad light with people like me, who are big fans of his on and off the court but who are not into kissing his ass. The only thing Morey was uneducated about was obviously James’ bottom line. Even Muhammad Ali’s former wife, Khalilah, a fan of James’ said, “He is no Muhammad Ali. But ‘he could be’ if he changes the way he handles global political issues. As another friend of mine told me today, LeBron’s response may very well be, “Ain’t no Chinaman ever called me nigger! The ironic thing I can imagine with LeBron is that he doesn’t realize that NFL owners are looking at him saying, “You wanted us to stand up for Kaepernick? Welcome to our worlds!  Now your money is talking and you sound like Thomas telling Malcolm X “Get your hands out my pocket!”

  • Still the best thing LeBron could have done is to have said nothing! And the NBA is not off the hook either. I’m sure that Chinese bread is wonderful. But as a business you knew what you were into in the first place. Hell if it wasn’t Morey some player may have tweeted or said something eventually. Maybe the league should have thought it through as to how it would handle the consequences. Either way, now the league is caught in a game of chicken and face saving because the Chinese want more than what the NBA is giving as Morey’s head is not on a stake. Furthermore, Silver defended Morey’s right to free speech; again something the Chinese government don’t know nothing about. Stay tuned. None of this is simple. But it damn sure ain’t that complicated either from an American perspective. The issue at the end of the day is, “How much do you want that money and what are you willing to do to keep it!”  I wonder what Stephon Marbury thinks about all of this?
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Murder, Justice, and Biblical Psychobabble

The murder of Botham Jean and the subsequent trial and conviction of Amber Guyger definitely has its share of conflicting narratives. First there was the murder itself. Then there was the cover up. Then there was the cover up of the cover up.

So many of my family and friends held our breaths trying to determine how the trial would turn out. In the words of Snoop Dogg, “Murder was the case,” was an easy call. What else would you call walking into a man’s apartment and shooting him dead while he was chilling in his drawers minding his own business? We know that common sense ain’t always common. Especially when it comes to Black people and the police.

I’m in an ongoing text group with people from the East to the West Coast. Two in particular live in Dallas. Minutes after the verdict, the Dallas guys quickly transitioned to the sentencing. The immediate suspicion was the amount of years Guyger received would be way closer to the minimum 5 year range than the maximum 99 years within the sentencing guidelines. It matched my suspicions after the September 11 attacks. When the second plane hit World Trade Center, I calmly got up from my office in St. Louis, went to my car and drove to the gas station to fill up. Sure our nation was under a terrorist attack. Still, I knew many would turn this attack into a money making opportunity. Sure enough, by the time I got off work many stations had gone from an average of $1.23 per gallon to upwards of $5.00.  America had trained me well. These men obviously received the same training. We understand the fact that most of the time cops get away with doing dirt to Black folk.

When the sentence of 10 years was revealed, the thoughts I and many of my brethren felt was familiar. “Dammit! One step forward two steps backwards!” We got the right verdict, but the jury (who were encouraged they could focus on a lighter sentence) made it so Officer Guyger received more compassion than her victim.

Immediately the media focused on the love showered upon Guyger by the brother of Botham Jean, Brandt, as well as the judge in the case Tammy Kemp. Photos of Jean and Kemp embracing a sobbing Guyger became a weird symbol of grace and mercy for a cold blooded murder in the spaces of what was supposed to be a righteous judgment. As those photos circulated the internet, reactions were strong. Many are bewildered at how a young man who lost his brother in a brutal and unjust shooting can ask to hug the woman who is responsible for taking his life. These questions deserve answers.

The reason is simple. Christianity; specifically black people’s version of Christianity. The following statements are going to seem sweeping. Those that understand nuance understand the context of sweeping terms when something is generally true without taking into account every single individual sample. Historically in America Christianity has had a dual sense of purpose and benefits. For White folk, ever since slavery, God, Jesus, the bible are all tools and symbols based in reinforcing their inherent belief that they are god’s chosen people on the earth. For Black folk, God, Jesus, the bible are tools symbolic of helping to survive being second class citizens on earth, waiting to receive the true citizenship and value they deserve in heaven. This was taught from the beginning on American soil. How else could one justify slavery and all the horrors that came with it in the first place? Slavery wasn’t just about forced labor, bloody violence, rape, splitting up of families, it was about a system of mental degradation and oppression. One wonders how you can have both the slave and enslaver share the same religion at the same time. The only way that’s possible is to emphasize a different form of core teachings as it relates to earthly vs. heavenly life. White folks taught Blacks, ‘Slaves obey your masters.’ They taught Blacks to accept; no EMBRACE their subservient place and endure whatever they had to endure. After all, the more meek, humble and docile you are, the better chance god will reward and let you into heaven where there would be no more slavery or violence forced upon you.  White folks never had to take on that perspective. They believed in receiving their benefits right here on earth as they lived. For enslavers, Jesus preserved the order. For slaves, Jesus would reward them in heaven for submissive and loving behavior towards the enslaver on earth. Black Christians spend their lives trying to get to heaven. White folk demand earth as its birthright. Heaven is a forgone conclusion.

In a way, Black folks embrace certain moral core principles of Christianity similar to how we believe in the moral core principles of The Constitution. It appears we believe in the ideas more than the ones who brought it and tout it the most. But those that gave us the constitution and to a large degree the bible never intended for Black folk to receive any of the benefits in the first place.

One key principle that black Christians embrace is that of forgiveness. We take seriously the principle that God will not forgive us unless we forgive others. As Brandt Jean took the stand to talk about how the murder of his brother affected him, he kept talking about how he hoped Guyger would receive Jesus. This is key for him because even as he attempts to grieve and process the loss of his loved one, he is told constantly to depend on his faith in god. While grappling with his pain, grief and anger, his faith tells him that god isn’t pleased with his anger. He must forgo it and give it to god. As a result there is a constant pressure or being pressed on two sides of harsh reality. On one side it’s watching this woman and her backers lie, cheat, and attempt to do everything in their power to escape justice. On the other, it’s Jesus looking down on him demanding he show compassion and mercy for the sake of his own soul. This isn’t unusual at all. When Dylan Roof took 9 Black lives at Mother Emmanuel Church, plenty of surviving members went out of their way to express forgiveness in tears and wailing to a man who detested the sight of them.  To be honest, I put myself in Brandt’s shoes. I was raised in the same kinds of churches he was. When I was his age I may have done the same thing.

Now contrast this to White people’s experiences, again they’re version of Jesus isn’t the same. So if the tables were turned, instead of touting grace and forgiveness looking to absolve the perpetrator of as much internal guilt as possible, they would simply lean in towards the calls of justice. “You reap what you sow. We have to be tough on crime and punish criminals harshly as a way to preserve order in society. The criminal must take personal responsibility for his actions. Where were his parents? Why are they as a people so violent? They must pay for what they’ve done.” This is the difference in the outlooks. Both sides were raised Christian. But Christianity and its emphasis in this area are polar opposites. Whites were never told to forgive Blacks for anything.

There are two basic camps among Black folk. One says, “I’m tired of Black folk doing all the damn forgiving toward Whites for the deadly shit they do. The other says, “You can’t tell Brandt Jean how to grieve. If he wants to hug his brother’s killer, then so be it.” I think the most important thing is to understand what is behind his motives and how he got there. The fact is, forgiveness is a personal decision and journey. Unfortunately, many of us feel we must display it publicly in order for it to be legitimate. I also believe we don’t really understand what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. In other words, it’s one thing to release someone from causing you pain and turning your grief into darkness. There are plenty of people I’ve had to forgive. But for some, the acts were so devious and damaging there is no way in hell we are going to be hugging it out. That is not the same as wishing harm on the person or seeking to ruin their lives. Forgiveness in this case is no less valuable or sound than Jean’s. In fact, it’s probably more sustainable.

Again, there was a time in my life I may have reacted the same way as Brandt. I grew up with his brand of faith. Now if someone took away my only sister, at worst the hounds of hell will be unleashed if I have anything to do with it. At the very least, I’m going to be like them White folks and be on the side of justice. But I digress.

What I cannot justify, however, is Judge Tammy Kemp’s behavior in also hugging the murderer in her courtroom. There is something to be said that the Fraternal Order of Police in Dallas support her. Take that how you like it. But it’s interesting that she chose to give Guyger a bible. In most cases if someone is about to do time, you give them a bible for comfort in a time of need. In this case, Guyger already received just about everything she needed. A dramatically short sentence, the forgiveness of the people she hurt in public, and oh this… she’s expected to appeal so who knows maybe the murder conviction is overturned altogether. Hell, according to the established rules of the game, she should have given the bible to Brandt.

 

The War on Truth, The Lies of War

Terrorism 101
Definitions of terrorism. … In general, terrorism is classified as: the use of violence or of the threat of violence in the pursuit of political, religious, ideological or social objectives and. acts committed by non-state actors (or by undercover personnel serving on the behalf of their respective governments)
For those of you following the drone attacks on the Saudi oil facilities let me explain a few things to you.

Part of being a terrorist is causing death, destruction, carnage, then being able to brag about the damage they caused. Publicity, not anonymity is what these groups crave.

There is a certain code among terrorist groups. For instance, you don’t see two different organizations take credit for the same act. There are a few reasons for this. 1) As mentioned, the responsible group want the credit for the act. 2) Claiming acts one hasn’t committed is against the code. Not to mention to do so means gaining a new enemy. 3) Unless a group is engaged in fighting another one on one, their terrorism isn’t a competition. Isis and The Taliban are enemies, for instance. If ISIS blows up a café in some residential area, you will never see ISIS take credit – only to be closely followed by The Taliban claiming, “No No No, it was US! We blew up the café!” It doesn’t work that way.

https://nypost.com/…/yemen-rebels-claim-responsibility-for…/

Which brings us to the weekend bombing of the Saudi oil facilities. Immediately the Houthi rebels in Yemen took responsibility. You see the Houthis have been in a civil war against a Saudi led military coalition. It may sound like basic Middle East stuff but if you look closely into the war torn areas such as Yemen, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, who’s backing who and so forth it gets much deeper and more complicated.

Getting back to the attack and specifically Saturday when it happened in particular:

Normally what happens at that point is the American media start teaching some and reminding others who the Houthis are and why they would send weaponized drones to take out Saudi Arabian oil facilities. However, before they could open up their Mac Books and start reporting, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly announces that Iran staged the attack. He doesn’t note any evidence. Just says it. While flipping through the Sunday morning news shows I noticed plenty of talking heads from the White House being interviewed. The host acted as if Pompeo’s claims were gospel and focused all of their questions on Iran and what the United States would do to respond. All of a sudden, there is no more talk of the original gangsters or the responsibility they publicly admitted to. There were no questions about evidence, just response.
Since then 45 has tweeted accusing Iran as well. First he claims to know it. On Tuesday September 17, he says in so many words, “I’m going to wait for the Saudi government to tell me who THEY think did it.” Why? Saudi Arabia says, “Yea we’ll be able to tell you by tomorrow.” The next day it’s “Yep it was Iran!” That was quicker than the Cavanaugh investigation conducted by the FBI!

Now ask yourself; have you heard from the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, The Department of Defense? No! Just 45, his sycophants and Saudi Arabia. The same Saudi Arabia that chopped journalist, Jamal Khashoggi into little pieces at their embassy and lied about that. The narrative continues and the news agencies aren’t asking any questions.

So why would 45 want to paint a false narrative?

The first thing that comes to mind is 2020 is an election year. Starting a war give him better odds of re-election. Not to mention he has already made plenty of statements indicating that he is not willing to leave The White House regardless of election results. He’s been trying to start it with Iran since he was sworn in by breaking the Obama nuclear arms agreement.

And let’s not forget that just a couple days before the attacks John Bolton turned in his resignation as National Security Advisor. Bolton was often called a Hawk. But that was during the Bush years. Though he talks tough, he never seemed too eager to start a military conflict with Iran.

And what does Saudi Arabia get out of a US war with Iran? Saudi Arabia and Iran are enemies. So they would love to see the US do their bidding. Last but not least, it’s kind of embarrassing to admit that a group of rebels took out a nice chunk of your oil supply.

I’m not a big conspiracy guy but history shows shit happens all the time. Keep your proverbial heads on a swivel cause this is some bullshit and the way the American media is falling in line instead of asking questions, the distraction toward war is on.

On Suicide & Fighting for Life

I can’t remember the first time I noticed that I was down or what would later be defined to me as depressed. Was it as a child? A teenager? Being middle aged all I know for sure is that it’s been an ongoing battle for most of my life. Being a critically deep thinker, sometimes an over thinker, I have sought the world over looking for internal peace. I looked towards religion, spiritual teachings, self-help knowledge – books, you name it. I used to believe that once I learned that one thing – that thing would be the answers to all that would sustain me for the duration. It would become my rock. Think of the ‘Infinity Stones’ from “The Avengers,” series.  The idea was that once I received these keys to life, knowledge, wisdom, spirituality, and peace, I would be able to sustain life’s balance and not be moved by hurtful emotions, loneliness, self-doubt, and the feelings of unworthiness.

For decades I have gone from one thing to the next. And it’s not to say that my search hasn’t taught me a ton of extremely important lessons along the way. The opposite is true. My hunger combined with experience has provided me with knowledge, wisdom, self discipline, compassion for others, and boundary setting. Yet the saying that with much wisdom comes much sorrow is true. Learning provides one with the capacity to get but a small glimpse of what he doesn’t know or understand. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing that keeps me humble and hungry. But some lessons – even the best ones are learned through great pain and devastation.

A few years ago I’ve learned to ride what I call the waves of life. There are moments where I am at such peace that I want for absolutely nothing. My mind is clear, my heart is open and my existence is totally aligned with The Universe. It’s euphoria. In these moments there is no place I would rather be than where I am. The present moment is filled with indescribable joy! I recognize the moment and I accept it understanding that it is but temporary. I know that the cycles of life will once again challenge me, battle me, burden me. But for now – or in those moments, all is beautiful and right – perfect!

One of the exercises I am currently invested into is facing that which is deepest inside of me, yet uncovered. Those areas where my pain is most deepened, my insecurities are most haunting, and where peace and answers seem impossible to reconcile. These are places where mentally and emotionally I seem to be hardwired. Reading and hearing answers that should help are at first hurting me more because there is a gulf between the new and the hard wiring that is within. My hard wiring are things that seem impossible to change – even in my imagination. And my thought is I accept the changes and the process of hard-wiring becomes rewiring, the most innocent, primal and idealistic fabric of my nature will also be changed. It is at this point that I am afraid to lose myself.

I don’t feel suicidal as often as I used to when I get extremely down. But there are times when it has crossed my mind as an option that is always there. In a way that has taken some pressure off and lifted the urge to dive deep into consideration. After all, if I want to take my life I can do it tomorrow or next week. It doesn’t have to be today! And then there is music. The art, the gift, the light of music has saved and stabilized me more than I could ever say. Music is one of the most pleasurable, comforting, and settling gifts – food for my soul that has carried me through. The Universe, I’m sure knows this.

And so today I fight for my life… And I hope this helps someone else to do the same.

Why the Skeptics Should Watch Leaving Neverland

First let me explain to you what this post is NOT about:

  • Cancelling Michael Jackson > I don’t believe in ‘cancelling’ anyone. How can a group of human beings cancel another? It’s impossible. I do believe in viewing a person or a situation from a nuanced perspective. At least as much as one can. We are all flawed and have committed evil acts in our time. As a matter of fact, as flawed humans we are presently capable of dastardly deeds as much as acts of generosity and love. We choose our actions daily.
  • A Referendum on Michael Jackson’s Music >The root word of ‘fan’ is fanatic. Fanatic is defined as, ‘a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal.. especially for an extreme religious or political cause.’ In this case the religious and political cause is Michael Jackson and his music. I’m not asking you to watch Leaving Neverland so that you can stop listening to Jackson’s music. How you reconcile love for his music vs what he’s accused of is up to you. In a world full of either/or’s, there is room for and/both. Facing harsh truths about our icons makes us better more responsible humans.

It’s frustrating to hear people dismiss something as a lie that they have not seen. I’ve heard and read more than a few in the Black community say they refuse to watch the documentary. The reasons vary from, ‘They just want money,‘, or ‘The media is out to destroy Jackson,’ or ‘Why didn’t the come forward years earlier or why lie about it before?’ These questions are tremendously shortsighted. For example, I was sexually molested as a child. Am I a liar because this is the first time I put it in print? Less than a handful knew before I hit ‘publish.’ Also I know that molestation has been an issue in my own family.

I recall a time when a family member called a family meeting to confront another member. The incident or incidents happened to them as a child. (I’m being vague to protect privacy) During this meeting they gave their account of what the person did to them. Their pain and agony filled with tears was devastating to watch as they described what was done to them as a child. This relative was in their 40s. On another occasion it was suspected that a member was molested. A safe space was provided for them to open up. They denied it for about 15 years. By the time they were ready to admit the truth and face the trauma, they were on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There are more examples I could give but I’ll stop here. The point is one cannot determine for someone else when they should be ready to share their truth. And it should be understood that the high level of skepticism of victim’s stories is part of the reason why it’s so hard to come forward. First of all victims tend to blame themselves. The longer the secret is held, the deeper the guilt and shame. Couple that with the fear of not being believed creates a no win situation. Every time someone says, “I don’t believe any of the victims in the ‘insert public molestation or sexual abuse scandal,’ you reinforce the need to remain silent lest they too be called a liar. Not to be missed, it both covers and empowers the perpetrators.

I was listening to the radio the other morning and caught the tail end of an interview with Arsenio Hall. He was on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” talking about a sequel to the film, “Coming To America.” At the very end of it without being prompted he said, “Don’t waste your time on the Michael Jackson documentary. It’s slow, it’s annoying and people letting their kids go to Michael’s for five days in a row without their parents. …He then joked. “You know what? Tito didn’t send his kids to the ranch for five days.” Finally he took shots at one of the alleged victims Wade Robson, saying, …“the boy has Rob in his name…Unless you had ‘thief’ in your name you couldn’t have a worse name for the documentary.” This is fandom. Since Arsenio knew Jackson and is a lifelong fan, he would rather ‘cancel the accusers.’ Regardless of how he feels about Jackson’s guilt or innocence, discouraging people from watching the documentary and using their own judgment is weak!

As someone who has seen the complete documentary, including the Oprah Winfrey interview, “After Neverland,” I find the critics terribly uninformed. They site money as a motive. They question the timing. (as usual) They speak as if it’s merely 4 hours of simple minded accusations without any road maps, logic or rationale. I too didn’t know what to expect. What I found upon viewing is that it’s really not so much about Michael Jackson. It’s about grooming, not just the kids but the adult parents as well. It’s about how the young underdeveloped brains of children can be manipulated into a false sense of love. It’s about seduction and how even small children can be turned on both in a sexual and erotic sense, leading to confusion and self blame. It’s about the fallout of recognition, confusion, and deception as the child grows into teen and eventually adulthood. It’s about how those who are in charge of security can be hypnotized into forfeiting basic protections which should be forged with common sense. It’s a story of tragedy that the victims and their families including the wives of both Rob Robson and Jimmy Safechuck must endure for the rest of their lives. Jackson is merely a vehicle to illustrate the story.

Oprah (a sexual molestation survivor) said that what director Dan Reed accomplished with this doc was what she tried to accomplish with 217 shows on the subject matter. I agree. I have no idea how the director got all of the interviewees to open up the way he did. Even with the sometimes graphic descriptions it’s carefully done in a totally non salacious fashion. Personally, I believe it should be required viewing. I would consider Oprah’s interview ‘The Workbook’ if the documentary were text. Whatever one takes away from watching, these men are not laughing, they aren’t rejoicing, they certainly are not mentally or spiritually free. To ignore what is presented is missing an opportunity to learn how children are seduced and preyed upon, often right under our noses.

The truth of the matter is that historically we have had sexual abuse and assaults damaging our youth for generations. It’s happened in our homes, our churches, our schools, in back alleys and public spaces. Sadly we haven’t done a good job in protecting our children or creating a pathway of safety for them to reach for help when something evil happens to them. It’s all about preserving the secrets. Victims aren’t listened to enough. And when the accused perpetrator is a celebrity, we send clear messages that past and future victims will not be believed. But it’s time to take the covers off and recognize that this isn’t a problem, it’s an epidemic! We’ve ignored the injured. We’ve empowered and embolden the perpetrators. We must stop this vicious cycle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blacks, Jews, Civil Rights, & A Banana in the Tailpipe

Sacred Cow: (an idea, custom, or institution held, especially unreasonably, to be above criticism (with reference to the Hindus’ respect for the cow as a sacred animal).

Sometimes I get a lot of flack for not worshiping sacred cows. I’m a 52 year old Black man from East St. Louis, Illinois. I have my sensibilities for sure. But I’ve made it a practice to check them before drawing harsh conclusions. In other words, I value substance over style when it comes to the real issues facing Black folk or Americans for that matter. One of my favorite words is ‘nuance,.’ defined as (sensibility to, awareness of, or ability to express delicate shadings (as of meaning, feeling, or value)

Nuance isn’t a refusal to point out black and white facts. It is understanding time, place, circumstance and relevance when it comes to discussing a particular matter. A rule of engagement. Nuance requires work and intellectual honesty. Not an easy thing in society. In my community we experienced this with our discussions on Bill Cosby. Many of my people could not wrap their heads around accepting that a man who provided so much entertainment along with his America’s Dad image could do the things he’s been convicted of doing. Others just didn’t care. Because he was a Black icon of sorts, they considered him to be the victim. Now we are having this same debate with R. Kelly. Some of us are appalled and disgusted with what we’ve heard in the streets over the years. The Lifetime series brought a scathing in-depth look that I found hard to stomach. Yet I’m pushing back on Black people who feel Kelly is the victim. Some are once again bringing up White men who are accused sex abusers or pedophiles as a reason to let the ‘Pied Piper’ escape our judgment. I call bullshit on it all! Nuance say’s we can recognize talent without lying about the dastardly deeds of the talented. I’ve had conversations with friends over the years and we agreed on this premise: R. Kelly knows how to make a hit. The numbers back that up. With this additional information, it is also evident that this talented individual is a narcissistic, manipulative, and predatory human being. How one chooses to compartmentalize this dynamic is up to them. Long ago I refused to listen to his music. If someone else chooses to, it’s their right. But I don’t want to hear shit about what White people do as a reason.

This article isn’t about R. Kelly, however. It’s about people and their sacred cows. Each group whether by race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation all have them. There are none that are irredeemably flawed, nor pristinely perfect. I’ve criticized Black and White folk, the LBGTQ community, PETA, Christians, Muslims, Atheist, Democrats and Republicans. Why? Because sometimes folk just be doing too damn much! It’s the nature of having humans in your group. Show me a group that doesn’t need to be ‘checked’ sometimes, and I’ll show you a big fat Moo Moo that needs a ceremonial machete.

One group that seems to escape the blade in these United States are my Jewish brethren. I’m not talking about from Right wing extremist who hate Jews for the sake of hating them. I’m not talking about The Nation of Islam or Louis Farrakhan. I’m referring to the mainstream activist groups who seem to be the gatekeepers in suppressing voices and opinions which they do not agree with. In the latest example I site The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama. In September of 2018 the Board of Directors elected to give it’s annual Fred L. Shuttlesworth award to political activist, academic and author Angela Davis. In December, The Southern Jewish Life Magazine criticized the museum citing among other things Davis’ critique of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Soon afterwards, the Civil Rights Institute not only rescinded the award, it cancelled the gala altogether. 

I call bullshit on these actions on so many levels. First on the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for allowing someone outside of it’s community to tell them who to honor, but I’ll get back to that.

Before I go on let me start prefacing lest I be labeled an anti-Semite. If I have a friend from Palestine I don’t know it. I do, however, have several Jewish friends, one with whom I am very close. I’ve worked at Jewish Community Centers in two different states for over 10 years. My experiences and interactions with Jews have been on par with any other group of people. Politically speaking, I didn’t have anything to do with Israel becoming a state, and I certainly do not begrudge it either. For the sake of peace and human decency I am both pro Israel and pro Palestine. As the region goes, there has been dirt done on both sides. The history is centuries old and extremely complicated. Often, the players making the decisions are evil power hungry people. If an Israeli or Palestinian leader is not a radical, his own party is subject to oust him. Logic tells me because Israel has the most funding, assets, weapons, and technology – (especially from the United States) they tend to get better press and empathy. The White Evangelical movement is also an ally. On the other hand, Israel is surrounded by countries that hate them. Some for perhaps ‘legitimate’ reasons and some over religious bullshit. But I digress. Hopefully you get my point. I don’t proclaim to be a scholar in these matters. But I understand a little history and the human condition.

Recently, LeBron James used Instagram to make a statement about his competitive drive for success. He used a rap lyric from 21 Savage, “We been getting that Jewish money, Everything is Kosher.”

In the art of Hip Hop, lyrical gymnastics and word play are clever ways to describe narratives and make points. In the eyes of James and Savage, everything about that lyric was complimentary to Jews – something to aspire to. It was not to imply a hyperbolic narrative that every Jew has generational wealth. Understanding nuance, I posted to my Facebook page that LeBron was right to apologize – simply because as a Non Jew he can’t tell them what to be offended by. I realize that all Jews were not offended. I know of many who were not. But for those who were there is nothing wrong with owning the offense and correcting it.

The reason some Jews were offended is because they feel the words ‘Jews and money’ reinforce stereotypes of Jews controlling the media and or the world. It’s part of the narrative that fuels anti Semitic hate among people who wish them harm. I get that. And my message to Jews is this: Do you want to know how to dispel the myth that Jews run the media and control the world? Stop pressuring groups like the Civil Rights Museum on who they should honor!  Otherwise, you are in effect doing exactly what you hate being accused of; manipulating an organization, people and process that has nothing to do with you.

Listen, when people like me say they are pro Palestine having a peaceful homeland, they are not saying to hell with Israel! Protecting yourselves is expected. But don’t act like everything Israel has done in the region is right! Israel has as many hard asses and goons as any other group of people.  Don’t even get me started on Benjamin Netanyahu. Bibi has plenty of shit in his own game. But speaking against his criminal actions should get me fired or disqualify me from an award or a speaking engagement? (Like CNN did Mark Lamont Hill) GTFOH! Since I’ve worked at the Jewish Centers in St. Louis and Columbus, I’ve witnessed all kinds of programs for writers, performers, intellectuals, scholars, and so on. I have never heard of a Black organization trying to get them to shitcan one of your guest. What gives you the right to propose shitcanning one of ours?  If you don’t like Angela Davis, don’t invite her to your programs! If you care to see where she’s coming from, engage her, or set up a meet! I believe you as proponents know where she’s coming from. And if she doesn’t say Israel can do whatever the fuck it wants and damn the Palestinians, then you got beef with her. You overstepped your bounds! This isn’t the way to make friends out of the Black community.

And to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; you guys are cowards! I don’t know if it’s about the funding or something else. But at some point you have to learn to stand on the legacy for which you claim. You wrote in your statement that “..we believe this decision is consistent with the ideals of the award’s namesake, Rev. Shuttlesworth.” But that’s bullshit! Fred Shuttlesworth was a personal friend of mine.  I’ve had days and days of conversations with him about the movement. He personally told me all the details of when his home was bombed by the Klan. I’ll tell you one thing about Fred. He was politically savvy but not politically expedient! He didn’t compromise with any sort of foolishness! So don’t put your decision to diss Angela Davis on him! You own that shit yourself! Angela Davis is an ICON in our community! For decades she has given her life to the righteous cause of black people. Fred would absolutely honor her! You missed out on a great opportunity! And your lack of integrity is disgusting! Shame on you!

Ice Cube said almost 30 years ago, “Cause you can’t be the Nigga 4 Life crew – With a white Jew tellin’ you what to do!”

 

***Update: See Angela Davis’ response on an interview with Democracy Now

Shoutout to Jewish Voice for Peace and other Jewish people and organizations for supporting Angela Davis!  We know you are out there!

 

 

 

 

Mother Emanuel, Tree of Life and False Equivalents

In the wake of the hate speech these days which I believe leads to the kind of attacks we see from “Mother Emanuel” to “Tree of Life,” it is typical for those on the Right to make false equivalence. Specifically since the bombs were mailed and subsequently intercepted by authorities to the so called enemies of 45, Minister Farrakhan’s name has been linked as adding to the rhetoric that causes such heinous actions as seen over the last week.

Here’s the truth of the matter. I’ve watched Minister Farrakhan since I was a child. I’ve seen him speak in person during a panel discussion in Atlanta. At times, he’s been a brilliant orator. He’s spoken some harsh truths regarding America and it’s history of racism, murder, lawlessness and hypocrisy. This is an undisputed truth. Equally, I’ve also thought of him as a carnival barker. In public circles he’s mild, mannerable, measured and you’d be hard pressed to find someone with more of a majestic presence. In his wheelhouse as leader of the Nation of Islam, he can be arrogant, spiteful, and totally full of himself. This is in part because of the way the organization is top downed. Go to a service where he speaks, and it’s as if he’s a messiah. You can hardly hear the message because of all the hype men shouting him down egging him on, laughing at every joke as if Richard Pryor came back to life. Like most independent preachers, he doesn’t have checks and balances in his life. He has sycophants and loyalist- many who are willing to kill or die for the man… regardless of what he says or does.

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If you ask me, most intelligent black folk get this. Farrakhan is a complicated figure that way. He is an anti-Semite. If you listen closely, he ain’t crazy about Christians either. Still, if you black, you can’t honestly dismiss the good The Nation has done over the decades for black men and families. You also cannot dismiss the connection Farrakhan has had with other leaders in the Middle East. One can’t hate on his relationship with Muammar Gaddafi for instance, but name me a Middle East terrorist/dictator and I’ll show you an American ally at one time or another. But neither can you ignore the fact that Elijah Muhammad was a child molester. Of all my spiritual journeys there is a reason I never once thought about joining The Nation.

All of that brings me to this point. When it comes to hate crimes in and around the nation, ain’t nobody checking for Louis Farrakhan! Nobody is out here doing his bidding by shooting up schools, synagogues or other public places where innocent people are killed. If you ask Jim Jones, he may tell you that the Minister will scoop you up off the street for a little conversation about something you said about him. Hell he may do the same to me. But the last murder I’m aware of that he endorsed if not assisted in was that of Malcolm X on February 21, 1965. Perhaps there has been more, but none I am aware of.

So while the Right tries to Jedi mind trick the public by throwing his name out there with black elected officials who may have met with him, spoke to him or whatever, know that in terms of cause and effect in the real world, it’s all bullshit! Now when a member of the Nation of Islam shoots up a church, synagogue, school, movie theater, concert, or mail pipe bombs to Republicans then get back at me. Otherwise, GTFOH with that bullsh#! and get your fukn’ houses in order – and stay out of others!