Mrs. Francis, Mental Health & Me (A Tribute)

Mental-Health-Awareness-Month

I remember the first time I went to see Mrs. Francis J. Thomas (Miss Francis) for therapy. I had done some group therapy regarding my personal lifelong battle with depression. It was time for some one on one sessions. It was scary looking for a stranger to trust with my deepest and darkest secrets. I looked online for someplace close and affordable. I called a Christian based counseling service because their fees were based on income. After leaving a message on the company line I got a call from Miss Francis. Since there was a group of counselors under this umbrella, I imagined a scene from, “The Wire,” where Miss Francis was sitting around along with other counselors waiting for her turn to be up in the rotation. If it wasn’t her turn, perhaps she picked up the voicemail and decided to give a f#@! when it wasn’t her turn to. Regardless, she called back and we set up an appointment.

Laying eyes on her I said to myself, “Aww such a sweet looking lady.  Her radiant spirit gleamed through her chocolate cheeks. Her smile was extremely welcoming. I felt safe in her presence. She asked me why I had come in. I paused, sighed, thought for about 30 seconds, and began to tell her my story as best as I could. This went on for about 20 minutes. The remaining 40 minutes featured her talking. She wasn’t giving me any advice or counsel. She was completing my story for me, expressing things that I could only imagine saying but didn’t have the words to articulate. I was amazed. I knew this was going to work!

There are several different themes I remember about our sessions. Like the time she challenged me in a way that I didn’t think was right. I yelled at her at the top of my voice because I felt that she was being so unfair. If I recall there were a few profanities as well. I was very angry. After a moment, I was sure she would toss me clean out of her office. But she totally surprised me. “Christopher! YES! Finally a breakthrough!”  

There were other times after leaving a session when I  said to myself, ‘Wow, that was an interesting thought provoking.’ Then in the next moment I thought, ‘Hey wayment! Did she just rip me a new one but was so smooth about it I had no idea I was getting my ass whipped? Yea she did that! She ain’t slick! Damn, I guess she is. She got me!’

476198_10150608576252878_1933579623_o Mrs. Francis J Thomas’s 

There is so much more I could say. Sometimes I didn’t have the money for the co-pay.  She took me anyway. She told me at one point that she was considering retirement because she had some health challenges. She would continue to see her ‘special’ patients of which I was one. Miss Francis and I grew incredibly close through the years we had together. So much so that she shared some of her own personal challenges with me. She told me she was a bit ill and wanted her son and I to meet one another. She gave me his number and said she would tell him she did so.

My favorite and most memorable phrases of her’s were:

“Christopher, you have to learn radical acceptance.”

“Ooooh, that’ a hallelujah moment! Pat yourself on the back.” (Then she would pat herself on the back to show me how.)

She was a Christian counselor, but don’t get it twisted. We had some hard core raw conversations. She said some surprising things that blew my mind a few times.

One day I really needed Miss Francis. I called her cell phone on a Saturday with my ’emergency.’ She answered the phone and said, “I’m here for you. Just call me back in 20 minutes so I can get myself together.” She didn’t sound like herself. I asked her if she was sure it was really an OK time. She assured me it was. I did. She listened and counseled like she always did.

To my surprise and dismay, Miss Francis died two days later. She had Stage 4 Cancer and never told me. I was one of her very last patients, on one of her very last days on the earth, off the clock. In spite of her great pain and suffering she gave all she had to be there for her patient and friend. There is no greater gift one can give than this.

At her celebration of life service I found out that Miss Francis was a counselor of counselors. She was their teacher. It was a pleasure to speak at Miss Francis’ service and share with her family and colleagues how she touched my life and made me feel so special. She helped me gain my self worth, love and respect.

I share all this to encourage anyone who may need an ear and a voice to reach out for help. It’s a good thing and can definitely be a game changer. Take care of your mental health!

 

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SEXplorations: Unwrapping #MeToo, Patriarchy, Sex, Power & Responsibility – Part 2 (A Series)

The Art of War (On Women

I’ll make this plain. It’s a fact that of all the women I know, more have experienced sexual assault of some sort than have not. Let me say this again: It’s a fact that of all the women I know, more have experienced sexual assault of some sort than have not. I’m 51 by the way.

Now just consider that a minute. I would venture to say that anyone reading this would say the same if they bothered to ask. I’ve had conversations with elders, friends, and close family members. I’ve sat in an intervention when one family member confronted another family member regarding an episode of abuse when she was a child. The look on her face, the pain in her voice, the tears in her eyes and the cries of her soul rang out. She was in her 40’s agonizing about something that happened before she was a teen.

According to RAINN every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison. Further:

  • 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted).4
  • About 3% of American men—or 1 in 33—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.4
  • From 2009-2013, Child Protective Services agencies substantiated, or found strong evidence to indicate that, 63,000 children a year were victims of sexual abuse.5
  • A majority of child victims are 12-17. Of victims under the age of 18: 34% of victims of sexual assault and rape are under age 12, and 66% of victims of sexual assault and rape are age 12-17.

With this knowledge I’ve been disheartened with Black folk caping up for Bill Cosby. I’ve heard his defenders throughout his drug/rape accusations, trial and subsequent conviction. Even after admitting in open court that he gave women qualludes, drugs he would not take himself because they would make him sleepy. (Think of the irony in that statement.) Social media was on fire with Cosby defenders – all of whom happened to be Black.

Reasons Why Cosby Ain’t Guilty:

  • The women are hoes! They knew what they were doing!
  • The women waited too long. What about the statue of limitations? (This is the only time I have ever heard people reference a statue of limitations for any crime)
  • What about Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein and Trump? (Matt was fired for sexual harassment, not rape. There is a difference in coming on to someone on the job and actually drugging and raping them. But I digress) Harvey Weinstein is currently under investigation both in the United States and London for rape. As far as I know the self-proclaimed ‘pussy grabber’ has not drugged and raped anyone. But what does that have to do with Mr. Cosby’s actions or his victims?
  • I’m not for anyone getting raped. But what about the ‘REAL’ victims? (HUH?)
  • He tried to buy NBC. This is revenge! (This is the most ridiculous reasoning ever!)
  • These are white women, so who cares? (All of them are NOT white… but that’s piss poor to say the least.)

24-cosby-lede-feature.jpg

On social media these comments have scorched across African-American Twitter and Facebook feeds. Figuring this to be a fandom issue, I tried to reason and add some balance. Mr. Cosby isn’t the first talented, accomplished or philanthropic person to have a sordid personal life. No one is asking you to curse The Cosby Show, Fat Albert, Little Bill, (One of my favorites) Uptown Saturday Night, or any of his other projects. A more recent example in the Black community is R. Kelly. He knows how to make hit record. And he likes to have sex with young girls.

Mr. Cosby’s contributions in the entertainment industry doesn’t make him a saint! I mean, he is the same Mr. Cosby that turned Black America out by telling her that she shouldn’t name her children, “Shaniqua, Muhammad and all of that crap…all of them are in jail.” He also inferred a Black boy stealing a pound cake should be shot. The irony is that it seems that if there were more Shaniqua’s and Muhammads on the jury, the Cos may have been acquitted despite the evidence.

As for these discussions, Mr. Cosby’s defenders didn’t budge. And it got me to thinking as to the real reasons why. Is it because of race? I’m sure it is to a degree. But I followed up by asking an additional question. “Would you discredit your own mother if she among the 60 accusers?” None have yet to give me an answer.

At the end of the day, the most disturbing yet realistic answer is that they just don’t care about sexual assault or rape. How many stories have you heard or read about Black girls telling their mother’s that an uncle, a step father, a mother’s boyfriend or the local preacher have touched their child or worse only to have the mother call their own child a liar? I don’t have an explanation for why this is such a common story. Is it some sort of legacy from slavery where enslavers ravaged the bodies of our women and we became use to it?

I don’t know. But for the sake of our evolution going forward, this needs to be reckoned with. And we need to be able to think more completely. I’m open to listening.

Navigating the Blended Family

I was speaking with a loved one the other day. Let’s call him ‘Mark.’ He is the father of a teenage son whose mother, (let’s call her Mary) had married a new guy some years ago. Mark and Mary also have additional children with their current partners. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of friction between Mark and Mary. They have several philosophical differences on how to raise their young man in training. On top of that there is friction between the Mark and Mary’s husband.

In listening to the many stories I’ve heard there is a severe level of dysfunction. None of the adults are handling things as best as they could. In some cases the adults are behaving like children. This make life brutally unhealthy for the real child caught in the middle.

One of the things Mark said to me was (paraphrasing), “When it comes to ole boy, (the husband) I just ignore him and avoid him cause he is irrelevant.” From what I’ve heard the husband has said and done some highly combative things about Mark in front of his son. I understand Mark’s feelings. But I cringed on the inside because I knew that this attitude is also a part of the overall problem. I’ll explain.

Blended families (noun) …a family consisting of a couple and their children from this and all previous relationships, is more the norm today than at any other time in America. It’s challenging to raise children in a traditional family as it is. When combining families after the adults take on new partners, there is a special skill set that adults must learn to provide a peaceful and productive environment for the children.

There are so many variables for parents to consider for children when new partners arrive. There are educational, recreational, discipline, and financial responsibilities, just to name a few. The bulk of conflicts probably revolve around the last two; discipline and financial.

blended_family_video

There is no ‘one’ way to handle these challenges. Each group can decide for themselves. For example, some groups may decide that only the ‘biological’ parents can administer discipline. Some may co-parent equally in all situations. Regardless, there needs to be a certain set of agreements. And those agreements needed to be followed consistently so that the child know what is expected and what to expect. I could a lot more time on details and differing scenarios. Just know that handling the critical issues will help regulate the day to day.

Another thing biological parents need to consider as well is the gift of what I like to call the bonus parent. I can tell you from experience. Being a bonus dad is a precarious thing. One one hand I was expected to love and care for my exes children as if they were my own. This means providing not only financially, but emotionally as well. I was expected to make a holistic investment day in and day out. And I was happy to do that. On the other hand, there was also an inherent understanding that when there was a conflict of principles and beliefs, the reality that I was NOT the biological parent was surely pointed out. After stepping back and taking the ‘L’ in that episode, (and possibly looking like a second class parent in front of your bonus kids if they know you have a different opinion than mom) I was expected to pick up where I left off with the same level of devotion, without the same level of authority and credibility. The point is put some respect on the bonus mother/father’s name. Especially the one that’s willing to do it right.

So, when it comes to co-parenting in blended families, I said all that to say this to biological parents:

  • Be mature not petty! For whatever reason you broke up, you broke up. Fighting old battles is only going to hurt your children. That extra stress ain’t good for you either!
  • Sit down and come to an agreement to co-parent. Be realistic as far as schedules, incomes and so forth. But be flexible too! If things need to change or an adjustment needs to be made, have another meeting.
  • The incoming parent is not irrelevant. A blended family is just that. This new person is now a part of your family whether you like it or not. Further, they are providing a service to be there when you cannot. Don’t badmouth or put them down in front of the child. It won’t hurt for all four adults to be in on the agreements. This isn’t easy depending on history, personalities, and if there was some infidelity involving the breakup that led to one being a couple in the first place. I get it. Suck it up! This is a package deal. You don’t have to like them to set up a plan for your child/children.
  • Whatever roles you agreed the co-parent will have, make sure the child is aware and live by it. Don’t allow children to play you from the middle.
  • Finally, don’t bad mouth the other parent, bonus parent either. If your child is of age and an uncomfortable truth needs to be shared, do so without being an asshole about it. Keep it factual and not personal.

New Bonus Parent:

  • Humble yourself. Don’t go sticking your chest out trying to flex and claim territory. You already got the person you want to be with. Co-parenting is not about your ego. It’s an honorable service.
  • Back your partner without letting your partner become unreasonable. Be the mind of logic and principle when things get tough between biological parents. Listen, understand, and empathize. But if you need to offer some calmness and a reasonable alternative point of view, be courageous enough to offer it. You are not there to just signify, but to bring value.
  • Remember what I said about you not being the biological. You may be doing more than the biological. The biological may suck! As a matter of fact, you aren’t even broken in yet till that kid screams at you, “You ain’t my daddy/momma!” When you know you are right, hold your ground and ride out the process. If you hold fast and your partner and you stick together the child will benefit and appreciate it later. Know that more than likely, you may never get the due you deserve. Learn to praise yourself.

This co-parenting thing ain’t for children, punks and bitches. You have to be fully adult, self-aware and well grounded to succeed as co-parents.

 

SEXplorations: Unwrapping #MeToo, Patriarchy, Sex, Power & Responsibility – (A Series)

Home Training

Well the first thing I want to say is, this series is probably going to start a lot of shit! Not because of any attempts on my part to be provocative. But because subject matter, content, questions, comments and considerations will rarely if ever be politically correct. This lack of PC, however, is not a diss, nor am I insensitive nor paternal.  Rather, it’s to cut through the bullshit and have adult conversations regarding some of the most prolifically vital yet intractable social topics being dealt with today.

I can’t speak for other cultures around the world. But when it comes to America; sex, sexuality, sex education, and things associated, we have struggled and failed to unpack and extract them in a way that promotes knowledge of sex and self. When it comes to the sexual/self, what starts out as innate natural curiosity and search for discovery (as a child) is later jacked up from the outside by judgment, mischief, moral treaties and shame. After adding culture, media, and peer pressure to the mix, we try to find our sexual identities. Well good luck with that!

Let’s start with the sex education I received at a young age. The conversations I heard in my household were tantamount to, “Don’t bring no babies up in here!” I remember my then step father making some back handed comments about me ‘fucking.’ He told me he was going to buy me some ‘rubbers.’ I was between 12 – 13 at the time.  I’d heard of rubbers. I knew they had something to do with sex but I had no idea how they worked or why.

I remember a girlfriend who was far more ‘advanced‘ than I was. I say advanced because around the way she was known ‘fast.’ (Fast: Adj. Hood Term (2018 Edition) – a female who is eager to smash) She tried to introduce me to intercourse. After some kissing she laid on the floor, then pulled off her pants and panties. Stuck and spellbound I simply looked. She motioned me to follow suit. I did. But I had no idea what to do next. It’s not as if I wasn’t excited. But I didn’t know the ‘mechanics’ of how this was supposed to go. I put it on there but not in there. She was frustrated, I was disappointed. I walked out the door the same way I walked in… a virgin! But I did take some souvenirs home with me. While ‘making out’ she sucked on my neck. No one had ever done that before. All I knew was that it felt really really good. I didn’t know till I got home that my neck had red marks all over it. Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, my eyes were as big as silver dollars. My heart was beating like crazy as I thought to myself, “What the f#@! my momma can’t see this! I looked for something to hide the evidence. I settled on a red paisley bandanna. Picture me walking around with this thing tied to my neck as if I was some faux cowboy… in the HOUSE!

If you are wondering what happened next, the answer is nothing initially. No one in my family said a word about it. That is until a few weeks later. Sitting my my mother’s room she asked me if I was ‘having sex yet.’ Aghast and embarrassed, I said , Nawwww momma!” I knew that sex was something physically intimate between people. I didn’t know exactly what, but I knew I hadn’t done it yet.  I admitted to the kissing. And that’s when she said, “Is that what you were doing when you got all those suck marks on your neck?” This moment could have been the very first Southwest Airlines commercial themed, “Wanna get away?” You could have bought me for a penny!  I mumbled something like, “Errrr, Uhhh…”

Apparently the hankey didn’t hide the hickeys!

Compared to my peers in school, I was probably a bit of an L7 when I was a kid. I was bright, inquisitive and idealistic. I was also naive, and at times gullible. If I had been schooled on the basics and nuances of sex and sexuality I was the kind of kid that was mature enough to handle that. But that wasn’t the case. All I got from that conversation with my mother was embarrassment and shame. She missed an opportunity to shape my sexual perceptions and mindset in her image. As a strong and wise black woman, imagine what a difference that could have made on this young man.

Moving forward, the only tools I had when it came to sex were my imagination, music, and TV/movies in an attempt to get a grip. Because of shame and lack of information, sex for me, while intriguing and mysterious, was also naughty; something to hide in secrecy.

Enter adulthood! I get married out of high school and of course there are sexual experiences. I searched for my sexual identity by trial and error, following someone else’s lead. By ‘sexual identity’ I mean answering these important questions:

  • Beyond physical pleasure should sex have an emotional component? If so, how much so?
  • Is there a difference between a sexual need and a sexual desire? (Nature vs Nurture?)
  • Is there a right and a wrong way to do it? What does it mean to be ‘good in bed?’
  • How do you communicate with your partner about what you want and how? Talk dirty or nice?”
  • What do you do if find yourself sexually attracted to a person who is not your partner?
  • What does sexual freedom and liberation look like internally?

Now, we’ve all had different experiences coming up. Some details may differ and some may be similar. Then there is the dynamic of how boys are taught sexual codes and values vs girls. The reality of having to figure sex out on your own by trial and error is the rule rather than the exception. With that said, should we be surprised to be in the shape we are in as a culture and society? Most of our early experiences start with the blind leading the blind. And that’s if you’re lucky. Otherwise there is potential for a power dynamic that could be exploited resulting in emotional distress, trauma and abuse. Such could have long lasting if not generational damage.

So what is my goal?

I have some strong opinions, but my hope is to encourage dialogue and share ideas regarding these matters. If I have anything to teach, I certainly hope to learn more through the experiences, ideas and thoughts of others.  I really hope people will open up, be honest and share. A healthy and loving exchange of ideas can make us better. If successful we can set a new trend marking an easier path for those coming after us.

For this to work we have to have a set of ground rules.

  • Honesty and sincerity are a must in order to move the conversation forward. Keep it real all the way around.
  • Try to have an open mind. As I said, I hope to learn something. I may start off standing on a point. If you believe I’m wrong, let’s reason together about specifics and nuances.
  • Be vulnerable. I know that’s hard. It’s hard for me. Telling that story about the hickeys at 13 is still highly embarrassing. And I’m 51!
  • There will be no sacred cows. What do I mean by that? Well I am totally pro the #MeToo movement, for example. That does not mean the movement is beyond critique. We should be able to handle some back and forth on potential hot topics like adults.

With that said… let’s get started! How would you answer the above questions regarding sexual identity? Would you add more questions? Feel free to comment via the blog comments section, Facebook or Twitter. For cohesiveness, admin may add comments from social media to the blog comments section.

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge. – Stephen Hawking 

 

The Hunt for -Greatness

Dear Cleveland Browns,

You are almost there!  A chance at history.  Yes YOU can go down as immortal!

You were almost there last year but you blew it!  You were 1-15.  So close.  But as we know close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades right?  Once again you are at the precipice.  Look, I admit I haven’t watched a single NFL game this year.  I’ve been down with the Kaepernick protest.  But your achievements have not gone unnoticed.  I want you to know that I am pulling for you!

You have a chance to join the elite of self destruction!  The 1960 Dallas Cowboys, the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 1982 Baltimore Colts and the 2008 Detroit Lions. What do they all have in common?  Yes you guessed it!  An 0 for season.  You too and join these epic losers and mark your names forever in the oracles of defeat!

Listen, this is no time to lose focus!  You must finish what you started.  One more game left.  No time to get stones now.  No knuckling down!  Immortality is waiting at the door!  Your last game is in Pittsburgh.  I am a Steelers fan but I promise that has nothing to do with the goal at hand.  No, this is about YOU!  Your opportunity to run the table in reverse!

So my advise is simple.  You’ve heard these saying before.  But I will remind you!

When the going gets tough…. Quit!

If at first you don’t succeed… Quit!

If you find yourself on the brink of winning… QUIT!

The best revenge is ….. failure!

Fumble the ball, throw an interception, allow a touchdown if you have to.  This is no time to gain confidence and execute!  Finish what you started!

Cleveland I’m counting on you!  Do it!  Finish strong!  Being home one of the most rarest feats in sports.  0-16 baby!  Bring it home to Papa!

 

 

 

Caping Up for Corruption: How Harvey Exposed Joel and His Osteens

Social media is a funny thing. It’s like the weather. It can be massive, beautiful, serene, rough, deceitful, unpredictable and most of all persistently undefeated. If you live long enough surely you will witness or experience all of it’s glory and terror.

Such is the case as Hurricane Harvey laboriously rained down on Southeast Texas causing gargantuan flooding previously unseen in the history of American soil. As the death toll increases and the displaced are multiplied by tens of thousands, copious amounts of citizens in the affected areas have transformed themselves into super heroes. Untrained in the skills of rescue they have pulled people from the dredge of the water’s unmerciful all-consuming invasion. People have been snatched out of vehicles, homes, rooftops, taking nothing but the clothes on their backs. A furniture store owner converted his warehouse into a shelter. He reassigned mattresses slated to be sold for profit into beds to comfort the displaced and afflicted. A multitude of citizens from around the country have converged to the flooded areas, donated monies and or supplies providing for basic human needs. As calamitous as Harvey’s wrath has been, like other grievous events in American and human history, ordinary citizens have shown extraordinary amounts of resolution to help mostly total strangers simply out of conscious.

And then there was Joel Osteen and his Lakewood Church. As the floods increased and dry spaces decreased, Lakewood’s building (formerly the Compaq Center, home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets) was reticent to open it’s doors to the displaced. Twitter got ahold of that story and tore into the mega church pastor shaming him before the world. Subsequently, Lakewood’s PR team reacted quickly in claiming on its own social media spaces that the church was flooded. They even went as far as posting photos of a flooded building to news stations to illustrate they’re inability to open its doors. Where the PR team failed is in not recognizing the aforementioned point. The internet is undefeated. I could have told them that lie would be quickly dispelled. It took only hours to confirm that the building was not flooded on the days in question and the church had to backtrack. Lakewood was pressured into opening its doors. Mr. Osteen made the rounds on network and cable news programs claiming that the church was open and willing to serve their suffering neighbors all along.

The intent of this article is not to criticize Mr. Osteen. I’ve already done that within my social media spaces. I’ve expressed that it’s all fun and games when you get to play ministry and collect the spoils thereof. But when it comes to receiving dirty smelly and desperate strangers into your well maintained and polished made for TV acropolis, that’s a reality of alternative dimensions. Regardless of how I feel about his initial decision, its his building to do with it as he pleases.

Or is it?

What struck me as much as the contempt I feel about Osteen’s initial inaction, was the comments I read from his Christian followers to the righteous criticisms he received. Their response was not to encourage their beloved minister to action. Instead, they yielding a shield to protect Osteen from his Twitter beating and made excuses for why America’s pastor didn’t step up. First it was the flood that was initially claimed by the ministry spokespeople. After that was debunked it was how Lakewood was not staffed to handle such a magnitude of people. “Remember the Superdome,” one exclaimed, referencing the debacle during Hurricane Katrina. I even read where Christians challenged the Muslim community by asking, “How many mosques were opened to house the displaced and why aren’t they being taken to the woodshed?” That statement received many affirmative responses. “Good question,” many chimed in. One person even Google searched how many Mosques are in the Houston metropolitan area.

I couldn’t resist the urge to respond. *Paraphrasing: “Yes that is a great question. Now follow that up with how many mosque can seat 16,800 like Lakewood can? Hell how many can seat 1000? You act as if people are picking on poor ole Joel. But there are substantially more churches in any major American metropolitan city than there are mosques. Yet they don’t have the capacity to house as many as Lakewood even if they have managed to avoid being flooded. Therefore they are not being criticized. The issue is not Joel it’s the space he has access to and previously denied to the incredibly needy. What I find troubling is that instead of standing up for your fellow American citizens who are struggling in harm’s way, most who have lost all of their worldly possessions, with no place to go after the waters recede, souls who Jesus cares about according to your faith, you would rather defend a man who initially lied about providing a temporary safe space to them, than to encourage if not demand he live up to the true calling of the ministry. Why is that?” 

So far, crickets.

But this is a consistent theme in religious circles. Parishioners and people of faith are often so protective of their leaders that they often allow them to get away with heinous acts. They refuse to hold them accountable thereby making them untouchable. Accountability is a two way street. But often the faithful fork over the integrity they are charged to have as they occupy the pews on Sunday morning. When those outside their faith in turn point out malfeasance, instead of reflection they offer deflection.  This is how an Eddie Long could maintain a ministry despite his predatory sexual relations with young men he was supposed to be mentoring.  It’s how a Creflo Dollar can ask his church members (most of whom are of lower to middle class) to pay for a private jet. It’s how a Mark Burns, Steve Parson and Harry Jackson, just to name a few, can sell their ministerial souls to capitalism and Donald Trump, no matter what #45 he says or does, and maintain a thriving African-American membership. They exchange the charge of being fully functioning parishioners to become cult-like sycophants. This isn’t just a national issue. It’s a local one as well.

I argue that if you love Joel and respect his ministry, challenge him when he’s wrong and help him to be a better minister. This could have been a lesson for him. But Christians dropped the ball in their defense of him and allowed Twitter to become the taskmaster instead. Many won’t even admit that he lied about the flooding. How crazy is that? The church missed an opportunity towards spiritual growth. The “World” did their job for them. Mr. Osteen doesn’t get better as a minister or a leader because he can hide under the blanket of being bullied by the world.

A great friend of mine often says, “You get the leadership you deserve!” This isn’t just for ministry. It’s for politics as well. Far too many of us stand by and offer nothing of substance to shape a leadership that will work in our interest, and then complain about the results.

It’s OK to hold leaders up and esteem them; including those in ministry. However, we must be careful to kill our sacred cows. If not, we become willing sheep ready for the slaughter.

Freedom of Speech, Just Watch What You Say

I borrowed that phrase from a song on Ice-T’s 1989 LP.  It’s a short way of saying that while speech is free the consequences are not so much. We learn this at an early age. If your parents or a teacher says or does something you don’t like, even as a child no one can bridle your tongue but you. You can read your mom, dad, or Mrs. Jenkins their rights from Genesis to Revelations if you want to. I can tell you if I did that as a youngen’ I would have paid a rather painful price. Tell you something else too, the constitution wouldn’t have saved my black ass either.

And so it is in life we learn the balances and nuances of free speech. Daily we decide what we find worth saying and what is not. This doesn’t just apply for situations regarding authority. It applies to everyday life between friends, colleagues, and lovers. Wisdom teaches us that all things that can be said shouldn’t be said. Then there are times when conscious forces to say what is unpopular to the masses. Take Colin Kaepernick’s for instance. His free speech protected under the constitution does not protect him from being blackballed from the NFL.

This leads me to the controversy surrounding Missouri State Senator, Maria Chappelle Nadal.  Recently she decided to express her desire that President Trump be assassinated. Predictably she has come under fire and find herself in the cross hairs of the governor. He wants her senate seat.

I no longer reside in Missouri so I am not privy to the daily heartbeat of the area. From reading articles it seems that she is taking quite the political beating. I have gotten some feedback on social media. My African-Americans friends who have commented are unanimous in believing that she should resign. I totally understand where they are coming from. Further I resonate with WHY they believe it.

What Senator Chappelle-Nadal did was irresponsible, dangerous and childish. Someone in her position surely should know better than to post something like that on any form of social media. However, I am not sure whether I believe she should resign or be ousted. There used to be a time when common sense told us what was a fireable offence and what was perhaps cause for censure. I could go for the low hanging fruit of what was said and done to our 44th president. South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson who screamed at President Obama calling him a liar during a joint session with congress. Jan Brewer put a threatening finger in the face of President Obama. There was a T-Mobile manager who did the same to me a few weeks ago. I almost gave him a 2 piece. The police was called. Montana candidate Greg Gianforte actually assaulted a reporter shortly before he was elected to congress.

But even if we were do discount these examples, we need go no higher than the person of interest himself, president #45. He started his campaign of slander years ago questioning the citizenship and therefore legitimacy of president #44. During his official campaign he told a crowd, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

There are so many examples of malfeasance since his inauguration in January I don’t need to list them all. They have been well documented. His latest exploits have been to defend and encourage white supremacist’s to continue their barbaric behavior. American citizens have been assaulted, beaten, injured and killed. #45 has been the ringleader. Even David Duke acknowledged that he takes his ques from #45. It can be strongly argued that the blood that has been shed falls on #45’s hands.

And let’s not forget his is currently being investigated for illegal dealings with the Russian government. By all accounts there appears to be overwhelming evidence that he is an enemy of the state; a traitor to the country he is supposed to lead.

That leaves me in a quandary. Two things #45 have in common with Wilson, Brewer and Gianforte.

  1. They are Republican, while Chappelle-Nadal is a Democrat
  2. They have not been asked to leave their respective offices.

The second part is what’s most relevant here. Best believe members of the GOP are NOT giving up they’re seats of government. They are determined to keep each and every advantage through local, state, and federal politics.  Yet I am supposed to believe that Chappelle-Nadal should resign from her seat because of what she ‘hopes?’ I’m supposed to accept that it’s a righteous act to remove her from the committees she serves on? I’m not saying I know the answer quite honestly. What I am saying is that there needs to be a clearer moral compass to judge these things on. That’s unrealistic. Therefore, perhaps Democrats should stick together and be just as determined not to lose any of their seats as their GOP counterparts are. Sometimes in order to succeed, those who play the game must understand how that the game is being played, then play accordingly.