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!

 

The Blessing in The Bulls#@!

This is a Facebook thread in which I was engaged in yesterday.  It’s long… but the ending is where the gem is!

It starts with the photo below posted from a previous friend of mine.  This was my attempt to work through it.

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Christopher McCaleb #disappointed :-(

Like · Reply · 1 hr

 

Cari Atkinson Sorry…I will not leave myself in any situation that I could get injured.

Like · Reply · 55 mins

Christopher McCaleb But you would drive the truck or advocate to injure or murder those who are using their constitutional right to assemble and protest?

Like · Reply · 53 mins

Cari Atkinson Christopher McCaleb Not advocating anything, but not ok with the protests that are blocking any persons right-of-way. Protests could be made without making people late to work, blocking medical needs, etc. Again, I will not leave myself in a possible situation to where I could be in danger.

Like · Reply · 49 mins

Christopher McCaleb One may or may not agree with the WAY a protest is done. The thing about them…is that by nature they tend to be uncomfortable. That’s kind of the point. That being said, regardless the image of the truck is saying… = those who protest run the over! It’s very explicit and prolific. The person posting, liking the photo are saying, “run them over!” That is the solution… to a specific group of people. This could be me, my sons, daughters, friends, (white and black) I’ve supported your fight to live at all cost. This is what supporters of protest are doing as well…fighting for the right to live and be protected. Making statement or posting images that they should be run over, that they don’t have jobs, is horrifically insensitive at best, hateful at worst. I’m speaking to you not as a critic, but a friend. I hope you will reconsider this position and take into consideration what I am saying… if you consider me a friend as well. Which I believe you do!

Like · Reply · 42 mins

Cari Atkinson I did not state any of the protesters didn’t have jobs! I stated I will not be late for my employment, late for a medical procedure or emergency because of the right-of-way being blocked. Protests can be done without shutting down highways! I again will not leave myself or my family in danger. I do consider you my friend, we just have different views on closing down highways or businesses!

Like · Reply · 29 mins

Cari Atkinson My fight against cancer and my life has not stopped anyone from anything!

Like · Reply · 27 mins

Christopher McCaleb I agree… but everyone I know is pretty united on standing with our friends who are fighting cancer. And if cancer treatment and research were to be halted, not fully endorsed by society and people died, you may find it worth interrupting the normalcy of life. Well, you would let’s just affirm that. I definitely don’t recall large numbers of anyone missing medical service because of a protest.

Like · Reply · 23 mins · Edited

Christopher McCaleb Jobless post you posted today…

 

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Like · Reply · 23 mins

Cari Atkinson Let it go Christopher McCaleb…we have total different mind sets and will never agree. I would never block a highway or close down a business because of cancer!

Like · Reply · 20 mins

Christopher McCaleb Even if you wouldn’t Cari Atkinson, saying that protesters don’t have jobs, (which is a harsh, unfair and UNTRUE statement, and you DID post it though you denied it initially) and posting a truck photo that says it’s going to run protesters over… (does not mention emergency vehicles…it mentions being late for work) is therefore very offensive, is not misleading. These two photos paint a very insensitive and hateful narrative. Would you disagree in this light?

Like · Reply · 12 mins

Cari Atkinson I am ending this conversation…I posted what I posted because I will not be blocked from work or medical needs, etc and in potential danger due to protests. Everyone needs to get back to work and trust that things will work out the way it should. These protests are not peaceful and are causing more damage then good as far as I am concerned. I am one of the nicest people you will ever met and have never done harm to anyone! If you cannot accept this then please feel free to delete me…sorry!

Like · Reply · 6 mins

Christopher McCaleb End it if you must. What you cannot do is veil your so called niceness while dismissing the hatefulness withing the dismissal of a people who cannot wait and trust that things will work out the way it should. No change in the history of the world every happened that way. FOR ANYONE including women. Your words and photos speak for your character in this case. Meanwhile, if that bothers you, then you are free to do the deleting.

Like · Reply · 2 mins

Christopher McCaleb In a nutshell this is what those post say to me: All you black folk screaming Black Lives Matter need to go somewhere and get a job. Stop protesting. People like Philando Castille and Alton Sterling and every other one deserved what they got. If I had this truck and you were in my way while I’m going somewhere, I would love to use it to batter my way through you all inconveniencing my life!

Nicole Richardson Protesting is fine when it is not keeping others from getting to where they’re going. It is not OK to block roads, why do protesters feel that what they are doing comes before others and where others are going? Smh…this is not peaceful protesting goi…See More

Like · Reply · 2 · 3 hrs · Edited

Tompall Gibson If law biding citizens were protesting, there would not be a need for such a truck. With that being said, over the last couple of years we have all witnessed these protests being more about criminal actions rather than a well-educated debate on fairness & equality.

Like · Reply · 2 · 2 hrs

Cari Atkinson Well stated…thank you!

Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs

Christopher McCaleb Let’s examine this a bit before I go about my merry way. #1) There is NO data that says that the protest do more harm than good. That seems to be theme with you guys but its unsupported. The same goes for the protest not being peaceful. Again looking at DATA, not hyperbole and bullshit – of the hundreds of thousands of protestors nationwide, the number of incidents and individuals who protested in anyway but peaceful is miniscule. That’s just a fact!
#2) What you are really saying… by not acknowledging these law abiding citizens as relative and relevant is that you look at them and their mere presence as an affront to your own comfort zone.
3) Imagine if someone had said, “If police didn’t kill unarmed innocent black boys and men, there would be no need for a sniper to kill 5 police officers? YET you are totally comfortable with speaking of the need for the truck. This is because you don’t value the lives of black people who are fighting for survival.
4) And this is the best point of all. Today in my class where I teach Critical Thinking Debate Skills, I taught my young students, (only ONE who happens to be black) the concept of sacred cows. After explaining the origins and definitions, I used examples of people worshipping their sacred cows using examples of police and BLM. Then I showed them the photos of the truck, and the frog, and read each of our written statements to the class. I didn’t make any judgements but I did ask them to make sure to let me know if I was in anyway sassy, threatening or unreasonable. I did NOT ask them to comment on anything any of you said.

As it turned out, each student found the truck photo horrifyingly hateful. They were disgusted. I never commented one way or the other. Upon reading your reasoning and responses, to a person they commented that your comments were condescending at best, racist at worst. They were surprised that I reacted with reason in stayed the course in an attempt to gain at least a small bit of consensus…something we could all agree on.

Afterwards, and after they shared their own thoughts without my comments, I told them the story of how I met Cari, how we helped raised over $100,000 for Backstoppers. I told them how we remained friends and how I supported her along with many others during her fight against cancer. Then I explained that when it comes to MOST of the white friends I met during this event and others, they were good with me as long as I was with them and supported their causes. But when it came to my life or the lives of those who look like me, they were not willing to stand with me at all. Not only that, but when I tried to have intelligent and heartfelt conversations with them, they would prove like Cari, dismissive, combative and put off. My students recognized that the cops for you guys are sacred cows. That you disdain anything that comes between your concepts of challenging your comfort level of white superiority. THESE WERE WHITE KIDS! I explained that whenever I am having racial conversations with these particular set of white friends, they never give an inch about anything. For instance, though I have protested before, I wouldn’t block a street or a highway. But I can empathize with those who would. I’m willing to concede that this may not be the best way to get a point across. But Cari nor any of you are willing to back off this image and message of a truck running over American citizens as if this were Tiananmen Square. Not even one…  ”Well Chris, I can see what you mean by the image being threatening and offensive.  NOPE… can’t give an inch. NOT ONE BIT.  So next time people say WE should come together, remember it takes two people. Its easy to see from the thread, that my friend Cari does not value my life nor is she concerned about police violence as it relates to people like me. She’s refuses to VALIDATE me or my experiences or engage in a serious discussion. My students should do better. Kill their sacred cows and argue from a position geared towards respect and solutions.

One white student in particular came to me and said, Mr. McCaleb this was really great. My parents are like those people in the post. They are really sacred towards the police. Won’t give an inch in any discussion. I used to be that way too. I’m white, middle class, private school. This issue really bothers me.  And this entire environment scares me!   But I was so afraid to talk about it. This class was a safe place to do so. I feel so much better.

For that I say, THANK YOU to you all for giving me content to teach our youth. I have hope for them. And while you may dismiss me, I am out here making a difference and changing lives for the better…for all people INCLUDING my own.

Like · Reply · Just now

 

…..AND WITH THAT SHE DELETED ME!  And she took down the post… not because she thought better of it, but because her racism was exposed and undeniable!

 

My Evening With the G.O.A.T.

BB&Gcmac's Weblog

****Re-post in honor of The G.O.A.T / Original January 17 2012****

Upon hearing that today is the 70th Birthday for the (Greatest of All Time) Muhammad Ali, it reminded me of the evening that I was honored to spend with The Champ.  The year was 2005 and the occasion was “The Butterfly Ball” in Atlanta, Georgia.  The event was a fundraiser for The Ali Center, a museum dedicated to the career and humanitarian efforts of Ali that was being constructed in Louisville, KY.

Before I go further you have to understand what Muhammad Ali meant to me growing up in the 70s.  As a child there were two celebrities that I looked up to.  Muhammad Ali and then Sugar Ray Leonard.  At the time I was too young to understand Ali’s political and heroic defiant stand against participating in the Vietnam War, and I wasn’t necessarily a boxing aficionado. …

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Obama vs Errbody! Part 1 “Am I Dreaming? In my Lifetime?”

Obama vs. Errbody is a series of short post summarizing my personal view of the 44th President of the United States…who happens to be Black.

Official portrait of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 13, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Official portrait of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 13, 2009.
(Photo by Pete Souza)

Mentally I comprehended the victory of Barack Hussein Obama II on November 4, 2008.  All the votes were in.  His 332 electoral votes were official.  All the networks had confirmed this victory. Social media was abuzz all over the world. As he stood in Chicago’s, Grant Park on November 4, 2008 in front of some 240,000 excited citizens, it had all the makings of a historical moment.  The Illinois senator was to be known as the first African-American president.  Still it was a surreal moment for me.  Through the election season he was drawing record crowds whenever he appeared onstage.  A multitude of people would gather as if he was a rock star of epic proportions.  Now, in spite of my disbelief, the reality was that I witnessed something that I never thought I would during my lifetime; if ever!

On January 20, 2009 President Obama was inaugurated.  This too was a monumental moment filled with hundreds of thousands of people flooding Washington D.C.  This despite the rather blustery and frigid weather.  A who’s who of performing artist, movie stars such as Spike Lee, Kerry Washington, Hill Harper and Bradley Cooper just to name a few joined a multitude of American idealist looking to witness and embrace; something they could tell their grandchildren.  It started to dawn on me just a little bit more.  A man that looks like me, is the President of the United States!  But it wasn’t 100!  I kept believing that someone would snatch the moment from me, from us.  There would be some legal technicality revealed just for this occasion.  There would be a Supreme Court decision led by Scalia and Thomas in order to thwart this moment.  Surprisingly, and at least publicly, no such diabolical plan surfaced.  But I still wasn’t 100% convinced in the reality that my country pulled this off.

A month or so later I went to the social security office.  I don’t remember what for.  Perhaps because the most significant moment for me during that visit had nothing to do with why I went there in the first place.  All I remember is that after getting my number, while waiting in a chair for my number to be called, I saw a photo on the wall.  It was the photo that changed the game for me. Where I recall seeing Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and then another Bush in my public schools, the United States Air Force, and then state and federal governments offices, including the DMV and now the social security office, was a photo of Barack Obama.  Striking a rather benign pose, in a blue suite, with the flag behind his right shoulder looking presidentially astute, was indeed… The President.  This was the moment that I was fully persuaded that the man of Kenyan descent, by way of Hawaii, Harvard, then Chicago’ a man with cocoa skin, was the President of the United States. It was legitimate. It was real.