Ten Things I Know For Sure (Part 1)

1. As a nation we are still far away from having an honest discussion regarding race.

2. As parents, we are stewards of our children, not owners.

3. I love my momma!

4. Knowledge is power, but love is the most powerful force in the universe.

5. God is sovereign – not dogmatic.

6. Senator Barack Obama got pissed and threw Rev. Jeremiah Wright under the bus!

7. Children are our most precious resource.

8. Truth is ever-unfolding, and we can only know and understand in part.

9. There is nothing like the love between a man and a woman.

10. Americans by in large are gullible, simple-minded, and easily seduced and deceived.

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Gender Discrimination or Soclialization

In light of the primary elections with the Democrats, I can’t help but notice how Hillary Clinton vacilates between strong fighting woman and sensitive woman depending on when it serves her needs.  Sometimes she makes a point of coming off as the “fighter” when challenging Barack Obama on some issue within a campaign speech.  Other times like in New Hampshire or during a particular debate she plays the “woman card” in displaying forms of emotion that would allow especially women voters to feel sorry for her – thus rallying them to the poles.  Women face enough struggles as it is without doing things that complicate and confuse the average cave man.  And Hillary’s behavior reminds me of an experience I had with mixed female signals.  I’ll explain.

 

A few years ago I was playing some pick up basketball on a Monday evening.  Normally on those days, if no one else came to the gym I could count on Mack (male) and Sabrina (female) to show up to participate.  One this particular day Sabrina came to play but Mack didn’t.  This left Sabrina and me to go one on one.  Sabrina is a very good basketball player.  She played Division I in college and currently plays in several adult leagues around the metropolitan area.  I’ve seen her play on several occasions.  She has good ability and is highly competitive.

 

I am also a highly competitive player.  And sometimes in a competitive setting, the game of basketball can get physical.  However, I could hardly avoid treating Sabrina differently within the context of the game in terms of the physical contact of the sport. My social education told me that no matter how good a woman can be at basketball, she’s still a woman and shouldn’t be treated harshly by a man.  When I guarded her defensively, I tried to avoid as much contact as possible.  I really tried hard not to foul her hard, or get too physical with her.  Although some contact is inevitable, I did my best to play with more finesse.   

 

However, whenever she could push, shove, or poke an elbow at me to gain an advantage, she didn’t hesitate. Because she is such a good player, her style of play plus my intention to avoid using my muscle to influence the game helped her to get a few wins against me.  I hate to lose, but I had a hard time playing too physically against Sabrina.  That had nothing to do with her ability to play the game, neither my respect for her abilities.  I just couldn’t ‘treat her like any other guy.” 

 

As the evening went on I was starting to evolve a bit.  First: I didn’t want to lose to Sabrina because I didn’t play the game correctly and as best I could.  I also didn’t want to denigrate her by trying to play “soft.”  I felt that in order to best respect Sabrina, women in general and the game of basketball I should really try to play as normal as possible.  As I turned up my intensity and focused on Sabrina as the “opponent,” my performance was noticeably better. I began to score more points and show her that I could play the game too.  On one particular play, as she was about to shoot I reached out in an attempt to block the shot and fouled her.  She sort of gave me a surprising if not questioning look.  I couldn’t be sure what she meant by the look.  Sometimes when I play with guys, they act surprised if they get fouled on a play, or act as if they should be allowed to do as they please with little or no contact.  That could have been what she was thinking.  I couldn’t help but think however, that maybe she thought that I was treating her harshly or that I had crossed the line.  Since I knew that she was a hard-core ball player, I dismissed the latter and decided to keep playing as if gender was not a factor in the game. 

 

A funny thing happened shortly thereafter.  She went for a difficult shot and made it though I had contested it vigorously.  Without thinking about it, as she walked towards the free throw line to shoot her foul shot, I tapped her on the behind and said, “Good shot.”  When I thought of Sabrina as a woman, I would have never done that.  For that would be breaking rules of etiquette.  But I had almost managed to forget that she was a woman, and I looked at her as a ball player who was very capable of embarrassing me by defeating me mercilessly.  As competitive as I am, I’m still a good sport.  So I don’t see anything wrong with paying a compliment even in the heat of battle sometimes.

 

Perhaps Sabrina was glad to see that I turned my level of play up.  Perhaps she noticed that I wasn’t treating her “like a woman.”  However she didn’t like the tap on her behind.  She said, “Hey watch that.”  She didn’t sound angry but stern nonetheless.  I felt embarrassed.  I did it at that moment without thinking of her as simply a female.  I had done the exact same thing to countless men on the court during competitive play.  As much basketball as Sabrina had played within her lifetime, I think it’s safe to say that she has traded that gesture with other women in the past without it being considered something offensive or sexual. 

 

I tried my best as a player and as a person not to give Sabrina gender discrimination.  For the time on the court, I wanted to treat her as a ballplayer first.  But Sabrina reminded me, that she was a woman.

 

 

 

…the story goes.

With the news today that once again New York City cops got off with shooting an unarmed black man 50 times, this video of a white minister discussing The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is all too telling.  Its a bit long (9min) but worth your time.  Dare I say it… he broke it down!  Amerikkka still doesn’t want to hear the truth.

An Undeserved Punishment

As a parent discipline can be a funny thing to administer.  I came from a generation of spankers so I was spanked.  Dare I say it, I was “whooped” even when it came to my mother’s ultimate form of capital punishment.  I won’t get into the gory details of how she administered such punishments, but usually the reasons varied from bad grades, or something having to do with getting in trouble at school.  This was the worst you could get from me cause I was a “good kid.”  I didn’t drink, drug, or blatenly disobey unlike my sister who was a glutton for punishment and did everything she could to tempt the beck and call of “The Belt!”  She wasn’t a nice sister either.  But thats another blog. 

Most whoopins I got I couldn’t argue with.  I was smart in school so I was expected to get good grades.  Behaving was also mandatory.  But there was one whoopin I got that I will never ever agree with; neither will I ever forget.  Let’s call it, “The Case of the Microwave.”

At the time we were living in South Bend, Indiana.  We had that middle class type of family that got most everything that came out when it was new.  For instance, for those of us old enough to remember, when cable first came out it wasn’t called cable.  It was called HBO.  And if you had cable all we said was that you had an HBO Box.  The other channels came in later.   Living in South Bend we were  able to get WGN and WBBM which was a local CBS station in Chicago.  That was just a result of the extra power from the reception that allowed HBO.  WGN was not a Superstation like it is now.  We even used the cable to the HBO box to plug into the back of the stereo in order to get the radio stations from Chicago so we could listen to Black artist.  South Bend was nothing but pop, rock, and country.  We had one radio station that played the likes or Parliament, Heatwave, The O’Jays etc. and it was only from 6-11pm on Saturday nights.  But I digress.

This wonderful thing called a microwave oven came on the scene.   As a pre-teen, my sister (almost four years my senior) and I were expected to cook more on our own cause our mom was not cooking as much as she used to.  Normally I didn’t care about cooking cause I could eat cold cereal any freaggin time of the day.  No time was a bad time for Coco Puffs or Captain Crunch with Crunchberries.  As long as I had access to my favorite breakfast treat, some milk and a tupperware bowl big enough to satisfy my appetite it was all good.  But I wanted to have more choices.  Not being skilled in the kitchen beyond the huge brontosaurus burgers I made on Saturday nights, the microwave provied the perfect tool.  I loved baked potatos and it was awsome to think that I would throw that lil thing in the “mic” for just 5 minutes and “Damn!” out pops a nice warm “papa” that I could smother with butter salt and pepper.  Not to mention I could reheat stuff without turning on the oven.  Are you kidding?  It was nothing to come home from McDonalds and throw that Big Mac in this wonderful invention and have it come out smokin – pipin hot!

One day after school me and some friends went to Wendy’s.  I got whatever burger my allowance provided for, and brought the thing home.  I couldn’t wait to throw that thing in the “mic”.  And I did.  After I put the timer on 30-45 seconds or whatever it was, I walked away to use the restroom.  All of a sudden I heard this loud scream and whale from the kitchen as my loving sister Darcel quickly turned the microwave off.  What was the problem I wondered?  She was always bitching at me about something anyway.  What now?  Obviously she doesn’t think I am worthy of using the microwave or something. 

Seems the problem was that Wendy’s wraps their burgers in aluminum foil – and you can’t put foil in the microwave.  The foil began to shoot sparks all around and the thing damn near caught fire.  “Damn boy, don’t you know you ain’t supposed to put aluminum foil in the microwave,” my sister yelled.  “Uhh, no.  No one ever told me that.  Ok, I won’t do it again.”  Normally this would be enough of explanation.  No one gave me instructions about what not to put in a microwave.  But since I was now informed I would easily correct that mishap.  Oh no not to my dear sister.  She pressed on.  “YOU WERE GOING TO BLOW UP THE WHOLE HOUSE!” 

Of course I’m thinking this girl is such a drama queen and obviously overreacting.  No biggie right?  Wrong!  She picked up the phone and called my mother at work.  “MOMMA, CHRIS IS ABOUT TO BLOW UP THE WHOLE HOUSE BY PUTTING ALUMINUM FOIL IN THE MICROWAVE!!!”  I wasn’t trippin at all.  I knew I was totally ignorant of foil/microwave procedures, and now that I know I never have to do it again.  My mom was reasonable and would surely understand this – and understand that my sister ever telling on me about something early and often was just up to her normal spouting.  Wrong again!  My momma came home and whopped my ass regardless of my ignorance.  I remember pleading, “Momma, how you gone whoop me when I didn’t know?”  She said, “Your going to know from now on!”  Oh man!

Till this day I am sure that my mom overreacted because my sister overreacted.  And to this day I will never ever believe that whoopin was justified.  Mom and I are super cool these days and she is one of my hero’s.  But the woman doesn’t even remember giving me that whoopin or the microwave incident at all.  Go figure. 

 

 

 

Friends Beyond Language ~ Or Something Like It

When I was growin up in South Bend, Indiana from the ages of 8-14, part of the fun for me was living among other cultures and races.  Most all of the people I came into contact with living in East St. Louis, Illinois were black.  When we moved and I started going to Benjamin Harrison School K-8, I was exposed to not only people of African-Descent who looked like me, but also Caucasions and Mexicans.  As a matter of fact, there was a very large Mexican migration from Mexico and Texas during the 70s and early 80s.  This is common place now in America, but South Bend was at that time starting to become just as integreated as Chicago or Miami would be.  Having a love for people of all races, I quickly made friends with many people.  There was Robert Laskowski.  He was a cool Polish kid who was my age.  There was Alfred Hernandez, he was a Mexican kid who was a couple years younger than me.  So he was like a little brother to me.  After he and I became friends I found out that he had a sister (Leticia) as well that was in my class that I had a big crush on.  (Thats another blog so stay tuned.)  I had Black friends too like Ivel Jennings.   Each of these friendships were special to me.  But none of them had the unusual circumstances surrounding them like the friendship I had with Jose Cuevas. 

Jose was a year older than me.  We both lived on Liberty and his house was just a block away.  He came by way of Mexico to live with his uncle.  They had a large family and to this day I don’t remember exactly how we met or got hooked up.  But we did.  We hung out all the time walking the neighborhoods.  We’d walk to the store, catch the bus or ride our bikes to the mall.  Normally if you saw me you saw Jose.   Sounds like a typical boyhood friendship right?  But not quite.  I would talk and talk and talk to Jose, but Jose never talked back.  Thats because Jose didn’t understand English, nor did he speak it.  That didn’t stop me from talking as if he understood everything I said, nor did it stop him from hanging out with me.

It was over Jose’s house that I learned what real authentic Mexican food taste like.  Yummy!  I saw his aunt make homemade tortillas and they would warm them by putting them on top of the burning eye on top of the stove.  When one side was warm after a few seconds they would take their hands and flip them over without getting burned.  It was over Jose’s house that I learned what birthday parties with Piñatas were all about.  Only half of his household spoke English.  He had an older cousin who used to whistle that flirting whistle every time she saw me before giggling and walking away into the other room.  I never heard her speak a word of English.  They were the absolute coolest people and I loved going over there.  They accepted me as one of their own.  When Jose wanted to get my attention, he would whistle as well – not the flirting kind but in a “heads up” way to get my attention and then he would point to something or the direction he wanted to go.  And thats how we got down. 

Sometimes I often felt sorry for Jose too because he also went to Harrison School, and one day while walking home from school he showed me his report card.  I was proud of mine and happy that the good grades I got assured me of not getting punished once my mother saw it.  But not Jose’s.  It had a full row of F’s from top to bottom.  Its not that Jose was stupid, he didn’t understand the language and there was absolutely nothing in place for him to transition.  Even in the 5th grade I could figure that out.  I’m not sure if he even knew his grades were bad or not. 

Later on Jose learned to speak some English, though he never revealed this piece of information to me.  I learned it purely by mistake ~ or should I say by some strange circumstances. 

I walked to Jose’s house and though he were not home his uncle told me where to find him.  He was at a neighbor’s house in the garage.  I went through the backyard, around the alley and eventually found the garage.  Opening the door to look for my “boy” my mouth went agape after my eyes fixed on what Jose had in his hands.  It was a blunt!  I could smell it all in the garage and I was shocked.  Beginning my lecture I started in.  “Jose, what are you doing?”  (I was real proper talking back then) “I can’t believe you are in here smoking marijuana!”  (yes i said marijuana) “Man are you crazy, dope is for dopes and junk is for junkies!”  (I saw that on an episode of Fat Albert.) “What do you have to say for yourself?!” I said that as if I expected this dude to talk, but you have to understand that is how we, errr I always communicated. 

Jose said nothing… just sat there with this stupid look on his face as if he had not understood one damn thing I said.  Finally I said, “Well if you have nothing to say fine!   I am leaving!”  As I stormed out his friend with whom he was sharing the ‘budda’ blurted out in a Latin accent, “Hey man, he’s gonna tell!”  He said it in English not Spanish.  Well all of a sudden, in the name of Jimmy Swaggert a miracle occured.  Jose began to speak… English no less.  He ran after me exlaming, “Cliss Cliss… WAIT!” 

The fact that he did learn some English without telling me didn’t seem to bother me at that time at all.  Nevermind we had been cool for almost a year and the cat never spoke a word to me.  I was not a snitch and was quick to let him know.  “Man I ain’t gonna tell on you!  I just don’t want to be around while your smoking that dope!” 

Jose and I never spoke again about that little incident.  I acted as if it had never happened.  Shortly aftwerwards he moved to Texas to stay with some other relatives.  I assume their school systems were better able to accomodate a young man trying to learn his way around and eventually become a citizen.  He surfaced again a couple years later speaking English a lot better.  By then all he could talk about was girls.  He was 16 now and his hormones were going a mile a minute.  I wasn’t into lusting yet.  So I couldn’t relate.  Our friendship was never the same and I learned for the first time that you can’t always pick up where you left off.  I’ll never forget Jose.  I sometimes wonder what he is up to.  But I laugh at the thought that when it comes to the fear of getting in trouble, language becomes universal.

  

BB&G Weblog

My name is Christopher Mac and I love to write.  I also love to read, discuss and debate ideas.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts and ideas, as well as sharing in yours.  One of my favorite quotes is, “Revolution is started with the spoken word, but it’s carried with the printed page.”  That was before this internet age, so “printed” has extended far beyond paper pages.  With it being Earth Day today, I’m sure the trees are thankful for LCD screens. 

Anyway, the BB&G blog, (which stands for Blessed Broken and Given – see ‘All About Me’ to get the meaning) will range from the mundane to the deep.  Normally most of my writings are indepth academic research like papers.  But my goal as a writer is to also be able to talk about items that are light and can make one laugh just as much as think.  Also its a way to practice the craft and stay active.   So by all means lets have some fun!

Yours Truly,  c-mac