Small Steps, Giant Leaps, and Conspiracy Theories

Since this is the 40th anniversary of the walk on the moon, I am reminded of the beliefs of some that the moon walk was a hoax.  Did Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong really walk on the moon?  Or was this a fraud put on by NASA?

There hasn’t been a recent poll I can reference, but according to Wikipedia page on the subject, there has been some poll data as recent as the last decade that all Americans are not convinced that we landed on the moon.

What do you think?  Did we land on the moon or is this an ongoing hoax?

Why do you believe one way or the other?

Is Gay The New Black?

LZ Granderson says criticism of President Obama by the gay community has gone too far.

LZ Granderson doesn’t think so. 

(CNN) — Far from flowing rainbow flags, the sound of Lady Gaga and, quite honestly, white people, stands a nightclub just outside of Wicker Park in Chicago, Illinois, by the name of The Prop House.

The line to get in usually stretches down the block, and unlike many of the clubs in Boystown and Andersonville, this one plays hip-hop and caters to men who may or may not openly identify as gay, but without question are black and proud.

And a good number of them are tired of hearing how the gay community is disappointed in President Obama, because they are not.

In recent weeks, one would have thought the nation’s first black president was also the nation’s biggest homophobe. Everyone from Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black and radio personality Rachel Maddow to Joe Solmonese, the president of Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay advocacy group, seem to be blasting Obama for everything from “don’t ask don’t tell” to Adam Lambert not winning American Idol.

In their minds, Obama is not moving fast enough on behalf of the GLBT community. The outcry is not completely without merit — the Justice Department’s unnerving brief on the Defense of Marriage Act immediately comes to mind. I was upset by some of the statements, but not surprised. (After the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, President Ronald Reagan’s initial handling of AIDS and, more recently, Katrina, there is little that surprises me when it comes to the government and the treatment of its people.)

Still, rarely has criticism regarding Obama and the GLBT community come from the kind of person you would find standing in line at a spot like The Prop House, and there’s a reason for that.

Despite the catchiness of the slogan, gay is not the new black.

Black is still black.

And if any group should know this, it’s the gay community.

Bars such as The Prop House, or Bulldogs in Atlanta, Georgia, exist because a large number of gay blacks — particularly those who date other blacks, and live in the black community — do not feel a part of the larger gay movement. There are Gay Pride celebrations, and then there are Black Gay Prides.

There’s a popular bar in the heart of the nation’s capital that might as well rename itself Antebellum, because all of the white patrons tend to stay upstairs and the black patrons are on the first floor. Last year at the annual Human Rights Campaign national fundraiser in Washington, D.C. — an event that lasted more than three hours — the only black person to make it on stage was the entertainment.

When Proposition 8 passed in California, white gays were quick to blame the black community despite blacks making up less than 10 percent of total voters and whites being close to 60 percent. At protest rallies that followed, some gay blacks reported they were even hit with racial epithets by angry white participants. Not to split hairs, but for most blacks, the n-word trumps the f-word.

So while the white mouthpiece of the gay community shakes an angry finger at intolerance and bigotry in their blogs and on television, blacks and other minorities see the dirty laundry. They see the hypocrisy of publicly rallying in the name of unity but then privately living in segregated pockets. And then there is the history.

The 40th anniversary of Stonewall dominated Gay Pride celebrations around the country, and while that is certainly a significant moment that should be recognized, 40 years is nothing compared with the 400 blood-soaked years black people have been through in this country. There are stories some blacks lived through, stories others were told by their parents and stories that never had a chance to be told.

While those who were at Stonewall talk about the fear of being arrested by police, 40 years ago, blacks talked about the fear of dying at the hands of police and not having their bodies found or murder investigated. The 13th Amendment was signed in 1865, and it wasn’t until 1948 that President Harry S Truman desegregated the military. That’s more than an 80-year gap.

Not to be flip, but Miley Cyrus is older than Bill Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell.” That doesn’t mean that the safety of gay people should be trivialized or that Obama should not be held accountable for the promises he made on the campaign trail. But to call this month’s first-ever White House reception for GLBT leaders “too little too late” is akin to a petulant child throwing a tantrum because he wants to eat his dessert before dinner. This is one of the main reasons why so many blacks bristle at the comparison of the two movements — everybody wants to sing the blues, nobody wants to live them.

This lack of perspective is only going to alienate a black community that is still very proud of Obama and is hypersensitive about any criticism of him, especially given he’s been in office barely six months.

If blacks are less accepting of gays than other racial groups — and that is certainly debatable — then the parade of gay people calling Obama a “disappointment” on television is counterproductive in gaining acceptance, to say the least. And the fact that the loudest critics are mostly white doesn’t help matters either.

Hearing that race matters in the gay community may not be comforting to hear, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

**** BB&G Notes – Opinions for either argument are welcome.  Please come intelligent regardless.

I Surf (Poems By Resonate’)

Funny how the wave come and go

Everything pertaining to life and death in it’s motion

Riding the waves I see the current under my feet

Blue is above my head

Bright is the day

 

Balance is the way I stay afloat

Careful not to rock the boat that I’m not even riding on

Oh this is sweet

I feel good,

Confident

Powerful

Strong

Hopeful

Promising possibilities abound

 

I want to cut grooves into the waves that will ripple a lasting legacy

Make a difference in the flow of the deep

Ha!  I think I can do it too

I think I can

 

I have no illusions

Can’t ride this wave forever

The currents are too tricky

Unpredictable, dangerous

One false move and splash

 

Off my board and into the deep

Disoriented scrambling for something

Beneath me to stand on

Helpless as my being is being tossed

This way and that

I can’t swim but if I could

This one’s bigger than me

Where am I, I don’t know

I can only tell you what it looks like under here

 

Dark,

Confusing

Objects without colors

Creatures without life

Like a zombie I’m carried away

Then down, down, down, and down again

Will I be saved

Do I even wanna

Could be better to submit and succumb

Let the water wash away the sorrow

 

Unless there is a lifeguard there is no hope

Down with the count like the ali rope-a-dope

But if the current won’t take me in

To the place where I once began

But spit me up on the burning sands

If I make it this time, perhaps I’ll surf again

Ending No Fault Divorce: Guest Commentary from Leah Ward Sears

I found this article on CNN.com to be interesting.  It’s definitely something we should talk about.  As a man who came from an unstable background as a child, the older I get, the more I feel that families and stable homes for children are the foundation of a solid community.  Strong families are what make nations great for so many reasons.    What do you think?

Leah Sears stepped down as chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court to work on strengthening families.

Editor’s note: Leah Ward Sears stepped down this week as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. In 1992, she became the first woman — and youngest person — appointed to Georgia’s highest court.

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) — After Tommy’s sudden death, we found among my brother’s personal effects a questionnaire he had completed in 2005 for a church class.

The very first question was a fill-in-the-blank that went like this: “At the end of my life, I’d love to be able to look back and know I’d done something about …..”

“Fathers,” Tommy wrote.

When asked to identify something that angered him that could be changed, Tommy wrote, “Re-establishment of equity and balance and sanity within the American family.”

My brother was born to be a father, and he grew into a good and loving one. Tommy was tall and handsome, smart, witty and fun. A graduate of the Naval Academy and a Stanford-educated lawyer, he married and fathered a little girl and boy who were the center of his life.

Tommy felt that one of the worst problems in our country today was family breakdown and fatherlessness. He railed against intentional unwed childbearing and the ease with which divorce was possible. He didn’t like that we have become a society that values the rights of adults to do their own thing over our responsibility to protect our children.

As a judge I have long held a front row seat to the wreckage left behind by our culture of disposable marriage and casual divorce that my brother so despised.

No-fault divorce was a response to a very real problem. The social and legal landscape that preceded it largely prevented casual divorce, but it often trapped people in abusive marriages. It also turned divorces into even uglier affairs than they are today, forcing people to expose in court damaging information about their children’s other parent. That system was intolerable, and we should never go back to that.

But no-fault divorce’s broad acceptance as an unquestioned social good helped usher in an era that fundamentally altered the seriousness with which marriage is viewed. It effectively ended marriage as a legal contract since either party can terminate it, with or without cause. This leaves many people struggling to remake their lives after painful divorces that they do not want. It also left many parents cut off from, or sidelined in, the lives of the children they love.

When Tommy divorced, as in so many cases, a bitter struggle over resources and the children ensued. My brother came to believe that the legal system turned him into a mere visitor of his children.

Tommy eventually accepted a job as a lawyer for the State Department and went to Iraq (and later to Dubai) in order to make the money needed to support his children. Being in a war zone, under terrible conditions without the children he loved, was unbearable to him.

On November 5, 2007, my phone rang before daybreak. A U.S. Foreign Service officer was on the other line. Was I the sister of William Thomas Sears?

I knew before I was told what had happened. Tommy had died. But the cause took my breath away: My brother had taken his own life.

I know I’ll never understand fully all that factored into his decision to kill himself. No doubt Tommy was wrestling with more demons than he had ever admitted to me or knew himself. But as a divorcee myself and, for a number of years, a single parent, I know the immense pain of divorce and its aftermath. The limitations the law placed on Tommy’s right to raise his own children after his divorce magnified my brother’s pain and was, I believe, more than he could live with.

Tommy was only 53 when he committed suicide. That was more than a year ago, and I am still learning to live without him and live with the fact that this man I looked up to all my life chose to end his own life.

Tommy’s loss has catapulted me even farther down a path I was already on. This may sound like heresy, but I believe the United States and a host of Western democracies are engaged in an unintended campaign to diminish the importance of marriage and fatherhood. By refusing to do everything we can to stem the rising rate of divorce and unwed childbearing, our country often isolates fathers (and sometimes mothers) from their children and their families.

Of course, there are occasions when divorce is necessary. And not everyone should marry. But it has become too easy for people to walk away from their families and commitments without a real regard for the gravity of their decision and the consequences for other people, particularly children.

Removing no-fault divorce as a legal option may not be the right way to move forward, and the solutions we need may not be entirely legal in nature. But answers must be found. The coupling and uncoupling we’ve become accustomed to undermines our democracy, destroys our families and devastates the lives of our children, who are not as resilient as we may wish to think. The one-parent norm, which is necessary and successful in many cases, nevertheless often creates a host of other problems, from poverty to crime, teen pregnancy and drug abuse.

The loss of my brother has changed my life, as these losses so often do to people. This summer, after 26 years, I’m hanging up my robe as a judge to return to private practice.

I will spend some of my time teaching a course in family law at the University of Georgia Law School. And I have accepted a fellowship at the Institute of American Values in New York — a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that contributes intellectually to strengthening families and civil society in the United States and the world.

At my request, the fellowship is named after my brother. As the William Thomas Sears Distinguished Fellow in Family Law, perhaps now I can truly do “something about fathers” — a mission I’m on for Tommy and a critical calling for all of us.