Don’t Cry for Him Judge Scalia? Conversations and Conflicts of a Judicial Tyrant

Sitting at my computer I got a notification on my phone.  I opened it and said, “Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Found Dead in His Home.”  The moment was surreal.  Kind of like the moment I learned Natalie Cole had died.  For me it just came out of nowhere.  Mouth wide opened I took my phone to where my wife was sitting and just showed her the screen.  She hesitated as well with a look of, “like for real?”  

The next thing I told her that as the members of the GOP find out what we just learned, they will be scrambling as hard as they ever have in order to come up with a talking point about the open position on the court that President Obama has 11 months to fill.  “Make no mistake.  There are emergency meetings and conference calls being set up we sit here to orchestrate a plan.  For them the timing couldn’t be worse.  They are going to block whomever he nominates.

Within minutes my wife and I went to dinner.  By the time we started to eat I saw that Mitch McConnell had demanded that the POTUS not nominate anyone in Scalia’s seat and that if he did, they would block the nomination.  By the time the GOP debate in South Carolina began, the message had been repeated a thousand times.  I started posting my own views on social media.

You know how after every mass shooting republicans never want to talk about gun control?  They say things like, “We haven’t even had the funerals yet and here you are trying to politicize this tragic experience.”  It’s not like they ever want to talk about it regardless of how much time goes by.  But I digress.  I expressed that the man’s body isn’t even cold yet and here they are politicizing his death.  I expressed that right wing conservatives don’t care anything about Scalia.  They only care about what he stood for and what he represented.  They cared that he reinforced their beliefs and helped solidify laws that crushed black people, poor people, gay people, and women.  Their court appointed ace in the hole, their god who brought vengeance on anything that wasn’t rich, Christian and Caucasian was suddenly and without warning taken.  And now just a few hours from him being put in a morgue, the right wing establishment is devouring their god like he’s high priced steak and lobster.

In the midst of this I became fascinated with my own response to finding out Scalia was dead.  Unlike Natalie Cole death, I wasn’t at all sad.  I felt some kind of joy about it.  I’ve had a secret list of 3 people who I’ve said to myself, ” I won’t wish death upon them.  But if they die, I won’t be mad.”  Scalia happened to be on that list.  And no I won’t write the others.  98% of me rejoiced that this tyrant of a man won’t be able to ruin anymore lives, or do any more damage than he’s done beyond previous judgments that the rest of us will have to live with.  2% of me felt kinda bad for the 98%.  Because I am a person who is full of love and compassion, it seemed a tad bit unsettling that I rejoiced.  I could never see Scalia, a man who loved himself perhaps more than any other Supreme Court judge in history actually retiring.  Death was the only way out.

mitch

As I posted short commentaries on Scalia’s court decisions and the GOP’s hateful responses to Obama’s presidency once again, I waited for reactions from people who may agree or disagree with my observations and opinions.  I wondered especially if any of my African-American friends were experiencing the same inward duality that I was.  Black folk in general are raised not to celebrate ones death.  No matter how evil that person is or was.  My guess is that’s related our faith and history in Christianity. It hasn’t been often in my lifetime that a significant oppressive figure had passed on.  I know well the history of assassinations against progressives.  I know of state sponsored murders of people who fought for freedom for me and those who look like me. But when was the last time a figure whose name is so polarizing for black people been so suddenly and permanently removed… even naturally?

I sent text messages to a few friends of mine.  “Dude, Scalia is dead!”  One wrote back, “I see.  Sad.” I responded,  “Sad for who? Not us!”  He responded that loss of live is loss of life.  He did not agree with Scalia judicially or politically.  We exchanged a few more sentences and phrases.  But one of the things I mentioned is that if I did not grieve for Osama Bin Laden when he met his end, how could I grieve a man who has spent his life’s work attempting to destroy every piece of equality and progress we’ve fought to achieve?  It was only a couple months ago when Scalia said in open court that black people needed to go to lesser and slower schools because we were too stupid to function in the ‘big ones.’

As custom, it’s natural to speak good of any figure who holds such a prestigious position.  People have described him as brilliant, colorful, a legal giant.  I wouldn’t use those words.  But I’m not the only one.

Tim Wise put it this way: While I revel in the death of no one, I cannot abide the hagiographic nonsense that is presently being offered by persons across the spectrum about how Scalia was “passionate” and brilliant, ad infinitum. There is nothing brilliant about putrescence, nothing insightful and worthwhile about venality posing as insight. To say that there is nothing unconstitutional about executing innocent people (as he did in fact say), or that it’s OK to imprison persons for “gay sex,” among other things, is never the work of a genius no matter the big words and poetic flair with which they might say it. Those opinions are evil, vile and worthy of utter derision. They are not the work of a genius, but a fetid little man whose moral calibration slouched towards those of Torquemada and the Inquisitors. I feel for his family and mourn their personal loss. And that is the extent of my mourning, as it is the only type of which one such as this is deserving.

More on Scalia’s legacy in this link:

Perhaps some may think my Bin Laden comparison was a stretch.  Though I could argue judicial terrorism on blacks, women, gays and poor people, I can bring it closer to home.  If I lived during The Civil War, would I mourn the death of Robert E. Lee?  How about Jefferson Davis?  These people fought to keep my people in bondage.  If Scalia had the wherewith while he was here, whose to say he wouldn’t bring back slavery?  I can easily see him saying, “If the Founding Fathers wanted slavery to end, they would have indicated this in the text.  Since they didn’t, I don’t see anything unconstitutional about it remaining in tact.”

scalia

I discussed some of this on social media with a very well respected minister Traci Blackmon.  She is as progressive and courageous as Christians go.  She expressed via her Facebook page; “Tonight I offer prayers for the family of Justice Scalia. He was not a friend to me or my people. But he is still God’s child.”   As I write this it has 430 likes.  Some talked about his children and the devastation they must be feeling.  Others were less than sympathetic.  One person’s response in particular touched on my earlier thoughts:  “Yes I know. I felt guilty and unChristian like to have no sadness in his passing, almost a glimmer of happiness. I checked myself and voiced it. But there it is.”  Another responded, “What an example of God’s grace. Thank you for helping me check my own internal feelings. I did not wish him ill, but I am delighted he’s no longer on the bench. I pray that our next justice will have more compassion and understanding.”

Ahhh see where I’m coming from? What is to say the original sentiments were wrong?  Is it possible that it’s natural to delight in the death of your oppressor and not at all unrighteous?  If it is righteous, would I care to pray for the family now that he’s dead?  Does it matter what his family thought of his work?  Did the Jews say prayers for Adolph Hitler’s family members after he died? Did my Christian parents and grandparents believe it properly pious to pray for the family of Alabama Governor George Wallace after he died?  I understand that THEY were not the ones siccing vicious attack dogs on us and spraying us with water hoses while authorizing police to savagely beat us in the public streets.

Where exactly is the line of demarcation?  As I told Traci, I just don’t know.  Proverbs 11:10 says, When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

Regardless, I know what the right wing establishment feel.  Not only will they hold Scalia up as a hero of epic proportions, they want to do everything in their power to replace him with one just like him if not worse.  Someone who hates me, my wife, my mother, my kids, my grand kids. Hoping and praying that this doesn’t happen is not something I am conflicted about at all.

SCOTUS Blog on Recess Appointments to the Supreme Court

 

 

Religious Hypocrisy Strikes Again, …or The Dog Fighter’s Advocate

“I wouldn’t have taken him.  Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. …It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.’’ – Tony Dungy

Let me start by saying I know where Tony Dungy is coming from.  I know because I used to run in the same circles he runs in.  I worshiped and congregated in the same churches, listening to the same preachers, fellow-shipped with the same men who attended Promise Keepers when it was in town.  Dungy, an author of 7 faith based books including one on marriage has never been shy about promoting his brand of Christian faith.  He raised money for the Indiana Family Institute to ban same sex marriage.  A champion for ‘conservative values’ he’s parlayed his image to be the NFL’s edition of  Billy Graham meets Cliff Huxtable.

Dungy displayed his Huxtable mentoring talents with Michael Vick.  After Vick was released from federal prison for the abuse and killing of dogs, he tutored Vick to become the calm voice in the Philadelphia Eagles locker room, and a protege to other potentially troubled NFL players.  On NBC’s Sunday Night NFL Football show, Dungy is the most vanilla/least polarizing of any football analyst.  That it until yesterday’s quote from the Tampa Bay Tribune.

Cliff-Huxtable

Dungy is living a double life, trapped between two conflicting worlds.  His Christian values teaches him that being gay is a sin.  He hears on any given Sunday that there is a ‘gay agenda’ promoted by Satan himself to subject god-fearing men to accept an abomination.  He’s also made a life playing, coaching, and now commentating in a brutal sport that destroys the body and cause brain damage.  Players in the NFL are generally not saints, but sinners.  They are young, brash, carnal, full of testosterone, trained killers who even if only briefly hold the world by their finger tips.  Generally, they live promiscuously and their idea of fun is making it rain in strip clubs.

How does Dungy navigate these two worlds?  It’s not hard.  His ‘values’ are not in peril because most of his Christian brethren love football.  They love the position he’s in.  They love to rub shoulders with NFL royalty.  And most of all, his presence on television brings credibility to their beliefs.  Which is why they don’t have a problem with his comments about Michael Sam.  Sam is gay.  As for what the straight players do and the lifestyles they live, it’s accepted par for the course.  Dungy and his sycophants don’t see promiscuity, materialism and making it rain as a ‘distraction’ to be dealt with.  Heck, if they weeded out the colonies from the strongest and fastest to the most chaste, the NFL would cease to exist. Make no mistake, these Christians want their football.

Some people are calling for Dungy to clarity or make some additional statement so as to not come off as bigoted against gay people. Sam is at least for now a member of the NFL’s family.  While he’s certainly not the only gay player, he is the only publicly acknowledged one.  Dungy, just the fourth black head coach in the NFL’s modern era post Fritz Pollard already had the path paved and smoothed  for him.  His Super Bowl victory makes him teflon.  His clean cut image made it so that he didn’t need to touch the Sam situation. But he just couldn’t help himself.  His Christian Agenda pricked him which prompted a statement for the boys in the congregation.  Veiled in the theme of ‘distraction’, he poked at Sam’s career potential saying he wouldn’t ‘want to deal with’ the baggage.  That same baggage that Branch Ricky dealt with for the media, social and player side show endured by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.   There are no sermons for womanizing, smoking weed and making it rain.  But the anti-gay message is weekly.

No, I don’t want Dungy to clarify a word.  If anything, he should keep it all the way 100 and own hypocrite that he and his Christian brethren are; instead of this passive aggressive ‘not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play’ BS.

Yea… Dungy wants Sam to have a chance….  just not on HIS team.

Message to the ‘Bitter’ Black Man

Let me begin with a little background: I love justice, equality and the celebration/respect of diversity.  As such I celebrate the accomplishments of Martin King, Malcolm X, The Black Panther Party movement, Dick Gregory, and Paul Rusesabagina to name a few.  I have marched with Al Sharpton and was friends with the late great Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.  As a matter of fact, I was blessed and privileged to spend a week with Shuttlesworth in his home recording his perspective of his life’s work.  If you don’t know who the man is, dammit Google him! Further I’ve identified with the rap lyrics of Public Enemy!  You might hear me blasting “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” on any given day.  It’s an anthem as far as I’m concerned.

I’m a vivacious reader so I am up on politics, the economy, the incarceration rates of minorities and the very common lack of justice people who look like me receive every day. I saw all this to clarify that I am a free and progressively strong black man.

PE

With that… this is something that I read that I came across on social media regarding the 4th of July: I don’t understand why so many Black people in the United States are wishing so many other Black people in the United State a happy Independence day. Is it just stupidity? Have we really bought into the idea that we should be proud Americans? Now I think that anytime that you are able to spend with family is a good thing, fireworks are pretty and I personally like barbecued chicken. But to believe in the spirit of the 4th of July? You are joking, right?   The author of this text is Runoko Rashidi.  I don’t know Mr. Rashidi.  But this was my response to my friend who posted it.

Naw we ain’t joking Mr. Rashidi. No one is going to disagree with you that black folk were not afforded freedom or ‘independence’ in 1776. Nor are we where we need to be now. YET, I am an American. No one gets to take my part of what I give to this nation nor that of my ancestors. We built this country. We persevered, survived, and advanced through the fire and through the wall. Yes we will have a long way to go, and yet any black person who does not recognize the blessing that it is to live in a country that regardless of the racism and injustice that I fervently fight EVERYDAY has probably not visited many other countries. EVERY nation and every society has it’s issues and challenges. I don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater to enjoy MY piece of this pie. Perspective is everything Mr. Rashidi. Extremes and accusations of stupidity are unnecessary and counterproductive to the larger struggle. Dammit ‘not’ celebrating the 4th of July is the LEAST of ‘solving’ black folks problems in the US of A!

Again, I don’t know Mr. Rashidi.  I am sure he is a positive and loving person who loves black people.  Thus I am not attacking  him.  However, what I have noticed among some of my Black American contemporaries is a bitter disposition on life, America, our roles and responsibilities.  The above is an example.  Another example is what I see from some other Black folk who have no love or respect for President Obama.  I’ve seen in social media phrases like, “f#@! Obama and the United States,’ or other references to the effect of, “I don’t know why people are worshiping Obama.  The country is going to hell.  He hasn’t done nothing for you.”  Some even brag about not voting as if that’s makes one ‘above the system.”  Excuse me? Let’s let’s step away from the microphone for a minute. Here are a few things you need to know about politics:

1) Everything you love and hate about America is the result of politics.  Whether local, regional or national; access to clean water, food, gas/oil, utilities, roads/highways, trash pick up/disposal, the internet, wages, education, technology and so on. Politics is about power and power decides everything!  People spend millions of dollars in order to be in a position to make power moves.  Some do it by running for political positions.  Others spend money to influence those who will hold the positions.

2) There has been an ongoing movement for more than a century to deny, cheat and suppress the vote from people of color.  Regardless of the imperfections within the system, for me to voluntarily divorce myself from having at least some say is beyond dumb!   You have never heard any other group of people say, “I’m not voting because it doesn’t make a difference…”  Hell if it didn’t make a difference we wouldn’t have cases argued in courts all over America!

3) One of the greatest tricks politicians use is to get a group of people in the bad predicament to vote against their own interest because of racism, and rhetoric as to who the real enemies are.  So while we waddle in the mud over small and insignificant  bigotries, the power brokers are fleecing the nation and swinging every conceivable and possible option towards their advantage.  And yet some of us stand ignorantly, pontificating from on high about how we don’t participate in any political processes.   Ask Eric Cantor if black folk’s votes don’t make a difference! To quote the Miami Heat President we need to, “Get a grip!”

If you have F-U money like Prince you can afford to talk that, “I don’t participate in politics”, BS. (…and even HE is pissing on his ancestors who spilled blood to provide a platform for him)  But the majority of us?  Not so much!

republican-john-boehner-jobs-meme-gop1_zps735dcedf

Sure the system ain’t perfect.  But the IDEAS of system are pretty damn good.  It’s people who are corrupted.  And it’s up to people to hold people in political power accountable.   It’s up to us to become part of the solution in all areas of our lives. We can’t be out here majoring on minors; allowing stupid thinking to stand in the way of us doing what we need to do in order to be the very best we can be…which includes being a vital part of every process that can possibly affect us. We have a right to be angry.  I have personally experienced damn near every basic negative effect of racism known to a black man in America;  Employment discrimination, police brutality, and so forth.

Equally true is some of my most trusted friends, allies, and working relationships are with white men, and black and otherwise.  It’s not our skin that draw us together, but our respective states of mind. We have a right to be angry.   And sometimes anger is good. It can provoke action which can provoke changes. We don’t have to agree with everyone on everything in order to do some things together.  Martin King wasn’t universally beloved.  *many black folks despised him in the midst of the civil rights movement* Neither was Malcolm.  Neither was Mandela.  Also, they were not PERFECT men.  If you dig deep enough there are several things within their philosophies, actions and inaction’s that you would quibble with them on. That doesn’t diminish their worth.  You know why they are praised now?  Because they’re dead!  Being dead excuses one from being judged based on current events, discussions and actions.  The longer they are dead, the more they tend to be immortalized and perfected.  The larger point is that people are flawed, even great people.  And so are you!

So why are black folk so hard on the POTUS.  I’m willing to venture most of his Black critics don’t know a damn thing about his presidency, what he has managed to accomplish in spite of the GOP’s racist resentfulness of his occupation of the White House.

And it ain’t like our sh#! don’t stink.  In spite of our introduction to the Americas via the slave trade, we were not in Africa singing Kumbaya when whitey came along to pluck us from utopia.  We had already done our own share of manipulating, dominating and deceiving one another too.   We fought wars among ourselves, took land and so forth.   So have the Spanish, the Polish, The Irish, Germans, Catholics, Protestants, and so forth.  It’s in man’s nature to desire power, use power, and exert power over others.   Give some of us some extra power now and see what we do with it! It’s up to us to bitch about the problems alone or become the part of the solution.

I’m challenging you bitter black man.  Be a part of the solution.  Otherwise you may want to visit places like The Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Haiti, Honduras, Syria, etc.  THEN tell me as you sit on your computer using the internet for Facebook and Twitter in your clean clothes after taking a hot shower eating the food you bought from the local store with the car you drove me how bad it really is.

I am an American.  This is my damn country too.  It’s only 238 years old.  Check your historical geography and you’ll realize that’s pretty damn young.  I am going to work to make the best out of it for myself, my family and my friends!  I hope you bitter black man will participate with me.  The problems may not have started with you, but you still have to own a major part of the solutions.

The President and Gay Marriage

A few words on President Obama and same sex marriage:

First I don’t think it should be necessary for any president to have to speak on something so polarizing unless he/she plans on pursuing policy to either push for or fight against said topic. George W. pursued legislation against gay marriage.  So his personal opinion mattered.  Unless President Obama plans to push legislation, (and so far he hasn’t indicated that he would) I don’t find it necessary that he had to speak on it. 

That said the most important thing is how voters will respond.

I’ve heard much about how his stance one way or the other will affect the election.  Here is my opinion:

If a person were to make a decision to vote for a president or not for the sake of one or two social issues alone, that person is stupid.  First of all, it’s not a president’s primary job to lead social change, but to lead the country in terms of protection, preservation and advancement of the nation he/she leads.  If there are social issues that directly or indirectly affect the economy, our security, or prevent us from our best chance as Americans then the President should lead on those.  This is not to say that the gay rights issue doesn’t fit those criteria.  But again, it will only make a difference if The President pursues policy, not simply his opinion.  President Obama said he would turn back DADT in his campaign.  It wouldn’t have mattered if LBJ thought Black Americans should have a civil rights bill in his heart but refused to press the power of his bully-pulpit.

I’ve heard comments from Black Christian folk who say that they are either going to vote Republican this November or not vote at all simply because of this issue.   Again, that is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.

Number one, regardless of how you feel about gay marriage, there are just too many variables that will affect everyone’s lives whoever becomes president.   Whether gays are allowed to get married or not, it’s only going to change the life of the gay community.  It won’t prevent a straight person’s ability to marry whom they want.  Meanwhile we still have the economy to deal with,  Supreme Court justices, foreign policy etc.  All of which will have a bigger impact on the country.  Gays getting married will not help nor prevent you from getting a job.

Number two,   I saw Roland Martin say on CNN last night that it will be interesting to see whether black conservative preachers will lean towards their “political or prophetic voices” when speaking to their congregations.  (Martin is an ordained Baptist minister)  I thought to myself, “WTF was that supposed to mean?  You mean to tell me that if the president is for gay marriage alone that is a deal breaker?

For all the biblical talk about Adam and Steve, Mitt Romney is a Mormon.  According to the Institute for religious research, Christianity and Mormonism differ on several central core doctrinal beliefs concerning the person of Jesus Christ. 

http://www.irr.org/mit/is-mormonism-christian.html

By their standards, this should trump anything above one moral issue. 

Also Romney was for gay marriage not long ago. He’s only changed his public opinion since courting the Republican nomination.

Does that mean that Christians should stay home and not vote for anybody?  Again that would be stupid.

Regardless of who you choose to vote for, you need to vote for someone as opposed to not participating in the process.  And it would be wise to not isolate anything in particular, but to look at the totality of the policies the candidate would pursue and based on those policies if the nation as a whole is going to be better off.

I challenge you not to be fooled by this idiocy no matter what a preacher says.  I mean what the hell is Eddie Long going to say about it?

Things of Faith, Man and the Search for Universal Truth

My faith journey has come a long way.

From a theological perspective, I was raised in the Judaea Christian traditions within various denominations. Through the years I have been taught by the church, inspired, motivated, fooled, disillusioned, angry, resentful, ashamed of, and even restored.

Regardless of my personal experiences with dogma and the organization of religion my faith in the Supreme has never diminished. My belief system is simple and complicated, spiritual and natural, scientific and unexplained.

I could never subscribe to the atheist belief that there is no Supreme Being. To me atheistic thinking dismisses a serious explanation for the origin for life. In other words, I haven’t seen evidence of any life form without their first being life to reproduce itself after its kind. Even if creationism from a religious perspective is not a viable option, just a look at the sun, moon and the stars, all of the living creatures, the way the cycles of the earth rotates, lives, nurtures, replenishes and sustain itself with its inhabitants; I find it illogical that all of that which we behold and witness is without thought, planning and design. In this way I don’t judge the concept of atheism. What I can say is that I don’t get it.

galaxy-1

As much as I like Bill Mahr and admire his political satire, I think he sounds like a fool when he arrogantly dismisses any possibility of a higher power. His brain is so creative, that he can actually talk himself out of acknowledging his own lack of having anything to do with it. He depends on air he breathes to live, and yet it does not keep him alive. Think about it. Oxygen is all around those dying every day. At some point everyone will take in their last breath. And all the oxygen on the earth can’t give you another breath once that last one has been exhaled. With all the riches, wealth and resources in the world one cannot give him more life. Nor does anyone have the power to ask and receive it initially at the beginning of a natural life.

A study of the massive sophistication and depth of DNA alone should prompt one to believe that this world, this universe, even our humanity was intentional. This is why I believe the atheist argument comes up horribly short. There is just too much genius around us that we had nothing to do with to call it all random.

What Mahr and I share along with others who believe as he does however, is the disdain for those seeking to validate and promote ‘God’ only as they see Him in such a fashion that it boxes his breadth and scope down to moral, theological and geo-political bents. I too scoff at the limitations and lack of critical thinking skills people subject themselves to in order to follow a bunch of laws and standards written by mortal, flawed, and often agenda driven men. I can resonate with his frustration of people who refuse to observe and work through critical issues with a reality based point of view as opposed to choosing to hide head-in-sand and quote scripture so as to eliminate the need of such deeper or even more simplistic considerations.

I get it. But that doesn’t answer the questions of life, the potential and capabilities of the human mind and body, the spirit world, and the universe. The fact that in the wild a lion and a deer will drink from the same water brook and if the lion is not hungry, not only will he not so much as bother the deer, but that the deer instinctively knows it. Man, in all of his ingenuity, intellect, skill and passion have only learned and understood so much of it. He certainly hasn’t been able to define it.

My basic understanding of myself, my surroundings, my instincts, makes me curious, and awestruck on the subject of the Supreme Being. Though I have identified my beliefs through Christian lenses most of my life, I have studied various religions and beliefs among men. Lessons from Christianity as well as other faiths have helped me greatly. Still I’ve rejected many pieces of doctrines. Through it all here I stand; still seeking, still desiring, and still stretching to find the source of my own significance.

black-jesus

As of now I don’t really claim any specific religion. Though if you pushed me, I would still lean towards a very loose and selective portion of Christianity. Not for any special reason. This is simply the environment I was brought up in and therefore most familiar with. It’s second nature. I love gospel music and can often find myself blissfully swept away in its messages of worship, submission and hope. One of my mentors the late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was a Christian man who lived the most dedicated and faithful life I have ever seen in a human. Yet I admire and respect the life of Malcolm X especially after he split from The Nation of Islam and went in a direction that he believed was more beneficial to his perspective of the way he saw his Creator. Am I to say that Shuttlesworth knew God because he called him Jesus or that Malcolm’s aligning himself with Allah did not? There is hardly no religious sect that does not have within it members who believe and have evidence that their prayers have been answered. There are unexplained ‘miracles’ happening everyday regardless of faith type. Thing begs to question, “Does the Supreme have an exclusive name?” Only religious people think so. Or is He so awesome and self-assured that He is not hung up on and limited by that kind of thing? – Man actually giving Him a name that will sum Him up. Even as I write this I only say ‘Him’ as a reference point. I don’t know that The Supreme has a gender.

This proves that the biggest hindrance to understanding The Supreme is defining the revelation of His presence and purpose solely through a religious bent.

I have learned to settle in and take what I believe one step at a time; one lesson at a time; one experience at a time. And with those I focus on that which I am comfortable with. Which are a basic set of principles that I live by. (At least try to live by most of the time.)

Faith

Faith is first just an acknowledgment and recognition of a centralized presence. I don’t believe He/She/It needs to be called Jesus or any other religious or secular name. I believe in this Power that is so brilliant beyond measure, beautiful, and peaceful. The Universe has been created in such a way that it would take perhaps a million lifetimes just to scratch the surface of what is really going on out there. Names are too limited to describe The Ultimate. That is about as far as I am willing to take it as of now.

Do I believe this Universal entity cares about what happens to me personally? Yes. This is because I don’t believe all of this is by chance. If I’m correct then there has to be a purpose. Anyone who is aware of his purpose cares about fulfilling that purpose. With that I am able to give thanks and blessings many times per day to The Supreme for all that I am blessed to behold.  Sometimes, I even submit a few prayer request along the way.

Personal Purpose/Destiny

This is a tough one. Because most people either believe that they have a specific purpose on earth that a higher power has in mind or they don’t. Others believe we make our own decisions no matter what. I fall in the middle of both world views. For example, none of us had anything to do with us being here. That includes when we were born, where we were born, or to what family. We couldn’t decide what color we were going to be, whether male or female, and so forth. There are so many things that were not in our original control.

And yet as the species on earth we call mankind, we have the ability to create, build, reproduce, expand, grow, and it goes on and on. Our decisions shape the direction of not only our lives, but those around us as well as those who come after us. Decisions made by only a few throughout history have led to generational worldwide rewards and consequences.

With this I believe that many, but not every aspect of my life has been fully intentional. I am thankful for my time, my space, and my opportunity to do whatever it is I am supposed to do. I am abundantly grateful for everyday believing that my universe is saying something to me and beckoning me to respond for my own benefit, and the benefit of others. I believe that if enough of us do that, we will experience even greater awakenings, recognition, and access to this Universe.

            Islam7

Morals

Morals are a very subjective from person to person. I believe that morals must come from within, not just what is taught within a society to preserve order; though order is necessary. Some people are comfortable with doing things and living by certain principals that others are not. My morals are a combination of what I have been taught as a youth, as well as what I have grown to understand as an adult. Since I am still growing, segments and pieces of my moral code are still being refined. What has remained consistent is to live by a standard in which my conscious remains clear of guilt and that my life is one of freedom and not bondage. I believe that many of the unhappy, unsatisfied and destructive people on earth are ones whom live against their own conscious. I can’t speak for those whom seem not to have a conscious at all. Still I have to live by my own. I desire that my life continues to project that which is less harmful but more liberating to me as well as my environment.

Who is The Supreme Being/God?

I absolutely don’t know the answer to that. I believe that God is spirit as I am though much greater. I don’t believe God is fixated by what we call he/she/it like most organized religions i.e. Christianity, (Jehovah, Christ) Islam (Allah) and so forth. I believe that mankind has had various reasons for wanting to segregate God into something they are comfortable with. Certainly having a book such as the bible for instance, makes following God or expressing faith more focused. For now I choose experiencing and receiving whatever it is I may learn and absorb whether it be from a religious context or not. My trust is that The Supreme knows how to get a message to me when it’s time. And that I will receive it as long as I stay open. I’m not afraid to fail at this. I embrace all of the possibilities and resources imaginable at this point.

Organized Religion

In spite of my critique, I am not down on organized religion as a whole. I believe that Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Zen, and many others has served millions well over the centuries. Organized religious morality has influenced many peaceful societies as most of them promote treating one another in a loving and civilized way. Most promote growth and spirituality. Most promote submission to a higher authority and less self-seeking. Most emphasize sacrifice and giving towards something much bigger than the individual person who claims its faith.

Most have had their downfalls as well. So many wars, forms of oppression, and crimes against humanity result from religious beliefs and zeal. This is not only true of Christianity and Islam. Human sacrifices for instance took place long before Columbus set foot on the shores of the Americas. Nobody’s hands are clean. There has been and continues to be both good and bad.

            Tian Tan Buddha

Afterlife

Since I don’t believe that our lives are our bodies, I don’t believe that life ceases without the body. I believe our bodies are Earth suits. With them we move about upon the land or the sea. The earth is our bodily home. We live here for a time and season. It is here that we eat, sleep, love, share, learn etc… Perhaps our earthly time is training for something else that has nothing to do with our bodies. I just don’t know. And I don’t know that anyone really does.

I know many people whom I trust said a relative who have died or have been released from their natural bodies visited them in a spiritual form. Perhaps those who are ‘dead’, in body, help watch over us who remain. Perhaps there are differing dimensions that continue in cycles past our earthly lives. I don’t have a clue!

But I’m OK with that right now. For now I want to concern myself with the form of life I am experiencing now. And I will have to let the other work itself out. It’s definitely outside of my pay grade. If I can make this one count for something good, then I trust things will work out in the end… well, if there is one.

In Faith, Me

 

Sports and Politics Intersect Retro Style

I was only an infant when Tommy Smith and John Carlos threw up the black fist in Mexico City; a young pup when Muhammad Ali refused to participate in the Vietnam War.  There was a time when many African-American sports figures and icons took to the streets and spoke out for social justice.  They were not afraid to lend their voices and their fame to give attention to important issues they cared about.  They were courageous enough to risk their careers if necessary to stand up for what they believed was right.

Unfortunately that was a long time ago.  Rarely do we see black superstar athletes stand up for anything having to do with more than their latest contract negotiations.  The money guys like Ali, Smith and Carlos made pales in comparison to the astronomical millions today’s athletes bank above their predecessors.

Our most successful and marketable black athletes too often stray as far away from civic issues as they can.  I will always remember Michael Jordan’s refusal to support a progressive African-American candidate Harvey Gantt for state senate in his native North Carolina.  Not because he agreed more with the politics of the infamously racist Helms, but because, “Republicans by sneakers too.”  Jordan was the symbol and poster child of the New Crossover Negro who believed it far more important to hawk product and filling his own coffers rather than possibly alienating potential buyers with moral controversy.   Tiger Woods has picked up the baton running that race with ease by denying all things black whether it be per his own heritage and identity as well as the women he chooses to marry and fool around with.  Woods is as vanilla as the ice cream in my freezer and as close to anti-black as one could be with deference to Justice Thomas.

blackpower

Whether it was the Rodney King beating, presidential races, supreme court decisions or 17 year old children with candy and a drink, sadly Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Arthur Ashe are not walking through these doors.

This is what makes the tweeted photo by LeBron James and his Miami Heat teammates in support of justice for Trayvon Martin an eye opener for me.  The Heat players live in South Florida.  Perhaps they feel the intensity of emotions even deeper than the rest of the country.  Perhaps some of the players have had their own issues with being pulled over for DWB (Driving While Black) with even more emphasis because they drive the finest cars money can buy.  I don’t know.  But I respect James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh for being a part of a symbolic show of solidarity to Trayvon’s family as well as every other young black male in the United States.  I respect them especially because they are the faces of their franchise and the league that so many Americas pays attention to.

Former NBA players Etan Thomas and Craig Hodges were no strangers to standing up for unpopular beliefs.  Hodges so much so that he was literally blackballed from the NBA after presenting former President Bush a list of social issues he thought The President should address when the Chicago Bulls visited The White House.  If Jordan makes that move, it carries more weight and no way is the biggest revenue generating player the league had ever seen pushed out the door.

So big ups to LeBron, Wade, Bosh and the rest of the Heat players.  You didn’t have to march like the old school.  But you did use the most powerful and significant tool given your generation which is social media.  And for me, that speaks volumes!

Miami_Heat_for_Trayvon

Penn St., Empires,and the Love of Money

The love of money is the root of all evil.  I Timothy 6:10

Looking at all of this spinning going on in College Station PA., several things come to mind.

1) The University doesn’t give a damn about the boys that were molested by their employees on their university property.  The reason they don’t want Joe Paterno speaking is because they are afraid he could say something that would open them up to paying a shitload of money in multiple lawsuits.  The lawsuits are coming so they can forget getting out of that.

Still the money is all they can think about as they decided to let JoePa finish the season.  They are so delusional it’s unreal to watch.  I still have my doubts that he will actually show up on Saturday.  While the university still wants to cover his ass giving way to his ‘legacy,’ the fact of the matter is that they lived on borrowed time years and it’s time to cash in the chips.

Look at how they are wording it this morning saying that Paterno ‘decided to retire’ at the end of the season.  What?  Is he STILL in control there deciding what the hell he wants or does not want to do?  Seriously?

2) Paterno is even more delusional as he thinks he can just zone in on football as if that will steer the attention from the heinous crimes committed on his watch.  His piss poor bullshit statement last night that we need to ‘say a little prayer for the victims,’ shows a man clearly in a bubble.  Nobody would have had to say any prayers if the most powerful man in the entire area did his moral obligation.  If he would have saw to it that Sandusky was never around the campus again but rather faced the authorities and the parents of these young boys.

3) Don’t tell me the obligations were only moral either.  You mean to tell me Sandusky didn’t take any of these kids outside of state lines to Penn State games?  He didn’t molest them in team hotels?  If he did it in the locker rooms he did it certainly across state lines on the schools dime.

4) The Penn State students who gathered at his home and at the administrative offices to show support and slob on his 84 year old nob shows the level of tribalism that is possible in this country regardless of the circumstances.  It’s utterly shameful and despicable!

5) Amateur athletics as it relates to NCAA sports is a sham.  This is yet another example of how the university, and others within the system turn their backs on innocent little boys for the sake of the estimated 50 million annual dollars that the football program brings to the school.

The NCAA silence on this matter is deafening!  I guess they are still too busy chasing after Reggie Bush’s Heisman Trophy or looking for guys who sell their jerseys for tattoos to fuck with JoePa!

6) How in the hell was Sandusky allowed to continue to stay around the campus with access to children?  Just answer me that!

7) Heads need to roll and roll quickly!  Mike McQueary wanted to keep a football job and get paid so bad that he didn’t say anything either.  He shouldn’t be on the sidelines either.  At the end of the day all he could think about was his own ass.  His time too is up!

Paterno knew what was up and cared only about protecting his name and his brand.  He is the Cardinal Law of Penn State University.  For me I could give a damn about all the money of fame he brought to the school.  What I see of his true legacy is that he did that at the expense of many young boys who’s lives are damaged forever because his pride and brand were on the line.  If his football legacy is more important to him or anybody else than the legacy of damaged young people who could not defend themselves then I say fuck him and his legacy!  Is the game of football more important than the lives of these children?  I’ll say a ‘prayer’ that he steps the fuck down since the university’s board of trustees still lack the stones to do it themselves!

Bishop Eddie Long-stroke, Predators, Perceptions, Church Folk & Hood Justice

 

Yea I know, in this country everyone by law is innocent until proven guilty.  But this isn’t a court of law.  So I will express some commentary of common sense.  

Let’s get this one thing straight off the top.  If you are one of those Christians who believe that Bishop Eddie Long is totally innocent and that all of these young men are lying as some sort of a set up to get paid, you are at best totally naïve, and at worst an idiot.   (Trust there will be plenty of both at New Birth tomorrow morning.)  When I heard the news that he was using his pastoral power and influence to coerce young men within his congregation into sex, the first thing I said was, “Let’s just wait and see.”  I didn’t want to jump to conclusions because I know folk do lie, and extortion is also a possibility.  But I quickly added, “If a third young man comes out of the woodworks, it’s a wrap!”  There may be some legal wrangling, but that doesn’t mean that the Bishop was guiltless of dirty deeds being done.  No sooner than I said that, I looked at my CNN app and ‘BAM’ there it was, accuser #3.  As I write this the number is up to 4.  It’s like some Tiger Woods shit now. 

Not only are the details of this scandal telling, the way the Bishop is handling it is as well.  First he cancelled a scheduled appearance on The Tom Joyner Morning Show Thursday morning.  Then he cancelled a scheduled news conference on Thursday afternoon.  His shield is heavily shined with the polish of high priced attorneys.  Now why is that?  Look, if I’m a rich guy who can afford the credentials he is paying for and innocent, they could not keep me from publically stating on Tom Joyner, a news conference or from the rooftops for that matter that I am innocent of coercing sex from young men under my pastoral charge.  Sure I would retain attorneys to represent me in the case.  I’m also countersuing on top of it.  I know the attorneys are claiming that it’s their call for Long to keep quiet till Sunday, but in the name of Miles Davis, ‘So What!’  If he was accused of robbing a bank, something he didn’t do, would he be merely releasing a statement and letting this stew?  At the very least an innocent man accused of such travesties would say something like, “I hired attorneys who will instruct me, however since I am innocent I have no problems saying to anyone that I did not have sexual or improper relations with these young men including buying gifts etc.”  What else would he say in court if that were the case?  This is just common sense.  This case is not a criminal one. All of this silence is unnecessary unless there is something to hide. 

I can see where the first steps are leading however.  Bishop Long is going to speak where his bread is buttered and where he has tens of thousands of devoted supporters in the element in which he is most comfortable.  The church will set the atmosphere.  There will be the usual singing, praising and worshipping of God as is custom.  Except this won’t be so usual; Emotion will be at a fever pitch as those in the congregation not looking for a car wreck will feel a special mission to cry out to God (literally with tears) in this service to save their bishop.  They believe he is under Satan’s attack!  And with their faith Jesus will deliver their prophet of God from the ‘hands of the enemy’.   Finally the Bishop will emerge and offer his doding followers some spiritual psycho-babble about Satan, deceived young men who betrayed are being used by Satan to attack the church as a whole, and the victory that will be delivered by God Almighty.  He already released a statement saying that …”we will arise.”  I didn’t think ‘we’ his congregation were accused of what he is accused of.  But he is rallying the troops, making them feel as if they are also the object of Satan’s attack.

Trust me when I tell you; I know how these things work.  I was in these circles of theology for many years in the same type of churches.  I know how they think and the rhetoric that they function on.  In mainstream power-based Christianity pastors are placed on pedestals that would make kings blush.  And when they are not careful, their pride allows for dastardly words and acts. 

I remember belonging to a church where the pastor told us that any extra money we received that was a blessing outside of normal income didn’t belong to us but to him God.  There was a new building project the church was working on, and he wanted to walk into it debt free with the money from the congregation.  He even went on to say that we should get the equity out of our homes by taking out second or third mortgages because it was God’s money we were holding on to.  Most of us were smart and said, “This nigga must be crazy!”  But the point is that he felt that freedom because of the power of influence he had as pastor.  (He also called himself Bishop by the way.)  I also remember a time when he preached over and over again about having the faith to give an entire pay check to the church to show that God is our provider.  Unfortunately, I did fall for that one once.  I didn’t go under.  I am a fiscal conservative so I wasn’t foolish enough to give the church bill or food money.  The point is, within that environment hearing that message over and over again I thought it something to aspire to. 

This is the problem with big time baller preachers: 

On one hand they say to put your trust, faith and belief in Jesus.  He is the only way.  But within that next breath they imply that the way to really get in there with God is to listen to God’s man.  (Himself of course)  After all, this person is so much closer to God than average member is, and that he is especially ‘anointed for such a time as this.’  Therefore, people believe that their spiritual elevation is directly connected to the one preaching to them every Sunday.  Look at him:  He has the nice clothes, the bling, the Benz etc., and everybody wants to be around him.  A seeking parishioner who wants to please God thinks to himself, “He must be the man especially appointed by God.”  Once folk buy into that, it’s like stealing candy from a flock of babies.  As John Milton famously said, “Vanity, it’s definitely my favorite sin.”  When the deity factor is in place, or that feeling that one’s basic purpose and eternal state is at play, they are being capable of doing anything for the cause.  See suicide bombers for instance.  But I digress; Back to spiritual daddy Long-stroke. 

What is bothersome to me within this story is the way the accusers describe the set up.  Bishop offers to be a spiritual daddy to these young men who are without significant male mentors.  He takes an interest in them.  He does things for them like taking them on trips, buying gifts they can’t afford.  The latest accuser even said ‘daddy’ told him not to become involved with any females.  Then he puts the moves on them. 

Sad to say the timing of this was ironic for me.  I just finished a book written by actor Todd Bridges, “Killing Willis, from Diff’rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted.”  In it he described how the exact same thing happened to him from an advisor who helped to manage his career.  This guy was doing nice things for Todd in his career, earned his trust and eventually made his move on a pre-teen.  As he did these nice things for Bridges earning his trust, he made a point to tell Todd how he was doing so much for him and how Todd’s own parents wouldn’t even do what he (Ronald) would.  Ronald told Todd not to be interested in girls as a man could make him feel just as good if not better.  

Killing Willis

From Chapter 5 of “Killing Willis” 

One day, Ronald was driving me home from an autograph signing at a record store in the San Fernando Valley.  He had a big Cadillac with one of those long bench seats.  We were sitting side by side kind of close to each other.  He pulled the car over on a quiet side street without any traffic and looked at me with that intense look I was starting to recognize from past conversations.   

“I’m telling you, it can be the same with boys as it is with girls,” he said…. If you try it you’ll like it.” 

“I don’t know,” I said looking out the window… I’d recently turned twelve, and I wasn’t even sure it was possible for me to feel good in the way he described.   

“Believe me, you’ll like the feeling,” he said.  It feels better than anything else in the world.”   

I have to admit I was curious.  And obviously I really liked Ronald and wanted to make him happy.  Even more than that, I didn’t want to disappoint him.  He had done so much for me.  I didn’t want him to go away, like he said he might.  Then the autograph signings and special appearances would go away.  He wouldn’t be there to ride bikes and play football, or tell me he was proud of me.

Ronald put his hand on my crotch.  I squeezed my legs together and looked at him, still unsure.  He smiled at me like he had so many times before.  But he looked different to me now. 

“You trust me, right?” he asked 

“Yea,” I said.  I did trust him.  But I felt weird and a little scared too. 

“I want to show you that a man’s mouth can feel just the same as a woman, “he said.  “There’s no difference.”  … “Pull your pants down.”  

I didn’t want to lose everything he had given me.  And so I did.  He put his mouth on me.  I got hard.  I didn’t know where to look or how to feel.  I squirmed against the back of the seat.  He kept on going, getting into it.  I hoped it would be over fast.  Then it happened.  I came.   

…. “You okay?” he asked, rubbing my thigh.

“I guess,” I whispered, still not wanting to look at him.  

…As we pulled up in front of my house,… Ronald put his hand on my shoulder before I could climb out of the car.  “Remember, Todd, this is our secret, right?”

…“You’ve got another autograph signing in Agoura Hills next weekend.  … I already told your mom that I can take you.  We’ll have fun, right?” 

Does any of this sound familiar in the Long allegations?  It does to me! 

I remember when I was about the same age visiting with a friend of my father’s.  My dad had a date and left me over this guy’s house who was a preacher himself.  He name is Clifford but he called himself “Prophet.”  He was weird too in that he had fish bowls with water and money in them instead of fish. He had incents and candles all over his apartment.   I even remember him smacking the butts of his teenage daughters in front of me and saying, “Look at her Chris, she has a nice fat ass doesn’t she?”  I thought this was off to say the least though I was just a kid.  Still I knew him since I was a little boy and respected him as an adult friend of my father whom I respected. 

We were sitting on his couch watching the game show, “Family Feud.”  Richard Dawson the original host was still hosting at the time.  This was around 1979.  Those of you who remember the show will recall that the pervert Dawson made it his business to kiss all of the women contestants.  I joked with Prophet about the one episode where the host leaned over and almost kissed a man.  Prophet’s response to me was, “What’s wrong with that?”   I said something to the effect of, “That’s a man kissing another man.  That’s what’s wrong with it.”  I was 12.   I didn’t know anything about homosexuality nor was heterosexuality an experience of mine though I knew I liked girls.  

Prophet didn’t stop there however.  He continued, “A man can make you feel just as good as a woman.  Have you ever heard of anal sex?”  

It’s not like it is now.  I didn’t know what an anal was; let alone anal sex.  But he described it fully to me.  Afterwards, he put his arm around me, chuckled a bit and said, “You’re going to be alright son.” 

After that I was not only embarrassed but extremely creeped out by this predatory nasty ass child molester.  I made my way to the front door and took my behind outside to walk the apartment complex till my father pulled into the driveway.  I told my dad what happened and told him to never take me there again.  

In reading Bridges book I can see how his life was totally messed up by his experiences with Ronald the child molester.  And I am thankful that I was not counted among those taken advantage of sexually by such a menacing figure.  But you see my point by now I hope. 

In the eyes of the law, time will tell.  But conventional wisdom tells us that all of these dudes aren’t just making these things up about Bishop Long-stroke.  The evangelical church experience tells us that the atmosphere where leaders use position and power for their own lust is pervasive.  And from what I hear from the accuser’s own attorneys about phone records, gifts, and single hotel rooms around the world it’s going to be ugly.  And while I realize that these young men are older than 12, the pastoral office makes it just as significant.  

Let me be clear.  I never liked or disliked Bishop Eddie Long.  I never understood his apparent need to draw attention to his flesh by wearing tight shirts and suits while in the pulpit.  I thought the attention should be on the Word of God when it’s being presented, not the biceps and triceps of a preacher appearing to be on HGH.  All that aside, I wrote about this situation because it honestly hurt me.  It hurt me that a man with such power and position within the black community and in the nation for that matter, would take advantage of young men who are impressionable with regards not only to life, but to a charismatic and powerful figure that appears to take an interest in them.  

I could care less if Eddie Long is a homosexual.  Though that would say something about the message he preaches against it.  Still, that’s between him, his wife and his congregation.  What is bothersome to me is him taking advantage of young and tender men under his spiritual charge who were obviously vulnerable.  A predator who uses God and spirituality as a means to bag prey is the worst kind of predator in my view. 

I wonder how many more will come out of the closet.  I wonder how many won’t. 

As a friend of mine and I discussed, in our experience as God fearing brothers, God always gives us plenty of chances to quit our most heinous sins before He ‘outs’ us publically.  So what this tells me is that this has been an ongoing dilemma.  

And just like David when he killed Uriah and took his wife in the Old Testament, the cover up is often worse than the crime itself.  Because, in this case by lawyering up and denying it all, he abuses them twice. 

I do know this.  Church folk better wake up and stop putting all of their power in these ministers as if they are the way to God.  A real minister of the gospel will never allow so much attention and glory to go in his/her direction!

See various articles from the Atlanta Journal Constitution regarding Eddie Long-stroke.

Eighth-Grade Graduations

A friend of mine forwarded this article to me recently.  I read it and thought the subject worthy of discussion. 

I have opinions that I will leave out of this post.  If there is any interest comment wise I will share my views later this week.

This came from the Raising Kane column of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, by Eugene Kane.

BTW: Kane also wrote a follow up article on this one responding to the feedback he got from this original post.  You can read here.

 

This is a much-anticipated time of year for hard-working graduates to celebrate their academic accomplishments with family and friends.

But eighth grade?

The sad fact is, in a city like Milwaukee, with its extremely high dropout rate, a majority of eighth-graders may never get a high school diploma. For some, eighth-grade graduation might be the highlight of their school days, which is pretty depressing.

Even President Barack Obama has taken note of the increased prominence of eighth-grade graduation celebrations.

“Now hold on a second – this is just eighth grade,” Obama said in his remarks about education last year during a campaign appearance at a Chicago church. “You’re supposed to graduate from eighth grade.”

I suspect Obama witnessed the same scene I did during visits to some central-city schools for eighth-grade ceremonies in recent years. My last visit, about three years ago, was an eye-opener.

There were 14-year-old boys and girls dressed to the nines, including formal wear, in front of an enthusiastic audience of friends and relatives. When the students received their “diplomas,” most were so demonstrative you might have assumed they were finished with their formal education.

I did a quick survey this week of some African-American friends with school-age children – mainly mothers – and discovered this particular issue has been drawing attention for some time.

“Yes, I think some black people are guilty of going too far with graduations, period!” said Tina King, who has a daughter graduating from the eighth grade this week. King said her daughter’s school wasn’t planning a traditional walk across the stage; a recognition dinner was planned instead.

King said she understood why some parents go overboard. “The thing is, with our black children being killed or dropping out of school, every graduation is a big thing,” she said.

Another friend who has attended more than a few eighth-grade graduations criticized the overkill. “Eighth grade is just a completion ceremony; they do not graduate until the 12th grade. Yet, every year I am amazed at the amount of money parents spend. I’ve seen limos, tuxes, formal gowns, sometimes the mothers, too.

“My question is, what do they have to look forward to when they actually do graduate, or are the parents going to these extremes because they are afraid that for many this will be their only ceremony?”

Teachers shared my concern but defended the ceremonies as a necessary enticement for some students. “With the way things are now and the new generation of kids, I think it’s good to celebrate accomplishments on any level to encourage their positive behavior,” said one educator.

That’s a good point. There’s nothing wrong with kids feeling good about themselves, but my fear is that the bar is being set so low, some students might start to view eighth grade as the high point of their education instead of simply the latest step.

I suggest each eighth-grade graduate should receive a heartfelt congratulation, quickly followed by a stern reminder about the challenges to come if they intend to receive a high school diploma one day. Celebrate quickly, because next school year, you’ll need to be ready to get back to work.

Ninth grade is no picnic.

Of Love and Relationship Roles ~ A Running Debate

Ok let’s talk.  I want to have a serious discussion about relational roles of a man and a woman.   This discussion comes on the heels of both a radio program I listened to recently, as well as a running debate I’ve had with a good friend of mine who happens to be  a very progressive and liberal thinking woman.  This is a person I deeply respect.  A great thinker.  But every time this subject comes up, it’s battle stations ready! 

Now before I pose the questions let me put down the ground rules so we can eliminate side arguments and certain defensive posturing.

1) In the relationship scenario – we are using as an example a good man and woman who are loving,  responsible, and respectful.  No need to say, “Well if he is a dog hell naw I ain’t submitting to him.” 

2) The author of this post truly honors and respects the worth of a woman.  Her contributions cannot be counted, and her abilities are almost limitless.   There is no sexism involved that says a woman cannot do such and such.

3) These are general principles and should be taken that way.  No need for extreme rebuttals on particular words and phrases.  Please take the theme in perspective and give the author the benefit of the doubt.  You may comment on the lines drawn in the sand areas.  There are only one or two at most.

On to the discussion of the day:

As progressive of a thinker as I am, I still hold to some old fashioned values of chivalry.  For instance I believe a man’s first priority towards his woman is to protect her.  That could be interpreted physically, mentally or whatever.  If a burglar were to enter the premises,  I would not ask my woman to “go check on that.”  She can be a combat expert in karate, M16s and explosives – doesn’t matter.  I don’t think it’s her “role” to protect me in that situation.  (Now if we are all fighting in some Bonnie and Clyde circumstance in public, that may be a different thing.  I believe in opening doors and pulling out chairs in a restaurant.  I believe a man should also love and cherish his woman.  He should listen to her and do all he can to understand her as she develops and changes.  I believe he should provide leadership and vision – providing a specific direction regarding the goals of the family etc.  Does this mean that the woman is not providing ideas, feedback etc.?  Of course not.  In this day and age especially, the 21st Century woman is more versed in the general affairs of society than ever before.  Her voice is vital and her contributions priceless.   In the idea situation, the woman will compliment her man by having gifts and talents that he does not possess to add to the value of the relationship.  He will do the same for her.

I believe a man’s purpose is to provide for his woman.  Not that she can’t make money.  She may even make more money than he does.  He should not be intimidated by her career or her goals in the marketplace.  He should support them.  At the same time he should be looking to provide for the day to day needs.   Depending on the lifestyle a family wants to live, nowadays it takes two incomes combined to make it happen.  Still it should be his goal to better himself to the point of being responsible just in case she can’t produce for whatever reason, i.e. childbirth, sickness etc.  This to me would be idea.

In terms of functioning day to day – couples should work together to make the household go round.  Take advantage of one another’s talents and gifts to make things as smooth as possible.  For instance, whichever person is good with organization may be the one to physically pay the bills.  If she loves yard work, perhaps she will cut the grass or rake leaves.  Just as well he may decorate the house if he has a visual perspective for decor.   The roles for day to day ops, should not be delegated merely by gender.

Here is where it gets sticky in the aforementioned debate.  I believe that a man should be the leader in the household and in the direction of the relationship.  If he is smart, he will recognize the strength and wisdom of his woman and receive her input as vital.  If he is leading in a direction that she does not approve of, he could be an emperor with no clothes.   Men have blind-spots and his woman should be a partner of ideas of valued discussions.  Still he is responsible for the safety and welfare of the family.  Both man and woman should be “equal partners” in terms of value, but do not foster equal roles within the structure.  Everyone is happy when they can agree, but if the couple don’t agree and a decision needs to be made he should make it after careful consideration.  Being “the man” to me merely means being responsible for the overall direction and course of the relationship and the family structure.  If it fails its on him unless he did all he could and his woman simply rebelled or decided not to follow his leadership.  Again this is assuming both parties are totally committed to the success of the relationship and family.

Furthermore, in my opinion a discerning woman will realize that her brilliance is never undermined when she accepts these precepts.  As a matter of fact, any man will tell you if his woman is not happy, the whole house is not happy. Any leading that he does she has to “let” him do anyway.  She can in her wisdom and love build him up to be the greatest leader he can be, or she can tear him down and attempt to make mincemeat out of him.  Like it or not, James Brown said it best.  “This is a man’s world.  (directional functioning) But it wouldn’t be nothing, without a woman, boy or girl.”  I’ve long had a saying, that God’s great equalizer to a male dominated society is a woman.  Because I don’t care how much a man accomplishes, his greatest desire after his purpose it to be loved, needed, appreciated, and respected by his woman.  Period.  So she is invaluable – and as I said women today especially are more skilled, sharp and able than ever before – and have carried men for a long time, especially black men in the midst of the struggle we have faced within society post slavery, Jim Crow, self identity crisis etc.  What a woman has to do and what a woman should be doing to me are two different things. 

The benefits of the progressive woman are obvious.  The advances have come hard fought and well earned.  Our society is still not progressive enough in my view in appreciating, protecting, and valuing women.  But the downside is this competitive paradigm for a power struggle.  Equal partners in terms of input and value does not mean equal parts of functionality.  I believe most women accept and even embrace the theory.  The problem becomes an issue of trust because of a negative track record with immature, ignorant, (ignorant in the derogotory as well as the without knowledge sense) and selfish men.  (Of which I have been in my day)

My friend thinks this is a sexist way of thinking.  That equal partners means equal everything.  There are two chiefs and no one is more in charge or responsible than the other. 

So chime in on this discussion.   What do ya’ll think??  Are my Fred Flintstone ideas merely prehistoric?  Is the old school way the best way? 

Please respond with love and intelligence as I have presented it with such.