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

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

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

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

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

Or is it?

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

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

So far, crickets.

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

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

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

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

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Ok Middle Class White Male, Let’s Talk About It Then

To My White Middle Class Friends and Acquaintances: This one is all about you.  Let me start with some words spoken by the outgoing President.  These quotes are from his last speech.

If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.

For blacks and other minority groups, it means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face — not only the refugee, or the immigrant, or the rural poor, or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy who, from the outside, may seem like he’s got advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change. We have to pay attention, and listen.

I’ve heard the dialogue for the last several years:

White males in this country feel left out.  The ‘left’ only care about their liberal sensibilities which include minorities and immigrants.  Since 2008 we have been neglected and our interest are no longer prioritized.  This is why I voted for Donald Trump. I may not agree with everything he says.  But he cares about the needs of me and my family. 

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I have found these sentiments both alarming and insulting.  There are a plethora of reasons that I won’t get into as this is not about me.  Against my first thought I recently picked up and read a book called, “Hillbilly Elegy,” A Memoir of A Family and Culture In Crisis, written by J.D. Vance.  The book focused on what would seem to be the idea Trump voter.  Vance grew up in Rust Belt towns in Kentucky and Ohio.  They are the epitome of  America’s white working class America.  I was hesitant to give it the time of day initially.  I knew that Vance was going to attempt to explain a group of people who have some ideas about people who look like me that I wouldn’t find amusing.  But I kept hearing it wasn’t that simple. With that I scooped it up.

I found the book to be riveting.  I found parts of his family to be a little crazy.  I also found some of them to be endearing if not equally tragic.  Even with some ratchet behaviors that could rival any family’s, they had their principles, values and specific codes they lived by.  They are perfectly understandable codes.  I was able to understand more than I previously figured.  But that didn’t exactly allow me to understand why and what it was that promoted this mindset that they were being mistreated or disenfranchised in whole or in part because they were Caucasian.  I didn’t understand what was so attractive about a man like Donald Trump to them.  What was he telling them that endorsed these ideas of victimization and more importantly what did they believe Trump would actually offer them?

I tried to get these answers previously before the election.  But I couldn’t get a straight answer.  I got soundbites and talking points about the opposite candidate.  But I never got anything concrete that I could believe or take seriously.  I don’t even believe the people telling me these things believed them either.  But nevertheless, I write this today asking for understanding.  I ask this in all sincerity.  What is it that white males are going that’s different than what I’m dealing with?  How are your needs been neglected what are you afraid of someone else getting that you won’t because you happen to be a White male?

There is but one condition.  While it’s not mandatory to agree, the conversation must be 100% intellectually honest.  There is no reason to waste one another’s time.

You talk, I’ll listen, then we shall see if there is a an opportunity for more dialogue.  I am seriously and honestly wanting to get this.

But we’re not where we need to be. And all of us have more work to do.  If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. – President Barack Obama

 

 

Hillary’s Debate Mission, Get Trump to Order The Code Red

We all know that The Donald is what Bill Maher calls, A Whiny Little Bitch! (#WLB) He doesn’t have a presidential bone in his body.  His appeal is only to bluster and bully his way through the most basic of issues we face as a nation.  There is no substance, only self aggrandizing shit from the mouth spatters.

As Hillary Clinton pointed out, he can be baited with a tweet.  While one must be ambitious to be president he has no self awareness or self control.  He has no discipline.  He’s 70 years old.  This is who he’s always been and it’s worked for him.  This is what Clinton should focus on each and every time she takes the debate stage with this clown.

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The first of four scheduled debates between the candidates is scheduled on Monday, September 26, at Hofstra University.  Honestly I have a hard time believing the #WLB will show to each of them.  With Hillary’s experience of public service as First Lady, a senator and as Secretary of State, substance wise he will be easy prey to humiliate on national and worldwide television.  She can make substantive arguments on topics ranging from jobs, the economy, and especially national security.  Meanwhile, #WLB will enter the debate(s) with some prepped talking points.  But if Clinton plays it smart she will have him off script within 30 minutes or less.  Once she dazzles with facts and he fizzles with empty phrases, he will resort to what he knows best.  Before you know it, something stupid, sexist of violent will come flying out his pie-hole!  The more he becomes unhinged, the more she should go in for his throat with a statement, a look, or a smile.  He is sure to address her personally, so she should address him as well.  Target his insecurities and lack of knowledge. Before long, he’ll lose it and make an open show of himself.

In the movie, “A Few Good Men,” Lt. Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise) used Col. Nathan R. Jessup’s supreme arrogance against him during the court-marshal trial of two marines. .  The Col. tried to play it cool initially.  At one point while being questioned on the stand, Kaffee purposely appeared muffed and confused.  This only fueled the Col.’s confidence.  Jessup was about to walk off the stand before being excused.  Then Kaffee flipped the script on him.

KAFFEE – Excuse me, I didn’t dismiss you.

JESSUP – I beg your pardon.

KAFFEE – I’m not through with my examination. Sit down.

When Kaffee caught Jessup in a contradiction of statements, he pounced!

JESSUP – Sometimes men take matters into their own hands.

KAFFEE – No sir. You made it clear just a moment ago that your men never take matters into their own hands. Your men follow orders or people die.

So Santiago shouldn’t have been in any danger at all, should he have, Colonel?

JESSUP – You little bastard!

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cont.

JESSUP – You want answers?

KAFFEE – I think I’m entitled to them.

JESSUP – You want answers?!

KAFFEE – I want the truth.

JESSUP – You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep Santiago and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me there. We use words like honor, code, loyalty… we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ’em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I’d prefer you just said thank you and went on yourway. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to.

KAFFEE – Did you order the code red?

JESSUP – I did the job you sent me to do.

KAFFEE – Did you order the code red?

JESSUP – You’re goddamn right I did.

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When #WLB loses his mind, he will show less restraint than Jessup did.  Its possible he will even try to physically strike Hillary. He said he wanted to hit some of the speakers at the DNC convention just a few days ago.

Let’s face it.  When it comes to the angry racist, those who hate the thought of hearing the words Black Lives Matter, #WLB represents the last stand of the angry white man.  To them nothing will convince them not to vote for #WLB.  Not sexism, not the three wives, not the violence in his ravenous crowds, not teasing the disabled, not his refusal to show his tax returns, not NOT having any plan for national security, not calling for our national security to be compromised by Russia, and not viciously attacking gold star parents whose son gave his life for an America that #WLB enjoys – after being a draft dodger.

BUT for those who may be on the fence, seeing him unravel and lose control would be enough to open blinded eyes closer to November.  With that said, there are a total of four debates scheduled before election day.  There is no way in hell that #WLB is going to do all four of them.  He can’t win them against Clinton.  I’m sure he will try to all but write the questions and dictate the rules.  He will try to out talk Clinton, filibuster and change the subject.  But for Hillary Clinton, her entire life and career has led her to these moments.  She has no excuse not to break #WLB within this one on one format.

None!

 

The Blessing in The Bulls#@!

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

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

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Christopher McCaleb #disappointed 😦

Like · Reply · 1 hr

 

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

Like · Reply · 55 mins

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

Like · Reply · 53 mins

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

Like · Reply · 49 mins

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

Like · Reply · 42 mins

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

Like · Reply · 29 mins

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

Like · Reply · 27 mins

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

Like · Reply · 23 mins · Edited

Christopher McCaleb Jobless post you posted today…

 

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Like · Reply · 23 mins

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

Like · Reply · 20 mins

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

Like · Reply · 12 mins

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

Like · Reply · 6 mins

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

Like · Reply · 2 mins

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

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

Like · Reply · 2 · 3 hrs · Edited

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

Like · Reply · 2 · 2 hrs

Cari Atkinson Well stated…thank you!

Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs

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

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

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

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

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

Like · Reply · Just now

 

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

 

The Hate That Hate Produced (Part Duex)

Dog Whistle Politics:  It means putting out a message that, like a high-pitched dog whistle, is only fully audible to those at whom it is directly aimed.  The intention is to make potential supporters sit up and take notice while avoiding offending those to whom the message will not appeal.” – The Economist 

History sure has a way of repeating itself… over and over again.  Especially in an area where honest dialogue never existed.  When it comes to race, America remains for the most part in a state of cowardly denial, is willingly senile, operating within a glass bubble, exposed, but unaware.  As the Trump train powers through American politics and discourse, I am most amused by the rock throwing/hand hiding of not only the other GOP candidates, but many of their supporters who ‘act as if ‘they are put off with The Donald and his rhetoric.  I’ve spent the last eight years attempting to dialogue with them as the Obama presidency continued to reveal the obvious underbelly of white racial rage.  But all I heard was that I was making something out of nothing.  That I was race baiting.  I understand that in many cases privilege is a helluva blinder.  Anytime privilege of any kind is threatened, it feels like discrimination to the preferred beneficiary.  This is true with not only race, but gender, sexuality, class and so forth.  The Obama presidential campaign in 2007 brought to bear the threatened privilege of White America’s fear of Black progress in a post slavery post Jim Crow nation.  As the rhetoric spewed in the months leading up to November the scene played out in both a Twainian and Shakespearean fashion.

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968, you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced bussing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.” — Lee Atwater, Republican Party Strategist  1981

Reagan

This was how it was during the Reagan era.  From the day he announced his campaign on Sunday August 3, 1980  in Philadelphia, MS of all places, he looked to perfect the art of Dog Whistle Code Speech.  In case you didn’t know, Philadelphia, MS in Neshoba County, was the same town where three young civil rights workers; a 21-year-old black Mississippian, James Chaney, and two white New Yorkers, Andrew Goodman, 20, and Michael Schwerner, 24 were murdered on June 21, 1964. The three young men were chased in their car, abducted, shot at close range, then buried in an earthen dam by the local Ku Klux Klan.  The very location indicated a message that Reagan was sending to his white conservative audience.  He chose a significant place where the empirical history of White Supremacy reigned.  In his speech he wasted no time in mentioning ‘welfare reform.  He continued to wax eager the virtues of ‘states rights.’  

I believe in state’s rights; I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level. And I believe that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the constitution to that federal establishment. And if I do get the job I’m looking for, I’m going to devote myself to trying to reorder those priorities and to restore to the states and local communities those functions which properly belong there. – Ronald Reagan 1980

States Rights/Decoded = A reference dating back to the conflict of the Civil War between the Union and the Confederate.  The Confederate believed it was the rights of states to decide whether they wanted to own slaves and endorse slavery as an institution.  Southerners who preferred slavery, and subsequently Jim Crow and segregation laws believe the federal government overstepped it’s bounds in undermining what they feel were their ‘states rights.’

Welfare Reform/DecodedA term directed towards poor or middle class whites intended to focus them on poor minorities.  Its purpose is to describe said minorities as ‘takers,’ who are lazy, unmotivated and unproductive while draining the economy, thus making it harder on white people, who are in turn hard workers.  It says nothing of the statistics regarding the percentages of actual welfare recipients.  It only assumes minorities, specifically black folk are the takers.  It’s also limited to individuals, not taking into account any corporations or corporate executives who may benefit from government ‘subsidies.’ The difference in the words ‘subsidies’ vs ‘welfare’ directly determines the response of the hearer. 

Over the last 35 years or so, the dog-whistle style worked pretty well.  Nixon, Reagan, Bushes 1 & 2, and even Clinton benefited from using coded language to project a narrative.  But something happened when Barack Obama became a serious candidate for president.  Coded language slowly began to give way to a more bold and ballistic approach as White anger and fear that the person who would become the face and symbol of leadership in these United States of America could be a black male.

Billboard_Challenging_the_validity_of_Barack_Obama's_Birth_Certificate

One of the first series of racially motivated attacks was the so called ‘birther movement’s’ questioning of Obama’s status as a United States citizen.  Many Whites including now GOP front runner Donald Trump riled that Obama was born in Kenya, East Africa as opposed to Hawaii.  Trump went on to say that he had investigators in Hawaii that would prove conclusively that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii.  Hillary Clinton’s supporters jumped in as well questioning the origin of Obama’s citizenship.  In spite of there never being such evidence presented by Trump, so many White Americans latched on to the conspiracy theory, that it became a thing; so much of a thing that eventually the White House released a copy of the ‘long form’ certificate.  This would not satisfy those who were set on believing that since the day of his birth Barack Obama was raised from birth to infiltrate the White House, take White people’s guns and make America a Muslim state, overturn the constitution and replace it with Sharia Law.  That brings us to our next conspiracy theory; which is that Obama is not a Christian.

In spite of 2016 being the last year of the second term of the Obama presidency, 43% of Whites still believe that Obama is a Muslim. This despite all of the evidence that supports the opposite.  The Obama’s were members of Trinity United Church of Christ for years.  They were married there, and both of their children were baptized at Trinity as well.  Despite that fact that there is no way in hell in 2016 that Obama could possibly hide a Muslim connection, (past or present) this suspension of reality for these White naysayers are simply ways to ostracize Obama to a group that they despise and are afraid of.  They cannot embrace Obama’s Christian faith without embracing him as their spiritual brother.  To continue the lie that he is something other than a Christian, gives them a self deceiving legitimacy in not taking him seriously, rather dismissing every word from his mouth, his authority and even his presence.  No other president or presidential candidate has ever had his/her faith questioned.  Is Christianity even a question now among any of the candidates?

During the McCain/Palin campaign the racial overtones became more and more emboldened.  Palin spoke divisively accusing Obama not being an American, like the White crowds in her audience. She linked Obama with terrorists.  The crowd in turn shouted epitaphs such as, ‘terrorist, off with his head, and kill him!”   It got so ugly and threatening that even McCain himself tried to temper the racial rhetoric by defending Obama as a ‘decent person, a decent family man and a citizen,’ the crowd booed him.  McCain tried to reason with the crowd and get the focus on Obama’s views as opposed to his race.  “We want to fight, and I will fight,” McCain said. “But I will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments, and I will respect him. I don’t mean that has to reduce your ferocity, I just mean to say you have to be respectful.”  McCain was booed again.  What, respect a black man who has the audacity to think he can be OUR president?

Once it became apparent that Obama did indeed win the election and was going to be sworn in.  The rage was real and lay bare expressed through cable news channels.  Critics like Rudy Giuliani became one of the go to guys for disparaging anything Obama.  No matter what the issue was or what The President said or did.  Echoing the voices of White rage the GOP took note to follow the script of de-legitimizing Obama.  The racial rhetoric was starting to become less coded.  The utter disdain utterly vicereal.  Here is a round robin list of just a few examples.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”  2008

South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson“YOU LIE!”  * Shouted during the middle of Obama’s first State of the Union Address.  2009

Newt Gingrich“President Barack Obama deserves to be called, ‘the most successful food stamp president in American history,’ because “47 million Americans are on food stamps.”  2012 *The food stamp reference feeds into the notion that Reagan fed into during his election that black folk were the major recipients of government assistance were poor black people.  This made white people resentful of their own perceived lack of success.  The poor people are takers.  The takers are black.  This despite that fact that when Gingrich made this statement in 2010, only 8 percent received cash welfare, while 30 percent had earnings.  Nearly half of food-stamp beneficiaries are children under 18, and about 8 percent are elderly. About 34 percent of beneficiaries are white, 22 percent are black, 17 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Asian or Native American, and 20 percent “race unknown.”  Gingrich knew that his audience would interpret the myth of who welfare recipients are.  The face of welfare is a black face.

Finger

After initially saying she would not meet President Obama at the airport, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer met The President with a never seen before confrontational finger to the face!

47 Republican senators committed treason against the United States by sending a letter to Iran intending to hinder Obama’s negotiations with Iran regarding a nuclear arms agreement.   2015

None of these extraordinary examples were credited to Obama’s color according to his White detractors.  Even the mantra of, ‘take our country back’ was said to be benignly focused on politics. Instead, any mention of race at all was turned on Obama’s head as being the racist.  Ben Stein called Obama, “The most racist president in American history.”  This despite the fact that previous presidents owned slaves, supported Jim Crow laws and had ties to the KKK.  Anytime Obama mentioned racial injustices such as the killing of unarmed Trayvon Martin, and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman, he was accused of stirring up racial animus.  If he showed empathy to anything black, he was accused of favoring Blacks.  The irony is, that when Obama acknowledged the dog-whistle style of criticism himself, saying, they (Republicans) are trying to scare you because I don’t look like the other presidents on the dollar bill,” he was accused of playing the race card.  In other words, it was perfectly acceptable for whites to infer to Obama as the Food Stamp president.  They could say, “let’s take America back,” as if he stole it and hid the nation in a crack house somewhere.  They could freely claim all day long that race had absolutely nothing to do with their choice of words.  And yet for him to mention race at all in a fashion that didn’t denigrate black people made him a racist himself, and therefore a threat to White people.

Now we have come full circle.  The conundrum that the GOP face today is that those racial undertones and sub-tweets of rhetoric have come home to roost.  What Donald Trump says openly is what the GOP has established itself on in code that Atwater so eloquently spoke of.  Though Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and others have tried to separate themselves from the niggerization of Trump’s politics.  But they can’t escape the liable they are responsible for.  Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz’s father is responsible for some of the most racially charged diatribes on record.  As Cruz ran for the Senate in 2012, he said, “We need to send Barack Obama back to Chicago. Back to Kenya.”  Ask Ted Cruz, or any other republican if his father’s statements have anything to do with race. Trump would not only acknowledge the obvious, he’s encouraging the white rage by asking his crowds to beat up black people at his rallys.  Law enforcement authorities are arresting the assaulted instead of the ones committing these assaults on national television.  Its to the point now, that as D.L. Hughley said, “If Trump says the N-Word, he going to be president tomorrow.”  Michael Eric Dyson noted that if LBJ’s motto was, ‘The Buck Stops Here,’ For the mainstream GOP the mantra has been for Obama, ‘The Buck Must Be Stopped.’

The GOP would like to make you believe this poisonous racial environment and Trump’s political success isn’t on them.  But it absolutely is.

Memo to those:

When you called Obama weak, while he is out here killing Bin Laden, as well as other key figures in Al Qaeda and ISIS.  You are ungratefully biting the hand that has kept you safe.

When you say that other nations don’t respect us.  What you are really saying is that YOU don’t respect the president.

When you say he is a con man, you are saying he doesn’t act like your stereotypical image of what a nigger is.  (And that he is smarter than you! For his accomplishments have surpassed yours by leaps and bounds)   Those who haven’t had ONE good word to say about this president, in 7 years is fooling no one but themselves.

The birth of Trump is merely the product from 7 years of racially ejaculatory motivated hate.  Quoting Michael Jackson is not appropriate.  The the kid is definitely your son!

 

Race, Responsibility & Basketball Moms on That Spice (Explicit Language)

Those that know me, and those that read me are not surprised to know I am not afraid to confront so called controversial issues.  This includes the most sensitive topics concerning politics, race and religion.  Those who are closest to me know that I am just as active, aware and nuanced in my living.

When I first started officiating I had long dreadlocks.  And as a new official, many of the places I reffed were far away from home.  It wouldn’t be unusual for me to travel 40-60 miles away from home for 1 or 2 Jr. high school games. Some games would be in small towns in Southern Illinois or Southeast Missouri.  In many cases, I was the only person of color I would see until I was close to home again.  Most of those experiences were positive.  There were plenty of times I got funny looks.  Curious looks perhaps.  But I always focused on two things.  #1) Doing my job.  #2) Being myself.  Part of my personality is to have fun with young people.  Anytime there is an opportunity for a little laugh, or even a moment to insert some humor, I would do it.  It put kids at ease, some who may have not ever had any interactions with a black male.  It also made many of the parents, family and fans comfortable too.  Often many would walk up to me on the way out and say something like, “Hey ref, I really like how you teach the kids.”  Or, “It’s so cool how you interact with them.  Thank you.”   Those words always encouraged me.  This is because I always felt that when it comes to meeting new people, or people who have different backgrounds and experiences, there is an opportunity to connect.  As a black man, I always believed it is my duty to be a part of the solution when it comes to race.  I know that if I am the one in a few people of color some white people come across, they could never say they didn’t witness a black man of grace and class… and dreadlocks.

Those that know me know that  I tend to practice what I preach. I don’t embrace sacred cows.  I can praise and support a person 100% in one area, and criticize a behavior of the same person in the next breath.  Mostly we are not the sum of one act or two mistakes.  There are many opportunities for nuance.  We all need to make improvements.  And then there are times when right is right and wrong is wrong.

Saturday, while officiating some youth basketball, a group of women walked into the gym and assembled along some bleachers underneath one of the baskets.  (They happened to be black) Soon it became obvious which 6th grade child on which team belonged to them. One woman in particular really got into ‘coaching,’ shouting instructions for all to hear.  My partner, who was white, (a man I had never met before) called a foul on her preferred team.  She shouted to the penalized player that he did nothing wrong and that the official made a bad call.  We ignored her.

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Spice is originally sold as an incense, but has now swept the military community with controversy as a ‘legal’ designer drug. However, Marine Corps Order 5355.1, issued Jan. 27, directly prohibits the use, distribution, sale and possession of it and others like it. (Courtesy photo)

At halftime he and I discussed the sideline ‘coach,’ and he told the tournament supervisor and myself that on the previous night, the same woman called him a ‘cracker ref.’  We both noticed the smell of marijuana around the entire family where they sat.  If I wasn’t going back and forth, I would surely have caught a contact.   I told my partner, “She can coach all she wants.  No worries there.  But if she calls you anything like that this game, she’s going to leave today.  And let me tell you up front, you won’t have to say a word.  I will take care of it myself.”

We got to the second half of the game and 5 minutes didn’t go by before this woman stood up, and while talking at the kids on the court said, “I don’t give a fuck!”  I paused for a moment, a bit surprised at what just flew from her pie hole.  I blew my whistle and told the sister she had to go.  She started to make a scene stepping towards me.  I told her that she was not allowed to stay in the gym while lobbing F bombs in the presence of these children.  The supervisor then came over and asked me what was going on.  After hearing me he concurred and instructed her to leave.  This is when things got really incredible.  The woman, in addition to saying that she didn’t have to go anywhere walks up to me and goes on a tirade.

You a punk ass bitch!  Yea that’s right I said it.  Whats up? *Walking towards me.  (I smiled at her but held my ground.)  That’s right you and your momma a punk ass bitch. You can suck my dick you bitch ass motherfucker!  (I smiled more waving my hand as she walked slowly backwards to the exit) You and your momma can suck my dick!  Bitchass! You too! (talking to the supervisor)  I’ll be back motherfuckers!  

*** And here I was thinking that weed made you more lax, not psycho!  She must have been smoking that spice or something!

After all the madness we finished the game.  Many parents came up to me and thanked me for ridding her from the premises.  It’s as if they were waiting for someone to step in and remove this cancer of presence. They said she disrupts the games every weekend.  The coach of the team she favored asked to speak with me privately.  He thanked me profusely.  Said it embarrasses him as a coach as well as her son who has to put up with it in front of his teammates.

The supervisor of the gym (who happens to be white,) and who happens to be a friend, felt comfortable enough to say to me, “And people wonder why there are problems sometimes between blacks and whites.”  Though the fan could have been any color, I knew what he meant.  She exemplified every single negative stereotype known to man about black people.  What I told him was this however, “This is the bigger point.  As I told my partner, he wasn’t going to have to deal with her if she acted a fool.  I would.  This is all I ever ask of white people.  When they see their own acting out a certain way, handle it!  Don’t leave me out there by myself.  I’ll stick up for you when you are right.  She wasn’t going to be able to say, “the white cracker ref” did anything to her.  I need that same support.  So stick up for me when I’m right even if others who look like you may think you’re wrong!”  (Cause her entire family mother-fucked me on the way out the door.)

I’m glad my supervisor and friend had my back this day.

 

 

 

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