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.


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!


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.

Relax, God has NOT left the room!

From a child I have been a person of deep faith.  When my mother took me to church unlike most my peers I actually wanted to sit towards the front instead of hiding in the balcony.   I wanted to be up close so I could especially hear what the minister was saying.  If I sat too far back, I would get lost and eventually fall asleep.  Learning about God and the characters in the bible was a fascinating thing to me.  I took those opportunities seriously.

My spiritual journey has taken me through many places.  One principle that has reinforced and remains with me is that my faith is a very personal journey.  The journey itself and the fruits thereof may be shared with the public at large.  But the beauty of it being a personal journey is that no one can prevent my soul from connecting or communing with my creator.

I thought about this when I came across an email recently that suggested (not the first time I’ve heard) that a major downfall of this country happened when the Supreme Court took corporate prayer out of public schools.  Since that time lack of prayer has been blamed for dropout rates, teen pregnancy, school violence etc.  Years ago I was lukewarm on the subject at best.  I remember having corporate prayer in school and the benefits of it was debatable.

There was still mischief, bullying, drugs and pregnancy.  Nowadays I have strong opinions that taking public prayer out of public schools was not the tragedy people made it out to be.  Especially considering the world we live in today.  I’ll make my case:

Religion is Polarizing

We live in a society that is more diverse than ever before.  With that comes faith with all sorts of flavors.  Who gets to decide what brand of faith is emphasized for public schools?  The general consensus among those desiring prayer in public schools is Christianity.  But which kind of Christian; Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist?  Of course not only would either of these choices leave out another Christian persuasion, it would also exclude and isolate people of other faiths that do not include Christianity.

The natural strife would distract from the original emphasis of primary education which is to teach the basics of reading, writing (typing) arithmetic, and now technology.  Remember we are talking about publically tax payer public schools.  This brings me to my next point.

This is what private schools are for

In any given metropolitan area, there are hundreds of private schools which in addition to academics emphasize their faith.  There is nothing wrong with a family choosing a school based on their own faith.  Some schools have struggled to remain solvent as the economy has suffered making it more difficult for parents to afford tuition.  And some have been vibrant enough to offer scholarships to those less fortunate.  I have several close friends who put their children in private school for both religious as well as academic purposes.  All of them are not coming straight out of pocket either.

Some live in public school districts known to be inferior.  Some seek Catholic institutions for their young though the parent’s faith is far from Catholicism.  They simply believe the quality of the Jesuit education will prepare their children for college better than the local public school will.  It is a beautiful thing to have educational choices for American families.  Still, I have never heard one parent tell me that they chose a school because there is corporate in it.

God has never left the building

While I never attended private school of any sort, it never stopped me from praying neither in school nor out.  I prayed for good grades on test before and after I took them.  I prayed to make it off school grounds fast and slick enough to avoid bullies and being jumped on.  I prayed not to get thrown out of school for fighting.  I prayed my team would hit the jump shot or score the touchdown against the cross town rival to win the big game.  Since I believed that God and prayer were within my grasp as surely as my own personal belief, nothing could prevent me from making a connection.  No politician, no school administrator, no teacher.  I didn’t need my relationship with God legislated to make it any more legitimate.

To believe that I don’t support God or prayer within the scope of society or youth would be the furthest thing from the truth.   As I’ve stated I have a strong faith in God and a deep appreciation for prayer.  When I go to some private schools as a sports official, some of them conduct pre-game prayers.  I participate in these prayers with the kids and coaches.  Not because I have to, but because I want to.  When a school is private, they have a unified point of view that everyone agrees to following before enrolling.  No one is singled out or ostracized in the midst of any of those prayers.  Prayer should be a unifying tool, not a dividing one.

I’ve heard it said many times that Christianity is under attack.  I believe that in the United States of America that sentiment has been greatly exaggerated.  It’s easy and historic for most all religions to claim victimization.  Certainly there is conflict and strife among people of faith vs. those that claim none.  The same can be said about differing Christian organizations/denominations etc.  I explained all of this in a previous article titled, “Why I Refuse to Join A Church Part 2”

The reason I say that Christian ‘martyrism’ has been overblown is because there are thousands of churches in any given metropolitan area.  Startup churches are being formed daily.  Nothing is stopping them.  There has always been a running joke about the city I’m from that on every block, there is a Rice House, (Chinese take-out restaurant) a liquor store, and a church.  I don’t call that an attack.

Faith is as American as our desire for freedom.

Finally, I’m not some ACLU honk.  While they have served a good purpose at times, they are also often more zealous and ridiculous as any raving mad TV evangelist.  I look at some of the causes they take up and just wish they would go away.

What I am saying is that at the end of the day prayer is a private and personal thing first.  And if we do well others will be attracted to our faith through our displays of character that reflect the love of our creator.  One doesn’t need religion to have character.  But without character, religion is tyranny.  There is a scripture that says “they shall know me by the love you show one another,” That carries more weight than a nativity scene on school property.

Meanwhile I’d just assume teachers and administrators do what it takes to make our schools better and prepare our youth to create and compete in this ever increasingly competitive market.  I don’t need James Dobson trying to ‘take my local school for Jesus.’

I’ll pass the concept of faith to my children at home.  I’m just saying.

Losing McCrystal, or A Few Good Men

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When General McCrystal lost his mind and went ‘E-Hollywood in an interview with Rolling Stone recently, it reminded me of another high-ranking military official.  McCrystal’s attitude of arrogance against the civilian leadership of Washington took me right to Col. Nathan R. Jessep of the United States Marine Corp.  

McCrystal didn’t like President Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan.  He resented that he didn’t get the 30,000 troops he requested a long time ago.  He felt that Obama was ‘disengaged’ or whatever.  Surely Obama, ‘a liberal Democrat tree hugging African-American slick politician from Chicago couldn’t resonate with what it takes to win a war with such sophisticated circumstances.’  Right? 

Jessep also didn’t believe that the Navy Kid Lt. Daniel Kaffee who hadn’t seen military combat had the right nor should he have even had the inclination to question a decorated colonel about the way he ran Gitmo.  If he felt ordering the ‘Code Red’ on PFC Santiago would save lives in the long run then so be it!  After all as he told Kaffee in the initial interview on the island: 

I run my unit how I run my unit. You want to investigate me, roll the dice and take your chances. I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4000 Cubans who are trained to kill me, so don’t think for one second that you can come down here, flash your badge, and make me nervous. 

I feel for General McCrystal because I understand his world-view.  I spent a short time in the military after high school and I recall well that there are some military people who can do the job of serving their country and going home at the end of the day to a normal life and family.  The dichotomy of being a military person in a civilian world outside of war is easy.

There are also the hard-core military people who live and breathe that life on another level.  In other words it’s ‘us against them.’   As far as they are concerned their military world is the only world that matters.  They provide and protect freedom.  They secure borders.   The rest of us are flag burning/gay-loving weaklings who are only concerned with hedonism.  I empathize and agree that most of us don’t understand nor appreciate the work our service men and women do – nor the sacrifices they make.

However; what McCrystal failed to realize as he poked fun and disrespected both the President as well as his VP, is that regardless of how he felt about the administration, the President is the Commander In Chief, not just some politician.   He is the head of the military.  Period. 

McCrystal’s position is a politically appointed one as well.  And there is no doubt that while he has had political favor, he had earned his credentials by also following orders and respecting authority.  No doubt he expected and received unquestioned obedience within his own command. 

Obedience and order are traits that the military need to save lives and protect the nation.  There is no doubt about that.  The military world is different from the civilian one as well.  Of that I am also sure.  By mocking the administration, McCrystal violated the very principals that helped shape and advance his entire career. 

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I will never forget the day I was in basic training and one of the drill instructors asked our class what our jobs were to be in entering the service.  Many of us named off positions such as Security Specialist and Aerodynamic Engineers for example.  These answers were wrong.  Our jobs we were told was simple;  TO KILL!  “Your job is to kill the enemy. You have no other agenda but that.  The sooner you realize that the better off you’ll be.” In reality, this is the absolute truth.  And if we didn’t have military service men and women who understand and feel this way we wouldn’t be as safe as we are now.  

 I think Jessep summed it up at best before he admitted to the Code Red.

Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for 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 on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. 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 that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

I understand Jessep’s and McCrystal’s sentiments.  Still neither of them is above the law nor authority.  Therefore; the President had to break him off.

Politics in the Pulpit~And The Identity of Jesus

Its funny how people talk about the separation of church and state.  Wherever there are strong church ties, the state has never been separated in reality.  Most every law on the books has it’s base within somebody’s interpretation of a  holy book.  This is the case in most major nations.  One could argue that even communist places such as China and North Korea have their own versions of church and state when it comes to the worship they require to be given to their political leaders.  I think the thought of church and state being intermingled are pretty acceptable to most. 

The issue in this nation in particular where one of our founding principles is freedom of religion, is that often that the followers of one religion, (most of the time extreme forms of Christianity) tries to rule over another.  This was particularly true when we look at the heavy right wing evangelical movement that helped produce two Bush administrations.   Bush who claims to be a born again Christian rode that Jesus train hard for two terms.

I still recall a church service I attended before the 2004 election where the preacher said, “I can’t tell you who to vote for, but God would not have you vote for someone who’s for killing babies.” 

After that I spoke to a congregation I used to belong to, and I talked about how there are essentially two Jesus’ in this country.  One who is concerned about abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research, and the other one who cares about the poor, justice, and a person’s inward character.  One Jesus who is concerned about all people and another concerned about Americans who believe in Christianity.  One Jesus who was for bombing Iraq and one who was not.  One Jesus who is for evengelism, and another for colonialism.  One Jesus is poking his nose in the bedroom and the other doesn’t care how  person gets off as long as it’s consensual between two adults.  I was in one bible study where I heard a preacher tell a married couple that it as sinful for them to give one another oral sex.  (They never returned.) 

Who gets to speak for Jesus or God as you know him in these matters?   I can tell you from personal observation, there is nothing in the bible confirming nor denying the ethicality of oral sex for instance.  I can also tell you that there are many lessons to be learned from from a Ted Haggard, the infamous evangelical pastor who had to leave his post after he was discovered to be involved with drugs and a male prostitute.  (mostly male prostitute)  After three weeks of “intense counseling,” with four ministers, Haggard was said to be totally heterosexual.  Just as a side note, Haggard himself has said to his congregation before he stepped down that he struggled with his sexuality for most of his life.  Tim Ralph, the minister who said Haggard was delivered from homosexuality, said that it was just a short phase for Haggard.  There was no word on whether the good reverend was delivered from drugs or not. 

I find it particularly interesting that Haggard pastored a huge mega church all those years before, and that the congregation obviously found some benefit from being ministered to by a gay drug abuser.   I am sure many people “accepted Jesus Christ” as their lord and savior.  There were prayers given by Haggard to his parishioners, and I am sure some of those prayers were answered.  And yet when this little secret came out, he was taken down.  I mean where was God before the scandal broke loose and why did the church prosper if Haggard broke all of the moral laws?  What sins are really bad and which ones are just ok? 

Religion and politics are always intermingled.  The key is how we treat one another who don’t believe as we do, and how we make these differences respectful and functional within society.

Political Haiku Poems by Resonate’

As we wind down the last few weeks before the election, I thought that this is a great opportunity to be creative with the events at hand and challenge myself to produce some poems in the form of a Haiku.

A Haiku in the traditional sense is a major form of Japanese verse, written in 17 syllables divided into 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, and employing highly evocative allusions and comparisons, often on the subject of nature or one of the seasons.

Let’s have some fun with the concept and see what we can come up with.  I’ll start them off.  Feel free to post some of your own in the comment field. 

* On the Elections  

A few more weeks till the polls 

John McCain is toast

Palin back to Alaska


* On The VP Debates

Answer the questions Palin

I like Fey better  

Ifill should have drilled your ass  


* On The Economy

The Dow Jones is down again

401K shot

Get this fool out the White House  


* On Obama 

Barack Obama is fly

Down for change we need

America don’t screw up

© Resonate’ 2008

White Priviledge: Tim Wise

 I got this from a friend in an email.  Tim Wise has been the leading critic of white priviledge in America.  This post is yet another reason why. 


By Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office–since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s–while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you. White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do–like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor–and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college–you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it, a “light” burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

The Best & Worst of Systems


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I was reading a column from one of my favorite columnist Sylvester Brown.  He talked about prejudice and a case he served on as a juror for.  This reminded me of an eye opening experience I had as a juror. 

When I got my first jury summons some years ago I remember talking to myself about this great opportunity to serve my community.  I checked in downtown and got my booklet which instructed me on the role of a juror and why I was there.  While waiting I read the book cover to cover.  Going in I knew that I needed to be impartial and to be ready to not allow my personal prejudices to dictate how I would rule on a case.  I was excited to say the least to participate in this most important of judicial processes.

Ahhh the case:

I make it past the first cut where we get to take questions from the attorneys.  The case consisted of a young male accused of selling drugs to an undercover police officer.  The young man was present with his attorney as was the prosecutor.  The laywers polled us by asking questions such as:

a) Do you know the defendant?

b) Have you had negative experience with police officers?

c) Would you need video or audio evidence to convict?

d) Are you more apt to believe a police officer over an accused individual?

Easy enough right?  Just tell the truth.  My answers to these critical questions:  I didn’t know the defendant.  I’ve had negative and positive experience with police officers.  If there was no video or audio I would only evaluate the that was presented.  I am neither apt to believe the police or the accused in any given situation.  Especially as it relates the case at hand.  My evaluation would be strickly based on the evidence presented.  See I had paid attention to my book – AND I meant every one of these words quite sincerely. 

Long story short I didn’t get picked.  Some of those who did however included a gentleman who said he would more than likely NOT believe the police under any circumstances.  And another who said he came from a family of police officers and was likely to believe anything the police would say.  These guys decided the case.  Eventually my time was up.  Three days of pay for reading a couple books, and hours of hurry up and wait. 

I learned a couple of sobering things about jury duty and the judicial system.  First of all the attorneys are not concerned about justice in the strictest terms.  The prosecutor wants a conviction.  Period.  He may have aspirations of being circuit attorney, attorney general, a senator or governor.  If he does not rack up a large number of guilty verdicts his chances for promotion are reduced.  At the same time the defense wants an acquittal.  Doesn’t matter really whether the person did it or not, but rather whether the prosecutor can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.  The attorneys with the most aquittals command the lions share of retainer fees.  Its all a game and the jury are merely a part of the players.

Second, though a jury are supposed to be made up of peers.  I found that to be a mixed bag as well.  Listening to some of those people talk I knew damn well I would never want them sitting on any jury I was counting on if I was faced with doing time.  Lets just say many were without much depth.  Some only complained about not wanting to be there.   And that they would rather be home watching Judge Judy or something.  This was especially disheartening when I heard African-American women complain this way.  After all black folk get the brunt of the short end of the justice stick.  And while they don’t want to serve – let alone serve with honor they are the first to complain about the all white jurors who hung ‘Lil Ray Ray’ out to dry.  I gave them sisters a piece of my mind and explained to them that serving was an opportunity to have a say within their community and being an active participant in the justice system.  I asked if it were them on trial, or their sons or brother or cousin, would they want a juror with their attitude to determine their loved ones fate?  (Let alone if any of them were being tried themselves…)  Some shot me a look of death.  And others thought I had a good point. 

The conclusion is that we in America do indeed have the best system in terms of the idea and the model.  But there is no way to legislate righteousness and once the details are executed with people who have motives that may or may not have to do with truth or justice, the system can get out of whack.  Its a serious thing being caught up in the system.  If you have loot there is a better chance of having decent representation.  One can get investigators, doctors, psychologist, forensic experts ect. to speak on behalf of ones case.  But if your broke, the case can be as flimsy as a wet t-shirt at the Hooters beach party against you and you could still be a goner. 

Nevertheless, I advocate that those of us who are of sound mind, logical, reasonable, and compassionate should do all we can to serve on a jury when called upon.  We may not have the education that the lawyers have, but we still have the last say in most cases for common sense to rule in these complicated issues that effect people’s lives.  Be the juror you would want to have. 


Lame Apologies & Hypocritical Philosophies

After all of that BS that went down with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his words/associations with Senator Barack Obama, John McCain for the most part has been given all but a free ride with the endorsement of John Hagee.  Hagee, a long time evangelical zealot nutcase gave a few choice words regarding the Catholic church in calling them “the apostate church” or “the great whore.”  McCain glady took his endorsement anyway and claimed to be ignorant of his remarks.  This is because McCain is trying to shore up as much of the republican base as he possibily can.  It is interesting to see him play this game of conservative musical chairs, as on one hand he plays to his past as being an adverary of many of the ways and policies of W, and at the same time embracing many of W’s policies such as the war in Iraq, the disdain of anything Islamic, and making permanent tax cuts for the rich.  Like many politicians he’ll say anything to get elected and because Hillary and Barack have been kicking each other’s asses in the headlines from state to state, he has gotten a free ride. 

In addition, I believe that in addition his ride has been easier because to a degree white people can afford to be more polarizing than people of color.  You’d be hard pressed to convince me that there would be that many Catholics who lean towards conservative politics who wouldn’t vote for McCain regardless of some crackpot preacher comments.  But Obama’s relationship to Wright who didn’t call any religion any names has to be exhausted to the point where we are tired of hearing about it. 

But what is with the generic apologies that people make often in the media?  Rarely do I hear these people take responsibility for what they said – or speaking directly to the core of what was done or said. 

For example, what about a racist comment like Fuzzy Zoeller’s years ago at the Masters:

“That little boy is driving well and he’s putting well. He’s doing everything it takes to win. So, you know what you guys do when he gets in here? You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not serve fried chicken next year. Got it?”

Then Zoeller smiled, snapped his fingers, and walked away. Then he turned and added, “or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.”

After the outcry from fans who found those statements racist and stereotypical – Fuzzy’s apology went like this:

“My comments were not intended to be racially derogatory, and I apologize for the fact that they were misconstrued in that fashion.” 

He apologized for our dumb selves misconstruing his comments – Imagine that?

Hagee chose a similar reprive:

In a letter to William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, Hagee wrote: “Out of a desire to advance a greater unity among Catholics and evangelicals in promoting the common good, I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful.”

Uhhh does that mean he no longer thinks the Catholic church is an apostate or the great whore?  And perhaps others who are not Catholic found those remarks to be offensive.  He continued…

“In my zeal to oppose anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its ugly forms, I have often emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholics and Protestant relations with the Jews,” Hagee wrote. “In the process, I may have contributed to the mistaken impression that the anti-Jewish violence of the Crusades and the Inquisition defines the Catholic Church. It most certainly does not.”

“I may have contributed????”  What is that?  It’s a poor excuse and a lame ass political statement is what it is.  Can you imagine telling your significant other,  “In the midst of arguing in the kitchen last night, I apologize for words I may have used that may have given you the impression that I called you a bitch.”  This would never fly in real life – but in the life of media and politics it seems to be just fine.

When it comes to race or hate politics, whites who are racist tend to effectively dismiss such comments by Hagee as being a part of the process.  They know that McCain probably does not have an opinion on Catholosism one way or the other – other than they vote.  Therefore Hagee’s comments won’t stick to him like a leach sucking his political hopes away.  As long as he holds to their political views when it comes to abortion, gay marriage, the economy, the war and a prevailing dose of subtle white superemacy.

If there was no election at stake and McCain wasn’t pining for every vote there would be no apology.  clearly they got to Hagee.  Meanwhile McCain never disassoiated or rejected Hagee’s endorsement anyway.  And it was cool – unlike Obama who had to run the hell away from fellow Chicago resident and political firestormer The Minister Louis Farrakhan who is still getting raked over called the Jewish faith “a gutter religion” after so many years have passed.  Look at how Obama responded to Tim Russert’s questions about Farrakhan’s support of his candicy:

You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic comments. I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can’t censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we’re not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally, with Minister Farrakhan.”

See the difference?  We have a long way to go in this country when it comes to sincerity and acknowledgment of these subtle nuances.  When we are honest with ourselves and our prejudices – then we won’t accept these lame apologies and hypocritical philosophies.

Puppy Love and 5th Grade Politics

Ok – so I wrote this blog about my relationship with Jose Cuevas who didn’t speak English – that is till I caught him hitting the “hippie lettuce” in the garage – But I mentioned during that story that my other Mexican friend Alfred Hernandez (who spoke English very well thank you) had a sister that I liked named Leticia.

Leticia or “Letsy’ as her family lovingly referred to her was in my 5th grade class.  She had fair skin and long brown hair.  She wasn’t necessarily the prettiest girl in the class – she had a serious look about her though and she was quiet and yet smart. I was smitten.  She was shy so she didn’t socialize much.  I never had a real reason to like her for real cause we never talked about anything.  It was just a crush thing I suppose. 

Anyway somehow it got out that I had eyes for her.  But no one really said anything out loud.  That is until Robert Sanchez decided to blow up the class.  I don’t remember the details exactly, but the teacher was out of the class and we were all joking around and talking.  Someone said something about Leticia that had nothing to do with me or boys, but Robert took it upon himself to blurt out… “Leticia?  Oh that’s McCalee’s lady.”  My mouth fell open and as I darted my head over to her seat I sighed cause I knew she was terribly shy.  She was not the subject of any classroom kid conversations and this was the worse one to start with.  I could see the fury in her eyes and she must have thought I was the one who spread that rumor.  Well I didn’t.  I never talked about Leticia – I think I told Ivel Jennings or Rob Laskowski but definitely not Sanchez especially. 

I wasn’t savvy enough to approach her and assure her that it wasn’t me.  I was handcuffed without knowing it.  But I hoped it would blow over.  It didn’t.  I called Leticia from time to time.  I would be so nervous that I would write down the things I should talk about so I wouldn’t be holding the phone as if I was playing a game of ‘silent chicken.’  But the tone was always set negatively from the go.

ME: Hello.  May I speak to Leticia? 

Brother Hector for instance: Hold on….  Letsy – telephone.

Leticia: Hello

Me: Hi Leticia how are you?

Leticia: What do you want?

Me: Uhhh, just wanted to see how you were doing.  That was some spelling test today huh?

Leticia: I gotta go… bye.  CLICK

Thats how it went on more than one occasion… or whenever I had the guts to call her.  And don’t even think about speaking to her at school.  Cause that was out.  I thought for sure that she hated me.  That was until I stayed the night at her house as a invite of my boy Alfred’s.  We did a home and home Friday night stay and when I came over to my surprise Leticia and I got along great.  We ate, watched TV, laughed till our stomachs hurt, ran around the yard and at night chased each other around the house having pillow fights.  I couldn’t believe the girl I was seeing.  She was smiling, laughing, more talkative than I had ever heard in school.  We had a ball.  Nothing romantic at all – but big fun as kids just being kids.

Upon getting back to class on Monday I spotted ‘Letsy’ and thought of speaking or telling her again how much fun I had at her house with her family.  She shot me a subtle look as if to say, “You better not!”  I got the message.  Leticia never had anything against me.  She thought I was an OK guy.  But the thought of it appearing that she had ‘a thing’ with me was not going to be acceptable.  Nevermind that we never had anything romantic goin on in the first place.  It was just the appearance of it.  If she was like my youngest daughter is now at the age of 10/11, she didn’t even like boys yet.  My kid loves her some Chris Brown but that doesn’t count.  My point is that Leticia wasn’t messing around with any of the little cats in the school yard. 

It was all good.  I never called Leticia again.  I avoided her at school.  And she in turn didn’t give me the gas face anymore if we happened to bump into one another.  We had an “understanding.”  It was my first lesson in pupply love and 5th grade politics.

**I had not spoken to Alfred or Leticia since I left South Bend in 1981.  I did speak to their mom about 3 years ago.  I called their old number just to see if it was still good.  Alfred’s mom remembered me and gave me his number, but he never answered and whomever answered the phone didn’t seem to care to give him the messages.  Leticia – married with at least four kids at the time.