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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Educator says, "Tired of Watching Slave Movies"

I mentioned to an acquaintance that I heard that the movie "12 Years a Slave" was a very intense movie to watch.  He responded that he had been at an educational event, where the movie had come up in a discussion.  The educator he was talking to had replied that she was tired of movies about African Americans as slaves.

 My comment to him was that if wealthy blacks, or anyone for that matter, would finance scripts written by African Americans we would see movies with a variety of topics.  African American writers have many experiences to write about. You can bet that more than likely the topics are not about slavery.  Today's African American does not have personal experiences to relate regarding what really transpired during slavery.  So, why should we only write about the past?

The plots of today's stories, if given a chance to be produced and made into a movie, would be about family life, love stories, perseverance against the odds, success, failures, challenges, and victories!  The educator meant well to say that she was tired of movies about slavery.  But, not all the stories from slavery have been told.  It isn't a bad thing for some stories to come out that have not been told before. I also do not like to see the same theme in African American films.  It makes it seem as there is only one lifestyle or subject matter that is important to African Americans.  Diversity in stories and characters is what the movie industry needs.  That relates to any ethnic group.

I am tired of horror films and do not understand why Hollywood continues to produce them.  I am not tired of stories with interesting characters and plots.

On a personal note, I have written several screenplays that feature African American characters.  The scripts are not about slavery.  They cover science fiction, comedic, and drama based stories.  If that educator tired of slave movies runs across this blog, you're free to send my name to producers, etc. who are looking for a non slave African American written script!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Role of Government

What is the role of government in a society?  One of the basic roles is to protect the security of  the people.  Ensure the community or if widespread, the nation, is secure.  This impacts the government's policies as they relate to those outside the border of the nation or community.  We share the world, and cannot impose policies on others not under our government rule.

Governments must also provide or oversee the provision of basic services such as food, water, transportation systems and emergency services being provided to its citizens.  Governments must ensure the environment is protected.  We must take care of the natural resources that we have been made care takers of.  In protecting the environment government ensures that free services to enjoy the environment (parks) exist.  Governments should assist in developing systems allowing for self improvement of people at their own pace.  One example of this is ensuring an effective and cost neutral education system exists for the population to use.  Governments must also support the growth of humanity beyond boundaries and labels that we as human sometimes assign to each other or to groups within a society.  Our eventual growth to reach our full potential depends on human beings not being limited to being boxed into a set of behaviors and acceptable practices.

Why is government at times criticized?  Most times it is when government either doesn't do enough to provide basic services, or does too much and starts to force value based decisions onto the mass population. Then people feel as if their right to decide has been taken away from them.  Conflict arises and partisan politics begins.  It is the role of government to walk that neutral line that respects the fact that we have differences, but to understand that there are basic items that we agree with in terms of providing those basic needs in life that allow us all the opportunity to prosper as we so desire.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hunger In the United States of America

A writer writes!

I don't have a handful of statistics to support the next statement.  But, everyday many people in the United States go without food or eat the minimum to sustain themselves.  How is this so?  We see much affluence around us.  Commercials on television tout the extravagances of life in the United States.  Food is plentiful!  There are numerous stores just waiting for people to come in and purchase food.  Restaurants have staff waiting at the door to sit  and serve you.   Much food is wasted every day in households and restaurants across the United States.  So what is the source of the hunger?  Well, not everyone has a job that provides them money to purchase food.  Not having a job also is not always the fault of that individual.

 The worst part of going hungry is when it impacts the elderly, the young and those who are ill. The elderly should be able to live their late years in life free from basic concerns such as where will my next meal come from.   The young should be able to enjoy there formative years and live those experiences and have all the adventures that kids have as part of the growing up process.  Someone who is physically ill needs the sustenance of food to help their body heal.

Of course adults must do all we can do to prevent ourselves from getting into a situation where we do not have money to buy food.  Risky behaviors that take money away from the food budget must be avoided.  Whether that is gambling, drugs, or other human vices.  The shameful part of hunger is when it shows up even if you are leading the proper and righteous life.  Do we who are affluent have an obligation to help feed those who are hungry?  If they are in that situation through no fault of their own, I would say yes.  We should provide a means for those elderly, sick, and the youth to be provided food.  We can't expect those groups to be able to resolve their hunger problems on their own.  If family and friends do not come to the rescue, we should not just wash our hands of the situation then go have our five course meal plus a snack later.

So, based on that logic, I periodically give to charities that involve feeding people.  What I do consider first is if there are those in my family whom I should provide assistance to first.  Parents or other family members may at times need financial help.  Hunger in the United States is a reality.  Thankfully it is not to the extent where help is not available.  Despite knowing that  plentiful food  resources exist in the United States, we should not believe that there are people who don't need assistance.  We all need help in some ways.  If you have the means please contribute to the local community food bank, or to organizations that attempts to provide assistance to the homeless.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"The Butler" vs "Scandal" : Contrasts

A writer writes!

I'm still having problems reconciling the differences in the opening scene of the movie "The Butler" and the popularity of the ABC television drama "Scandal".  Both feature an element of a white man having sexual relations with a black woman.  In "The Butler" the white male "master" has sexual relations with the black wife of one of his slaves.  The black female slave has no choice but to reluctantly allow the white master's sexual advances.  The husband of the black woman in "The Butler" semi-confronts the white master at the behest of his son and is murdered for doing so.  In "Scandal" the white President has an extra marital ongoing sexual relationship with a black female who once worked for him in various capacities. The President supposedly is in love with the black female.  The black female character, Olivia Pope, is a willing participant in the relationship, to the point where she turns down the proposal of a black male Senator who wants to marry her.

I  wonder if the TV series would be as popular if the character of the President in the series was black, and the Olivia Pope character was white?  I do wonder what a black female who currently is a fan of the series would feel about the story line in "Scandal" if they first had to re watch every week the opening scene in "The Butler" of the black woman being used as a sexual outlet by the white slave master and then seeing the black male slave "husband" being murdered.

How do black males feel about the story line in Scandal?  One message of the plot  seems to be that if you are a successful black professional you are still a second choice option to a successful black female professional.  How do black males feel about seeing an attractive black female character being sexually ravaged by a white character?  What is the difference between the way the black female is used in the opening scene of "The Butler" versus how the black female is used in "Scandal"?

Some would say, it's not about white vs black, it's about love that crosses racial barriers.  Let's see, the character of the white President is married and has a child.  So, Scandal is a love story??  In "The Butler" was the opening scene where the black woman is used for sex a depiction of the slave master's love for her?  I don't think so.

"Scandal" to me is the story of Thomas Jefferson updated to fit the year 2013.  A powerful politician who is attracted to black women.  A fantasy/reality depicted on national television for entertainment purposes.  Yes, the "romantic" story line is only one part of the plot in Scandal.  But, it sends a message regarding choices and ignores the historical fact that years ago, black females (and maybe black males) did not have a choice to refuse the overtures of white slave owners or their wives.  "Scandal" in some ways romanticizes the abuse that black female slaves had to endure.  So, if you have not seen "The Butler" rent it and watch the opening scenes before you watch the next episode of  "Scandal".

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Issues and Options: Foreign Policy Needs to Become World Policy

A writer writes!

Our world.  We as human beings have in common the fact that we share this life, this planet, with each other.  It's not by choice.  It is just a fact.  Our governments' don't see each other as a family.  In most cases governments support the notion that we all live distinct separate lives from each other.  Some of our "lives"  benefit others while some of our experiences are only meant to benefit ourselves.  Our governments create geographic boundaries, and have created relationships with countries that distinguish "us" from "them".

To interact with other countries  governments' create a foreign policy.  That policy is a set of behaviors and actions that become the official list of acceptable and unacceptable behavior we as citizens of one country must have towards another country.  These policies are our rules of engagement. Most of us do not have the opportunity to travel regularly to other countries to learn for ourselves that people are people.  Customs may vary, food may vary, religious beliefs may vary. But, we all need food, water, and rest.  Our interaction with some "foreign" countries may be controlled by our government. Why?  In some cases there are people in other countries whose beliefs and feelings about the United States are clouded in hatred.  Those people are a danger to innocent people in the United States.  But those people should not be seen as representative of everyone in that country.  Unfortunately the views of those who would do harm onto others in another country, becomes the official viewpoint on the views of all citizens of that country. Lost is the fact that within the foreign country are people who don't feel negatively about the United States.

In the year 2013, we as an advanced civilization still result to combat and wars to resolve conflict. Diplomacy often is a last resort rather than a first resort.  Diplomacy, the act of interacting with others to talk, understand, and peacefully resolve a conflict should always be a first action.  One of the more difficult things to do is to empathize with someone you feel is the enemy.  What we are missing is that through empathy can at least come understanding as to why a conflict exists. From understanding can come possible compromises to reduce or eliminate the level of conflict.

War or armed conflict should be the last resort to resolve disputes between countries.  The world during the 20th century endured two World Wars which did not put an end to wars ever happening again.  War means that all peaceful methods have been exhausted and that the government of a country has chosen to stand firm on an issue.  At times the actions of a country's government forces the entire country into a war.  We need to realize that the actions of the government does not always reflect the will or consensus of the people in the country.  Over time the will of the people overcomes the government's foreign policies as is what happened with the United States involvement in Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s.

Nations on this planet need to start interacting as fellow human beings rather than the mechanical interactions of governments.  We need to stop seeing each other as foreigners.  Let's take the first step and start seeing each other as neighbors on the gigantic neighborhood of the planet Earth.  Put away the doctrine of "foreign policy".  Realize that we need to start the dialogue and journey to development of a World Policy that governs us all as human beings sharing the planet.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Columbus Day "Celebration"?

A writer writes!

Columbus Day.  I recall as a young child celebrating this day in school as the day Columbus discovered America.  Little did I understand then that there already were Native Americans in what is now the United States when Columbus "discovered" America.  Little recognition or acknowledgement exists of the role of Native Americans as the first settlers in this country.  An entire culture was wiped out by "settlers" coming from across the ocean.  Families were destroyed, traditions lost.  The logic of the destruction of the culture of Native Americans was that the new settlers were far superior than the so called "savages" that inhabited the country. It was the evolution of the better species winning out.

From a nation of people who inhabited the country from shore to shore, we now find only a glimmer of the culture of Native Americans remaining.  The Stars and Stripes, the flag of the United States, does not recognize the existence of Native Americans as the original settlers in this country.  Would it be such a crime if the flag was modified to honor and give credit to Native Americans as the first caretakers of this country? It would not cost any money other than modification of the "official" symbol of this country.  Modifying the nation's flag to add something as a respectful testimony to the ultimate sacrifice of a race of people would be the honorable thing to do.  Columbus has his holiday.  What do Native Americans have?  Let's not forget the ultimate sacrifice Native Americans were forced to take so that another culture could assume prominence.

It would be the act of a great country to recognize that in achieving its greatness, some actions were taken that should be remembered solely out of respect for others.  Such recognition would not be an admission of guilt in any past wrongdoing.  It would just be an act that is long overdue.  Native Americans should not just be a footnote in an elementary school history lesson.  The willful annihilation of an entire race/culture is a significant event in world history.

There is discussion now about the name of a Washington D.C. professional football team being changed to delete the reference to "Redskins".  It's fine to delete that name.  But, let's go a major step forward and recognize the sacrifice of Native Americans by modifying the flag of this country to add some type of recognition of them as the original settlers of the United States.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day ? of Hostage Crisis

A writer writes!

I heard today that due to the government not being funded, the families of service members would not be getting death benefits!  I responded loudly to the television, "no way can that be true!"  Hopefully the lack of a budget isn't stopping Department of Defense personnel from doing whatever needs to be done to take care of the families in such a time of  loss.  Rules should not get in the way of doing the correct thing.

I sent a note to my Congressman, Susan Brooks, to get to work or come home and we can send someone to D.C. who will work to pass a budget. We often brag about America being the greatest country in the history of civilized human beings!  We stick out and beat our chest and look down on other countries.  But, I don't think the government shutdown exemplifies the greatness of our political and governmental system.

Some may call what is going on, checks and balances.  To me it's using a method that hurts the wrong people and doesn't exemplify the greatness this country attempts to embrace.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day 3 - Hostage Crisis: Government Shutdown

A writer writes!

Recall those eye catching headlines on news  shoes?  " Day 12: Crisis in Iran!" followed by the dramatic newscaster?  They were very catchy and full of doom and gloom.  Well, now it's my turn to proclaim this is "Day 3 - Hostage Crisis!"  This time the hostages are the American people who look to the United States government for leadership, action, and results.  The hostage takers are those suit wearing economic terrorists who call themselves "The House of Representatives".  It's not yet clear who they are representing.  How not passing a budget to get the government back to work is seen as "representation" is unclear to me.

Yeah, some of them are donating their salary to charity or not accepting a salary.  So what?  They likely planned for this instance ahead of time and stocked away enough money to survive not being paid.  Plus, it's not like all Congressman are homeless and depend on dollars from people dropping dollars in a bucket near a freeway ramp stop sign.  I have yet to see my "representative" Susan Brooks, indicate that she is either not accepting her salary or donating her salary to charity during this government shutdown.  What about it Susan?

I saw reports that there were shots fired near the U.S. Capitol.  For a second I thought maybe some fed up U.S. citizens were taking matters into their own hands. The sight of gun carrying citizens, lawfully carrying registered guns to make a point to Congress is something not too far fetched to think of in these days and times.

But, back to the hostage crisis.  Hopefully no one who will perish during these political shenanigans by Republican's in the House of Representative.  If there is loss of life, we need to hold those who have brought about this crisis accountable for their lack of actions.  Delaying funding of the government is not a creative problem solving technique.   If  "Obamacare" is at the center of this political challenge,  I challenge those who call themselves "Representatives" to put forth an alternate health care program that works.

Let's get this Hostage Crisis over with.  Do we need to send in a Navy seal team to get Republican's brains working?  Well, we survived a 25 day Hostage crisis in the Clinton administration in the early 1990's.  Let's see how long the patience of the American people will endure this time.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Remember the Government Shutdown When You Vote in 2014

A writer writes!

The House of Representatives kidnapped  the budget of the Federal government today.  Most Federal agencies are closed because they are not being funded to continue with their delivery of services.  The ransom desired by the House of Representatives is defunding of the so called "Obamacare" health care plan. Normally criminals who commit crimes are arrested, put into a jail cell, and sometimes allowed to bail themselves out pending a trial.  Unfortunately the kidnappers in the House of Representatives are being allowed to roam free and continue their "ransomic" actions.  Is "ransomic" a word?

I hope you return the favor to your elected Congressman who participated in this crime by voting them out of office in 2014.  You didn't send them to Congress to just vote no.  You sent them to develop policies to improve conditions.  Stomping your feet, falling to the ground, and screaming like a little baby because you can't have your way, is not public service.  Those are the kind of actions that are going on in this display of partisan politics which will not achieve its goal.

Those who participated in this crime should be ashamed of themselves.  Do they present the best that America can offer?  Fund the government so it can do what it can do.