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Monday, March 30, 2015

The "Evolution" of Television Over 50 years

Television has changed in many ways over the past 50 years.  The physical TV set itself has gone from a cumbersome heavy glass tube to the thin streamlined monitors we have today.  The clarity of the picture has increased greatly as has the size of the television screens themselves.  In addition TV has gone from having only a few commercial channels and networks to watch, to now having numerous options.

Along with those technological changes has come a change in the content of what is shown on television.  In the early 1960s the content of television in these United States of America was limited to a depiction of the lifestyles of primarily Caucasians.  Color TV was available but the color of the people shown on television was definitely monotone.

As an African American boy, I recall watching such television shows as "Andy Griffith", "Petticoat Junction", "Green Acres" and "The Beverly Hillbillies".  These were entertaining shows, but there was a glaring lack of African American actors and actresses on these shows.  Most of commercial TV did not feature any African Americans to include commercials.  We simply did not exist in the minds of television executives.  It was not important to television executives that African Americans or other minorities were unable to see their existence confirmed through having their image reflected on television.  It was a white world and television existed to confirm who was in charge.

The content of the shows reflected a more conservative United States.  Married couples did not sleep in the same bed.  Any mention of "gay" lifestyles was inferred rather than visually depicted.  An intermingling of races on television was not shown.  Violence was shown on television but it was less graphic and much less gory than it is depicted today on television.  Profanity was not allowed.  Censors existed to protect viewers from immoral words and racy visual scenes.

The latter part of the 1960s saw African Americans getting increased exposure on television.  The Vietnam War, assassination of our leaders, the drug culture, and changing values brought on a different tone to television shows.  Each decade since the 1960's continued with the implementation of different themes and content of television shows.  The mini series was prevalent in the 1970s with one being "Roots" a depiction of how one African American family started from slavery.  Television networks finally aired shows starring African Americans in roles about African Americans.

Fast forward to 2015.  This year there are many television shows that visually show sexual relationships of gay characters.  What would have been impossible to show on public television in the 1960s is now a common place event.  The depiction of the gay relationships takes a little getting used to.  I am struck with the view that these relationships are being pushed out onto the viewer as being the new norm.  As an African American male I have noticed that scenes with gay couples are more prevalent that scenes with African American males, or African American "straight" couples.  So, I wonder what is the message being directed at the viewers by showing more gay relationships?

One thing is still consistent from television of the 1960's.  We always have the right to change the channel or turn off the television set to do something constructive.  That is what  I choose to do more of these days rather than having images bombarded at me that I don't want to see.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Reflections From A Black Man

Another event of a young unarmed black male killed by police action occurred recently.    This morning, more violence in Ferguson as two non Ferguson police officers were shot while supporting efforts to keep peace in Ferguson. This after the findings of the United States Justice Department review of the Ferguson, Missouri police department were announced.  The Justice Department's findings confirmed that racist views and actions existed among police and civilian employees of the Ferguson police department.  The findings were not surprising since last years comments by black residents of Ferguson and initial data regarding who was being stopped by Ferguson police already had confirmed that African Americans in Ferguson were being treated differently due to their race.

With continued instances of unarmed people being killed, I do wonder what type of training do police generally go through as to to when to use their firearm and whether that training is adequate?  Are the police given the leeway to make bad judgments under the banner of fearing for their life?  Is it okay to shoot when in doubt or choke someone to death if they display any type of resistance?  Before being hired are police screened for their viewpoints about various races, cultures, and behaviors that people display?

What impact do these news stories about unarmed black men being killed by police have on young African American men?  One thing is sure, it should emphasize to African American men that black men should not give the police any opportunity to even think about using their weapon.  Don't approach a policeman so even though he is armed and you are not, he feels "threatened".  Keep your hands in plain view so that it is obvious that you are not going for a weapon.   Then any excuse that the police feared for their life becomes a non existent excuse.  The "fear" excuse then becomes an act of hatred by the police if they discharge their weapon or use any other type of force on a compliant person.

In the early 1970s as a teenager I constantly heard on the news or read in news reports that the probability of me as a black teenager living beyond age 30 was something I should not count on.  I recall that the news reports were that for my future the chances of my either being dead or in jail were high.  I was not presented with the positive images that my chances of becoming a doctor, lawyer, or successful business man were high.  I was not presented with information that my future would lead to going to college, owning a home, or having a job with a six figure salary.  Instead it was a constant public deluge of negativity.

My response to this was to pursue the positives.  The traditional success stories for black men that I recall hearing about in the 1960s was that entertainment and sports were the best options for a good career for black men.  But, I was not a world class singer, and had no special athletic skills.  My parents had minimum wage jobs.  I do recall that the best thing I had going for me was attending a Catholic school rather than being enrolled in the  public school educational system.  I flourished under the academic rigors of Catholic school.  It became clear to me that education would be my ticket to a prosperous life.  I had no other options.  I was not going to get a basketball scholarship to college, have a pro career in the NBA and I would not be a teen singing sensation going to work for Motown.  So, I studied in school and through the college educational system connected into a career in Human Resources working for the Federal government.  I continued to learn and apply myself during my career.  Long hours and a dedication to the craft allowed my career to prosper.

Even in retirement I still have goals and ambitions.  I desire to travel and see parts of the world in person that I have only seen via TV or photographs.  There is still much to learn and much to do. While I am in good health and financially stable I continue to live.  Every news report about a black unarmed man being killed calls me to action to continue to attempt to  contribute in a positive manner.  We will not go away and disappear.  We will not be swept into a corner of negativity and be told that we cannot achieve or survive.  Our accomplishments are many.  We just need to spread the positive results of our actions, ourselves.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Chapter 2. Religion, Faith, and our Social Barriers

A writer writes!

The allegedly superior human species displays behaviors that at times belies the intellect we think we have.  Presented with the mystery of life's origin, one segment of our species attempts to construct human theories and suppositions with the false belief that we are at the center of knowledge.  We think we can explain anything in human terms.  Another segment turns to faith and belief in a Creator whom we owe our existence to.  From that comes our practicing Religions.

Religion, the belief in an Almighty Creator, is a shared belief of billions of people.  Our humanistic religious beliefs are segmented and categorized under labels that define the parameters of that faith. Muslim, Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Hindu, Baptist, are some of the descriptors that define our religious beliefs.  Then there are titles assigned to churches that are organized without having the global limiting descriptors of Baptist, Catholic, etc.   For those churches religious beliefs are more important than placing the church under a distinct limiting label.

Many churches and organized religions are further segmented by race, culture and income.  Like animals that roam together, "intelligent man" also tends to congregate with others that look like and sound like our reflection in the mirror.  We are united geographically on the same planet but are divided and separated by centuries of separatism.  We pray to our Creator and attempt to follow the rules we believe our Creator has given us on how we are to conduct our lives. Then we add man made rules to govern our behaviors within a religion.  Overall, we have failed miserably in being what our Creator has wanted us to be.  Our only saving grace is that even with all the destructive mechanisms we have created, we have yet to take the final act that would totally end life on the planet Earth.

Our animalistic nature to stay close to those who look, sound, and behave like "us" keeps us divided and from achieving our full potential.  We implement our belief in a Creator by creating separate silos of belief.  We are separated in our unity in believing in a Creator. Yes, there are segments of our species that have taken down the barriers and interact freely regardless of race, income, and culture. But the reality is that there are still many barriers to take down.  We criticize a generation that refuses to let the evils of the past dictate their attempts to interact with other races and cultures in the present. We place upon those in the present the pains and agonies that we remember, or that we recall from historical facts.

Those of us from the older generation are challenged to forget, but not forget, what has transpired in the past.  So it is with our faith.  Human behaviors of the past should not and must not dictate our religious behavior of the future.  Learning about other "faiths" is something we can do and should do.  It gives us knowledge, understanding, and develops a road to a common path that we can all walk upon.

Revelation shows that the material world can not be saved.  But, preparing as many souls for the Rapture as possible is another way of "saving".  In the end, there will be fewer barriers, more religious understanding, and during daily worship a mixture of races and cultures gathered together as children of our Creator without the need for a defining label.

Friday, March 6, 2015

NBA Fans Beware

Our Indiana Pacers, who are fighting for a playoff spot (why I have no idea!  Tank it and get a chance at a franchise player like the Knicks and Sixers are doing) decided to "rest" center Roy Hibbert the other night against the New York Knicks.  The Knicks lost of course as they have sent all their talent to Cleveland, Dallas, etc. and Carmelo Anthony is gone for the year due to surgery and recovery.  It's amazing that the Pacers would rest anybody if they really were trying to make the playoffs.

NBA teams are into the tanking and resting mode, while fans pay premium ticket prices still.  I'm surprised more fans have not caught on and decided to stay away from games until the talent meets the ticket price range.  More  fans should be diverting their money into other entertainment modes.  Family vacations,  extravagant dinners, etc.

Once owners see fewer fans coming out to watch mediocre basketball, we may see more pressure for the team's stars to try to at least make an appearance for two quarters or so in NBA games.  Otherwise, drop the ticket prices owners!