Google+ Badge

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

NFL Players Muhammad Ali Moment

The owner of the Dallas Cowboys has made it clear.  A player who kneels during the national anthem will not play in the game for his team.  Their was no discussion or mention by the owner regarding the issue of black men being killed by police in questionable situations.  He apparently doesn't care about that and doesn't want his players to care about that.  Just stand for the national anthem dammit and give your total allegiance to his God, the flag of these United States of America.

Now we will see how his players and other players around the NFL will react. Shades of slavery days!

I attended the public ceremony and farewell to Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky last year.  Ali took a stand in the 1960s by refusing to report for duty and "service" in the Vietnam War.  That decision resulted in him being banned from boxing until the Supreme Court overruled the ban.  He lost prime years in his career and suffered financially for his stand.  Now NFL players face a decision, especially those who are members of the Dallas Cowboys.  Your Muhammad Ali moment is upon you.  The same for millionaire athletes in other professional sports.

Is the issue of black men being systematically killed by police with no subsequent changes in policy or training worth protesting by players taking a knee during the national anthem?  We will find out during the NFL game Thursday night and the upcoming games of Sunday.

We all know that playing the national anthem and parading the flag is not necessary before sporting events.  It forces us to become junior soldiers who blindly support events and actions occurring within the country, even if the actions are wrong.

Now the players on the Dallas Cowboys and other NFL teams will face a dilemma  Muhammad Ali faced in the 1960s.  NFL players, now comes your Muhammad Ali moment.  In the past thankfully not all black people accepted being enslaved.  Thankfully there was support for slavery in the United States being ended.  The challenge of stepping up and demanding that the issue of blacks being killed by police is here.  It demands action.  It doesn't deserve the issue being swept aside and robotic standing to a flag and a song.  Show us what you have Dallas Cowboys and other NFL athletes. It is your Muhammad Ali moment.

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

There was a documentary on the PBS network in 1987 titled "Eyes On the Prize". It was about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.  The content of the documentary is still applicable to events occurring today.  It's still available and those of you 35 years and younger should definitely watch it.

Recently politicians, owners of professional football teams, and others have attempted to change the issue of black people being killed by police into an issue over protests during the national anthem.  It is a well crafted attempt to deflect attention from the real issue of black men being murdered by police, just because the police allegedly "feared for their lives".  This fear was even being justified by the police when the person they "feared" was unarmed.  That is the reason for the protests.  It's not about the flag it's about having discussions and then efforts to stop the "MBP" Murder By Police.  Videos have been shown in the past years documenting the murder of numerous black men by police officers.  No mass nationwide call for re training of police has occurred.  The city of Indianapolis has talked about starting Implicit Bias Training of policeman.  Otherwise apparently it's business as usual for the majority of police departments in the United States.

It is very cunning to attempt to cover up the real issues under the umbrella of "patriotism", respect for the military, and "respect those who have lost lives in Wars".  No one is attempting to disrespect veterans, so stop the lie that the protestors are purposefully disrespecting those who have lost their lives in past wars.  The attempts to cover up the issues with patriotism and the symbolic playing of the national anthem shows that those who condemn the protest really could care less about the lives of black people impacted by MBP.  Thank you for your honesty regarding your feelings towards black people.  I would rather you go further and just come out and say "you could care less about a policeman killing a black person" rather than hiding behind a flag and a national anthem as you are doing now.

You are artfully attempting to get our eyes off the prize.  You want to have the real issue ignored.  Just know that we will not let the real issue be ignored.  We will continue to protest, march, speak out and take action regarding the real issue.  We will put a stop to the practice of police killing us because they can hide behind the "fear" card. 

It is amazing to see how the patriots and anthem lovers never acknowledge that enslavement of black people, lynching of black people, racism against black people, MBP and other atrocities against black people really occurred in this country.  Playing a national anthem before sporting events and having people stand for a symbolic flag does not wipe out the past or change the present. Fix the issue that is causing the protests.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Beneath the Flag and the National Anthem – Symbols, traditions, and human made laws.

What do the national anthem, the flag, and the pledge of allegiance mean to me as a 60 year old black man?  In these United States, they are all symbolic creations aimed at demanding blind loyalty and devotion to the beliefs and values of European Americans. That devotion is demanded regardless of what atrocities have occurred in this country against black people. European American institutions attempt to impose these symbols upon us to define who has authority over us.  The symbols start in the school system at an early age.  These symbols and customs have found their ways into our sports entertainment. The NBA, a league where over 74% of the players are black, created specific rules to dictate how players must behave when the national anthem is played.  The motive for the creation of these rules apparently is to ensure the majority of the fans who actually attend the games, those being European Americans, are not offended by protesting black athletes.
I have no reason to be blindly devoted to a country that supported the kidnapping of my descendants from Africa to perform hard labor for European Americans.  I have no reason to be blindly supportive of a country that still to this day fails to acknowledge how it carried out the annihilation of the Native American people who were originally here.
For dialogue purposes I would like my fellow European Americans out there to answer these questions:
1.     Why should current day black descendants of enslaved people stand to honor a country where a black man can be murdered without cause by the police?
2.     Why should a black person pay respect to a country that allowed the lynching of black people and continues to allow discriminatory practices solely based on the color of a person’s skin?
3.     Do you acknowledge that your majority status in this country is based on the total obliteration of Native Americans by European Americans via illegal appropriation of their land and resources?
For me that is the starting point of any discussion on race and the protests against the flag and or the national anthem.
Does the national anthem need to be played at sporting events or any public event?  No it does not.  Sports are supposed to be a distraction from our everyday lives.  We go to watch athletes play a game that provides us entertainment.  The introduction of flag waving and national anthem playing is not why people pay to attend events. If you see someone not standing when the national anthem is playing or refusing to face the flag, understand that they have a reason for doing so.  You do not have to accept their reason, only respect it.
If military institutions want to play the anthem at military events, feel free to do so.  But stop using us non soldiers to visually show support for a country by making us stand at any event you feel demands a support of loyalty.  If democracy is about freedom then give us that freedom and do not impose loyalty tests on us at various social/entertainment events.
The issue of people protesting against the playing of the national anthem or protesting the flag of the United States of America is not a new event. In 1916 the President of the United States and then in 1931 the US Congress authorized the “Star Spangled Banner” as the official national anthem of the United States of America.  Only the first verse is traditionally sung. 
In 1892, the pledge of allegiance, which we all may have recited in elementary school, was written. It was modified in 1923, and 1954 to add specific reference to the flag of the United States and reference to God.  Prior to World War II, students in school would salute while reciting the pledge in a manner that was very similar to the German Nazi salute in World War II.  So the “Nazi” salute was replaced with a hand over the heart stance.  Actor Louis Gossett shared the story of how he would recite the pledge in school but instead of reciting the line “…for which it stands..” he would say “.. for Richard Stands…” not knowing what he was really saying!
Protests against the national anthem are documented well back into the 1900s. The reasons were many.  Anti nationalism, anti war, civil rights, even a protest against spending money on building a sports stadium rather than for a drug treatment program.  The protests were by people of various races and beliefs.
As a black man I understand fully why Colin Kaepernick said enough is enough and no longer robotically stood during the playing of the national anthem.  It was a time when month after month a black man was being killed by police. European Americans need to put themselves in our position.  How would you like it if you were systematically stopped for no real reason other than your skin color?  Would you stand for a system where the police are not trained to deal with their biases and not taught how to diffuse a situation to avoid killing someone?
Being “patriotic” always seems appropriate especially after such events as 9/11.   Patriotism that turns into blind loyalty is dangerous.  Blind loyalty fails to see the truth.  As a 60 year old black man, I recall the events of the 1960s and the civil rights era.  I still firmly believe that the protest at the 1968 Olympics by Tommie Smith and John Carlos was a courageous action.  Many people died during and before the civil rights years of the 1960s.  They died in pursuit of having the same rights as European Americans in this “land of the free”.  They spoke up against and protested against racial discrimination.  Unfortunately some of the civil rights struggles that existed in the 1960s continue today.  That is why people like Colin Kaepernick take a stand.  That is why a black man like myself does not feel obliged to stand and place my hand over my heart as the national anthem is played.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"45" and Kim Jung-Un Do Battle Using Elton John Songs

The nuclear test drama between leaders of the United States and North Korea entered another chapter this week.  "45" called the North Korean leader, Kim Jung-Un, "Rocket Man" and then continued speaking about Kim Jung-Un as the song "Rocket Man" by Elton John played in the background.  Secret service men could be seen in the background mouthing the lyrics of the songs while scanning the crowd.

About half an hour later, Kim Jung-Un responded by calling "45's" remarks those of a barking dog as the Elton John song, "The Bitch is Back" played in the background.

Fifteen minutes later, "45" sent the White House Press secretary to remind the press of his "rain of fire and fury" comments to the sounds of Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road".

Kim Jung-Un quickly responded by playing the Elton John song, "Tiny Dancer" with a photographic close up of "45's" crotch area.

Not to be outdone, "45" had the song "Saturday Night's Allright" blasting onto Pennsylvania Avenue through the exterior White House speakers.

Minutes later the airwaves in North Korea were filled with the strands of the song "I'm Still Standing" by Elton John.

"45" then went off his scheduled speech at a luncheon as he started singing the Elton John song, "Bennie and the Jets" as he pointed to a hand held map of North Korea.

The back and forth came to an end and the parties called it a day after Kim Jung-Un played the song "Don't go breaking my heart" as he ordered another missile test over the country of Japan.

We understand that both leaders will be moving to the play list of the Rolling Stones in the next volley of musical exchanges.

Monday, September 11, 2017

My NFL Boycott Due to the Blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick

Prior to Colin Kaepernick being black listed by NFL owners, I purchased tickets to go see the Cincinnati Bengals play the Baltimore Ravens. For a period late this summer, Baltimore looked at signing Colin as a back up quarterback.   During that period I anticipated going to the game in Cincinnati to see protesters against Colin being on the Ravens team.  But the signing never happened. The Baltimore Ravens owner made sure that wouldn't happen by not agreeing to bring Colin onto the Ravens squad.

Yesterday around the NFL the play of a variety of "starting" quarterbacks were simply atrocious.  The Indianapolis Colts were a prime example of where Colin could have played if he were not black listed by the owners.  The Colts starting quarterback had a horrid game which assisted in the Colts losing by a score of 46-9 with the starting quarterback throwing for a total of 128 yards with 2 interceptions. So has Colin's phone rang to bring him in for a tryout?  Of course not.  That would be too easy.

The Bengals game I attended was mildly entertaining, but I had already decided that if the NFL continued to black list Colin, I would no longer spend my time or money on the National Football League.  For those black players in the league, even those stars who refuse to jeopardize their careers by joining any political protest, good luck.  I hope you get the biggest contracts you can from your team's owner and subsequently use some of those funds to assist others in escaping poverty and to gain an education.  As we all know for some education is the great equalizer.

If a qualified "brother" like Colin isn't allowed to pursue his career, I feel the least I can do is not support a "professional" football league that will not give him a job.  There is plenty of college and high school football to fill my football watching void.

I don't expect many fans to boycott the NFL.  We've been enslaved for years in many ways to the point that it's hard to not be enslaved.  We were probably better off when we had the old Negro League in professional baseball.  We didn't need European Americans to give us jobs in sports.  We made our own jobs and entertained ourselves.  We've moved past those years of self sufficiency into a pattern of wanting to be a part of the culture and businesses owned by European Americans.  We somehow believe that brings us the total freedoms and choices we didn't have before. Such is not the case. We don't need European American institutions that do not value our opinion, because our opinions conflict with theirs.

I'm sure there are some owners who proudly say that they would never hire Colin because of his past protests.  I hope you enjoy your 4 win 12 loss season!  I"m sure if hiring Colin would guarantee you massive profits this year you would change your mind.

There are plenty of alternative choices to watching professional football.  Yeah, I'm sure I'll miss some exciting games.  So what?  It's still a game that I am not enslaved to.  I have choices and I'm making mine regardless of what friends, family or others do.  It's great to not be a enslaved!  I do what I do and make the decisions I do to honor those who came before me who did not have a choice, and who never enjoyed any type of freedom.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The North Korea Missile Saga Continues

The latest in the continuing mini series that is North Korea and its quest to upgrade its military arsenal.  The North Korean goal apparently is to join the nuclear war club of which these United States of America is a charter member.  It was reported and not denied by North Korea that another  "test" missile was launched by North Korea with the missile traveling over a part of the country of Japan.  Not exactly an act of friendship by North Korea or a show of concern that something could go wrong as the missile traveled over part of Japan.

The antics of the North Korean leader cannot be seen as being responsible.  Missiles are not toys.  Testing weapons of war in or over populated areas is not something that you would expect from a caring leader.  Yes, in this uncivilized world of ours a country does have the right to test weaponry as long as their is no adverse impact on others.  People forget that the United States had extensive above ground and underground nuclear weapon testing for years before finally stopping the practice.

It would seem prudent for all the nuclear club members to call for a meeting with North Korea to work out a humanistic solution.  Telling North Korea to cease and desist is not the solution.  They have no reason to stop their efforts.  In this world those who possess nuclear weapons command much respect.  Nuclear weaponry does serve as a deterrent to others.  Just because the nuclear club already has one Asian member does not mean another cannot join the club.

Maybe one day we will no longer have nuclear weapons. But unfortunately that day will be the end of our world as we know it today.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Why Are Flags, Anthems, and Monuments So Important?

Last year a professional football player chose not to stand when the national anthem was played.  In response people were upset with the player.  This year owners of professional football teams refused to hire the player to fill open spots on their teams.  The player's resume includes leading a team to a Superbowl.

Some people are upset because statues honoring the Confederate era in the United States are being taken down.  The fact that the Confederacy supported maintaining the institution of slavery in these United States apparently is irrelevant to those people.

Refuse to hold your hand over your heart when the flag of the United States is raised!  You will be treated as if you are Satan himself.

People historically have been emotionally enamored by flags, anthems, and statues.   We post our flags, stand for our anthems and of course love to honor certain events and people by creating monuments or naming streets, buildings, etc. for them.   Not everyone who deserves a statue or some form of honor has received one.  We all know that.

How many monuments to Native Americans have you come across lately?  Until 2016 there was no national museum honoring the contributions of black people in these United States of America.  The textbooks in schools have historically only covered the accomplishments and events surrounding European Americans.

What would happen if we stopped having flags, anthems, and creating monuments to human beings?  Do we really need flags, anthems and monuments?  No we don't.  These symbols and instruments of "honor" are all reflective of how we as people love to focus on our human nature and create our human idols.  We love to self promote our greatness as people. We want to take time to look at the flag of "our" country and sing a song about "our" country.  It's all just misplaced adoration.

I'm reminded of one "monument" that I would see while driving westward through the state of Indiana.  It is a large cross constructed near highway I-70 near Effingham, Indiana. It speaks for itself without having any words to explain its purpose.  The large cross lets all those who see it know what really is important.  It lets us know who created us and what we should be doing in terms of our behavior.  But, we have gotten far away from the message that cross gives us.  Instead we have become enamored by our own human importance as displayed in the flags, anthems, and monuments we create to ourselves.  These self honors may have good intention, but they present barriers to our understanding what is really important.

Why do we need flags representing countries?  Is it because if we are traveling we don't know where we are at unless we see the country's flag?  I don't think so.  Flags support the development of boundaries between people.  Flags help to keep us divided. Is it not enough that we all exist on the same planet?  No, we have to create a symbolic flag that separates us by the land we live on.  Then we have to create an anthem to go with the flag.

We are far from reaching the potential that our Creator intended for us.  Instead we're arguing about the "things" we as people have created.  Flags, anthems and monuments; our idols and man made Gods that we have been taught to adore and honor.  If I never saw another flag, heard another anthem or viewed another statue my life would be just fine.  Maybe one day we'll stop all the focus on our selves.  Until then it's up to each of us to break the cycle of devotion we have placed in our flags, anthems and monuments.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Trump Escalates The Conflict With North Korea

Let's be clear.  There is no conflict between the American people and the people of North Korea.  We have no reason to be in conflict with each other.  So where is the conflict coming from?  The "leaders" of North Korea and these United States of America are the source of the conflict.  The drama was escalated recently with the comments of United States President Trump when he went into a "fire and fury" monologue several days ago.  Of course this required a comparable response by the leader of North Korea.

Here we have 2 boys in their sandbox playing war.  They are making statements that are supposed to represent the governments of each country.  Little boys with their toy tanks, missiles and soldiers. "Civilized" nations with leaders who are acting uncivilized. What an embarrassment to the human species.

Hopefully the surrounding bureaucracies of the governments will reel in the deranged talk of the "leaders" of the two countries.  They have shown that they do not deserve to lead their nations. War talk is not what the people of the two countries want.  I would like to see these two world leaders stranded together on an isolated island together. The only resources at their disposal being those that nature around them provides.  The only human company being each other.  Then let's hear you talk about "fire and fury" and attacking another country.

Both of these "leaders" need to understand that the power they have is only what the people allow then to have. They are both entering territory where the people need to protect themselves from these militaristic crazies.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

North Korea Missile Launches - No Need for Fear

I was 5 years old back in 1962 and don't remember the drama and fears of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  From what I understand the United States and Russia were on the brink of a nuclear confrontation due to nuclear missiles being placed in Cuba under Russian guidance. Today, almost some 60 years since that time, North Korea has drawn attention due to their testing of ballistic missiles. The fear is that a successful testing of the missiles will enable North Korea to attach a nuclear device to these missiles enabling them to launch a nuclear attack on another country.

This fear seems a little one sided.  The media has been stressing what cities in the United States can be reached by the missiles.  I thought to myself does that mean back in the 1940s and 1950s when the United States was testing nuclear bombs, that other countries in the world were living in fear of the United States launching an attack on them?

To my knowledge there have been no stories from Russia, China, or North Korea over the years expressing fear of the United States unilaterally attacking cities in those countries. So, why are we assuming that North Korea plans to attack the United States once they have nuclear launch capability?  Why would North Korea begin a scenario that would initiate a nuclear holocaust the world might not recover from?

I agree that military based nuclear devices whether owned by a country or a small terrorist group are weapons to be feared. But, does a country have a right to develop nuclear launch capability?  As a deterrent it definitely presents an imposing presence.  In having nuclear launch capability, something could go wrong and eventually will, whether it be an accident or a deranged act by a leader or a group with access to the nuclear weaponry.  The nuclear capability club consists of nine known countries with Israel and North Korea being part of the group.  One understands the fears of Israel in wanting to keep some countries or entities from achieving nuclear capability.  Until those countries or entities withdraw their stated goal of seeing Israel eliminated, self preservation is the motive for Israel to destroy the nuclear capability of a threatening country or entity.

For the United States to arbitrarily decide that preemptive military action would be warranted to prevent North Korea from achieving nuclear launch capability would seem to be a strong leap to a final judgment.  Does North Korea have a right to create nuclear launch capability? Well, the United States thought we did back in the 1940s.  So why should the current nuclear club members be able to dictate who else can join the club?  Is it correct to take military action against any country that tries to join the nuclear club?  Such an action in itself seems to support a country wanting nuclear launch capability to keep other countries from trying to dictate military terms to them.

One thing we need to be conscious of is to not buy the hype that North Korea's missile launching ability means we are being targeted for annihilation. Mistrust builds more mistrust and initiates the actions leading to an eventual conflict.  Japan, the only country to feel the wrath of nuclear bombs is not a member of the nuclear bomb club. Despite the United States killing thousands of innocent civilians in two major Japanese metropolitan areas, the United States and Japan somehow have good relations with each other. The military views of the current North Korean leader should be an area of concern, but not the sole reason for these United States of America to go into full military defense mode.  When the media starts publicizing stories about how residents of Alaska and Hawaii should be concerned and fearful of being attacked, it's time to reel in the media fear machine from inciting mass panic.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Biggest Lies I was Taught In Grade School

The United States educational system is probably similar to those of other countries.  Our American educational system describes the country's historical events in a positive way as to not admit the sins, mistakes, and negative actions taken within the country.  Other countries also probably take the same approach.

One of the biggest lies I was taught while growing up in the American school system was that Christopher Columbus discovered America.  That has to be in the top 3 of lies taught to kids when I was in the school system in the 1960s.  Somehow the American educational system had been taught to ignore the fact that there already was a Native American civilization prospering in what would become the United States of America.  Although in grade school we may have been taught about "Indians" already being in this country, our teachers had already been trained to brainwash us into accepting that despite that fact, Columbus "discovered" a land that people already inhabited. Teaching us that Columbus discovered America  has to be one of the great salesmanship jobs in world history.
The history I was taught never admitted that adopting slavery as an institution in the United States was a mistake and just wrong.  Kidnapping people from another country and devastating the lives of those families apparently was seen as being a good practice.  For the good of the country slavery had to exist?  The hard labor needed to be performed by someone else?  The history I was taught did not admit how the words in the United States Constitution were written only for the benefit of land owners, specifically white European American ones at that.  The Constitution was basically a racist document designed to support only one segment of the United States, that being white males who owned land.

Now how did the original European Americans obtain the land from Native Americans? Well truthfully they stole, connived  and cheated Native Americans out of what had been theirs for many years. Some of the richest families in these United States may be benefiting from that thievery.  But will they admit that?  Of course they will not.  That would spoil the image that they simply worked hard to achieve all the family has now. You have to admit that Native Americans were forcefully made to give up what had been theirs.

After the Emancipation Proclamation, black people also had property they legally had obtained taken from them through violence, often leading to the death of black people who had owned the land.  This part of American history is low keyed as it does not fit with the image that the United States wants other countries to have of us.

Negative history is kept away from us on purpose.  It truly takes a great country to admit to the sins and travesties that occurred over the years.  The annihilation of Native American culture and the incorporation of slavery into the development of the United States are parts of history that should be covered in detail in our educational system.  Instead an obligatory paragraph or two may be all you find in the textbooks if any coverage at all.

I have read some articles that there is less emphasis on teaching children about the early years of the history of the United States.  One wonders if that is to avoid the embarrassing details of the Native American experience and how slavery was once supported as an acceptable practice in the United States?

I recall an early historical "fact" we learned about George Washington, the first President of the United States.  The tidbit was about how as a boy George confessed to cutting down an apple tree in his yard. Why that was a historical fact of significance puzzles me to this day.  There was no mention that George was also a person who willfully owned slaves, even as President of the United States.

The lies we were taught often were to the neglect of our being shared factual information about the accomplishments of black people over the years.  There are many stories to tell about the journey of black people in the United States. Some are just now coming out after years of being kept quiet. They are all positive stories about the accomplishments and sacrifices of black people that European Americans had no desire to publicize.

I'm always glad to read or hear about positive accomplishments of black people in the present or past. Such information overcomes the opening 5 minutes of negative news about actions taken by black people that you are guaranteed to see on your local news shows.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Implicit Bias Training for Indianapolis Police?

In response to a recent late night fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, the mayor of Indianapolis, Indiana recently announced that "Implicit Bias Training for police" will start in Indianapolis.  This training allegedly will be the first of its kind in these United States of America.

What is Implicit Bias Training?  Implicit bias refers to the stereotypes and attitudes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner.  In other words, all of the things that we have heard, seen and witnessed in life both directly and indirectly play a part in who we are and how we view the world in our subconscious mind.  All of those things play a part in our worldview without our even realizing it.  In high-adrenaline situations, especially involving threats and fears, it's the subconscious mind that takes control more often than not.  It is these biases that are activated involuntarily and without the awareness of the individual.

After recent video recorded incidents of police killing unarmed black men, you would have thought that police departments nationwide would have gathered to discuss the issue of training for police.  Apparently if Indianapolis is the first city to initiate this kind of "implicit bias training"  that national discussion did not occur.  So after decades of incidents of police killing unarmed black men it seems the police are okay with maintaining that their code of "I feared for my life" is good enough to keep killing black men and others whom they have been culturally taught to implicitly fear.

In other words a European American police officer uses deadly force against a black man in any situation because they have been trained to believe a black man will kill the police officer if the officer does not kill them first.  That logic extends to scenarios where the black man is unarmed.

What if black men reversed that logic?  A black man is stopped by the police when the black man has not done a thing to warrant a stop.  So from past events and history shouldn't the black man fear for his life and take all steps to ensure his life as a black man continues?  Do police officers have unlimited rights to draw their weapons and fire their weapons at black men?  If so, don't black men have the right to defend themselves under the logic that they were protecting their right to life and liberty?  Of course in these United States of America we know what the answer to those questions would be.

The best thing we as black men can do is to not put ourselves in a position where a police man has the opportunity to even stop us.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Health Care and Politics

After the Affordable Health Care Act was passed in 2010, members of the Republican party began an effort to repeal the law.  This repeal effort did not include a detailed Republican plan for replacing the provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act.  Once the Republican party won a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, the path was smoothed for the Republican party to implement their mysterious new plan that would replace the provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act.

But, their was one problem.  The Republicans did not have a plan ready that would replace the Affordable Health Care Act.  The Republican focus was simply to repeal the Act.  In May of 2017 the Republican controlled House of Representatives passed the 2017 American Health Care Act,.  Afterwards Republican Congress members gathered at the White House to "celebrate" with Donald Trump.  Everyone knew that it was too early for a celebration.  Several months have passed and the Senate is still working on finalizing the details of a new health care act.

It has been stated that the number of uninsured people would increase under the proposed act.  Protests have erupted nationwide with our elected officials feeling the anger of people being threatened with losing their health care insurance.

Here is what I don't get.  The Republican party had 6 years to come up with a detailed plan to replace the Act they simply wanted to repeal.  Six years of attempts to repeal with nothing to replace it with?  What were they thinking?

The Republican health care "effort" was simply politics.  There was no attempt to develop a plan ready to plug into the space created by repealing the original plan. For that the Republican party should be ashamed of itself.  Partisan politics will not help alleviate problems with the health care insurance system in these United States of America.  The Republican party had a chance to develop all the details of the replacement plan but chose not to do so.

Here's a novel thought.  Instead of replacement, why not try to improve the parts of the plan that were not working?  You're in control Republicans.  Get to work and give us a product that improves not simply repeals.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Realizing My Body Is A Rental

As I got older in years and wiser in wisdom I made a decision regarding my physical fitness.  I was used to seeing men aged 50 and up with a rotund belly and obviously over weight.  I decided that I did not want to achieve that look.  Unfortunately the benefits of eating whatever you want as you get older means increased weight and a change in the proportions of your body.  I did not want those "benefits".  That meant that with being less active than when I was younger, I would need to exercise more and modify my diet.

I also realized that my body more or less is a rental.  Eventually I would need to give it back to something called "death".  In that journey towards death, what we put into our bodies and how we treat our body can play a large part in how long our bodies will maintain top condition. I decided to maintain my rental vehicle in the best condition I could for as long as the parts held out.  What that means is monitoring my intake of all the sweets I loved in my younger years.  Cakes, cookies, donuts, brownies would now have to be eaten in moderation and not as often as I had in the past.  That also meant exercising regularly and longer.  For someone in their late 50s this was not what I thought I would be doing as I got older.

I had been jogging 2 miles about 3-4 times a week.  I increased my mileage to at least a 5k, 3.1 miles 3-5 times a week.  I also joined a nearby gym to work on the weights in the gym.  I also decreased my meal portion size.  I wasn't too focused on portion sizes in the past.  But, I realized that piling food on my plate wasn't necessary.  I started decreasing my plate portions.  I also began to make natural fruit smoothies as my dessert and sometime as my breakfast or lunch.

I soon noticed that along with my increased running and activity I began to lose some weight.  I lost approximately 15 pounds.  I realized that the more active I am the more weight I can lose or keep off.  Health issues I had before went away.  It seems the less weight your body has to carry the better off  your body may be.

In this day and age, technology allows for body parts to be replaced.  Hip, knee, and artificial limbs have been created when those body parts are lost or wear out.  That's one way to deal with a body issue.  Me, as long as I can I want to maintain all of my original parts!  I view my body as a gift.  It's up to me to take care of the gift and to maintain it.  So, I see it as a rental. I have my rental contract which has a "to be determined" expiration date.  It's up to me to do all the maintenance and repairs.

I continue my journey knowing that my contract could be broken by accidents or other events.  But until then I'm trying to do my part to maintain my rental.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Paul George Departure? Pacers Fans Clamor "FANS, FANS, FANS"

Angered and upset that star Forward Paul George supposedly does not want to commit to Indiana beyond the 2017-2018 season, die hard Pacers fans were outside Bankers Life Fieldhouse deluging the team general manager with shouts of "FANS, FANS, FANS".  When asked to verify that they meant to send a message that what the fans thinks should matter, the rowdy group brought clarity to the chant.  "No, we realize George is out of here. We just want the Pacers to Find Another Negro Soon "F.A.N.S." to replace him."  Continued the mobs self appointed spokesperson, "We pay good money to have these boys.....uh, players entertain us after we've worked hard all day!"  "As a minimum we want a player with good hang time and somebody who smiles a lot.  Plus he can't be taking any rest days off when playing at home."  "We already have a home in Geist ready for the new player to move into. We can't have him living anywhere else."

In a related story, a Pacers spokesperson was quick to deny that the team was pursuing a jersey patch deal with a historically anti black group which like the NBA also features 3 letters in its name.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Your Choice of UE. Any second thoughts?

Okay fellow alumni.  My question of the day is if you had to decide all over again, would you have attended the University of Evansville?  I asked myself that question many years ago.  Since you are a subscriber to this Facebook page, I will first assume that your answer will be yes you would still choose U.E.  There are many alumni from my days at UE who once they left UE did not look back and have not returned. Now for my answer.

Prior to attending UE I grew up in the 1960s and early 1970s in urban inner city environments in Saint Louis, Missouri; Compton, California; and Gary, Indiana.  I did benefit from 8 years of attending elementary Catholic Schools in Saint Louis and Compton, but my high school years were in a public school that did not have a strong curriculum designed to prepare me for college.  Most of the schools I attended from grade school through high school consisted of a student population that was over 98% black students or other minorities.

My face to face interaction with European Americans was limited over the first 17 years of my life.  Those interactions were mostly with teachers in school, and workers in stores.  So why in 1975 did I choose UE?  First, no one in my family had attended college.  I had no parental guidance to assist me in making a college choice.  I did all the research myself to include completing the then paper based applications.  I do not recall hearing much about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) during my high school years.  All I knew is I was seeking a good liberal arts school that would give me financial aid so I could attend college.  Saving money for college?  That was something my parents or me never thought of while I was growing up.  There were no discretionary funds available for a college fund. I grew up in the 1960s when we as black people were just breaking some of the chains that still tied us down from slavery days.  With all that I had seen in the era of the 1960s, I had a somewhat militant attitude towards European Americans.  All I knew is that I was going to college to prepare myself for a career of some type.

In terms of Indiana colleges, for some reason my choices came down to Earlham College and UE.  The University of Cincinnati also became a late entry to consider. I had received some mail from UE advertising their school. I felt that was a sign that maybe the campus desired to attract more minority students.  From my research I knew that UE had a very minuscule black student population.  I visited UE taking a Greyhound bus from Gary.  I recall I over packed for my 2 day visit. I liked what I saw in terms of the campus and decided to attend UE.  I wrote to all the incoming black freshmen in an attempt to build relationships before we even stepped on campus.

I know that my first year I came to UE with a chip on my shoulder.  My attitude was,”yeah, I’m a black student at this white campus, you deal with it!”  I spoke my mind and viewpoints, criticized European American Greek fraternities, posted my militant views on my dorm wall to include an American flag on which I had written the word “Caucasia”.  I had no fears about being a true minority on campus and in the city of Evansville.  I was often the only black student in my class.  It was a precursor of what I would experience most of my life in the real world.

Life at UE to me was just practice for the real world.  As Allen Iverson would say, “we’re talking about practice!” Even at that age I knew that if I aspired to a successful career after college I would need to learn to deal with a European American world.  At UE I had a few friends of European American descent.  But most of my friendships especially in the dining hall were with my fellow black students.

My social skills were terrible then (and not much better now). I became active in student activity organizations at UE.  I interacted well with European American students and teachers for the 5 years I attended UE.  I learned much about the thought processes of those I interacted with.  I did an internship with a Federal agency my sophomore and junior years at UE.  I applied what I learned at UE while on my internships.  My time at UE prepared me for a work environment where I was the only black male in the office.  That was my environment during my internships and in the real world after I graduated from UE.  My time at UE made my transition to the working world seamless.  Would I have had the same seamless transition if I had attended an HBCU?  Maybe.  I think an HBCU might have cared more about me as a person and helped me improve many of my personal skills.  That’s just my guess.

One thing I do know is that I had a very successful career after UE.  Rewards, accolades etc.  I rose up the chain to become a supervisor and manager in Human Resources.  My income was higher than what I had set as a goal during my high school years.  I experienced things I never would have dreamed of while sharing a small room with my two older brothers.  After I left UE I’ve never gone without a meal, never been homeless, never been without a job until I retired.  I’ve been able to give back to charities via money and my time.  I’ve traveled to places that were never a thought to me as a child.  I was able to retire at age 55 with a very generous pension.

UE shaped who I would become after UE.  It was the place I was destined to attend.  I was not the smartest student at UE but I think I got as much out of the school as I could.  Would I have been more successful if I had attended an HBCU?  Who knows?  One regret that I do have is that when I attended UE I didn’t give much thought to the black students who had preceded me. It was not until some 25 years later when I researched the history of black students at UE that I became aware of the many contributions and challenges faced over the years by black students at UE.  But through UEAAA some of that legacy can be defined and passed on to black students who attend now and in the future.

So now fellow alumni it’s your turn.  Would you have chosen UE if you had to decide again?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Trump's Budget

I watched this week as the Office of Management and Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney,  stated that Trump’s proposed budget was an attempt to be compassionate towards those who are paying taxes.  His view apparently is that much tax money is spent unwisely in “entitlement” programs designed to assist people in need.  That view somehow insinuates that those with a high income that allows them to live comfortable lives are being inconvenienced by paying the taxes the system has stated they should pay.  So people who are able to eat regularly every day, pay bills on times, live in $200,000 plus homes, take several vacations each year, stay in time shares or rental homes, pay medical bills without being financially burdened are somehow deserving of compassion??

The White House budget director’s comments seemed to say “don’t feel sorry for the poor, the homeless, those who don’t have opportunities to make their lives better”.  No, feel sorry for the wealthy and the well off who are burdened to have to pay taxes to assist those who are not well off.  This seems a very selfish attitude.  A “me first” attitude.  I got mine, you get yours somehow without my help!

Let’s be fair.  There are many well off people who donate to causes, charities, or even volunteer to help those who for whatever reason are disadvantaged.  But the comments of the budget director appear to be an elitist view of what taxes are meant for.  Apparently taxes are not meant to go to any form of assistance to those who through no fault of their own are not well off.  The view is that the government doesn’t exist to open doors or provide opportunities.

If the government doesn’t exist to open doors than how do people aspire to improve themselves?  Well, let’s look at the history of these United States of America.  European Americans came to this country, inhabited then by Native Americans and took/stole what they wanted.  European Americans took property and made it theirs.  There was no fair compensation to Native Americans.  Any treaties made were one sided towards European Americans or agreements that took advantage of Native Americans.  European Americans understand that open immigration today that allows competitors to enter these United States of America is a danger to the interests of European Americans.  More competition for resources is something they do not advocate.  The demise of Native Americans is a lesson not forgotten by those in control.  Sharing the wealth is not a European American strength.  That is one reason why after the Civil War, Reconstruction policies designed to allow newly freed black people to gain economic wealth were crushed.  Selfish, me first attitudes governed and the government of these United States of America supported the demise of Reconstruction policies.  Forget uplifting people who had been enslaved for hundreds of years in this country.

 “..there’s a certain philosophy wrapped up in the budget, and that is that we are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs.  We're going to measure compassion and success by the number of people we help get off of those programs and get back in charge of their own lives.  We're not going to measure our success by how much money we spend, but by how many people we actually help.”  This statement by the budget director shows that getting people off of programs is the goal.  It does not say how to get those people back in charge of their own lives." commented the budget director. 

It’s fine to pause and reassess the value of entitlement programs and if they are truly working.  But, to claim that “compassion” for taxpayers is the reason and giving people control of their lives?  There’s something wrong with that logic.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Trump Experiment

Well America.  How is that experiment going with a businessman with no political experience being President?  Are you folks in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio who voted for Trump rethinking your vote?  Do you feel safer in a world where North Korea is launching missiles almost weekly and we have Trump as our leader?  Do you have confidence in a President who appears to be an amateur among seasoned world political leaders?  Do you see a President moving out with a well planned agenda to address the myriad of domestic issues in these United States of America?  The economic markets have started to panic at the performance of our Russian connected President.  You may want to move your stocks and other investments into safer areas.
It’s only been 4 months and now we’re moving into investigations of Trumps actions/decisions. Are we going to have to adjust to saying President Pence?  “PP”.  It kind of has a nice ring to it as a quick acronym for number 46.  What’s going to happen next in the Trump administration?  Where are all the great things he spoke about in the campaign? 
What do Presidents do when they are in trouble at home?  They get the hell out of the country and act Presidential in foreign countries. Trump is now headed to Saudi Arabia and among other stops will meet with 50 Muslim leaders over lunch, visit Jerusalem and then meet the Pope in Vatican City.  So we can look forward to stupid comments and embarrassing actions from overseas on the nightly news for 8 days.  Order your pizza, chips, sodas etc. ahead of time.  It should be a show worth watching.  Who knows, maybe he’ll even stop by North Korea on a quick detour and observe a missile launch.

We can only hope that he’ll meet Jesus in Jerusalem or the Pope will exorcise him of all his demons.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Presidential Crisis?

I'm reading a book on James Buchanan, the 15th President of these United States of America. Buchanan was the President just before the American Civil War began.  Buchanan has been deemed by historians as one of the worst Presidents in American History.  He may soon be joined in the worst Presidents club by Donald Trump.

In the span of 4 months, Trump has consistently spoken and acted in an undignified non Presidential manner.  Yes, he became President by winning the electoral college process but he did not win the popular vote.  We expect great things from our President.  Regardless of what the current President says, great things are not coming from the oval office.  Trump's legitimacy as a President is seriously in question.

Trump, his "family" of advisers and his inexperienced staff are showing that they are not ready to lead the nation in the turbulent times we live in.  The American public may have been disenchanted with the political system in 2016, but now is not the time to support an amateur in the White House.  The world is too dangerous to place our lives at risk in the hands of a President who is a narcissist.

We can hope that a miracle happens and the light will come on in Trumps head.  But, their is too much at stake to just hope and pray.  The checks and balances of the American political system need to be implemented and implemented quickly.  We cannot wait until we are at a crisis point to act.

We have witnessed in 1972 how a President can misbehave.  In 1972 President Richard Nixon became embroiled in the Watergate scandal that lead to his resignation.  Will that be the way the Trump Presidency ends?

Monday, May 1, 2017

What Ever Happened to "Win, Win" As an Outcome?

I was watching a network "news" show one morning.  The Vice President of the United States, mentioned that Congress had reached agreement on a piece of legislation that kept the government from shutting down.  One of the news correspondents mentioned the word "compromise" several time.  Unfortunately compromise has not been something that Congress has done well over the past 10 plus years.

In the past decade we have seen political parties become entrenched in viewpoints to the point where nothing is accomplished.  There was a time when people were focused on "win, win" as a strategy.  In "win, win" both parties could gain from a discussion or a deal.  It was the art of compromise.  Instead of defeating the other party, both parties could walk away having gained something.  In a world where there are many divergent viewpoints and opinions there is a need for compromise and give and take.  Unless we develop specific living areas where it is a requirement that everyone agree on everything, we must accept that we cannot always get our way!

It is imperative that we as individuals understand that we cannot force our opinions and viewpoints on others.  Some of us want to make our personal views, the dominant view.  We need to understand that we should not do that.  I call such thoughts  and views the "God" complex.  People who think there is only one specific way to think and believe somehow are placing themselves into a position of being a God on earth.  Such people forget that they are not supreme beings who have the answers to everything.  Those with a "God" complex apparently believe they have a direct communication line with our ultimate Creator, the one who created human beings.

I cringe when I hear people talk about something being the answer to a problem.  My thought is does the proposed answer really benefit everyone?  An example is the current issue about health care coverage.  Congress has been struggling to develop legislation involving health care.  My thought has been that whatever they do, the result will not be beneficial to 100% of the people.  So, what defines a successful health care bill?  If it benefits 80% of the people?  90%?  What is the level of acceptable pain on people?  Is a bill that benefits 80% of the population really a "win, win" proposition?

In such a case the pain caused to the remaining 20% should be a concern.  A way to ease that pain should be sought.  Don't just move on to the next 80-20 solution.  If not, then we as people have come to the conclusion that there must be a winner and a loser in every situation?  We can do better than that.  It may take more work, but a situation that results in a "win, win" for the various parties does seem more compassionate and humane.  Absent compromise comes conflict.  We've all seen how human beings deal with conflict.

As you interact with others during your day, think about the opportunities to compromise on issues rather than seeking your "solution" as being what applies to everyone.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Tribute To Angela Williams

I recall the day I first met Angela Williams.  It was about 10 years ago at a U.E. Homecoming weekend.  It was a crisp cold but sunny fall morning in Evansville. The leaves on the trees were turning into the orange colors of fall.  I had parked my car and was walking across the circle to sign in at the outdoor alumni table that had been set up in what I had previously known as the Union Building.  I noticed Sylvia DeVault at the table that had been equipped with hot apple cider to serve the alumni and keep the table workers warm.  Then I noticed that there was an African American woman sitting next to Sylvia!  So, I'm straining my eyes to see who is this?  I then found myself jogging in slow motion over to the table, thrilled at the prospect of an African American being added to the alumni office.  It was like a scene out of the movie "The Color Purple" where the Whoopi Goldberg character is in the field playing patty cake with her friend.  I was mentally clapping my hands and playing patty cake while jogging over to the table in slow motion.

I make it over to the table and compose myself into professional alumni mode.  I give Sylvia my professional alumni greeting and then turn to introduce myself to Angela Williams.  Now, I felt like saying "what's up sister girl?" But, I maintained professional alumni mode.  Angela was wearing the purple U.E. colors as she always did.  Angela always wore the school colors well, better than most alumni or U.E. staff.  I sometimes wanted to ask her, "Where do you shop at?"  Anyway, I recall Angela's first words to me were, "So, what brings you back to U.E.?"  Over the years I would joke with Angela that her first words to me were "What you doing back here fool?"  That would make her laugh, showing that big smile of hers.

Back in those days I was doing some research on the history of black students at U.E.  Each time I came to campus I made it a point to stop by and say hello to Angela and invite her out to lunch. We were about the same age and shared our life history with each other and the variety of challenges we had faced.  I discovered that her life had been more challenging than mine.  I recall one day I told her let's do dinner and a movie this time.  After a nice meal, we wound up just making it to a showing of the movie "The Bucket List" starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.  Well, the plot of the movie has several emotional moments and between Angela and me there were tears being shed.  So, Angela reaches into her purse and gives me some tissue to wipe my tears!

One day I noticed she had signed an email with the name Honey Angela Williams.  I asked her "is Honey your nickname?"  She explained that was her real first name and that only family called her Honey.  I told her one day I was going to walk into her office, when Sylvia was present, and say loudly, "Honey, let's go to lunch!" and then I would turn to watch the reaction on Sylvia's face.

I was always impressed by Angela's devotion to her daughter and Angela's strong faith in God.  I recall after a Dr. King march from the U.E. campus Angela was overseeing her daughter on the bus back to campus.  It was clearly evident her motherly love and devotion to her daughter was very strong.  With my job changes and relocation I lost track of consistent communication with Angela.  When we did reconnect it was very apparent to me that her faith in God had gotten stronger and I made that comment to her.  I recall one time I sent her a message through Facebook asking a religious question.  After several minutes she responded to my question.  Her reply must have included quotations from 10 scriptures!  I said to myself, "She should be a minister!"  It was during that time when Angela published her book of poems.  I eagerly ordered a copy to support this woman of God.

I found out in February through the UEAAA Facebook page that Angela had left this world. Ironically I had just put myself on a self imposed 2 week vacation from Facebook.  But, I kept seeing notifications pop up from the UEAAA page and wondered what was going on.  Angela worked at U.E. for a long period.  While some came and went, Angela remained at U.E.  Always loyal, always devoted to getting the job done.  I recall talking to her late last year in a teleconference about the mentoring program.  Her bubbly voice, would make you smile if you were having a bad day.

This world needs a million people and more like Angela Williams.  I was saddened to hear she was gone. But, I know her faith has her in the ultimate place we all aspire to be when we must depart this life. She earned it.  Well done Angela.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Voting Reform - Make It Easier to Vote

Election Day.  Or even on early voting days.  Long lines at the polls.  The self proclaimed greatest country in the world has yet to develop a system that eliminates long voting lines at the polls.  So what is the answer?  Devote more resources to the current systems?  Create a hacker proof system of voting that uses state of the art technology?   Recent legislative actions related to voting have only resulted in additional types of personal identification being required prior to a person voting.  Some say those laws have simply made it more difficult for people to vote.  The intent of these "voter ID" laws supposedly was to reduce instances of voter fraud.

Well now it's time to reduce the time it takes to vote.  There is no reason why a person should have to wait in line several hours to vote.  If we can stream television shows into our televisions and personal devices anytime we want, I'm sure there is a way to allow people to vote without having to stand in line for hours or to even leave their home or place of work.

What will it take for the current systems to be changed?  Apparently we are waiting for a massive failure on a larger scale than what happened in Florida during the 2000 Presidential election.  For those of you to young to remember, use your favorite search engine for a recap of a failure that decided the political direction of our country.

I would love to vote from the comfort of my home through a secure website, while I'm watching the morning news, or favorite television show.  Wouldn't you?  We can send people to the moon but can't create a tamper proof technological voting system?  Something is wrong with that statement!

Urge your Congressperson to seek national reform of our voting systems.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Diversity Not A Concern - Images on the Wall

Several months ago I became a member of a nearby fitness center.  The Center is under the umbrella of the Hancock Regional Hospital.  The facility is equipped with the latest fitness equipment and also includes a pool, basketball court, and sauna rooms.  My main reason for joining was to take advantage of the indoor track, especially in the winter time.

During my initial visits to the center, I noticed that most of the clients were older people like myself.  Unlike me they were more on the European American side of the human being equation.  My ears quickly picked up that the background music being played as people worked out was music that European Americans like.  In response to my asking what satellite radio station was being played, I was told that it was a Pandora "classic rock".  That explained why the only song I heard by a black artist was one by Jimi Hendrix, legendary guitarist from the 1960s early 1970s.

My eyes quickly noticed that the photographs on the wall around the indoor track all depicted young European Americans exercising vigorously.  It was in direct contrast to the older European Americans and myself who were the normal clients of the center.  So, I sent a letter to the manager of the facility pointing out that the images prominently displayed along the wall did not reflect the reality of the paying customers who are using the fitness center.  The response I received mentioned the music being played reflected the demographics of the inhabitants of the community.  The photographs I was told were based on the design of an architect and reflected his/her vision.

The architect's vision obviously did not see minorities or older people using the center.  Anyone who uses the center will notice the giant photos and get the message quickly.  The architect apparently believes that the world consist of only youthful looking, thin European American life forms.  The response I received from the center did not express any urgency to modify the images on the wall.  Their was no acknowledgement that maybe I had a point and that other images should be added along the wall.

My conclusion was the response basically was saying, "yeah, you're right, but we like the images on the wall and don't plan to change anything."  It's nice to know what to expect.  When I stop by the center, I always have a set of headphones to play the kind of music I want to hear.   When I walk into the center I quickly note that every day the clientele are older adults, some likely retired like me, who are just trying to keep their bodies in shape.  When I do jog on the track I ignore the photographs of the youthful European Americans and focus on what I am doing.

I find it amazing that a simple decision on placing images on the wall of a building could exclude acknowledging the diversity of people in a community.  It lets me know the thought processes of the architect who designed the interior.  It just shows that even the educated still have much to learn.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

10 Years of Mentoring

I recently stepped down from an active roll as a mentor.  For the past 10 years I participated in mentoring programs with high school, elementary school and college boys/men.  The interactions had mixed results.  Most of my mentoring efforts was "group" mentoring through the local chapter of a national mentoring organization focused on mentoring black boys/teenagers.  I served as a mentor (with another partner) to mentor a group of boys in the 5th and 6th grades in the local Indianapolis Public School (IPS) system.  We conducted our sessions once a week inside the schools during lunch hours.  We typically had 5 to 15 boys in our group.

Dealing with disciplinary and behavior issues of students took up a lot of the 1 hour a week we spent with the boys.  I often felt like the distractions of misbehaving kids prevented the program from truly impacting the boys who attended the sessions.  But, what kept me going was the desire to "give back" to others.  I hoped that maybe through interacting with me, the young boys would see that they can aspire to have a good life.

In the sessions of this past year I tried to share with the 5th grade boys how I grew up in a poor environment.  Despite my poor economic surroundings I tried to show them that through education I escaped those conditions of poverty.  I shared with them how I am now retired and that my income in retirement from my annuity was higher than the income of most people who are working at a full time job today.  With a 40 year difference in our ages, I of course struggled in understanding some of the things the kids were talking about.

This past year my main goal was to work with a new mentor in the program.  I had worked behind the scenes the past 3 years to support the program.  I performed administrative work that supported the efforts of the actual mentors.  But, there were fewer men volunteering to become mentors so I returned to the classroom this year.  My mentor partner was a young, black, pediatrician to be.  It was obvious from the first session that he possessed the skills to be a good mentor.  So, I stepped aside and let him conduct most of the sessions while I took care of organizing the room and taking care of administrative matters.

Over the years, the organization of the mentoring program had some problems.  I kept working through the disorganization and lack of clarity in the program as I felt the time spent with the boys was the key.  I decided earlier this year that this would be my final year working in the program.  The lack of improvement in the program was a continuing frustration.  Plus, at age 59 I believe there are younger men who can fill the gap.

I do believe the kids need to see younger men than myself involved in mentoring programs.  The dilemma has been that the younger men often can't get away from their jobs for mentoring programs that conduct session on the school's lunch hour.

I'm hoping the My Brother's Keeper (MBK) program started by President Obama will grow and become a viable force to promote mentoring of our youth.  Maybe I will get involved with targeted efforts where sharing my experiences can help some youth.  I look back on the past 10 years knowing that I at least tried to offer my skills for the benefit of our youth.  All my efforts were not successful, but at least I tried.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

No Rest for the Rested - NBA Playoffs With all Playing

I'm watching the first round of the NBA playoffs.  Why?  It's the only time when it's a guarantee that the stars of the teams will be actually playing for the ticket paying fans.  After hearing how a number of teams have rested star players during the season, I was surprised to hear that the NBA had another record breaking attendance season during the past year.  Those fans who value their money being spend wisely should be upset when they pay premium ticket prices to see the stars of opposing team.  This is especially important when many teams have raised ticket prices for those games featuring premium star teams such as Golden State, Cleveland, and San Antonio.  Several times these fans have put out the money, paid the high parking fee, and high concession prices, sat in their seat and then heard the announcement that the opposing team would be resting "so and so" for that game.

In such a situation what is a fan to do?  Go to the box office and ask for a refund?  Stay and watch the game featuring the replacement bench players?  After spending $100 plus you know the fans are not going to just go home empty handed.  So the fans hang around and make the best of the situation.

The NBA commissioner recently came out with some innocuous response to the issue of teams resting star players.  In the last week of the season the Brooklyn Nets who were out of playoff consideration actually rested several of their starters in a game that had some playoff considerations.

With all that resting going on, the NBA still broke an attendance record!  What does that say about the fans?  I guess for those able to afford the price of an NBA ticket, it's only money.  There does seem to be some level of disrespect by the players to the fans paying the high ticket prices.  As Tony Kornheiser of PTI said, "If there was a living, breathing, commissioner in the NBA, something would be done about the situation of resting players."

After attending NBA games for at least the last 10 years, I did not purchase a ticket to any NBA game this year.  So the NBA lost my money for at least 4 games.  But as the attendance figures show, the NBA probably could care less.  They got some other victim who paid full price to attend a Cleveland game where Lebron James rested.

Tips for fans who don't have the extra money to throw at the NBA.  If you want to see the star players, buy tickets for one of the first 10 home games of your team's schedule.  Most teams wouldn't dare to rest a player during the first two months of the season.  Avoid buying tickets at the end of the season, unless your team is actually trying for a playoff spot.  Teams notoriously rest star players once they have solidified a playoff spot.  After the first 10 home games you risk going to a game and finding out that a star player, in his 20's, is resting.

Or do like me.  Invest your money into a nice vacation by a beach.  You know the beaches where your star player goes to rest after the season is over!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Testing as a Measure of Future Success

This week students around Indianapolis and the entire state of Indiana are taking a test called ISTEP (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress).  The stated purpose of the test is to measure student achievement in English, Math, Science and Social Studies.  Critics have stated that some schools focus too much on students passing this test than actually learning the material in each subject area.

One thing I have learned in my life is that test scores never really measured my ability to succeed.  I recall while in college one of my advisors was trying to give me some academic feedback.  He dutifully pulled out my academic record and looked at my Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores from high school.  It was as though those scores represented all that I was in life.  I remember thinking, “does he really think my SAT scores define me as a human being?”

Then as I was preparing for a career after college I encountered another “test” measurement.  To gain permanent entry into professional and administrative jobs in the Federal  sector, applicants had to pass the Professional and Administrative  Career Examination (PACE) test.  As a college junior I took the test but did not gain a passing score.  Shortly after that, the test was found to be culturally/racially biased and was abolished.  The test questions were designed to fit the experiences of European Americans.  As a result more European Americans passed the test than minorities.  Once the PACE test was abolished the final hurdle to my starting a career in Human Resources (HR) in the federal government was eliminated.

Once the test that would have kept me out of the federal system was abolished, it was then up to me to perform.  I took advantage of the opportunity, applied myself on the job, learned my trade, sought challenges and quickly moved up via a series of promotions.  During those early years I was often the only black male in the office.  I rarely encountered role models either in HR or other occupations whom I could look to for guidance or support.  In terms of human help, I was on my own.  I moved up in specialist positions to supervisory positions.  Again, I was the only black male in HR in a supervisory position.  I moved into a key HR managerial position that managed one part of a 20,000 person federal agency’s human resources program.

I then yearned to move further up the management chain but encountered the “glass ceiling” where black males were not given the opportunity to move into key positions.  So, I left that agency and moved to a position in another agency where I was the Director of Human Resources a position I wasn’t allowed to have in my prior agency.  It was from my new agency that I retired at age 55 after working 35 years for the federal government.

If the PACE test had remained in place, I would have never had the opportunity to have the successful career that I had.  If I believed that my SAT score represented all I could be in life, I may not have sought the challenges I did in life.  But, I understood that man made tests do not measure my desire, my will to achieve, nor represent what God had in mind for me.  Test scores are just the result of how a person deals with a human made system of questions.  What makes those questions the most important ones that someone should be judged by?  Tests are designed to weed out people not to identify who is the best.  Tests are arbitrary instruments used for the purpose of exclusion.
To those Indiana students taking the tests I would say, do the best that you can.  But, don’t let the results of the test label you into a specific category for your entire life.  If you do well, great!  If you don’t do well still pursue your goals and keep trying to get better.  Life does not end just because you don’t get an appropriate test score.  I can vouch for that through my experiences.  I am retired and living a non stressed life with financial stability.  In whatever you do apply yourself and let your actions, not test scores speak for you

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Only A Second Away

While taking a vacation from the social medium called Facebook, I continued to see notifications from Facebook groups I was part of popping up on my smartphone.  As a member of the University of Evansville African American Alumni (UEAAA) Facebook group I started seeing posts from several alumni who normally don't post onto the site.  Yesterday I was curious what was going on and was shocked to see the news of the death of the person who hosted the website group.  Her name was Angela Williams.  She had last posted onto her personal Facebook page on Sunday February 12th.  Her post mentioned that she was thankful to the Lord that she was on the mend from blacking out several times the week before and bruising her ribs.  Two days later she died in her sleep.

Angela was 57 years old.  In these modern times that is a number that seems too young for someone to pass away.  It just goes to show you that continued life is not promised.  We have to live for each day and each moment, while we have life.

So, if you find yourself thinking of the future, don't forget to live for the present.  We all don't know what day will be our last.  We're all only a second away from leaving this world.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump's Wall Project discusses President Trump's first America First jobs project.  Building the wall between the United States and Mexico.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

President Trump, Congressman Lewis tour of National Museum of African American History and Culture

#TrumpLewistourNMAAHC President Trump, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia and their families should tour the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture together in a private after hours tour. No cameras and press, unless both parties want the press in attendance. Send a tweet to Congressman Lewis @repjohnlewis and contact the White House suggesting the event. Then see what happens.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

How Much Money Is Enough?

Earning enough money to live comfortably is a goal of many people.  But how much money is “enough”?  And what is comfortable? One answer is, it depends on the kind of lifestyle you want to live and what type of “comforts” you crave.  One person with a modest lifestyle could live comfortably on $90,000 a year.  Another person with an extravagant lifestyle would find $90,000 as being not enough money to enjoy life the way they want to.  A life filled with luxuries and always wanting to experience the “best” does cost more.  That does not mean you can only enjoy life if you are wealthy.  It does mean you may have to pick and choose when to experience life at the extravagant level. 

If wealth was the primary indicator of happiness, there would be many depressed people in this world.  Money is power.  Money does buy you access to people and things, there is no doubt about that.  The material nature of the world supports money being a force to be acknowledged.  Our material desires dictate how much we will spend and how much money we “need” to enjoy life.  Our desires lead us to pursue our level of “enough”.  Most people can settle for having a level of enjoyment that does not require that every experience must be a lavish one.  So their income needs are not as major as a person who must have the lavish lifestyle.

How much money is enough?  We all need enough income to support our basic needs.  Food, shelter, companionship, entertainment are among the basic needs of people .  It is the level of enjoyment that we want to experience in each of those categories that determines what our “enough” is.  If our income level is not enough to achieve our dream levels for food, shelter, companionship, and entertainment, we have to “settle” for lesser levels that do not cost as much.  Settling for less does not mean you enjoy an experience less.  It’s all relative to how important the level of experience is to you. 

We all create levels in life that we want to achieve.  My enough is not your enough.  It comes down to personal preference and making sacrifices to reach the level of preference you desire. Many things we do are not necessary.  It all comes down to that simple statement.  We do things because we can.