Saturday, August 31, 2013

Where is The Moral Conscious of the World?

A writer writes!

The debate over the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government continues.  There appears to be much focus on what military response does the United States of America plan to take?  When I last checked a world globe there were other countries displayed on the goal beyond the United States.  Other countries should not shirk their responsibility and role as a co-inhabitant of this planet.  Other countries should be outraged and demonstrate that outrage.  Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Iran, Iraq, let's here you speak up about the outrageous use of chemical weapons against innocent people.  Don't just shout inside your house and then gaze out the window wondering what will the United States do to protect the world from such evil.  You have a responsibility too, so step forward and demonstrate through your actions a respect for people and people's right to walk in their neighborhood without having to fear chemicals raining down on their heads from above.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Images Over A Lifetime

A writer writes!

This being the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech, I reflected on images from the past.  The first occasion of possible discrimination I can recall was when I was in Catholic school in St. Louis, Missouri.  It was around 1965 and I may have been in the 3rd grade at the time.  Our class had gone to see some type of show at a concert hall in St. Louis.  I recall our class, which was predominantly Black, was seated in the balcony area of the concert hall.  Below us on the main floor was a class of white students.  They were being addressed by someone who had asked a question for them to answer.  I recall wondering why were we up in the balcony as I could see there was room for our class to be down on the main floor.  I also wondered why wasn't the speaker talking to and looking at us to make us part of the event?

I recall my brothers and sister laughing as on television a white reporter asked a black man if he had seen anyone in regard to an event that happened.  The black man responded, "No sir, I didn't see any peoples."  It was an image that a black man wasn't versed in proper English and had to say "sir".

Then there was the image of a television news report of a black man who had shot someone being cornered.on a roof.   From a police helicopter, gunfire rained down on the man's position on the roof.  More gunfire to kill him many times over.  The image made it look like it was definitely overkill.  It was if the police were making a point.

In my teen age years I recall hearing and seeing reports on news shows that there was a good chance that most Black males would not live past their 30s due to being victimized by crime.  For a teenager of age 16-17 years, it was not good news to hear that I might be dead in another 13-14 years.

Then there were positive images of seeing Black people on television proudly wearing their Afro hairstyles.  Seeing our culture depicted in a way we wanted it depicted.  Seeing Black people in movies in positive non subservient roles. Seeing Black men become Mayors of cities and becoming Congressman.  Seeing a segment of the Richard Pryor show on television depicting the various skin tones of Black women.

In 2008 there was the ultimate positive image of seeing Barack Obama win the Presidential election to become President of the United States.

Locally I recall images of Black high school young men completing a Beautillion program that provides them scholarships to attend college.  At that event there was no press, no media to cover the positive story.  Then I go home and watch the local news report of a disturbance at a mall where a black male has shot someone. It is the lead story.  I wonder where is the media when positive actions of Black people are occurring.  I wonder why aren't positive accomplishments of Black people covered by the news media, instead of the negative events.  It's all about images and which images the media wants us to have.

Try this out.  During the week note how many positive stories you see on television about Black people versus negative stories.  What is your final count for the week?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Time for the World to Grow Up

A writer writes!

Reports of chemical weapons being used against Syrian citizens by the government of Syria has been filtering out in the past week.  History records a number of these barbaric acts of man.  "Ethnic cleansing", "the final solution", "lynching", are just a few of the phrases used from the past that describe one of the more evil abilities of man.  That ability is to kill, just because we can.

When will the world grow up from allowing these actions to continue?  Why have we not learned from the past that such actions are not the way to resolve conflicts?  It speaks to the fact that within some of us are evil thoughts where violence becomes the acceptable answer.  How can we rid ourselves of such thoughts? Well, the world and its inhabitants has to grow up and reach the promise that our Creator envisioned for us many years ago.  One day watch a frustrated child and what the child does if something doesn't work his/her way.  Often that child in frustration may violently react towards a game if it frustrates them.

Let's face the fact.  Their are millions of people who wake up everyday not acknowledging that there is a Creator who is responsible for their existence.  Instead it's all about us and how smart we are.  We march off in pursuit of wealth, and the material items that reflect our wealth and success.  Then there are some of us, who decide to terminate the lives of innocent people just because they can.  As with a child who needs a parent to monitor and correct violent acts of frustration, the actions of governments who use such barbaric "weapons" also needs to be monitored and corrective actions taken.  Those responsible need to face accountability until they show that they have grown up.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ignoring that we're all not thin

A writer writes!

If you watch much television and the movies, it's become clear that only thin people exist in this world. At least that's the picture television  and the movies paints.  Most of the main characters in the media are slim and thin.  You kind of wonder if "slim and thin" is a box that has to be checked before someone is hired for a job.

As a former HR manager and supervisor, I do recall noticing how those who were thin were perceived as being better qualified for a job. An "overweight" person automatically had a strike against them.

What would happen if we boycotted those television shows or movies that only feature thin people in them?
What would happen if we boycotted businesses that did not visually depict non thin people in their advertisements?

Maybe then television, movies, and businesses would recognize that being thin isn't the only acceptable way to look.  So, if you are not thin, stop one day and send a note, email, tweet, voice mail etc. to those media outlets that refuse to acknowledge  and respect that you exist.  Tell them that you will no longer patronize their business or watch their television show, or go see their new movie.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Black Males on a Predominant White Campus

 A writer writes!  I attended a reception for incoming minority Freshmen at the University of Evansville, in Evansville, Indiana yesterday afternoon.  I graduated from UE in 1980 after beginning my journey there in 1975.  In 1975 there were few black students attending the university.  There had been attempts to increase the numbers of black students at the school in the 1960s,  When I attended there were probably in the range of 70-100 students  who attended the school.  There were enough of us where we could establish friendships and not feel alone in the environment.

Yesterday, I only saw 2 black males at the reception.  I am not sure of the high school background they came from.  But I do hope they are not the only 2 black male freshmen attending the school.  When I attended the school I recall trying to organize the black Freshmen before I even attended the school.  I became active on campus in a number of organizations from student government to belonging to student activities organizations.  I had a chance to speak to the 2 freshmen at the reception.  My advice was to enjoy the experience, take advantage of what the school has to offer, and get involved in campus activities.  Most minority students are successful if they get involved in activities and express their views.

Hopefully the 2 black males are used to being a minority in numbers in educational environments.  Not having many friendship choices to choose from is something they can overcome.  But, I'm sure from my experiences, there may be some moments when they feel like a fish out of water.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Media Advertising Terrorism and Supporting Cowardly Acts

A writer writes!

 Yesterday, the media doing what it thinks is its job, quickly reported the incident in Georgia where a man terrorized a school full of students.  The man armed with a weapon or weapons reportedly asked a school employee to call the media to have them come and watch him shoot police.  The media reported the details of how they thought the man entered the school and then of course displayed his photo giving this deranged or cowardly person his moment of fame, which may be what he sought in the first place.

By this time the media has to know that they are supporting the goal of these cowards to get attention, become famous, and make their mark in the world by killing innocent people who have done nothing to warrant their murder.  Recently several of these people have resorted to the lowest of cowardly acts by killing small children and in doing so inflicting pain on numerous families whose only crime was wanting to send their kids to school to get an education.

The media needs to stop broadcasting these events and giving these perpetrators what they want, that being instant fame.  The media provides details of how these terrorists obtain access to buildings helping future perpetrators develop their plans.  Then the media displays the photograph of the killer, as if we really need to see who they are.  What is the purpose of displaying their photo and advertising terrorist acts for others to copy?

I believe there should be a moratorium on the media rushing to cover these cowardly acts of terrorism.  Just report the facts without making it a Hollywood production.  No visual coverage of the scene is needed. No photographs of the coward committing the acts is necessary. Stop giving other cowards the road map for developing plans for future acts of terrorism.  Media, can you not see that you are educating cowards and those with mental issues on how to inflict terror on innocent people and get attention in the process?

Media, you are being used like a roll of paper towels.  Those behind the camera, and the are helping killers achieve their goals.  Think about that as you pat yourselves on the back for a "good job" in covering a story, while inside some home somewhere parents, husbands, wives, friends are grieving over  the loss of a loved one, who's story you have publicized and romanticized.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Deleting "Black Men" from an Organization's Title?

A writer writes!  I currently belong to an organization that prominently features "Black Men" in our organizational title.  There is some discussion that we should delete "black men" from our organizational title. The reason being that our mission is somehow changing and that being "black men" is no longer either relevant or is unnecessary.  But, I beg to differ.  I joined the organization because of the mission that was focused on attending to the needs of black youth who needed adult black male role models. There was and remains a need for positive adult male role models in the lives of young black males who often do not have a male figure in the household.

So, the discussion on deleting "Black Men" from our organizational title has me perplexed.  I'm sure I will have the opportunity to express my opinion.  Number one, doesn't the need still exist to have black men be role models and mentors to black youth in many communities?  If so, why delete "Black Men" from the organization's title?  Does the organization believe that having "Black Men" in our organizational title make us less effective in gaining members or funding from donors?  Our organization exists to serve a specific purpose and that again is being role models and mentors to young black men.  If potential donors or possible volunteers are turned off by "Black Men" then those donors or potential volunteers truly must not believe in the mission of the organization.  Let them move on to other causes that fits their desires to assist others.

It is true that the clientele that our organization services now includes Latino students and a few Caucasian students.  But, our mission is specific and clear.  To provides services to those ethnic groups we would need to modify our curriculum and activities so they fit the needs of other ethnic groups also.  That would then modify our mission and make us a generic "We are the World" mentoring/role model group which we have never aspired to be.

When there are no longer Trayvon Martin's being profiled, and people no longer fear a  Black Man walking down the street, then there might not be a need to have "Black Men" in an organization's title. But, for now...the need continues.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Distractions of Life

A writer writes!

In our human existence, there are many, many distractions that keep us from focusing on our spiritual relationship with our Creator.  Those distractions, the pursuit of material things being prominent, become our focus.  Gaining material wealth becomes our only goal, not living the life that our Creator wants us to live.  The images placed in front of us via the visual media, and printed media are primarily displaying material wealth and material objects as the definition of being successful.  Having expensive items somehow relate to success in life.

We are taught this from the early years in our lives.  It is incumbent upon parents to ensure that your children understand what is truly important in life. Children already deal with peer pressure from early days.  It is up to parents to help children understand what is truly important in life.  We need to ensure that our children understand that the pursuit of material things is not our sole purpose and not why God created us.

Uniting us all as God's people and allowing us to do His will is the ultimate goal we should all aspire to reach.  Can you imaging a world, where we are truly all brothers and sisters united to serving our Creator?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tracing Your Family History

A Writer Writes!  I attended a family reunion in Houston in June of this year.  African American families may be challenged to track our ancestors due in large part to the slavery system that existed in the United States that brought Africans to this country.  We often can track ancestors back to the late 1880s.  Many African American families know by the pigmentation of their skin that somewhere in the family chain a white person was part of their family tree.  Whether it was a forced or consensual act that brought two racial backgrounds only history knows.

I do not know of anyone who can track their family history back to Africa.  It would be great if we all could do so, to understand where we really originated from.  I have begun an effort to track my family history as far back as I can.  I'm curious where the road leads to.  I do recall my grandfather on my father's side had a light complexion.  So, the curiosity is there as to where in my family line was there a connection with someone of the Caucasian race.  If you haven't begun an effort to track your family tree, give it a try.  You will be learning something about yourself in the process.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Images Presented by the Media

A writer writes.  When I was growing up in the early 1960s, I rarely saw African American males presented on television or in movies in non servant roles.  There was the typical role in the movies of a Black man as a butler, a limousine driver, and a rest room attendant.  On television a commercial featuring a Black man was  non existent. Companies did not want their products associated with Black people let alone a Black male. Musicians, singers, and sports figures were the accepted roles the media would display of Black males.  We could sing, dance, had musical skills and play sports (that we were finally allowed to play in leagues previously where only Whites were allowed).

Incremental improvements began to happen in the mid 60s when Bill Cosby joined Robert Culp on the TV series "I Spy".  But, Cosby was still in the role of an assistant to the tennis star Culp.  Other than Cosby, there were no other Black male actors in a regular TV series.  So, as a child I was exposed to a media where White males doing positive things was all I saw.  It was as if Black males were non existent. Later in the decade, the era of comedic viewpoints of Black males appeared in such shows as "Good Times".

The positive accomplishments of Black males and what young Black males could aspire to accomplish was not displayed by the media.  Spring forward some 50 years and what has changed?  For the most part the Black community attempts to display positive stories of our accomplishments.  But, the media remains focuses on negative stories.  Stories featuring murder, gang activities, or negative stories about prominent  Black males who have gone astray are the norm.

In the spring of this year, approximately 45 African American high school Black males graduated from a Beautillion program sponsored by the 100 Black Men of Indianapolis.  The program involved a number of activities to help those young men move in a positive way towards man hood.  There was no coverage of the program by the local media in Indianapolis.  It was not news that positive accomplishments of Black males was occurring.  Several weeks later when criminal activities by Black males occurred in downtown Indianapolis, those stories were featured repeatedly on the local news.

The media understands the impact of the images it presents.  Try to show those who are watching the positive lifestyle they can aspire to.  Why repeat the showing of negative images that offers no hope?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Writer's write. I had always heard that Black males were more likely to be treated unfairly by the American justice system. Since I always have tried to avoid any personal interaction with the justice system, I had no first hand knowledge of how true that statement was.  I had read news reports about various Black men having been released from jail after years of being incarcerated wrongly.  Some were in jail for over 10 years.  Then it came to my attention that the state of Texas had over 20 Black males who were released from wrongful jail sentences after their appeal found they were not guilty.  Some were released based on DNA evidence.

Then around 2005, one of my family members, a nephew in Dallas, Texas was accused of murder in the death of a teenage girl.  He apparently was misguided by his court appointed lawyer to plead guilty and was sentenced to life. There were other circumstances surrounding why he plead guilty which involved not being fully aware of his circumstances the day of the trial.  Only he and his lawyer likely fully understand those events.

Once incarcerated he began his effort for a retrial.  On his own, without legal help or family support, around 2008 he filed a series of writs seeking the State and Federal government look at his case again.  He discovered there was perjury by witnesses and police/detectives involved in the case.  There was no evidence that he committed the crime, and the prosecution had even ignored evidence that he was somewhere else when the crime was committed.

The State of Texas delayed reviewing his writ for 5 years.  He then sought relief through the Federal courts and was granted a hearing earlier this month in Tarrant County courts in Fort Worth, Texas.  A final decision on whether to retry his case or release him will be made in 4 months or less.  Over the past 8 years, he and I have corresponded via letters, and I visited him once in 2008 when he was in Tarrant County Texas going for an attempt at his first hearing to have his case reviewed.  That effort was delayed and not taken action on until 5 years later.

I recall that most family members ostracized him when he was sentenced.  Whether or not he got a fair trial was of no concern to theirs.  Family members simply believed that since he had plead guilty he must be guilty.  Once they saw an article in the Dallas newspaper regarding the sentencing, they wrote him off.  We all know now that our governmental institutions are not perfect.  They are run by people with various motives, some of those being unethical.  If you ever have a family member who finds themselves the target of the judicial system. always pay attention that your family member is given a fair trial before you condemn that person.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A writer writes.  That's what I've always heard.  So, this Black Man aspiring to be a published writer has started a "blog".  In this I will share insights of a Black man who has to date successfully traversed (through God's blessings) through childhood days in St. Louis, Missouri; Compton, California; Gary, Indiana; a college detour through Evansville, Indiana; to a Federal career in Indianapolis, Indiana and now retirement in my mid 50s.

It is a different era from when I was "growing up".  One view I have always had is that Black men have obtained an image that is mostly negative and that our overall successes  are unknown, overlooked, or ignored.  I sometimes wonder if you listed the various human racial minorities and placed them in numerical order, would an audience of judges rank Black males in the top or lower quadrant in term of positive viewpoints?

Well, I recall one evening in the past 10 years when I parked my car outside a high scale department store preparing to go in.  A Caucasian woman saw me get out of my car headed in her direction as she was exiting the store.  She began to run for her car as if I was going to attack her.  I could only laugh and shake my head at her perception that I was the evil Black man getting ready to rob her and kidnap her.  Fast forward to 2012 at a scene in Florida where an adult profiles a black teenager wearing a hoodie as being a danger to the neighborhood.  Unfortunately that event lead to the teen's death.  Let us Black men continue to do positive things to change the negativity.