Thursday, December 22, 2016

....And So It Begins - The Conservative Revenge

I was in the waiting room of an auto service dealership.  The television in the waiting room was faithfully turned to the morning Fox network news.  The story on the screen was something related to a "white man's wish list".  I had heard Fox had a deep conservative European American connection so I have never watched it all the way through.  I thought about going to another room where guests could wait, but decided to listen to the diatribe as this is what lies ahead for at least the next 4 years.

The news correspondents were proudly expressing conservative European American viewpoints.  Several video clips of Trump were shown where he expressed his views on immigration.  The concept of the immigration wall came up and another black customer and I exchanged quiet smirks and knowing smiles at the rants.

But as the saying goes, to the victor belongs the spoils.  So I'm already used to just staring with no emotion at the conservative rants already coming out over the airwaves.  But to the victor also comes the responsibility to deal with all the myriad of problems in this country and world.  Now it's the turn of the conservatives to put forth "solutions" to problems and to defend the policies and programs that result from these "solutions".  So, let's see what new programs will be in effect after 6 months in 2017.

We should have some idea by then as to who will be helped and who will not be helped in the next 4 years.  Checks and balances.  That supposedly is what our government is about.  I'm eager to see what proposals and policies will come out in place of all  the political rhetoric we heard in the past 2 years.  Strap yourself in.  It should be an interesting rodeo the next 4 years.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Open Letter To NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

Dear Commissioner.  Last night fans in Memphis, Tennessee came out to see the stars of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love.  Fans paid for tickets in advance in anticipation of seeing these stars perform.  What they got was an announcement that all 3 players were not there.  Instead they were back home in Cleveland resting!

Another instance where the fans are thought of last.  Another reason why NBA fans should reassess purchasing tickets to NBA games.  Especially if the teams feature marquee players.  There is no guarantee those stars will play the game.  The players do not have the loyalty to the fans who are paying the high priced tickets.  The players do not care if you spent 3 months of entertainment money on this one game.

Teams should start providing refunds if this trend continues.  Fans are being ripped off.  You as commissioner are doing nothing to support the fans getting their money's worth. Maybe it will take declining ticket sales to get your attention.

NBA fans, save your money for viewing parties at your home when the star players are playing at home on TV.  When the stars come to your town don't buy tickets unless you get a guarantee that unless the player is injured, they will show up and give you your money's worth.  Stop letting NBA players slap you in the face after you pay your hard earned money.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Self Service/Customer service evolution

Self Service/Customer Service Evolution

I was made aware of another event in the evolution of self service this past Friday.  Southwest Airlines, the champion of “you find your own damn seat” thinking, has taken it to the next step.  Now customers scan their own boarding pass when getting on a plane!  Yes, another “do it your damn self moment”.  I was flying back from Orlando when the gate attendant  told us that they “do it differently” in Orlando.  Along with having the pleasure of standing between two lightning rods as you await seating, now Southwest Airlines apparently is having customers scan their own boarding passes.  You know what’s next don’t you?  Soon passengers will have to load their own bags into the cargo hold of the plane.  So, after you clear through security you will be asked to go out onto the tarmac, find your plane, find your bag in a pile of bags, and then load your bag(s) into the cargo hold.  The next “do it your own damn self” moment will be when boarding the plane you will be asked to grab the drink you want out of a cooler positioned strategically by the  by the door as you enter the plane.   That way the attendants will not have to get up and take your drink order during the flight.  

Most modern planes already have a video showing what to do in an emergency.  So what does that mean for the future of flight attendants?  Well, they probably will become Anti Terrorist/Homeland Security Attendants.  Their main job will be to keep rowdy passengers under control and to prevent any possible incidents from occurring.  Criminal Justice majors in college, you just had another lane open up for you in possible career choices!

So passengers scan their own boarding pass, get their own drink while boarding, find their own seat, watch a video on emergency procedures.  I forgot that also while boarding the plane they could grab as many pretzels and peanuts as they can humanly consume on a 2-4 hour flight!

You know what’s going to happen.  To get pampered and get real customer service, you will have to pay a customer service fee for someone to do those things that you don’t want to do.  I hope this kind of service doesn’t come to the restaurant business.  Some restaurants have already started bringing a bottle of water to your table, pour you one glass then leave the bottle for you to pour your own damn water afterwards.  Self services truly is the wave of the future!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Standing Rock - North Dakota Pipeline Issue

When is enough, enough?  Haven’t Native American tribes been through enough turmoil, treachery, deceit and abuse since European Americans first came to their land?  The North Dakota pipeline issue is the latest incident and continuance of mistreatment.  Allegedly the plans for the North Dakota pipeline were coordinated with and approved by impacted Native American parties.  If that was the case then why are Native Americans now protesting the path of the pipeline?  Is the situation just a continuance of European American  beliefs in “manifest destiny” the belief that God approves their efforts to expand across the land of others?

European Americans took  land and resources from Native Americans hundreds of years ago to establish the United States of America.  Would it be too much to divert the pipeline around the area in question?  When is enough, enough?  Is it not enough that an entire civilization and culture was dismantled by European American self interests and greed? Haven’t Native Americans paid enough for the progress of others?

Sometimes decisions that seem economically sensible need to be weighed against other factors.  If  Native Americans have valid concerns about the impacts of the pipeline why not change the plans, despite any increased costs?  Do European Americans have to win at every dispute?  If so why?  “Experts” state that the pipeline will never leak.  More self assurance in European American technology.  Just check history to see how many times we’ve been surprised by events we thought would never happen.  Things that man builds do not last forever.  Deterioration happens.  If you don’t believe so look at the infrastructure in most cities in the United States and the maintenance/repair needed on water lines, gas lines, bridges etc.

Just because the US Army Corps originally met with Native American tribes on plans for the pipeline does not mean they listened and responded to their concerns.  Obviously Native Americans have enough concerns to attempt to physically block continuance of the construction.  Thankfully protests have brought attention to the situation.  Now we will see if the same approach used hundreds of years ago will be used to respond to concerns of Native Americans.  Or will the government of the United States barter a compromise agreement that results in changes to the pipeline plans?  If a compromise occurs it would offer hope for the future direction of the United States.  It would mean this country actually understands the impact it had on the demise of the Native American culture.  It would mean the United States can actually react humbly to the needs of all citizens in this country to include Native Americans, the original citizens.

After the hate filled Presidential election campaign, a positive decision in favor of Native Americans would be a breath of fresh air.  It would be a compassionate decision not based only on economics and faith in technology.  It would be a compassionate decision based on respect for human feelings and maybe even an attempt to correct some sins of the past.  If you have not followed the issue, spend some time learning about the facts of the situation.  Then express your views on what should be done to bring the situation to a close.

Friday, November 18, 2016

New Age NBA Players Resting on Your Money for Tickets

It happened again.  But, I learned two years ago.  NBA fans who purchase tickets in advance should be forewarned that the star player you are paying $150 plus per ticket to see may not play in the game.  That's what I discovered two years ago when I paid big bucks to see Lebron James play for Cleveland against the home town Indiana Pacers.  Well unfortunately on game night, Lebron was no where to be found.  It was announced that he was resting.  He was no where to be seen on the bench so I assumed he was back home in Cleveland watching the game from the comfort of his home.

So my wife and I were entertained by the rest of Lebron's teammates.  With the absence of James I think our team won, but it didn't sooth the hurt in my wallet from paying premium cash for the honor of seeing Lebron and his team.  NBA tickets are now priced based on the marque value of the opposition.  So tickets to Cleveland and Golden State are higher than a ticket to let's say Charlotte or Memphis.  Unfortunately NBA fans don't get a refund if the marque player or players for the opposition decides he wants to rest that day.  Or if the coach decides to rest the player.

Back in the 1960s, 70's and 80s, there was no thought of a player taking a rest day.  The players and owners understood that fans were coming out to games to see the star players play.  That viewpoint no longer seems to be in place.  The NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, apparently is on the players side rather than the fans side.  So, why can't we the fans get a refund if a star player wants to rest?  We overpaid so we could see the player and now you tell me, "Oh, he needs to rest that night."  That's okay with me as long as you give me a refund if I don't want to see just his teammates play.

Fans now might as well wait until game night to decide if you will purchase a ticket, yet alone pay the high price for a parking spot near the arena.  The other night, Cleveland came to town to play the Pacers.  Again as before, Lebron did not play.  The reason given was, rest.  So all those fans who came out were treated to Lebron on the bench, while Mr. Love and Mr. Irving tried to give the fans their money's worth.  What a rip off to jack up prices for some teams but then not refund the money when the team's star player rests instead of playing.

Maybe most of the fans, at least season ticket holders, can afford to drop $300 plus to see bench players.  But those hard working fans who sacrificed to take a son or daughter to the game typically can't do so.  Come on NBA!  Honor your ticket contract with the fans and ensure your star players play!  Otherwise do like me.  Don't even bother getting tickets in advance for early season and late season games.  Those are prime games when aging stars will be rested.  Instead invest that money in yourself.  A nice expensive meal.  A trip somewhere.  Or even better just put the money into your savings account until you find a better use for it.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thank You America - Affirmation of Who You Are

Thank you America!  The 2016 Presidential election results was affirmation of the mentality of millions of the citizens of these United States of America.  Over 47% of those who took the time to vote, supported a person who throughout the campaign spoke in a hateful, racist, bully tone.  Thank you America for reaffirming how you feel about minorities.  Thank you for sharing your views on how only European American immigrants are entitled to receive the best that this land offers.  Some say they voted for “change” and a non politician to lead that change.  But, did you listen carefully to what your non politician was saying about various groups?  Or is it that as long as he didn’t mention your category of human being, you didn’t care what he said?

For me as a black man life moves on.  I calmly went to bed election night before the final results were in.  My view was God is in control, no matter who became President.  When I heard the results the next morning, I nodded my head and told myself, “okay, affirmation has been received.”  Even before the results of the election it was clear to me that neither candidate would improve my life or the life of black people.  No, instead it was up to me to make my life better and to assist in helping other black people improve their lives.  Investing my money in black businesses and our youth is something I have always tried to do.  I will simply increase those efforts and strengthen my resolve to have a positive impact on as many black people as I can.  The only thing I expect from the government is to use my tax money wisely.  I’m not waiting for the government to come to my rescue or to rescue struggling black families or individuals.  Those days are gone and never really existed.  These days if you want something you go and get it or make it happen yourself.

The answer in overcoming generational impacts of slavery lies within each of us as black people.  Within my own generational family there are members who made bad choices.  My success is due to making fewer bad decisions, not because I was smarter.  Maybe we as black people went too far in absorbing the values of European Americans, who let’s face it stole this country from a native population that was already here when European American’s “settled” in this country.  We can’t get away from that basic foundation.  These United States of America are based on a group of invaders feeling they were entitled to land that was already inhabited by a burgeoning population of indigenous people.  The formula for success was to take someone else’s  land then forcefully enslave people from another continent to do the hard labor work that was needed to make the “new” country flourish.  Then hundreds of years later, preach the doctrine of building of a wall to keep immigrants from coming into the country.  It’s a great strategy.  A strategy of lessons learned from what the original settlers did to take over the country.  Self interest.  An attempt to keep what you stole.

So again.  Thank you America for the wake up call.  But, I already had received my wake up call many years ago.  Your decision only serves to motivate me to do what has to be done, by any means necessary.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Observations at a hair supply store

I recently went to a hair supply store seeking products for men who shaved their heads for the bald look.  I went into one store which has the name of a European American female, but is operated by Asian- Americans.  In response to my question as to where were the male products, I was directed to a corner of the store.  On the way to the “male corner” I passed by numerous items of false hair of all types, lengths, and colors.  I gazed across the store and at the walls and saw more of such items across 10 aisles.

My thoughts as I walked through the aisles was “why do black women feel the need to buy this fake hair?”  I thought of the timeframe in the late 60s and early 1970s when we as black people became collectively proud of our “natural” Afro hair styles.  I also thought of the time frame before then when black men would get their hair “processed” to make it look “smooth” like those of male  European-Americans.  Then came the era of the jeri curl which seemed to be the compromise between getting your hair processed and having an Afro.

Somehow we have bought into the European American view point that the straighter and longer your hair, the better is your hair.  I never have prescribed to that viewpoint.  It is sad to see that many black women have fallen for the hype that their natural hair is not good enough. To me anytime you have to resort to wearing something fake you have compromised your acceptance as to who you are.  I can recall seeing many black women over the years who have had short hair who looked very attractive.  Somehow we’ve allowed ourselves to believe the images shown to us in the media as to what is pretty, or what is attractive.  Then we try to buy that image to replace the naturalness of who we are.  Accepting the image forced upon you is an act of giving up your power to decide what you want to look like.  Why would you want to give up power to someone else?  Especially if doing so makes you have to spend money to fit the image someone else has defined for you as being acceptable?

Throughout history there are examples of men and women wearing fake hair.  The underlying reason was to present a specific image.  But, there is nothing wrong with presenting your natural image to the world.  While in the Asian American operated store, I thought about how I had always heard that Asian Americans dominated the hair supply market and that black people were primarily consumers not profiting from the business.  So in both instances I feel something is wrong.  Number one, we don’t need fake hair products.  Number 2, it’s an additional painful act that the money we spend on the fake products doesn’t go to black businesses.

I admire the women who refuse to buy into the straight hair is good hair viewpoint.  For those who are not quite there yet, I hope one day you awake and decide that you are more than beautiful with your natural hair.  Everyday does not have to be Halloween where you put on a costume to be accepted!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Understanding and Respect - The Flag and Anthem Protest

You're angry because I don't feel overly patriotic when the national anthem plays.  You fail to understand, or maybe you just don't care that I was once considered 3/5 of a person under the flag you proudly display.  You are proud of your family heritage and can track your descendants flawlessly through centuries of records.  You fail to understand that my descendants were forcefully taken from Africa away from their families, enduring inhumane conditions in a ship traveling across an ocean and forced into slavery. Simultaneously the government of the flag you are proud of was sanctioning the annihilation of the original inhabitants and culture of this country, the Native Americans.  Those same Native Americans you now honor by naming sports teams after.

But then I realize maybe you don't understand that enslaved Africans in these United States of America did not have the same normal family life your ancestors had? Any attempt to start a family was disrupted by the children of slaves being sold away from the mother and father.  Or the father or mother could be sold away from the family.  Many black families can never track their descendants based on this disruption of the normal family environment in the days of slavery.  So, you want us to still stand up straight, and put a hand over our heart when the national anthem plays?

You try to hide behind the mantra of "People who don't respect the flag of the United States are dishonoring the military by not standing."  I say you dishonor yourselves by hiding from the truth that the flag symbolizes more than just the military.  We agree that the flag can be a powerful symbol.  Just as you can agree that the  the Confederate flag raises up a variety of feelings among various people.

In a period where authorized officers of the law are killing black people as a first option, how can you expect black people to stand and pay homage to a symbol which we feel does not respect our lives? I wonder about those who don't accept the outrage we feel that our lives are not being respected.  It's as though you feel the number of black lives lost to law enforcement are within the realm of acceptability?

Well, it's not acceptable.  So we protest against the symbols you hold in such high esteem.  Apparently you've gotten the message as your outrage against the protests speaks for itself.  Reaction, counter reaction.  The nature of the human experience.  Maybe you want us to forget the past?  That's not the message we get when the anniversary of 9/11 comes around.  Then we're told, "never forget".

Friday, September 30, 2016

Kneeling to the National Anthem - See all the viewpoints

During a town hall with American Armed forces, President Obama stated that as part of the general conversation he wants everyone to listen to each other.  He said this in regard to San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee when the national anthem is played.  President Obama stated that he wanted Kaepernick and others who protest to listen to the pain that taking a knee may cause someone who lost a child or spouse in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing.

Well, since President Obama wants everyone to listen to each other, listen to this Mr. President.  Think about the mothers, and family members of black men who have seen policemen receive administrative pay and then found not guilty of killing unarmed black men in the 8 years of his Presidency.  Think about the devastation and loss of hope those continued events brought to black families.  Think about the worry that black parents have when their son leaves the house each day.  Think about how black families feel knowing that even having a black President of the United States hasn’t made a difference in stemming the murder by police of black men.  Think about how black people feel standing to give honor to a flag representing a country where the death of black people by police is a common event.

Yes, it’s great to have everyone listen to each other.  But, give equal importance to the pain and fears of black families.   Let’s agree that the feelings and emotions of one group are not more important than those of another group.  So there is no hierarchy of feelings that places those of blacks in the number one pain position, and those of veterans in the number two position. 

The whole notion of people being emotionally tied to a song seems rather primitive.  It’s as though the song itself created life and we have to stand to honor the life the song created. Yes, in this world people have been taught to love their symbols.  Flags, songs, jerseys of sports teams.  We’ve somehow been taught that it’s okay to idolize these symbols and become emotionally attached to them, to the detriment of more important matters.

To those who get super emotional when the national anthem is played I only have one question.  Is the anthem your God?  It is not mine.  When the anthem plays I stand…in silence.  I don’t put my hand over my heart and sing along.  Why should I?   My thoughts turn to how black people are treated in this country.  

I understand President Obama attempting to cater to the various viewpoints.  But Mr. President, you also need to reflect again on the role of your office and how even the power of your elected office has not made it safer for a black man to walk the streets in these United States of America.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Comedic Chatter

I really hate those Viagra commercials that come on during sporting events.  Here you are trying to enjoy some quality sports time.  All of a sudden this heifer, wearing a blue outfit to symbolize the blue Viagra pill, pops up and tells you how convenient the 1 pill packages are to give you a 4 hour erection, whether you want one or not.  If you notice the female is doing all the talking in the commercial.  The man doesn’t say one word.  Do we know if he wants to have sex?  Is she forcing him into taking the pill so she can have 4 hours of sex?  We don’t know.  If the commercial is really for men, then let the man talk in the commercial!  We want to hear what he has to say about a 4 hour erection!  Put the man in a blue outfit.  Picture this commercial.  A man is a blue jumpsuit is walking along a crowded street.  He sees all these pretty women along the street.  He starts fantasizing about them sexually.  But his private body parts don’t react to his thoughts.  So he pops in a one pack pill of Viagra.  In less than half an hour he starts walking along the crowded street with a noticeable erection.  The women he encounters either smile at him or look revolted.  Then cut to four hours later with the guy leaving a brothel.  Fade out of the scene with the words “4 hours and $200 dollars later.”

I heard it from a reliable source that all the cops who kill black people save the administrative pay they get while under “investigation”. They use that money for travel arrangements to “White Town” an all white community in Montana where  all white cops who killed black people go to as a safe refuge.  At last count the population was like 740,000 people including the families of the cops.  What folks don’t know is that they also get checks, cash, gift cards in the mail from “American patriots” as an off the books reward for killing a Negro.

Another white cop filed a false police report.  You heard about that?  This one white cop showed up at the station all beat up and without his squad car.  So he says this black man, about 6 feet 11 or 7 feet, 295 pounds beat him up at a traffic stop.  Right away I’m thinking, did he stop Shaquille O’Neal?  The cop said the black gargantuan grabbed his taser and gun and crushed them both in the palm of his hand.  Then the cop said the black gargantuan threw the balled up metal into the sky where it kept on going and going up and finally exited the atmosphere into outer space!  Of course Fox News ran the story like 45 times within an hour of the cop reporting it.  The Governor called out the National Guard and a Negro Alert was issued to locate this Shaq look alike.  The story quickly fell apart when a video surfaced showing the cop being robbed by 3 prostitutes and their Pimp taking his police car.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Okay, Let's Start the Discussion About Race

In the background of life in these United States of America, two more black men are gunned down under suspicious circumstances.  American "patriots" continue to be offended by silent protests to our nation's flag.  As a side bar, you patriots need to talk to some Native Americans and compare your being offended to what they feel.

America needs to start the discussion of race and it's impact on our everyday thoughts, decisions and actions.  Yes, it will be a tough discussion as each "side" expresses their views, opinions and brings forth "facts" the other side may not have considered.  Until we begin that dialogue race relations will not effectively improve.  I will continue to have my biases and views about European Americans based on the history of this nation.  European Americans will continue to have their viewpoint of white entitlement, unless we start the dialogue and bring both our realities into the same arena.

Of immediate need is for police departments throughout these United States of America to start meeting and communicating with the black citizens it interacts with.  You need to get to know the people you say you are sworn to protect.  A black person's first encounter with you should not be at a traffic stop where you fear for your life, even though you are armed and the other person isn't.

Our national, state, and local political leaders need to be in the forefront of starting the dialogue about race.  But, we know they won't because most of their constituents do not want to discuss race.  Especially those who live in affluent communities with little to no contact with "minorities".  That's okay.  I understand you well and understand why you have the yard sign of the Republican Presidential nominee posted in your front yard.

The only thing I want is for the various races to understand and respect each other's culture.  Celebrate all the cultures not just yours.  Truthfully describe the history of the American experience and admit the mistakes made.  Honor the accomplishments of all Americans, not just European Americans.  But, if you don't want to that is fine.  This world is big enough where I don't have to come in contact with you, and you can avoid being around me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Other Side of 9/11

There is another side to the memories of 9/11 beyond the flag waving you saw on Sunday.  The other side is the memory of how the intelligence organizations of the government failed miserably to prevent the attacks.  Back in 2001 the United States was still proclaiming itself as being the greatest country in the world in many ways.  That self appointed title did not save the lives of some 3,000 people killed by terrorists that infamous day.

9/11 was not an attack by a sovereign nation.  It was an attack by a well organized group of people who had a goal and worked hard to carry it out.  It did not matter how many weapons the United States military had on 9/11.  The attack proved that history can be impacted by only a relatively few people.  Who needs nuclear weapons when you can fly planes into buildings and inflict death and mayhem upon a nation?

On 9/11 I lost further trust in the United States government to protect me.  As a black man in this country I already knew that the police were not my protector.  I already knew the criminal justice system was not built to protect my rights.  On 9/11 it became clear on a global spectrum that the government didn't have the ability to ensure I was safe from terrorist attacks.

After 9/11 public hearings were held and the customary report written.  The question, "How could this have happened?" was mechanically answered.  It was bound to happen.  A sometimes arrogant nation was brought to the reality of the new world.  No one is afraid of the United States.  The aura of it being the "greatest" country in the world is fading.  The Presidential campaign and the police action shootings of black men over the past few years has highlighted that America has forgotten where it came from.

The flag waving, standing at strict attention as the national anthem plays, patriots of the United States do not know or they choose to ignore the history of the United States.  This is the United States that supported the forced takeover of land inhabited by Native Americans so that Europeans could build a life for themselves.  This is the United States whose government supported the enslavement of human beings to perform work for and to take care of the privileged. The same United States whom you think can protect you from terrorists.  Maybe that is why many continue to purchase assault rifles and other forms of self defense warfare?  Or is it that you truly know that when chaos occurs you will be on your own for awhile?

9/11 was a tragic day for numerous families.  It wasn't just an American tragedy.  It was a tragedy displaying how far we as human beings need to go to overcome the negative aspects of our humanity.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Defense Finance Accounting Services - Discrimination in Hiring?

Recently a Caucasian HR director within the Human Resources organization of Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) retired. That person was earning over $100,000.  Within 3 weeks of that person's retirement they were rehired as an independent contractor making some $92,000 a year.  The former HR director receives one check as a retiree and another check as an independent contractor hired back by the agency.  Legally the hiring system allows for this.  What the public is unaware of is that within DFAS the rehiring of retirees is highly slanted in the favor of Caucasian males and females.  DFAS rarely hires black male retirees and only hires black females they do not fear.

A quick look at the retirees hired back by DFAS HR would show few if any black males. Why is this?   It may be because select Caucasian HR managers consciously give first preference to rehiring to their Caucasian friends and acquaintances.  Is it fair to give only white former workers the opportunity to financially earn a second retirement income other than their retiree check?  Of course it isn't fair.  But no one is policing the rehiring of retirees.  Based on that lack of transparency, white managers are able to constantly abuse the hiring system and ensure "white entitlement" continues even after retirement.

What will it take to end this practice?   First it would take ethical managers to review the fairness of the hiring system.  Does the system favor Caucasians over other races?  The statistics would answer that question.  Hopefully it will not take the actions of a disgruntled person kept from being rehired to expose the discriminatory system.  Those black retirees not rehired have the option of filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  But, that system is slow at best and dependent on the complainant having to financially invest in fighting the discriminatory hiring system.

So what recourse does a person discriminated against have?  Publicize your complaint to as many government officials as you can.  Once you make an official aware of a problem, they are accountable for ensuring you have not been discriminated against.  Publicize your complaint to the press and the media. They are always looking for a good story to investigate.  Again if the media/press does not follow up they are taking on a level of culpability in supporting the system.  If you learn of others who have been discriminated against ban together with them.  There is power in numbers.

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Tee Shirt worn by a true "American"

My wife and I were at a restaurant buffet last week when I caught a glimpse of an older European American male wearing a T shirt with the caption "If this flag offends you I'll help you pack".  His shirt of course was his response to Colin Kaepernick's recent actions to protest the abuses suffered by black males at the hands of policemen.

I took the shirt for what it was.  It was the view of a European American who chose not to acknowledge or even give any thought to the underlying reasons for Kaepernick's statements.  It was the view of a European American who only wanted to believe that European American culture is based on correctness and doing what European Americans were designed to do.

In his world, Native Americans were caretakers of a land intended to be taken over by European Americans.  In his world Black Africans were designed to be slaves to help build early America and relieve European Americans of the arduous tasks that needed to be performed.  In his world the police can do no wrong.

This is the America I find my self living in.  I'm sure I have neighbors who think the same way as this tee shirt wearing "patriot",  This is the America where 40% and more of those polled say they would vote for the Republican Presidential candidate who is a throwback to George Wallace the former racist governor of Alabama.  I am glad European Americans are being honest about who they plan to vote for.  Well, maybe not 100% honest.  I'm sure there are some European Americans who will not tell you they plan to vote for the Republican candidate because they cannot reveal their true feelings for business reasons.  Making money over truth any day.

I understand the true American I saw would rather have a country where only people like him exist.  It would make his world so much simpler and pure.  But, that's not going to happen.  This is a multi cultural world.  People like this gentlemen need to understand that the pains of the past do not just go away and disappear.  The Unites States of American has not gone all in to correct the mistakes of the past.  Until that happens we will see more protests and statements about conditions that have not been corrected.  So that gentlemen I encountered needs to keep his tee shirt vendor on speed dial.  He will need many tee shirts as more dialogue about issues occurs.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Indiana Congressman Brooks and Her Staff Drop the Ball

I gave Congressman Brooks and her staff an opportunity to assist me with an issue I was having with  a Federal agency, Defense Finance and Accounting Services.  Brooks is the representative from the 5th District in Indiana.  When Mike Pence assumed the role as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Brooks had a brief role in considering herself to run for Governor.  She lost that bid and if how her office operates is an indication, it's good for Indiana that she didn't get the nod to run for Governor on the Republican ballot.

I had to write to Ms. Brooks twice, then call her office before I received an acknowledgement of my request for assistance.  I used the electronic email system to send her the info regarding my request.  That was over a month ago and was followed by no response.  So, I sent her another request.  No response again.  So, I called her Washington D.C. office and spoke to a human being.  Unfortunately the person answering the phone was new and really was unable to address my questions.  I told her that I had sent in two email requests.  I explained my issue and she directed me to the local district office for assistance.

I called the local congressional support office and they had no clue on how to address my question.  I then called Ms. Brooks office back and spoke to the person who had referred me to the local office.  She had by that time found the original and second inquiry I had sent.  She said she would find out from someone on how to respond to the issue.  I later received an email from Ms. Brooks office referring me to another non federal office to seek resolution to my issue.  Ms. Brooks basically said you're on your own, even though the issue involved an agency that she votes to fund or not fund through the federal budget process.

She and her staff basically admitted that if it involves a violation of rights, she wants her constituents to work it out themselves.  Don't bother her with personal issues involving federal agencies.  We're on our own.  She has more important things to take care of, like preparing to run for governor in 4 years.

The response of Ms. Brooks and her staff is an indictment of the inability of Congress to do anything that matters to the constituents who vote them in.  Ms. Brooks response acknowledges to me that she and her staff do not exist to get to the root of a problem.  They exist to ensure that they do not  irritate those who pay to finance their re election campaigns.

My suggestion to Ms. Brooks and her staff.  Try to be helpful and not just pass the ball to another organization because you don't want to get involved in really helping people.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Kaepernick Sits.- "America" Can't Make us Behave Like Good Negroes

What do you expect "loyal" Americans?  Mr. Kaepernick expressed how he feels.  It's how many of us feel when we stand for the National Anthem.  Yes, many of you are irritated because he dared to express how he feels.  You are the same people who have pride in an "America" where European Americans annihilated and virtually wiped out the Native American culture that existed here years ago.  It was a European American invasion where the invaders, your ancestors, stated they naturally had the right to take the land held by Native Americans.  A European American invasion that used germ warfare (small pox) to purposely infect and kill Native Americans.

Those who were turned off by Mr. Kaepernick's remarks are the same people who gloss over the truth that the flag you honor once supported black people being seen as three fifths of a person.  The same country that kept black people in slavery to do the hard work your ancestors would not do.  You don't care if the police continue to kill innocent black men.  Why should you?  You cannot relate to being a black person because you have no reason to do so.

Your attitude is "how dare that Negro whom we allowed to come up to the big house, talk down about his master?"  Well, you need to acknowledge some of the immoral actions taken by this country and that your "America" is not free of stains.  You are the same people who don't believe lynchings of black people did not occur in your America.  Or if you do believe, you probably think those who were lynched deserve to be lynched.

Your negative attitude towards Mr. Kaepernick's comments are expected.  You refuse to acknowledge that America is not free from sin.  Your God is America and the institutions that support your love for the perfect vision you have of America.

I have always admired the protest of Smith and Carlos from the 1968 Olympics.  It cost them their careers and adversely impacted their ability to make a living.  As with that protest I admire the courage by Mr. Kaepernick to express how he feels.  If you don't agree with it, just learn to accept his right to express his views.  Isn't that what the flag is all about, Freedom?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Federal Government Systemic Discrimination? - Defense Finance and Accounting Services Indianapolis

In concept, the federal government should have the best human resources system.  It is through the human resources system that people are hired to carry out the many programs managed by the federal government. The best qualified and skilled people should be hired.  Racial discrimination should not be a factor in hiring decisions.

Within the first 10 of  my 35 years working in human resources I discovered that it does not matter what you know, it matters who you know. Race does matter.  European Americans are at an advantage because they normally oversee the human resources systems. No matter what people tell you, racial discrimination in hiring does exist.  Disparate treatment of people does occur based on racial considerations.

I recently found out that my former employer, Human Resources at Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) in Indianapolis, Indiana decided to rehire several former employees who had retired in the past 5 years.  True to form they did not seek to rehire any black male employees who had been outspoken about discrimination existing in the hiring policies of human resources.

Human Resources carefully followed the letter of the law in how they hired the retired European American males, and those black females whom they favored.  They abided by the systemic loopholes that allowed them to not consider several black males who were more than qualified to be rehired as a retired annuitant.  In my years of working at DFAS they were always careful to avoid breaking the laws.  But ethically behind the scenes rules were bent, stretched, and interpreted to maintain European American dominance. These actions adversely impacted black males.  The retired European American males financially benefited from being European American.  They were contacted by the agency for the purpose of rehiring them.   Former black male employees were not even made aware of the availability of the job openings because they were not wanted. Yes, it is that simple.

During my 35 years in human resources I saw many examples of how European American employees were treated differently than how a black employee would have been treated.  In one instance a married European American male supervisor (who worked in human resources) violated an ethical principle for supervisors and engaged in an affair with one of the employees he supervised.  This resulted in inappropriate conduct both at the workplace and outside the workplace.  Normally a supervisor would have been fired for such conduct.  The woman whom the supervisor had an affair with (an intern) was fired by human resources.  The supervisor was demoted in pay but was able to maintain his employment with DFAS.  In the years since the incident happened, the supervisor has been promoted several time  to almost reach the level he was at when he was demoted.  Both of the employees in this instance were European American.  What do you think would have happened if the supervisor was a black male and having an affair with a European American female?

In another incident a black male in an administrative position was fired for supposedly engaging in work place violence against his supervisor.  The employee in frustration did wrongfully touch his European American female supervisor and shook her.  He did the unthinkable, touch a European American female and that cannot be tolerated.  I recall listening to his supervisor and one of her employees conspiring out loud in a work place violence training class on how to frame a case for the employee's removal under the guise that he was a possible threat.  It was the "angry black man" excuse.

There were many other cases where Human Resources did not pursue disciplinary action against male European Americans for incidents of improper conduct. But if the employee was black, the case would be actively pursued applying the severest penalty possible.

For anyone who is going into the federal sector as a way to make a living I stress caution.  Especially if your agency consists of majority European Americans.  There is money to be made in federal jobs. It is a resource avenue where you can make a good living from your salary.  Some people use the system to benefit their friends, acquaintances, and family members.  For them the rules about affirmative action and diversity just get in the way of their selfishness to reward people they like or to reward people who look like them.  When you feel you have been wronged question the decision and how the rules were applied in making the decision.

Be aware that systemic discrimination has become an intrinsic part of federal agencies hiring systems.  The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) staffs that many agencies have are just an administrative office created to give the semblance of fairness and that someone is keeping the system honest.  EEO staffs are not keeping the system honest because no one in management wants them to.  What you can do if you are employed by the federal government is to learn your trade and become an employee who is needed.  If you are an asset that is valued you will receive less mistreatment.  That does not mean you will be rehired if you should leave voluntarily, but it will make it more difficult to explain why you were not sought for reemployment!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Points to Think About

One thing the United States has been good at is becoming fearful at the news of oncoming viruses or diseases that appear to be making their way towards the United States.  The Zika virus currently falls into the "it's here" category.

Several hundreds of years ago, Europeans brought a number of diseases and viruses to a land where Native Americans already existed.  Unfortunately the Native Americans were not immune to the viruses and diseases brought over by the Europeans and many Native Americans died from these viruses, such as small pox.  On some occasions European settlers purposely gave Native American blankets infected with small box.  This was done so the Native Americans would contract and die from small pox.  The resulting effect was Europeans could then move into the land the Native Americans had occupied.  It was an effective chemical weapon strategy.  Native Americans were estimated to be 20 million before Europeans came and brought their viruses and diseases to the Americas.  So now I wonder if European Americans who know their history are afraid that viruses and diseases could lead to their own extinction?

Ironically Mexico abolished slavery in 1829.  This was well before it took a civil war in the United States in the 1860s before government sanctioned slavery was brought to an end.  Ironically today the Republican sanctioned candidate for President wants to put up a wall along the border between Mexico and the United States.  In 1829 Mexico was more forward thinking than the United States in terms of human rights.  Now the United States is expressing backward thinking views by having a major political party candidate advocate building a wall to keep free people out of the country.

Freedom of speech is often touted as being what the United States is about.  That freedom of speech also includes the ability of people to express hateful thoughts towards others.  Something seems wrong with placing hate under the protection of the "freedom of speech" umbrella.

I don't have any faith in man made government institutions to address people's problems.  Nothing about government institutions truly unites us all.  It's all about agendas and "what is best for me" or my economic/cultural group.  So we do the best we can to deal with the nonsense that we human beings are experts at advocating and creating.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Police on the Offensive

After the murder of several policemen in the past month, there has been a vocal push by police requesting that the public show more support for the police.  The police should now understand how black men feel threatened when stopped by the police, especially European American policeman.  The fear that the police now have is what black men have been feeling for decades.  It is a shame that it took the deaths of their fellow officers before the police fully understood what black men have been saying for years.  Now you understand the pain of mothers who have lost sons to the weapons of police under the disguise that those policemen feared for their lives.

Now I've heard some advocating that the police need more powerful weapons to deal with the perceived menace to their lives.  Yep.  More weapons that they can misuse in arrest situations because they fear for their lives.  Giving police more powerful weapons is not going to happen.  That is not the answer.  I still advocate improved training and focus on community relations as one foundation area that should be worked on.  Have we not learned that guns are not the answer?

Yes, I feel sorry for the wives, children, and parents of policemen who now dread it when their phone rings or if there is a knock at the door.  Again, welcome to the black man's nightmare.  So, I understand the backlash and push to protect the police.  It's the same kind of push black men have been advocating for years but no one cared until a variety of videos showed the brutal tactics of some police who never should have been given the authority to police others.

Now is the best time for communities and the police to start working together to tear down the fear walls that exists between us.  But, I'm not seeing news stories about that effort being made as a nation wide focus.  With the events of the past month, everyone has been served notice that there is a problem.  Local government and national leaders are quite aware of the problem.  If nothing is done to start the healing process by our leaders then it will just be up to us, the people to lead the effort and replace those currently in leadership positions.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Paying for the Mistakes of Others

Yesterday in Baton Rouge there was another incident of policemen being shot and killed.  Prior to the police killings in Dallas, policemen have been intermittently targeted in ambush situations.  The death of two black men killed by police in the past weeks has given those hating police the opportunity they have been waiting for.  People who have a grudge against policeman now appear to be attempting to take advantage of the bad feelings towards police. These people are taking it upon themselves to kill innocent policemen and bring turmoil to the families of the policemen. They are also bringing more fear to police who  already are in a position of fear when going about their daily jobs.

Now we have increased the stress of being a policeman.  Now the likelihood of a black man being shot because of a policeman's "fear" may have increased.  This could bring about more mistakes being made by police as they attempt to protect themselves. Now the time for increased training and improved community relations between the police and those they serve becomes more important.

Imagine having to start your day wondering if you will be coming home alive that day?  If that is not stress what is?  We have placed the police in  a war time situation and sent them out to do their job untrained in all they need to do.

Innocent policeman are now paying for the mistakes, bad judgements, and bad decisions of their peers.   Those policemen who killed innocent black men in the past have now brought unwarranted harm to good policeman who are just trying to do their jobs.  Current policemen who know of a peer whose actions, words, or behavior are racist should report those officers to those in charge.  Why let the entire police occupation suffer for the sins of a few?  Screen the bad candidates from becoming policemen.  Fire those who do not need to maintain their job as a policeman.

We don't need more town halls and meetings.  We now need action.  For the families of the good policemen we owe them! We owe their spouses, children, fathers and mothers the right to be able to see them come home safely.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas

It finally happened.  Someone reached their breaking point.  Someone no longer could stand seeing how black men like him were being gunned down by police when being shot should not have been an option.  Someone lost hope that corrective actions were in progress to stop the assassination of innocent black men.  Unfortunately in the past year there was no nationwide emphasis, discussion, or action by police forces throughout the nation to stand down and review how police deal with black men specifically and black people period.  No government official took the lead to ensure hiring policies and training of police was reviewed.  The message black men got was “deal with it”.

A black man shot and killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  The murder captured on video.  Then in Minnesota, a daytime traffic stop.  Then another black man shot in his car with his fiancĂ©e in the passenger seat and a 4 year old girl in the back seat.  The man dies.  The protests begin again.  Protests that before did not lead to changes in how police approach and interact with black people. Then someone took matters into their own hands.  That person for his own reasons allegedly hated white people. The repeated shooting of black men by white police men apparently molded his feelings towards all white policeman.  I don’t condone his actions, but how he got to his breaking point is easy to understand.  When someone feels they are targeted by a specific segment of legal authority and nothing is being done to protect them from abuse of power, you go into a protective and then deadly offensive mode.

The anger and hopelessness built up in one individual and was released against the Dallas police department.  The talk show hosts, news personalities, politicians, and other self proclaimed experts need to understand one point.   You don’t have to be mentally ill to carry out the kind of assault that happened in Dallas.  When you reach a point of hopelessness anything can happen.  And it did in Dallas. No policeman shot a black man in Dallas that week.  Unfortunately innocent policeman became the outlet of rage felt by the individual who carried out the assault.  The event could have happened in any town against any police force in these United States of America.

The politicians, police chiefs, mayors, etc. who took no action to stop the continued police actions against black men can now look in the mirror and share the responsibility for fanning the flames of hopelessness.  Those same politicians could have stressed retraining of police, better screening of police, development of better relations with the black community.  But they did nothing.  So, don’t give me your outrage at what happened in Dallas.

For those who will now go into backlash mode against the “black lives matter” movement and now stress how our police are under attack, don’t try it.  Please don't try to hide the historical fact that European Americans annihilated the Native American race in this country.  History shows how black people were forcibly brought to this country to be slaves of European Americans.  History shows a record of black people being lynched and no action taken against those carrying out the lynching’s.    We’ve long known that black people historically have been abused by police and killed under suspicious circumstances at routine police stops.  So don’t talk to me about feeling that white people and the police are now under attack.  Welcome to our world. 

The ending of the deadly events in Dallas reminded me of a scene I saw on the national news in the late 60s or early 70s.  A black man was cornered on the roof of a building in a large metropolitan city.  The video showed a helicopter with a policeman shooting the man to death with more bullets than seemed necessary.  It looked like overkill.  A decision had been made that the man would not be coming off the rooftop of that building alive.  In Dallas a decision was made that the killer of the policemen would not be coming out alive.  A robot served as the jury, judge and instrument of death.  I thought to myself.  The two policemen who killed the black men are walking around on paid administrative leave.  There doesn’t seem to be any rush to bring them to justice.  On the opposite end if a black man kills someone, the authorities use deadly force to kill him.  Don’t worry about bringing the black man to trial.  Just kill him and end the conflict on the scene.  Don’t waste the public’s money and endanger more lives.  I thought to myself, now that a black man used military weapons to kill police, will a more serious push for more gun control occur?  We will see.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Terrorist Proofing Public Events

Another breaking news flash from overseas.  Suicide bombers gain entry to an airport area. We've seen and heard the reports before.  On this occasion in the past week one of the bombers was wearing wardrobe that was noticeably to hot for the weather.  This tipped off security to stop him.  But, the gunfire that ensued between the terrorists and the police wasn't enough to prevent the terrorists from getting within an area to inflict deadly harm on innocent people inside the terminal area.

One option seems apparent.  Setting up an area outside a public location or event where people would be screened.  Keeping terrorists out of an airport terminal, restaurant, mall or other public areas seems necessary.  Yes it would be a hassle, just as being searched prior to boarding a plane is a hassle.  But steps need to be taken to further ensure safety of the general public.  How many lives need to be sacrificed until security is raised a notch?

New public structures being built need to be built with the thought of making them terrorist proof.  Inconvenience versus safety is becoming the new norm.  The suicide bomber as a threat needs to become a retired event.  If people want to blow themselves up that is a choice they have to make.  But, we can't allow them to take innocent people with them!

Having layers of security is not a new concept.  Not allowing terrorists to gain entry inside an event or near the entrance should be the goal.  The technology apparently exists to screen people in many ways.  Now, not later is the time to fully implement measures to foil terrorist plots.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Thanking God for Personal Achievements

It seems to be the  norm.  An African American athlete wins a competition and the first thing they do normally is to give thanks to God.  I have noticed that in the on going Olympic Track and Field qualifying events currently being held in Eugene, Oregon.  A European American athlete who wins normally does not give thanks to God for the achievement.  In contrast to the African American athlete, the European American athlete appears to only give credit to themselves and other human beings they believe assisted in their effort.  They don't seem to acknowledge where there athletic gifts come from and assume a win is what they are entitled to.

Maybe it's an issue of culture and background.  Do European American athletes really believe that they are entitled to victory based on their human efforts only?  Do European American athletes feel God deserves no credit in their accomplishments?

This "thanking God" issue goes beyond athletics.  I often hear musicians, and business people of African American descent thanking God for personal successes.  Again, on the reverse side the number of  European Americans who give thanks to God openly seems less.  I would like to see a news reporter asks American European athletes and those in other various occupations, why they don't thank God when someone compliments them on "their" success?

To not thank God seems arrogant and a demonstration of false natural superiority.  It's as if the person believes they are entitled to being the best because they did all the work.  We all know that is not the case.

Of course not all African American's stop and give thanks to God.  But, if you take note of the occasions when it happens, normally it is an African American who does so.  Next time you hear an athlete, musician, or some other person experiencing a success, take note of whom they give thanks and credit to.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Meaning of Independence Day

From my cultural and life experiences, the holidays celebrated in the United States of America have a variety of meanings.  Some, such as Memorial Day I have adopted due to the cultural meaning of the holiday and what it is intended to represent.  In the case of Memorial Day it has become a day to remember those who have passed on due to their involvement in military conflicts or due to losses in families.

July 4th, Independence Day, is another story.  The independence celebrated is that of the then American colonists declaration of no longer being governed by the ruling British.  During that period of the European American colonists separating from British rule, black people were serving under slavery in various parts of the colonies.  Black people were not treated as equals to European Americans.  The promise that the new world presented to Europeans was not offered to black people.  At the same time the annihilation of Native Americans was already in progress through planned aggression by European Americans.

So how should I feel about Independence Day?  Personally it's just another day.  A day where when I was in the working world was a day of rest.  A day to follow the "American tradition" of viewing fireworks, cooking on the grill and maybe gathering with family.  But now with kids grown and living their own separate lives, the family aspect had declined.  The thought of viewing fireworks does not entice me to want to drive somewhere to view them.  Been there and done that.

So for me labeled as being an African American, a male in his upper 50s, retired from the working world, it's now just another day.  This country seems to celebrate holidays in a robotic manner.  The meaning of the holiday may no longer be relevant, such as Columbus Day.  Or the holiday such as Independence Day may need refinement to account for the changing demographics in the country.

One thing I have come to understand is that many holidays in the United States are self indulgent. Some of the holidays do not take into account that the "accomplishments" celebrated are due to native cultures being overcome through violence, deceit, theft, and European Americans self proclaimed rights to conquer those who were already here.  Plus the unforgettable fact that people were brought into slavery in this country for the economic well being of European Americans.  Based on those facts I really don't have a reason to "celebrate" the Independence Day as envisioned some 200 plus years ago.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Senate Speaks - Gun Control: We're Target Practice for Terrorists and the Mentally Ill

Two Senate bills dealing with gun control measures failed to get passage in the U.S. Senate this week.  The Senate's message was clear to the citizens and visitors to the United States.  The message was, "You're on your own general public!  If someone shoots at you just run and duck.  Good luck!  Thanks for electing me to be your voice in the Senate!"

Nothing phases our elected officials.  Student victims of shootings at a college.  Student victims of shootings at an elementary school.  Forty nine people shot to death in a nightclub.  None of those actions motivated our elected officials to take effective steps to ensure the safety of the citizens and visitors to the United States.

Our  Senators must know something we don't to time and time again not place further restrictions on the access to assault weapons.  The Senate's vote tells us that we better all get an assault rifle to deal with future or present dangers.  I do wonder what type of event would motivate Senators to support laws banning or restricting access to assault rifles and other deadly weapons of destruction?

Overseas, a representative of England's Parliament was shot and killed on a street as she was living out a normal day.  Elected officials have always been targets of the disgruntled, dissatisfied, or mentally ill.  But, terrorists and the disgruntled are smart enough to know that you don't attack those who support policies that keep assault weapons available.  That would be stupid!  So instead they attack the innocent.  They know that Congress will come to the rescue of terrorists and the mentally ill and not create additional barriers that will keep assault weapons out of the "bad guys" hands.

So, the safest job to have in the United States is that of a U.S. Congressman or Senator.  Plus they already have security to keep them safe from harm.  The next best thing Congress can do is pass legislation that grants every American a government issued T shirt with a target printed on it.  The Senate's vote further clarified that we continue to be on our own.

Be vigilant.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tragedy, The Great Motivator

A major fault of human beings is that we wait for a tragedy to occur before making changes.  We believe that if a negative event has not occurred yet then all is well.  We believe we are safe until the unthinkable happens.  We often do not initiate change, comfortable in the status quo.

Then chaos occurs.  Whether it be a mass shooting, a loved one passing away from a disease, an attack on a child by wildlife, or a pedestrian killed at a busy street crossing.  Once death arrives we are motivated to take action, especially if that death impacts our lives.

Yes, people analyze situations and make recommendations for change before deadly events occur.  But those warnings and proposals are often ignored.  Ignored until the death threshold is crossed.  Then people are motivated to take action.

Often enough facts exist to take action before death comes on the scene.  But we delay.  We may feel inconvenienced to make the change.  We may feel the cost of the change is too much to take action.  We may feel that the change just is not worth the effort.  Basically we feel infallible and immune to anything going wrong.

History shows us that anything can happen.  We are not immune from danger.  Expect the unexpected.  It's right around the corner waiting for its turn.  If you believe in a cause that can result in saving of lives, now is the time to take action before a life is lost.  Isn't the value of a life worth it?

Responding to tragedy to fix a situation is a positive action.  But a greater action is to take precautionary measures that will prevent a tragedy from occurring.  If others are not vigilant to protect us from harm unfortunately we have to take charge.  We have to call for action or protect ourselves by being vigilant at all times.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Orlando Mass Shooting

The lull from mass shooting deaths did not last long.  Six months after the San Bernardino incident, Orlando joined the list of communities where mass shootings have taken place.  This time the targeted location was a nightclub which catered to the gay community.  It was a place where people went to enjoy themselves free from judging eyes or comments.  As of this writing, 49 lives were taken with others in critical condition.

The Republican presidential candidate was being interviewed via phone this morning on a national news show.  When asked if he still did not favor a ban on assault rifles, the candidate said "people need those weapons to defend themselves."  He stated that bad guys had the weapons so the good guys needed access to them too.  I pulled up the list of mass shootings via the internet.  In all cases there was no mention of any of the victims fighting back with their own AR-15 to defend themselves from the shooter.  The shooter in the Orlando murders used an AR-15 which has come to be the mass murderer's weapon of choice.  Allegedly there are over 3 million AR-15s in circulation in the United States.  Never has the AR-15 come to the defense of those being shot at in these mass murders.

The logic that people need assault weapons to defend themselves doesn't seem to be supportable with instances where a person having an assault weapon with them saved lives.  People purchasing a personal AR-15 as a family defense weapon shows how much faith people have in the police to protect and serve.  Three million AR-15s in circulation sounds like it's every man and woman for himself.  It's an admission that the police can't protect you from harm, so look out for yourself.

Congress obviously isn't going to come to the rescue and pass legislation outlawing assault rifles.  It would take an assault on the Capitol building itself or the families of Congressman by terrorists before that happened.  Will it be necessary for businesses to place armed personnel outside venues with their own AR-15 or other assault weapon to keep future mass murderers away?  Will screening to enter a public event require creating a safety zone which can only be entered after you are prescreened a block away from an entry point to an event?

I noticed a difference in the response by the presidential candidates when asked what needs to be done to stop these acts of violence.  The republican nominee stated that President Obama should make certain remarks against muslim extremists or resign.  The democratic nominee first offered condolences to the families of those involved, then gave some thoughtful remarks on what steps should be taken.  The republican nominee did not offer condolences and barely acknowledged the grief the families of the victims must be going through.

Since the authorities are doing nothing, it falls onto each of us to look out for ourselves.  If you go to an event make note of the security at the event.  Before you go in, ask yourself if the security is enough to stop someone with an assault rifle?  Even before buying a ticket to an event start inquiring as to what will be done to protect your safety at the event?  If the answer is not adequate don't purchase a ticket.  As with most everything, businesses will not take action to upgrade security unless they are economically impacted by a major loss of business.

If it comes down to tracking every individual who has purchased an assault weapon then let's do it.  What should an individual who has an AR-15 or other type of assault weapon fear from having to be tracked?  I would like to know which of my neighbors has one, wouldn't you?

The government has chosen to not get involved in policing who has what weapons.  So we are left to our own means to protect ourselves.  Most of these mass shootings have occurred at public locations not at private homes.  It doesn't do any good for Mr. or Mrs. Homeowner to purchase an assault weapon when their is no evidence that acts of terrorism are aimed at individual homes and families.  Do we have to attend the Super Bowl, the Olympics or a comparable event before the security of those attending is ramped up to a level where an individual can feel safe?

Lastly, for those purchasing assault weapons, tell us whom you really fear?  Are you anticipating some type of social upheaval by the poor, the disenfranchised, the homeless, the hungry, or certain other groups of people?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ali Did It!

He did it.  In Louisville, Kentucky Muhammad Ali brought us all together.  At his memorial ceremony were people of different races, religious beliefs, and political parties.  Women, men, children.  All gathered together to pay homage to a man who really was the people's champ.

I ventured to Louisville twice this week. Departing my home around 4 a.m. on Wednesday I made the two hour journey to stand in line with many others to pick up my allotment of 4 of the 14,000 free tickets Ali had made available to the public for the Friday memorial service.  My early arrival resulted in my being able to receive my allotment of 4 seats.

As I expected after all the tickets were handed out in about 1 hour, a few people attempted to sell their tickets for money.  Journalists were quick to pick up on the story including one from the Louisville Courier.  I responded to that journalists and offered to work with him to give at no costs two of my tickets to someone deserving of attendance at the service.  I waited.  No response from the journalist. So I sent him another email.  This time he responded saying he had been busy and not able to respond to my message.  He then said he would not be able to assist in identifying any one in particular I could connect with to give them my tickets.  I thought "typical journalist.  Quick to write a negative story, but too busy to do the work to bring a happy ending to a negative situation."

Myself and a friend departed for Louisville around 4 a.m.  Friday morning to park downtown in a prime parking spot I had found Wednesday.  Instead of going to the remote free parking area identified for those attending the ceremony, I wanted to be be able to walk to the funeral procession and the ceremony. That plan worked out well.  The environment around the KFC Yum Center even in the early morning was amazing to see.  News correspondents and various networks had camera crews in position to report on the event.

After having breakfast we walked to an area where we could watch the Ali funeral procession as it made Ali's last tour through Louisville.  I met several people from Great Britain who had made the trip across the Atlantic Ocean to pay respects to Ali.  While awaiting the procession to arrive I met a gentleman from Iowa.  I also took part in a conversation with a black physician who with his wife, a former Federal employee, had driven into town for the funeral procession.  I still had the two extra tickets to the memorial ceremony in my pocket.  I had told my friend earlier that I wanted us to give them to someone who didn't have tickets to the ceremony.  I offered the tickets to the physician.  He was surprised of course and when he told his wife she was brought to tears.  So much for needing the assistance of a member of the press to do a good deed.

The funeral procession arrived shortly thereafter.  It seemed to glide quietly off the interstate off ramp down onto the street level where a large crowd had gathered.  The crowd surged towards the street starting a chant of "Ali, Ali, Ali".  I noticed the diversity of people in the crowd.  Ali had brought us all together were my thoughts.  For a moment in time we had something in common.

At the memorial ceremony the theme of Ali uniting us together continued.  The diversity of speakers talking about Ali was noticeable.  Native Americans, a Republican Senator, members of various religious faiths all together sharing the same stage.  Muslim greetings and prayers being sent over the networks covering the event, from an arena in the United States of America.  This was the best of what America in it's present form could be.  A peaceful gathering of the variety of people in this world who had come together for a common purpose.  Ali did it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tear Down The Walls

Tear Down The Walls
Their currently is a climate in these United States of America for building more barriers and walls between people.  As if we didn’t  already have enough man made, legal, social, religious, and other types of barriers. That includes the building of physical and emotional walls.  One candidate for the office of President of the United States advocates building of a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico.  In thinking of the history of the development of the United States one thinks of what would have happened if Native Americans had constructed a wall along the Atlantic shoreline to keep settlers out?

When history does not favor those in authority, history is ignored, overlooked or even changed to rationalize past behaviors.  I still think of those families now well off economically in this country who have ancestors who may have taken advantage of Native Americans and/or who owned slaves in this country.  Do those families talk about that part of their family’s history?  Is that history discussed at family reunions?  On occasion the government of the United States has apologized for various incidents where the government authorized or contributed to mistreatment of people.  Our government needs to once and for all purge itself of past incidents it never truly have disavowed.  The annihilation of the Native American culture was a Hitleristic type act.  In this country we have all types of museums but is there a museum celebrating and remembering the Native Americans and what they contributed to the land currently known as the United States of America?

There are many who support the Presidential candidate who wants to put up physical walls to keep people out of the United States.  They know from the experiences of Native Americans that giving people from outside the country an opportunity to improve their lives may take away opportunity and resources from those people already here.  The descendants of those European-Americans do not want to be in the situation that Native Americans were in.

The world has long been a globe consisting of borders, lines drawn on maps to separate us into our appropriate quadrants.  Countries, cities, towns, states.  We have taken what God gave us and due to our human faults developed a system where little is shared.  We need our individual “stuff”.  We refuse to take actions that can bring us closer together.  We often find it hard to just disagree and compromise on issues that we cannot agree on.  We hide behind our labels, “conservative”, “liberal”, “socialist”.  Democrat, Republican, Independent.  “Majority rules” is seen as some perfect method of resolving issues.  If more than half of a group favors one direction on an issue, somehow that is the correct choice?  History has shown that is not always the case.  The only thing majority rules proves is that we firmly believe the principle regardless of how faulty it is. If something is a foundation of your belief, you really don’t want to look at it with skepticism and doubt.

The time seems appropriate to start moving towards actions and decisions that bind us more together.  Continued belief in a system where there is a “loser” or a group of people are pushed to the side does nothing for us as a collective.  Conflicts continue, wars continue.  Isn’t it time for another approach?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Memories of Muhammad Ali

My earliest memories of Muhammad Ali are that of he and ABC network sportscaster Howard Cosell engaged in "verbal" boxing during interviews.  Ali was articulate, self confident and normally wearing a suit and tie during the interviews.  I was about 10 years old and Ali had just begun his legal battle with the government by refusing to report for induction into the Army during the period of the Vietnam War.  It was a bold and courageous action on his part.  His beliefs as a Muslim were not consistent with joining the Army to be trained to kill people he had no arguments with.  Ali at that time was in his prime as a boxer.  He would go on to lose 3 years out of his career because he was banned from boxing because of his refusal to report for induction.

During those years of the late 1960's and early 1970's Ali was one of the public role models black youth had in the United States.  He spoke his mind and always tried to present himself as a professional.  As a 13 year old in California I recall all the hype leading to his fight with Joe Frazier.  Everyone was talking about the event.  Ali lost the fight but didn't lose his appeal.  He continued his career and eventually reclaimed the title from George Foreman.

While in college I recall his losing to the young upstart, Leon Spinks, and then returning to defeat Spinks months later.  I only recall seeing Ali in person once, that being as he walked into an event at Black Expo with his entourage in Indianapolis one summer.  When I think of Ali, I think of courage, class, athleticism, and humor.  Yes, his health may have suffered from his occupation of boxing.  But, he gave his all and did not keep social and legal barriers from blocking him from achieving his goals.

74 years of greatness.  Now the legend continues.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Roots: The Second Take. A Black Man's Opinion

Tonight, a remake of the "Roots" mini series makes it's way to the television screen.  I recall watching the original version as a college sophomore in the 1970's while attending a college where European- Americans were the majority.  Seeing a visual depiction of the main character, Kunta Kinte, being taken away from his life, family, and traditions in Africa was an emotional experience to view on television.  Visually seeing a depiction of how Africans were forcefully brought to the land of Native Americans (now called the United States of America) and forced into slavery was something I had never imagined.  The mistreatment and abuse of Africans by European-Americans who were supposedly civilized and intelligent is difficult to understand or comprehend.  What race of  moral civil people would condone slavery as a viable means of promoting progress?  What kind of people would then move on to annihilate an entire civilization of Native Americans?

After viewing the original "Roots" some 40 years ago, my viewpoints and attitudes towards European -Americans was not improved.  Instead I wondered if "they" had left us alone who knows what the future would have been for many Africans and their families?  But, life is made up of many "what ifs?"  We all have to deal with the reality that events occur because they are destined to happen.  Not everything in life has a happy ending.

As this remake of Roots occurs, I am personally stalled in trying to document my family history.  With the help of others, I've been able to track descendants back to 1814.  Those being my great-great grandparents who were slaves in Tennessee when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. United States Census records helped me to track who they were enslaved to prior to the Proclamation.  I understand that it would take some extraordinary research to be able to track my African descendants prior to 1814.  That documentation of the selling of people as property may have been lost or documentation not kept.

As with many African American families, there appears to have been some interaction in my family line between European-Americans and Africans brought to the "United States".  My guess at this point was that it was an interaction forcefully done to my great grandmother's part of the family connection as she was categorized as being a mulatto.  A mulatto was defined as someone who had one parent who was African and one who was European-American.  I wonder if European-Americans discuss  at their family reunions those events when their European-American descendants raped African women brought into slavery?

In my opinion most of my family members do not care about the family tree or our heritage.  They are product of a society and surrounding culture that does not want us to think about or dwell on the facts of our family history.  Our "American" culture does not want us to think about the major immoral and selfish actions which has lead many to declare that the United States is the greatest country in the world.  Those making such "greatest country" statements need to pause and consider just how the United States moved into such a position.

As I read books about the early Presidents of the United States, I am struck by how unjustly and immorally each President dealt with the issue of slavery and how European immigrants to this continent dealt with the Native Americans who already lived here.  It is not a part of the American story that is proudly discussed when someone says the United States is the greatest country in the world.  I would challenge any one to honestly make that statement if they review the facts of how the government dealt with Native Americans and the institution of slavery.  For African-Americans the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and Reconstruction did not last long as the selfish side of European Americans quickly returned to ensure European-American dominance in the United States.

The timing of the remake of Roots is interesting.  Of course I believe this generation of African Americans hasn't been exposed to the full story of our history.  But, I also believe the media and entertainment industry attempts to keep us in a mode of "slavery topics only" mode when it comes to telling the experiences of African Americans.  I hope film makers and others with the finances to make movies back more stories of the development and experiences of African Americans since the Emancipation Proclamation.  Those are the stories I would like to see depicted on television or movies.  Especially those that define how African Americans overcame social, cultural, racial and economic barriers to become successful.

I don't want to see more stories about slavery, black athletes and black entertainers.  Yes, their stories are important.  But, the African-American experience is not limited to tales of slavery, athletes and entertainers.  So tonight we will be shown a recycled story of our days in slavery and a small part of life after slavery.  It's something, but for me it will be, "yeah I already saw this.  Show me the story of the African American experience that we haven't seen."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Choices - Mentoring Our Youth

Choices.  That will be the topic of discussion during the upcoming months I will spend mentoring a group of Indiana Public School boys in the 5th through 8th grades.  The program, under the auspices of the 100 Black Men of Indianapolis will start back up this Fall even as this year's cycle concludes. After being a mentor for 4 years I've worked in the background the past 3 years.  I've helped out performing the administrative support and grunt work needed to support the mentors who spend time in the classroom with the students.  Now it's time for me to return as an active mentor to share my experiences and knowledge with the youth who want to improve.

The program does what it can to reach as many as students as possible.  It's not a perfect program, but it beats doing nothing to help mold today's youth into leading a positive life.  I have four months of preparation ahead of me.  My goal is to share, teach, and inspire.  Share my experiences and how good and bad choices shaped my life.  Share the critical decisions made by several family members and how those decisions shaped and impacted their lives.  Teach what others either taught me or what I learned through trial and error.  Inspire others to move along the appropriate path to accomplish their dreams.

As I prepare it gives ample time to reflect on my journey.  One event I will share with my students happened when I was 10 years old.  I shared a bedroom in what must have been an 8 x 10 sized room with my older two brothers.  Each of us had a plain bed with no headboard.  It was just a metal frame bed with a thin mattress on it.  It may have been a slight upgrade to the kind of beds prisoners sleep on in jails.  The beds were set against 3 of the 4 walls in the room. We shared a 4 drawer dresser.  There was no television in the room.  No tables, no radio, no games.  Three beds and a dresser.  The only light was the ceiling light.

I recall sleeping in my bed with several size D batteries beneath my pillow.  The reason?  At night rats would come out and gnaw on the wooden dresser. The gnawing sound was of course annoying when you're trying to sleep late at night. To stop the rats from making the gnawing sound I would throw one of the size D batteries against the dresser.  The noise would stop for awhile.  Then it would start up again. My response was to fling another battery at the bottom of the dresser.  From prior nights I had learned to have an adequate supply of batteries stashed under my pillow in case my rat nemesis didn't scare off easily.

I think of those days now and realize that those events served as inspiration and motivation for me.  I was motivated to find a way where as an adult my living condition would be better.  It inspired me to realize that two of the avenues for a black youngster to aspire to success at that time were closed to me.  First, I did not possess great athletic skills for a career in sports.  Secondly I did not have a great singing voice to become an entertainer.  During the 1960s when I was growing up, it was the heyday of Motown in the music industry.  But I knew that Berry Gordy would not be signing me to a recording deal.

I will share with my mentees that I came to the realization that education was my ticket to a better life in my future.  That's the choice I made.  I hope to have my mentees pause and look at their life, then be motivated and inspired to seek education as their path.

I want to show my students that my decision to follow the education path has resulted in my now leading a comfortable life as a retiree.  The background of my students will be similar. African American or Hispanic boys from low income families.  Hopefully some will be from two parent families.  The majority will qualify for free lunches.  That itself will dictate that the mentoring program will need to either be during student's lunch period or on the weekend where food can be served.  One thing the current program learned is that an after school mentoring program without a component to feed the students is a losing battle when the student is hungry.

Choices. It's important to show our youth that they can control their destiny.  They need guidance and the attention of others to help them move their lives forward.  If you have some free time consider getting involved by becoming a mentor in your community.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Re Post - Senators From Indiana Respond to Supreme Court Vacancy Issue

This is a repost.   Technical issues resulted in some paragraphs not being seen.

In addition to my blog on the Senate avoiding taking action on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, I sent a letter to each of my Senators. Senator Dan Coats (Republican) and Joe Donnelly (Democrat).  Both responded with well crafted form letters created by members of their staff.

Senator Coats who himself is lame duck Senator, provided the standard Republican party line response.  Senator Coats said:

"With the President and Congress divided on which direction to take our country, I believe the best course of action is to let the people decide.  The next President, with input from voters in the November election,should fill the current Supreme court vacancy."

Well if he really feels that way, I suggest Senator Coats resign now as he is not serving the state of Indiana by avoiding action on an issue of importance.  Senator Coats goes on to say:

"One of the most important responsibilities of a United States senator is to provide this input on judicial nominees.  "I take seriously my responsibilities to determine the best way to offer my "advice and consent" regarding lifetime appointments to our nation's highest court.

Senator Coats believes that doing nothing nothing is his way of providing input.  And he takes doing nothing seriously. as he should for being paid $174.000 a year for that honor.

Senator Donnelly's response was only a  tad better.  Donnelly said he would carefully review the nominees qualifications.  But he is doing nothing to ensure the process moves forward.

The U.S. Constitution is being interpreted as saying "advice and consent" as meaning no action need be taken.  So maybe I'll explore the idea that I don't need to pay anymore  Federal taxes until a new President is elected?