Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Biggest Lies I was Taught In Grade School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

Implicit Bias Training for Indianapolis Police?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Health Care and Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Realizing My Body Is A Rental

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

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

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

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

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

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