Saturday, November 8, 2008

A friend of mine recently posted in a chat room...
"To the point at hand, Rev Dr. King, Jr. was all but ostracized from the
'mainstream' civil rights movement for speaking out against the Vietnam War
in 1967."

While I agree with much of what Jeffrey says, the above statement is misleading. The objections on King's global view were because of the movement's narrowcasted view of the achievements of civil rights. America has a bad habit of trying to solve its own problems first before asking other countries to follow its lead. In other words, others in the movement were not so much "ostracizing" King for speaking out against the war and being upset that he was not keeping focus on the problems at home. King, on the other hand, saw injustice and inequity as a global issue to be vanquished hopefully in his lifetime.
He was a visionary. He had to be because of what he knew would be a short time to do a lot of the Lord's work.
All these attempts to wrap Obama in the cloak of history as if his ascendancy is the cure rather than a benchmark can only result in a hope hangover for the country. He has the potential to take us farther than we deserve and make us all better citizens of the world. Obama has been gifted with King's global vision but our collective nearsightedness threatens to leave us all blind to the possibilities of being the world leader we used to be....and can become again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Freedom in more ways than one

Before I drill deeper and write about last night, I share an email I sent to a friend who remarked on last night's election and how glad he was to be wrong that it could happen...

As many of you know, I believed early he would at least make it to the nomination stage and only after his speech on race did I believe Barack could become president. Not because of what he said, but because he wasn't dismissed by the populace for addressing an issue we still choose to whisper but not to discuss.
While I'm glad the immigrant felt a sense of pride about Barack's election, I feel McCain worked just as hard and his only downfall was committing the ultimate relationship killer: he tried to become something else in order to please someone (the GOP) who didn't want him. I hope he finds his true self in time to work as vigorously for this country as he has in the past. But don't think that wedges of division will ever diminish. There are those factions that depend on it to survive and they help keep us on our toes to not be complacent.
Although I worked really hard since my arrival in Madison, I find myself an unmade careerist not by my own actions (or maybe because of it, but I digress) so the practice does not always match the theory.
Nevertheless, I am delighted this time the kids under 21 got their way, either by direct engagement or by mere peering over into the electoral process to make sure we old folks did the right thing. It's up to all of us to stay engaged and be more than casual observers to our future.
One good thing about being on the outside is that it gave me the opportunity to openly campaign for a candidate, something I haven't done since 1992. Walking around in a campaign office is indeed rarified air that should be bottled and sold to replace antidepressants.
I have also never been so happy... to be alive at a time like this, a time this former college radical never thought she'd see.
"And the times they are a-changin'".....

Monday, November 3, 2008

Why you should vote

My darling daughter, who currently lives in Nay-ash-vee-uhl Ten-see, told me recently about a conversation she had with a friend who bemoaned the fact that they both dwell in the reddest of red states. They both wondered whether their two little votes would only amount to a drops in the republican bucket as Tennessee's electoral votes went into McCain's column.
I tell you now what I told her: your vote is personal. It is a personal act of love to Barack Obama and all he stands for. He may not win your state but he needs to know someone in Tennessee heard him. The vote totals, no matter how small, are an act of defiance in the face of overwhelming odds, much as his campaign has been.
He needs to know what he has gone through was appreciated, what we've all gone through, is worth the sacrifice, past and future. That vote, that one little number, can drown a sea of negativity when we all stand together.
I guess that's the same as saying every vote counts. It may not add up to victory, but it counts as one voice saying yes. To not vote is to stay silent. To stay silent increases your chance of being ignored when it counts. Silence means there's no objection to what's happened in this country for the last eight years.
I contend there is much to object to and to vote is say loud and clear that change is due.
"Now is the time," he said. "It's our time."
If you never vote again, this time it counts.....


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Welcome to the real America

I love Keith Olbermann. No, really.
He unleashed another classic Special Comment yesterday on Gov. Palin's comments about slivers of Virginia being the "real America." While Keith went on and on about how outrageous the charge was, I and other black folks heard Palin and Minnesota's Michelle Bachmann's rage against Obama as the "real America" we've been struggling to defeat all our lives.
It is our real America, a place where whites would rather side against a new idea because of who it came from. A place where hard work and playing by the rules gets you in a Last-In-First-Out employment conga line. Blacks are happy to find non-whites who see the real America we see and speak out against it because we're called over-sensitive. The comedian Martin Short had a routine once where he asked the camera,"is it him or is it me?" The black folks I know ask that question almost everyday when they do the right thing and when they encounter discrimination but are told it's not discrimination. It's all in our heads, like Phil Gramm said about the economic crisis.
So we're happy to say "welcome to our world." If what they've said sounds outrageous to you, imagine what it's like to slam into everyday. And then told you don't feel the pain.
These people are not aberrations; there are thousands of people of all colors in power positions who agree with them. They cannot be happy with the poll numbers two weeks away from the election. Change is never something they can believe in...
At some point, though, I think there will come a time when I'll be able to thank Palin and Bachmann and Limbaugh and Buchanan and the rest who feel emboldened enough to pull their internal conversation to the outside where it can be exposed to the sunlight for cleansing.
When their ilk makes other white people feel emboldened enough to vote for an African American, I feel like we're creating a new real America. And let me say I'm not of the mind that everything will change after November 4 (except that my darling niece will be a year older), but this campaign has opened a lot of people's eyes to the possibility of what good comes when the leveled playing field intersects at the corner of Opportunity and Education for blacks in this country. For everybody too, I imagine.
To quote John McCain, it'll be a fresh of breath air...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Is it really the economy, stupid or did we just get took?

Something's not right about this upside-down budget compromise. The Bush administration advocated and endorsed the free-wheeling deals banks conducted to the detriment of the people and the nation's economy. Suddenly, everybody gets to the table and it's the democrats who are in favor of accepting some of the Paulson plan with adjustments that have been reported on but not announced and the republicans are stomping around with their arms folded in objection to their leader's ruining of the economy. It's almost like the democrats are in favor of the "Bush plan" and the republicans are against it.
After the dust settles, the republicans can whine on the campaign trail that they were battling for the American people all the time and the democrats were in it for the okeydoke, twisting the screws into an already pained populace.
The new mantra: McCain stops everything to put "country first" and Obama and the democrats wanted to keep "business as usual" by making deals behind closed doors and keeping business first.
I feel like Chavez: I'm smelling sulfur...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Where does the line form?

After watching the economic bigheads trying over the weekend to explain why it's okay to give billions of dollars to the CEOs holding this country's economy hostage, I want to know where the line is being formed to get free money from the government. Who's doling it out: the infomercial guy with the green suit with the dollar signs all over it?
And now they're outraged because Congress has grown balls large enough to inhibit their bending over to take this idea with a "yazza boss." They must have had the balls on back order from back when the Patriot Act was signed 'cause they're doing their best now to stand up tall enough to get re-elected by the folks back least the ones who still have a home.
But back to the free money. You cannot convince me the CEOs of the banks and mortgage holders and real estate people didn't know what was going on while it was going on. And if the CEOs didn't know, they deserve to choke on the strings of the golden parachute they're trying to ride out of this mess. If they didn't know, they don't deserve the money because they slept on the job. If they did know, they don't deserve to be paid for bringing economic ruin to the country.
Good news and bad news is that I don't own property so I wasn't drowned by the first wave of calamity and my family members who did buy property during the boom got fixed-rate mortgages. But I do have a couple of feeble 401K accounts that are going to look rather puny when I get the next reports.
Thanks, Mr. Deregulator. I hope to give you more time in your future to visit all of the nine homes you own....

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mommy, what's a sexist?

State investigations and scandals aside, I'm having problems trying to not only understand McCain's pick for VP but also the campaign to hush up dissent about said nominee.
I suppose they reason that it worked for the march to war by tying the hands of the media by proclaiming it un-American by asking the questions out loud that some of us had about the push to attack a country that hadn't fired a single shot at us.
But now to question Palin's readiness to lead as being sexist has me scratching my feminist head. In the card game Bid Whist, we call it reneging when you play a card out of turn as a trump card. Now it's sexist to just ask whether she doesn't already have enough on her plate? When did women give up the privilege of raising their children? I went back to work six weeks after my son was born and several months later added college classes to my full-time job AND my motherhood duties. It was hell juggling all three balls but I wouldn't have changed anything and I got my degree, kept my job and my son (and his older sister) survived his mother's busy life.
But back to Palin. I watched the GOP attack my beloved profession of journalism and lay the specter of sexism on it. Interestingly, though, they stood next to their compatriots who proudly wore really sexist campaign buttons proclaiming her sexuality as an attribute to the ticket. "Hot governor from a cool state" and "I'd tap Palin" and "hot hockey mom" are popular items.
As a woman, as a feminist I find it offensive for people to go to such a base level of "appeal" to distract the attention to the quality of the candidate as a potential leader of the free world. How could she even take herself seriously if more people start staring at her ass like McCain did instead of listening to her policy statements? I want her to use her brain power and not her estrogen power to persuade the country's stance on the important issues of the day. It's like I'm back in some junior high school fantasy, being hot for teacher...
Whether the GOP ticket is victorious in November or not, I feel it's shameful to inject sexuality into a political landscape for a job as important as this.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Climbing mountains

The first time I thought about it, it was so scary I pushed it out of my mind.
When the thought returned, I decided to hold it and turn it around like a glowing orb of promise.
Let me back up for a minute: I've often been accused of thinking too deep, of picking stuff apart for deeper meaning to understand its source and my own enlightenment. Still, it drove some people crazy although my family and close friends appreciate me being the one who performs the thought autopsies on the events of the day.
That being said, the original thought was this: Sen. Obama's acceptance speech tonight coincides with another milestone speech given in what could be his future city of residence. But the real connection for me is not that speech, but the speech given the night before Martin Luther King Jr. died. The one where he talked about the mountaintop and looking over into the promised land.
"I may not get there with you," he said. "He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land," he said. "But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land."
Is Denver the mountaintop King looked over? Did he see this before any of us could dream of it?
The first time the word "mountaintop" rang in my ear before the convention, it sent a chill through me so I went and read the end of King's speech and there it was, to me a clear foretelling of tonight's momentous occasion.
If I'm right, if I grasped the significance of where we are and what will happen, maybe I feel the same sense of urgency Muhammad Ali felt when he got his wife to pull strings to get him a seat at the convention. This is something not to miss, to be present for not for the pageantry, not for the politics, but for the inhalation of the scent of liberty, of closing your eyes and just being in the moment and where you are at that moment and what it says about the time in which you're living. The life you're living, for that matter, and whether you're deserving of a chance to change your life and step in a new direction on your own mountaintop.
Barack Obama and Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali all stepped away from the conveyor belt of normalcy and created their own "new way of walking" into their future. When will you begin your new walk, create your new history? I'm plotting my new map now although I don't know where I want to go or where He wants me to be but I know my mountaintop's out there waiting for my conquering flag....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who am I? Why am I here?

In the middle of a recent job interview, I suddenly felt like the late Adm. James Stockdale. At his only debate as a vice-presidential candidate, he asked the questions above.
While I carefully dissected why I wanted this job and explain the answer in a detached but intellectual manner to my interviewers, it occurred to me that I had lost my way... again.
Feeling 11 years ago that journalism was my true calling, I dove headfirst on the fast track to becoming a prolific writer. You gotta understand, I started this new chapter of my life at the age of 44. From that cloud, I tried to think and negotiate ways of getting to a successful point in my life as quickly as possible because 1) I felt older just looking around my classroom before I graduated in 1992 and 2) the gnawing reminder that my mother worried herself into an early grave at the age of 56. I wanted to use God's gift of writing to reach and change the lives of as many people as I could before my late restart and family history of heart disease caught up with me. So I pushed and I moved to two more states in my quest to live my dream of what I thought becoming a good journalist meant.
When the career rug was pulled from under me last February, I didn't realize that I was chasing the dream so hard I lost parts of me in the process. Eventually, the person I saw in the mirror was the same person who at one time signed her checks "Mrs. Kenneth Rhone" instead of the name my parents gave me. I lost my identity trying to find a new one.
Killer part is I like me. I didn't try to lose who I was to become the person I thought I wanted to be, the person they wanted me to be. I got caught up in personal rejection instead of professional expediency as they told me I wasn't good enough to be who I thought I was.
At one point, I found myself crying in front of a grocery store employment kiosk because I thought I needed to just find a job, any job, to prove my worth. To have somebody say, yes, we want you.
But that's not who I am. I am loved. God loves me, regardless of my skills or my potential. But I stopped loving myself because of the difficulty of rejection in this whole job finding process.
But as I sat across from three smiling people who genuinely seemed interested in me and my life, I had the epiphany that it wasn't their approval I was seeking (except the job. The job is killer and I'd love to wrap myself in it). I needed to find a way to validate myself so I talked about things that mattered to me, how I really saw my potential and my history of helping others and it occurred to me that that's what was missing. I stopped helping other people. I lived for the feeling of seeing myself doing good in the world and you can't give hugs at a pity party.
Service in God's name. I fired myself from that job and the vacancy was still open. I could recapture that spirit of giving of myself, my thoughts, my skills, my empathy, me, and get back to the business of spreading God's love and His message of doing for others again.
Okay, God. I'm back. Ma, your advice was right: there is nobody better than me.
I'm ready to restart the journey now, Lord. To live off the nectar of serving others gave me more pleasure than any cut of prime rib (and I loves me some prime rib) and I want that taste back on the tongue of my spirit.
I'm ready to start smiling again....

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Don't blink

I'm trying not to blink at John McCain's run for the White House because I think I've already missed something. I missed the explanations on how he's a war hero and that he has the experience to lead a country.
War hero? He got shot down and spent years as a captive. He didn't risk his life, didn't save anybody's life. He even admitted in his own book that he was close to suicide because of his personal failures.
Experience? He has no business experience. Never ran a corporation. Did some reaching across the aisle but talking for the sake of talking is not leadership, it's ass kissing.
Now he's acting like the crusty old man down the street that makes fun of the kids and takes their kickball in the house when it comes over his fence.
The edgy old guy or the new black guy: who you gonna invite to the dance?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oh Lord, I don't want to be in that number

...when the unemployed go marching in.
Well, at least now you don't have to suffer the humility of sitting for hours in a cavernous room where an overworked state worker calls out the names of the unfortunate to talk about why you don't have a job yet. You can look for a job and file for unemployment all from the discomforted convenience of your home computer.
For the record, I have not been without a job since my daughter was a toddler and she's now in her 30s. As of next week, it will have been three months since I drew a paycheck.
Today, I find myself in front of my computer daily cybersitting in the world's unemployment office trying to get a gig. Filling out online applications. Trying to write an upbeat, killer cover letter to become at least worthy of an interview. To date, I've only been tapped four times out of the 60-plus apps I've filled out since I stopped signing onto another computer.
I'm usually the one who does the interviewing so it's weird to have to formulate an answer for someone who might rather be back at their desk than talking to your sorry jobless ass.
One day I got three reject letters in mailbox: you suck, you still suck and you must be kidding why the hell did you apply for this job when you know we already had somebody lined up.
But there I am, cheerfully telling this stranger why I am the best person for the job. Lots of smiles, a little wry humor, a lot of earnestness and dedication to doing a phenomenal job doing the do for them. Then there's the form letter last week from a guy whose job I applied for back in May who I guess realized there was one last bug on his desk he didn't thump off: me.
Now comes word from the Dept. of Labor saying there are 366,000 similarly situated people out there who are trying to find work. I raised my hand when they made the announcement on TV this morning. Jesus...
But I don't want to be in that number. My son will tell you how many times I've snapped at him, how many times I've forgotten to keep my cell phone with me. Yesterday, I turned on the coffeemaker with the filter door open and walked away, water flying everywhere until he closed it for me.
They talk about how people go "postal" and start shooting people after they lose their job. Fortunately for the world, I'm too Christian to go out like that but I understand the murder-suicide motivation for people who get their mailbox stuffed with reject letters or worse, dead silence from employers who can't be bothered to drop a reject form letter in the mail to add to the stack of past due notices.
Still, trouble don't last always and I am a faithful woman so I continue to plug away across the Internets sending cheery news of my availability to "match my skills to your requirements for the job."
Still Lord, I don't want to be in that number where you're truly living unemployment paycheck to paycheck....

Sunday, July 6, 2008

When did patriotism become a code word?

A recent discussion I heard on the radio was yet another version of one I've been hearing over and over since this spring: Is Barack Obama patriotic?
I listen to the talking heads try to give advice on what he should do to appease the growling flag pin huggers. One of my journalist friends even started a column with the dictionary definition of the word.
But it occurred to me while I was listening to Tavis Smiley's radio show that everybody may be missing the point. It's not a question of whether or not Sen. Obama loves his country. The question is whether he loves their country enough to not "turn it over" to blacks.
Maybe I read too much (my ex-husband always said I over-analyzed stuff) but there's a current current of thought that Obama's election will open the candy store for blacks in this country. That he will favor the whims of all black folks across the country and repress whites to get back at them for the slave trade. He'll order reparations and make affirmative action the rule in hiring and admissions and anything else he (or his people) can think of.
So that made me wonder whether patriotism is a code word for "can we trust you not to be a 'black president'" and force whites to actually live by the laws of equality and justice even when they're afraid they'll "suffer" for their actions.
While I have no personal history with the man, I believe Sen. Obama to be an honorable and fair man. He's smart enough to not even imagine the historically paranoid nightmare of a Bizarro-world kind of slavery where blacks are the slave holders. First of all, we don't want to be in charge like that. We just want to be in charge of our own lives and comfortably enjoy the rights our forefathers and mothers fought for.
If seeing him wear a flag pin calms fear of a black planet, so be it. If giving a speech on patriotism confirms his thought processes on the subject, go hard, Barack, and go home. Like Rick Nelson said, you can't please everyone so you gotta please yourself. Same with proving patriotism.
Here's another code word: faith, as in "faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
I have faith that Sen. Obama will lead this country with a steady hand and great discernment. We don't deserve him, but thank God we have this chance to change and bring peace to this country.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Getting the good kind of clap

During this year's presidential parade of candidates, I must confess I sometimes didn't listen to the speeches. I watched the crowd. Fascinating!
At first I searched for and counted faces of color. Then I studied concentration, to see if they were there just to be there or actually followed the cadence of their candidate. Sometimes small groups would waver or shutter like grass in the middle of an otherwise still crowd.
But then, I noticed something really different: almost every person has their own way of clapping.
Back in my teen years, I deliberately decided to clap with my hands slightly cupped and crisscrossed in order to produce a louder sound. Nobody else on the planet probably intentionally stylized how they would clap their hands besides me but I experimented until I got the right sound. Now, it's second nature to me and hasn't changed in 40 years.
But there, during somebody's rally, I watched and counted about eight different ways people clap. There may have been more but I started being creeped out watching other people so I stopped, but here are some examples:
*one woman lightly, daintily tapped her hands together like she wanted to participate but didn't want to offend
*one man almost seemed to be wristwrestling with himself as he pulled back his right elbow and repeatedly jammed one palm into the other as if to punish his exuberance
*another woman clapped her hands together as though they were cymbals, complete with retreating circles
*another kept her hands in close proximity and clapped vigorously like a speedy game of Patty Cake
There are more but I have to look away now, except to say I wonder if people's clapping styles mimic the way they live their lives....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

God in a card game

The title seems a little crazy but let me explain.
I've been having problems with my not-so high speed Internet access so I've developed a passion for the game FreeCell, one of those innocuous games that comes with Windows.
So I've been playing and playing and improving with each "hand" that's "dealt." It's a fun version of solitaire, in case you haven't played it. Anyway, I finally figured out that the object of the game is not just to get all the cards off the board. The object is to free all the aces first.
In my life, God is my ace. In the middle of sorting through my life, I realized that they best way to get a true path to satisfaction is to put Him first like I put getting the aces out first in FreeCell. Sometimes I'm not successful but I found out through trial and error that you can't win the game, you can't finish it, without having revealed all the aces and putting them in their rightful place. The other cards can go anywhere on the board but they can't come off the board before the ace in their suit does.
So I've decided to play my life like a game of solitaire: I'm the one who controls the cards but I know if I don't follow the correct steps, I won't win. The path is there; I just have to envision it and follow it to its conclusion and my success.
Who knew I could find His plan in a simple card game?

Pamela and Barack

It was like Christmas morning last night. My oldest sister Pam called me late last night to tell me of the experience of being at an Obama rally.
My other sisters know Pam has never been the least bit interested in politics before this year. This year, she is a volunteer for a presidential campaign. She sounded surprised when I told her how proud I was of her getting out of her 28th floor Detroit apartment and doing her part for the country.
Silly me, I was concerned Sunday when I couldn't reach her on the phone. Later that evening, she called to tell me she spent the day blowing up beach balls and counseling others on signmaking. She sounded totally invigorated describing the scene of people rushing around and smiling, working on a common cause.
During the network broadcast Monday night, I thought I saw her in the crowd clutching and feverishly waving an American flag, something else I'd never seen her do. She said she would try to get to the seats behind the stage so we could see her. Turned out it wasn't her but I knew Pam would have a great night, on or off camera.
And she did. Pam, or Tee as we call her, stood in the volunteer area before the rally admiring the physique of a tall man.
"He had his hands in his pants pockets so you could see the muscles in his thighs," she said wistfully. Being a fan of goodbodies, I totally appreciated her report.
And then he turned around.
It was Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons standing no more than 7 feet in front of her.
Was this heaven?
Then the crowd erupted and she turned to see if Sen. Obama had arrived. He had, and made his way through the crowd to shake her hand. Okay, not exactly but that's how it felt to her. He walked up, shook her hand with both of hers and said something her brain registered as English but she has no idea what he said. She offered her Audacity of Hope book to him ... and he signed it.
And there she stood, absorbing the reality of it all. Never cared about politics, never been to a rally from the inside, never met an actual candidate and there she was, staring at the first candidate of color who was actually charted to accept his party's nomination to become president of the United States.
She was so wafted away by the events of the day she missed her stop on the People Mover tram to take her back home. A group of women chattered near her about what they had gathered from the experience. Tee blew them away when she showed them her autographed book. I would have been afraid I'd get robbed of something so valuable but I think she would have snapped necks last night to keep that book.
Oh yeah. She also happily reported that Al Gore is even more devastatingly handsome than she thought.
"He is NOT fat," she insisted. "That man is foine."
We both laughed but I was pleased that she had finally brought something into her life that made her feel alive after a tumultuous one turned her against reaching out to others. She was laughing, she was exuberant, she was the excited big sister I remember being jealous of when we were kids because her 6-year advantage gave her experiences I could only hope for.
Damn if she didn't have another one....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

To spank or not to spank

One of the things I still get to enjoy while waiting for employment to get back to me is listening online to Al Sharpton's radio show. It's always good to hear other's opinions in response to the topics of the day. Today's "hot button topic" was corporal punishment.
The Rev. wondered whether current gang activity was related to the fact that there wasn't enough whippins, beatings or out-and-out non-sparing of the rod. Some callers agreed with him. I did not.
The sporatic forms of spankings my children received in their early years were handshakes compared to the skin-splitting reprimands my mother gave to me. While my now-ex believed in
it like a Sunday drive, I couldn't get the flashbacks out of my head when I tried to follow his rule.
"I got beat and I turned out fine," he'd say. Fine is such a relative term...
Anyway, I think I only touched my kids violently maybe twice each, mainly 'cause I lost the stomach for it and challenged my now-ex to not hit/spank/pop them again.
I instead concentrated on letting them know I respected them and anything they did wrong was their decision, that I would be disappointed if they did wrong and certain coveted things from their well-appointed rooms would disappear as punishment.
After a while, they would come to me in tears to tell me of my latest reason to be disappointed in them. And I showed them great disappointment with about 30 minutes of lecture. It was agony for them because I laid it on thick.
And I think that's what's missing from the psyche of today's kids: nobody respects them. Even the best-paid parents will try to buy their children's love with nothing but material things in return. You can't get a hug from an iPod, can't get a smile from a $200 pair of sneakers.
A wise woman (Toni Morrison, I think) once said kids want to see their parents eyes light up when they come into a room. Instead, some get ignored, some get cursory acknowledgement, some get 50 questions on what they did wrong and some get the snot slapped out of them because they still look like the absent parent. They don't get called on at school (unless they don't know the answer), don't get the choice benefit from a teacher, get snarls and sneers at the store, police drive by slower (and sometimes just park and stare). And these are the middle class kids. I'm sure the ones who live in the socially cordoned areas get worse.
In the July issue of Ebony, Judge Greg Mathis talks about the history of white t-shirts and butt-hugging, too big pants on many of today's youth across the racial color wheel. He compares it to the way men in prison dress out of necessity, not style. Actually, the mental pen today's young males are trapped in resembles the real pen: penitentiary. Why not dress the part when onlookers treat them like criminals in waiting?
That defensive posture tells me they've already accepted the fate of getting swept up in the netting of penal inevitability. A self-fulfilling prophecy.
When I see a male walking around in oversized clothes, especially shirts with broad stripes, I wonder what their relationship with their father is. Does dad dress like that? Chances are, if they can readily point to their father, dad is as straight-laced as his dad was. And dad has either decided or is deathly fearful for his son's maturity in freedom. So he leans on him extra hard and for a teenager, that's not a good tactic for a rebel to comply. They stay at constant odds and love, tactile love, goes right out the window.
To me, they look like big boys with little hearts, looking for acceptance and affection from people who don't want anything but the best from them. And I pray for us all...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Asleep at the keyboard

The chatter is still reverberating on the new book by Scott McClellan, Bush's former press secretary. The funniest chatter to me is the identical use of the word "puzzling" as the official White House response. Everybody's puzzled that McClellan, who probably was more interested in the health and well-being of his family than lapping at the trough of mindspeak, never verbally dissented while holding his job.
Hello? Is it possible that even if he had outed the administration for the Plame episode, he would have been quietly "resigned" from his job in retribution? Anybody who's worked in a hostile environment knows how impossible it is to trust anybody to secret your concerns.
There are also-whines who are complaining the media was effective during the march to war. On this, I get the willies on the realization that I agree with Katie Couric. When asked, she admitted we got beaten with the American flag for even suggesting the rush was too rushed.
Even though the McClatchy newspapers was screaming from their pages, the powers that be either were afraid to agree or decided it was beneath them to admit a smaller chain was outprying them on examining the administration's goals.
Back in 2005, Newsweek ran with the words of a "unidentified American government official who had incomplete knowledge of the situation" that a copy of the Koran had been flushed down a toilet in Guantanamo Bay. Of course, the recent report of a soldier using the Koran for target practice was as loudly rejected...until it it was confirmed. I still believe Newsweek's retraction signaled to media to lay off looking deeper into the war or risk being called unpatriotic.
Now McClellan's speaking out loud in clear, measured, knowledgable tones that we were all unwitting soldiers marching off to war, not only as fearful volunteers but unpaid ones as well. We gave up our children, spouses and lovers in sacrifice to the campaign of spreading democracy all over the Middle East. Never mind we took over the wrong playground for the wrong reasons and threw the key over the fence so we can't get out gracefully. My only nagging thought is if McClellan talked to Fitzgerald about this, how did Cheney escape prosecution?
If I had a job, I'd buy McClellan's book to read about what nuggets haven't been pulled out yet. But I give him ceremonial cojones for leaving and writing what he knew for the sake of history.
Even whistleblower John Dean says this administration's deeds are "worse than Watergate."
Thanks, Scott. Time will reveal you did the right thing and you can sit on my porch since Bush's invitation on your resignation is probably a no-go now....

Friday, May 23, 2008

Manchurian Candidate redux?

If you read my earlier post on the subject, I was willing to offer a historic exit strategy to the Clinton campaign based on her ground-breaking run for the White House.
I had suggested she turn the moment into a clarion call for those women behind her who would dare to follow her path to electability. Lay the campaign gently down with class, grace and intelligence.
Today, she turned history on its ear. And ripped that ear off in a fashion worse than Mike Tyson did to Evander Holyfield.
In the same week Sen. Edward Kennedy was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the same week one newspaper illustrated Sen. Obama in the crosshairs of a rifle, Sen. Clinton evoked the image of the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy in a meager attempt to justify her continuing vault-over-reason campaign.
While commentator Keith Olbermann, among others, drew a line from the inference of an assassination from her mouth to Sen. Obama, I see a different line that should make white folks, even the hard-working ones, seethe.
In the dark recesses of her mind, is she counting on the possibility that some white person will attempt to take out her rival? Does she think whites are so base as to automatically resort to violence between now and January? Does she think so little of the people she claims to be a part of that she believes someone weak enough to cast a death threat will be crazy enough to carry it out?
With the exception of the two Puerto Rican nationals who tried to kill Pres. Harry S Truman in 1950 and the Palestinian convicted for killing RFK, all successful and would-be assassins have been white. And two were women. But in this election, Sen. Obama has been lifted almost to the ring of candidacy by white voters. They supported them even when blacks looked askance at his racial intent.
Were I a white American, I would be most offended that Sen. Clinton would assume that history would have to repeat itself as it did in June 1968.
Is this some sort of Manchurian Candidate-type chant to change the direction of inevitability? Does she agree with Mike Huckabee that violence gets a vote on deciding who the next president will be? Even women who have "drank her Kool-Aid" are now wondering if there was more than sugar in the mix.
The worst part of this is she never apologized. She "regretted" but never apologized. That's like "if I offended anyone, I apologize" as if the fact you have to say it doesn't mean you must have offended somebody.
Even if she blames it on fatigue, the President of the United States will be more fatigued than enduring a campaign. Do we want someone as a world leader to fall off the tact wagon so easily?
To borrow from Al Gore, "it's time for you to go," Hillary. And sleep well because your days are about to get longer...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oh no, not the gender card again

A friend recently wrote on another website that Hillary's supporters, like Geraldine Ferraro, are mad because they believe the media's in Obama's pocket and everybody is sexist.
Mad ain't the word. This is like the feeling you get when you get beat in chess. You know in chess you always have to think several moves ahead to make sure you position your men in the best possible stance to win.
Obama beat Clinton in a political chess game with a move she never saw coming. And the best post-mortem she can come up with is that he and his crew are all sexist. The w(h)ine doesn't match the meal.
If Ferraro and the others supported Clinton purely because she is a woman, they sold her shorter than she sold herself. She wanted to run on her husband's past, they wanted her to run on a historical first. Didn't matter what she stood for. She should advance because she's a woman, the first to bring pockets and baggage with her for the race.
They're making feminists like me look bad as they go all wonky over the math not adding up for her.
I would not and have not ever voted for any woman just because she's a woman. I've been screwed over more by women than men in my life and I'm straight. And for the record, I'm not favoring Obama because he's black like me (although we both had white grandmothers). I looked over both candidate's platforms and his lined up with what I believe this country needs, although theirs are very similar.
Funny Ferraro and the others aren't calling the other candidates who've dropped out sexists for abandoning her fight against Obama.
This "sexist" cry is almost as annoying to me as the "white working-class" argument. And as my older sister said, "doesn't everybody work? Why do they call it working-class?" Of course, she also wants to know why we can get a list of superdelegates but not members of the electoral college. I can't answer that one, Pam...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Excellent NYT story on jobless

This exercise in job hunting in midlife is for the birds. Half the time, the contact people never send you a "You suck. We picked somebody else" letter. So you get stuck in this wallflower limbo and continue feverishly throwing resumes and snappy cover letters out the window in hopes someone thinks you worthy of an interview.
So imagine my surprise to see a story from the NY Times, who are also doing the desk do-si-do with offering buyouts to long-time, high priced employees. Hey, I thought, people are actually as depressed as I am. And yes, the language does change after you tell someone you lost your job or run into someone you use to work with and you want to ask how they're doing but you feel uncomfortable asking for fear they have a job now and you're still a schmuck.
So here's a cautionary tale: don't let this happen to you...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The fierce urgency of now

Today's title comes courtesy of Sen. Barack Obama, but it speaks more about the 18-30 year-olds who support him than why he's running for president.
And it says why he has a good chance of winning in November.
I saw an annual report on what this year's high school graduates have that their parents didn't. Like compact discs, plasma TVs and microwaves. This is the generation that has raised itself with television as babysitter and cultural sherpa. They are post-integration, post-affirmative action, post-civil rights and don't know that Richard and Mildred Loving went to court to keep their interracial marriage legal.
This is the "I want it and I want it now" generation who have found their kindred soul in the form of Barack Obama. His fierce urgency is now and so is theirs. Psychologists warned for years that praising our children and letting them have what they want when they want it instead of delayed or earned gratification will only increase their desires.
That's why I chuckled to myself when I saw a Republican pundit on TV say his own children were voting for Obama. Growing up with conservative values was not enough to keep them from favoring a Democratic candidate. They knew they liked what they saw and heard and they wanted him to be their president.
Parents, regardless of party preference, have told their children that everybody's equal and the playing field's level and if you play by the rules, you can succeed. And now our teachings have come back to haunt us. What are we gonna do, tell them no? That we lied to them? Even that Republican father couldn't tell his kids why they shouldn't support Obama. He displays that cool persona everybody really wants or wants to see in others. He's controlled under pressure and he knows when to smile even when there's nothing funny.
He's the me we want to be.
If he can play that on a world stage, this country will be back on top in no time. And he actually says stuff like he really believes it. Some kids can't get that at home. They get mixed messages and sometimes no attention at all. They're hungry for a real adult in their lives to make them want to do for others instead of their parents' Me first generation mentality. Talkin' bout my generation....

Game, set, match

This has to have been the world's longest political tennis match between Barack and Hillary. And just when it seemed like we'd have to go to a tiebreaker, John Edwards hands Barack a baseball bat to hit the ball out of the park.
For those not keeping score, Edwards got 7 percent of the West Virginia vote, meaning some people still support him. While I had been channelling Obama's people to persuade Colin Powell to be his running mate, John Edwards is the antidote for what's been ailing the Democratic Party.
And I feel so much better, even though my "don't trust anybody" voice is wondering how much is concerted effort and how much is hold-back-until-Obama-has-a-really-bad-primary.
In anyway, if Edwards becomes the VP pick, it is strategic genius. This is as good as the day Caroline Kennedy's words popped up in the New York Times.
And it is strategic genius to announce today that the two candidates would pool their money to create a presidential kitty for the campaign.
I gotta go cut down my nails 'cause the real fight for the White House begins now.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hillary: Making history takes time

Let me start by saying that being an unemployed journalist has given me a longed-for political freedom. I am one of those weirdos who doesn't believe journos should be directly involved with political contests. That being said, one of my first acts of employment liberation was to donate $50 to Sen. Obama's campaign. Yeah, I said it. Took me a while to come around. My now ex-coworkers were on his wagon before I was but I had to vet the brother out.
All this to say that, in spite of my favoritism, I very much want people to get off Hillary's cheeks about getting out of the race. Yes, the numbers are stacked against her. Yes, Frosty's almost down to his last snowball. But I think people need to back up, regroup and contemplate on the historical air in all of this.
I'm typing as loud as I can but I know she can't hear me: go the distance, girl. Yeah, you'll be incredibly in the red, campaign-wise, but every woman and girl who supports your program is running right along with you like your dreams are tied to theirs. You owe it to them to complete the journey.
Just turn it into a nationwide tour on the power of women. Tell them to never give up on what they want and to hold on to the audacity of hope. Oh wait, that's Obama's phrase. No, finishing this is like crossing the line at a marathon when everybody's gone home. Do it because you're supposed to. This ain't like the Barbie doll who said "math is hard."
Do the damn thang. Don't get ragged and bloody with this toward the end of the season. Just see it to the end with grace and style and courage so the next woman who runs for president won't cower when things get thick and dicey. Leave a graceful, proven path so she'll know how to mix it up with the men and still have flawless skin.
You owe it to the future, Hillary, not to the past.

Welcome to my world

There are times when my brain screams me awake or won't even let me sleep because of a mental errand I forgot to run to its conclusion. For this and a few others reasons I'll unveil over time, I finally decided to create this blog.
To the friends and family that have read my screeds over the years and said "gurl, you need to put these thoughts somewhere," this is for you.
And although it seems odd to have the wedding before the engagement, I plan to be wedded to this blog and look forward to "engaging" my readers as I dissect my life and our world.