Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is Poverty Is An Excuse For Committing Crimes

Poverty and crime seem to go hand in hand. Or do they? Every article that I have ever read about crime in urban areas talks about poverty as the root cause of crime. But there is little of no talk about how to end poverty. The basis of any thought process when faced with a problem is to first, identify the cause, configure a practical way to solve the problem, and then apply the solution. Simply over-discussing the cause of any problem becomes an exercise in futility when there is no attempt to develop an applicable solution. In fact over-discussing poverty as cause and crime as the affect has back fire, because this knowledge has become so common that those who are steeped in poverty often times find it easier to commit crime because it would seem that to do so is relative. I do not believe that some decide to become criminals with the stigma of poverty in mind. But I do believe that we as a society have been culturally conditioned to accept it as an excuse. If you hear anything enough you begin to have a certain perception, and that perception will eventually become reality. In other words, a stereotype perpetuated enough, and spoken as if it is fact or a for gone conclusion can have a negative influence, not only on the subject of the stereotype. But also on our culture. It has a desensitizing effect. One in which crimes such as murder and robbery are not at all unusual in certain neighborhoods, but highly abnormal in others. The children being in Chicago becomes "nothing new", while children being killed in Newtown, Connecticut becomes a tragedy so shocking that some truly believe that the whole thing is a hoax.
Perception vs. reality is a dangerous thing because while there may be some parallels the perception is rarely a true reflection of reality.
More poor people are honest hard working citizens than are criminals who contribute to the destruction and decay of their communities. But media outlets paint certain neighborhoods and people with a broad brush, and make strong, sweeping indictments of their characters based on the perverse actions of a few.
So the answer is, yes there are definitely some people who use poverty as an excuse for their lazy, evil, and wicked ways but there is no excuse. Those who have become predators in their own communities are doing more harm than "the man" ever has, ever could, or ever will. Besides, it poverty was an excuse there would be no way to explain the crimes of a Bernie Madoff or many other "white collar" criminals who have committed what basically amounts to financial murder at ball point. Using a hand shake, and a key stroke as their accomplices. Greed and impatience. They want much more right now. This is why most offenders never stop at one crime. It is like a disease that takes over their minds.


Forced Birth Control, Israel, & Ethiopian Women

This is a story that reminds me of something straight out of Nazi Germany. About 90,000 Ethiopian Jews have returned to Israel under the " Law of Return" since the early 1980's. This law was created in order to allow all Jews world wide to return to Israel for a "safe haven". Unfortunately it's drafter's did not have Jewish Ethiopian's in mind, and this "safe haven" is anything but safe for them. Their Jewishness has been questioned by some rabbis and is doubted by many ordinary Israelis. Ethiopians are reported to face widespread discrimination in jobs, housing and education and it has recently emerged that their blood donations were routinely discarded for fear that they might be contaminated with diseases.
In Nazareth, Israel, health officials are subjecting many female Ethiopian immigrants to birth control. They are being told that they have no other options, and are being coerced into being given the drug. These women are being given a controversial long term birth control drug called Depo Provera. The drug is administered every 3 months in what an Israeli women's group alleges is a racist policy designed to reduce to number of black babies. Depo Provera is considered by many doctors to be a drug of last resort because of the complications associated with treating its side effects. It was once used in South Africa by the Apartheid government, most often coercively to control the Black population. The major side effect of the drug is that it causes a sharp decrease in bone density in dark-skinned women causing osteoporosis in later years.
Traditionally, its main uses have been for women who are regarded as incapable of controlling their own reproduction or monitor other forms of birth control, and for women who suffer severe problems during menstruation.
Figures show that 58 percent of all Depo Provera users in Israel are Ethiopian, despite the fact that the community counts for less than two percent of the total population.
After doing extensive research, Hedva Eyal, a member of Woman to Woman, a feminist organization based in Haifa, in northern Israel, reported these findings.
"The unspoken policy is that only children who are white and Ashkenazi are wanted in Israel."
Ashkenazi is the term used for European Jews who founded Israel and continue to dominate its institutions.
"The answers we received from officials demonstrated overt racism," Ms Eyal said. "They suggested that Ethiopian women should be treated not as individuals but as a collective group whose reproduction needs controlling."
When Woman to Woman conducted an experiment by sending five non-Ethiopian women to doctors to ask for Depo Provera, all were told that it was prescribed only in highly unusual cases.
I guess that having the misfortune of being both Ethiopian, and female in Israel is a highly unusual case.
Ruth Sinai, an Israeli social affairs reporter for Haaretz newspaper, wrote recently that the discrimination faced by the country's 120,000 Ethiopians reflected in particular "doubts on the part of the country's religious establishment about their Jewishness".
This story has several ironies. The first is the fact that this is taking place in Jesus' home town, Nazareth. Although he was born in Bethlehem, he is referred to as a Nazarene in the bible. What is taking place in Nazareth is sac religious in a sense, simply because of this fact as well as the fact that God wants us to be fruitful and multiply.
Genesis 1:28
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Notice, no where in this scripture does it say that one human being should have dominion or control over another.
Even the Torah supports this verse in Genesis. The first mitzvah or (commandment) in the Torah is "to be fruitful and multiply."
So both of these sacred books are being violated because of racism and prejudice.
The second irony is the fact the Israelis doubt the Ethiopians faith. Being Jewish means that you practice a religion. It is not a race or ethnic group. So, any attempt at discriminate on that basis is willful ignorance. Especially if you are a practicing Jew yourself. Their faith and validity as practicing Jews is only in question because they are African.
The third, and perhaps the obvious irony is the bloody legacy of Adolf Hitler in Natzi Germany. Most of these European Jews are only a few generations removed from ancestors who were subjected to the very same genocidal contempt that they are inflicting on these Jewish Ethiopian women. But they have lost site of the tradition passed down from one generation to the next. They have forgotten the horror narratives passed on from the concentration camp at Auschwitz, and decades later have become no better that the monsters that they despise. Mirror images of disciples of a man who once sought to wipe out who they were and who they could be.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Combating evil

morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life.

Few words transcend all aspects of the human experience like this four letter adjective. It's exclusive application has been relegated to wicked behavior in the extreme. But it's manifestation is often much more subtle than we realize. When we hear the word evil, it may conjure up thoughts of infamous historical figures like Adolph Hitler and Idi Amin. Or maniacal killers like Charles Manson. Those individuals who have overtly shown depraved indifference, and a blatant disregard for human life. These villains were able to exact their evil on a grand scale in an effort to crush humanity.
But, there are those people in our every day lives who are just as evil.
You might be asking yourself how I could possibly compare a co-worker or your next door neighbor to Hitler or Manson, and you may even be asking yourself what they have in common. The clear parallel between the jerk one cubicle over, who has dedicated his life to ruining yours and the neighbor with both too much time and bass, who insists on playing his music at 1am on a Tuesday on purpose, is the fact that they both feel totally, an unequivocally justified in their actions. They have reasoned with themselves, and were able to validate their urges within their own conscience. In other words they convince themselves that whatever they want to do is alright, simply because they have figured out a reason to do it. It may not be mass murder, or genocide, but if someone deliberately tries to stymy your ability to make a living, or peacefully coexist, it is, in my mind, a crime against ones own personal humanity. The deliberate, and focused plain to cause misery in someone else's life is pure evil. There are actually people in this world who get great pleasure from causing others pain. They contrive scenario's specifically designed to cause others strife, far past the point of inconvenience, most often for reasons that are figments of their own imaginations. Such people are often empty inside, and harbor an unhappiness which they themselves do not understand because it goes unrecognized. Perhaps the worse part of having such a deadly personality flaw is the fact that the justification does not amount to realization, and it is next to impossible to correct deviant behavior if it is not acknowledged.
The question is. How do those of us who strive to live like Christ deal with those who don't share our desire? If I may go a step further. How do those of us who strive to live Christ centered lives, deal with becoming the targets of evil doers? Yes, these questions are a bit dramatic, and yes I have done my own critical analysis. I have come to the conclusion that evil has become so ingrained in our society that we barely see it for what it is anymore. But just because we see and or experience something often, does not mean that the dynamic has changed.
Back to my aforementioned questions.
The answers are in the same book, as the answers to each and every one of life's quandaries.

Ephesians 6:10-18
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Last but not least.

2 Chronicles 20:15
15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.

His word is perfect and true! Life has never been easy, and never will be. But thank God for his mercy, grace and favor.
It is a true gift.
So the next time you feel the urge to slap fire out of one of your evil co-workers, remember two things. You don't have to fight your own battles, and prayer still works!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Mother Loses 4

In this world that we live in, things that were once thought to be absurd, unheard of, and rare have become common place. Unfortunately this also applies to tragedy. But every now and then a story surfaces that is so appalling, and so tragic in its details that I have to wonder why the national media has not picked it up.
This past Saturday, 7 people were killed in a Chicago shootings. Gun violence has become so much a part of urban life in this city that murders such as these barely raise an eyebrow. But perhaps the most compelling part of the story is the fact that one of the victims, 34 year old Ronnie Chambers, was the 4th and youngest one of his siblings to fall victim to gun violence in the Windy City. Chambers was shot in the head while sitting in his car. There is no known motive, and no known suspects, just another casualty on another bloody weekend in Chi- town.
His grieving mother, Shirley Chambers has been forced to contend with more heart break than any mother should have in one life time, and some how blames herself for the deaths of all four of her children.
"What did I do wrong? I was there for them. We didn't have everything we wanted but we had what we needed. They took my only child. I have nobody right now. That's my only baby,"
Her first child, Carlos, was shot and killed at age 18 by a high school classmate in 1995 after an argument.
Her daughter Latoya, then 15, and her other son Jerome were shot and killed within months of each other in 2000, in grim homicides that just became part of a growing number of African-American youths killed that year.
Chicago’s homicide rate has been on the rise for years, and the city is on pace for more than 700 murders this year. A figure that is set to surpass last year’s 516 and leave New York City’s murder rate in the dust.
Ronnie Chambers appeared on an episode of The Ricki Lake Show last month, where he was described as a former gang member.
He told the TV host that he was attempting to turn his life around and that his siblings' murders had prompted him to "do something different".
According to Mrs. Chambers her son was fully dedicated to following through on his pledge despite the prevailing gun culture.
At this point, I don't know what to say or right. The city of Chicago in imploding, and the fact of the matter is, it doesn't matter what gun control laws are in effect. Because the perpetrators, killers, and murders do not legally purchase firearms or operate within the boundaries of the law. There are numerous theories, ideas, and arguments in reference to what needs to be done to stop gun violence, and the answer is.....that there is no answer. There is absolutely no way to control someone else's behavior. We could talk about economic empowerment, better education, and mentoring. But it all comes down to the concept of individual choice.
Crime, and gun violence in particular will always be a fact of life in some communities because people make poor choices, and the prison industrial complex has found a way to profit from those incarcerated as a result of those poor choices. This, along with a school system that fails to promote critical and analytical thinking are complaisant in a never ending cycle which can only be broken by those who choose to do the right thing the hard way as opposed to the wrong thing the easy way.


Saturday, January 26, 2013


Make the most of today, without letting precious moments pass, thinking about all of the things you should have done on the last.

The sun set before, so once it rises again, your brand new day of opportunity is set to begin.

Each one is a blessing, a true gift of his glory. One presented to you when he created redemptions story.

New mercies rise with the sun on each and every new day.

It is only by the grace of God that we can live this way.


Friday, January 25, 2013


In March restrictions on sugary soft drinks instituted by Mayor Bloomberg in partnership with the New York City Department of Health, will take effect in New York City. The restriction limits businesses who earn more than 50 percent of their revenue from selling sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. According to the city, about 70 percent of black New Yorkers and 66 percent of Hispanic New Yorkers are obese or overweight, compared with 52 percent of white non-Hispanic residents, based on a 2011 survey. The problem is often worse in low-income communities.The first time I heard this idea I thought that it was an unusually bold move. An idea so obvious in its simplicity that I had to wonder why this epiphany is one that had never been conceived before.
But believe it or not there are organizations who are against these restrictions. One of which has always proclaimed its main purpose to be the advancement of "colored" people, the NAACP. The New York chapter of the NAACP, (The National Association For The Advancement of Colored People) has joined the Hispanic Federation in a lawsuit designed to stop the restrictions despite the fact that the African-American community has been disproportionately affected by health risks brought on in part by the excessive consumption of soft drinks. I must admit that this decision perplexed me until I dug a little deeper, and discovered the hidden motive for the NAACP, and the Hispanic Federations support. The NAACP and the Hispanic Federation have in fact been taking thousands of dollars in contributions from both Coke and Pepsi, and the former president of the Hispanic Federation, Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, now works for Coca Cola in an executive capacity. The motive behind this lawsuit is all too clear.

In both 2011 and 2012, the Coca-Cola Foundation awarded the NAACP $100,000 for Project H.E.L.P. (Healthy Eating, Lifestyle Change and Physical Activity).
In 2011, the Coca-Cola Foundation granted $35,000 to the NAACP New York State Conference for their education initiatives.
Coca-Cola and Pepsico were sponsors of the 2011 NAACP New York State Conference 75th Annual Convention.
Pepsi was recognized with an NAACP Award in 2010.
PepsiCo's website says it is working with the NAACP to advance national leadership and grassroots activism.
The NAACP received a Pepsi corporate contribution for "education and inclusion in 2010.
Similar "contributions" were made to the Hispanic Federation.
The Coca-Cola Company is listed as a funder on the Hispanic Federation website.
Coca-Cola and the Hispanic Federation teamed up in 2011 in NYC to "fight hunger."
In 2011 Coca-Cola joined with the Hispanic Federation to sponsor an event to get the Bronx "up and moving."
In 2012, Hispanic Foundation President Lillian Rodriguez Lopez left to assume a new position with the Coca-Cola Company.
Coca-Cola was a sponsor of a two-day 2012 economic opportunity event in New York City hosted by the New York State Senate and the Hispanic Federation, the second annual Undid Latina.
This is blatant case of corporate cronyism fueled by money. Maybe the NAACP is only concerned with the advancement of "colored people", and not the progress of African-American's. It is entirely possible that the organization still follows an antiquated idea of what it perceives to be advancement, instead of an all encompassing ideal. The concept's of advancement and progress as it relates to African-American's has gone far beyond having the right to eat at a lunch counter, or vote in elections. Therefore, activism in the Black community can no longer be one dimensional. Today's obstacles are more subtle and multi-layered, and they include certain health issues that have plagued the Black community for decades. In order to advance or progress, we must live. Existing is just not enough. But none of this really matters if one of the premiere civil rights organization's sells out, bows down to corporate greed, and has proven that its support is for sale at the expense of the very people whose causes they claim to champion. The Hispanic Federation, whose mission is "to empower and advance the Hispanic community," has a twisted idea of advocacy, and does not understand that good health advancement and empowerment both go hand in hand.
Hazel N. Dukes, president of the NYC chapter of the NAACP says,
"It is wrong to assume, as this proposal seemingly does, that given the proper education and tools, people are incapable of making these decisions for themselves. I strongly object to the imposition on personal freedom suggested by this ban.
The proposal is arbitrary in the types of businesses that it impacts, corner bodegas, movie theaters and restaurants will be prohibited from selling these beverages while grocery and convenience stores will not.
And for all of those reasons, it risks disproportionately impacting the people who can least afford it. People who frequent corner markets and not gourmet stores. Given the many significant issues faced by our community, the time and resources of this great city can be put to much better use than by offering up a misdirected solution to the growing problem of obesity."
This is pure and utter nonsense. I am far more concerned with the health and well being of our community than I am about small business owner's. The NAACP's priority should be the people first and foremost, but unfortunately they seem to have lost there way, and their since of consciousness in the process.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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King Crab's (Smiley and West)

Most of us have heard the old saying "Like crabs in a barrel." It is a well known adage in the African-American community. When one of us tries to make progress or take a step forward, there are always those people (crabs), who are right there snapping at us, trying to pull us back. They use disparaging remarks to assassinate some one else's character. They turn every good deed into a bad deed, and they find fault with each and every action. The most dangerous crabs are the ones who feel a sense of entitlement. In their minds, their star shines brighter, their skills and capabilities are unmatched, and they simply deserve success more than the subject of their disdain. They become more resentful with every passing day, and they never pass up a moment to throw stones. To the point of sometimes creating moment's where none exists.
I have tried not to write about these two men. That fact is, I actually have a lot of respect for both Cornel West, and Tavis Smiley. But enough is enough. Both West and Smiley have been overly critical of the President, taking shots like some eccentric father and son team at a firing range. Dr. Cornel West is a former Harvard professor, and now professor at Princeton University, who is well respected in the academic community for his intellectual prowess. But he often over articulates his innate curiosity, and is overly judgmental. He seems to delight himself in being precocious, and for all of his genius, and arrogant intellectualism, seems ignorant. His statements in reference to President Obama make him sound like a jilted lover who was stood up on prom night.
Tavis Smiley is a broadcaster, author, and publisher who has found a kindred spirit, father figure, and mentor in West. An older wiser man who seems to validate his cache' and reaffirm the elitist since of superiority that he wears like a badge of honor.
On August 6th 2012 the two embarked on a "poverty tour" designed to draw attention to those who are living in poverty. After holding a press conference they boarded a bus in Wisconsin and worked their way through 9 states before culminating in Menphis. But the tour, was dogged by a raging debate, largely in the African-American community, over scathing criticisms Smiley and West have levied against President Barack Obama in the past. West has been quoted as saying, "I mean, I’m glad there was not a right-wing takeover, but we end up with a Republican, a Rockefeller Republican in blackface, with Barack Obama, so that our struggle with regard to poverty intensifies." Smiley on the hand seems to be holding a grudge against the president. He said that Obama, whom he's known for years, "is the first president in my professional career that hasn't invited me to the White House."
In addition to derision by bloggers who dubbed the tour "The Blame Obama Poverty Tour", and media figures, it encountered backlash amongst some of the very groups of people it purported to champion. Crowds in Detroit disrupted the tour’s town hall meeting with a pro-Obama protest, while many other citizens denounced the tour via Twitter. One of Smiley and West's complaints about the President is that he is not doing enough for the poor and disenfranchised in America, and has chosen to focus on the middle class instead. Despite their best intentions, which seem dubious at best, as of this writing, the tour has seemed to be little more than an attempt by two men to heal their bruised ego's with a self aggrandizing gesture. The effort amounts to nothing more than posturing by two bitter public figures who are arrogant enough to believe that they could do a better job, and despite the obvious aptitude and academic acumen neither has come up with a viable solution to poverty. Neither one has ever been invited to the White House, and probably never will be, at least not for the next four years. This past Tues. January.22, 2013, Preside Obama was sworn in for a second term. This was truly a great day for Obama supporters, and everyone in the Black community except for 2 people........Guess who? President Obama was sworn in using a bible that once belonged to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as not only a symbol of triumph, but also as a symbol of how far we've come as a nation, and Dr. West had this to say,
“…All the blood sweat, and tears that went into producing a Martin Luther King Jr. generated a brother of such high decency and dignity that you don’t use his prophetic fire as just a moment in presidential pageantry without understanding the challenge that he presents to all of those in power no matter what color they are, no matter what color they are. So the righteous indignation of a Martin Luther King Jr. becomes a moment in political calculation and that makes my blood boil.”
It is extremely hard for me to see the political calculation in reference to this historic moment. But I guess that if West's intention was to find evidence in a fault finding mission he was most certainly going to find evidence to support his misguided hypothesis. The real question is, would Dr. King have been proud to witness the election of the first African- American president of the United States.
I would say unequivocally yes. How could any patriotic American not be proud? Especially one who fought for truth, justice, and equality. Dr. King was not a crab in a barrel, and we all live as we do today because we stand on his broad shoulders.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In Jail, In Jail Without The Bail

According to the U.S. Department of justice, 10 million people are jailed each year for both minor and major infractions.
Two thirds, about 750,000 of those who are incarcerated on any given day end up behind bars sometimes as long as a year, without being convicted because they cannot afford bail, some as little as $50.
As you ponder these statistics, you might think, "So what, that's their problem, they should not have gotten themselves arrested in the first place." But these men and women are innocent until proven guilty under the protection of the constitution, and it cost tax payer's billions every year to house them. Most are charged with petty, non violent crimes.
This is a little known criminal justice crisis that effects millions of low income American's a year who languish behind bars in city and county jails, without having been convicted of a crime.
18 year old Perchelle Richardson was arrested in her downtown New Orleans neighborhood for breaking into a neighbors car and stealing their i phone.
Despite being a High School student with no criminal record, Ms. Richardson had to spend 51 days in jail, missing over a month if school, until she got her day in court, because her family could not afford to pay her $200 bail. Her public defenders unsuccessfully asked the judge to release her without a court fee and after that could do little beyond bringing her school worksheets, which she craved, she says, because they helped to break her boredom.
The majority of us have had some youthful indiscretions. Some of us have gotten caught, and some of us haven't. While I do believe that each and every mistake should serve as a cautionary tale, for those among us who live in poverty, the costs of making bad decisions and bad choices can be much higher.


Yes, I'm Still Here!!

It's no secret that I have personal pet peeves just like anybody else. Bad customer service is right at the top of the list, between sneaky co-worker's and people who forget how to use their turn signals. Dealing with anyone in a customer service capacity can be an arduous chore. But customer service reps and automated phone systems, are by far the most annoying. I dread having to call customer service for anything because 90% of the time my patience barely survives the ordeal. First of all, it always seems to take forever to get past the automated system, and despite having numerous options, there is rarely if ever one which adequately describes my issue. God forbid you press the wrong number. You'll be on hold for 10 minutes, and when you finally get to speak to a rep, they tell you that this is the wrong department and then put you on hold again. Then, when you finally get to speak to the right rep in the right department, you get some stranger that you don't even know who insists on calling you by your first name, as if they've known you your entire life. I didn't wait on the phone listening to Copa Cabana just to make a new friend. If you really want to be kind, kindly reverse the the fee that you should have never added on to my account in the first place. Every now and then, I get a cocky, arrogant, clueless, indifferent dim whit who reads from a script regardless of whether it applies to my particular problem or makes the slightest bit of sense. They do not try to help. They just try to sound helpful because the call is being recorded.
The only pleasure that I ever get from calling customer service is when I ask for a supervisor, and they put me on hold for what seems like forever. I think the plan is to "wait me out", in other words, they try to keep me on hold so long that I get frustrated, angry, and discouraged enough to hang up. I take this as a personal challenge, and have been known to stay on hold as long as a half an hour! The shock that I hear in the customer service reps voice when they say, "Hello", and I say, "Yes, I'm still here!", is priceless and almost worth the the time that I've spent waiting. But sadly, there are times when, even after all of that, this multi-billion dollar corporation still refuses to rectify the situation. So I am forced to show up at their satellite office, being 50% Black, 25% amazing, and 25% furious. For some reason this seems to always work, and all of the company policies that were articulated to me in detail the night before, don't seem to be nearly as relevant as they once were. I guess it's a lot easier to say no over the phone, and a lot harder to act cocky when someone can reach out and touch you.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

In Honor Of Dr. King

Today is the official observance of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, and in honor of this holiday, today's blog will feature a few of my favorite quotes from Dr. King. My hope is that you will find them as profound and inspiring as I do.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. "

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."

"A man who won't die for something is not fit to live."

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."

"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."

This last one is my personal favorite.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."


Are American's Quick To Forgive?

This particular topic was a suggestion from one of my loyal readers. In the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal this question has come up in conversation time and time again. Will Lance Armstrong be forgiven? I'd like to go out on a limb and say yes, because in all reality he didn't hurt anyone but himself, and he has the legacy of raising millions for cancer research as his redemptive attribute. The outrage is more because he got caught cheating and less because of the fact that he actually cheated. Once there was confirmation of something that he had long been suspended of, there was some what of an obligation to be publicly outraged. Although he will never compete in the sport again, (allegedly), it is my prediction that he will some day reinvent himself, and have a second act.
America's ability to forgive is basically predicated on two things, race and profit.
Almost immediately after the Newtown massacre there was an indirect effort to forgive Adam Lanza, the murderer responsible for killing a classroom full of six year olds. There were numerous attempts to analyze and excuse his behavior as the act of a sick young man. He was never called a thug, an animal or a gangster. Lanza was given the benefit of human flaw, and frailty, and not the attribute of evil. Guilty of his crime, yet even more guilty of being "sick".
Michael Vick, on the other hand was vilified, demonized, and treated as if he had committed crimes against humanity, for dog fighting. Even after losing millions, being incarcerated and paying his debt to society he was still not forgiven.
In America whenever an African-American in the public eye, falls short, or has an indiscretion it is taken personally. It is literally taken as an insult. The undertone is always the same. As an "exceptional negro" some African-American's are "allowed" to succeed because the general consensus is that they are a rare breed. But the slightest mis-step or offense has become reason enough to lose this status. It is the equivalent of being invited to a banquet with limited seating, being given a special place at the table and spitting in the food.
Michael Vick was only able to come back to the NFL because someone realized that he was still young enough to play, and still skilled enough to win games, and create revenue.
O.J. Simpson, and Michael Jackson were not fortunate enough to stand trial when they were in their prime. By the time they stood trial, their stars had long since faded, and neither one was as marketable as they once were. Despite being found not guilty of the crimes for which they were accused, they were convicted in the court of public opinion and never forgiven.
Both will forever live in infamy whether dead or alive.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is Romance Dead?

In the world we live in it seems as if romance has become old fashioned. It is rarely portrayed, celebrated or promoted. In fact I think most people confuse sex with romance. But they are far from being one in the same. In a media driven society sexuality has been used as a tool to promote goods and services, and sell just about anything and everything. But romance does not start between your legs and end minutes later. It starts in your heart, it is planned in your mind, and manifested by your actions. Romance requires effort, and a desire to show the one you love how special they are to you. In other words it is a way to execute your love. It could be a candle lit dinner. It could be a foot massage, a dozen roses, or just time spent with your arms wrapped around one another. True romance is a treasure to be found inside of a world shared by just the two of you, and only dies if it is abandoned by time and familiarity. It means loving your mate for everything that they are, and not for everything that they can give you. Romance means giving your all with no expectations, and opening your heart to reciprocation. Is romance dead? Only if you let the world define your feelings, and dictate how you express your love. If you follow your heart then romance will live in all of its beauty, and shine bright like an everlasting flame. Love and romance go hand in hand, and there is no greater compliment for one than the other.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Armed Guard's In School?

Vice President Joe Biden led a panel assembled by President Obama to examine gun control steps after the Newtown shootings, which sparked a fierce public debate over how to prevent such mass killings with guns. Apparently the widespread murder's of African-American youth in urban areas across the country was not enough to raise political concern. But, I digress.
The NRA has suggested that there be armed guards in each and every school in the country because in their minds it is the only way to protect our children. But this seems like a nonsensical approach. Advocating the use of guns to curb gun violence is like trying to feed the hungry with no food, or trying to heal an open wound by infecting it. It won't work, and is ultimately an exercise in futility.
If armed guards are present in school's innocent children will be shot and killed. No if's and's or but's about it. It's almost guaranteed. Simply because the decision to shoot is far too discretionary. Armed school security would only increase gun violence. Any guard, who senses an eminent threat will act on that threat. If history is any indication, and it always is. Guess which children are going to overwhelmingly be viewed as a threat? For those who either don't watch the news, are detached from reality, or just don't choose not to acknowledge the facts, I'll give you the answer. Black and Latino children.
President Obama is now under fire (no pun intended), from the NRA who recently sank to a new low by launching an add campaign calling the President an "elitist hypocrite" for sending his daughter's to school with armed security a.k.a The Secret Service, but objecting to armed guards in America's school's. This is business as usual for the NRA. As far as they're concerned, gun's are the answer to all of America's problems, and anyone who disagrees is worthy of contempt. President Obama has received more death threats than any other President in the history of the United States, and it stands to reason that if his life is in danger, the lives of his family are also in danger. So to compare his use of Secret Service protection to bolster there claim that arming school personal will prevent tragedies like the one in Newtown from happening, is a ridiculous grasp at straws.
Yesterday President Obama unveiled a package of gun control proposals that, include universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Some items will be enacted via executive order while others
will require Congressional approval.
Of course Republican's and Conservatives alike have already begun attacking the President for violating American's 2nd amendment rights. Which is no big surprise given the fact that they have an everlasting bone of contention with him anyway. The question is, how many innocent children have to die before these pandering conservatives realize that life, liberty, and the pursuit happiness are not possible if you don't live long enough to undertake the task.


The De-Evolution Will Not Be Televised!

40,000, is the number of signatures it took to get "All My Baby Mamas", a ghetto melodrama starring one hit hip-hop wonder Shawty Lo, and his 11 children with 10 different women, one of whom happens to be the same age as his 19 year old girlfriend. The Oxygen networks decision to air this show sparked controversy in the black community because of its subject matter. There has been widespread concern from myself and many others in reference to the negative imagery of represented in this show. Not to mention the obvious stereotypes that it perpetuates.
This is a victory for African-American's everywhere, (except for Shawty and his village), proves that our voices and opinion's have an impact and make a difference. This is proof positive that "economic sanctions" work. The Oxygen network did not make its decision based on the concerns of Black people. They canceled this program for fear that they would lose advertising dollars. Advertiser's purchase air time during programming with high viewership. If a program airs and its ratings are low, buying advertising time is a bad investment for any organization looking to promote their product. If they do choose to spend advertising dollars during such programs, they could also risk facing the wrath of angry consumer's who are boycotting certain program's because of a social issue. Lets face it nobody wants to be known as the company who supports a show like "All My Baby Mamas". Especially given the fact that most African-American's have expresses disdain for the idea. For example, Frito Lay does not want to risk losing the African- American market share for Dorito's any more than Chryslers wants to lose their African-American market share of Chrysler 300's. They recognize that we have a strong economic base, and if we choose not to spend money on their product to prove a point (economic sanctions), it would have an adverse effect on their bottom line. If a television network is willing to halt the production of a show because of 40,000 signatures and a fear of losing sponsorship. Imagine what impact we could have if we specifically targeted products or services who don't support our community and chose not to patronize them. The impact would be phenomenal. We could force corporations to invest in our community by not economically supporting them until they do so. Pretty much the same way that the mere possibility of advertisers pulling out of programming forced Oxygen to stop production of "All My Baby's Mamas".
The advertising revenue is considered so valuable that steps are taken to avoid the slightest possibility of conflict. As consumers we have to realize that our dollars have just as much power, and can be used to get what we need. We have to begin to understand that the best way to negotiate is through flexing our economic muscle.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tarantino Drops The N Bomb!

He had me fooled, and I am man enough to admit it. I've read the articles, seen every film, and totally bought into his explanation for using the N-word gratuitously in movie after movie. He has seemed cognoscente of certain aspects of the African-American struggle. He has talked about the rate of incarceration amongst African-American men being a new form of slavery. Indicating both empathy and differentiation between himself and other white people because he is willing to admit the truth, and knows the truth. In fact, I see this as an attempt to indicate that his use of the N- word has nothing to do with racism because of his own personal level of "awareness", and everything to do with realism, character development, and his artistic vision. The language and imagery in Tarantino's film's have always been kind of like pornography, except, instead of bare bodies you get the bare soul's of characters stripped down to an ugly essence for nothing more than shock value. You almost feel guilty for being entertained by a Tarantino film because in most cases they are not thought provoking on an intellectual level. They are novelties accepted by society at large, as an innovation in his craft, and therefore acceptable as artistry. Tarantino seems to fancy himself an honorary Black man
and has been seen on press junket's wearing a backwards Kangol cap, a Dada Supreme shirt, and Fubu sweats. Apparently he enjoys dressing like a Black dude from 1994. But it seems as if Tarantino has started to blur the lines between creativity, out right racism, and reality.
After winning the Golden Globe for best screenplay. Tarantino made a statement addressing the unending conversation over the 100-plus times the character's in his slavery-themed spaghetti Western Django Unchained use the N-word, Tarantino himself uttered the phrase, to audible gasps from the writer's in the winner's room. He went on to say,
"They think I should soften it, that I should lie, that I should massage."
The film's setting of 1860 antebellum South, he said, made that impossible, as did his artistic integrity.
"I would never do that when it comes to my characters,"
Obviously Tarantino must have mistaken The Golden Globe Awards for the antebellum south. Or does he think that he has a pass when it comes to the use of the most oppressive word in history? Maybe he thinks that just because he can squeeze the N-word into just about each and every line of his scripts, he has cart blanch when it comes to its usage. But he is terribly mistaken. He is not a character in one of his movies, and if the afore mentioned is really what he believes, he has become severely detached from reality. The fact of the matter is, no one should use the N- word, especially anyone who is not Black. Throughout the annals of history this word has been used by Caucasian people with a venomous, soul crushing contempt, in order to defame, degrade, and destroy negro people, black people, and African-American people. Whether it should be used as a form of artistic expression has always been highly questionable for this reason. But Tarantino has seemed to somehow cloak his usage of the word with the extreme bled shed, and violence that is an ever present element in every one of his films. In other words, if the entire movie is one in which pop culture excess, and extremes are an integral part of the story line. Using the N-word would simply fade into the back drop as part of the canvas, and not be so shocking in comparison. Wrong again! Unfortunately despite repeated controversy he has managed to survive, thrive, keep making N-word laced movies, and has even won a Golden Globe. Hopefully his recent outburst, and the public outrage over his insensitivity will have an impact on his future production's as well as public perception. The bottom line is that the word is not cool, not hip, and should never be said by those who respect themselves or us.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Interview With A Klansman

The subject of my last blog was the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, a motley crew of ignorant, racist, misfits, who do not have the intelligence to survive in a world designed for their survival. So they've spent decades as domestic terrorists, and purveyors of hatred who despise every one who is non-white. This so called fraternal order hides in the shadows, and resurfaces from time to time like a reoccurring roach problem.
I have recently had the opportunity to interview a self proclaimed Klan member, Mr. DuWayne Thompson. Thompson is the Grand Imperial Puba Wizard of the West Bubble Nut Chapter of the Klan. He wanted to meet with me to clear the air, and set the record straight. This is an excerpt from our brief interview.

Me: "Mr. Thompson, lets cut right to the chase. Do you believe that the KKK is still relevant in 2013."
Thompson: "Relevant? What does that mean? Look at cha! A fancy negro using fancy words."
He almost caught a right hand for that one!
Me: "What I'm asking is, if you think the Klan still matters?"
Thompson: "Yeah, we'll always matter, as long as you nig..........I mean darkies, and gringo's and A-rabs keep taking jobs from good, white Christian's, we'll be here."
Me: "What do you do for a living?"
Thompson: Well, I'm what you might call a "Fertilization Engineer".
Me: "A what?"
Thompson: "I shovel crap for a living."
Me: "So you think African- American's, Mexicans and people from the Middle East want that job?"
Thompson: "Yep, those damn Mexi-kans will do anything for a buck."
Me: "What do you say to those who believe that the Klan is a hate group?"
Thompson: "We just want protection for all good Christian white people, and we don't hate anybody. Just Blacks, Catholics, Jews, gays, Arabs, Hispanic's and China men. Everybody else is ok."
Me: "That was everybody else. I think I already know the answer to this question, but I have to ask. What do you think about President Obama?
Thompson: "Obama is nothing but a Muslim who wants to take our guns away so that he can pass laws to take money from honest hard working whites and give it to lazy negros. He wants to make a welfare state.
Me: Really? Did you know that there are more whites who are on, and apply for welfare than any other race."
Thompson: "That's a lie!" Everybody knows that you African-American blacks get all of the welfare, and all of the food stamps because ya'll don't want to work."
Me: "I don't know how many black people you know. But everybody I know loves to work. Of course none of them has explored the exciting world of "Fertilization Engineering" but I am sure that shoveling crap requires a certain amount of skill that not many people have."
Thompson: "That's absolutely right! I am glad you understand. That shovel can get heavy, especially on a rainy day. What do you do for a living?"
Me: I'm a Production Technician."
Thompson: " I knew it! A producer. All of you guy's wanna to do that hip hop stuff, and make music. My baby girl loves that nonsense. But I can't stand it!"
Me: "No, I'm not a music producer. I'm a Production Technician for a specialty gas company."
Thompson: "Special gas huh? Come around this Saturday night after I done had me some corn liquor and barbecue. I'll give you some special gas! Ha,ha,ha!
I'm just kidding. If you come by I might forget who you are, and blow you away."
Me: "Very funny. Next question. If you guys are proud of what you do, why wear the hood? I mean, do you sleep with that hood on, take a shower with the hood on, lust after your 3rd cousin with that hood on? Why?"
Thompson: "There you go, funning me, and acting like I'm a joke. For your information anything past the 2nd is your cousin in name only. They ain't blood kin."
Me: "Whatever helps you sleep at night!
Anyway, I have to go. Thanks for your time."
Thompson: You know, you ain't half bad for a Nig.....
Me: "Don't say it. Lets end this on a civil note before I get upset."
Thompson: "Ok, you guys are so touchy. Next thing you know Rev. Sharpson will be out here stirring up trouble. Is that guy a real Reverend? Is the action network his church?"
Me: "No. Listen, I have to go."
Thompson: "What you got a baby mother to go see?"
Me: "No, just going to interview your "wife-cousin" next! By the way, do all of your children have 10 finger's and 10 toes, or are they genetic freaks like the X- men?"
Thompson: "What's that supposed to mean Mr. Smarty pants?"
Me: "Forget it, just curious."
Thompson: "We'll, you know what they say about curiosity!"
Me: "That depends on the cat. I've always been curious and I'm still here."
Thompson: "Lucky you!"
Me: "No, blessed me!"

Of course this is pure fiction and DuWayne Thompson is a character created by me. But the question is. Are there still people like him out there?


Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Klan Wants You.....Well, Some Of Us

They call themselves the invisible empire. An ignorant assemblage of inadequate coward's who choose to hide their identities under mutilated sheets, and pillow cases. They have claimed for decades to be nothing more than a fraternal organization advocating "white rights", but they are nothing more than Domestic Terrorists. They are The Ku Klux Klan. They were once thought to be ancient relics of a by gone era who's very existence had faded away with progress. But their recent resurgence has shocked, dismayed and angered many. Their membership has increased in recent years and are experiencing a new found popularity amongst the near-do-well set who really aren't any where near doing well. The unlikely catalyst for the resurgence is President Obama.
The Ku Klux Klan in Virginia is using the President as a recruitment tool. Some Richmond, Virginia residents have complained to local TV station WTVR that they have found recruitment fliers from the Klan in their driveway's twice in as many months. The flier's read,
“WAKE UP WHITE AMERICA!!” and explain that “the majority of HATE CRIMES in America are committed by BLACKS against WHITES!!!”
It's seems to me that the majority of hate crimes are actually whites against whites. Killing each other for no reason, in a predatory mode. Murdering innocent children in New Town Connecticut, and unassuming movie-goer's in Aurora Colorado. But I digress.
In an interview with the station, the KKK bragged that their recruitment has been up thanks to Obama’s election, and expect it to triple during his next term.
“Since Obama’s first term our numbers have doubled and now that we’re headed to a second term it’s going to triple, this is going to be the biggest resurgence of the Klan since 1915,” said one of the Klansmen interviewed.
The Klansman have been handing out flyers in a Mechanicsville neighborhood, and neighbors who received them have contacted CBS 6.
“We’re not trying to target anybody or scare anybody with hate, we’re just using our freedom of speech to drop fliers,” said one of the Klansmen interviewed. “Everyone thinks that we’re a hate group, we’re not a hate group, we don’t hate anyone, and we want to see good things come to our race.”
He seems to have left out the fact that they do not wish good to any other race.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, antigovernment groups and hate groups are on the rise, and racial animosity toward the President has been a consistent issue during his time in office.
The racially driven hatred toward the President has also been credited with the rise of the Tea Party, whose leaders have made not-so-subtle dog whistle attacks against Obama. In other words they use innuendo which they believe only their base can identify with. Leading them by implication, and fear mongering. How different are the Klan and The Tea Party?
Maybe not as different as we think.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Art of Reconciliation

Reconcile; to cause (a person) to accept or be resigned to something not desired: He was reconciled to his fate.

Every work day begins the exact same way for me. I wake up at 4:40 AM, turn off my alarm clock before it goes off at 4:45 so that it won't wake up my wife, then I sit on the edge of the bed for a few minutes and think about what I should have done 20 years ago so that I wouldn't have to get up at 4:45. But usually by the time I get out of the shower I am firmly rooted in the present and I am able to reconcile my day, my week, and sometimes the months ahead. I thank God every day for blessing me with the daily opportunity to provide for my family, but sometimes I need a little extra motivation, and I know that I am not the only one.
Firstly, I'll start off by saying that each and every one of us has something to look forward to. It could be a birthday, a holiday, a day off, or a special event. It could even be a few minutes of alone time in which you indulge in something that you enjoy. But all of us have something that makes us smile and gives us hope on a hopeless day. It is in this hope that we can find the motivation to be productive in each and every aspect of our lives, and a mind set that allows us to dream. I have devised my own personal plan to satisfy my mind, and sustain my spirit. I spent some time in prayer before I leave my home and then I start to manifest my idea.
I reconcile my work day by dividing it into sections. I know that I have at least 3.5 hours from the time that I sign in until the time that I take my first break. During this time I submerge myself in my assignment's and I work continuously. After my first 15 minutes break, I have 1 hour and 45 minutes until lunch, so I keep myself busy enough to make time fly, this also allows me to fly on time. After lunch I have 2.5 hrs left in my day. This is when the count down begins. Then, exactly 5 minutes until quitting time, I shut my computer down and quietly make my way out of the building. Once I'm in my truck, I make a concerted effort not to "peel out", opting to cruise through the main gate instead, and then I do it all over again the next day. Hours turn into days, weeks, and months, and I treasure each and every pleasurable moment in the midst of passing time. It has been my experience that if I compartmentalize my days, it not only makes time go by faster, but I am better able to cope with any and all situations that may pop up from time to time. In addition to compartmentalization I keep a sharp mental focus on my latest grand goal. On an average week it could be as easy as anticipating Friday. On other occasions it could be, knowing that my wife or one of my children has a birthday coming up, or something like a 3, or even a 4 day weekend. I also anticipate my dreams coming to fruition in the coming years, and my fantasies becoming reality. This is the method that I use to stay focused in life, and succeed, proceeded by a whole lot of prayer of course. The fact of the matter is that each and every day that we wake up with the activity of our limbs, breath in our bodies, and in our right minds is a wonderful day. But there will always be those times when it is difficult to remember how blessed we are because of some of the routines, perils, and pitfalls of life. We must always focus on the positive, and remember that the sun will rise on a new day once again.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Django Action Figures?!?!

On December 25, 2012 (Christmas Day), controversial director Quentin Tarantino released his latest film "Django Unchained", to a whirlwind of criticism. The film is about an African-American slave who goes on a mission to save his wife from an especially evil slave master, as of there was any other kind, and gets revenge in the process. The films graphic depiction of slavery, mixed with humor, gratuitous violence, and the flagrant use of the n-word has infuriated many in the African-American community. Tarantino and the star's of the film have defended its content, calling it necessary for the films authenticity. I have always been a fan of Tarantino's film's but his latest attempt to publicize this particular movie is disturbing and insensitive.
Tarantino has teamed up with the National Entertainment Collectibles Association in tandem with the Weinstein Company, to produce action figures based on characters from the film.
Apparently the consensus between the collaborator's is that it is totally appropriate to manufacture "slave toys" as if slavery was some sort of fun ordeal that modern day children want to re-enact during play time. What's next, "Missy" Barbie and Slave Master Ken with a "whip action grip", (play chain's sold separately), or "I am Django" T-shirts?
Some thing's cannot be, and should not be marketed or merchandised. Case in point, has anyone ever manufactured "Schindler's List" action figures? The answer is emphatically no. Not only because of the fact that the tragedy of the holocaust is not something that should be used to turn a profit, but also because every Jewish American would be up in arms over this insult to their history. The fact that the Weinstein company, which I assume is owned and or operated by Jewish American's, is involved, is shocking, and frankly kind of puzzling. I would have expected empathy on some level given the fact that mass genocide is of great cultural significance to them. But I guess profit trumps everything else in the eyes of some people.
America's legacy of slavery as it relates to Black people in this country is relegated to nothing more than ancient history, rarely acknowledged or taken seriously by anyone outside of the black community. Despite having done the research that it obviously took to direct this film Tarantino still doesn't get it. I wonder how the stars of this movie who seemed to fawn over him during press junkets are affected by this latest development. Surely this type of blatant insensitivity cannot be lost on them. Unless, they are lost themselves.


No, I Insist, (On Myself)

We all know them. They may even be a co- worker, a family member, an acquaintance or someone who has some level of notoriety. People who insist upon themselves! These are the people who act as if they hold the keys that unlock the secret to the mysteries of age 30.
These are the people who must always be noticed. Some believe that they're never wrong, and other's know when they are, but will never admit it. These insisting, self aggrandizing people pride themselves on being rebellious with absolutely no cause. They have been known to OWN a network, create a show called "Master Class" and then talk about themselves on the show. LOL! But seriously, insisting upon ones self is nothing but the step child of American Exceptional ism in an individual form. It is a thought process by which those of us who live in the United States have been so accustomed to freedom and choice that we constantly insist that our individual needs be met immediately. These needs are often little more than desires with a drastic sense of urgency to the insistent, which really doesn't qualify them as needs at all. I do not believe that any of us do this intentionally but, I do believe that we all do it, some more than other's.
We all have that co-worker. You know, the one who knows everything except for the fact that he or she really doesn't know anything. This person is that dedicated to the extreme employee who constantly says "we" in reference to themselves and the company as if their name is on the door. They walk around totally oblivious to the fact that the boss doesn't really like them, and they think that insisting upon themselves makes them smart, witty, and cute, instead of dumb, dull, and boring.
At times, our own children insist upon themselves. Tell your child that they can't do something or have something, and they will always ask why. As if any reason would possibly be good enough for them not to do whatever it is they want to do, or have whatever it is that they desire. Not that they have the right to demand an answer to begin with, but they will keep asking any way. Insisting upon themselves.
Here are some prime examples of people who insist upon themselves.
People who keep a blue tooth earpiece in their ear 24 hours a day, seven days a week, & you never see them actually use it are........insisting upon themselves.
People who are in their 40's with a brand new tattoo are........insisting upon themselves.
Police who pull you over and give you a ticket for doing 40 in a 25 when there are REAL crimes being committed elsewhere, are.......say it with me, insisting upon themselves. Like I, I mean, most people don't pay enough taxes as it is.
People who put back to back, to back posts on social networking sights acting as if they specialize in profundity are........well, you know.
Last but not least, people who use words like profundity in their blogs definitely insist upon themselves. Hey, wait a minute.......I guess that means that I.......


Monday, January 7, 2013

Still Smoking!

It is has become a familiar scene in American life, cluster's of people huddled together outside of office buildings, and other places of business, sometimes shivering in the freezing cold depending on the hemisphere, taking long pulls from minuscule white rolls of tobacco carefully affixed between their fingers. Cigarettes have become a part of the American culture, and smoking has become the most vilified habit in the world. People have been consuming Tobacco in some way shape or form for 8,000 years. The Mayan's of Mexico often chewed Tobacco leaves, and used them for medicinal purposes. Native American's grew Tobacco long before European's came from England, Spain, France & Italy to North America. Native Americans smoked tobacco through a pipe for special religious and medical purposes, but smoking was not a habit for them. It was only utilized for positive practices.
In 1612 the settlers of the first American colony in Jamestown, Virginia grew tobacco as a cash crop. It was not only the first crop grown for profit in North America, it was their main source of income. In fact tabacco helped pay for the American Revolution against England.
By the early 1800's many people started using small amounts of Tabacco. Some chewed it, others smoked it occasionally in in a pipe or hand rolled cigarette. At that time people smoked about 40 cigarettes a year on average. That was until Washington Duke introduced the first commercial cigarettes in 1865 which were made on his 300 acre farm in Raleigh, NC. His hand rolled cigarettes were sold to soldiers at the end of the civil war, many of whom were seeking sustenance in the wake of their losing the war to the north.
But, it was not until James Bonsack invented the cigarette making machine in 1881 that cigarette smoking became widespread. Bonsack's cigarette machine manufactured 120,000 cigarettes a day. He went into business with Washington Duke's son, James "Buck" Duke. The pair built a factory and made 10 million cigarettes their first year and about one billion cigarettes five years later. The first brand of cigarettes were packaged in a box with baseball cards and were called Duke of Durham. Buck Duke and his father went on to start the first tobacco company in the United States. They named it the American Tobacco Company. This was the birth of an American institution, commonly known as "big tobacco", and the beginning of a massive campaign of mass marketing, and deceptive advertising.
In 1964 the Surgeon General (Luther L. Perry M.D.) released a report revealing the dangers of cigarette smoking. In his report he stated that nicotine, and tar which are both additives in cigarettes, cause lung cancer. Today, almost 50 years later, an estimated 52 million Americans smoke, despite the known health risks. For decades the sale of cigarettes, and tobacco related products has been a billion dollar a year global industry. But since the mid 1990's The tobacco industry in the United States has suffered greatly when it was successfully sued by several U.S. states. The suits claimed that tobacco causes cancer, that companies in the industry knew this, and that they deliberately understated the significance of their findings, contributing to the illness and death of many citizens in those states. The industry was found to have decades of internal memos confirming in detail that tobacco is both addictive and carcinogenic.
There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke. Nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide are the most well known. Nicotine is the addictive drug that keeps a smoker addicted. It has been found to be just as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Tar is the black, sticky substance that damages a smokers lungs, and carbon monoxide is the gas that hitches a ride on red blood cells displacing some of the oxygen in the bloodstream.
The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States.
More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.
Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men, 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women, and an estimated 90% of all deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease are caused by smoking.
The Australian Government recently announced that there would be a hefty tax attached to the purchase of all cigarettes, increasing the price to $20 a pack. Officials have stated that the purpose of levying such a tax is two-fold. It is designed to both increase revenue for the government, and curb smoking habits. But, as noble as this idea sounds on the surface, the only thing that this tax will accomplish is an increase in revenue. This measure will not stop smoker's from smoking, any more than the surgeon general's warning label, state ordinances prohibiting smoking in public places, or the numerous research studies done revealing the physical calamity which will surely befall anyone with a long term smoking habit. The high price will be nothing more than a little inconvenience to those who have need their fix. They will always find a way to satisfy their cravings. Even if it means cutting back on groceries or adjusting their budgets in order to accommodate their addiction. I have personally known people who when faced with the prospect of not eating as opposed to not smoking, have spent their last few dollars on a pack of cigarettes. Victims of social imagery, cultural conditioning, mass marketing campaigns, and chemical addictions. For some, cigarettes have become an essential part of life, and a detrimental habit that is extremely difficult to break.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rape or Not?!

Misogyny has always amazed me. Every man has a mother, and a Grandmother. Some of us have wives, sisters, and aunts, but for some reason there has always been an indifference toward women in our society. Objectifying women is nothing new. In fact it is something that has been going on since the beginning of time. But that doesn't make it any less disturbing to those of us who love and value the women in our lives. It becomes even more disturbing when this chauvinistic indifference is condoned by a legal system which was designed to protect both men and women equally.
On Wednesday January 3 an appeals court in Los Angeles, California over turned the conviction of Julio Morales after he was sentenced to 3 years in state prison for rape. After a night of drinking Morales climbed through the window of a woman's darkened bedroom after her boyfriend left for the night and raped her as she slept. The unidentified woman was asleep when her boyfriend left, and had no idea that it was Morales who was in bed with her until a ray of light through the window revealed that who she assumed was her lover was in fact a complete stranger violating her. In a baffling move which can only be described as nonsensical panel of Judges over turned the courts decision in part because of an arcane law from 1872 which does not protect women who are unmarried in these cases.
"Has the man committed rape? Because of historical anomalies in the law and the statutory definition of rape, the answer is no, even though, if the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband, the answer would be yes," Judge Thomas L. Willhite Jr. wrote in the court's decision.
The appeals court added that prosecutors argued two theories, and it was unclear if the jury convicted Morales because the defendant tricked the victim or because sex with a sleeping person is defined as rape by law.
Prior to the conviction, Morales' attorney Edward Schulman had argued Morales believed the sex was consensual because the victim responded to his kisses and caresses, according to the decision.
The adjectives are endless, it is deplorable, disgusting, shocking, chauvinistic, ridiculous, and down right insensitive to think that any panel of judges would be so bold as to decide that a woman's body is only worthy of protection under the law if she is married. This concept is inconceivable. It makes me wonder what the victims race is. I assume that Morales is Hispanic, given the fact that his name is Julio Morales. But I also wonder if the victim is Hispanic, and if things would have played it differently had she been white. Of course this is pure speculation, and conjecture. Perhaps I have a predilection for looking for a racial issue in most situations. But the fact is, most situations have an element of racism. The color of the woman should never matter, but the protection of all women should always be a top priority.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Being A Spouse Or Being A Parent, Which One Is More Challenging?

Marriage, and parenting, each one presents it's own unique challenges depending upon the variables involved. Life is never simple, and is often enigmatic in nature but this is a question that I have been pondering for quite some time now. There are day's when marriage is a breeze in comparison to raising, molding, and shaping a child into a productive citizen. But then there are day's that being a husband or a wife can be even more demanding because as individual's the urgency in which we require attention can change like the weather. Whether you're on the receiving end, or the reciprocator, it can be a task that can either result in complete fulfillment or an exercise in futility. I believe that marriage is the more challenging of the two.
Marriage is work, and child rearing is a responsibility. The word work used in this context may give the impression that it is being utilized as a negative connotation but, the fact of the matter is, anything that is rewarding, or worth investing in, requires work and dedication. In a marriage there must always be levity. A major part of levity is reciprocity, or give and take. Both husband and wife have to be willing to invest the time, energy and dedication necessary for them to thrive as a team. This requires massive amounts of understanding even when you don't understand, and loving your mate even when they aren't so lovable.
Raising a child is a responsibility simply because God blessed you with the ability to bring life into the world, and you did so. Not everyone has that option. Unlike a spouse, a child does not choose to be a part of your life and is not required to be beneficial to you. But you are required to be beneficial to them. You must love them unconditionally like God loves you. This is what parenting is all about. It is a lifetime commitment that cannot be broken. There is no out, no changing your name back to what it once was and no getting out of the relationship. It is truly a bond that lasts forever.
When two people agree to love, honor, and cherish each other in holy matrimony it can be a beautiful thing if both people love each other enough to put in the effort necessary to make their union flourish. Both husband and wife must be committed to a lasting partnership unaffected by petty differences, and strong enough to stand the test of time. A bond based on ever lasting love. Otherwise it is no more than a sham. An arrangement, with an emergency exit feature when the going gets tough.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

3 Ways To Tell If Your Mate Is Crazy, Deranged, and Disturbed

1. If your man is over 35, and still has dreams of "rocking the mic" some day, he is crazy, deranged, and disturbed. If he's been in the studio, aka his mothers living room, cutting demos for the past 20 years and he's never gotten a deal, guess what.........he probably won't.
The only thing worse than this is if his only job is dreaming of "rocking the mic", and cutting demos in his mothers living room. But then again if you knew this going in, maybe you're just as crazy as he is!
2. If he shows up at your job angry and unannounced in his Sponge Bob pajama bottoms, flip flops, and a Batman t-shirt because you wouldn't return his calls there is a slight chance that he might be just a little crazy, disturbed, and deranged.
3. He has 10 children by 10 different women & wants to star in his own reality show as if this is something to be proud of. He could either be crazy, disturbed, deranged, or a marketing genius if he could use his dysfunction to get some buzz. Then maybe, just maybe, he could "rock the mic" after all. On second thought, naw!
1. If your woman looks at the "recents" on your phone, calls everybody, and asks your mother who she is, and how she knows you. Because she hasn't met her yet. There is a good chance that your woman is crazy, disturbed, and deranged. Which would explain why you haven't taken her home to meet your mother in the first place.
2. She has credit cards with her first name, and your last name, and your not even married. Wait a minute, she's more of a criminal than crazy, but I guess the fact that she did some mess like that would put her in the crazy category.
3. If she agreed to do a reality show with the father of her child who happens to have 9 other children, just for the thrill of being on TV, she just might be crazy deranged, and disturbed. But what does that say about you for being involved with her? There is a distinct possibility that you might be crazy, deranged and disturbed!


They Made A Deal.........!

The President and Congress managed to make a deal in the nick of time and the Senate approved it. Well, technically we did go over the fiscal cliff because no deal was made until New Year's Day, which was past the deadline. So, in all reality, we went over the fiscal cliff, hit the bottom, and then they decided to (temporarily), put aside their petty differences) and put the pieces back together. This has become typical of our government. Most decisions are reactive instead of proactive, and far too cautionary to do much good when it is needed. Add a touch of ego, and a lot of posturing and the results are often indecipherable laws and proposals full of supposition and rife with jurisprudence.
Here are the terms of the "new deal".
1. Higher taxes on individuals earning $400,000 and on families making $450,000 or more. Under that threshold, the Bush-era tax cuts will be permanent for all but the wealthiest households.
2. Higher tax rates on capital gains and dividends for wealthier households. Capitol Gains are taxes paid on the returns or profits made from the sale of real estate, stocks or other investments. Taxes on capital gains and dividends will be held at their current levels of 15 percent for individuals making less than $400,000 and households with income of less than $450,000. They will rise to 20% for individual taxpayers and for households above those thresholds.
3. Automatic spending cuts have been delayed for two months. This measure which would impose steep, across-the-board cuts to domestic and defense programs, will be delayed for two months.
4. One-year extension to unemployment insurance. Emergency unemployment benefits will be extended for a year. The extension was a priority for President Obama and congressional Democrats to give the average American help rebuilding their financial foundation in the wake of the economic down turn.
5. A one year "doc fix." This would put off scheduled cuts in physician payments under Medicare. In the absence of an agreement, the payments were going to be reduced by 27 percent in January.
6. A nine month farm bill extension. Cereal lovers, rejoice. A much-feared spike in milk prices, dubbed the “dairy cliff” because it was also set to kick in abruptly on Jan. 1, will be averted through a nine-month extension of certain portions of the farm bill. So have no fear! There will be no Corn Flakes without the milk.
7. Personal exemptions phased out for individuals making over $250,000. Personal exemptions will be phased out and itemized deductions will be limited for taxpayers making over $250,000 and families earning more than $300,000. No more loopholes to help the rich get richer.
8. A permanent fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax. The alternative minimum tax was designed to ensure that the wealthiest Americans paid a fair share of taxes. It was not adjusted for inflation but is usually “patched” annually to prevent an increasingly large segment of middle-class Americans from being caught in its net. As part of the fiscal deal, the AMT will be permanently indexed to inflation.
9. Tax breaks for working families. The deal includes five year extensions of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which can be claimed for college-related expenses, the Child Tax Credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a refundable income-tax credit for lowi to moderate income working Americans.
11. Business tax breaks. The Senate Finance Committee passed a package in August that tackled a variety of routinely expiring tax provisions known as extenders. These popular tax provisions include breaks for research and development. That package passed as part of the broader cliff deal.

Last but not least my personal favorite part of the deal.

12. A Congressional pay freeze. President Obama recently authorized a congressional pay raise. Under the New Year's cliff measure, members of Congress won't see their pay increase.
Given the fact that most of them are millionaires this is perhaps the most appropriate measure for the greater good of the country.
Although an agreement has been made. There are some major issues that have not been addressed. Such as;
An agreement to raise the debt ceiling. The nation reached its borrowing limit on Monday and the United States Treasure Department is trying to decertify going into default at least through February. Then it will be an issue that Congress will have to contend with again. The previous negotiation resulted in the US credit rating being downgraded.
Extension of the payroll-tax cut. A temporary, 2-percentage point cut to the payroll tax expired at midnight on Dec. 31, 2012, and was not renewed. If you make $50,000, that’s an extra $1,000 in taxes you will be paying this year.
All and all this deal sounds fair and rational. Those who earn more money pay more taxes, and those who need help are getting help.
The thing that disturbs me is the fact that the President won the election, and is still facing opposition concerning issues that were once routine for other President's. Things that never made news in the past are now laid out between the sheets of just about every newspaper, as if they were matters of spectacle. Part of a GOP vs. Obama theme. Cooperative bipartisan measures which were once common place have turned to political brawls fueled by an us against them mentality in a way that has never been seen before and there is always and underlying tone of disdain for President Obama. They call him cocky, arrogant, and elitist. Code which basically says who does this "black guy" think he is? This is nothing more than subtle racism served with a beeping portion of disrespect.