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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Night Rome Burned

It never ceases to amaze me how we can so easily believe a lie. When Nero burned Rome, he blamed the Christians and because it suited the whim of the times and fitted within the mold of the power brokers, everyone just went along with it. Soon, from the ashes of the old rose a brand new Rome. A new city...shinny, bright, and sparkly, but one that flowed red with the blood of the victims fed to the lions in the world famous Roman Coliseum. Does the name Spartacus ring any bells? It was as a result of the oppression of a pleasure seeking and self satiated Rome that led to the famous slave rebellion. As I write this, the city of Baltimore is still under siege. Not from an invading army, but from fear, greed, ignorance, and hatred. Like Rome burning, the citizens are forced to stand by and watch as the actions of a select few tarnish and destroy their home. Some will say the riots are all due to the miss treatment and death of Mr. Freddy Gray, but I would submit that the riots are counter productive. The burning of Baltimore will ultimately prove as unfruitful as Nero's burning Rome. The collective communities of America must decide that a time for change has come. While overseas our brave young men and women are dying fighting the likes of Isis, we are being destroyed by an enemy from within. An enemy that looks and talk just like us...because it is us. By now many of us have seen the video of the angry mother corralling her son from amongst those intent on destroying their city. This mother did not by her actions condone what may have been the mistreatment of Mr. Gray, nor did she give her consent to the idea of business as usual. What she did was effectively step in as a parent and push her son toward true manhood. Ideas like "Responsibility before Rights"..."Family before the Individual"...and above all "God First"...these are the concepts that build a nation, a family, a man. Not by our fighting and tearing down the very towns we call home. But on the other hand, if we cannot correct the path we're on the outcome has already been painted in both history and fiction. Spartacus showed us in the past and books like the Hunger Games reiterate the present need of the human spirit to be both heard and recognized. I fear if we can't get this right then Rome won't be the last great nation to burn. Think about it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Living or Existing...the Choice is Yours

All around today we seem to be bombarded with the thought or at least the concept of choice. But as I observe, most of us seem to be settling into a strange form of mere existence rather than making the higher choice of life. For all intents and purposes a rock exists, but who wants to be a rock? This is not a new thought, even as far back as the founding of the nation of Israel the Lord put the proposition before His people when He said to them, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"(Deut.30:20). And who didn't have the famous quote of Joshua hanging framed somewhere in their house: "Choose you this day whom you will serve... ...but as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord!" Ahhh, inspiring words. Words to live by. But today we have given up choice for a strange need to comply. We cover our true intentions by using words like tolerance, and free thinking; while what we really mean to say is 'if you say what I'm doing is okay then I'll say what you're doing is okay.' It is no longer good enough in society for a person to be "wrong", but now we have demanded that everyone else approves of the formerly wrong standard and call it good. I said in an earlier post, that we as black people in America seem to have given up the goal of God, Family, and Education for the new ideal of Me, Money, and Mine. And with this transition have given up on ourselves as a people and adopted...or rather have complied with a new norm that makes us not a people, but a fractured group. When I hear America song by Ray Charles and hear the words of self sacrifice and the idea of others being valued and thought of as worth living for, I am immediately taken to a place within myself that makes me want somehow and in someway simply make the whole of America just a little bit better. Think about it.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Cry For Justice

By now we have all heard of if not seen the shooting of Walter Scott by North Charleston Police Officer Slager; and if there are three of us in the conversation, I'm sure there will be at least four opinions. This post is not however set to judge or try the actions by former Officer Slager, nor is it to determine whether Mr. Scott should or should not have run from the police. Rather,I'd like us to stop and ask the questions of right and wrong and the rule of law. As you know I'm not a huge fan in giving personal responsibility of one's self over to another, nor do I support the idea of a big brother in either Washington D.C. or the Middle East dictating how each person should think. But in order for us to have a civilized society and to live in a modicum of peace, we do all have to agree on at least the general idea of what right and wrong are. Regardless of your personal belief system, we must acknowledge the history of our nation and its foundation, though not perfect, served to raise our status to a world power in less than 200 years of existence. All around us we hear the cries for justice...Black Life Matters, Native Life Matters, and all the other groups like them. These voices can be heard and these needs can be met and supported if we would just hold true to the supreme law of the land: The US Constitution. Stop and hear in your mind the echo of these immortal words captured in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." Think about it. This idea, this concept was enough to take the castoff souls from the people groups of the world and bring us together into the great nation we are today. In spite of the American Slave Trade, The French Indian (Native American) Wars, The Mexican/American War and a number of other wars and conflicts we have grown to become a great nation. No enemy has ever manage to take this great land from without, but like Rome and Greece before her we stand on the brink of being destroyed not from without, but from the gluttony of selfishness and spiritual blindness from within.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The New Black Voice

I don’t want to misrepresent myself in this, there has never been a time when a single voice has spoken for all black people. Whether we look back to the time of the Civil War and slavery, blacks have always found themselves on both sides of the argument.  Although they did not represent a large percentage of the Confederate force, about 3000 men, Blacks did indeed fight for the South.

As a fourth grade student one of my first heroes was the great reformer Fredrick Douglas who counseled with presidents and spoke on behalf of the Women's Suffrage movement and even he had his detractors.  Moving forward we had the opposing voices of Booker T. Washington and those of the Harlem Renaissance such as W.E.B. Du Bois  that complained that Washington's pace was too slow. But even in that, the voices in the wind were divided: The Nonviolent Cry of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. contrasted against the militant voice of Malcolm X. All that to be said, we have never had just one voice.

As a child during the height of the Black Power Movement, I remember sitting in a meeting where the  keynote speaker, Mayor Johnny Ford, spoke on the importance of education. His sentiment was captured in a quote burned into the mind of a 6 year-old boy, "You're walking around town with your fist in the air. You've got nothing in your hand, nothing in your head, and nothing in your pocket."  What a far cry from what we hear now, in that it is someone else's responsibility to fix and care for our communities.

So looking forward, I find myself wondering where the new Black Voice will arise. A voice calling for personal growth, true spiritual sensitivity, and an ownership of ourselves and our families. I've heard it said and I must say I agree, "The government has done to the black man what the slave master and plantation never could; we have given over control of ourselves and families to the unseen but omnipresent personality of "The Man."

Friday, April 3, 2015


Sometimes I feel like Joseph. What I mean is Joseph was a Hebrew bought and then sold into slavery in Egypt. A son of Israel, a servant of the one true God, now a slave in a country where the language and customs were different, the people despised (shepherding) the very identity by which his family is called; and above all, where the people served a whole plethora of gods and the headman, Pharaoh, thought himself to be a god.   

Perhaps I’ve overstated my situation too much, but I feel the comparison holds true on many levels. Let me try to explain. 

As a black man in America, born and raised in the South: Selma,Alabama, home of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Bloody Sunday, Klan marches, and the hub of the civil rights movement, my world was Black. By this, I mean my worldview was monoethnistic and I saw the world through a single cultural lens.  

Now as an adult, and here is where the comparison to Joseph comes in, I have lived exclusively within the cultural groupings of white America. This was not done by any particular or conscious choice on my part, but rather was due to a series of apparently unrelated and innocuous events.   

Like Joseph, I came of age in a foreign culture; also like Joseph, I took a wife from a people and an ethnic group not my own.  And like Joseph, my children are of mixed heritage. But most of all, like Joseph, my wife, children, and I are all servants of the one true God.

Nonetheless, for the southern raised black man this has offered me the opportunity to see the World, America, and myself from a whole new perspective.  So in light of all the news of what I call the New Black Voice, I thought I would add the echo of my own. For in many ways the rhetoric I hear coming from the black community is far different from the tones I heard as the backdrop of my world growing up. 

Over the next few postings, I would like to explore some of those thoughts with you and hear from you as well, as we discuss the topics and ideas of family, education, faith and religion; and of course, we will have to discuss politics. For within the black world, next to faith and family, politics reigns unchallenged. So strap in and settle down and let’s take this ride together and when we’re done, hopefully we’ll all be a little bit better understood by the other.