Episodic Rituals

There are times when in my real life I cry,

it is sudden,

something I cannot control,

watching the illusion of our reality,

in the episodic nature of historical fiction,

the retelling of the reality,

we would all like to pretend is

that fiction.

 

And yet,

when I cry there are real tears,

I feel my body heave,

my eyes begin to well,

I listen to the story of the abuse of a society,

and I am immediately enraged,

by the many facets of discrimination.

 

Today DACA,

yesterday the Mexicans,

the Muslims, Blacks, and disregarded

sexual identities.

 

We all watch it every day,

wait for the movie to premiere,

we imagine our own lives,

and wonder about a personal connection,

until it become passe to care about anyone outside of ourselves,

any more.

 

I wonder sometimes about the cruel nature of our lives

why it is we suggest we have compassion,

when around the corner,

the examples await our reaction,

in the shadows,

while the world continues to expand,

the narrow nature of

racism,

continues its

by society’s terms,

ridiculous plight toward

validation.

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I Have These Friends

usa-police-protests

ABC News – Baton Rouge

When they walk out the door,

they have natural instincts,

look over their shoulder,

keep a skeptic eye,

they constantly watch their step

while they attend,

make time to be in,

express a similar value,

as do I,

when I go about living my

regular, normal, daily life.

 

I have these friends,

keep their feeling close,

share their values internally,

in such a manner,

we don’t ever see it,

we only hear about it,

when in a time of crisis,

they are asked how to react

when the world they believe,

crumbles with a menacing force

of vitriolic rhetoric,

aimed toward destroying lives,

for the sake of ignorance.

 

I have these friends,

share love and passion,

a desire to respond to beauty,

have an elegant outlook on life,

they smile, they laugh, they support,

the true responsive nature

of the human condition.

These are your friends too,

in fact,

they belong in everyone’s world,

rather than an exclusive gathering

to showcase their humanity.

 

I have these friends,

they are truly more forgiving,

than you and me.

The ‘Not Yet’ Reality of Racism

boston

Boston rally – photo credit – CNN

A dear friend once used the phrase ‘not yet’ to suggest a descriptive moment in our lives that though I will not describe that context, I will explore the phrase as it pertains to our lives in America today. As I write this commentary, I notice a massive gathering of protesters in Boston to represent all sides in light of the Charlottesville tragedy. To be clear, it has been reported that this Boston ‘Freedom’ rally was planned in advance to last week’s hate melee in Virginia; however, at the same time, authorities are said to be prepared for outbreaks, and have given notice to all participants.

I’m personally very happy to see this gathering, and my wishes are for a completely peaceful representation. After all, wouldn’t it be refreshing to be able to say this evening, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Boston Commons without incident? We can only hope, but in the meantime, let’s talk about the ‘not yet’ factor of racism in America. After all, a score of you reading this right now may be sitting in your chair at home or in the office, or sharing drinks or coffee with friends having a dialogue, expounding upon the issues that haunt our country’s racial divide, but just aren’t quite ready to become involved. Many of you might even be saying, I believe the issue exists, but I just don’t want to become … not yet.

After Charlottesville and the notable incidents that will appear to evolve from today’s rallies, my suggestion would be that the time is now. We can all in less than five minutes name a string of current events that impact the racial divide in America. It is time to stop suggesting we are over reacting and begin to address the issues that exist in our society today. Right now, today as I write this I feel a stronger tension than I did as a child growing up in the 60’s. Granted I wasn’t yet in my teens, but I listened to my older siblings, and watched the news with a very well informed mother and father.

The fact that civil rights set such a precedent in the 60’s gives cause to argue that what is happening today in our world is throwing all of that effort out the window. It would seem today, we are right back where we started with open violence attached to racial discrimination. There are no filters, and our children, the young people growing up with this mindset should be our primary concern.

What scares me the most is the actions that happen behind closed doors, just like the very pub or coffee shop you are sitting in right now. Those conversations need to be geared toward reframing our thinking, to understand what ‘love’ means as opposed to the insidious nature of ‘hate’ in America. Time magazine recently published a cover page with the American flag and the heading ‘Hate in America’ as its bi-line. I scratched out hate and wrote love above it and posted it on Facebook, but then took it down because of copyright infringement.

We need to start to dialogue together, to inform one another of the long-term effects of racism, not as much our future but how the past has impacted a way of thinking today, that will not improve if society doesn’t begin to collectively listen. Let’s ignore the ‘not yet’ and begin to act now.

In the meantime, let’s wish for peaceful strolls throughout some major metropolitan cities where protesters are presently laying emphasis on the cause for peace and unity throughout this gorgeous Saturday afternoon.

 

 

Our Violent Humanity

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Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

 

It would seem we haven’t had enough,

Watching our neighbors fall to the sword,

The world around us eschewing the evil

Of a nation lost in a swirl of self-pity.

No one to blame but ourselves,

Yet that never comes into play,

We are soon to discover some outlet,

Easy to say we may fall personal prey.

In looking at the news today, I saw

Real lives being struck down, a society

Lost in its own pitfalls of insecurity,

All of them wondering, remaining alone.

When we might raise a flag to equality,

Shudder the notion that fire might stay,

The real burden of proof is our own lives,

Lost in the façade of believing in truth.

There is a Christian belief in humanity

Spouted from every possible pulpit,

Always with the best intentions, they say

The world will be better without evil.

Yet is it some times the very cross carrying,

Honorable, parishioner borne out of fear,

Might wield the weaponry of utter hate,

The rhetoric of painful prejudice begotten.

Pitfalls occur with anyone’s desire to change,

To make change, ask for change, demand change,

The local grocer suggests we use credit instead,

Yet it seems everywhere, fake news still relents.

I watched today with an ill heart the display

Of a humanity lost in the perils of bigotry,

Lost on themselves, lost on each other,

Drifting aimless in a world beyond reproach.

We might only reflect upon where we came

From in a society that once believed in love,

Today is seemingly hell bent on the otherwise,

The ability to act without a conscience so unwise.

Oh, to find love again – to breathe.

On Donald Trump and Ignorance

For weeks, perhaps months, no to be sure, for the last two years I have struggled with the phenomena that is Donald Trump. I will secretly admit to everyone that a decade ago, when he first threw his name into the hat as a candidate and then swiftly pulled it out because the powers that be told him it was too early, I was intrigued by the idea. For all the right reasons: a non-political, yet wealthy candidate that could finance his own election, and perhaps turn D.C. upside down. Yes, I realize it his task at hand at present, but back then, I really didn’t understand the depth his brain could transgress his ideals.

His latest tweet or podium delivery or emanation from his incredulous mind has me deeply saddened. We have witnessed the grueling scrutiny of our national police force with tragedy upon tragedy that raises remarkable scrutiny upon their efforts. We have watched one trial after another, where the reputation of the police department’s efforts are caught in a catch-22 of a moral compass because of the damaging actions of a few. We have witnessed heads of police forces plead with the public that their wish is to train their departments to be of the highest ethical standard on the streets as they protect the citizenry of our country.

Trump to police: “Don’t be too nice too prisoners” -CNN 7/29/2017

Time and time again I have watched this man make statements in rallies and addresses with an angry flair that denigrates, discriminates and blatantly insults certain society with complete disregard. This time he has taken on the police force. So now, according to the POTUS, he wants the blue shield to rough up the alleged criminals. What does this say to our society? Simply that it is ok to take no prisoners, and let the melee proceed.

For me, it is upsetting enough how this man has allowed his vitriolic verbal assaults, to literally wake the dead in regards to racist slurs, homophobic slams, and supremacist ideals. Yet, those close to him suggest he is misunderstood.

We live in a world today that can ill afford to walk itself back 50 years and forget the efforts necessary to create a mosaic life in the United States. How can we possibly move forward if our elected President of the United States continues to demean the efforts of many in our society to remove the literal walls we have fought to break down for decades.

There is no easy answer, beyond asking this man to find his integrity, and that will seem to be a long time coming, maybe less than one term. We can only hope.

 

Philando Castile

castile

NY Daily photo credit

I recently told a friend of mine I have sometime wished I was black, and as the words left my mouth, the expression on his face indicated to me he was immediately offended. I knew I’d made a horrific presumption, and felt compelled to find him a little later on to continue our dialogue.  I wasn’t really sure what I was asking, but he sat me down and asked me a question.

He said, ‘as you sit in that chair, do you feel like you would be where you are, as a black man, including your personality and everything you are today?’

I had to think about the question. I had to get past trying to find the right answer and really think about how I was going to respond. I did not know what my answer could possibly be because I have never been a person of color. I have always been white.

This afternoon, when I first heard the news of the verdict in the shooting of Philando Castile, I felt immediately sick to my stomach. For a year I have replayed that viral video in my mind, imagining only one outcome. I believed the officer would be found guilty of manslaughter. I thought it was an easily defined case. I felt like I had come to know Philando through all the news reports and the expose’s of his life and the stories his community had expressed of who he was in our society. But I forgot one simple truth. He was a black man pulled over for a routine traffic stop. He was suspected of being involved in a robbery based upon his description. The only solid evidence that suggested he had been involved in the burglary was the color of his skin.

If that had been me, a white guy, with a gun pointed at my body by a peace officer, I am willing to bet, I could have said everything Philando expressed in the final minutes of his life, and I could have reached with my right arm and found my I.D. without the officer feeling compelled to discharge seven bullets into my body. This officer didn’t simply fire a couple of rounds, He fired seven times at point blank range. And there in that moment, while his girlfriend recorded the whole incident, Philando Castile died.

Justice seemed evident in this case, I didn’t even imagine the jury would take as long as they did to come back with a verdict. I only imagined it would be an open and shut case. That was until I saw the jury selection. I knew that when we had a jury of over 20 white people and two people of color, the case for Philando had taken a dangerous turn. I knew that when the officer was coached to cry in the witness stand, Philando’s integrity was in trouble.

I also knew I couldn’t get out of my car as a white man and express my sorrow and rage to any person of color without coming off patronizing. So instead, I called another friend, and told him he was the first person that came to my mind. Now this friend asked me if I was surprised by the verdict. I think I waffled my answer and said something like, “Well, yeah, I guess, well no, well I’m just sad.”

He agreed with my sentiments, and then began to speak of the systemic failure of our society to recognize the inherent discrimination of the African- American culture. Interestingly, he didn’t blame the cop that gunned down an innocent man. Instead he talked about how our society (his African-American culture) has to become proactive in changing the mindset of how we cope with our discrimination. He immediately prayed that there would be no acting out and a peaceful protest might occur.

I agreed with him and thanked him for letting me listen to his ideals, those of which I have always respected and believed. I finished the call, and sat in my car, and thought about what I would do next. All I could think about was how sad I was with the outcome of the day’s events. All I could do was feel like a white guy trying to wrap my head around this horrific tragedy. I still don’t have any answers, except only to say I’m sorry Philando, I am truly sorry this happened to you.

On White Privilege

I was pissed today,

they didn’t get it,

instead, they threw it away,

opportunity,

look around the room,

everyone has a set of eyes,

focus on the corneas, nothing else,

notice the tear ducts,

they exist,

Everything else is added baggage,

meant to confuse and display,

every wonder why?

The eyes?

I stood outside in the rain,

a natural cleanse,

when I opened my windows later in the day,

I could see clearly again, another setting sun.