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Oshumare

Oshumare

Not too long ago I was driving down the highway during a particularly strong thunderstorm.  The rain stopped for a brief moment and the sun managed to find a break in the deep, dark, rolling clouds.  But on the other end of the horizon, I saw the most intense rainbows I’ve seen in my life.  Not only did the ends touch the ground, the typical arch going from ground arcing through the air and returning back to the ground was matched with a faint opposite that started way in the clouds, arced down and then went back into the clouds.  I had never seen such a setup before.  And didn’t think a rainbow with a mirrored image floating in the sky above was even possible.

The clouds gathered once again and the sunlight’s contribution to the rainbow disappeared.  But five minutes later the clouds dissipated once again, the sunlight came back, and the rainbow came back, stronger than ever, with its mirror image in the clouds.  I started to get suspicious.  A couple minutes later the sun went away again.  But a few minutes after that the rainbows came back for a second encore.  I got the message.  It was time to do a little something about Oshumare.

To listen to some people describe Orisa you’d swear they were more human than anything else.  Orisa are supernatural beings that cannot be described in human terms.  Even terms like Iya and Baba, mother and father respectively, really don’t do the Orisas justice because many of us have a tendency to take such terms too literally.  Many people want to think of Iya and Baba in terms of sexuality and little else.  Most people will use vague terms like paternal energies and maternal energies and other vague sounding nonsense to try and put these things into perspective.  But really, to try and wrap human consciousness around the meaning of sexuality for an Orisa is a fool’s game.

Nowhere does the misapplication of sexuality is more evident than when we try to describe the Orisa Oshumare.  Some describe him as androgynous and others might go so far as to say that he is bisexual.  What the hell?  Bisexuality refers to a biological condition where sexual behaviors manifest as an attraction to both genders, male and female.  People who have a bisexual orientation will have an attraction to both people of their own sex and people of the opposite sex.  But what does that mean for an Orisa?  Is there such a thing as a homosexual Orisas as well?

Like most of the things we’ve been we’re taught about Orisa and the rest of Ifa, the ancient African spiritual tradition rooted in the Yoruba people, we simply accept what we’ve been told about Oshumare without really thinking about what we’re being taught.

The rainbow is a manifestation of Oshumare.  He’s often referred to as the serpent and the rainbow, but he is no serpent.  Caring and attentive he’s the messenger that carries communications back and forth between our plane of existence and olorun, or heaven.  When people need some assistance getting their messages to any Orisa, Baba Oshumare will be there to help facilitate a dialogue.  However, more often than not these days, people are ready to send a message but all too often have deaf ears to hear the response.  These days, business is pretty slow for Baba Oshumare.  The number of people who are ready to listen as well as they are ready to talk dwindles almost on an hourly basis.

These days, more people see the rainbow in the sky and the last thing they think of is an Orisa let alone Oshumare, and the children of Ifa are no exception.  If it is not one of the most popular Orisas such as the Babas Ogun, Sango, Obatala, Orunmila, or Esu or one of the Iyas Yemonja, Oya, or Osun then most people don’t know much of anybody else.  Oshumare is part of that obscure majority of Orisa.  And if people think they do know him it is as an example of some spiritual sexual perversion.

Baba Oshumare is the Orisa recognized as a manifestation of the rainbow.   It’s not to be interpreted as a judgment of his masculinity, at least not in our basic human terms.  Orisas aren’t so limited and we really should learn not to transfer our ideas and experiences to them.  Baba Oshumare is as prime an example as any Orisa for how we as humans misinterpret nature’s manifestations into the most incorrect terms.  And some of us wonder why we’re out of touch with our spirituality.  We experience the rainbow and yet we still do not see.

Sunday, September 27, 2009 Posted by | Affirmative Action, Ancestors, Faith, Ifa, Orisa, Religion, Spirituality, Yoruba | 5 Comments

American Royalty

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Please do not get me wrong.  I truly admire the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama.  She has a lot of class and a lot of character.  In the world of politics she is by far my favorite person.  I know she’s not a politician so people can spare me any attempt at trying to correct my perspective.  She helped sell her husband to the world as being the best choice to be our new President and did an admirable job of being the wing beneath his wings.  That firmly qualifies her as a participant in politics without being a politician.  She appeared to be down to earth and a people person and a lot of people accepted her as such.

When the conservatives attacked Barack Obama by attacking his wife, I was livid.  I remember seeing conservative pundits referring to Ms. Obama as Obama’s Baby’s Mama and labeling her as nothing more than an angry black woman for saying that for the first time in her life she’s proud to be an American.  Even Cindy McCain, the wife of Mr. Obama’s conservative opponent John McCain, didn’t waste an opportunity to jump all over Ms. Obama with the not even remotely subtle announcement that the McCain’s have always been proud to be Americans, that little quip from Mr. McCain who said that he didn’t love America until he was imprisoned in the Hanoi Hilton not withstanding.  And I detested all the Photoshopped images of Ms. Obama designed to make her look physically ugly and unappealing.

Now that the Obamas can claim 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as their home address, Ms. Obama is falling into her support role new role as the First Lady.  She remains a reflection of her husband and dutifully maintains her role as the first mother of Sasha and Malia.  I’m sure the Obamas, like most people who win the White House and go there to live with their children in tow, walk a fine line to make sure their children remain grounded and not assume some highfalutin attitude thinking they’re some kind of royalty entitled to special treatment.  At least, that’s what I used to think.

Just when most Americans were preparing to take advantage of our annual tax free holiday weekend to save a little money when buying back to school supplies and clothing for our children, Ms. Obama and her two girls was being treated like royalty in Paris, France.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy himself made a few calls in order to open a branch of one of the Bonpoint stores, a high class children’s boutique usually closed by French law on Sundays, so that Ms. Obama and her two daughters could peruse racks of two hundred dollar summer dresses and one hundred dollar sweaters.  French clothing stores don’t even open on Sundays for the French people.  It really pays to be in high places with friends who are just as highly placed.

For their soiree through France’s capital city, America’s first family had a thirty car motorcade that included their brand new one of a kind Cadillac super tank.  And where ever their entourage went, parts of the city were closed down for their exclusive use.  Even Oprah Winfrey’s renowned celebrity couldn’t buy her such recognition.  Ms. Winfrey came back from France suspecting that she had been treated like a commoner and kept out of stores after closing hours because she was black.  And that was on a regular weekday.  Poor Ms. Winfrey would not have had any chance to do any real shopping on a Sunday.  What’s a billionaire to do?

Before his presidential inauguration, Mr. Obama published an article directed to his daughters describing what he wanted for them and for every child growing up in America.  He wanted his children to grow up in a world without limits on dreams and no achievements beyond their reach.  Mr. Obama said that he wanted his daughters to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world.  But treating those girls like they’re young versions of Paris Hilton entitled to privilege will do little to help build such character.  Being treated like royalty will no doubt lead them to believe that they can achieve their own hopes and dreams, but the compassion to help assure that others do the same might not be so nurtured.

No doubt while living in their home back in Chicago, the Obama girls kept busy schedules of sports, dance, drama, music, and gymnastics.  They used to do the kind of things that a lot of kids in America did.  But life in the White House will change these two in ways very few people can imagine.  I would think that someone of Ms. Obama’s character would be sensitive to such things.  She’s still my most favorite person in the world of politics.  Her star simply doesn’t shine as bright in my eyes as it once did.  But with friends like Mr. Sarkozy who can open high end stores with just a few phone calls, I doubt if she’d care a flying flip what I thought.

Monday, August 10, 2009 Posted by | ABC News, Affirmative Action, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Politics | 8 Comments

It’s Always A Joke When It’s About Black People

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Of course Mike Duncan, the chairman of the Republican National Committee said that he was appalled by the song called Barack the Magic Negro distributed by Chip Saltsman.  Set to the tune of the sixties Puff the Magic Dragon, the song first reached national attention when it was played on Rush “The Lush” Limbaugh’s radio show back in early 2007.  The title was drawn from a Los Angeles Times column that suggested Mr. Obama appealed to those who feel guilty about the nation’s history of mistreatment of African-Americans.

Mr. Duncan said that the presidential election should have been a wakeup call for the Republican Party to reach out and bring more diversity to their virtually white only membership.  Mr. Duncan claimed that he was shocked to think that anyone would find the parody appropriate.  The fact that a candidate for the RNC chairmanship would stoop to such juvenile political humor is proof positive that not everyone in the Republican Party is serious about more inclusion.

Mr. Saltsman, a former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, was a top advisor to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and managed former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign, sent other RNC members a CD which included the controversial tune about President-elect Barack Obama.  Mr. Saltsman defended his actions Friday saying that the song was intended as a joke.  Mr. Saltsman obviously has the same sense of humor as those white students back in Jena, Louisiana who thought hanging a noose under a tree was a good joke to play on black students.  It was only after the manifestation of some of the worst racial disparity began to collect the nation’s attention with marches coordinated by members of the black community from every corner of the country did some people see that hanging nooses isn’t just fun and games but something to be taken seriously.  Mr. Saltsman probably needs to learn the same lessons about his race tinged humor.

Now it just might be that Mr. Saltsman is a man who is sensitive to issues of race and just simply exercised poor judgment.  But, there is the potential for this same poor judgment to apply to other issues of race as well.  Mr. Saltsman already shows his willingness to play the race card.  What chance would issues sensitive to the black community have with such a man in a position of high political importance?  But black people are supposed to believe that the Republican Party stands ready to welcome us into their fold.

I remember the political race to the general election and the conservative rhetoric that Mr. Obama was an elitist out of touch with the reality of most Americans.  Whether or not that statement is true or not is a matter of opinion.  But it should be pretty obvious that people like Republican notables like Mr. Saltsman is a racial elitist who is out of touch with the reality of most black Americans.

In the current environment of social disparity that happens to fall along racial lines with black people falling short by every measure without a single exception, it should be no surprise to anyone of reasonable intelligence to recognize the need for racial sensitivity.  Unfortunately, we see just the opposite.  We see various Republican leadership wannabes attending their white only country clubs and living large with so many homes that they have to hire someone to research their property holdings.  And when one of these high profile Republican members wants to play a joke, he stoops to racial discrimination.  Next thing you know another member of the RNC wants to demonstrate how funny he can be by painting himself in black face and dancing a jig ala Al Jolson style.  And when the man is busted for his foolishness, he’ll defend himself by saying it was a joke.

Unfortunately, over and over again, people in the Republican Party are quick to demonstrate that they have as much racial sensitivity and awareness as a rock.  At least the rock has the good sense not to do anything that might be thoughtless or tacky.  But the leadership of the Republican Party is not so astute.  We are more likely to see a member of the Republican Party get on stage before his constituents and point to the only obvious racial minority in the group and happily refer to the attendee as macaca.  We are more likely to see someone in the Republican Party say something stupid like black people who have lost everything in the world, including their loved ones, to a flood fueled by a hurricane as so fortunate to be housed in the Astrodome because they didn’t have jack before.  There was a lot of sympathy for black people that day.

Yet, these are the types of people who represent the RNC.  Is there any surprise that the number of black people we saw at the Republican National Convention could be counted on one’s fingers?  The RNC is nothing but one huge, insensitive, hate filled, and racist joke with black people the subject.  It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so serious.  Mr. Duncan wants to feign indignation and surprise with Mr. Saltsman’s latest manifestation that supports the Republican’s exclusive, white only mindset.  But honestly, it appears to be nothing more than the standard GOP operating procedure.

Monday, December 29, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Democrats, George Bush, Hurricane Katrina, Life, Politics, Racism, Republicans, The Race Card, Thoughts, White Privilege | Leave a comment

Racially Oblivious People

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More often than not, when someone says that they don’t notice the color of someone’s skin, that person is a liar.  Skin color is one of those things that are totally noticeable.  To walk up to someone and say that they don’t notice color is like walking up to someone and saying you didn’t notice their gender.  Nobody would think it’s cool not to notice that a person is a woman or a man.  Our gender helps to form our identity.  Why should it be different for skin tone?

But a lot of people claim that they are racial neutral and argue that black people should not want to change the status quo.  Everything is fine the way it is becomes the way things are developed naturally.  It is only natural that white people have a vast variety of white role models and white representation in their daily pursuits while black people are often considered racist or racial separatist for wanting more black oriented representation in our daily lives.  Often, someone defending the status quo will say something like, black people were well represented by some show with black characters either cancelled years ago or part of the BET or MTV network so that should be more than enough for impressionable black people to develop well rounded identities.  One black person in a crowd of a hundred is more than enough to be considered racially fair and equal.

When the absurdity of the argument from the person claiming to be racially oblivious is brought to light, it is only a matter of time before the bias of their true racial nature starts to manifest.  All it takes is just a paragraph or two to point out the inconsistencies of their argument and then their disdain for black people burst forth in all its fury.  All of sudden, the person who never sees issues of race is tired of seeing black people on the television.  The person who thought that the old black television shows were the exception because in general black people are immoral, have a propensity for violence, and/or have no decent work ethic.  People who claim to be racially generic will say that if black people want equal representation then black people need to do for black people what white people do for other white people.

A lot of people think they are racially neutral and support people regardless of their color.  But those are just flowery words with woefully little substance.  The same person that says the racial status quo is fine will turnaround and say if black people want jobs black people should get an education.  The racially prejudiced thinking is that the black person is not educated or does not have the experience for gainful employment.  There is an assumption that black people will always be unqualified or inherently inferior to their white counterparts.

Why is there an inherent belief that black people are unqualified and inferior?  Could there be a connection to the fact that we really don’t see very many images of qualified black people in a variety of well received role models?  True enough that the majority of the population is white and so it probably stands to reason that more characters in media will be white.  That’s a given.  But the scant few black characters in media do little to represent the black twelve point five percent of the population that is black.

White people make up seventy percent of our national population.  So it stands to reason that one in every seven professional characters in media is black.  It would stand to reason that one in every seven movie or television shows would be centered on the lives of black people.  It would stand to reason that one in seven of the pictures in magazines would feature black models or black subjects.

But instead of recognizing the racial disproportion for what it is, we have to assume that the deluge of white only images is an accident of the way things evolved naturally.  It is a natural evolution based on a foundation of racial discrimination that is part and parcel of America.

People who claim to be racially neutral are far from it.  All it takes is a brief exchange or two for the racist nature of their character to become evident.  These people protect their racial prejudices with the assertion that skin color simply doesn’t register in their psyche and that their racial discrimination is a happenstance of life.

But all it really means is that they are insensitive to issues of race and have yet to admit the depth of their racial animosity.  People who see and acknowledge a person’s skin color are about as racist as a person who recognizes and acknowledges a person’s gender is a sexist.  Racial obliviousness is not a virtue.  It is nothing more than an excuse to keep the racial status quo.

Thursday, December 18, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, African Americans, Bigotry, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, The Race Card, Thoughts, White Privilege | 13 Comments

Does The “C” In CNN Stand For Coon?

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My morning workday rituals include catching up on all the news overnight.  At some time around four in the morning I will start my day with the television on in the background.  I will start with the CBS national news.  I then will switch to the ABC national news to get their version of whatever somebody says is the top news for the day.  I then switch back to the CBS affiliate to get the local news.  And I wrap it all up with CNN, the most trusted name in news.  MSNBC with Joe Scarborough is not an option.  And FOX News is anything but news.  While the others get about thirty minutes apiece, CNN can benefit from as much as ninety minutes of my time.

For the past couple of months or so, with just about every break for commercials, CNN, the most trusted name in news, has been peppering their broadcasts with advertisements for their head coon as farce, D. L. Hughley.  CNN wants to capitalize on the trend for young people to get their news through comedy shows like the Daily Show with Jon Steward and the Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert.  In order to exploit this development, CNN has put its effort for comedy news behind Mr. Hughley.  And what a choice it is.  It ranks right up there with Arizona Senator John McCain choosing the infamous Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.  One of the advertisements for the program shows Mr. Hughley with his hand up as if trying to slow one of his guests down during one of his sure to be far from in depth interviews and saying something like, “Come on, man.  I barely know how to read.  I’ve got a G.E.D.”

Mr. Hughley is first to admit that he has no love of news, politics, current events.  He is quick to complain about the rigor of reading newspapers and web sites, listening to the radio talk shows, and watching his own network’s number one product, the anchored news broadcast.  And this is the man CNN wants to represent their foray into satirical news.  Mr. Hughley is about as qualified to be a network news anchor as Rush Limbaugh is qualified to be an advocate of affirmative action.

And speaking of affirmative action, it should be obvious to anyone with or without working vision balls that Mr. Hughley is a classic example of an unqualified black man benefitting from seriously unfair favorable treatment.  The last time I had anything to say about this man who will do anything to ingratiate himself to anyone willing to pay good money to see him lick boots, he was doing his best to bring attention to himself by telling black people to get over themselves and leave Don Imus alone.  Mr. Hughley was quick to add his less than helpful opinion and say, “There were some nappy headed women on the team and those are some of the ugliest women I have ever seen in my life.”  As a reward for being the epitome of the news media’s cheesing lawn jockey, Mr. Hughley is now given his own television show.

I must confess that I was tempted to tune into this show once.  During my morning ritual, an advertisement for the program showed an officious looking man calling Mr. Hughley a liar.  That piqued my curiosity for about a minute.  Early one Sunday morning, probably after the second or third airing of Mr. Hughley’s show, I found out that the officious guy calling the head coon as farce a liar was actually Josh Levs who appears regularly as part of CNN’s Truth Squad segment.  It turns out that Mr. Levs was planted on the scripted show and the liar accusation was nothing more than a gimmick.  The Sunday morning anchors were giving Mr. Levs a bit of teasing for being the victim of some colorful threats from Mr. Hughley.  I was glad that I never followed through on my curiosity.  I was disappointed in myself for being so easily duped into almost thinking of tuning into this travesty of comedy or of news.

Watching any other CNN program, no anchor, reporter, contributor, producer, cameraman, assistant, or anyone else affiliated with the news network would even think of promoting the fact that they didn’t have a degree, never mind never graduated from high school.  But there is no shame to Mr. Hughley’s lack of an education or lack of anything to credibly support him getting his own television show on CNN.  Stephen Colbert studied at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.  Jon Stewart attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.  It took some searching but according to his linkedin.com web page Josh Levs attended Yale University.  But Mr. Hughley gets a pass with nothing more than a successful score on his general educational development test.

The Colbert Report is a 2008 winner of the George Foster Peabody Award which recognizes excellence in news and entertainment.  In 2008, the program also won an Emmy Award for outstanding writing for a variety, music, or comedy.  While I’d like to think that my opinion of anything is not influenced solely by the number of awards won or the caliber of such awards, for a comedy show to garner such recognition indicates a certain amount of sophistication and intelligent delivery in its development.

However, it would be no surprise to see Mr. Hughley’s show stoop to the sophomoric humor as fart jokes and put downs that are the staple of Mr. Hughley’s comedic talent.  What more can you expect from a man whose two cents to racially charged issues like a white man calling an organization of predominantly black women “There were some nappy headed women on the team and those are some of the ugliest women I have ever seen in my life.”  CNN might as well let Wolf Blitzer tell fart jokes in his opening monologue before he gives his “news” reports.

Thursday, November 20, 2008 Posted by | ABC News, Affirmative Action, African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black Men, Black People, CBS News, CNN, Life, News, Philosophy, Politics, Racism, Thoughts | 2 Comments

No Longer United

The American Civil Rights Era was probably the black community’s finest hour.  Generally speaking, without much more than basic educations and modest employments the black community was able to affect great changes to the American landscape.  Starting with the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama sparked by the refusal by Rosa Parks to cooperate with orders to relinquish her seat to a white man back in December of 1955 to the fatal gunshots that took down Doctor Martin Luther King Junior and Malcolm X, black people became a near unstoppable force of change for racial equality.  That was forty years ago.  That was a lifetime ago with a totally different people with totally different goals.

Today, there are far more professional black people than there was during the peak of the fight for civil rights.  There are far more educated black people and more black people have good paying jobs and very rewarding careers.  A black man will soon be the President of the United States.  And yet, the power and force of the black community of today is a mere shadow of the black community of change made up of our elders and ancestors.  While the black people of the past worked together, black people of today are more concerned with personal gain and personal safety.  A black person speaking out about the racial disparity that persists in our culture will be abandoned by the more financially successful members of the black community and railroaded into obscurity by a dominant culture intent on keeping the racial status quo.

Black people back in the day would not hesitate to put their personal safety and, to a certain extent, the safety of their entire family at risk for the greater cause.  We’ve all seen the pictures of black men and women and children being subjected to full force water hoses, attacked by dogs, spat on, humiliated, arrested, and, ultimately, lynched and murdered as they fought and pulled together for the greater good of the black community’s future.  For the most part, the greater part of the black community moved as a single unit with a single purpose of demonstrating that we want to be recognized and respected as equals.

Many white people worked as a unit as well.  White people were a well oiled machine of violence and intimidation to the peaceful protest of black people.  The same white people that would tell black people to get an education would protest black people going to school.  White people who would tell black people to get a job would protest when black people showed up at the work place.  And white people had the upper hand.  They controlled the law, they controlled the courts, they controlled the police, they controlled the money, they controlled the schools, they controlled every level of government, they controlled the dogs, and they controlled every aspect of life.  White people had a huge arsenal of tools at their disposal.  And yet, black people with little more than steely determination remained undaunted to the task at hand.

It wasn’t an overwhelming number of educated black people that broke the segregationist policies of the Montgomery Bus Company.  It wasn’t some high profile black politician.  It was black people, the educated and uneducated, standing unified against oppression that turned things around.  If the resolve of black people showed any major cracks the movement would have probably fallen flat.  It would have been easy for black people to say that they didn’t want to inconvenience themselves.  Just like we do now people back then had to get to work.  And unlike we do now a lot of black people didn’t have personal transportation so it was either the bus or walk.  A lot of black people did a lot of walking back then.  But they did it knowing what was at stake.

Today, the collective determination of the black community is nonexistent.  Black people who advocate ideas, policies, methodologies, rhetoric, and propaganda that run contrary to black unity are regularly heralded as prime examples of independent black thinking and role models by the dominant community.  People would rather sit back and wait for others to come up with “the plan” for the black community rather than come to the table to with ideas and offers for a plan.

And too often black people who were fortunate enough to become successful are all too willing to do their part to disassemble the very programs that have led to their success.  A black Supreme Court justice doesn’t feel very successful because he took advantage of affirmative action programs in establishing his career.  Instead of leaving the programs intact and helping other black people by sharing his experience, he would rather simply disembowel the program and remove any opportunity to help other black people.  A black member of an academic governing board wants to use his position to make any system that tries to assure racial diversity in an academic setting a footnote in America’s history books because black people don’t need because no one would ever do anything to keep black people from progressing.

These are the type of black people the dominant community wants to see succeed in America.  Not the type of black person that might do something radical like work to help other black people.  More than likely the type of black person that is going to be the model of success in America is the type of black person that will help protect the status quo.  The message to other blacks is that if you want to succeed, quit trying to affiliate with your ethnicity.   Instead of black people stepping to the plate to boycott any institution that contributes to our perpetual subjugation, we simply try to get ours.

The generation that preceded us did a great many things with their meager resources.  It didn’t matter if they didn’t have a pot to piss in because as long as they had a breath they worked to change the system.  The black leadership back in the day wasn’t concerned with personal gain.  They lived as simply as the next person.  Today, black leaders live in mansions that would do Egypt’s mightiest pharaoh proud.  It’s no longer about the welfare of the entire black community.  Today it’s all about getting paid and living large.  Today, black people are far more concerned about about making history instead of making the upliftment of the black community a priority.  Our goals are no longer for the benefit of the entire community.  We are no longer a unified people.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black Men, Black People, Life, Philosophy, Racism, Thoughts | 8 Comments

An Affirmative Action Epiphany

I got into a discussion with a woman at work yesterday.  Like most discussions around the water cooler these days we were on the topic of politics.  Neither she nor I cared much for either Senator John McCain or Senator Barack Obama.  But while we both thought that the country would be led for the worse under Mr. McCain’s stewardship, or lack thereof, neither one of us really liked Mr. Obama.

After some hewing and hawing and pleading that I not misunderstand what she is trying to say, my coworker confessed that her biggest problem with Mr. Obama is the candidate that is much more likely to keep affirmative action programs.  She said that we should have a work environment where people earn their opportunities and are not given a free ride.  She’s white.

I agreed with her.  But all too often we are reminded that racism and sexism are alive and doing very well here in corporate America and we need something to remind the gatekeepers to opportunities that they have an obligation to assure that diversity is a part of our working environment.  There’s nothing wrong with saying that if you have twenty opportunities to give, at least one of those opportunities should go to a black person.

She agreed with me.  But all too often the person who gets the opportunity is someone who doesn’t deserve the opportunity.

I agreed with her.  Because all too often, in order to prove that affirmative action is a flawed process, the person who is the gatekeeper is so resentful of having to follow racial or gender requirements that they will make sure that they hire the most incompetent person they can find in order to prove that affirmative action doesn’t work.  And instead of firing that person and hiring another minority or another woman to do the job, people would rather throw their hands up in the air and say affirmative action just doesn’t work.  And a company that is willing to hire incompetent people in order to prove a political point is a company that should not be in business anyway.

She gasped.  I must have struck a nerve.  Suddenly my coworker got a deer in the headlights look.  Her body went limp.  She had an epiphany.  In a quiet voice she said that she believed I was right and repeated, how else would you prove that affirmative action is a bad idea.  The conversation was over and the coworker turned away and I went my own way.

The exchange got me to thinking as well.  How often do people hire the most incompetent black person they can find in order to make all black people look bad.  And everybody is all too ready to believe that there are no or a very limited number of qualified black people looking for opportunities.  And so there is a perception that black people who get these opportunities didn’t deserve them.  Instead of people examining the performance of the gatekeepers as the source of the flaw in the system, it’s far easier to follow our social programming that leads us to assume that undeserving black people are getting a free ride.

To leave affirmative action in the hands of people who have to be forced to hire black people is like putting men we know for a fact abuse their wives in charge of an investigation and prosecution of instances of wife abuse.  And when instances of wife abuse continue unabated people will throw their hands in the air and say it is useless to enact laws and try and stop men from abusing their wives.  No one would tolerate such a flippant response.  Instead, we would return to the issue and try to get an in depth understanding of why it didn’t work.

Maybe, instead of being so quick to throw affirmative action out like the baby in the bathwater we should take another look at why so many people feel incompetent black people are getting hired for opportunities.  It actually sounds like we might have a chance to fully understand what’s happening so that we can get a better handle on undoing all the damage caused by so much social programming that continues to perpetuate the myth that black people are inferior.

At least my coworker might be feeling a little better about her choice to support Mr. Obama today.  I still have my issues with the Democratic nominee.  Nevertheless, Mr. Obama is still head over heels better than the alternative.

Friday, November 7, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts | 22 Comments

John McCain Wants An Underserved Handout

The latest word is that the American people should vote for a McCain Palin administration because if the Obama Biden for President campaign wins then we will have a political trifecta with the executive branch, the House of Representative and the Senate controlled by the Democratic Party.  The argument is that there will be no system of checks and balances if we have a single party running the country.  What they are essentially saying is, “remember the bang up job the Republican Party did in the first six years of a Bush administration with a rollover Republican Congress?”

The Republican trifecta, along with Senator John McCain, wasn’t worried about any checks and balances.  The Republicans came into the nation’s capital with across the board tax cuts to stimulate an economy already stimulated but slowing down.  While the average American got a tax break of a couple hundred dollars, the most well to do were getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax breaks, and major corporations like Exxon/Mobile with their tens of billions of dollars of profits would save millions and millions of dollars in extra profits.  Popular conservative thinking is that when you save companies millions of dollars, the extra profit will generate jobs instead of dividends for shareholders and bonuses for executives.  But somehow, for some reason, jobs continued to evaporate.

Our Republican tifecta did a bang up job managing our military.  After the attacks against the country on September 11th, 2001 by the terrorist who were predominantly from Saudi Arabia, the country pretty much unilaterally attacked Afghanistan and Iraq.  The Republican leadership sent our military into war with great expectations of a quick and easy victory with little in the way of sacrifice from the rest of the country.  Six years later, nearly a trillion dollars spent, and well over four thousand lives lost, our military is stuck in our first quagmire of the twenty first century.

The freedoms that we are so willing to go to war for and fight to protect have been decimated by the Patriot Act and we can now read about them in history books.  Our educational policies that can be summed up as no child left behind has consumed so much of our limited school resources to teaching our children how to take national tests.  We have watched our country turn its back on its own citizens drowning in our own backyard after hurricane Katrina because we had to learn how to rescue people.  We’re supposed to believe that the government is ready for an unforeseen terrorist attack when our Republican led government couldn’t even respond to a foreseen natural disaster.

And after all the complacency and arrogance of a Republican administration backed up by a Republican controlled Congress and helping to develop a conservative, heavily right winged Supreme Court, the Republican nominee for the oval office now wants to tell us that we need to send him and his protégé from Alaska to the White House so we can have balance.  His idea of balance is more war, more tax cuts for the rich, no spreading wealth around so more of us can afford to live, and more protection for corporate America.  If Mr. McCain was to become our President, I would not be surprised to see him do for people like Charles Keating, Jr. what he couldn’t do as a mere legislator.  That will be providing balance for the American people.

Mr. McCain wants people to vote for him because he’s not the Democrat.  Mr. McCain can’t give us a real reason to vote for him, other than we need party balance.  Vote for Mr. McCain because we need some kind of political party affirmative action.  Mr. McCain wants a handout because he is obviously not the best candidate.  But because he’s our best hope for keeping the Democrats from having control of everything political on a national level we need to vote for him.  Does he deserve it?  No!  Do we need to vote for a candidate whose only political claim is that he’s not a Democrat?  No!

If Mr. McCain wants to be President who should prove to people beyond a reasonable doubt that he is the most qualified candidate, despite his party affiliations.  I don’t want to vote for the guy who says, vote for me because I’m not one of them.  I want to vote for the guy who, as President, will demonstrate that he has the best plan for getting the country out of our doldrums brought to a head so well by the previous Republican administration.  The idea of voting for a President because he’s not a part of the party that was in the minority through the last eight years is not even close to being a factor in my decision.  Hopefully most votes share my view.

Monday, November 3, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, Life, Politics, Republicans, Thoughts | Leave a comment

If Obama Wins

Months ago, when Senator John McCain actually pulled ahead of Senator Barack Obama in the polls asking people who they favored for the presidency, somebody actually wrote that black people will riot if Mr. Obama did not win the presidency, as if to say that black people have become so used to having our political aspirations satisfied that we have difficulty accepting disappointment.  Everybody knows that when a black man or woman running for Mayor or Governor or any other political office and fails black people are quick to take to the streets.  Kind of like hockey fans when their team wins the Stanley Cup.  These are the same black people who riot when the company they work for don’t hire the black candidate to fill a position.

I hope you can tell that I’m being just plain silly.  Truth be told I’ve never heard of black people rioting because a black candidate didn’t get the majority vote and lost to the white opponent.  Black people are well aware that the political cards are stacked against the outcome that most favors the black community.  If Mr. Obama doesn’t win, what’s one more disappointment for the black community?  I seriously doubt if there’s going to be some big, nationwide black uprising.

But nevertheless, somebody wrote some time ago that black people are preparing to riot so therefore, white people need to prepare for anarchy.  It is a situation similar to the Y2K scare that said at the end of the second millennium, civilization would seize up because our computer driven systems, nearly everything in the modern world, would suffer an information crisis.  Nothing evil happened on midnight on the eve of Y2K.  It would’ve been nice had it did.  That way, all the people who invested in freeze dried food, electric generators, home water purification system, firearms and ammunition, a lifetime supply of toilet paper, and who knows what else would’ve gotten something for their survival gear investment.  But Y2K turned out to be without exception the biggest dud to feed our collective anxiety.

When it looked like Mr. Obama would lose, some people thought it would be prudent to prepare for the day Obama loses, or DOL, on November 4th.  DOL would be the straw that broke the frustrated black community’s back and we would all lose our minds and riot against the establishment.  At least, that was the thinking when it looked like Mr. McCain could actually pull off an upset with his pick of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate and people became enamored with the idea of having a political unknown with an Ellie Mae Clampett persona going to the White House.  It looked like Mr. McCain was truly going to pull off an upset akin to Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone, upsetting the superior pugilist Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers, in the Rocky saga.

But that’s all Hollywood improbable fiction.  This is the real world and things rarely go along the written script.

The crash of the American economy showed Mr. McCain at his worst.  The man was all over the place.  The fundamentals of the economy were strong but just hours later the economy was in crisis.  The next day he would hire a blue ribbon panel to study the economy for a few years.  The day after that he said he would fire the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Later that day he suspended his campaign until the legislature can develop a bailout plan and he wouldn’t debate his opponent.  After that he told David Letterman that he couldn’t appear on Mr. Letterman’s show because he had to go to Washington.  As soon as he hung up the phone Mr. McCain was on his way to make an appearance on the CBS News with Katie Couric.

I guess Mr. McCain though in for a penny in for a pound and threw his integrity out the window with his sense of political direction.  In response, many people snapped out of their flirtations with a possible McCain Palin administration and decided to put their support behind the Obama Biden effort.  It looks like DOL has been averted and we are headed for DOW, short for the day Obama wins.

However, I seriously doubt if the people who were preparing for DOL will be happy that they lost their chance to assist in the reestablishment of law and order in the black community.  It’s looking more and more like DOL is just like Y2K all over again, nothing but a big dud.  However, all that preparation for the defense of the establishment from a black community uprising could easily be applied to an offensive against the black community for the defense of the racial status quo.

On July 4th of 1910, Arthur John Johnson, better known as Jack Johnson, fought undefeated heavyweight champion James Jeffries who came out of retirement for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro.  In Reno, Nevada, in front of a crowd of twenty two thousand, after watching Mr. Jeffries knocked to the canvas twice, Mr. Jeffries’ team threw in the towel to keep their man from being humiliated by a knockout.  People in the black community were jubilant.  People in the white community were incensed.  That night, there were violent racial clashes all across the country.  People called them race riots but the more accurate term would have been white people attacking black people in order to keep black people in their place.

If one thing the political campaign has shown this year is the racism of America that ranges from the very vulgar and blatant to the sophisticated and subtle.  No other presidential candidate has ever had to deal with being referred to as a terrorist.  No other candidate has ever been lampooned as a sambo eating waffles.  No other presidential candidate had to deal with some jerk out of the opponent’s audience calling them unpatriotic or a borderline criminal or suggesting they should be decapitated.  It might just be campaign rhetoric.  But rumor has it that the death threats against Mr. Obama and his family have escalated in recent weeks and the Secret Service has the overtime pay receipts to prove it.

Back in the day when boxing was considered an exclusively white man’s sport because no one believed black men had the intelligence to formulate an effective boxing strategy, white people everywhere lost their minds when Jack Johnson, a black man, beat their best hope for redemption.  I think it is more likely that white people who will be the ones turning violent on or shortly after Election Day.  Somebody might suggest that people should prepare for an unruly black population if Mr. Obama loses.  Black people might want to prepare themselves for some people’s disappointment if Mr. Obama wins.

Monday, November 3, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Community, Black Culture, Black Men, Black People, CBS News, Democrats, Life, Racism, The Race Card, Thoughts, White Privilege | 5 Comments