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My Opinion on topics

Soul-Searching with a Cup of Java

It’s overcast outside. Grey clouds are threatening a downpour at any moment. On autumn days like this one, I like to put on some easy-listening music, grab a cup of coffee and sit and think.

I call it quiet introspection.

People who know me say that I am transparent. I admit that I am also opinionated. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Holding my tongue not only belies who I am; it agitates me like an itch that gets worse the more I scratch it. There are some things – not many – that I will not speak openly about unless I am asked, and my answer may be brief but candid. Depending on the topic, my advice is if you are not prepared to hear the answer, then don’t ask the question. It’s a play on the axiom, “Be careful what you wish for; you just may get it.”

Someone else’s viewpoint about an issue is their opinion, and mine is mine. They may argue that my perspective is wrong, but I will not change my mind to appease them. By the same token, if someone disagrees with me, I won’t try to change their mind, but I will let them know that I feel differently.  Everyone has an opinion (though, but some folks would never admit to it). The best thing for strengthening an opinion is having reliable information to support your position. For instance, if I say that over half of the people in this country drink coffee every day, that is my opinion. If I say that a Reuters study shows that 64 percent drink it daily, I’ve backed up my opinion with data provided by a verifiable source.

I try to be open-minded to suspend judgment and to accept without condemnation things with which I don’t entirely agree. I am no more perfect than the next person, and I wouldn’t think of casting the first stone. But what I am not – is a hypocrite.

This nonconformist does not follow the herd. I will not pretend to believe that day is night, left is right, and what I perceive to be wrong is right just because society may dictate it or because everybody else thinks it’s okay. Nevertheless, my doctrine is simple – live and let live.

My mother was dutifully religious. I consider myself more spiritual than religious, but the disadvantage of being a child imbued with a strict religious upbringing is that it sticks with you through adulthood. Mother has been dead for six years; however, in my mind, I still hear her quoting Proverbs 22:6. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

I don’t know how many times I heard her say that when I was growing up.

Sometimes we deviate. That doesn’t mean that we forgot the lessons. God bestowed us with free will, and fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, we make a conscious choice to choose the other of the two roads in our path instead of the trail we were taught to follow.

Since the scriptures prophesize that we “all have sinned,” sometimes I think that trying to walk a righteous path is futile. If I could say that to mother now, she would immediately remind me that the Bible also says that each of us will be judged according to our deeds.

So, I reiterate that I will live and let live. But I refuse to be fake. Sometimes even when I go along to get along, I feel like a fraud. Anyone who wants me to accept them for who they are must, in turn, take me for who I am. Because we disagree doesn’t mean that we have to be nasty about it. It merely means that we have a different point of view.

Indian philosopher Krishnamurti said, “The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” I haven’t reached that peak. Maybe I never will. But I don’t worry about it, because I have plenty of company on the concourse level.

It takes an extraordinary person to look at something – anything – in a completely neutral manner. Can someone be open-minded and critical at the same time? Is it feasible to think that even the smartest person can observe something and not draw a conclusion? I wonder. Because someone doesn’t publicly express an opinion, but that doesn’t mean that he or she has not formed one?

There is nothing like relaxing to some easy-listening music, a cup of coffee, and quiet introspection – in my opinion.

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Getting It Off My Chest

Have you ever had something bother you so much for so long that you finally decide to get it off your chest? Although I’ve been retired from the workforce for years, this letter is one that I’ve wanted to write ever since I left corporate America.

I’m doing it now because recent news stories concerning systemic racism have resurrected suppressed feelings. Although throughout my working years, my experiences in the workplace were overall pleasant, and I had an excellent working relationship with the majority of my managers, there were a few exceptions. There were a couple of places I worked where the racism of the person for whom I worked was as evident as a massive zit on the nose.

One manager was a pretentious, conniving woman. She reminded me of the lead character in the film The Devil Wears Prada. The other was a short, balding, overweight man who reminded me of the Pillsbury Doughboy. It is to him that I address this letter.

Greetings You,

I know that it is customary to include dear in the salutation of a letter, but there is nothing dear to me about you.

Years ago, for several months too long, I worked indirectly for you, under the supervision of an upstanding man who was everything that you were not. He was kind-hearted, polite—a gentleman. I often felt sorry for my boss because you came to be his boss as an accident of fate.

Before your arrival, we had a well-run, pleasant office. To my knowledge, there was little or no office drama or backstabbing among the staff members. If there was, I never saw it. And then you arrived on the scene. It wasn’t long before the milieu of the office changed, for worse. Perhaps you fooled some of the other employees and associates, but you didn’t fool me. You soon showed who and what you are.

At first, I tried hard to get along with you, but my effort didn’t last long. I am not easily fooled by covert racists. Closet racists – as I call people like you – are much more dangerous than apparent racists who do not attempt to conceal who they are. And you, in my opinion, were and may still be, a closet racist.

For whatever reason, you never approached me directly with your concocted critiques. You assigned others to do your dirty work for you. Did you think that I did not know the source of sudden criticisms that did not begin occurring until after you arrived? I treated you with respect as I did everyone else in the office, but because I did not kowtow to you as some did, I think you perceived that I did not fear you. You were right. I didn’t. My mother raised us to be decent, friendly, respectful people, but not bootlickers.

The tension between you and I got so bad sometimes that I imagine that when you looked in my eyes, you saw the stereotypical angry black woman (I doubt if anyone else did. No one else ever brought her out.) If that is what you perceived, then we are on equal footing, because whenever I looked at you, I saw Bull Conner, David Duke, and a white robe wearing, pointed hood, Grand Dragon. Not only did I learn about snide remarks that you made about some other black people in the office, I also noticed that you treated black staff members differently. Your racism may not have been evident to all, but it was to me. Sometimes I think you had every staff member there – black and white – shivering in their boots for fear that one misstep with you and they’d risk losing their job, but I did not fear you. Some people have a higher tolerance for racists than I do.

The thing about closet racists is that they think that they are good at concealing their hatred. It would take an apocalyptic change to salvage people like you. You may doubt it, but I was as happy when I left there as you were to see me go.

Understandably, a lot of people remain silent about racism in the workplace because they value their jobs. If I were not happily retired, I might maintain my silence, too. After all these years since I left corporate America, systemic racism still exists, and people like you are still the head fish.

Today’s younger generations are the civil rights era soldiers reincarnated; only they are more outspoken. They are less timid, stronger, stout-hearted, resilient, challenging, and if necessary – although I believe the majority are peaceful protesters against the system – they will fight back. I have seen on tee shirts worn by many young people the ominous statement, “We are not our grandparents ….” What’s more, other people, brown and white, even your children and grandchildren, are allies. They cannot purify racists, but they can and are fighting systemic racism along with the old soldiers who are still standing.

Well, I’m glad I finally got that off my chest.

Sincerely,

Your nemesis.

One more thing, have you ever heard Sam Cook sing A Change is Gonna Come? Take a listen, watch the video, and think about it. Significant change may not come in my lifetime or yours, but it’s coming.

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Reflecting on Being Too Tired to Laugh

My earbuds are in place, and I’m listening to Bobby Womack croon, “I’m looking for a love.”

Not me, Bobby. I’ve got love. I’m looking to laugh again. I want to rediscover humor in a country blanketed under a cloud of gloom.

Anxiety simmers everywhere. I rarely hear anyone laughing anymore. I’m not talking about a forced smile or a polite chuckle. I miss the shoulders jiggling, head thrown back, falling in the chair laughing. I haven’t laughed like that in a long time and rarely see anyone else doing it. But I hear a lot of people saying, “I’m tired.” Not tired like the exhaustion you feel after a long workday at the office. It’s mental fatigue. Enough-is-enough. Sick of the existing state of affairs tired.

My list of tired is long. I’m tired of hearing about social distancing and the coronavirus death toll. Tired too of sheltering in place because going outside means dodging unmasked people and avoiding crowds. I’m tired of anarchy and criminal politicians – rotting from the head down. I’m tired of reports of voter suppression. I am sick and tired of seeing numerous newscasts and amateur videos of black people getting beat down or killed by rogue cops. I am mentally exhausted from seeing unprovoked injustices against the same people for driving, walking, working, living – while black. I’m tired of reading incredible reports about black people found hanged in public places, and their death ruled a suicide. I’m tired of seeing non-violent protesters attacked by goon squads and racist hatemongers because the activists rightly believe that black lives matter.

I’m tired of being tired. I need to get my laugh on. Reset my funny bone.

I used to have a good sense of humor; don’t know when my funny side slipped away like a runaway bride. I woke up one day and realized that finding something to laugh about in a topsy-turvy society is difficult. Experts say that humor keeps us psychologically healthy, so I often remind myself of the words of Maya Angelou, “Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”

I want not to be tired. I want to laugh freely again. I want normalcy. To hell with the so-called new norm. I long for a return to normalcy as it existed half-century ago before people began questioning, “What is normal?” If half-a-century is a stretch, then I’ll settle for normalcy as it was before 2020, better still before 2016.

I know I am not alone. Every God-fearing person I know is as tired as I am of the status quo. We all want to feel untired. We want to relax and laugh again.

I believe that eventually, things will get better. Scientists will discover a vaccine for COVID-19, and November 3 could bring hope for a major overhaul in January 2021. That would surely give us something to laugh about.

I am a realistic optimist. I realize that a nightmare scenario could recur on Election Day. (God forbid!) So, I’ll wait until the final count is in, and refined people have reclaimed the building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And then, to paraphrase a favorite hymn of mine, I won’t feel no ways tired, ’cause you’ll find me at Lafayette Square, aka BLM Plaza, laughing my ass off while doing a happy dance.

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Say Their Names

I cried this morning. After saying my morning prayer and thanking God for waking me, I cried for people who won’t see the new day.

I cried for George Floyd, the most recent poster man for police abuse. I cried for Sandra Bland and Philando Castile. I wept for all of the people listed below whose lives resulted in unnecessary and senseless deaths at the hands of rogue law enforcement officers, and as in the case of Trayvon Martin, wanna-be-cops.

I no longer watch the video showing a policeman with his knee, pressing George Floyd’s neck to the ground, applying his full body weight, squeezing the life out of the helpless man lying prone with his hands cuffed behind his back. Once was enough. I am tired of seeing videos of black people, particularly black men being murdered by the boys in blue, who, without courage fueled by a badge and gun, might otherwise be quivering cowards.

All seasons are open season on black people. Some cops – and I emphasize some because not all of them are bad – appear to take pleasure in using lethal force and lethal weapons against unarmed black men. You need a license to hunt animals, but black men are fair game. Shoot them. Stun them to death with a taser. Hang them in a jail cell or suffocate them on the street. Hands up, hands down, hands cuffed behind their backs, it doesn’t matter to corrupt officers. They spot their prey and slay it.

The unmerciful killing of black people is happening in cities across the country. Will it ever stop? Amerikkk have you no conscience?

On May 24, The New York Times ran a list of people who succumbed to COVID-19. How about we start compiling and publishing lists of the black people who have been murdered by law enforcement officers or hate monger racists like those who killed Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr?

In these contemporary times, high-profile police brutality cases draw public attention and protests. Still, I suspect that numerous cases are so well covered-up that the public never learns about them.

It doesn’t matter if brown-skinned targets happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or the right place at the wrong time. Any time or any place can be a kill zone for a cop on a mission, including one’s own home.

If you have a relative or friend who you haven’t seen or heard from for a while, do not, I repeat, do not call the police and ask them to do a wellness check. Last year, a neighbor of Fort Worth, Texas resident Atatiana Jefferson, after noticing her door ajar, called the police and asked them to look in on Atatiana. According to reports, a responding officer saw a movement through the window of Atatiana’s home and fired. She was shot dead — in her own home. In September 2018, Botham Jean was murdered by a Dallas policewoman in his home. She claims she thought it was her apartment. In February 1999, Amadou Diallo was mowed down by four plain-clothed police officers. They blasted him with 41 shots as he was preparing to enter his apartment building. They claim to have mistaken him for a rape suspect, a claim that was never confirmed by any evidence.

When I began researching this subject, I was determined to find and list enough related cases to produce a list at least half as long as the corona list published in The New York Times. A list of black citizens who have been haphazardly murdered for decades would surely fill up several issues of the paper. In that regard, Coronavirus ain’t got nothing on us.

While researching the subject, I read so many stories about people who unjustly suffered death by cop until I couldn’t read anymore. Every story tugged at my heartstrings. My emotions were too raw for me to complete the task. In some cases, the officers were charged and convicted, but many times, they were not criminally charged. I read the line “No officers have been charged with a crime,” so often, I thought I’d vomit. Many rogue cops get off Scot-free to live to kill another day. During a recent newscast, I heard a man say, “Being black in America should not be a death sentence.” Oh, but unfortunately, it is.

If you aren’t familiar with some of the names in the list below, Google them. Read their stories, pray for their soul, and say their name.

 

Akai Gurley

Albert Davis

Alonzo Smith

Alton Sterling

Alvin Haynes

Amadou Diallo

Andre Larone Murphy, Sr.

Ahmaud Arbery

Anthony Ashford

Artago Damon Howard

Arthur McDuffie

Askari Robert

Asshams Manley

Atatiana Jefferson

Bettie Jones

Billy Ray Davis

Botham Jean

Brandon Glenn

Brandon Jones

Breonna Taylor

Brian Acton

Brian Day

Brian Pickett

Bryan Overstreet

Charly Leundeu Keunang

Christian Taylor

Christopher Kimble

Cornelius Brown

Dajuan Graham

Dante Parker

Darrell Brown

Darrell Gatewood

Darrius Steward

David Felix

De’Angelo Stallworth

Denzel Brown

Deontre Dorsey

Dominic Hutchinson

Dominick Wise

Donald Ivy

Dontre Hamilton

Eric Garner

Eric Harris

Ezell Ford

Felix Kumi

Frank Shephard III

Frank Smart

Freddie Gray

Freedie Blue

George Floyd

George Mann

India Kager

Jamar Clark

James Carney III

Jason Moland

Jerame Reid

Jeremy Lett

Jeremy McDole

Jermaine Benjamin

Jonathan Sanders

Junior Prosper

Keith Childress

Keith McLeod

Kevin Bajoie

Kevin Garrett

Kevin Matthews

Kris Jackson

Lamontez jones

Laquan McDonald

Lavante Biggs

Leroy Browning

Leslie Snapp

Lorenzo Hayes

Matthew Ajibade

Michael Brown

Michael Lee Marshall

Michael Noel

Michael Sabbie

Miguel Espinal

Natasha McKenna

Nathaniel Pickett

Norman Cooper

Paterson Brown

Philando Castile

Phillip White

Rayshun Cole

Reginald Moore

Richard Perkins

Roy Nelson

Rumain Brisbon

Salvado Ellswood

Samuel Dubose

Samuel Harrell

Sandra Bland

Spencer McCain

Tamir Rice

Tanisha Anderson

Terence Crutcher

Terry lee Chatman

Terry Price

Tiano Metron

Tiara Thomas

Tony Robinson

Trayvon Martin

Troy Robinson

Tyree Crawford

Victo Larosa III

Walter Scott

Wayne Wheeler

William Chapman II

Zamiel Crawford

 

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Count to Ten

People are losing their mother freakin’ minds. Our lifestyles, social practices, and in some cases, living arrangements are changing from day-to-day. The novelty of enduring temporary adjustments has worn off, and social distancing is forcing another new norm upon us. Health-minded, law-abiding citizens are trying to comply with each change, while resisters in places like Michigan are openly protesting. Nearly everybody’s patience is growing wafer-thin, and some people are spelling pandemic P-A-N-I-C.

I don’t go outside very often unless I need something from the store or am feeling claustrophobic and desperate for a change of scenery. This morning, I decided to go out and buy groceries, and I invited my daughter and grandson to join me in case I purchased more items than I could carry.

We were all wearing masks as was everyone who I saw in the store, and most shoppers were following the silly arrows on the floor, directing pedestrian traffic.

As we were preparing to leave, we apparently got too close for comfort (less than 6 feet) to a woman who was standing in front of the exit with her cart of groceries. She too was wearing a mask.

Perhaps she was waiting for a ride; I don’t know. What I do know is that if you don’t want people walking near you, then you need to stand someplace else instead of in front of the exit door. Anyway, as the three of us drew nearer to her, she got wide-eyed, grabbed her cart, and sprinted back into the store, all the while mumbling something mostly indecipherable about social distancing. I can smell attitude from a mile away, and she had a big-time bad attitude, which I chose to ignore.

As I said, people are losing their mother freakin’ minds. And to add to the madness – some grocery and convenience stores are now scheduling shopping days based on shoppers’ last names.

Stressed to the max is the phrase of the month. I won’t be surprised to see skirmishes start to break out in grocery stores and everywhere else over little indiscretions. I feel that if things don’t turn around soon, it will come to that. I say turn around instead of return to normal because I doubt if normality will ever return. Normal bought a one-way ticket to forever-gone. Having to adjust to new societal rules like social distancing is driving some previously mild-mannered citizens mad. What do you think?

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