Friday, November 10, 2017

So Tell Me Again; What Did Cosby Do?


So this morning I awake to yet another revelation about yet another perverted male celebrity, nothing new about that. Seems an almost daily "news flash". I can't help wondering where were all these empowered and/or outraged women during the public flogging of Bill Cosby whose new trial is just down the road? Did any of the newly accused or current victims speak ill of or jump on the Cosby condemnation, banish him from life, bandwagon while keeping quiet about their own experience? And are we really to believe that perversion has been this rampant in Hollywood and NO ONE knew who or where the pervs' were? Really? That just seems outside the realm of possible to me...


It did not seem possible to me that Cosby, a Black man, was running around Hollywood doing his deeds and no one knew and/or felt empowered to report him. No one? Nor does it seem possible to me that Hollywood now or in the past was so infested and no one knew. Not anyone? That is not how the universe works... If anything, this subculture was silently accepted, and I dare say protected, as part of the subculture that is probably not unique to only Hollywood.


No one can convince me that most people did not know who and where the pervs were. My guess is that they were talked about in whispers, avoided, others were warned about them, and sadly Hollywood was complicit in their existence or flourishing as them and their behavior was accepted as a dirty little, but not so secret, secret in Hollywood. Apparently being groped, molested or even raped was accepted as SOP by many who want to play in Hollywood. Call it a sad reality...


People were angry about my refusal to follow the public lead and hate on Cosby. Some even stopped speaking to and unfriended me on Facebook. I'm alright... Never did I defend what he was accused of because seemingly unlike most Americans, I was not in the room with Cosby and any of these women. I don't know what happened 40, 50 or even 10 years ago. What I do know however and have always known and advocated for, was that the allegations made against Cosby were not unique to him. I said repeatedly that if we were going to condemn and bury him then condemn and get the shovel out for others because he had a helluva' lot of company. I refused to support a double standard.


There was never any question to me that that which was being alleged against Cosby was not unique to Cosby. Not possible. He is part of a larger culture and certainly a product of a different time and era, where like it or not, what he was accused of was not so unusual. Does that make it right? Hell no. Does it make it hypocritical as hell to crucify him when we all KNEW that he had plenty of company. Hell yeah!


So as women, and now male victims too, amazingly seem to be finding the voice they were not inspired to find when the ish' was hitting the fan about Cosby, I fully expect to wake up tomorrow to yet another revelation about the down fall of yet another celebrity who we all love and adore today... Another sad reality...

Monday, November 6, 2017

Comforting Lies v. Unpleasant Truths

Saw this photo on Twitter this morning as I listen to the coverage of the horrific church shooting in TX on yesterday. I am wondering when America is going to stop telling herself "comforting lies" about gun violence in America and deal with the "unpleasant truth" that just as she diagnoses that there is a problem with "Black on Black" crime, inner city gang violence, "terrorist" Muslims here and abroad and such, she has an even greater problem with her refusal to address/control/acknowledge angry White guys obsessed with their guns who have moved on from killing innocent people in schools and places of employment to now shooting each other in the most sacred of places; churches and country western concerts... Call it terrorism...

A terrorist who goes to a country western concert or a country church in rural White America, ain't going there with the intention to terrorize and kill Black and Brown folks. How about we use the mindless catch phrase so conveniently used to sum up, while ignoring crime in other communities and just call it White on White crime? How about we continue to condemn and sensationalize crime in other communities and pretend that gun violence in White communitie
s isn't really happening or will just go away, you know like White folks on heroin and other drugs wasn't really happening and just went away... How's that working for ya'?

America, whose media, judicial, legislative, education, police systems and the like are so quick and have ready diagnoses for everyone else, has none for her own? Are they really wasting tax dollars to dissect the brain of the Las Vegas shooter? Really? Gimme' A Break! Come on America! Deal with YOUR shit! The truth shall set you free...

So, so sad. Sincere condolences to the Families of the victims of senseless crime in ALL communities...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

On Donna Brazile: I Think I Get It...




While the timing is undoubtedly horrible in light of pending elections on Tuesday and on the heels of long awaited indictments in the trump/Russia fiasco, I think I get why Donna Brazile penned her memoir. There is something to be said about Blacks in power, especially Black Women. No matter how fancy our title, whatever our pedigree, abundance of degrees, experience or our position of authority, one is left to question is our power as Black executives real or imagined, respected or tolerated, legitimate or for show and if we exert our authority, are there consequences?

I am guessing that a party which has documented complaints of feeling taken for granted and disrespected from what is likely their largest constituent base, Black voters, specifically Black Women, without whom no Democrat can win a national election, that a Black woman at the top of that party might have caught hell along the way, even while at the top. It is also quite likely that Ms. Brazile may just have had her fill and took to the keyboard out of despair or frustration. I'm Just Guessing...

Donna Brazile is a well known and respected Black woman political strategist who has been an active and loyal Democrat for decades. She is celebrated as a woman who has worked her way up the ladder and held some very prestigious positions along the way. She is noted for having worked on every presidential campaign between 1976 and 2000 when she became the first Black American woman to manage a presidential campaign for a major political party. Who will ever forget Al Gore and the infamous hanging chads (2000)? So it seems fair to assume that she knows her stuff, who are the key players and how the Democratic game of politics is played. It seems safe to assume too that she knows where the proverbial bodies lie and that she has paid her dues.

There are two things however, that I know for sure; (1) the Democratic party is under fire by Black [women] voters and (2) it ain't no bed of roses for most Black folks in the work place, especially Black women but specifically, Blacks in leadership positions. Given that Ms. Brazile meets both of these parameters, it seems pretty credible that her experience as a Black Woman In Charge (BWIC) was not much different than that of other Blacks who similarly hold positions of authority in their place of employment where they too are a minority in charge. Ms. Brazile faced the double whammy in that she is Black and female.

While nothing about Ms. Brazile suggests that she can't handle herself, I imagine that she, like other BWIC's in the workplace, over the years, has probably seen or questioned seemingly unfair practices that happened to other minorities and women in the work place. Sometimes she might have held her tongue, at least publicly, for the sake of the party, so not to be labeled [an angry Black woman], to get along, because..., because..., because..., that's what we do. We take the high road, vent amongst ourselves and usually internalize our displeasure for what might be a variety of reasons, mostly to keep our positions or at least a steady pay check, sometimes to avoid the assignment of a stereotype or simply to be seen as a team player. There are a myriad of reasons but working while Black can be a tightrope walk for sure.

In May 2017 Black women penned an open letter to the head of the DNC, Tom Perez,  offering
specifics to support being neglected and/or unappreciated by a party to which we are staunchly loyal. Black women overwhelmingly supported the Democratic party for  both elections of President Obama, and again we showed up for the 2016 presidential election voting for Hillary Clinton to the tune of 94%; a margin greater than any other constituent group. It does not seem therefore, such a leap to surmise that if Black female voters are having these feelings of rejection and despair from the Democrats as an organization, then it is likely that the BWIC is also feeling or being similarly disrespected or marginalized, despite her position of power at the top. Democrats as an employer are part of the larger society, therefore plagued with systemic issues indistinguishable from that of the larger society and/or other employers. Donna was not immune.

I have not yet read the soon to be released book, Hacks, The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, but I have pre-ordered a copy and have read excerpts from various sources on the internet. From reading the excerpts, I suspect that Ms. Brazile in her most recent position with the DNC did not feel respected as a woman of authority, a woman of color, nor perhaps as a woman of age or maybe just as a woman. She describes a situation in which she proclaims to three senior male staffers, that she is not "Patsey the Slave", a voiceless, brutally tortured female character in the hit movie, 12 Years a Slave. She speaks of a young man of 30 seemingly tolerating, disrespecting and dismissing her as a "senile old auntie" interested only in his rise to the top. Sadly, this was true too of and maybe reinforced during the Obama campaigns. Ms. Brazile offers descriptive narrative of how she felt when a White female subordinate, who took to Twitter to defend herself, openly challenged her authority. She tells her reader that it was not until February, four months after close of the election, when she finally heard from Hillary Clinton, the woman for whom she has presumably just worked to get elected.This is akin to the boss who needed to have called the employee long before then to say something...

Often when I see Blacks in positions where they can effectuate change yet I fail to see change, I ponder what is the problem. Is it is because when we [Blacks] have these positions of "power" we are mere figureheads or window dressings of diversity, expected to tow the line, know "our place" and who in actuality have no real power? Or is the problem that often we aren't comfortable or don't feel supported enough in our position of power to confidently exert our newfound authority to effectuate change and if so, why is that? What is the message that has been sent to those who drink the Kool-aid and who take their right to assume and exert authority seriously? How many are driven, as I suspect was Ms. Brazile when this time she stepped up to save the party and fill the shoes of her failed White female predecessor, to step outside the box and make their displeasure heard, much less memorialize it?


Ms. Brazile has been a party loyalist and for that she is due our consideration. If my theory is correct, and like, Fannie Lou Hamer, she just got 'sick and tired of being sick tired', who among us does not recall a time when we have felt disrespected and dis-empowered in the work place? She is catching hell right now in the sphere of public opinion, largely because of the timing of her release. I get that too. She, however, can handle it and will soon be on tour promoting her book and making her case. I support and will tune in to hear because she has earned and deserves as much. I will not join ranks and simply on queue and without question, throw her under the bus at the beckoning of those who prefer that she not speak her truth, air our dirty laundry, or tell our secrets; not now or ever. Nor will I respond to the beckoning of those who prefer that she not hold a mirror to the face of the "liberal and progressive" party that seemingly does not hear Black women nor want to see it's own reflection. If the Dems need to do some soul searching or housecleaning, now is as good a time as any. Can they hear us now? I'm Just Wonderin'... 

Ms. Brazile has been in the game and respected for far too long to be so easily dismissed. Nothing about her record suggests that she would do anything deliberate to derail or harm the party and certainly nothing to prolong trump's occupation of the white house. I plan to listen to what she has to say because I think I get it. I urge those who share any part of her experience or who know what I presume to be her truth, to hear her out because you too, just might get it...


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Policing & Community Engagement Is a Two Way Street...

This is the message I posted on the NYPD's 28th Precinct's Facebook page and emailed to their Commanding Officer. Be involved in your communities folks. They serve us. Engage them...


On yesterday, Aug 12, I spent the day in a positive event along with police officers exploring avenues of community engagement. Yesterday was a trying day being Black in America witnessing a rebirth 1960's hate and chaos in Charlottesville. On my way to see the movie Detroit at approximately 7pm, I saw at least ten officers including one white shirt, wish I was exaggerating but sadly I am not, surrounding one Black guy. They were on the sidewalk in front of McDonalds.


I thought it must be some kind of drill so I stopped to ask. I was told that it was not but that the gentleman had hit someone with a bat. The young officer and the white shirt seemed to share this explanation with some expectation that I would find their response acceptable. I did not... I said to them that if it takes ten of them to subdue one man, then we are in deep trouble! Surely, there must have been crime occurring somewhere else in the precinct. Surely...


The young officer was upset by my response. He then turned on me and told me to move along. I told him it was public space and that I did not have to. So he told me to step aside from the public spectacle THEY were creating and that was occupying much of the sidewalk. Seems their overkill was to show the public they are doing their job... The flip side of that however is showing the public that they are either very afraid, grossly under/unskilled and/or insensitive to the community they serve. There would not be ten cops including a supervisor arresting ten White guys with guns...


Come on NYPD. Respect the communities you serve with the same dignity and respect you would want in your own neighborhoods. I saw this once before with a NINE year old boy accused of shoplifting. It was upsetting to me then too. I spoke on it then too. Do your job and yes I support you in that but overkill is offensive.


And then I went to see the movie Detroit depicting the 1967 riots where rogue officers got away with killing innocent Black people in the Algiers Hotel for no damn reason you know, just as I am sick of seeing being played out still today... Yesterday was a trying day being Black in America. I wish the 28th Precinct had not added to it...


Be safe out there but respect the public you serve. Newsflash: Black folks are human. We are not animals. One Black man, with only a bat, should not be such a threat to warrant TEN skilled officers on the scene. IJS...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

When the System Is Broken...







Thank you NYT for publishing this article; Foster Care as Punishment, the New Reality of 'Jane Crow'. Can’t stress it enough, the double standard in our child welfare system is blatant and negligibly sanctioned by the courts. A state receiving Title IV funding from the feds is dependent upon not how many children receive services but how many children are in court ordered, out of home placements. So whose children end up in foster care and whose children do you think receive in home services? In NYC less than 4% of the children in foster care are White. Are we to believe that is by accident??? Only a fool...


Securing funding, keeping folks gainfully employed, providing a feeder for mass incarceration and validating a negative narrative that has been told incessantly for generations are the justifications for removing Black children from their homes. Often I am left to wonder just when did Black Mothers become so negligent, so incapable of parenting when is it Black Mothers who raised everyone else’s children? Hmmm….


 
Dating back to slavery when suckling Black babies were mercilessly pulled from the breasts of their screaming Mothers who were being sold to parts and persons unknown, never to see her babies again, there has been no regard for the humanity or maternity of Black Mothers, no sense that her heart was being ripped out, no regard for the sanctity or value of the Black Family so easily separated with even less regard given a litter of dogs.


Still, it is sentiments such as these that drive a very cruel system interested not in the welfare of children but instead punishment of their Mothers, punishment for being Black and/or poor and voiceless, overpowered by and mostly not represented in a system vested first in maintaining it’s own survival, perpetuating and validating the continuity of a lie of inhumanity and ultimately in destroying the Black Family. Job well done says a former social worker in both child welfare and corrections who absolutely abhorred both broken systems...


It is NOT a myth... 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Alycia's Smile



What A Woman, A Mother, A Daughter, A Sister, A Teacher, A Friend and so much more... 

Last Thursday on a gloomy, cloudy and rainy day without notice or warning the world lost a wonderful person. In her sleep she quietly slipped away. This Thursday, today, the clouds miraculously evaporated and gave way to beautiful blue skies so that approximately 300 people filled with lots of love for our Friend could show up to send her away... On a weekday, no less than 300 people put honor, love and respect for friendship and family before other commitments and our jobs. That speaks to just how special Alycia Walton-Money is...

Of course the program said to limit words of reflection to 2 minutes, they always say that. I am not sure because who abides by it? Today was no exception. Person after person made their way to the mic to bear witness to how wonderful Alycia was/is in words, mini sermons and even in song. None limited his reflection to two minutes. Each told of some positive impact that Alycia had had on their life. Person after person; friends, family, neighbors, former students and their parents, fellow parishioners and teachers brought tears of pride, joy and sadness to my eyes as they told stories about her warm and loving spirit. Each reflected about her beautiful and always present smile which thankfully was beaming at the us from monitors beyond the coffin that now houses her body and just above the pulpit. Still, in her last moments on earth, she consoled us with her smile for one last time.

Thank you Alycia... 

In our 56 years of life, our Mothers were childhood friends and pregnant with Alycia and I at the same time, I don't think I ever heard Alycia say a bad word about anyone. Not once. So I understood why today so many wanted to give testimony and say wonderful things about her. It was a love filled service. And oddly enough, I don't think anyone minded that fellow mourners were violating the two minute rule. Oddly enough I don't think anyone would have minded if everyone standing in queue was given an opportunity to speak. Sadly however that could not be... The pastor, keeper of time, fully recognizing that still there had to be an eulogy, was forced to cut reflections of love by the guests to allow the family to share their reflections and share they did...

Alycia's beautiful daughter Christina, paid loving tribute in word to her Mother, assured her Father of her Mother's undying love for him and tearfully and heartily thanked him for being such a wonderful partner to her Mother and wonderful Father to she and her Brother. She promised to always be there for him. Her words were so moving... Alycia's son Eric, offered a moving and heartfelt musical selection in honor of his Mother. She was so proud of her children. They showed us why... Alycia's Mother found the strength to share words of praise for her first born and somehow through her grief was inspired to offer wisdom to other Mothers about loving and letting their children go. The strength of her family was a testament to who Alycia was, what her Mother instilled in her and what in turn, she instilled in her children. Like Alycia's beaming smile, their strength consoled us.
                                                             
Thank you Family...

I am going to miss my Friend that is for sure. She was a number one cheerleader and always a supporter in my life and obviously in that of so many others. Between my tears and floods of memories, today I looked to the heavens and sincerely hoped that she thought me to be as good and supportive a Friend to her. The good do die young. Alycia is proof of that. She was good and lived a purpose driven and filling life. Seemingly God's reward for my dear friend being such a good soul here on earth was to take her away suddenly, without warning, very peacefully and without pain in her sleep. I think everyone today found comfort that such a beautiful person did not have to suffer. Today I said goodbye to my friend but never to her smile...

Thank you for Being My Friend...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Change Has Gotta' Come...



NAACP President Cornell William Brooks was ousted; vote of no confidence. This surprised me. I cannot speak much on it with any specificity because I don't follow NAACP that closely. But history and my gut tells me that it was probably not a good move. NAACP usually gets rid of folks making a difference or seeking to implement change and keeps those who "kiss the way TOO MANY rings" and who preserve status quo.

Former Presidents Ben Jealous & Bruce Gordon immediately come to mind. I remember being excited by the potential of both their leadership. More recently Ben Jealous who resigned, was unquestionably overshadowed and/or expected to share his limelight/leadership with CEO Roslyn Brock. This seemed awkward and to an outsider, made no sense. The face of NAACP leadership was cloudy, murky, unclear. The same was true of Bruce Gordon's presidency. He resigned in what seemed similar frustration of being forced to share his leadership responsibilities with "too many chiefs". It was following his resignation that I first recall hearing of NAACP having a really humongous and difficult to manage board of directors that was criticized for interfering and impeding Mr. Gordon's attempts to make progress and advance the organization. I do not presume to have the facts in either of these cases but I have no doubt that push back from the old guard and their resistance to change is what drove two very genuine and committed men out of what should be a stellar, revered and leading civil rights organization. It is also what earned them a vote of no confidence and fleeing by much of what was an established and solid membership. Have they done it again? I don't know but certainly I hope not...

I was President of a local chapter. It was not easy... Not at all... That they have been perceived as out of touch and less relevant is not new news to the NAACP. Reportedly under President Brooks' leadership and undoubtedly because of radical changes in our government, membership has flourished for the NAACP and many other civil rights and/or social justice organizations; an increase of 87% in membership reinforced by an upsurge in donations of 200%. Let's see what they do with it.

While the NAACP has certainly earned it's rightful place in history as a dominant and leading civil rights organization, somehow they got stuck on taking their status. They began taking their supporters for granted and seemingly instead began yielding and became beholden to the influence of corporate sponsors. They stopped fighting to maintain their position as the leader of a movement. They stopped earning and staking their claim. I want to see them do well so I sincerely hope that the organization as a whole does some serious self assessment before moving on to select a new "leader". They have to commit to truly get out of their own way and genuinely support whoever they put in place to lead the organization into a new day, in a new way, and with a new voice...

That being said, I recently renewed my membership BECAUSE I want them to succeed and BECAUSE I DO respect their legacy, what they have done and where they have brought us as a nation. MAJOR, MAJOR props! I KNOW upon whose shoulders I stand. While I am hopeful they will find their way, in my heart I feel distanced and estranged from the image and philosophy they project. But still and always I remain respectful of their work and hopeful for their future. I am thankful for the NAACP and sincerely hope that in the spirit of that soulful hit song by the legendary, talented, late and great Sam Cooke, I sincerely hope they realize and truly embrace that
Change Has 'Gotta' Come, oh yes it does...