Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Black Codes

There have been many ways to suppress people over time; unfortunately, African Americans have endured the brunt of these efforts. Of course, as you know, the history of America reports that it was not only our race subjected or affected by these efforts. What I can report is that it was always a minority and usually African Americans that were most affected by these laws to ensure they would remain a permanent underclass, where as others moved out of their station – all but the Indians. This ideology began as indentured servants, then slavery, segregation, and now could it be conservatism. In each of these classifications they called these laws Black Codes, which I suppose make the immoral sanctions sound kinder.

Black Codes were laws passed designed specifically to take away civil rights and civil liberties of African American on the state and local level. This is the reason Conservatives desire a return to “States Rights” and speak of taking back our country because at the state level they can be unimpeded in turning back the hands of time. Although, most of the discriminatory legislation, in terms of Black Codes, were used more often by Southern states to control the labor, movements and activities of newly freed slaves at the end of the Civil War. But as Malcolm X once said, “Anywhere south of Canada was south” meaning wherever you were in America you were subjected to discrimination in terms of the “separate but equal” laws of the land.

The Black Codes of the 1860’s are not the same as the Jim Crow laws. The Black Codes were in reaction to the abolition of slavery and the South's defeat in the Civil War. Southern legislatures enacted them during Reconstruction. The Jim Crow era began later, nearer to the end of the 19th century after Reconstruction, with its unwritten laws. Then there were sundown laws, which meant Blacks could not live or be caught in certain towns after dark. In some cases, signs were placed at the town's borders with statements similar to the one posted in Hawthorne California that read “Nigger, Don't Let The Sun Set On YOU In Hawthorne" in the 1930’s. In some cases, exclusions were official town policy, restrictive covenants, or the policy was enforced through intimidation.

After the abolition of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prior to that African Americans were considered 3/5’s human. Therefore, all former slave states adopted Black Codes. During 1865 every Southern state passed Black Codes that restricted the Freemen, who were emancipated but not yet full citizens. While they pursued re-admission to the Union, the Southern states provided freedmen with limited second-class civil rights and no voting rights. Southern plantation owners feared that they would lose their land. Having convinced themselves that slavery was justified, planters feared African Americans wouldn't work without coercion. The Black Codes were an attempt to control them and to ensure they did not claim social equality.

The Black Codes outraged public opinion in the North because it seemed the South was creating a form of quasi-slavery to evade the results of the war. After winning large majorities in the 1866 elections, the Republicans put the South under military rule. They held new elections in which the Freedmen could vote. Suffrage was also expanded to poor whites. The new governments repealed all the Black Codes; they were never reenacted - OFFICALLY.

Many of these things are unknown to the generations of today because these injustices have been erased from our history and very little of it is taught in today’s classroom. For example, a sundown town was a town that was all white on purpose. The term was widely used in the United States and Canada in areas from Ohio to Oregon and well into the South. Even in Canada many towns in Southern Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec, were sundown towns prior to 1982, when it was outlawed. The term came from signs that were allegedly posted stating that people of color had to leave the town by sundown. They were also sometimes known as “sunset towns” or “gray towns”. Let me ask if you have ever been to a million dollar community – sound familiar.

The black codes that were enacted immediately after the Civil War, though varying from state to state, were all intended to secure a steady supply of cheap labor and all continued to assume the inferiority of the freed slaves. The black codes had their roots in the slave codes that had formerly been in effect. The premise behind chattel slavery in America was that slaves were property, and, as such, they had few or no legal rights. The slave codes, in their many loosely defined forms, were seen as effective tools against slave unrest, particularly as a hedge against uprisings and runaways. Enforcement of slave codes also varied, but corporal punishment was widely and harshly employed.

Let me highlight this example: In Texas, the Eleventh Legislature produced these codes in 1866. The intent of the legislation was to reaffirm the inferior position that slaves and free blacks had held in antebellum Texas and to regulate black labor. The codes reflected the unwillingness of white Texans to accept blacks as equals. You do remember “Juneteenth”? In addition, the Texans also feared that freedmen would not work unless coerced. Thus the codes continued legal discrimination between whites and blacks. The legislature, when it amended the 1856 penal code, emphasized the continuing line between whites and blacks by defining all individuals with one-eighth or more African blood as persons of color, subject to special provisions in the law.

Minorities were systematically excluded from living in or sometimes even passing through these communities after the sun went down. This allowed maids and workmen to provide unskilled labor during the day. Sociologists have described this as the nadir of American race relations. Sundown towns existed throughout the nation, but most often were located in the northern states that were not pre-Civil War slave states. There have not been any de jure sundown towns in the country since legislation in the 1960’s was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, although de facto sundown towns and counties, where no black family lives - still exist.

Therefore, we see hints of it in the racism that has raised its ugly head and risen to the surface of societies consciousness, particularly in this political climate.
Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and especially since the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited racial discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing, the number of sundown towns has decreased.

However, as sociologist suggest it is impossible to precisely count the number of sundown towns at any given time, because most towns have not kept records of the ordinances or signs that marked the town's sundown status. It is important to note that sundown status meant more than just African Americans not being able to live in these towns. Essentially any African Americans or other groups who came into sundown towns after sundown were subject to harassment, threats, and violent acts; up to and including lynching.

As one historian has noted, "Racial segregation was hardly a new phenomenon because slavery had fixed the status of most blacks, no need was felt for statutory measures segregating the races. These restrictive Black Codes have morphed in one form or another to achieve its desired effect to maintain a superior status by the powers that be. I am only suggesting that we know and understand history for it will open the mind to what the future may present. Frankly, if you don’t know where you came from you will never get to where you are going.

Just a Season

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Hypocrisy of Democracy

If you regularly read, or follow, “Thought Provoking Perspectives” you know that I had a Granddaddy that I loved more than life itself. This man was only formally educated for only one year, yet he was brilliant. I recently posted an article called “Granddaddy’s Lessons” where I shared some of his wisdom virally with the world. He used to recite a number of witty sayings as he guided me into manhood, like “even a fool makes sense sometimes”. Rarely have I ever questioned “Pops” wisdom, but after witnessing the behavior or shall I say racism of today’s Conservatives. I have begun to question the logic of his words; particularly after this weekend’s passage of the long awaited, and much needed, Healthcare Bill.

While growing up my grandfather would shield me from the wretchedness that was the evils of racism. However, I was old enough to witness the brutality of peaceful demonstrations by black people on TV in the early sixties begging for equal rights. This is to include things like the aftermath of the church that was bombed killing four little girl, police attacking marchers, trampling them on house back, beating them with clubs, and assaulting them with high pressure water hoses. When I would ask Pops why did they do these things to us? He would say, “These acts were the lawlessness of the law”. I call it the hypocrisy of democracy.

Today, as I recall those dreadful horrors imposed upon us that were known as the “Law of the Land” they seem eerily similar to the atmosphere and mentality of the time we know live. Now that I have matured, I better understand that there is a philosophy that enables racism to exist. What we thought was removed from the consciousness of the American dogma was simply lying dormant. Therefore, in order to understand the current political environment that is affecting and polarizing society, we must ask the question; is what we are seeing conservatism or racism? To answer that let me provide Webster’s definition of both words:

• Conservatism: 1. a : disposition in politics to preserve what is established b : a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change; specifically : such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs.

• Racism: 1. belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. 2: racial prejudice or discrimination.

Over the past week Congressman John Lewis, who was beaten nearly to death on Bloody Sunday, was assaulted with racial epithets on the steps of the Nation’s Capital, which is the symbol, supposedly, of the freest nation on earth. Bricks were thrown through windows, death threats and other threatening messages have been made to Congressman and Government Officials. The President of the United States continue to receive an unprecedented amount of death threats, insulted with disrespectful caricatures, and now being referred to as the Antichrist. I would say this in the manifestation of a hatred that is pure evil.

There is talk of secession and we remember how well that worked out, it was called the Civil War which had its roots in the concepts that are on display now. As a result of the changing face of America the tea baggers espouse predictions of Armageddon because something, as they see it, has gone terribly wrong with the country – which only means that it is living up to the lie that it has lived mean “a government for the people and by the people”. It amazes me that after witnessing the last decade of GOP rule – where were they then with their cries and protest about the government run a mock.

It doesn’t seem like we are not going backward rather that things are turned upside down. For example, Mr. Lewis who marched for equal rights is now a powerful voice in the process of making laws. On the right, the opposite has occurred in the most disheartening and deplorable aspects as the conservatives want to “take back their country”. But for me, what I find most distasteful is seeing the head of the Republican National Committee, a “Colored Man”, which is like a Klansman under a sheet. This guy takes every opportunity to chime in with those who want to take us back to being second class citizens or maybe lynchings as it was during the time “they” say was so great.

With the constant battle cry of “States Rights”, not to mention, the way the news media covering the Tea Baggers protesting will somehow find the only Negro in the crowd to focus on, when in reality only a few African Americas are participating in this insanity. Just like “Manifest Destiny” was devised to justify one race’s superiority. The Conservatives movement is rooted in the psychology of racism and we know that involves pitting one against the other. Often times using the black face of someone who reminds me of my uncle who name is Tom.

When we protested, peacefully, I might add, they called us un-American. They told us to “love it or leave it” – “go back to Africa”. Let me add that we never threatened the lives of others when blacks begged for civil rights, particularly government officials, which in my opinion is treason. Let us remember that once upon a time people who had the same mentality thought slavery was sanctioned by “God”. These conservatives are not just racist but the real “Axis of evil”. Scripture tells us that the first shall be last and the last shell be first. Isn’t it a blessing that the people who were deprived of their rights are now making things right. Is it right yet, NO, but I can see the mountain top!!!

God Bless America and our President...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What Would Jesus Say???

I’d like to offer a few thoughts concerning the current political discourse revolving around the health care bill. I’ve often asked myself; how can man/people love God who he/they cannot see, but cannot love the physical being of a man who he can see?

If we were about to witness the Second Coming of our Lord, another question would be; what would Jesus say? Believing and knowing that his life was lived in service of the least of thee and also died for our sins - I wonder if he would react much in the way he did with the thieves in the temple.

Today, we will witness something that all moral peoples of other nations provide for their citizens – the ability to afford medical treatment when they are sick. We know that we are being poisoned by the food we eat, air we breathe and probably everything else we encounter in our environment that many think is by design because it allows the cartels to profit. However, we have a great president who has won the Nobel Peace Prize and now will accomplish something that no administration has done since the idea of health care reform was first introduced over a hundred years ago - Sheppard the passage of a health care reform bill.

I’ve watched the outrageous antics displayed during town hall meetings where the opponents of something as morally correct as helping the sick be able to afford the cost of staying alive - “act a fool”. Many of these folks are Republicans, it’s safe to assume, who believe in the sanctity of marriage, call themselves compassionate conservatives or Christian Conservatives, and believe in the right to life. Yet, they display such outrage and bigotry over an issue that would greatly benefit lives so many human beings.

These are, many of them, the same folks who don’t believe our current elected president is the president. In this democracy to be qualified for the job one needs to be born in America to which most reasonable people would agree Hawaii, where records clearly indicate President Obama was born, is part of America. Then of course one must be elected by a majority of voters, which he was and by some accounts a “Landslide”. These same folks are all for bringing democracy to countries around the world but they apparently are not willing to accept it when it works here unless it is financially beneficial to them. I suppose this is the hypocrisy of democracy.

While watching television coverage of a protest rally my thoughts were, I’ve seen this before – like in 1960 when black people were begging for civil rights. At one town hall event a news report covering the issue asked someone attending the rally; what are your concerns? She said, “We want our country back”. As if the country was overthrown. The elderly woman went on to say “she wanted to restore the country back to what the founding fathers wanted in the Constitution”.

I looked at her wondering if she was aware that the Constitution was signed in 1887 by all white men excluding everybody but them. The founding fathers she referred to lived in a time when they owned human beings as chattel and women had no rights whatsoever. Nonetheless, she was correct in that the Constitution affords us the right to free speech no matter how ridiculous it might be.

In her rage, she also said she does not want the government in her life making medical decisions for her. Hmmm – like the insurance company’s and HMO’s are doing now, if you are lucky enough to have insurance or can afford it. She went on to say that “Obama wants the government to kill old people, socialize medicine, and take away our Medicare”. The lady who looked to be in her seventies and was wearing a t-shirt that said support the troops obviously did not understand that both entities are government systems providing medical services that are socialized. I’ll bet receives and takes advantage of Social Security. To be respectful, this lady was surely among the low information crowd.

Standing near her in the frame of my television screen were people carrying signs with an erratic horary of issues. The most disrespectful was a sign that had the president looking like Hitler, arguably the worst man to every live. This might just be the reason for the Nazi remarks that could very well be a codeword for N- --- (n word) much in the way they throw around words like communist or socialist when referring to our president. Let’s be clear, the real issue is the face of what America looks like; a black President, a Jewish Chief of Staff, newly appointed Latin Supreme Court Justice, a woman Speaker of the House of Representatives – faces of ultimate power that are no longer all white men.

I don’t have to go back thirty or forty years because these people are the same ones we saw last summer attending rallies held by President Obama’s campaign opponent. However, I am old enough to remember the Jim Crow era when bigotry was a way of life and segregation was the law of the land. The problem is, I think, most African Americans have forgotten what it was like to be “Colored” and in spite of wanting to forget it I believe we are witnessing a “Columbus Experience”. By that I mean, we are discovering America or at least that segment of the “Real America” the now former Governor decried during the presidential campaign. Because the actions of these people are eerily similar to the racism of a time I’d hoped to never see again.

I am an avid history buff. I just love knowing about the past because to know it and understand it allows you a glimpse into the future. For example, I can recall somewhere around 1860 when there was a movement by many states with a perverse idea called “secession”, which occurred and the United States split into two countries. The reason, as we all know, was about money and the profits gained from the institution of Slavery. Today the issue has again been raised for the same reasons – money, profits, and race.

I heard a recent interview with the Republican Party Chairman, a colored man, who agreed with the “Tea Party Folks” that the country is going in the wrong direction. I suppose this was to symbolize the Boston Tea Party where the colonists were planting the seed of revolt. It is the same thing that was done in 1860 - revolt. I wonder if this guy realized that he would have been chattel at the time he was referencing or maybe he is now. Before I go on, let me say that these people seemed to forget what course the nation was on during the last eight years.

The actions of these people and let’s not leave out the radio commentators they listen to, who want the president to fail, spew their venom are creating a very dangerous environment reminiscent of a time that should be long past. Surely there are a lot of mean spirited evil people in this world and evil is not usually associated with Jesus. Let’s make sure we understand all of this is about money not health care because there is no money in the cure. Therefore, I think we know what Jesus would say.

But today we witness history as a Health Care Bill will pass and of that I am sure.
Thank you Mr. President!!!

Just a Season

Friday, March 12, 2010

Celebrating Women – All Queen’s

What an honor it is that someone thought to have a month to salute “Women” to which I concur and say thank you for and to the givers of life. It is during this month of celebrating women that I want to particularly show reverence to all of the beautiful Black women – all Queens. History tells us, and His-story agrees, that the oldest known human remains discovered is that of a black woman, whose name was “Lucy”, found in African over 4 million years ago. It is also a fact that Africa is the cradle of civilization, which means a black woman gave birth to mankind in a place called Pangaea.

These gorgeous creatures, proud, strong, baring the distinction of creating and continuing the species that was the first to walk the earth, caring for family, and carrying the world on her shoulders. She is God’s greatest creation. Therefore, I say it is an honor during this month that is dedicated to the “Celebration of Women” that I say - I LOVE YOU. This post is not meant to exclude women, who are also of distinction, from other ethnicities or hues because I love you too. Rather to express my profound appreciation for the wonders and wonderful Black Woman.

Some may say that today’s black woman, particularly young women, have lost their way. This is a subjective statement, which may be true to a degree but each of you ladies have the power to change that perception by guiding these young girls into womanhood. Because the nurturer in you knows that a real woman understands her strength and uses her power positively as a gift to mankind. I’ll say, the mantra so often used today “Strong Black Woman” is misguided because your strength is in unity, and I will leave that there as my prospective.

We can all remember, I hope, Big Mama who was the backbone of the family. This is the woman that I dedicate this article, and pay homage to those like her, for being the family’s greatest gift; a proud woman with wisdom, pride, and dedication with one purpose “family”. For all of those who use the mantra “Strong Black Woman” in a misguided way. Let me suggest that you use the First Lady, Michelle Obama our crowned queen, as an example for which to follow. As she portrays for the world to see what a black woman is - proud, graceful, supporting, dignified and charming - which is your strength.

Personally, my greatest heroine was Harriet Tubman because of her bravery and courage. It has been 97 years since her death, this week in fact, and I continue to be haunted by a powerful statement she made shortly before that fateful day. She was asked by a reporter if she knew how many slave she saved while conducting the Underground Railroad? She said, “I could have freed a lot more if they had only known they were slaves?” POWERFUL!!! I respect and honor her because she risked her life for the benefit of others traveling back to rescue many captive souls, 13 or more times, after she had escaped herself during a time that we cannot imagine today.

I want to also give special props to the actress/comedian Monique, for of course her Academy Award win, but more importantly for her staying true her roots. Regardless of what you think of the movie, her betrayal of characters, or her as a comedian – she is not sellout. If you are not aware, she did not do the Hollywood “forget where you came from” thing leading up to the award or after.

She supported those who supported her giving exclusive access to “Jet Magazine” and “Ebony”, for example. In addition, during a news conference where they, the mainstream reporters, traditionally get to ask all the questions, she began to call upon the African American reporters present. I was particularly proud of her because she said “you did not support me on my way here and these people did”. You go girl – that’s a strong black woman – much love.

There was a commercial a long time ago that said, “You’ve come a long way baby” or look at this way “from the outhouse to the White House”. These are just a few exceptional women that I am particularly proud of because of their integrity, pride, dignity, and fortitude, but there are so many more. So for those that came before you or walk amongst you; like Phyllis Wheatley, May Jemison, Mya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Madam CJ Walker, Sojourner Truth, the Queen of Sheba, Nefertiti, Big Mama, my Mom, you, and not to be left out the millions of heroines that the world have been blessed to share – you are loved…

Book Trailer

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Just a Season"

It’s been said, there are no words that have not been spoken and there are no stories that have never been told but there are some that you will never forget – until now. Just a Season is a luminous story into the life of a man who, in the midst of pain and loss, journeys back in time to reexamine all the important people, circumstances, and intellectual fervor that contributed to the richness of his life.

This fictional narrative begins with a grief-stricken father visiting the grave site of his beloved son who was killed in a tragic accident; a moment that he and no other loving parent should ever have to face. As he sadly gazes at his son's headstone and reads what is inscribed there, the dates 1981 - 2001 bring about an illuminating discovery.

The tiny dash that separates the years of one's birth and death represents the whole of a person's life. So if this tiny dash were to tell his life's story, what would it say? In Just a Season, the dash of this man's life is revealed and what emerges from the pages of this book is a legacy of true benevolence and grace.

Praise for Just a Season . . .

"Just a Season is a thought provoking novel by author, John T. Wills. ...focusing on various topics such as pain, suffering, love and life. The characters and the plot are captured very well. It is very well written from beginning to end. This is one of those books, where you cannot judge the book based on its title and cover." Congratulations well done! -- Afrika Asha Abney

". . . Thank you for your example of tenderness and discipline in what I know is a story of love, delicately shared with readers in a way that says, this life, though brief, is significant. So hold it in highest regard for "the dash" is our legacy to love ones, indeed to the world, which we are blessed to share, albeit, for Just a Season." Excellent! -- Sistah Joy, Poet, Cable TV Host

"Wills pulls you in from the very first page... Just a Season is a heart-wrenching story about growing up and believing in yourself. I highly recommend this book to young men in high school, trying to find themselves and feeling like they have nowhere to turn." -- Cheryl Hayes, APOOO Book Club

"This is the stuff movies are made of... not since Roots have I read anything that so succinctly chronicles an African American story." One Word phenomenal!!!
Cheryl Vauls, Library Services

"Not since The Color Purple have I read a book that evoked such emotions. John T. Wills possesses the ability to transport the reader directly into the life and struggles of his main characters story. This book actually touched my heart and inspired me to increase the equity in my "dash"! Excellent -- Tonja Covington

"Wills captures male bonding between generations and lets the reader passively watch as family love and closeness unfold on the pages . . ." Outstanding -- A great read -- Cheryl Robinson, Host and Executive Producer of JustAboutBooksTalkShow.com

"JUST A SEASON is laced with thought-provoking commentary on the Vietnam War, the assassinations of the 1960s, the migration of crack cocaine into inner-city neighborhoods, and a myriad of other ills that have rocked America. This is a very good piece intertwined with several history lessons spanning many decades." -- Dawn Reeves, RAWSISTAZ Book Club

"John T. Wills particulars each notion so eloquently that you feel that you're actually right there with him... this is an inflicting history lesson that I believe all African American males should experience." JUST A SEASON is a pivotal read -- Carmen, OOSA ONLINE BOOK CLUB

"From the first page you are transported into John's world as if you are there and are experiencing it with him. I am amazed at how John is able to use the events of the time to let you know where you are in time. I felt as if I was teleported... his ability to describe what was going on during that time makes me extremely proud of my heritage. You will come away with a feeling of, now I know why that is. I thoroughly enjoyed "Just a Season". - Mia L. Haynes

"Just a Season is a work of love, respect and honor... A book filled with the wonder of life, and the pain and growth encountered in living it." Outstanding! -- Ron Watson, Editor, New Book Reviews.Org

"in the final analysis the tiny little dash represents the whole of a person's life. If someone, for whatever reason, were to tell the story concealed within my dash. What might they say? ". A thought provoking and powerful read that will forever resonate within my soul . . . Speechless. Carron

I humbly thank you following "Thought Provoking Perspectives", BLACK EMPOWERED MEN, and your support of my phenomenal novel "Just a Season" that is a must read.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Granddaddy's Lessons"

A few months ago I posted this excerpt from my novel "Just a Season". I received a very special heartfelt request from a devoted follower of “Thought Provoking Perspectives” asking me to repost “Granddaddy’s Lessons”, as it is fitting for the times in which we live. Although she calls herself “a fan of my thoughts,” I call her my friend. Therefore, I am honored to repost this chapter that delivers a powerful message that I hope will enlighten, empower, motivate, and touch your heart as well.

Today we live in a world where there is no more Granddaddy to share that precious wisdom necessary to guide our young men, and women, into adulthood. I was very fortunate or maybe blessed, to have had a loving grandfather who shared many valuable lessons with me. These lessons formed the foundation of my very being…

"Granddaddy would say if you really hear me, not just listen to me, you will inherit life’s goodness. I would hear him talk about things like “God bless the child that’s got his own.” He constantly reminded me that everything that ever existed came from a just-single thought, and if you can think it, you can figure out how to do it just put your mind to it. I would constantly hear that a man must be able to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done regardless of the circumstances. “I raised you to be a man and as a man, you don’t know what you will have to do, but when the time comes, do it.” Granddaddy drove home the point, the difference between a man and a boy is the lessons he’s learned.

Granddaddy would say you will always have an enemy. Your enemy is anyone who attempts to sabotage the assignment God has for your life. Your enemy is anybody who may resent you doing positive things and will be unhappy because of your success. These people will attempt to kill the faith that God has breathed within you. They would rather discuss your past than your future because they don’t want you to have one. Your enemy should not be feared. He would say it is important to understand that this person usually will be close to you. He would tell me to use them as bridges, not barricades. Therefore, it is wise to make peace with your enemy.

“Just remember these things I say to you.” I certainly could not count all of these things, as it seemed like a million or more that I was supposed to remember. However, he asked me to remember above all else that there is no such thing as luck. The harder you work at something the luckier you get. I would tell him that I was lucky, maybe because I had won a ballgame or something. He would smile and tell me luck is only preparation meeting opportunity and that breeds success. Life is all about survival and if you are to survive - never bring a knife to a gunfight. This would be just as foolish as using a shotgun to kill a mosquito. Then he asked me to remember that it is not the size of the dog in the fight; it is the size of the fight in the dog.

Granddaddy’s words had so much power, although it would often require some thinking on my part to figure out what he was talking about or what the moral of the story was supposed to be. It may have taken awhile but I usually figured it out. For example, always take the road less traveled, make your own path, but be sure to leave a trail for others to follow. Life’s road is often hard; just make sure you travel it wisely. If you have a thousand miles to go, you must start the journey with the first step. During many of these lessons, he would remind me not to let your worries get the best of you.

Sometimes he would use humor. For example, he would say something like “Moses started out as a basket case.” Although most often he assured me that hard times will come and when they come, do not drown in your tears; always swim in your blessings. He would tell me he had seen so much and heard even more, in particular those stories from his early life when dreadful atrocities were done to Negroes. Some of the stories included acts of violence such as lynchings, burnings, and beatings. He would make a point to explain that the people who did these things believed they were acting in the best interest of society.

He would tell me about things he witnessed over time, that many of these atrocities were erased from the memory of society regardless how horrible the event was. Society’s reasoning would make you think their action was right, fair, and justified. Granddaddy would add, if history could erase that which he had witnessed and known to be true, how can you trust anything history told as truth? He would emphasize that I should never, never believe it, because nothing is as it seems.

I would marvel at his wisdom. He would tell me to always set my aim higher than the ground. Shoot for the stars because if you miss you will only land on the ground and that will be where everybody else will be. When he would tell me this, he would always add, please remember you are not finished because you are defeated. You are only finished if you give up. He would usually include a reminder. Always remember who you are and where you came from. Never think you are too big because you can be on top of the world today and the world can be on top of you tomorrow.

I think Granddaddy had the foresight to see that I could do common things in life in an uncommon way, that I could command the attention of the world around me. Granddaddy impressed upon me that change is a strange thing. Everyone talks about it but no one ever tries to affect it. It will take courage and perseverance to reach your place of success. Just remember that life is not a rehearsal. It is real and it is you who will create your destiny don’t wait for it to come to you. He would say, can’t is not a word. Never use it because it implies failure. It is also smart to stay away from those who do use it.

He would tell me that I was an important creation, that God gave a special gift to me for the purpose of changing the world around me. It may be hard sometimes, you may not understand, you may have self doubt or hesitation, but never quit. God gave it to you, so use it wisely. He would add often times something biblical during his teaching, or so I thought, like to whom much is given, much is expected. It is because we needed you that God sent you. That statement profoundly gave me a sense of responsibility that I was duty bound to carry throughout my life.

Granddaddy’s inspiration, courage, and motivation still humble me, and I’m filled with gratitude that his example profoundly enriched my soul. So much so that in those times of trouble, when the bridges are hard to cross and the road gets rough, I hear Granddaddy’s gentle voice reciting words once spoken by the Prophet Isaiah: “Fear not for I am with you.”

Excerpt from "Just a Season"
All Rights Reserved
(c) 2007

JUST A SEASON - a must read novel...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Thought Provoking Perspective!!!

It is my hope that Black History Month was a meaningful experience, and not just because it’s that time of the year when there’s sure to be something black, some form of black programming on every TV channel, everyday - until next year. I am humbled by those magnificent souls who’ve accomplished and sacrificed so much to remove obstacles placed before them, which have greatly benefitted our lives. Black History Month has now past and this is a good time to share “A Thought Provoking Perspective” concerning the state of us. I know this commentary will not sit well with everyone and if I offend, maybe looking in the mirror will help.

One of the few things we’ve been given as American’s is the right to free speech to which it also applies to you, and this post will surely get the village smoking (sharing your thoughts). Let me say, first, I speak for me and not, as Malcolm put it, “one of those chicken peckin so-called leaders”, who often times are SELF APPOINTED as the spokespersons for us. Frankly, I don’t recall voting for anyone other than President Obama. With that said, the corporate sponsored representatives need to sit down and speak for themselves.

LET ME BE CLEAR, I am not chastising those who represent, speak truth, or are working for the greater good – and we know who they are. But there are some that remind me of my uncle whose name is Tom – and we know who they are too.
So let me start my commentary, as they often do with something Biblical: “The harvest is plenty but the labor is lost”. Some of these voices have been little more than coconspirators, or at best, actively participating in the process of crucifying us. Let me explain, when you are crucified, you hang on a cross to die a horrible death. You are stripped of your garments (in this case reason), put in a position to suffer, to be degraded, and humiliated while you remain stationed in this place where they (the system) has put you and know where you will be.

History has demonstrated that anytime a black leader comes along with a message or the power to resurrect the masses, they have to be been eliminated. So why would it be in their best interest to put themselves in a position to be destroyed? Certain messengers say what they are told to say, by their sponsors, and stay in the comfort zone of the establishment. Often times these “self-appointed” leaders and their crusades are a lot like cancer, I think, in that there is no real agenda to find a cure or solve the problem, because there is no MONEY in the cure. Am I stopping short of calling some sellouts – I’ll leave that for you to interrupt but the system is designed to protect the system.

There is, and has been a lot, too much, talk and very little action. We have talked, gathered, and marched enough, in my opinion; it’s time for action leading to solutions. We put on the Obama pins and buttons with pride and jubilation helping him to become our president, as if that was enough, expecting him to wave his hand and all of our problem would magically disappear. Well that is not going to happen.

Over the years, we have marched with a million men, a million women, and million youth, watched or attended the State of Black America events to include any number of similar events that was suppose to solve our problems – I’m still waiting. Oh, let’s not forget “The Covenant” that all of us bought that only benefited the author. In many cases, these folks claimed to have received a “calling” to which I suppose is similar to that of someone standing in a pulpit might allege, when they say they’ve heard the voice of God calling him or her to preach the gospel. Maybe it’s just me, but I have yet to hear that voice - I am waiting though.

I said that to say this, if this is a true calling then passion is the motivator that drives one to obtain results for reasons other than self-serving agenda’s. I recently reread the “Mis Education of the Negro” and I have to say it was eerily similar to the condition our people face today. Actually, it could have been published last year and not in 1933. Dr. Woodson said, and I believe, “if you control what a man (or woman) thinks you never have to worry about what they are thinking.” So I suggest that you be careful of false prophets and to judge them by the work they do, because your mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Today, African Americans are in the best position of any that came before us. So, why are we still no better off as a community, family, or individually than those who struggled, suffered, and died for us. We don’t support each other in business, relationships, our kids are killing each other, black on black crime is prevalent, we don’t take full advantage of educational opportunities, the dropout percentages are a disgrace - I could go on and on. Those strong proud souls who came before us must be turning over in their graves.

We have been hoodwinked, bamboozled; we’ve been took, had, and obviously still mis-educated to the point of sustaining this misery. Again, I say this is MY Thought Provoking Perspective and I ask now that Black History Month has past – what will you do? Do you have any suggestions that could improve the State of Black America? Are you going to do anything that might require you to give of yourself for the benefit of others? I know many Church Folk say such things on Sunday but what about the other six days and 22 hours? It seems to me that we are on “Calvary” and, I for one, CRY OUT to these so called leaders and you; “why have thou forsaken thee?”
Let me offer an idea to be considered: “God Bless the child that’s got his own”.

There are more than 38 million African Americans living in America and some of us understand that we are a nation of people living within a nation searching for a nationality. Knowing this, why are we still waiting for someone else to solve our problems? Frankly, that is the action of a child!!! Maybe one of “our leaders” could propose something like this: if each of us contributed one ($1.00) dollar each week to a fund where we had access to our own capital, for our development and survival as a people – like other ethnic groups. We could solve many of our problems.

Let’s do the math, if the estimates are correct and there are about 38 million African American citizens. Now, add 38 million times 52 weeks = $1,976,000,000. We can assume some will give more, which will raise this figure to over A TRILLION DOLLARS annually plus interest to be used. In addition, if we begin to spend half of the 5 TRILLION DOLLARS we spend each year elsewhere within our business communities; we would establish economic power leading to a strong voice to be heard in this capitalist society.

Now, herein lies the problem; many will say whose going to handle the money, which leads to our mistrust, conditioning, and wretchedness that would not allow us to do something to remove the crutches that are embedded in our minds. Just as was stated in the Willie Lynch letter, which said - “they must trust only us…” Yet, most will gladly tithe every Sunday and get nothing but a good feeling.

Let me end with a remark made by the noble Harriett Tubman. She was asked by a reporter shortly before her death, if she knew how many slaves she saved while conducting the Underground Railroad? She pointedly said, “I could have saved a lot more, if they had only known they were slaves.”

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