Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year’s Biggest Losers

2There has been a lot of talk about who had the worst you in 2013. Some say it was Hillary Clinton, others say President Obama, but most seems to think this distinction goes to either, depending on your political point of view, the Republicans or Democrats. For what it’s worth, in my view the real losers were you and I. It was the least of thee! Our government’s political process has failed the people who fund it to work for them.
The people commonly referred to as the middle class has now become what black people have traditionally been in this country. Let say it more clearly, second class citizens or to be more succinct – we’re all N-Words now! You heard it straight from the horse mouth during the presidential campaign when the GOP candidate was caught on video tape saying 47% of the people in this country were unimportant.
There has not been anything done to benefit the least of thee resulting from the political process. Of course, this is not new. For eighty- years during the last administration the gap between rich and poor widened more significantly that at anything since the 1930s. Yet, the persons in charge started two wars that we will probably never finish paying for but they, and their cohorts were paid in full. I only mention this because that is the main reason we are in this predicament today.
It is not the rich who fight the wars nor do they make any appreciable sacrifice to that end. It is the poor! Unemployment has not been adequately addressed while our leaders ended the help that 1.3 million Americans need to survive.  Yet, monies are available to be sent anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice for anything from a fabricated crisis to dropping bombs on countries where we have no business interfering in their affairs.
The children of this nation suffer in nearly every imaginable way be it from hunger or educations. The old, our elders, suffer. The mentally challenged suffer. Benefits for the people who have paid taxes are refused. Food stamps and alike are cut. What kind of country neglects its own in such an amoral manner?
So it is from my vantage point the biggest losers of 2013 was the least of thee and it was caused by government did not work for us. I pray that the year 2014 will produce a regard for “We the People”. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Monday, December 30, 2013

Incarceration Nation

09One of the most pervasive problems facing America today, other than racism, is the explosive incarceration rates that only benefit the subsidized private interests. This injustice is as old as the country’s government sanctioned “Jim Crow” system. The incarcerate rate in the United States of America is the highest in the entire world. We have lived and been taught that America is the land of the free and the place that respect the human rights of it people.
Those who follow and read Thought Provoking Perspective understand that I use this blog as a potent source of empowering knowledge to broaden the information base on issues that affect mankind. This particular issue is one that is much like slavery in that the perpetrators of this injustice believe, like the slave master, that there is nothing to see here, and it’s not a problem.
Numbers don’t lie, as of 2009; the incarceration rate in America was 743 per 100,000 of the national population (0.743%). In comparison, Russia had the second highest, at 577 per 100,000, Canada was 123rd in the world at 117 per 100,000, and China had 120 per 100,000. While Americans represent about 5 percent of the world's population, nearly one-quarter of the entire world's inmates are incarcerated in its prison system.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 201, which is about 0.7% of the adult resident population. Additionally, 4,814,200 adults at the end of 2011 were on probation or on parole. In total, 6,977,700 adults were under correctional supervision be it Probation, parole, jail, or prison in 2011amounting to 2.9% of adults the resident population. The report also states that there were 70,792 juveniles in juvenile detention in 2010.
The BJS has released a study which finds that, despite the total number of prisoners incarcerated for drug-related offenses increased by 57,000 between 1997 and 2004, the proportion of drug offenders to total prisoners in State prison populations stayed steady at 21%. The percentage of Federal prisoners serving time for drug offenses declined from 63% in 1997 to 55% in that same period. In the twenty-five years since the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, the United States penal population rose from around 300,000 to more than two million.
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that U.S. State prison population growth rate had fallen to its lowest since 2006, but it still had a 0.2% growth-rate compared to the total U.S. prison population. When looking at specific populations within the criminal justice system, the growth rates are vastly different. In 1977, there were just slightly more than eleven thousand incarcerated females. By 2004,,, the number of women under state or federal prison had increased by 757 percent, to more than 111,000, and the percentage of women in prison has increased every year, at roughly double the rate of men, since 2000. The rate of incarcerated females has expanded at about 4.6% annually between 1995 and 2005 with women now accounting for 7% of the population in state and federal prisons.
The United States has a higher percent of imprisoned minorities than any other country in the world. In Washington D.C., three out of every four young black men are expected to serve some time in prison. In major cities across the country, 80% of young African Americans now have criminal records.
This brings me to the “unspoken truth” or the elephant in the room – RACE!  According to the BJS non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population. In 2009 841,000 black males and 64,800 black females out of a total of 2,096,300 males and 201,200 females were incarcerated. According to the 2010 US Census Bureau blacks, including Hispanic blacks comprised 13.6% of the US population.
Hispanics (of all races) were 20.6% of the total jail and prison population in 2009. Hispanics comprised 16.3% of the US population according to the 2010 US census. The Northeast has the highest incarceration rates of Hispanics in the nation. Connecticut has the highest Hispanic-to-White ratio with 6.6 Hispanic males for every white male. The National Average Hispanic-to-White ratio is 1.8. Other states with high Hispanic-to-White ratios include Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York.
As the Hispanic community is not monolithic, variations are seen in incarceration rates. Among the Hispanic community, Puerto Ricans have the highest incarceration rate. Located primarily in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, they are up to six times more likely to be incarcerated than whites, which may explain the higher incarceration rates for Hispanics overall in the Northeast region. Illegal immigrants, usually Mexican nationals, also make up a substantial number of Hispanics incarcerated.
Black majority cities have similar crime statistics for blacks as do cities where majority of the population is white. For example, white-majority San Diego has a slightly lower crime rate for blacks than does Atlanta, a city which has a black majority in population and city government. During the 1980s and 1990s drug and non-violent crimes filled Americans prison with “Three Strike Laws” and mandatory minimum sentences of 25 to life lead to the prison population explosion for all minorities groups.
So how free are we or does that only apply to those of privilege? It is well-known in the minority community that justice is unjust, the police do not protect or serve, and often times what we find when it comes to justice is JUST US! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Look Back @ MMXIII (2013)

2Life dictates that nothing lasts forever and as it is with all things 2013 has come and gone. If we look back at what we’ve witnessed over the past year it shows the good, the bad, and now that 2014 is upon us we will most likely see more of the same in the coming year. Let’s take a look at some of the more significant events of the year that was, and maybe I’ll offer a prediction as to what may lay ahead in the New Year.
The year began on a high note with President Barack Obama being re-inaugurated for his second term as president of the United Sates. The widow of slain Mississippi Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers, Myrlie Evers-Williams, was invited to offer the invocation and it was a proud moment. Of course, this was the worst thing that could happen from the conservatives, GOP, and the Klan-wing of the party commonly known as the Tea Party, point of view.
We witnessed an event that had not happened in more than six-hundred years. Eighty-five year old Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation citing health concerns claiming it made international travel impossible. My question is how does the Pope send a resignation letter to God, but with all of the difficulties the church have endured of late – his time had come. The white smoke appeared, and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He took the name Pope Francis and the new bishop of Rome was the first Latin American ever selected for the office, as well as the first Jesuit.
In what might be described as a miracle, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers to win Super Bowl 47. Ok, I digress! The year was full of extreme weather events all over the world causing trillions in damages. Detroit filed for bankruptcy. The voting rights act was gutted ushering in an era of voting rights discrimination – officially sanctioned by the Supreme Court. This is also to include a multitude of shootings and tragic events across the nation.
The most horrific event was the horrible bombing that took place during the Boston Marathon where two bombs were detonated near the finish line killing three people and injuring 183. Two brothers, the alleged terrorist, planned the event under the nose of everyone. One was killed, and the younger of the two was caught days later after a massive manhunt.
The Boy Scouts of America voted to change its current policy, allowing openly homosexual youth to become members. The decision was controversial among evangelical Christians, and the Southern Baptist Convention at its 2013 annual meeting encouraged Southern Baptist Church members to explore scouting alternatives to the BSA. The Gay Rights movement became huge in the national debate over gay marriage and gay rights. Exodus International, the world’s oldest Christian ministry, reached out to individuals with same-sex attractions and announced in June that it would be closing.
On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage was released. In a 5-4 vote, the Court struck down portions of the Defense of Marriage Act mandating that homosexual couples are entitled to federal benefits. The Court also refused to weigh in on California’s Proposition 8 debate, which means that, for the time being, same-sex marriage will be legal in California, despite two voter referendums that defined marriage as between a man and woman.
On the legal front, Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife were sentenced to prison for political crimes. Kwame Kilpatrick was also convicted and given a long prison term. Yet, the killer in Florida was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. While Kilpatrick received nearly thirty-years in prison the guy in Florida got away with murder and given his guns back, to possibly bring more harm to the citizenry. In fact, this man has been arrested and has had several encounters with law enforcement with guns involved since he got away with murder. This case, in my view, is strikingly similar to what happened to Emmitt Till in 1955. However, the accused became the poster boy for Stand Your Ground Laws by the gun rights nuts.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and her husband, Prince William welcomed a baby boy, Prince George of Cambridge born to be the future King of England. Here in American there was a war taking place over the Affordable Care Act as the new government healthcare legislation, nicknamed Obamacare began to take effect. This coincided with a temporary government shutdown, resulting from Democratic and Republican elected officials failing to agree on a budget. This was a sad state of affairs just as Unemployment Benefits were cut for 1.5 million Americans out of work.
November and December will be remembered as a time when many notable people died. On November 30, Paul Crouch, famous for being the co-founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network, died at age 79. Nelson Mandela, the Former South African President described by the Chicago Tribune as a "civil rights giant", passed away on December 5 at age 95. Mandela, elected in 1994, was South Africa's first black president. On December 14, Peter O'Toole, best known for his role in Lawrence of Arabia, passed away at age 81. Joan Fontaine, a classic movie actress, best-known for her roles in Alfred Hitchcock films such as Rebecca and Suspicion, died on December 15 at age 96. Fontaine is survived by her older sister, actress Olivia de Havilland, who is 97. On December 16, classic country artist, Ray Price passed away at age 87. Price is known for his hits such as "For the Good Times" and "Heartaches by the Number".
I only named a few of the greats we lost but it was not to neglect the memory’s of all those that transition during the year. My prayers go out to the families of all that we lost. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Black Seminole John Horse

09The story of John Horse and the Black Seminoles of Florida has been largely untold for their accomplishments creating the largest haven in the American South for runaway slaves. In a more profound way than Nat Turner’s rebellion, Horse led the largest slave revolt in United States history. He was at the forefront to secure the only emancipation of rebellious slaves prior to the Civil War. He was a leader in what formed the largest mass exodus of slaves across the United States and, ultimately, to Mexico. I have to say this is surely a little known black history fact.
John Horse was a Black Seminole and a military adviser to Chief Osceola, and a leader of Black Seminole units fighting against United States troops during the Seminole Wars in Florida. Horse was born around 1812 in Florida as a Seminole slave. He assumed the surname of his owner, Charles Cavallo, who may also have been his father. "Horse" is the meaning of Cavallo. His mother may have been of mixed African-Indian parentage and was possibly owned by Charles Cavallo as well. However, not much is known about Charles Cavallo.
Horse was thought to be born the same year the War of 1812 broke out between the United States and the Great Britain. When General Andrew Jackson invaded the area, he scattered the tribal peoples and their black allies. The First Seminole War occurred during Horse's childhood. During the Second Seminole War of 1835 to 1842, Horse served as a sub-chief of the Seminoles and negotiated with the U.S Army.
Horse was given his freedom by General Worth for his service to the U.S. in the latter days of the Second Seminole War in Florida. Horse had taken advantage of General Thomas Jesup’s promise of freedom to escaped slaves who would surrender and accept removal to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi.
Horse's wife and children were also removed to Indian Territory but did not gain freedom by his service, so they were at risk from slave traders. With other Seminole, Horse was shipped from Tampa Bay to New Orleans and then to the Indian Territory which is now Oklahoma. There he settled with the Seminole and Black Seminole, who had accepted removal. In the Indian Territory, Horse rose as a leader of the Black Seminole.
He accepted a job as an interpreter for the US Army. They asked him to help persuade remaining insurrectionists in Florida to surrender and relocate to Indian Territory. Horse returned to Florida in 1839 to recruit people for removal. He returned to Indian Territory in 1842 along with some 120 Seminole who had been captured and deported.
Conflict arose as the Seminoles had been placed on the Creek people reservation from which the Seminole had earlier established their independence. Many Creek’s were slaveholders, and they raided the Black Seminole settlements to kidnap people for enslavement. In 1844, Horse traveled to Washington DC to seek a separate land grant for the Seminole. After failing to secure a treaty, Horse returned to Indian Territory. Horse traveled back to Washington to lobby General Jesup, for a separate reservation. Jesup granted the Fort Gibson area to the Seminole.
During Horse's time in Washington, then Attorney General John Mason ruled that, as most of the Black Seminole were descendants of fugitive slaves and thus legally still considered born into slavery, he could not protect them against slave raiders. More than 280 Black Seminoles, including Horse's family, were at risk of being captured for sale as slaves. He died en-route to Mexico City in 1882, intending to try to gain more land rights for his people in northern Mexico. Several hundred descendants of Black Seminoles, known as Mascogos, still reside in Coahuila.
The video below tells a more detailed view of the life of this “hero”. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Friday, December 27, 2013

Tis' The Season

I have re-posted this piece every year for the past ten years to share my pain for the loss of my son. I know we are born to die but as each Christmas comes and goes I miss his presence. During this season, we rejoice with great celebration for Christmas is the day Christ our savior was born. Rarely do I share much of my personal being but in this post I want to pour my heart out because this is neither my favorite season nor one that I look forward to anymore. It is not due to a lack of faith or my strong conviction and belief in someone greater than I; whom I call chose to call God. Rather, it is due to this event that will forever pain my heart.
Every year as the holiday season comes upon us I have to relive a dreadful horror. So I ask that you please forgive any tears that may stain the pages as I write. If you have experienced the greatest love of all and lost it. I know you feel my pain. Therefore, I will use this writing to express my feelings and pay homage to my late son - who I miss very much. I am blessed in that he left me a wonderful grandson who I cherish more than life itself.
It’s been some time since God called my only son home to be with him, and the pain of his absence does not go away. No parent should have to bury a child, let alone the only child they’ve been blessed to have. It just doesn’t seem right for a child to go before a parent, but this is not something that is unique to me. I know from scripture that others have endured such pain since time began. Able died before Adam and Eve and John the Baptist died preceding his parents. We also know for certain that Jesus died before Mary because she witnessed his crucifixion, and how painful that must have been.
It was a dreadful dreary cold day about ten years ago, early in the morning, when I lost my Rashad due to a tragic automobile accident. It was without question the worst thing imaginable and most certainly my darkest hour. This pain never seems to subside, and I will tell you during each Christmas season it is still painful. Adding to the sadness of this situation his death occurred on New Year’s Eve and on the morning of his son’s first birthday as we were preparing a birthday party for my grandson.
This brings to mind words from scripture. Actually, it is a question I was asked a long time ago. “Why Jesus wept?” As the story goes, Jesus was so moved as he witnessed the pain of Mary and Martha weeping for the loss of his dear friend, Lazarus, that he also wept. Today, I understand that emotion because I have felt such pain. I wrote a few books which might very well explain why I was chosen as the vehicle to share such a powerful story within those pages that will surely live far beyond the season I’ve been given.
From this nightmare, I have come to understand that adversity can either destroy or develop you. Unless and until you have suffered enough pain, then and only then, will you reach deep inside and feel the breath that God has breathed into your soul coming eye to eye with your destiny. Now, having said that, my salvation was to take this lemon (for lack of a better word) and make lemonade. What I have learned from this tragedy is that there is a definition of service that is not written in Webster’s Dictionary that says “I can heal by giving of myself to the benefit of others.”
In spite of this never before known pain that resides permanently within my soul I am very grateful God saw fit to bless me with a wonderful grandson whose name is Elijah. So as each year passes and Elijah resembles my son more and more the pain eases and the season becomes more bearable. I pray that my son is rejoicing in the bosom of our Lord knowing that I am here for his son in his stead. I am looking forward to the day when I see him again so we can walk around haven all day reveling in wonders of God’s kingdom.
The tears are flowing uncontrollably now. So I will close by saying to anyone experiencing adversity whether it is from health, financial issues or the pain of missing a loved one. I offer my deepest sympathy to you, particularly those who have joined this unwelcomed fraternity of losing a child. The Christmas holiday season and welcoming the New Year will never be the same.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever… believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26
And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…
Make these books the gift that keeps on giving.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Backward Duck

2I have watched the sad commentary of Phil Robertson, star of A&E’s backwoods reality TV show, “Duck Dynasty” evolve and sadly play out. I don’t know why anyone should be surprised because bigots have always disguised racism around Christianity. Since it seems this lunacy is not going to die and “conservatives” have made him a hero, I thought I would jump into the controversy.
I am old enough to remember what it was like in the Apartheid southern states of America. Frankly, during this period, anywhere south of Canada was “South”. Let me remind you more specifically of a “little case” called Plessy v Ferguson that ushered state sanctioned discrimination across America. In fact, it was there in Louisiana where it was born. So the Duck saw, and he claims nothing, was the law of the land. Frankly, those who owned slaves said the same kinds of thing – “My Darkies are happy!”
A lot of “good boys” have rallied to support the Duck making him the face of their views. One politician went so far as to compare him to Mrs. Rosa Parks. WOW! Now, I will be honest and tell you that I rarely agree with Jesse Jackson but in this instance, he said something that was on the mark; he likened the “Ducks” words to what the driver of Rosa Parks’ bus more likely said.
Jackson states in a release, "At least the bus driver, who ordered Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person, was following state law... Robertson's statements were uttered freely and openly without cover of the law, within a context of what he seemed to believe was ‘white privilege’…   It is unacceptable that a personality who has been given such a large platform would benefit from racist and anti-gay comments.
I’m sure we remember the famous Klan’s Man David Duke, a Louisiana native, and other extremist from this so-called wonderful land in the Deep South, who are well known for bigotry. Mr. Duck I can tell you with certainty "black people were not as happy as you profess. In fact, they were singing the blues and if memory serves me correctly; it was there that the blues was born, and there was a reason for it.
What bothers me is his claim: “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person… Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them… They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’— not a word... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
Before the civil rights movement of the 1950s, Jim Crow laws enforced a system of subjugating African Americans in the South by upholding racial barriers for years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The cultural climate in the Southern states was one of "disenfranchisement, segregation and various forms of oppression, including race-inspired violence," History.com notes.
I applaud the Human Rights Campaign and the NAACP’s joint letter to the president of A&E, expressing deep concern over Robertson's remarks:
We want to be clear why Phil Robertson’s remarks are not just dangerous but also inaccurate. Mr. Robertson claims that, from what he saw, African Americans were happier under Jim Crow. What he didn’t see were lynching and beatings of black men and women for attempting to vote or simply walking down the street. And his offensive claims about gay people fly in the face of science. In fact, it’s important to note that every single leading medical organization in the country has said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being [lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender] -- it’s not a choice, and to suggest otherwise is dangerous.
Robertson called homosexuality a sin and juxtaposed it with bestiality. After his homophobia made news, A&E released a statement announcing Robertson's indefinite suspension from "Duck Dynasty." The network emphasized that his beliefs are in contrast to those of the network. Yet, they announce that he would appear in the season when it starts the next season. This was stated in spite of the Duck saying, he stands by his remarks. Hmmm!
I have never seen the television show, but it must be enjoyable to see Rednecks in their natural habitat. Lastly, it might be a good idea for all sane people to do two things. (1) Boycott Cracker Burrell and (2) turn off A&E! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Slave's Christmas

slave xmas
African American, arguably, are the most religious people on this little rock called earth and have always been since arriving in this place the slaves called “merica”. With that said, I am sure many have wondered, in spite of the wretched system of slavery, how was it celebrated by the slave population?
The American slaves experienced the Christmas holidays in many different ways. Joy, hope, and celebration were naturally a part of the season for many. For other slaves, this holiday conjured up visions of freedom and even the opportunity to bring about that freedom. Still others saw it as yet another burden to be endured.
I suppose the enslaved African Americans; if there was ever any joy, it might well have been during the Christmas. At least their captures, in the spirit of Jesus’ birth allowed them to have a day free from drudgery. The prosperity and relaxed discipline associated with Christmas often enabled slaves to interact in ways that they could not during the rest of the year.
They may well have received material goods from their masters: perhaps the slave’s yearly allotment of clothing, an edible delicacy, or a present above and beyond what he or she needed to survive. For this reason, among others, slaves frequently married during the Christmas season – if it was allowed. More than any other time of year, Christmas provided slaves with the latitude and prosperity that made a formal wedding possible.
This ironic annual inversion of power occasionally allowed slaves to acquire real power. Henry, a slave whose tragic life and death is recounted in Martha Griffith Browne’s Autobiography of a Female Slave, saved “Christmas gifts in money” to buy his freedom. Some slaves saw Christmas as an opportunity to escape. They took advantage of a relaxed work schedules and the holiday travels of slaveholders, who were too far away to stop them.
While some slaveholders, presumably treated the holiday as any other workday, numerous authors record a variety of holiday traditions, including the suspension of work for celebration and family visits. Because many slaves had spouses, children, and family, who were owned by different masters and lived on other properties. Slaves often requested passes to travel and visit family during this time. Some slaves used the passes to explain their presence on the road and delay the discovery of their escape through their masters’ expectation that they would soon return from their “family visit.”
Jermain Loguen plotted a Christmas escape, stockpiling supplies and waiting for travel passes, knowing the cover of the holidays was essential for success: “Lord speed the day!–freedom begins with the holidays!” These plans turned out to be wise, as Loguen and his companions were almost caught crossing a river into Ohio, but were left alone because the white men thought they were free men “who have been to Kentucky to spend the Holidays with their friends”.
It was during Christmas that Harriet Tubman helped her brothers escape. Their master intended to sell them after Christmas but was delayed by the holiday. The brothers were expected to spend the day with their elderly mother but met Tubman in secret. She helped them travel north, gaining a head start on the master who did not discover their disappearance until the end of the holidays. Likewise, William and Ellen Crafts escaped together at Christmastime. They took advantage of passes that were clearly meant for temporary use.
“This same Jesus, whom the civilized world now worship as their Lord, was once lowly, outcast, and despised; born of the most hated people of the world . . . laid in the manger of a stable at Bethlehem . . . this Jesus is worshiped now”. For Ann, Christmas symbolized the birth of the very hope she used to survive her captivity. Not all enslaved African Americans viewed the holidays as a time of celebration and hope. Rather, Christmas served only to highlight their lack of freedom.
Frederick Douglass described the period of respite that was granted to slaves every year between Christmas and New Year’s Day as a psychological tool of the oppressor. In his 1845 Narrative, Douglass wrote that slaves celebrated the winter holidays by engaging in activities such as “playing ball, wrestling, running foot-races, fiddling, dancing, and drinking whiskey”. He took particular umbrage at the latter practice, which was often encouraged by slave owners through various tactics.
In My Bondage and My Freedom, Douglass concluded“the license allowed [during the holidays] appears to have no other object than to disgust the slaves with their temporary freedom, and to make them as glad to return to their work, as they were to leave it”. While there is no doubt that many enjoyed these holidays, Douglass acutely discerned that they were granted not merely in a spirit of charity or conviviality, but also to appease those who yearned for freedom, ultimately serving the ulterior motives of slave owners.
Now we know! And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective!
Make these books the gift that keeps on giving.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Meaning Of Christmas

I read a very interesting article the other day that asked, in so many words, if we actually know what we believe, which caused me to think about that as we approach the Holiday Season. I’ll say from the on-set that regardless of your religious beliefs you’re probably familiar with the Christmas story; whether you’re a devout Christian, doubtful, unsure or an atheist. You know the story of what is said to be the greatest story ever told. Or do you? This story with its significance and traditions are sometimes misunderstood.
This day has been turned into a massive commercial holiday. If you count all the Nativity scenes displayed, you would think Christmas is the most important date on the Christian calendar. I don’t believe that it is. Easter is the day on which Christians believe Christ rose from the dead, which has more religious significance than does December 25th. In fact, science would have us believe that the savior was actually born in the spring. Whereas Easter, the day of Christ’s resurrection means not just that one man conquered death, nor was it simply proof of Jesus’ divinity to his followers; it holds out the promise of eternal life for all who believe in him.
The Christmas season lasts 12 days ending with the Epiphany, a feast day in early January commemorating the Wise Men’s visit to the infant Jesus. The Easter season, on the other hand, lasts 50 days. On Sundays during Easter, Christians hear dramatic stories of the post-resurrection appearances of Christ to his astonished followers. The overriding importance of Easter is simple: Anyone can be born, but not everyone can rise from the dead.
Let’s me talk about the written knowledge from a Christian source; the Bible, more particularly, the four Gospels. We believe that the journey of Mary on a donkey accompanied by Joseph, the child’s birth in a manger surrounded by animals, shepherds and angels, with the Wise Men appearing shortly afterward. But two of the Gospels say nothing about Jesus’ birth.
The Gospel of Mark the earliest of the Gospels, written roughly 30 years after Jesus’ crucifixion does not have a word about the Nativity. Instead, it begins with the story of John the Baptist, who announces the impending arrival of the adult Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel of John is similarly silent about Jesus’ birth. The two Gospels that do mention what theologians call the “infancy narratives” differ on some significant details.
Matthew seems to describe Mary and Joseph as living in Bethlehem, fleeing to Egypt and then moving to Nazareth. The Gospel of Luke, on the other hand, has the two originally living in Nazareth, traveling to Bethlehem in time for the birth, and then returning home. Both Gospels do, however, place Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem. This much they all agree.
Then there is the idea that Jesus was an only child. Catholics, for example, believe Mary’s pregnancy came about miraculously as a “virgin birth.” They also believe that Mary remained a virgin her entire life, although many Protestants do not. For the purposes of this writing, I will not expand on the thinking of the thousands of religious philosophies.
Nonetheless, there are Gospel passages that speak of Jesus’ brothers and sisters which seem to confuse many. For example, in the Gospel of Luke, someone tells Jesus: “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” And in Mark’s Gospel, people from Nazareth exclaim: “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us?” Saint Paul even calls James “the Lord’s brother.” Therefore, I agree with many scholars who maintain that Jesus indeed had brothers and sisters which might be explained perhaps through an earlier marriage of Joseph. Or not!
Dr. Ben, the noted African historian, points to a story thousands of years before Christ that is very similar that occurred in Upper Africa to Isis, the mother of Horace. If this is true, then the greatest story ever told is a recent phenomenon. For sure, the way it’s practiced today is a phenomenon that is not consistent with the true meaning of Christmas. However, worries about diluting Christmas’s meaning go much further back than recent memory.
Gift-giving, for example, was seen as problematic as early as the Middle Ages, when the church frowned on the practice for its supposed pagan origins. The holiday season has become so distorted that our children now think that Jesus was born at Wal-Mart.
This recounting of these few recorded facts is in no way intended to steal your joy or deter your faith. As we all know, faith is, believing to be true that which is unseen. No one really knows the truth of this miraculous event that resulted in a poor peasant boy changing the lives of mankind since his birth two thousand years ago. The point is this: in the midst of our joy and celebration lest not forget the true meaning of Jesus’ birth which is to love one another and humanity. After all, the purpose of our existence is to continue the species – mankind – which is what Jesus preached!
I am looking forward to the blessings and opportunities that the New Year can bring us all and wish you and yours a Happy Holiday Season, Abundance, Prosperity and an Extraordinary 2014! Therefore, I give the gift of love and empowerment. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Fearless Freedom Fighter

3I have been blessed to have met and known many people over the years; from the infamous to the famous; the great and not so great, and many honorable souls. 

I have been in the presence of a few presidents, shaken the hand of Nelson Mandela, met Muhammad Ali, famous Motown stars and many entertainer... and on and on! However, none has impressed me more than an amazing woman I was allowed to call “Winnie” when I had the pleasure of meeting her.
The former wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela–Mandela, is a South African activist and politician, who have held several government positions. She’s been the head the African National Congress Women’s League and a member of the ANC's National Executive Committee. I can’t count all the women I’ve known in my life but I can honestly say that none rise to the level of this amazing woman, who has endured suffering far beyond that of any woman.
I am not trying to rewrite her story, rather to give my impression of her from my encounter with the former Mrs. Mandela. Think about this for a moment; her husband was imprisoned for twenty-seven years, she was imprisoned, exiled, financial hardships, her home was bombed, endured attempts upon her life, and years of unthinkable horrors. What I find amazing is that she did this unselfishly for millions of South African’s she has never met. Most of the women I know would leave you for anyone of the above mentioned or for as little as the common cold.
She was a controversial activist, yet popular among her supporters, and referred to as the 'Mother of the Nation'. However, she was reviled by some South African’s while trying to help them achieve freedom. The ANC called her politically and morally accountable for the gross violations of human rights. We know from what our government did to Dr. King and Malcolm X, so personally, I am suspect of any of the public charges brought by the Apartheid government of South Africa.
She met lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela in 1957. They married in 1958 and had two daughters, Zenani (born 1959) and Zindzi (born 1960). Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1963 and released in 1990. The couple separated in 1992, and their divorce was finalized in 1996 with an unspecified out-of-court settlement.
I want to be clear when I say some will, I’m sure, take issue with my opinion with regard to my view of her late husband, who as I understand it divorced her for political reasons. He could forgive his oppressors and jailers, yet could not forgive the woman who sacrificed so much and stood by him for all those years.
It is true that her reputation was damaged by such rhetoric as that displayed in a speech she gave in Munsieville on 13 April 1986, where she endorsed the practice of necklacing (burning people alive using tires and petrol) by saying: “With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country." Further tarnishing her reputation were accusations by her bodyguard that she ordered a kidnapping and murder.
On 29 December 1988, a bodyguard, who was the coach of the Mandela United Football Club (MUFC), which acted as Mrs. Mandela's personal security detail, abducted 14-year-old James Seipei (also known as Stompie Moeketsi) and three other youths; the four were beaten to get them to admit being informers. The body of one of them was found in a field with stab wounds to the throat. In 1991, she was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault in connection with the death of Seipei. Her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal.
winnie 2During South Africa’s transition to democracy, she adopted a far less conciliatory and compromising attitude than her husband toward the white community. Despite being on her husband's arm when he was released in 1990, the first time the two had been seen in public for nearly thirty years and thirty-eight year marriage ended two years later.
Ms. Mandela’s legal issues are in the public domain, and it’s your choice to Google, if you like. What I will say from my perspective: “He who is without sin cast the first stone”. Lastly, I will say having the opportunity to be in her present was a life changing experience and will say proudly that I have yet to meet another woman who impressed me to such a profound degree. I know of no other woman who sacrificed so much for so many unselfishly. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Saturday, December 21, 2013

An African American View Of Immigration

2African Americans are the only people on the American soil that did not immigrate to this country. This group was taken in chains, at least their ancestors were taken, and their heritage erased from their minds, forced to accept an alien religion, and fooled into a concept the captors called “Civilization”. This thing they called civilization was one of the biggest fallacies in the nation’s history because the root word is “Civil” and there was nothing civil about the brutality and inhumanity of slavery.
Now, let’s look at the issue of immigration or maybe I should say the fake propaganda that there is any kind of real attempt to address this issue. If we take a realistic interpretation, you will see that the people trapped in this quagmire face what amounts to a modern version of slavery. The fight against immigration reform is a simple an ideal; it is breed deep within the American system. In order for the system that we know to survive there must be a permanent underclass or the rich will be just like the rest of us. In the past, this system took advantage of “Negro’s” almost exclusively, but today they have “New Negroes”.
If the immigrant is illegal regardless of the country of origin; they are slaves in principle. They are not entitled to any rights and privileges of the state or the government. A 2012 survey by Gallup found roughly 640 million adults would want to migrate to another country and nearly one-quarter (23%) of these respondents, which translates to more than 150 million adults worldwide, named the United States as their desired destination.
Slavery has changed from the practice of taking human souls by force; rather today the system has conditioned millions to desire to come to this country and beg for this injustice. The fact is that this un-Godly behavior is so ingrained that “When they cannot see what amounts to a twentieth century form of slavery, they will never see the inhumanity of it”. Hence, those in the 47% will remain people of the underclass.
I don’t wish to imply that the most recent humans relegated to servitude are the only people who have made their way to America and suffered. However, history proves that those coming here from Europe or have a Caucasian background fair a lot better and in a reasonably short period are able to remove them from this station.
The Native Americans have yet to be viewed as full citizens, and they were here first. African Americans have never received full citizenship as there has been a constant push and pull for their rights. What I mean by that is regardless of what legislation passed to improve the station of African Americans, another is pasted to restrain that progress. For example, legal slavery ended and then Separate by Equal was invented. We were given the right to vote, and everything was done to stop the masses from voting.
My point here is this: with the debate over how to process with immigration reform, we have seen for every action there is a reaction. I don’t think there is political will to change the system that is designed to protect the system and therefore, little progress will be made to make just that which is unjust. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Friday, December 20, 2013

Master Of The Universe

4There are a lot of people who make music, but there are few who create sounds that touch the souls of mankind that will last for all time. I am a diehard fan of Earth, Wind & Fire and have been from the first note that entered my ear hole. I have every “album” and CD from their first to the last. If you follow my writing, I like to pay homage to my hero’s; those who have had a significant impact upon my life and the world.
Let me send a birthday wish to the Master of the Universe; Mr. Maurice White, founder and leader of the greatest band ever assembled – Earth Wind & Fire. I call him the Master of the Universe because he was the divine spirit that created the musical legacy known as the elements of the universe. Although, medical concerns caused him to stop touring with Earth, Wind & Fire, he retains executive control of the band and remains active in the music business.
Reese, as he is called, is a singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, arranger and bandleader. He has won seven Grammys and has been nominated for Grammys twenty-one times in total. White was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame as a member of Earth, Wind & Fire, and he was individually inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.In addition, he’s worked with many famous recording artists: Deniece Williams, The Emotions, Ramsey Lewis, Barbra Streisand, and is sought after by many of the “New Jack Artists” as a producer.
3He has a pedigree unrivaled. He was a childhood friend of the one and only Booker T Jones. In his teenage years, he moved to Chicago and found work as a session drummer for Chess Records. While at Chess, he played on the records of artists such as Etta JamesRamsey LewisSonny StittMuddy WatersThe ImpressionsThe DellsBetty EverettSugar Pie DeSanto and Buddy Guy. Reese also played the drums on Fontella Bass's "Rescue Me" and Billy Stewart's "Summertime". In 1962, along with other studio musicians at Chess, he was a member of the Jazzmen, which later became The Pharaohs.
In 1966, he joined the Ramsey Lewis Trio, replacing Isaac 'Red' Holt as the new drummer. Holt would go on to be a part of the Young-Holt Unlimited. As a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, Maurice played on nine of the group's albums, including Wade in the Water (1966), from which the track "Hold It Right There" won a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Group Performance, Vocal or Instrumental in 1966. Other albums by Lewis that featured White included The Movie Album (1966), Goin' Latin (1967), Dancing in the Street (1967), Up Pops Ramsey Lewis (1967), and The Piano Player (1969). While, in the Trio, he was introduced in a Chicago drum store to the African Thumb Piano or Kalimba and on the Trio's 1969 album Another Voyage's track "Uhuru" was featured the first recording of Maurice playing the Kalimba.
In 1969, Maurice left the Trio and joined his two friends, Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead, to form a songwriting team and got a recording contract with Capitol Records and called themselves The Salty Peppers. He then migrated from Chicago to Los Angeles and altered the name of the band to Earth, Wind & Fire, and the band's new name reflecting the elements in White's astrological chart.
2With Reese as the bandleader and producer of most of the band's albums, EWF has earned legendary status winning six Grammy Awards and four American Music Awards, and selling over 90 million albums worldwide. As a member of the band, he has been bestowed with countless awards. As an innovator, he is responsible for incorporating the sound of the Kalimba also known as the African thumb piano and adding the world famous horn section, the Phenix Horns into the music of Earth, Wind & Fire. He has appeared on stage with Earth, Wind & Fire since his retirement from the road from time to time.
In 1976, White, with the late great Mr. Charles Stepney co-produced Deniece Williams', a former backup vocalist for Stevie Wonder, debut album, This Is Niecy, which was released on Columbia Records. The album was the first project for the newly formed production company Kalimba Productions formed by Maurice White and Charles Stepney in the same year. In a 2007 interview, Deniece says"I loved working with Maurice White" and "he taught me the business of music, and planning and executing a plan and executing a show."
After Stax Records became embroiled in financial problems, the girl group the Emotions looked for a new contract and found one with Columbia Records on which their album Flowers was released in 1976. With Charles Stepney co-producing their album with Reese Flowers became certified gold in the US. After Charles Stepney death in 1976, Maurice took over the reins of producing the Emotions and it was with this combo that the album Rejoice was released in 1977. Rejoice peaked at number 7 and number 1 on the pop and R&B charts and spawned the singles "Best of My Love" and "Don't Ask My Neighbors" which reached number 1 on the Pop and R&B charts and number 7 on the R&B charts respectively.
1Best of My Love won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Single. "Best Of My Love" was also the third biggest pop single of 1977 and has been certified platinum. Rejoice was also the third biggest R&B album of 1977 has been certified platinum. He produced two more albums for the Emotions before they departed Columbia to record for Motown.
The list of singers and musicians White has produced or worked with is far too numerous to list in this writing. Frankly, I just don’t have enough space to list them all! Most call him "an innovator" and "someone who has had a profound impact upon the music industry as a whole" by such as Chaka Khan and Lalah Hathaway who believes that "his contribution as both a musician and a producer has been immeasurable". He has been cited as a main influence by most artists in the last four score.
I don’t know how I rank, if at all, compare to the many greats, who speak of him with such great praise, but I am his most devoted fan. I can’t imagine what the world would be like without his genius. So I will just end by saying, “You’re a Shining Star” and “Keep Your Head To The Sky” and all is right with the universe. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Practical Thought For Survival

1I am of the opinion that African Americans remain a nation of people living in a nation without a nationality. There are some that will say that because America has a black president – how could that be?

Well, this speaks to the institutions within the context of society that dictates the continuation of systems that exist within the country designed to protect the system for what some call the real Americans. It is because of this system, which has been in existence from the founding of America that has caused the demise of people of color.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson wrote the powerful novel “The Mis-Education of the Negro” in 1933, or there about, and in it he challenged his readers to become empowered by doing for themselves. He said: “Regardless of what we are taught history shows that it does not matter who is in power… those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they did in the beginning.” This speaks volumes!
Dr. Woodson also said, “If you can control a man is thinking you never have to worry about what he thinks.” I will speak for me, no matter how messed up the world is and the minds of man; I am glad God made me! We must take responsibility for ourselves because life demands the survival of the fittest, just like in all other parts of the animal kingdom. As a people, African Americans have waited far too long and become much too dependent on those who are in charge of this system that was not created in our best interest.
Therefore, I say it is time to remove the shackles of bondage that mentally restrain many communities and the minds of our people. Malcolm X once said, “We spend too much time singing and not enough time swinging”. Let me be clear, I did not repeat this statement to advocate violence. Rather to suggest that we have spent centuries believing, following, and listening to the messages communicated to us by those who control our destiny making us believe that there is a better place for us when we’re dead. I say we have the right to live NOW!
I want to propose an idea that could be the answer to our salvation. There are about 42 million African Americans living in America. If each African American were to contribute just one dollar each week that would add up to forty-million dollars each week. Multiply that time’s fifty-two weeks and that’s over two-trillion dollars annually. We have people who run some of the world’s largest corporations who could manage that kind of money – invest it and make more money and as such many of the problems we face would go away.
If you find a problem with that – just think about how much most give to some pimp in the pulpit each Sunday and merely get a show and nothing else in return. Hmmm!!!
Overtime we’ve won many civil rights battles, which should never have had to be fought. Yet, we still don’t have the necessities we need to survive. So I say, as tenacious beings, it is time for survival and the time is now – if for no other reason than for our children. Happy Birthday Dr. Woodson – I wish we had listened! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective...