Saturday, March 26, 2022

PERSEVERE


Guest Post By Miles Jaye


There she sat, calm and dignified, seated across from the U.S. Senate Judicial Committee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, in full view of the world, fully engaged in what can be best described and characterized as a highly contentious Senate Confirmation hearing, when she uttered a word, I had said on many occasions was a favorite of my own mother—persevere. Judge Brown-Jackson recalled the advice given her by a stranger on the grounds of Harvard University in what was, by her own account, a very trying and difficult freshman year. This was a time, she remembered, when she doubted herself and whether or not she was cut out for the Harvard experience.

To persevere by definition is to continue a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. In less formal, more common parlance, to persevere is to face the discomfort or obstacles of a less than ideal situation and deal with it. Push forward or stand fast-- but deal with it. Figure it out, accept that circumstances may not be fair or just, then buckle down and beat the odds, outpace the naysayers and silence the haters. Excuses will never serve you well, but perseverance will separate those who could have from those who did.

Senator Corey Booker, in his passionate and heartfelt closing remarks to the SCOTUS nominee said she reminded him of his mother. She, just by virtue of that word persevere reminded me of mine, as it was a favorite of hers. Yes, the full facial features of a broad nose, high cheek bones, full lips and dark chocolate brown complexion, could remind many of us of a family member. She doesn’t appear to be Indonesian, or Polynesian or any other kind of esian or Asian for that matter, but Black American. She, enjoying the freedom to marry the man of her choosing, although that choice only a few generations ago, would have broken laws over which a judge not unlike herself would have had to rule, is not in any way or to any degree in denial of that fact. She embraces her heritage. It would appear by her testimony that her parents, siblings, aunts and uncles are an essential source of her pride and fortitude, her perseverance.

It should not be overlooked that entering her freshman classes as Ketanji Onyika Brown, a West African name meaning Lovely One, might have won her more attention than she may have wished to have at a critical time when most young people want nothing more than to fit in-- to be accepted. Her name may have even been the source of unwarranted humor and teasing among the ranks of what she called, Prep School students. If so, she persevered in spite of it. By distinguishing herself as a top undergrad as well as a Harvard Law student, her name will be long remembered in the hallowed halls of the Harvard campus. If she is confirmed as only one of four female Justices in the history of the United States Supreme Court, the first Black female, the name Justice Ketanji Onyika Brown Jackson, Lovely One, will long be remembered in the pages of American history. She, along with others in American history who share her gender and heritage, by their examples, will teach generations to come what can be accomplished and what can be achieved if only we would persevere.

Meet Our Guest Blogger Miles Jaye

Singer, songwriter, Miles Jaye, is a native New Yorker; it is there that he studied music theory and classical violin for more than ten years at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, Saratoga School for Orchestral Studies and Brooklyn College. An accomplished musician and producer, Jaye is best known for his chart-topping hits, "Let’s Start Love Over", "Heaven" and "Objective" featuring Grover Washington, Jr. His heart wrenching "I’ve Been A Fool For You" has become one of radio’s favorite R&B classics. While Jaye laid the groundwork for excellence with his three highly acclaimed CD’s on Island Records, MILES, STRONG and IRRESISTIBLE; he continued that standard of excellence on his own Black Tree Records with titles such as the ODYSSEY, DIVINE ASCENSION, ROMANTIC STORM and HUMANITY. Under the Miles Jaye Davis Productions label, his extensive training as a classical and jazz violinist is evident on his latest release "ATTENERGY", the voice on the violin which is an exceptional musical “coming out celebration” with sixteen beautifully crafted performances. Now a Floridian, Jaye enjoys a long-standing reputation as an R&B and Contemporary Jazz writer/producer, having partnered with some of the giants of jazz on his recordings such as George Duke, Roy Ayers, Nat Adderley, Jr., Rachelle Ferrell, Grover Washington, Jr., and Branford Marsalis. The list of notables with which Jaye has shared the concert stages of the world is too extensive to include here. Jaye is especially proud of writing and producing six tracks on the certified Gold JOY CD from his mentor, legendary R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass. A prolific composer, Jaye has penned and recorded more than 50 original compositions and has the unique distinction of recording no less than 12 different musical instruments on several of his critically acclaimed CD’s. In addition to side-man duties early in his career for the songstress, Phyllis Hyman, balladeer, Jon Lucien, and jazz guitarist Eric Gale, Jaye served two years as lead-singing Cop for the hit pop group that brought you YMCA, Macho Man and In the Navy - THE VILLAGE PEOPLE. Jaye is also a novelist, playwright, art student, and an award-winning journalist. He is an active supporter of campaigns for AIDS Awareness, Breast Cancer research, and an advocate for victims of domestic violence. He also actively supports arts education in public schools. Miles Jaye Davis, like his namesake, legendary trumpeter, Miles Davis, is one of music’s most gifted, distinctive and dynamic artists.


www.therealmilesjaye.com
www.milesjaye.net

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Is There Such A Thing As Customer Service Anymore?


 For me, as it may appear to be a rhetorical question, the answer to my question in the title, is a resounding “NO.” Company executives attempt to promote, pitch or position concepts such as “self check out aisles,” “automated teller machines,” “conversant or automated voice response systems” as improved customer service options, when in reality the jury is still out. While these systems are gaining favor, there is still a significant percentage of us who would rather have the human experience, i.e. to check out at a grocery store with a cashier and not scan our items ourselves, or to talk with someone live when we call a company if we have a question or need to express a concern.

While the executives are pitching these systems as customer service improvements, the reality is, they are a cost savings for them. And to add insult to injury or salt to a wound, these savings are not passed along to the consumer. I still have to pay the same price whether I use the self checkout and scan all of my items myself or if I go to the cashier line and have the cashier total my order. I might be able to see the “so-called” customer service option of self checkout if a discount on my total order was given for me checking out my own items (I’m doing the work). Think about it, at an automated teller machine (ATM), you actually pay to retrieve your own money. The bank has cut the cost of having to pay a teller and are charging you a fee to withdraw your own hard earned and saved money. The fees are now ranging from $3.25 to $5.00 or more that is tacked on to your withdrawal per transaction. Better customer service, yet I am paying for performing a job that a cashier used to do and being assessed a fee for withdrawing my money. Does this make sense to you? If it does, I can tell you as of this writing that it does not make sense to me. It’s almost as if we are lemmings that just go along with anything that we are told. The companies say that this will improve customer service and we go right along with it, not questioning the logic of what is actually happening. The same holds true for soundbites that are given to us on the news each evening by the way.

According to a 2021 State of Self-Checkout Experiences report, self-checkout is a feature that customers value highly. Just about 60 percent of the 1,000 American consumers we surveyed said that they will head to a self-checkout kiosk rather than a cashier when given the choice. I am willing to bet that the 60 percent surveyed never really thought about the fact that they are either paying the same or more for doing what was once someone’s job who was being paid to do it. Why aren’t we feeding back to companies that we would be willing to check ourselves out, if you pay us (discount on our purchases that are self scanned out)? Why aren’t we fighting with banks or the Feds to say that we are not going to pay these extortion like fees to withdraw our own money? Again, lemmings. Less service being given while more money is being taken. Not to mention the reduction in package sizes/volume at higher prices. Companies think the consumers are stupid about that too (that’s another issue for another article).

Maybe I’m the only one out on this limb; however, I don’t think so. I do not believe that I am the only one who has seen a drastic reduction in customer service over the years under the guise of “do it yourself.” As I write this article, I am disgusted with META, the company formerly known as Facebook for not allowing its users to communicate with them when a problem arises. They’ve become so big that I guess they don’t give a hoot about what their customers think about them or feel the need to provide a communications vehicle for their users to address their concerns to them. I predict that if META continues down this path, that there won’t be a META in the long run. Facebook has its place, however, like any other company, it must be concerned for its users/customers. Without users/customers, there is no META.

I will end with the very familiar fable of The Goose that Laid he Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs

There once was a man who owned a wonderful goose.

Every morning, the goose laid for him a big, beautiful

egg — an egg made of pure, shiny, solid gold. Every

morning, the man collected golden eggs. And little by

little, egg by egg, he began to grow rich. But the man wanted

more. “My goose has all those golden eggs insider her,” he kept

thinking. “Why not get them all at once?” One day he couldn’t

wait any longer. He grabbed the goose and killed her. But there

were no eggs inside her! “Why did I do that?” the man cried!

“Now there will be no more golden eggs.”

It is my hope that the moral of the fable is understood in the context of where we are headed in terms of “customer service.”

For more about me, please visit marcamedley.com








Monday, February 21, 2022

A Chance In The World Is A Must See Film


Well it has been nearly a year since I shared my thoughts on this platform, The Critical Thinker. Within that time life got in the way serving as a great distraction for both my writing in this blog and recording my podcast. My only constant throughout was my radio show broadcast live each Saturday from 6-9 a.m. ET on gobrave.org and 88.7 FM. Well, while life is still in the way, so to speak, I am back in my groove of writing in The Critical Thinker and recording on The Marc Medley Show. 

My reintroduction to writing in The Critical Thinker was brought about as a result of my watching a movie based on the life of a recent guest I interviewed on The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. My guest was Steve Pemberton and we discussed his recently released book The Lighthouse Effect: How Ordinary People Can Have an Extraordinary Impact in the World.  During our time on air together we also discussed his previously released book A Chance In The World, a book based on Mr. Pemberton's life that birthed a movie by the same name. I took the opportunity to watch  A Chance In The World  last night and afterwards was prompted to pen this post. 

As I watched A Chance In The World, my mind immediately went back to a film I watched with my children when they were small It Takes Two, a 1995 American romantic comedy film starring Kirstie Alley, Steve Guttenberg, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. In It Takes Two, Amanda Lemmon is a nine-year-old orphan who is being sought after by the Butkises, a family known to "collect" kids.  My mind went back to It Takes Two when watching A Chance In The World  because of the uncanny similarities between the the Butkises and the Robinsons the foster family portrayed in A Chance In The World. The Robinsons like the Butkises "collected" foster children. Now, it is bad enough that the word "collected" is used in terms of children, however, it gets worse as the children were not only collected, they were abused and traumatized on a daily basis.

Steve Pemberton in his transparency about his childhood experiences as a foster child blows the lid off  of the horrific circumstances that are unbeknownst to the general public because the exploitation and abuse is often hidden by foster parents who are great actors. Mr. and Mrs. Robinson were great actors in front of the public while mentally and physically abusing their foster children behind closed doors. In the movie, Steve was subjected to ridicule and physical harm and was threatened with even more if he were to tell anyone the truth. I could not imagine what must have been going through Steve's mind and nervous system as he was being taunted and teased by people who he thought were supposed to love him. All he ever wanted was a family to love him and to know who his biological parents were. I won't tell you anymore as I highly recommend that you watch the film. 

I have had very few traumas in my life, however, having experienced some recent trauma, It it beyond my comprehension of what the mind of someone who has been repeatedly traumatized must be like. There are children who are traumatized on a daily basis before they come to school and when they return home from school, and then educators wonder why they behave the way that they do in school. I highly recommend  A Chance In The World  for teachers and guidance counselors and even students for that matter. Abuse of any form must not be tolerated and no one should be subjected to it. If you suspect child abuse is occurring in the life of any child that you serve or know, please do not hesitate to report what you believe to the proper authorities. While Mr. Pemberton's experiences ultimately made him stronger and built resilience, no child or adult for that matter ought to suffer from any type of abuse. If you have been traumatized, abused or struggling mentally, do not hesitate to seek professional help. 

I invite you to visit my website marcamedley.com and to listen to me live each Saturday from 6-9 a.m. ET on gobrave.org and 88.7 FM radio in the northern New Jersey/New York areas. The Marc Medley Show is heard on all of the major podcast distribution platforms. 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Is Our Psyche Being Damaged By This Pandemic?

 



Leprosy:

1a chronic infectious disease caused by a mycobacterium (Mycobacterium leprae) affecting especially the skin and peripheral nerves and characterized by the formation of nodules or macules that enlarge and spread accompanied by loss of sensation with eventual paralysis, wasting of muscle, and production of deformities

 called also Hansen's disease


Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leprosy

“Unclean! Unclean!”

We all know about lepers in the Bible. They had to live outside the regular community, call out “Unclean!” to passers-by, wear torn clothes and cover the lower part of their faces (Lv 14:35). Contact with a leper made one unclean and unable to attend any religious service.

The quotation above was the opening line excerpted from Famous Lepers of the Bible by Patricia Kasten written in The Compass, October 7, 2016. I used Ms. Kasten's opening to illustrate how someone who was diagnosed with leprosy had to live during that time. 

I liken what was happening then to what is happening now to some degree. I raise the question, is our psyche be damaged by this Covid-19/coronavirus pandemic? I raise that question because since we learned of the deadly virus nearly a year ago in the late winter of 2020 we have either contracted the virus or have been doing everything in our power not to contract the virus. We are never sure if we have it or if someone we have come in contact with has it. The constant safety guidelines that we must follow such as social distancing,  the wearing of a face covering, the frequent washing of our hands, staying home as much as possible, and not being able to eat in a restaurant or shop freely keeps all of us feeling as if we have the disease or the people we are around have it even when neither may be true. You nor the people that you are interacting with may have Covid-19 and yet we are made to feel as we or they do. We just don't know, so we almost automatically default to everyone must have it and keep our distance from everyone. The mask seemingly screams "Unclean! Unclean! whether you have the coronavirus or not. When we do make our way out of the house, we make sure that as soon as we return home, that we strip, place the clothes that we have worn in the laundry and immediately take a shower as if indeed contact with anyone has made us unclean.  Even if you don't have Covid-19 and have never tested positive, you almost can't help but feel as if you have it based on how we have to interact with each other. 

Which brings me to my question. What is all of this social distancing and everything else that we have to do to hopefully remain coronavirus-free doing to our psyche?  What is the constant feeling of either I have a virus or someone thinks I have a virus doing to us? Think about it. On a daily basis, we either act as if we have it or as if whomever we are going to come into contact with has it. What is that doing to our minds? What is that doing to our spirits? Not for nothing, what is it doing to our bodies? (they are all connected, you know). 

Personally, I hate this feeling of someone thinking that I have a contagious disease that I don't have and me having to think that someone else has a disease that they do not. I hate this assumption that I am going to catch this deadly disease from family members, friends, co-workers, or even strangers on the street if I do not have a face covering over my mouth and nose and wash my hands every five minutes. Yet, by now, we all have suffered a loss or losses of people that we know and love to this killer virus. As of this writing, according to The New York Times, we have had 439 thousand deaths in the United States and 2.22 million worldwide with 103 million cases worldwide. Again, I ask, what is this doing to our psyche? 

Even when we gain control of Covid-19, what has this done to our trust of what was prior to Covid-19 taken for granted such as eating in a restaurant, flying on an airplane, or staying in a hotel? Yes, we always have known that when you stay in a hotel that someone else had slept in the same bed that you were sleeping in or showered in the same shower, and yet as we move forward will we always be questioning now if the beds or showers were sanitized enough for me not to catch the virus if by chance the person before me did have it? (remember, we are assuming everyone has it). 

These are just some thoughts that come to mind that I thought I'd share. I believe it is something to critically think about. Please stay safe.