Thursday, December 30, 2010

"You've Got Mail," and Your Mail Is YOUR Mail - A Look at Invasion of Privacy

As I start this blog post, let me make it very clear that my intent is not to defend the actions of Clara Walker, a Detroit, Michigan wife whose email account was allegedly hacked or read without her authorization by her husband Leon Walker. It is however, a post stating my views concerning the unauthorized reading or entering of email accounts, cell phone text messages, cell phone voice message accounts, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, personal/private journals etc. etc. In my view (and this is my personal view, as this is my blog) no one, including spouses or any other family members ought to be able to enter into any of these private accounts without the express permission or authorization of the account holder. Just because you are in a committed or marital relationship does not automatically give anyone (husband or wife; boyfriend or girlfriend) carte blanche to just blatantly disregard the fact that email accounts, etc. are private accounts for the holder. That’s why they are all password protected. I very well understand the principals of marriage, and I also understand that whether you are married or not, you are still an individual and are entitled to your privacy. Invasion of privacy rules ought to still apply whether it is a spouse, brother, sister, mother, father, stranger etc. Invasion of privacy is invasion of privacy.

Having been one on the receiving end of having my journals, email and cell phone voice mail accounts compromised, it is clearly a pet peeve of mine. When I read the accounts of the Walker case it brought back vivid flashbacks of my experiences. Again, I do not condone Mrs. Walker’s behavior as that is a separate issue; however, it is not a good feeling to have your privacy invaded in such a way. It leaves you feeling violated just as if someone had broken into your house or gone into your underwear drawer without your authorization. Regardless of what type of relationship you are in, there are just some things that you want to remain with you and keep private. In my view marriage is not a license to trample on each others' privacy. Just like any other part of the relationship, the privacy piece needs to be respected as well and when it is not, you can expect trouble.

Mr. Walker in an interview stated that "She'd asked me to read her e-mails before and that "She gave me the password before. She didn't hide it." First of all I don’t believe in husbands and wives sharing passwords to individual accounts. If it is a shared email account that is one thing; however, if it is a personal account, the passwords ought not to be shared to avoid the possibility of either snooping. The old cliché that says “curiosity killed the cat” is true. You define “cat” in any way you would like, whether it be a marriage(cat), relationship(cat), job(cat) or whatever, in many instances snooping in someone’s private email account can be a killer. The other old adage of “If you look for anything long and hard enough, you will find it,” is also true. Whatever you look for in someone else’s accounts, you will undoubtedly find even if it is in your own mind and perception. Again, I understand folks view on marriage concerning EVERYTHING has to be shared and I don’t agree. Married or not, we still have to have our own space and be able to maintain some individuality (I know there are those of you who won’t agree and that’s okay). My view is I have me, you have you, and we have we. You do your thing; I do my thing; and then there are things we do together. The more developed each one becomes as an individual, the stronger the WE will become; individual interests, friends, personalities, etc. needs to also be a part of a marriage or relationship. There ought not to be any need for each other to read each other’s personal emails and text messages unauthorized. Either you trust each other or you don’t. If you choose to invite your spouse to read a particular email or the two of you share a joint email address that is one thing; to blatantly barge into or hack into a personal account is another.

There are invasion of privacy laws, and in the Walker case Oakland County, Michigan, Prosecutor Jessica Cooper used a state anti-hacking law to charge Leon Walker with a felony. According to CNN, the Michigan statute forbids someone from accessing "a computer program, computer, computer system or computer network" to acquire property "without authorization." New York criminal defense lawyer Paul Callan said all 50 U.S. states have such laws, but he called this "a highly unusual use of a criminal statute." There are other tenets of the various invasions of privacy laws and statues as well. People really need to think before they “peek” (Mr. Walker’s words) or snoop around in other folks’ emails, journals, and other various accounts because they are indeed breaking invasion of privacy laws. These accounts are no different than what is now known as “snail mail” or what we traditionally know as letters delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Just as no one has the right to open anyone else’s mail, no one has a right to open anyone’s email which is short as you know for electronic mail.

As I said above, this is an extreme pet peeve of mine and one I am very sensitive to because if you have ever been the victim of this sort of invasion, it is an indescribable feeling of being violated nothing short in my mind of  being raped. In fact, it is a rape of your private information as your private information is taken without your consent and by force. I cannot advise and advocate enough for folks not to do it regardless of what you think the case may be. Nothing good can come from anyone breaking into anyone’s privacy unauthorized. Without siding with Mrs. Walker for her actions in all of this, I can feel her pain of being violated by her husband reading and sharing her emails. Agree or disagree,  as always, I welcome your commentary in the comment section of the blog.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Drops of Water On Any Hard Surface Will Over Time Wear Through That Hard Surface

For the second time this year I have come across a book that speaks the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Earlier this year I read the book ENOUGH by Juan Williams and I could not sing the praises of the message of that book enough and now I have discovered the book STOP BEING NIGGARDLY by Karen Hunter and I cannot stop singing praises of Ms. Hunter's message. The reason being, the messages of both Ms. Hunter and Mr. Williams are very similar. They both, like Bill Cosby and Minister Farrakhan seek to help African Americans see the inappropriate behaviors that we (African Americans) partake in that keep us from being as successful as we can be.

Ms. Hunter and Mr. Williams express so eloquently in their books my personal views and opinions concerning why African Americans as a race is not as far along as I know we could be. In both books, one might think the authors are Anti-African American even though both are indeed African American. As I have written in previous blogs, the problem that I see with African Americans (and yes I know I am generalizing and that there are individual cases) is that we really do resist hearing the things we need to either stop doing or start doing to improve ourselves as a whole. Not only do we resist hearing it, we don't make the necessary changes needed for improvement. This could never be more evident then what Bill Cosby experienced when he delivered his now famous “Pound Cake Speech.”  He was lambasted by both African Americans who have quote unquote made it and by those who were nowhere near making it, all because he had the courage to speak the truth in terms of what African Americans need to do to move forward. Like President Barack Obama, he heard that he wasn’t “Black enough,” or had lost his “blackness” because he expressed his views on why African Americans stay gridlocked in terms of moving forward in society. He dared ask the African American community to look within her own house or in the mirror and as a result was ostracized and nearly outcast from the African American community. Minister Louis Farrakhan has been preaching the same messages for years concerning our (African Americans) being able to do for ourselves to no avail. We still tend to gravitate towards any silly fad that comes along, i.e. sagging pants; being fascinated by the “Bling, (which is usually fake)” having to show that we spent the most money on an item albeit automobile, sneakers, jewelry, etc. ; calling each other derogatory terms and thinking it is cute; not taking the importance of education seriously; and the list goes on and on. When someone points this out to us (African Americans) we then want to get an attitude or try to justify these behaviors in every which way possible. Usually it has something to do with the “white man” or our having been enslaved for over four hundred years.  Yes, there may some truth to these justifications, however, we cannot continue to be paralyzed by the fact that we were once slaves or by what the white man does or does not do.  Karen Hunter says it well in her book STOP BEING NIGGARDLY, when she says, “I can’t control white people. I can only control me.”  It has been my experience that we are quick to not do what we are supposed to do and then turn around and blame the white man for what we feel we ought to have received if we had done what we were supposed to have done. How can you blame the white man for your not having a job because you dropped out of school? How can you blame anyone for your limited options, when you did not take your education seriously? 

So just as when I wrote the blog concerning The Pound Cake Speech, I expect folks to be critical of my views and I am okay with that.  I agree with Karen Hunter when she says that she knows that drops of water on any hard surface will over time wear through that hard surface and she hopes as do I to be yet another drop of water.  She likens the drops to the words of Nannie Helen Burroughs, Marcus Garvey, Marva Collins, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, preachers, and teachers who attempt to inspire and motivate people to have full lives.  The message is not new, but it is resisted and denied.  It is our hope that enough of us will continue to be drops of water eroding that rock like surface of denial and resistance in order for African Americans to move to higher heights.  More of us must get to the point where we realize the truth and take action to move us further forward. Being in denial or getting mad at the messengers will keep us stuck in mediocrity and will continue to move us further and further away from excellence. Like Ms. Hunter, Mr. Williams, Mr. Cosby, and Minister Farrakhan, I will continue to be that drop of water continuously hitting that hard surface of African American denial of our issues.  I am not anti-white, however, I am pro-black and because I am pro black I cannot just sit by and watch us as a people continue to move backward while  making a bunch of excuses as to why. Making excuses for why we ought to be able to call each other “nigger” and "hos;" why we ought not speak correctly, or parent our children correctly; why we ought to be happy being mis-educated and under educated and the list goes on. I for one will not hold my peace because someone might say that I am not black enough or have lost touch with my blackness.  We can and must do better than what we do.  Nannie Mae Burroughs wrote in the 30’s Twelve Things the Negro Must Do and the twelve things she outlined still are applicable in 2010 and as we move into 2011. I say again, we can and must do better than what we do.  Let us face it and fix it. 
Twelve Things the Negro Must Do
by Nannie Helen Burroughs

(1) The Negro Must Learn to Put First Things First
(2) The Negro Must Stop Expecting God and White Folk to Do for Him What He Can Do for Himself
(3) The Negro Must Keep Himself, His Children and His Home Clean and Make the Surroundings in Which He Lives Comfortable and Attractive
(4) The Negro Must Learn to Dress More Appropriately for Work and for Leisure
(5) The Negro Must Make His Religion an Everyday Practice and Not Just a Sunday-Go-to Meeting Emotional Affair
(6) The Negro Must Highly Resolve to Wipe Out Mass Ignorance
(7) The Negro Must Stop Charging His Failures Up to His "Color" and to White People's Attitude
(8) The Negro Must Overcome His Bad Job Habits
(9) The Negro Must Improve His Conduct in Public Places
(10) The Negro Must Learn How to Operate Business for People -- Not for Negro People, Only
(11) The Average So-Called Educated Negro Will Have to Come Down Out of the Air
(12) The Negro Must Stop Forgetting His Friends. Remember!