Sunday, May 31, 2020

Has God "Damned" America or Has America "Damned" Herself?

Has God damned America or has America damned herself? is the question and topic of this post. In 2008 the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, then pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, and who now serves as the pastor emeritus of the church used the words "God", "damn" and "America" in the same sentence. He was juxtaposing this line with what is commonly said, which is "God Bless America."  The attention to this sermon came as then Senator Barack Obama was seeking the presidency as Senator Obama was a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ. Pundits tried to use Reverend Wright's sermon as one of the reasons that Barack Obama should not become President of the United States. The rhetoric surrounding the sermon was a usual divide and conquer tactic as well as yet another way to share distorted and "alternate facts" with the American Public. Thankfully, the tactic did not succeed even though it did cause some uneasy moments given the relationship between Senator Obama and his pastor. Ultimately, Barack Obama did become president and served for two terms and Reverend Wright's words have manifested into reality over and over again even up to the writing of this blog post in May of 2020. 

Definition of Damn

That's the Cliff Notes backdrop to this post today and my question that is an offshoot of Dr. Wright's statement in 2008. My question though is, Is God the one doing the damning, or is America damning herself? As a child raised in a Christian home, we were taught never to take or use God's name in vain and to steer away from profanity; in fact, of all of the profane or blasphemous words that could come out of one's mouth, "Goddamn"  was at the top of the list. That word you just did not use. You might be able to get by with "Hell," "Ass," and maybe even the "F" word; however, you just did not say the word "Goddamn." Yet, Rev. Wright was using the term in his sermon in a church, and in my view he was absolutely, one hundred percent correct. 

I had the honor of meeting Reverend Wright on a few occasions and he made a lasting impression on me each time. My first experience with Reverend Wright was at a Hampton University Ministers Conference in the late '80s or early '90s on the campus of Hampton University. His sermon title was Prophetic or Pathetic? and it was taken from 1 Kings, Chapter 13. I've never forgotten that sermon and have cited that very book of the Bible, chapter, and verse in prior posts as I see parallels between Trump and the character in that story Jeroboam. 

Will Smith
So here we are in 2020 making our way through a world-wide COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic while at the same time racial atrocities are continuously on the rise. Those of us on social media are encouraging readers to "Say the names" of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others who have not received major media coverage. Protests have broken out all over the country eerily similar to the protests during the '60s. I even wonder if Making America Great Again (MAGA) meant taking us back to the '60s because it is so strikingly similar. I guess Will Smith said it best where he is quoted as saying "Racism isn't getting worse, it's getting filmed." And even when it is filmed dating back and beyond to Rodney King, people of color wind up with the short end of the stick. The video of the gunning down of Ahmaud Arbery was immediately questioned upon release. Even when we are "seeing" it, the oppressors try to make us not believe what we are seeing. 

Going back to the Bible again, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, it reads:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
In my view, America has not turned from her wicked ways nor has she humbled herself. If anything we have become more wicked even during this pandemic crisis. So to paraphrase this verse and put it into context and for the premise of this post, since we [America] are refusing to turn from our wicked ways or humble ourselves we are indeed "damning" ourselves. What else can you call it but damning when we are not hearing from God/Heaven because of what we keep refusing to do? It is not necessarily that God is damning America, however, we are damning ourselves with our behavior and lack of love for mankind and each other. Ahmaud, George, Breonna, and so many others were human beings just as their perpetrators are human beings. In a previous post, (There Are A Lot Of Things Wrong With This Picture) a woman held a sign that read something to the effect of her being human compared with a dog and a slave who I guess are not considered human. A dog is not a human; however, slaves were humans. Sadly, there are folks out there who treat dogs and cats better than they do fellow human beings. Amy Cooper, a Caucasian female had absolutely no reservations whatsoever about making a hysterical call to the police accusing Christian Cooper, a Black man (no relation) of harassing her when he was not knowing full well how the police would react to a White woman calling about a Black man harassing her (sound familiar - Emmett Till). That's what I mean by wickedness or us not turning from our wicked ways. The misery, hatred, and wickedness that is spewed from the White House whether it is by Tweet or from the microphone is the wickedness and not humbling of oneself that I am referring to. From where I sit, unless some big league or "Bigly" changes are made, our land is not going to heal and this pandemic may only be the beginning. I'm sure you Bible scholars out there know about the 10 Plagues. 

When I share THE CRITICAL THINKER across platforms, I always ask folks to read, think, reflect, and share. I really do not care if you agree or disagree; however, I encourage you as the reader to at least think about the premise of the post. Where are you based on the information that is written in the post? Are you a part of the problem or the solution? Are you the oppressor or the oppressed? I encourage you to ask yourself these questions and as always, thanks for reading, and of course, this is something to critically think about. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

I Don't Have To Write A Word

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Racial Oppression Groundhog Day

I was reading HOW WE FIGHT WHITE SUPREMACY by Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin and came across a line in one of the essays in the book that read "Why do people refuse to learn the lessons of our abundant history of racial oppression?' kind of Groundhog Day." With all of the current events related to race occurring as I write, this line leaped up at me from the page or in my case the Ipad screen. I thought the phrasing of the question/sentence was a perfect description of where we are racially in 2020. So, I went online to do a quick research of the movie Groundhog Day and found the following synopsis:
A cynical TV weatherman finds himself reliving the same day over and over again when he goes on location to the small town of Punxsutawney to film a report about their annual Groundhog Day. He needed to see his disrespect of them through many incarnations of the day and change his attitude. Only when his attitude was proved to be changed by his love of Rita, was he able to escape the time loop.
Needless to say, I intentionally bolded and underlined keywords in the synopsis to emphasize the parallels with our society and world today. Like in the plot of the movie, sadly, we are reliving the blatant display of racism, racial hatred, and supremacy over and over again. Every day we are seeing on the news and through social media the brutalization of People of Color by Caucasians that is no different than what occurred historically hundreds of years ago and what I am calling based on that line in the book, "racial oppression groundhog day." 

Let's read just three (as I am sure there were many more) of the headlines appearing over the last few days, shall we...

  • Four Minneapolis officers fired after video shows one kneeling ...
  • Ahmaud Arbery killing being investigated as federal hate ...
  • White woman fired after calling police on black man who asked her to leash her dog
In the first two instances, an African-American male was killed (Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd) and in the third, Christian Cooper, an African-American male could have been killed as an intentionally deadly Emmett Till like scenario was set up by Amy Cooper (no relation) a Caucasian woman. 

Ironically, Colin Kaepernick, an NFL quarterback started protesting police brutality and the treatment of minorities by kneeling during the National Anthem during the opening of the NFL games. The movement caught on with players around the league. Kaepernick went on record saying "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." Kaepernick and his colleagues were lambasted by Donald Trump as he blasted them saying "Get that son of a bitch off the field."  I find it interesting that the officers in Minneapolis nor the good ole' boys in Georgia were referred to as "Son's of bitches"  by the president. I'm sure they fall into the category of "very fine people."  It was not okay for the protesters to kneel while the anthem was being played, but it was okay for that officer to kneel on a Black man's neck. Something is wrong with that picture. So very, very wrong. 

Okay, let's parallel our racial situation to the Groundhog Day synopsis. 

  • Cynical TV weatherman ------------- Racist/Supremacist
  • Rita ----------------------------- Everyone else who is not like or different from the racist/supremest 
In the movie, the change did not occur until the cynical weatherman was shown and realized how disrespectful and hateful he was and made the conscious decision to change his disposition; his view of everyone else who was not like him; his attitude. Then he had to "prove" that he was really changed and that proof was in his showing love to others. It was only then that he was able to escape the time loop. 

We will not be able to escape the racial time loop until all of those who are racists/supremacists either make the change like the cynical TV weatherman did or we will have to wait until they all die off of the planet with the hopes that the following generations know better and refuse to be a part of any type of racist/supremacists views and beliefs. Love is the key to escaping the time loop. 

It seems we have gone backward in time where it is open season on Black men or anyone for that matter who is not a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) male. Something has got to give, otherwise, Rapper, Ice Cube may have a point when he states  “How long will we go for Blue On Black Crime until we strike back?”  Something to critically think about. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

When You Seriously Think About It, How Much "Freedom" Has Been Lost?

 Okay folks, let's get real. In all seriousness, how much "freedom" if you will, have been lost as a result of the Covid-19 shelter-in-place? I mean seriously, when you think about it, have we really "lost" freedom or have we been temporarily inconvenienced? Slavery?  Really?

Like anyone else, I am more than ready to get out of the house and go about my normal routine; however, our current situation restricts me from doing so. I don't consider this a loss of my freedom though. We have been dealing with and are still dealing with a virus that is highly contagious and one that carriers of it can be asymptomatic. Yes, you can be infected and infecting others and not know it. It can be unbeknownst to you and to the people around you, hence the wearing of masks and the social distancing policies. 

I've been watching this rebellious nonsense by many who quite frankly if they were to become ill due to their selfish behavior, I would not have one wit of compassion. I have lost colleagues, and friends due to this virus who had their entire lives ahead of them. One was only forty-six years
old had just received his Doctorate degree and leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. (photo to left)

These rebels without a cause (at least they think they have one) are endangering their own lives and the lives of others to go to a beach? A nail salon? The boardwalk?  Again I say, really? Seriously? We have been in this situation for over two months now and we still do not have a handle on how it is spread, who catches it, how various bodies react to it or whether or not it is mutating or stabilizing. We are still trying to figure out if you get it and survive it, are you now immune to it?

The folks in these photos willfully defying the Stay-at-home recommendations and being all up in each other's faces are playing with an element that they know not of. They think they are being smart, funny, or that they know more than the scientists and doctors who made the policies.  They are listening and following a president whose vocabulary taps out at "good," "bad," "sad," "many" and a few more kindergarten words. Oh and lest I forget the word "Obama."  That word he knows backward and forwards. However, I digress.

These are crazy times and we will not be able to move forward if folks keep behaving in ways that are going to set us back. As sure as I am writing this, the areas in which these folks in the photos live are going to quickly start showing spikes in the number of COVID-19/Coronavirus cases. Mark my words. It did not or does not have to be but for the blatant defiance of things that have been put into place to help us to stay safe and for the virus to move on or at least slowdown.

With foolish behavior as shown in these photos, there is no telling when we will come out of this because we will keep going in what I call a "stupid loop." Okay, so what you got a chance to go outside and go to the beach, get some sun and walk the boardwalk, but the question is going to be, was it worth your or your loved ones' life? If you were to ask my colleague's widow or two daughters, I doubt if they would answer yes.

We have crazy demonstrators in Kentucky who hanged an effigy of Democratic state governor Andy Beshear from a tree. Folks going out in droves saying "To Hell with social-distancing and staying home," coughing intentionally on people in stores and restaurants because they are asked to wear a mask, and then we wonder why the country is not healing. It is not going to heal with behavior like this. Something is wrong with too many Americans who can watch our death toll rise above one hundred thousand and still act as if going to the beach is a top priority. There are some seriously seared souls and conscious' out there. Sadly, under our current leadership (or lack thereof) in the White House, we are getting worse and not better.

I need someone to tell me what freedoms we have lost. Yes, we are definitely being inconvenienced. Yes, we are frustrated and tired of being in the house, but a loss of freedom? I don't think so. I can still go to the grocery store; I can cook the food that I purchased at the store; I still have a roof over my head; I can still take a walk or ride my bicycle; I can still call my loved ones and see them on Zoom, FaceTime and Google Meet; and I can cut or wash my own hair. I just don't see what freedom I have lost. There is a difference between losing freedom and being inconvenienced. I'll stop here. I really do not care if you agree or disagree, however, I would have you the reader think about some of the points brought out in the post.

Something to critically think about.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

There Are A Lot Of Things Wrong With This Picture

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and came across the post you see in the picture to your left. Immediately the "What's wrong with this picture?" phrase arose in my mind. I noticed the layout of the two photos before I read @UjuAnya's words written above them.
I hadn't gotten to the words in the post because I was fixated on the words that appear on the sign "MUZZLES ARE FOR DOGS AND SLAVES. I AM A FREE HUMAN BEING."

I cannot express for you here in this blog post the mix of emotions and thoughts that seeing that woman carrying that sign with those words, brought up within me. Follow me here in the story and keep in mind my emotions began stirring BEFORE I read the words or shall I say the history lesson above the photos given by Uju Anya. I was already silently yelling "The last time I looked, slaves were human beings too!"  at the red bandannaed, sunglassed clad caucasian woman holding the sign. I was yelling at her for placing the slave woman and a dog in the same category while identifying herself as a "free human being." I found myself still yelling at this woman with the question, "So, a free human being is a human being but an enslaved human being is not a human being?" Yeah ok, message received. I was literally yelling at the computer screen.  I noticed how in that woman's eyes a slave and a dog are in the same category.

Now, I have already addressed the issue of our having to shelter-in-place for our safety being compared with slavery and the right to protest and attempt to force states to re-open being compared with the Civil Rights Movement in a previous blog post I HAVE HAD IT WITH THE NAMES OF ROSA PARKS AND MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. BEING INVOKED IN THE STAY AT HOME ORDER PROTESTS and podcast Why We Cannot And Must Not Compare Our Current Health Precautions With Slavery And Anti-Lockdown Protests with the Civil Rights Movement, so I am not going to rehash that here. You can liken this latest atrocity to being in the same ballpark but sitting in different sections of the stadium. This pictorial layout in the Twitter post and the wording of the sign are historically and presently indicative of what far too many people believe and it is because of these beliefs that we are experiencing and witnessing these aberrant behaviors. Folks have become empowered and emboldened due to the behavior of the current president. Hatemongers are living vicariously through Donald Trump's vanity, insensitivity, roughness, and rawness. They secretly wish they could do what he does, so to them he is their hero.

When it comes to our racial history in terms of the interactions between Caucasians and African Americans/People of Color, I am nowhere close to naive and was not shocked by what I was seeing in that Twitter post. Shocked, no. Saddened, incensed, insulted, enraged; yes, hence the mix of emotions I was referring to. Nor am I playing the "race card." If anyone is playing the race card, it is the woman comparing herself to a black slave who in her mind is not human and holding a sign referring to her "free" whiteness also known as "white privilege." Her wording, not mine. If you are following me, then you know I have not arrived at the point in the story where I read the words ABOVE the photos.

After re-reading and yelling at the computer screen, my eyes went above the photo and read the history of Anastácia the slave woman. When I read the words "Her mistress ordered that iron spike torture device put to deform her face and squeeze her neck out of rage and jealousy that her husband would not stop raping Anastácia," that's when I saw it. Saw what? Well, I'm glad you asked. I saw the pattern. The same exact pattern that I'm seeing from Donald Trump in terms of Barack Obama, or George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, or the recent Ahmaud Arbery slaying and so many countless others. The same pattern. Blame the African American for something that is being done to him/her. It was the mistress's husband who was doing the raping yet the mistress took punitive action against Anastácia the victim and not her husband the perpetrator. Donald Trump since his Birther nonsense has been placing the metaphoric iron spike torture device to deform Obama's face and squeeze his neck out of rage, jealousy, and racism. Like Anastácia, Obama was raped by Mitch McConnell when Mitch proudly proclaimed that they were going to block everything Obama put in place and make him a one-term president. Mitch and the crew blocked what they could over the eight years (two terms) and what they didn't block then, Trump has been overturning since he has been in office. Again, only because Obama is an African American man. Donald Trump is obsessed with overturning and obliterating everything Barack Obama put into place not because it was necessarily bad, but only because Barack Obama is an African American. He is pathologically lying and making things up about Obama when in reality it is him [Trump] who is the incompetent one.

Think about that for a moment, Anastácia was tortured for having to suffer the torture of multiple rapes. She was now wearing a torture device as a result of her being raped! We continue to see the same thing happening to People of Color by white supremacists in 2020. The woman in the photo had absolutely no problem at all carrying a protest sign that defined herself as a human being while implying that a slave was not a human being and at the same level if not less than a dog. I'm sure she is a very fine person.

Yes, there are a lot of things wrong with that picture and I bet if folks were asked to pick out what was wrong, they could not. Sadly, it is in the DNA. It is in the subconscious. It is in the subliminal.