Category Archives: America The Beautiful

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! (Grow Up!)

Donald J Trump will be inaugurated on Friday, January 20, 2017. This is a fact. We can love it; we can hate it. But, barring a national crisis, he will be the next President of the United States.

There. It needed to be said. Wait, what? Everybody knows that already? OK, then…

What do you think will happen on Saturday, January 21,2017?

Well, if it is God’s will, we will wake up in the same America we have had for the past eight years. It may not “feel” the same to some, but it will be the same. If you’ve been working hard these past years, you will continue to work hard. If you have been lazy, you will still be the same lazy person. The only thing different is a new family will occupy the White House. It is part of the Constitution that this must happen. The people yearn for a leader, so every four years one is elected. The presidency is a position of power, but it is not all power. No man has the ability to add years to your life. Men cannot save souls. Men cannot keep your hair from turning gray. Men can only suggest ways to lead a healthier lifestyle. Men can only lead you to The One who does save souls. Men can only invent dyes to cover the gray. That is why we should never place our faith in man. Man’s love is conditional and his time is fleeting. God’s isn’t. Men attach labels and place people and things in categories or “boxes” in order of its importance to him. With God, you’re His child and He loves you. You are important to Him. And as a child of God you can experience a peace and freedom and acceptance you will NEVER have with man.

Here are some more facts to note:

Your opinion does not matter to anyone but you. Nobody cares about what you like or don’t like. Most people don’t care about your life because they are too busy trying to survive themselves. No one likes being told what to do or how to think. Everyone will not like you. Get over it. If you are trying to enact change, look in the mirror first. Change YOURSELF into the thinker and leader you want to see instead of wasting time trying to bang it over the head of people who could care less about your philosophical pontification. The longer we hold on to Democrat and Republican, black and white, liberal and conservative, left-wing and right-wing, the longer the nation stays divided. As we celebrate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. let’s remember one of his famous quotes, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” So, let’s examine our hearts and consider our words. Become a person of action. Sing a new song. Look forward to the future. And love. Love one another. Not for personal gain but out of common decency and respect. You don’t need a leader to tell you the difference between wrong and right. We need people to demonstrate the right thing to do every day in every little way. You can do it. I can do it. We can do it. Together.

You Reap What You Sow

Do you sow seeds of love or seeds of hate? Remember, you reap what you sow. If you encourage discord, lie, cheat and harbor hatred in your heart, don’t be surprised if your life is filled with discord, lying, cheating and hatred. Don’t ask, “Why me?”

Be the one who spreads tolerance, compassion, empathy and love even if it means going against those closest to you. You are a leader, not a follower. Your light should shine before you. If you constantly have to defend your Christianity, it may not be because everyone else has a problem. It may be due to the way you project yourself and the words you speak. My mother would always tell me as a child, “You never have to ask a person how he or she feels about anything. Just let the person talk.” What you feel in your heart almost always comes through in your conversation.

This open hatred between the races, classes, genders and sexual orientations has to stop. We are destroying ourselves in the guise of free speech. Just because you have the right, doesn’t make it right. We can and must do better.

It’s About Change – Race, Class and the Re-Election of Barack Obama


I have been reminded of three incidents involving a stranger, a friend and an acquaintance the days following President Obama’s historic re-election.

First, I will relay the incident with the stranger. When I was a teenager, I loved reading fashion magazines to see all the latest trends and beauty products. I was reading the letters to the editor of one magazine and discovered that, for the first time ever, a black model had graced the cover the previous month. The letters from readers were mostly positive for this “bold” move. I thought it was ridiculous to consider the model’s selection for the cover as bold given the time period was the late 1980s-early ‘90s. The last letter, however, changed my mind. It was from a woman who explained that while she applauded the magazine’s decision to select a black woman as the cover model she also appreciated her white world. If she wanted to look at black models, she would buy a black fashion magazine. Simply put, she did not appreciate seeing a black woman on the cover the magazine. As I scanned the inside of the magazine, I discovered the articles, advertisements and photos were still geared towards her “white world” and I was sure it was same for the previous month. That, obviously, was either lost or did not matter to the reader. She still felt her world – as she knew it – was being compromised.

The second incident involves a friend. We were chatting during a break in our work day. He began to tell me how he had railed against an officer some months earlier who had pulled him over for speeding. He went on and on about he interrupted the officer while he was speaking and shouted expletives at him. When I asked him if the officer responded to his tirade, he said he didn’t. My friend said the officer just looked at him and let him go with a warning. When I told him I found it hard to believe that he could get away with such disrespect and disregard of an officer and his instructions, he thought a moment then said, “It probably would have gone differently if I weren’t white.”

The third incident involves a social media acquaintance the day after President Obama’s re-election. The acquaintance was upset at the results but resigned to the outcome. I knew her political leanings from earlier posts throughout the campaign so her written tantrum wasn’t surprising. However, a comment written in response to her post caught my eye. The commenter was also upset, but the reason was enlightening. He was saddened because “the America of my parents and grandparents is gone.”

Yes, America is changing. Whether it is for the better or worse depends solely upon your perspective. President Obama’s re-election proved that White privilege no longer assures victory. It is not enough to be White, male and rich. It is not enough to play on the emotions of middle class whites by promising action without clearly defining an action plan. Rich, white males are going to have to put forth the effort, i.e. work, and seriously consider what is best for all Americans and not just be concerned about one class (upper) while stirring up the inherent fears in another (middle). White men can no longer play the race card.

It is also not enough for black men to blame society for a lack of opportunity and/or direction. At one time, there were chains and laws that prevented them from sharing in the American dream. The only chains and laws preventing them now are the ones placed and enacted through generation after generation of mindsets. Every door isn’t open just as every door isn’t open for poor whites, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic groups. However, enough doors are open so that with a sufficient amount of drive, goals and the desire to achieve those goals, i.e. work, success can happen. Black men can no longer play the race card.

Race is the superficial issue at hand; the core is class. The Haves versus the Have-Nots. The classes are blinded by race because, historically, the Have-Nots have been Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic groups. That is no longer the case. Economic hardships affect all races but not always all classes. Unfortunately, we live in a world where a disproportionate amount of Haves are not willing to share a portion of their wealth and influence to assist the Have-Nots, which are the majority. I’m not referring to welfare or hand-outs; I’m referring to a fair representation of taxes to ease the burdens of millions of hard-working and tax-paying citizens. It is common sense that, in a country that assesses taxes, those who have more should pay more. Instead, the Haves play on the fears of the Have-Nots by threatening to terminate workers, suspend cost of living increases or close companies and move to other countries with weaker policies. The Haves know that money is a motivator because it is what motivates them, not loyalty to country or concern for the masses. The Haves garner the support of the Have-Nots because the Have-Nots fear losing their jobs and all for which they have worked. The Haves continually play on the Have-Nots fears out of their own fear of compromising –not losing – the abundant wealth they have accumulated. That fear is being projected upon the President – a black man from meager beginnings who, by all conventional wisdom, did not stand a chance of being elected the leader of the free world much less re-elected. He has shaken the certainty of the white world. He is proof that America’s old way of thinking is falling by the wayside. His re-election signals the end of playing race cards.

America is now a true melting pot of ethnicities and a land of opportunities for all. Those sentiments are no longer just propaganda distributed to the rest of world. We’re finally living it. We can accept this change and work together. Or, some can continue to resent this change and refuse to bend. All businesses know that they must adapt to change in order to maintain their standings or they will fold. The same holds true for societies. Now is not the time for arrogance, hate-mongering and posturing. We need to come together as Americans without all the labels and fears. Our refusal to do so will, ultimately, result in our downfall.


It’s Not About Race – 2012 Presidential Election Editorial


The election was not about race.

On November 5, 2008 – the day after the 56th presidential election in which Barack Hussein Obama was elected the first African American (or black or, for the nit-picky, biracial) Commander-In-Chief of the United States of America, I walked into my place of employment expecting the usual syrupy, “Good morning, darling,” from the nice grandmotherly receptionist. Instead, she barely looked up as I passed her desk. She did not speak to me. I shrugged it off, thinking she may be having a bad morning. Little did I know at the time that her “bad morning” would continue with me and select others for the remainder of the work week.

I walked to my desk expecting to be greeted with the usual office chatter, but there was none. Only the humming of office equipment and distant chimes of incoming calls could be heard. When I made it to my desk, I asked a co-worker what was wrong. He looked behind him at our other co-workers who pretended not to hear my question, their attentions firmly set upon their computer monitors. He then rolled his chair close to me and whispered so softly I could barely hear him, “What do you think?” It took a second for it to register. I then chuckled at his insinuation and shook my head no. He nodded yes and slowly rolled back to his cubicle. I turned around and began preparing for my day. He is being paranoid, I thought. The atmosphere in this place is reminiscent of a funeral. The heaviness in the air couldn’t only be the reaction to the election. Obama was President-elect; he hadn’t even taken the Oath of Office yet. Besides, the election was not about race. It was about being progressive, righting the wrongs of old policies and mindsets so America could regain and retain its position as the leader in an ever-changing world.

Later that morning, a female supervisor to whom I did not report asked me to join her in her office. Another lady from her team followed us. She made sure the office door was shut then offered us a seat. She looked at us, beaming.

“I am so happy about last night,” she said, finally. I noticed she, too, was whispering.

I returned her smile but said nothing. My co-worker, however, expressed similar sentiments.

“We can’t show it, though,” the supervisor continued, “because they are mad as hell. We have to stay neutral, OK?” “They” were the Caucasian majority in the office.

I remained silent. The co-worker next to me offered her opinion which matched the supervisor’s. We left her office a few minutes later, smiles erased, pretending we were discussing other matters.

I walked back to my desk, somewhat ashamed. That was the type of attitude the election was supposed to end, the old “Us” versus “Them”. How could she automatically assume another group was enraged over an election that was decided by the popular vote? An election by popular vote meant “they” had voted for Obama, too. The supervisor’s statements, to me, reeked of reverse racism. We needed to get beyond those attitudes.

The election was not about race.

I noticed I had voice mail when I returned to my desk. A client was having an on-going issue with receiving his daily reports. It was a programming issue that I, as level one support, could not resolve. I facilitated a conference call with the client and the level 2 support – the man who actually developed the program. Together we accessed the client’s computer via remote. The client and the level 2 associate had met and were on friendly terms. The client and I were also friendly but had never met. The conversation turned to the election.

“What do you think about last night?” the client asked Level 2.

It was apparent to me that Level 2 did not want to discuss the election given the time he took to craft his response. “I think the decision was made and we have to live with it,” he said.

The client’s level of perception, however, was limited because he continued. “I don’t have to live with anything. I did not and would not vote for him. I’m so pissed right now.”

Level 2 laughed nervously, “Well, now, I think we should give him a chance…”

“I’m not giving him anything,” the client interrupted then paused for a beat. “You know, they say his role model is Abraham Lincoln. What do Lincoln, Kennedy and Obama have in common?”

I am not at all embarrassed to say that Level 2, being an older gentleman (I know because we had met on several occasions), was way sharper than me. While I seriously pondered the question, he attempted to steer the conversation back to the programming issue the client was having.

The client was having none of it. “Come on, what do they have in common?”

Level 2 sighed. “I don’t know. What do they have in common?”

“Nothing… yet,” the client said and laughed as if it were the funniest thing he’d heard in a long, long time.

Level 2 chose not to respond. Instead of attempting, he forcefully steered the conversation back to the reporting issue. He told the client he would need to do some research and would call him with a resolution in a few minutes. The call ended. I hung up the phone, disappointed as my opinion of the client was lowered.

My desk phone rang about ten minutes later.

“Hey, we got off the phone before I could tell you how much I appreciate you getting the programmer involved in resolving this mess with the reports,” the client said.

“No problem, that’s my job. Hopefully, this time we’ll get it resolved instead of patched,” I replied, my tone dry on purpose hoping the call would end quickly.

“No, no. I really want you to know that I appreciate you and all that you do. You have been excellent and I truly enjoy working with you,” he said.

“Thank you. You’re too kind.”

“No, I’m not just being kind, I mean it. I like you and I like working with you.”

“Well, thank you again. I appreciate that.” I then asked, “Has the programmer contacted you yet?”

“Ah, um, yeah and everything is resolved now, don’t worry about that. I just wanted you know that I think you are an asset to your company and that I appreciate all that you do for me. I’ll let you get back to work. I’m sure you have other clients you need to check on. Talk to you later.”

Click.

That’s when I conceded the election was more about race that I wanted to admit. And that racism is so embedded in American society it will take a lot more than an election to erase it. To put it bluntly, it ain’t going away anytime soon.

Yes, there are white people who are mad as hell because a black family has occupied the White House for the past four years. Anybody would be better than Obama, they think, so they’re voting for Romney despite not having a clear understanding of how he will turn the economy around. As his running mate, Paul Ryan, stated, the math would take too long.

Yes, there are black people who don’t give a damn about the current administration. An inordinate number of black people are so used to hard times that the economy is not and probably will never be a major concern for them because they’ve never been a part of it. All they care about is the president is black and they’re voting for four more years. Of whatever. As long as the black man stays in office.

And, yes, there are people who are concerned about America – its present and its future – and, if they vote, will do so based upon that concern and not by a candidate’s posturing. They, unfortunately, are the minority.

I, too, am a minority, not because I am a black woman but because I reject the labels Democrat and Republican, conservative and liberal. I am tired of both parties automatically assuming they either do or don’t have my vote. I am tired of millionaire politicians souring our political process into sparring matches rather than honestly discussing plausible resolutions to our issues. I am tired of off-hand remarks garnering more attention than the topic being debated. I am tired of pundits rating the candidates’ debate performances rather than their platforms. I don’t think the outfits the candidates’ spouses wear deserve news coverage.

#Winning (at any and all costs) has become so valued in American society that we have come to expect and accept deception and lies as a normal part of the political process. No one wins when nearly half the population is struggling. No one wins when lines in food pantries are made up of people who work full time jobs but don’t make enough money to adequately feed their families. No one wins when companies lay off workers, cutting off paychecks and benefits to thousands, while executives still pocket hefty bonuses.

If you were unable or unwilling to take advantage of early voting, please vote this Tuesday, November 6. Don’t vote according to your emotions but according to your common sense. Don’t vote according to your political affiliation or race or sexual orientation, but according to the privilege of being an American citizen and wanting the best leadership for our country. Re-elect President Obama or show him the door. Whoever is elected won’t #win anything; but will inherit an awesome and tremendous responsibility and burden. The past twelve years have not been easy and the next four won’t be either. Don’t make it worse by being indifferent. This election really isn’t about race, although most have turned it into just that – a racial tug-of-war. This election, as all elections, is about America. Let’s stop being a house divided because a house divided cannot stand. If we continue this path of denial and apathy, outside forces will not bring down America. We will.


Daily Inspiration, June 12, 2012

“The heavens are Yours and Yours also the earth; You founded the world and all that is in it.” Psalm 89:11

I’ve traveled by train through America’s rural heartland and marveled at how the landscape changes from green to amber fields. I watched farmers tend to crops and waved back at their smiling children as they ran alongside the tracks, excited by a daily occurrence that had not yet become tiresome and commonplace.

I’ve traveled by plane across America. I am always struck by the beauty of the heavens as we slice through the blue sky and fluffy clouds. I am further amazed by the sun’s brilliant red, yellow and orange hues whenever we ascend higher to avoid turbulence. This is a peaceful world, and I respect its majesty.

I’ve traveled by ship across the deep blue waters of the Caribbean. I enjoyed the dolphins and flying fish vying for my attention. When we docked, I found shade under towering fruit and spice trees and enjoyed the hospitality of locals who were kind and tolerant to tourists unaccustomed to such sights as white sandy beaches and lush green forests.

Finally, I have traveled by car. Admittedly, I have been less than thrilled by the traffic, exhaust and congestion. But I have been touched by lovers stealing kisses at a red light, a young man ensuring an older woman safely crosses an intersection and friends and families laughing with one another in the cars next to me.

Yes, there is a lot of wrong going on the world, but there is also a lot of right. I guess it’s all in the way you choose to view it.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyonce, Jay-Z & the N-Word

There supposedly is outrage over Gwyneth Paltrow using the word “niggas” when referring to her besties Jay-Z and Beyonce during a performance in Paris recently. Many think her use of the word was inappropriate. Of course it was, but it was equally inappropriate for two influential black multi-milloniare rappers to title their song, “Niggas in Paris”.

If Jay-Z and Beyonce don’t have a problem with her dong it then neither should anyone else. For Paltrow to not feel any qualms about using the song title to reference them, it must be how they refer to themselves in private as well. Kind of gets you into psyche of Beyonce who once stated Paltrow was who she aspired to be, despite the fact that Beyonce is ultra-successful in her own right.

I have gone on record stating I find nothing empowering about embracing a word that has caused so many people so much pain for centuries. I find it irresponsible for entertainers to use it to sell records. For people as affluent as the Jay-Zs and Kanyes of the world, being called a nigger or “nigga” by a white person is probably no more than a pebble in their shoes, a frustration they peel off as they relax in the confines of their secluded neighborhoods or five-star hotels. For the vast majority of black people ,however, being called a nigger or “nigga” by a white person is much more than that. It’s remembering the time that white off-site co-worker who was so warm and friendly during phone conferences turn cold and distant when she discovered the person on the other end of those calls is black. It’s remembering the time when he or she was the only black person at an employee conference and had to listen to white co-workers crack offending jokes and rap those lyrics to see if they could elicit a response. It’s remembering the time when that black person finally decided to speak to management about it, only to be told he or she was overreacting.

Yes, Jay-Z and Beyonce may not have a problem with it, but I and millions of other people not living in the rarefied heights which Jay-Z and Kanye continually rap about do have issues with it. We are the one who are keeping it real by fighting against the stereotypes that have held us down. We do it to make life better for those who come after us, not the same but in a better environment. As long as we refer to ourselves as niggers or “niggas” other races will feel comfortable referring to us niggers, too. Period. Sure, other races refer to themselves in derogatory terms, but they do this in private conversations. Black artists are the only ones actively promoting negative images of themselves. All in a quest for money and fame while not thinking about the young minds who absorb that nonsense, the urban professionals who have to constantly fight against that nonsense and the older people who had to endure that nonsense. Talk about crabs in a barrel.

The Trayvon Martin Tragedy: Fear – False Evidence Appearing Real?

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and love and of sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain etc. whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

The same emotion that moves us to protect our loved ones can also lead us to hurt others. It can make us look at each other with apprehension and distrust for absolutely no reason at all. It can drive a rational person to irrational acts.

We will never know what was going through the mind of George Zimmerman the night of February 26, 2012. We can imagine, we even have gut feelings, but we will never know. We will never know the personal demons that propelled him to follow a teenager, confront him, and then shoot him to death. Published reports state he is adamant that he acted in self-defense. What is not clear is from what he was defending himself, especially if he felt secure enough to begin a pursuit.

We will never know what was going through the mind of Trayvon Martin the night of February 26, 2012. We can imagine, we even have gut feelings, but we will never know. We will never know what he saw in the eyes of the man who confronted him. We don’t know if he even felt he could converse with the imposing person in front of him or if he suspected, at first, that he was in imminent danger. The recorded 911 calls, however, highlight what we do know – a shot rang out and a young life was cut short.

I will let politicians and media expound on the racial overtones of this matter. One would have to be either oblivious or in denial to not realize that racial profiling played a part in this tragedy. Instead, I am saddened by how much fear had its role. Trayvon Martin’s fear is not hard to understand; being followed, confronted and having a gun flashed before you would scare the most hardened person, let alone a child. It is the fear that George Zimmerman felt, the imagined threats that prompted him make dozens of “false alarm” calls in the months preceding the shooting, the rage that moved him to question the civil liberty of an individual he felt didn’t belong in his area, the twist in perception that turned a can of Arizona tea and a pack of Skittles into weapons that warranted the use of deadly force that saddens me. I am saddened that a man was so filled with fear that it overshadowed his rational thought processes; making him seek justice for a crime that was not being committed.

Fear and a rush to judgment have changed the lives of two families forever. If justice actually prevails, it will still feel hollow because two parents were robbed of the experience of seeing their child reach his full potential. There will be no winners because a man’s actions will forevermore be analyzed and treated with suspicion because of his fears. Let’s do away with fear and walk in the way God wants us to: in power, love and sound mind.

The State of the Union Address and Republican Response – Doing What’s Right or Hollywood Hype?

At least no one shouted, “You lie!” this time.

President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union address tonight in full campaign mode, highlighting his accomplishments (the death of Osama bin Laden, creation of jobs, the success of the auto industry) and future goals for America including:

• Tax reform for businesses that outsource jobs and tax breaks for businesses that create jobs in America (which seemed to be met with bipartisan approval)
• The appointment of a trade department to regulate and investigate foreign piracy and taxation (not so much bipartisan approval. Even I, a supporter of the president, feel this may be a waste of taxpayer money)
• Immigration reform (there were camera shots of John McCain who appeared somewhat bemused)
• Unemployment reform (change it from an unemployment program to a re-employment program, met with bipartisan approval)
• Equal pay for women (met with approval from the female members of Congress and the Senate. Camera shot of Laurene Powell Jobs, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ widow)
• Clean energy
• Banking reform
• Agriculture Reform
• Health care reform (strictly partisan approval)
• Unit to investigate reckless lenders (Again, not so sure I agree with this one – waste of taxpayer money. Received, in my opinion, a deserved lukewarm response)
• Revoking tax breaks for wealthy Americans (also met with lukewarm response. What can one expect from an auditorium mostly filled with millionaires?)
• Congress and Senate reform (stepped on some toes with that one)
• Foreign policy

Of course, the Republican senators and congressmen spent the majority of the time with stern countenances as President Obama relayed his vision. Speaker of the House John Boehner set the Republican tone earlier by calling the president’s speech “pathetic” so that was no surprise. What’s surprising is that neither party is willing to work with the other to better the conditions and circumstances of the everyday American citizen. Actually, it’s shameful. The president stated he does not want to return to the same policies that placed America in this recession. I argue no one – Democrat or Republican, Tea Party or Libertarian – wants that. Hopefully, they will prove it by stopping childish name-calling and finger-pointing and getting to the business of fixing this country. Note: I found it strange that as ABC went to a commercial break, it was announced that the State of the Union Address and Republican Response were being brought to us by The Descendants, which is a current theatrical release starring George Clooney. Well, ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Company. Which begs the question: Did I just view a big Hollywood production?

Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana delivered the Republican response. The response went pretty much as expected: The President is wrong. His polices are wrong. His ideals are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Republicans are right. The only way to cure what ails America is vote in a Republican president and Senate. He advised America’s problems are mathematical, but didn’t provide an actual formula or solution. To really get the viewer’s riled, we were enlightened to the fact that the Obama administration works to divide Americans by courting favor to certain groups. We were also enlightened that the current administration feels we are too incompetent to self-govern. Woo-Wee, them there’s fightin’ words!

Hmmm, this may really be one great big Hollywood production, after all.

Entertaining Articles and Tidbits from the World Wide Web

I am so happy for Viola Davis, Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer for their Oscar nominations. Three performances that brought me laughter, tears and laughter until tears! Click here for a complete list of the Oscar nominations.

Aretha Franklin calls off her engagement. Better this than creating a public spectacle by divorcing or having the marriage annulled after 72 days.

Still can’t believe Seal and Heidi Klum are separated. They seemed really content, but sometimes a happy façade is presented to hide brewing tensions. Seal addresses the separation on Ellen today. As a side note: Shemar Moore was on Ellen yesterday. To heck with the rumors, that is one attractive man. A lucky audience member thinks so, too!

The Kennedy Library is releasing 45 hours of private recordings taped during the final months of his life. Although I was born after the Kennedy administration, I have always been intrigued by his presidency. The tapes offer novice and professional historians a glimpse of the tenor of the times.

These bruises are from a “friendly” game of hockey? Maybe it’s time for Sen. John Kerry to consider new friends!

I watched the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers battle it out Sunday night and was also dumbfounded by the fumbles San Fran 49er Kyle Williams made. This, however, is taking it too far. It’s just a game, people! Relax!

Until next time!