Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This Day In American History

Today… I have no words. I have no words. I have no words that can adequately describe how I feel at the sound of two words.

BLACK PRESIDENT.

Two more words.

BARACK OBAMA.

I have no words for the symbolism of this moment. I have no words to adequately describe how I feel about the fact that in my lifetime, while I’ve been on this planet…the journey of the African American has gone from not being able to eat at the same tables or drink from the same fountains as others to THIS. The journey of a people who had to march to sit down where they wanted on a bus, run from dogs and water cannons, firebombs, lynching’s……

This moment. This moment where the WE of it all truly stood above everything. Where the WE of the PEOPLE of America – the common man, the ones without all the traditional money and power – the WE…believed one simple slogan – YES WE CAN. The WE that felt that each of us could make a difference – our one vote could actually count for something. That EACH of our singular voices together could send a powerful message to the “establishment” of the United States of America. The long lines…the patient waiting of millions to make a simple statement. YES WE CAN. I’m writing and I’m searching, but I still can’t find the words.

There are those who are afraid. They think that he’s a socialist – and have the opinion that their rights will be eroded. Well, our new president has promised to be your president as well – so pull up to the table and make sure your voice is heard – but while you are talking, be sure to make space to listen as well. Open your mind to other opinions and views. Decide that it's not ALL about just you. Or just me. It's about US - us as people, us as the UNITED STATES.


I’ve been getting emails from all over the world today. All of the emails have been congratulating America on our choice for president. Our standing in the world is about to change for the better. We have an opportunity to rebuild the good will and the alliances that have been squandered over the last eight years. The world knows that the people of America have sounded the call for change. To quote Martha Stewart “that’s a good thing”.

I’m not saying that our new president is the “second coming”. He’s a man. And, if WE as a people – both democrats and republicans don’t work together and FORCE our representatives to do the same, NOTHING WILL CHANGE. WE must communicate with those on the hill. WE must participate in a process that for far too long has suffered from apathy and a lack of faith that WE could do anything to make it better. Last night has changed that. Last night proved before our very eyes, that WE (Americans from different walks of life, with diverse opinions and beliefs) could do something unexpected.

But…on another side of a coin, my new president IS a giant of a role model in a society that needs them desperately. A black man, faithful husband, educated and intellectually brilliant, good father, community servant…..
Today, Martin and Malcolm smile. Today, we know we have wings and we too belong – and we can fly. Today, excuses for young black men have been removed. No father? – Look at Barack. You don’t come from money? Neither did Barack. I too am hopeful today that we can “get there” if we all work together for our common good. Now, America…the real work begins. But can we do it?



YES WE CAN.

Friday, August 29, 2008

This Sums It Up

This part of Barack Obama's speech hit squarely the head of the nail for me.

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy -- give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is that you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. You're on your own. No health care? The market will fix it. You're on your own. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps -- even if you don't have boots. You are on your own.

This is the basic philosophy that I just will not accept. The give the money and resources to those that have, and trust that they will do the right thing for those that have not mentality. If big business and it's power brokers and elites could be trusted with the well being of the workers (if they are not shareholders), America would be far better off that it is today - and would still have some moral leg to stand on. (Instead of making the abortion issue the test of morality).

We all have a responsibility to work for the good of our society first, then for ourselves. When society benefits as a whole, we all benefit as individuals. I'll happily pay my share to do what's right, if everyone else is doing the same.

I'm weary of the the direction we've taken. The lack of respect around the world for our country. The buffoon that America elected TWICE whose left all of us in positions much worse that when he first started. I'm willing to choose something different. To take a chance on a new direction.

I want both sides of the house and senate to get off their self serving behinds, and work to make our lives better in America. I want to FIRE THEM if they don't change the direction (or lack thereof) they've been providing for the country. I want America to take it's power back and provide for it's own. I want our government to get serious about working against the scourge of poverty, cleaning up our environment and ending our dependence on big money oil, providing affordable health care for all who need it allowing their doctors to make the treatment decisions in conjunction with their patients (with no interference from the profit making thieves in the insurance industry and their lobbyists), and giving all of our children access to first class education so that they too can contribute to society and compete in the global economy.

I understand, its a tough road to hoe that requires a culture change but...

Can we do it? YES WE CAN.



Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Have A Dream (Change We Can Believe In)

Today, as Barack Obama accepts the nomination for the the Presidency of the United States on the 45 anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther Kings famous "I Have A Dream" speech, I can't help feel the power of the hand of history as it moves across my life. Today, in honor of Dr. King and the dream which is no longer deferred - I'll reprint the speech here.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Two Words. Black President

Today, America shows some of the promise its been "claiming" for my entire life. Democratic America has made history that i thought I never see in my lifetime. I loved the article to follow. Just thought I'd share.

Two Words With a Ring Of Possibility

By DeNeen L. Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 4, 2008; C01

Black president.

Two words profound and yet contradictory. Once thought of as an oxymoron, impossible to be placed together in the same sentence, context, country -- unless followed by a question mark.

Black president? This century?

Black president -- words perhaps as foreign as "green president." And yet now, a black president seems a distinct possibility with Sen. Barack Obama heading into the general election as the Democratic presidential nominee.

Black president. The two words evoke excitement, dread, great expectations, intense fear, incomprehension, power, the breadth of possibility.

For some, those two words -- black president -- symbolize the smashing of a glass ceiling, whose splintered shards had fallen on others who had thrown rocks at it in vain.

Black president, words that carry with them the hope of the Invisible Man, the Manchild in the Promised Land, the balm on the anxiety of a Native Son.

Said with whispers. And gasps. Exhaled as if the accumulation of all the troubles of a people would be over, though those who know better know also that that won't happen.

"Black president. Is there still racism in this society? Of course there is. But it is not nearly the level of racism that would make the idea of the words 'black president' sound ridiculous," says Roger Wilkins, professor emeritus at George Mason University. "Black president. . . . It is not as if one morning I woke up and turned on the radio and I heard someone say 'black president,' I would drop my teeth. This has been gradual. When I hear it, I think as someone who has taught history for the last 25 years; I think our country has come a long way."

Wilkins adds: "There is a very deep joy and pride when I listen to the words 'black' and 'president' applied to a walking, breathing person who carries African genes in his body and soul."

And yet, for others, there is symbolism of a different kind. A symbolism of fear. Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate, has said Obama is a candidate for president only because he's black. And she's raised the specter, in her recent writings, of a "reverse racism" that some whites fear under a black president.

"They're upset because they don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white," Ferraro wrote Sunday in the Boston Globe, adding, "They don't believe he understands them and their problems."

( I need to interject here. WTH, why wouldn't he treat them with all the same fairness that he's been treated? hmmm could that be what they are actually afraid of?

* * *

A black president is old hat in the movies. Television shows also have portrayed black men in the Oval Office. Comedians joke about black presidents. There is even a rock band called Black President, which has posted online: "when we came up with the name of the band, Senator Obama had not yet announced his intentions to run for office. it was just our way of saying America needed a change and we could think of nothing more indicative of change in a racist, soulless system than a BLACK PRESIDENT." (But the band has not endorsed a candidate, according to its Web site.)

Because of his appeal to whites, some call him "post-racial," this man, Obama, who didn't run as a black president, whose mother is white. Yet people still call him the first black presidential nominee. "Post-racial" meets the "one-drop rule" from the days of Jim Crow?

Race gets elastic that way -- stretched well beyond the truth some years ago when Toni Morrison called Bill Clinton the country's first black president. It insulted some black men, being compared to Clinton and his misdeeds. But the words stuck. Pretty or not.

In January, during a debate, someone asked the question of Obama: "Do you think Bill Clinton was our first black president?"

"Well," said Obama, pausing as the audience chuckled, "I think Bill Clinton did have an enormous affinity with the African American community and still does. That's well earned."

But months later, after lots of black folk felt the former white president was race-baiting, his "black president" title was revoked.

Now, the title is poised to be passed on, to Obama.

* * *

Everybody knows there are no guarantees in politics. But this "black president" idea is electrifying fodder for thought.

There is Artis Allen, 74, a retired meat cutter, leaning against a rail at a post office in Silver Spring, pondering those words -- black president -- and reflecting on his childhood.

"Black president? No, not then. When I grew up in Georgia, it was very prejudiced. I remember a man who ran for governor. He said he did not want a black vote. Black people couldn't vote too much anyhow. I was 13 and my daddy wasn't a politician, but that was his main conversation: politics."

"Black president," Allen repeats. "What surprises me is white people are voting for a black man just as much as black people. That is what really amazes me."

Down the street, the words "black president" stop Ali Salaam, 32, a barber who, like Allen, is black.

"Black president, what does it symbolize?" Ali says. "Elite status, the best of the American dream. That's what it evokes for me. I love it. I always believed it could happen. I didn't think I would see it happen in my lifetime. But once I heard him speak, I believed it. When I heard him speak, it reminded me of King, Du Bois, Malcolm X. It was entrancing."

Steven Warren, 16, a junior at Archbishop Carroll High School, says the words are "revolutionary. I didn't think it would happen while I was in my prime. I thought it would happen when I was in my 60s."

"You can take the black out and he still would be president," says the young black man.

Up the street you go, carrying the words, black president. The words stop at the feet of Tommy Thayer, 30, a tattoo artist. "It's a damn shame there hasn't already been a black president as far as I'm concerned," Thayer says. "We are so used to all the presidents being all whites and all men. That's like telling everyone we are a racist nation. I think people are robbing themselves if they don't get to know other cultures."

Thayer describes himself as "all white, 100 percent white, Irish, Italian if you want specifics. . . . He's going to win. I'm almost positive. I can feel it. We are going to have a black president."

Well, for now, a black presidential nominee.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Christianity

A program of attraction, rather than promotion.
OR
"If I be lifted up.. I will draw all men unto me"
(this line lovingly added for those who really don't understand the first line)

There's a lot to be said around this, but as I was talking with a close friend last night, my head was spinning with principles that were founded in 12 step recovery, steps that apply to a relationship with God and the foundation of a spiritual program. So often we promote Christ and Christianity with our mouths. We wave the bible, the commandments and use them as tools like crusaders to force a conversion or compliance within another.Our actions indicate that we believe that we must lift Christ with a sword or a threat. I hear folks tell others what Jesus thinks all the time. However, whenever Jesus was involved...it was all about attraction. Jesus never sent folks out into the street with tracts advertising his latest big speech, or made announcement on Temple Radio. People were drawn to him once they saw who he was. To his closest, he issued an invitation - once he saw their interest. The masses never needed inviting. He showed up...and they started showing up. That's attraction in its most magnetic form.

The question is, with His life as our example - why do we feel the need to do it differently? The difference I suppose, is religion - not relationship. I love and respect my closest. I love and respect their families. Because I love them, I want to live the best life I know how so that within me (as I saw with my own mother) they will see something to aspire to. They will see (as I have see in scripture and in my life) failures, stubbornness, bad decisions but also humility, willingness to change, thoughtfulness. My wish is for them to never see that it's all about me. But that they see it's all about the process of the relationship with God. And that process has nothing directly to do with anyone else other than me ( not the church I go to, the work I do or the people I know - or think might judge me). My life, My testimony, My story is my sermon. The choices I make, the things I say and do become my personal witness without ever quoting a scripture (that no one asked to hear), or providing my opinion on what God thinks (aka doing the work of the Holy Spirit). You know a tree by the fruit it bears. You know a person by the impact they have.

What we must all do to be champion attractors for deep spiritual walk with God - is to go within, examine the barriers in our own lives - confess those to God and others so that they may be cleared from your life - admit our state of powerlessness over EVERYTHING that we cannot change - give it to God - and then taking his hand become partners in making it better.

I have seen this process work in more lives that you can imagine. However, most of those lives have NOT been within the organized religious circles. Many who have this process sit in those circles - but many also sit who do not. Most of us do not have 40 years with which to wander around in the wilderness trying to figure it all out on our own. Take the first step towards peace and serenity - now.

This seems almost too simple to be true, but acceptance -- accepting things exactly as they are -- can be the key that unlocks the door to happiness.As you read the passage below replace "alcoholism" and "sober" with the things/behaviours/people you cannot accept - then read it again.

It may be one of the most referenced passages in recovery literature. It's from Page 449 of Alcoholics Anonymous or The Big Book as it is widely known:
And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation -- some fact of my life -- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.


In its simplest term - that last sentence is a prayer. "Lord, change me.....fix.....me." If that's all you asked for and God granted....the end result .....happiness

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On Forgiveness

Here's something that I've struggled with off and on throughout my life. Getting to the process of forgiveness is sometimes the most difficult thing I have to do. But here are some thoughts on the matter.

One of the hardest, thorniest and most difficult things we humans are ever called upon to do is to respond to evil with kindness and to forgive the unforgivable. We love to read stories about people who've responded to hatred with love, but when that very thing is demanded of us personally, our default seems to be anger, angst, depression, righteousness, hatred, etc. Yet study after study shows that one of the keys to longevity and good health is to develop a habit of gratitude and let go of past hurts.

Want to live a long, happy life? Forgive the unforgivable. It really is the kindest thing you can do for yourself. Your enemy may not deserve to be forgiven for all the pain and sadness and suffering they've purposefully inflicted on your life, but ''you'' deserve to be free of this evil. As Ann Landers often said, "hate is like an acid. It destroys the vessel in which it is stored."



Realize that the hate you feel toward does not harm them in the slightest. Chances are, they've gone on with their life and haven't given you another thought.

Look at the situation from an eagle's eye.]] Make a list of the good things that happened as a result of this awful experience. You've probably focused long enough on the bad parts of this experience. Look at the problem from a wholly new angle; look at the good side. The first item on that list may be a long time coming because you've focused on the bad for so long, but don't give up. Force yourself to find 10 good things that happened specifically because of this experience.

Look for the helpers. Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) related that, as a little boy, he'd often become upset about major catastrophes in the news. His mother would tell him, "look for the helpers." In your own nightmarish experience, think back to the people who helped you. Think about their kindness and unselfishness.

Look at the bigger picture. Was someone your "good Samaritan"? In this biblical story, a traveler happens upon a poor soul who was beat up on the road to Jericho and left for dead. It's a lot easier to play the part of the Good Samaritan than to be the poor soul who is left bleeding and bruised on the side of the road. Perhaps this isn't all about you. Perhaps your trial provided an opportunity for others to rise to an occasion to provide you with help and support.

Be compassionate with yourself. If you've ruminated over this problem for a long time, steering this boat into a new direction could take some time, too. As you try to make a new path out of the dark woods of this old hurt, you'll make mistakes. Forgive yourself. Be patient and kind to yourself. Extreme emotional pain has a profound effect on the body. Give yourself time to heal - physically and emotionally. Eat well. Rest. Focus on the natural beauty in the world.

The Aramaic word for "forgive" means literally to "untie." The fastest way to free yourself from an enemy and all their negativity is to forgive. Loose yourself from them and their ugliness. Your hatred has tied you to them. Your forgiveness enables you to start walking away from them and the pain.

Forgiveness must be unconditional. Therefore, it cannot be dependent upon the repentance of those who have harmed us. However, unless those who have harmed us have truly repented of whatever they have done, we need to use wisdom in avoiding repeating the hurt. This may require avoiding those who are unrepentant of the harm that they have inflicted upon us.

How many times this week did you tell "the story" about how badly you were hurt and how horribly you were wronged? How many times a day do you think about this hurt? Stop telling "the story." It is a stake driven into the ground that keeps you from moving away from this hurt. Rather, forgive your enemy because it's the kindest thing you can do for your friends and family. Negativity is depressing, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

When your enemy and their evil actions come to mind,send them a blessing. Compliment someone you hate and wish them well. (this may take a LOT of practice and prayer) Hope the best for them. This has two effects. One, it neutralizes that acid of hate that destroys the vessel in which it is stored. The evil we wish for another seems to have a rebound effect. The same is true for the good that we wish for another. When you become able to return blessing for hatred, you'll know that you're well on the path to wholeness. The first 15 or 150 times you try this, the "blessing" may feel contrived, empty, and even hypocritical but keep trying. Eventually, it will become a new habit and soon thereafter, the anger and pain that has burned in your heart will evaporate, like dew before the morning sun.

Remember: you're not the Lone Ranger. One wise African-American preacher said, "I worship a God with holes in his hands and feet." If they did it to innocent Jesus, then how much more to us? And if they wrong you for doing right, then you're really doing what Jesus did. You're in good company, at least!

Maintain perspective. While the "evil" actions of your "enemy" are hurtful to you and your immediate surroundings, the rest of the world goes on unaware. Validate their meaning in your life, but never lose perspective that others are not involved and do not deserve anything to be taken out on them. Your enemy is someone else's beloved son, someone's employee, or a child's parent.

Got any stories of forgiveness? How you made it through? I'd be glad to hear them.

America...you think it's changed?

Racist Incidents Give Some Obama Campaigners Pause

By Kevin Merida
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 13, 2008; A01

Danielle Ross was alone in an empty room at the Obama campaign headquarters in Kokomo, Ind., a cellphone in one hand, a voter call list in the other. She was stretched out on the carpeted floor wearing laceless sky-blue Converses, stories from the trail on her mind. It was the day before Indiana's primary, and she had just been chased by dogs while canvassing in a Kokomo suburb. But that was not the worst thing to occur since she postponed her sophomore year at Middle Tennessee State University, in part to hopscotch America stumping for Barack Obama.

Here's the worst: In Muncie, a factory town in the east-central part of Indiana, Ross and her cohorts were soliciting support for Obama at malls, on street corners and in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and they ran into "a horrible response," as Ross put it, a level of anti-black sentiment that none of them had anticipated.

"The first person I encountered was like, 'I'll never vote for a black person,' " recalled Ross, who is white and just turned 20. "People just weren't receptive."

For all the hope and excitement Obama's candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed -- and unreported -- this election season. Doors have been slammed in their faces. They've been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they've endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can't fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.

The contrast between the large, adoring crowds Obama draws at public events and the gritty street-level work to win votes is stark. The candidate is largely insulated from the mean-spiritedness that some of his foot soldiers deal with away from the media spotlight.

Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was all she could take: "It wasn't pretty." She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn't possibly vote for Obama and concluded: "Hang that darky from a tree!"

Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, said she, too, came across "a lot of racism" when campaigning for Obama in Pennsylvania. One Pittsburgh union organizer told her he would not vote for Obama because he is black, and a white voter, she said, offered this frank reason for not backing Obama: "White people look out for white people, and black people look out for black people."

Obama campaign officials say such incidents are isolated, that the experience of most volunteers and staffers has been overwhelmingly positive.

The campaign released this statement in response to questions about encounters with racism: "After campaigning for 15 months in nearly all 50 states, Barack Obama and our entire campaign have been nothing but impressed and encouraged by the core decency, kindness, and generosity of Americans from all walks of life. The last year has only reinforced Senator Obama's view that this country is not as divided as our politics suggest."

Campaign field work can be an exercise in confronting the fears, anxieties and prejudices of voters. Veterans of the civil rights movement know what this feels like, as do those who have been involved in battles over busing, immigration or abortion. But through the Obama campaign, some young people are having their first experience joining a cause and meeting cruel reaction.

On Election Day in Kokomo, a group of black high school students were holding up Obama signs along U.S. 31, a major thoroughfare. As drivers cruised by, a number of them rolled down their windows and yelled out a common racial slur for African Americans, according to Obama campaign staffers.

Frederick Murrell, a black Kokomo High School senior, was not there but heard what happened. He was more disappointed than surprised. During his own canvassing for Obama, Murrell said, he had "a lot of doors slammed" in his face. But taunting teenagers on a busy commercial strip in broad daylight? "I was very shocked at first," Murrell said. "Then again, I wasn't, because we have a lot of racism here."

The bigotry has gone beyond words. In Vincennes, the Obama campaign office was vandalized at 2 a.m. on the eve of the primary, according to police. A large plate-glass window was smashed, an American flag stolen. Other windows were spray-painted with references to Obama's controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and other political messages: "Hamas votes BHO" and "We don't cling to guns or religion. Goddamn Wright."

Ray McCormick was notified of the incident at about 2:45 a.m. A farmer and conservationist, McCormick had erected a giant billboard on a major highway on behalf of Farmers for Obama. He also was housing the Obama campaign worker manning the office. When McCormick arrived at the office, about two hours before he was due out of bed to plant corn, he grabbed his camera and wanted to alert the media. "I thought, this is a big deal." But he was told Obama campaign officials didn't want to make a big deal of the incident. McCormick took photos anyway and distributed some.

"The pictures represent what we are breaking through and overcoming," he said. As McCormick, who is white, sees it, Obama is succeeding despite these incidents. Later, there would be bomb threats to three Obama campaign offices in Indiana, including the one in Vincennes, according to campaign sources.

Obama has not spoken much about racism during this campaign. He has sought to emphasize connections among Americans rather than divisions. He shrugged off safety concerns that led to early Secret Service protection and has told black senior citizens who worry that racists will do him harm: Don't fret. Earlier in the campaign, a 68-year-old woman in Carson City, Nev., voiced concern that the country was not ready to elect an African American president.

"Will there be some folks who probably won't vote for me because I am black? Of course," Obama said, "just like there may be somebody who won't vote for Hillary because she's a woman or wouldn't vote for John Edwards because they don't like his accent. But the question is, 'Can we get a majority of the American people to give us a fair hearing?' "

Obama has won 30 of 50 Democratic contests so far, the kind of nationwide electoral triumph no black candidate has ever realized. That he is on the brink of capturing the Democratic nomination, some say, is a testament to how far the country has progressed in overcoming racism and evidence of Obama's skill at bridging divides.

Obama has won five of 12 primaries in which black voters made up less than 10 percent of the electorate, and caucuses in states such as Idaho and Wyoming that are overwhelmingly white. But exit polls show he has struggled to attract white voters who didn't attend college and earn less than $50,000 a year. Today, he and Hillary Clinton square off in West Virginia, a state where she is favored and where the votes of working-class whites will again be closely watched.

For the most part, Obama campaign workers say, the 2008 election cycle has been exhilarating. On the ground, the Obama campaign is being driven by youngsters, many of whom are imbued with an optimism undeterred by racial intolerance. "We've grown up in a different world," says Danielle Ross. Field offices are staffed by 20-somethings who hold positions -- state director, regional field director, field organizer -- that are typically off limits to newcomers to presidential politics.

Gillian Bergeron, 23, was in charge of a five-county regional operation in northeastern Pennsylvania. The oldest member of her team was 27. At Scranton's annual Saint Patrick's Day parade, some of the green Obama signs distributed by staffers were burned along the parade route. That was the first signal that this wasn't exactly Obama country. There would be others.

In a letter to the editor published in a local paper, Tunkhannock Borough Mayor Norm Ball explained his support of Hillary Clinton this way: "Barack Hussein Obama and all of his talk will do nothing for our country. There is so much that people don't know about his upbringing in the Muslim world. His stepfather was a radical Muslim and the ranting of his minister against the white America, you can't convince me that some of that didn't rub off on him.

"No, I want a president that will salute our flag, and put their hand on the Bible when they take the oath of office."

Obama's campaign workers have grown wearily accustomed to the lies about the candidate's supposed radical Muslim ties and lack of patriotism. But they are sometimes astonished when public officials such as Ball or others representing the campaign of their opponent traffic in these falsehoods.

Karen Seifert, a volunteer from New York, was outside of the largest polling location in Lackawanna County, Pa., on primary day when she was pressed by a Clinton volunteer to explain her backing of Obama. "I trust him," Seifert replied. According to Seifert, the woman pointed to Obama's face on Seifert's T-shirt and said: "He's a half-breed and he's a Muslim. How can you trust that?"

* * *

Pollsters have found it difficult to accurately measure racial attitudes, as some voters are unwilling to acknowledge the role that race plays in their thinking. But some are not. Susan Dzimian, a Clinton supporter who owns residential properties, said outside a polling location in Kokomo that race was a factor in how she viewed Obama. "I think if it was somebody other than him, I'd accept it," she said of a black candidate. "If Colin Powell had run, I would be willing to accept him."

The previous evening, Dondra Ewing was driving the neighborhoods of Kokomo, looking to turn around voters like Dzimian. Ewing, 47, is a chain-smoking middle school guidance counselor, a black single mother of two and one of the most fiercely vigilant Obama volunteers in Kokomo, which was once a Ku Klux Klan stronghold. On July 4, 1923, Kokomo hosted the largest Klan gathering in history -- an estimated 200,000 followers flocked to a local park. But these are not the 1920s, and Ewing believes she can persuade anybody to back Obama. Her mother, after all, was the first African American elected at-large to the school board in a community that is 10 percent black.

Kokomo, population 46,000, is another hard-hit Midwestern industrial town stung by layoffs. Longtimers wistfully remember the glory years of Continental Steel and speak mournfully about the jobs shipped overseas. Kokomo Sanitary Pottery, which made bathroom sinks and toilets, shut down a couple of months ago and took with it 150 jobs.

Aaron Roe, 23, was mowing lawns at a local cemetery recently, lamenting his $8-an-hour job with no benefits. He had earned a community college degree as an industrial electrician, but learned there was no electrical work to be found for someone with his experience, which is to say none. Politics wasn't on his mind; frustration was. If he were to vote, it would not be for Obama, he said. "I just got a funny feeling about him," Roe said, a feeling he couldn't specify, except to say race wasn't a part of it. "Race ain't nothing," said Roe, who is white. "It's how they're going to help the country."

The Aaron Roes are exactly who Dondra Ewing was after: people with funny feelings.

At the Bradford Run Apartments, she found Robert Cox, a retiree who spent 30 years working for an electronics manufacturer making computer chips. He was in his suspenders, grilling shish kebab, which he had never eaten. "Something new," Cox said, recommended by his son who was visiting from Colorado.

Ewing was selling him hard on Obama. "There are more than two families that can run the United States of America," she said, "and their names aren't Bush and Clinton."

"Yeah, I know, I know," Cox said, remaining noncommittal.

He opened the grill and peeked at the kebabs. "It's not his race, because I got real good friends and all that," Cox continued. "If anything would keep him from getting elected, it would be his name. It might turn off some older people."

Like him?

"No, older than me," said Cox, 66.

Ewing kept talking, until finally Cox said, "Probably Obama," when asked directly how he would vote.

As she walked away, Ewing said: "I think we got him."

But truthfully, she wasn't feeling so sure.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Can someone please explain?

I see I'm not the only one who has been asking this question ALL WEEK LONG.



What Was Silda Spitzer Thinking? (Sally Quinn for the Washington Post)

Once, just once, wouldn’t you love to see the politician up there at the lectern sweating bullets, apologizing for letting down his wife and family …. alone?

Once, just once, wouldn’t you love to see the wife issuing her own statement saying that what he had done was unacceptable and that she was leaving him?

Wouldn’t that be morally correct?

But instead, again and again, we see the pathetic, ravaged faces of these women victims, standing supportively beside their husbands as they allow themselves to be excruciatingly humiliated in front of the whole world.

We really haven’t come a long way baby, have we? Certainly not in the case of women married to elected officials.

For the past few days since the Spitzer scandal broke, all anyone has been talking about is why? Why would a guy with a fabulous education, brilliant career, powerful position, beautiful and brainy wife and a lovely family, risk losing everything for a couple of evenings with a hooker.

I’m asking why, too. Why would a beautiful and brainy wife with three wonderful children allow herself to be put in this hideous situation for even 49 seconds -- the time it took to apologize. Much less do it all over again two days later when her husband resigned as New York’s governor.

I know why he did what he did. Because he could. Arrogance and power are a lethal combination, and men who combine both often begin to believe in their own invincibility.

The more baffling question to me is why she did it. All I could think of, watching Silda Spitzer’s defeated expression, was of Taliban women covered from head to toe in burqa, standing a few paces behind their men, appendages to their all powerful husbands. Or Indian women committing sati, throwing themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre.

American women are so quick to criticize the religious tradition of others, where women take a subservient position – but are we so different? That’s not what the Spitzer scandal suggests.

One can only assume that the women who do this are just as enamored of the power and the position as their men. Of course their power is derivative, which makes it all the more difficult to lose. (It was reported that Silda Spitzer did not want her husband to resign.) Would Hillary Clinton have run for the Senate or even President had she not stood by her man after the Monica Lewinsky episode and insisted he not resign? We’ll never know.

I have been writing about this for decades. I could run a story I wrote in the seventies today and it would read exactly the same way. Remember Mrs. Gary Hart, Mrs. Bob Livingston, Mrs. Larry Craig, Mrs. David Vitter? Certainly Hillary Clinton comes to mind as a competent and successful woman in her own right, standing next to her husband over and over again as he lied to her and to the country about his dalliances. It is such a demeaning role for women to play and one that should have stopped a long time ago.

Think of the message this image sends -- not to just adults, but to young children, both boys and girls. For young girls, it says this is an acceptable role for women -- to be lied to, cheated on, disrespected and humiliated in public/ You take it and must still be supportive. because that is what is expected of women.

For boys, it says it’s okay to lie and cheat and dishonor your family, and you might grow up to be a senator or a governor or a president. You can get away with it.

I know that many women are supportive of those who stand by their man, for no other stated reason than to keep the family together. Imagine, though, the scars that the children will suffer from getting conflicting messages. Surely they are taught to be honest and to honor their family, but suddenly it is also to do as I say and not what I do.

Shouldn’t we expect that anyone who betrays his family and the public trust to pay the consequences for his actions?

That is why these wives must stop standing supportively next to their husbands as they confess and explain and apologize. They are just as enabling of them in their shame as they were in their glory.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I couldn't agree more.

Watch the video. Finally - someone said on camera what I've been thinking.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

....'Oer the Land Of the Free......and the...

This is one of those things that make ya go "hmmmmmmm"

Record-High Ratio of Americans in Prison


By N.C. Aizenman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 28, 2008; 5:10 PM

More than one in 100 adults in the United States is in jail or prison, an all-time high that is costing state governments nearly $50 billion a year, in addition to more than $5 billion spent by the federal government, according to a report released today.

With more than 2.3 million people behind bars at the start of 2008, the United States leads the world in both the number and the percentage of residents it incarcerates, leaving even far more populous China a distant second, noted the report by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States.

The ballooning prison population is largely the result of tougher state and federal sentencing imposed since the mid-1980s. Minorities have been hit particularly hard: One in nine black men age 20 to 34 is behind bars. For black women age 35 to 39, the figure is one in 100, compared with one in 355 white women in the same age group.

While studies generally find that imprisoning more offenders reduces crime, the effect is influenced by changes in the unemployment rate, wages, the ratio of police officers to residents, and the share of young people in the population.

In addition, when it comes to preventing repeat offenses by nonviolent criminals -- who make up about half of the incarcerated population -- alternative punishments such as community supervision and mandatory drug counseling that are far less expensive may prove just as or more effective than jail time.

Florida, which nearly doubled its prison population over the past 15 years, has experienced a smaller drop in crime than New York, which, after a brief increase, reduced its number of inmates to below the 1993 level.

"There is no question that putting violent and chronic offenders behind bars lowers the crime rate and provides punishment that is well deserved," said Adam Gelb, director of the Pew Center's Public Safety Performance Project and one of the study's authors. "On the other hand, there are large numbers of people behind bars who could be supervised in the community safely and effectively at a much lower cost -- while also paying taxes, paying restitution to their victims, and paying child support."

About 91 percent of incarcerated adults are under state or local jurisdiction, and the report documents the tradeoffs state governments have faced as they have devoted ever larger shares of their budgets to house them. For instance, over the past two decades, state spending on corrections (adjusted for inflation) increased by 127 percent, while spending on higher education rose by 21 percent. For every dollar Virginia spends on higher education, it now spends about 60 cents on corrections. Maryland spends 74 cents on corrections per higher-education dollar.

Despite reaching its latest milestone, the nation's incarcerated population has actually been growing far more slowly since 2000 than during the 1990s, when the spate of harsher sentencing laws began to take effect. These included a 1986 federal law mandating prison terms for crack cocaine offenses that were up to eight times as long as for those involving powder cocaine. In the early 1990s, states across the nation adopted "three-strikes-you're-out" laws and curtailed the discretion parole boards have in deciding when to release an inmate. As a result, between 1990 and 2000, the prison population swelled by about 80 percent, increasing by as much as 86,000 per year.

By contrast, from 2007 to 2008, the prison population increased by 25,000 -- a 2 percent rise. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has issued decisions giving judges more leeway under mandatory sentencing laws, and a number of states, including Texas, are seeking to reduce their incarcerated population by adopting alternative punishments.

"Some of these [measures] would have been unthinkable five years ago," noted Gelb. "But the bottom line is that states have to balance their budgets."

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

To Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy Birthday Dr. King. The dream still lives. It lives in the hearts and minds of children like Ms. Perri Jones - winner of the Dr Martin Luther King Oratory Competition in Houston Texas. In a world where so many work to bring the "family" down,
this little shining light lifts us all up.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

So NOT a RESOLUTION

I have not made any resolutions this year.

I have only made decisions. These decisions were made and acted upon before the holiday season. Thats why they are so NOT resolutions.

Decision 1. EAT FRESH.

I really had to take a look at what I'd been putting into my person habitually over the last few years. I really am not doing a "diet" thing - but attempting to put some healthy principles in place that will last the rest of my life. I am and will always be a "foodie". I love everything about the stuff. Watching people cook it - listening to folks talk about it, it's origins, the variety and let's not even discuss the flavors!

Many times, I was not as fully conscious as I would have liked to be about what was going into my mouth. Since my diabetes diagnosis last September however, all that has changed. The first decision that I made was to "eat only the calories that I really liked". You know, sometimes we eat just cuz the food shows up. This happens especially during the holidays. You may not really love that type of cake, pie or whatever...but it's there and LOOK! its free. So into your mouth it may go. "I'll just have a taste".....turns into 5 lbs gained during the holiday season.

This year, I did it differently. I planned for just about everything I ate. Most of the junk that just showed up, I managed to pass on. I decided that if I was going to DO a CALORIE, I would do one because I LOVED it. That attitude sort of morphed into...well, if you are going to do a calorie why not get the most nutritional value from the ones that you do? AND....why not make it all taste fabulous at the same time?

So here we are at EAT FRESH. I've been on a roll. Walking the peripherals of the grocery and spending a lot more time around the fruits and vegetables. I've discovered fennel and leeks, and all types of squash - in addition to the sprouts and green leafy's I like. I've found that anything roasted is DELISH! ;-) and that there are ways to make healthy meals anything but boring. As for the fruit...I've realized something that I'd never admitted before. I don't like citrus. Now, I thought all my life that I liked the stuff, but since it sits in my kitchen alone and spoiling most of the time. I had to admit that I just don't really care for it. So now the exploration to find out what I DO like. Here's whats been added to the yum yum list. Fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) I've found I could eat every day! Pears, papaya, banana's...all added to the yummy-eat-this-all-the-time list. And look how many vitamins I'm getting. So good I can't stand it. This year, I'm working on eating all the colors of the rainbow and loving every minute of it.

Decision 2: Take Your Vitamins

This has been a rocky road for me. I really don't like the big ol horse pills. But, at my age I'd better make sure that I get every nutrient coming to me if I wanna be around and feel good for awhile. The trick to this decision is to take the pill pack at night. That way, my stomach doesn't really know that the pills don't agree with me.

Decision 3: Exercise as a part of every day (or at least 4 or5 of 7 days per week)

I have a motto around this one. "Slow And Steady Wins The Race". As part of a decision to live a better life or as Oprah like to say "Your Best Life", I'm making daily exercise a goal. Most weeks I'm able to meet the goal of at least 4 days of vigorous activity and on my good weeks make 5 days. Now, after a few months it's about upping the time and intensity - and building endurance so that I can actually BURN the calories I want to - and see some results on the scale. I've already seen results in my strength and blood sugar levels - as well as inches lost - BUT, the scale moves like a terrapin going up a mountain. No matter, as long as I have the attitude that allows me to, like Dorree in Finding Nemo to "just keep swimming", I know it's all gonna be good.

So this year...no resolutions. Just continuing actions on the decisions that I made months ago. Anyone else got decisions they'd like to share?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dr. Robert E. Shurney (11/25/07)

I've lost another one of my role models. Seems like its that time in my life. The time when the vanguard of your childhood moves on to rest. Feels like one long line to me - and it's sad. However, I'll take a moment to share with you here someone I knew as a great man - and one that very few people really knew about. Dr. Robert E. Shurney - many knew him as Dr. Bob - but I knew him as "Uncle Robert". Now, if you are a West Indian, you know that you don't have to be a blood relative to have that title - all you have to be is a close friend of one's parents. Uncle Robert was just that. A very long time friend of our family. 53 years is a long time to be close to someone isn't it?

I looked up to him because when I was little, I didn't know that black people worked for NASA. He was a black pioneer at that agency. I mean, this guy struggled to get an education in the south and then fought for a rightful place to use that education in order to make a contribution to society. He was an engineer that worked on the Skylab project (remember that?) and rode the "vomit comet" when it was actually a test plane (before it was the cool $1000 ride for the public.)

In addition, he was a humble fellow - a southern gentleman. He will be missed.

Here's a copy of an article about who he was, and what his contributions to the American space program were. Click on the photo's for a larger copy. The reference is taken from "Blacks In Science" by Ivan Von Sertima.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ITS HERE! - THE BIBLE EXPERIENCE


Folks,

What can I say! I'm really happy about the release of the old testament from zondervan in "The Bible Experience. Those of us in the know got hip to this when they recorded and released the entire New Testament. For the first time, many people - including myself - took the time to listen (and be really engaged because of the dramatic reading) and focus on the Word of God.

Now, the entire Old Testament can be purchased as well - or, if you've been under a spiritual rock - you can get the whole bible. For more information, click the links above. I highly recommend a listen to this dramatic reading of the Word. Perhaps you will see the Bible in an entirely new light.

Monday, October 15, 2007

All Hail The Queen

The Queen was definitely in the house last night. Queen Latifah, with the debut of her new cd "Trav'lin Light", performed a solid set at the Strathmore Music Center last evening. Still riding the success of the crossover hit "The Dana Owens Album", the Queen entertained quite a crossection of Maryland folks. Of course, all the pretty black people were in the house - but quite surprisingly, looking around I saw young, old, and a much more mixed ethnicity than I'd expected. It just goes to show how timeless her selection of music has been - as well as how well she's performing. The Queen was all class and grace during this set - to be clear, there was a little hip-hop at the end...but there was never any hip-hop attitude.

Some of my favorites of the set - Georgia Rose, Trav'lin Light, I Know Where I've Been (from "Hairspray" was a real standout, Poetry Man (where most of us had a hard time just not singing out loud), California Dreamin - where her backup vocalists got to show out, Corcovado (by Jobim otherwise known as Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars") where the percussionists got to show and for the encore - a twosome - Lush Life - sung to perfection and the closer.....U.N.I.T.Y - which got everyone on their feet. It was nice that she closed on an up note - and even better on something that just made you wanna dance.

This is a woman to watch musically. She seems to searching for her niche with a specific genre - or looking to mix many genres in a way that will work for a broad audience. Definitely, the target is a more musically mature crowd than in the rap days. Her voice is gorgeous - the music and band tight. The only drawback for me was that it felt just a little "safe". I'm looking forward to hearing this girl reach her true comfort zone - and CUT LOOSE all the way live!

All in all - A great night, classy sounds in a great venue.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Family Life Moments

Here are a few photo's from our family life retreat.











Posted by Picasa

He Even Cares About Tennis Shoes

This weekend was glorious. Our family life ministry at Emmanuel Brinklow SDA had designated this to be the family life weekend retreat at the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center in Gettysburg, PA. First of all, it's a beautiful ride from the D.C. area where I live. Secondly, being in fellowship with folks that are all working on a spiritual program was indeed a blessing. There was much laughter, great food, prayer, tears and bonding - not to mention - FUN!. I felt uplifted and included. I "realized" my larger family in Christ - now, I have a pretty big "adopted" one to begin with...but this was an order of magnitude larger. I got to know folks that I never would have known had we not spent time together in this kind of atmosphere.

Pastor Brenda Billingy (Yes, I said PASTOR) of the Bladensburg SDA Church was our guest speaker. She was indeed a blessing to us all. However, one of the things that she talked about was how we as believers ask God for something, and then are absolutely gob smacked when it actually happens. We say we believe, but then when the rubber meets the road, we don't fall into our belief with faith in our safety net. I struggle with this every day. I KNOW intellectually, that God cares for me. And more than that, I have evidence in my life of His leading and caring hand. But I seem to suffer from some sort of spiritual amnesia when things go wrong. I must constantly be reminded (one of the biggest reasons I need fellowship), by those on the same spiritual path of what God can and will do for us.

That brings me to my story today. This morning at the end of our weekend retreat breakfast, I was struck with severe stomach pain. Pain that almost didn't let me stand up. I knew that even though it was pretty much checkout time, I had to go lay down for a few minutes. So back to the room I went. The distress was such that I was thrown off of my normal leaving a hotel room routine. You know - the room sweep for stuff you might have forgotten to pack. When it was time, I just zipped up my bag and dragged myself downstairs to the car.

Everyone was saying goodbye and pulling out for home. My friend and I did likewise. She drove and I napped. It was an uneventful and safe ride. As we pulled into my parking space at home, it occurred to me that I had not seen my tennis shoes. I had the sinking feeling that they weren't in my bag.

Now, I need to be honest here. Money is tight these days, and I only have one pair of sneakers. I use this pair solely for the workout program that I have had to undertake recently for health reasons. I usually leave them at the gym in my locker, but this weekend, deciding that I might like to go for a walk, I took them with me. Losing them would not be a good thing.

I walked into the house and dumped my bag. No shoes. My head started spinning. What would I wear to the gym tomorrow? Would I just not be able to go? How can I afford (with all the stuff coming up) to replace those shoes? I sat on the steps and started to cry and pray. I poured out my heart to the Lord about how much I'm trying to do the right thing in life but feel as if everywhere I turn there's a setback. I talked about how much I felt blessed this weekend only to come home to deal with yet another problem. My head continued to spin. Would I have to pull out a credit card (which I'm really against) to replace the shoes and incur debt that I'm trying to stay away from?

I called the hotel. No one could really help me. They wanted me to call back tomorrow and speak to the lost and found people. I needed shoes to workout tomorrow. (See, once I'm off a set program, it's extremely difficult for me to get back to it) I didn't even know that they would be able to find them and get them back to me. I wrote down the name and number to call on Monday with resignation.

I picked up the phone to seek advice. I called my mom. I CALLED MY MOM. I CALLED MY MOM SEVEN TIMES. I had just left her house a few minutes before and knew she was home - but each time I called, the phone went straight to the busy message. Mom has call waiting. I thought it strange, but decided to call someone else. Someone who was with me all weekend. After I shared how I was feeling, she told me to go into my car and buy the shoes - but before leaving she told me that I should ask the Lord to help me find a pair of gym shoes that I would be able to afford. She also told me that when I got back, that I should call her and tell her what the Lord had done about my request.

I did just that. Then, I pulled out of the parking space and headed towards the mall. In the meantime, I stopped for what turned out to be a half an hour trip to MacDonald's for one silly ice cream cone (doesn't ice cream always make you feel better?). Got the cone and got back into the car. At the light, my cell phone rings. It's my good sister friend who was also in Gettysburg for the weekend with her family. I ask, are you home yet? Expecting her to say that she was there or very near. No, she said. I'm still in Gettysburg. WHAT!?!?!! REALLY?!?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? They had stayed after everyone else had gone, to do a bit of sightseeing. In my heart, I knew that was an answer to prayer. Here I am, on the way to the mall to look for a new pair of shoes after asking God to provide some that I can afford, and my friend is 2 minutes from the place where my FREE pair was.

I asked her to return to the hotel and check for them for me. The hotel graciously gave her a key to the room and after talking to the cleaning ladies who had JUST FINISHED cleaning my room, the shoes were in hand and on their way home.

When my friend called to tell me that she had the shoes, I shared my prayers. She also mentioned that when she returned to the hotel, that there was not a soul in sight from our retreat. All were long gone. Only she was close enough to return to look for the lost sneakers.

God had everything in place before I realized I had a problem. The Spirit was on hand to push my friends to sightsee long enough to be of service later in the day. He answered my prayer for affordable shoes in a mighty way. I DID NOT HAVE TO BUY ANY - and to boot, I didn't even have to wait another day to get them.

Again, I was reduced to tears at God's love for me. I often behave as if I think that he doesn't care about the little stuff. The mundane. But this was important to me. And because it was important to me and he LOVES me, it was important to him.

BUT WAIT - THERE'S MORE!!!!!!

I went to pick up the shoes from my friends house after her return from Gettysburg. At the door as she handed me the bag, I noticed that it did not look the way I'd expected. Taking the bag from her hand, I opened it and looked inside. Not one pair - but two. I had packed both pairs of shoes (tennis and dress shoes) in one bag - and never put the bag in my case. How good is God? Before I knew the magnitude of the loss, he'd already made the restoration.

Again I was directed to Matthew 6:25-34:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Oh, and don't think that I forgot to call and share my story after it was over. When I called, she also said - "I bet if you call your mom now, you'll get through to her". Here's the scary part. I called, and she answered the phone. She had been home all the time, and had just removed the battery from the phone without hanging it up - thereby causing the line to go busy for the entire time I was trying to reach her. You see, I know this as well, being a mom (who loves me very much), she might have just said - girl, go get the shoes, I'll take care of it. But God had lined up a reason for me to praise His name and share his goodness (over a small pair of tennis shoes) and was not to be outdone by my moms good intentions. :-)

All I can say is.... Don't be afraid to take even the small stuff to the Lord.

He cares about everything - even your shoes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Moment Of Silence For A Friend Now At Rest

For Pearl

Death Is Nothing but a Moment's Rest

Death is nothing but a moment's rest
Until the Second Coming of the Lord
When He shall gather to Him of the best
To take them to the place of their reward.
I've felt the power of Jesus in my soul
Shining like a golden sun within,
Melting my hard heart to make me whole,
Burning out the remnants of my sin.
I've felt Him work within me, so I know
The glory that will come when I awake.
I'll sleep just like a child who'll homeward go,
And in my dreams of love great pleasure take.
So do not mourn my death, and do not grieve.
The Lord will come for me: This I believe.

Poem by Nicholas Gordon

Slow and Steady Wins The Race

It's real. I'm dealing with some health issues. Health issues exacerbated and accelerated by being overweight and fairly sedentary. No, let me get honest. My fat butt hasn't worked out in months. Basically, I had given up on the weight loss thing. Two bad knees, and too much pain. I was tired. But this really isn't about that really - what it's about is the self discovery that has come around these issues.

I was talking with a gym rat friend of mine - you know, those skinny little witches who work out all the damn time (don't get me wrong, I love this one), who evidently had me under observation for some time. She came into my office with the pronouncement. Now, I had basically known this about myself, but really didn't think it ran that deep. I think of myself as an all on, or all off person. Either I love something, or I hate it. Either you are a part of my world cuz I like/love/respect you - or you are an outsider. I'm an extremist. I've really never been good at moderation or balance. I go hard cuz I have always really enjoyed instant gratification. Seems to be just the way I was wired from birth.

Anyway.....
But she walked into my office - this skinny little witch - and dressed me down about how I'm either working out like a mad fiend, or not at all. High energy or Dead. She informed me that there really was a such thing as "medium". That really struck me. MEDIUM. Not too hard, Not too soft. What the hell is that??!?! I realized like a bolt of lightning from the sky that MEDIUM was a real problem for me. I've been thinking about that in one way or another ever since.

Today, I worked out. It's day two of my making a decision (and thereby taking action) to try to reduce the impact of my current health issues by getting more exercise. I had to force myself to stick to medium. Medium felt like I really wasn't pushing myself, but after 25 minutes I was tired as all get out.

When the trainer asked me how the workout was, I told him that it was a little bit of a struggle. His response "slow and steady wins the race". All I could do was stand there and stare at him for a minute. Yet another cosmic hint about MEDIUM.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say in all this is that no matter what you're doing or going through, if it's hard, just keep "swimming" as Doree says in Finding Nemo. Keep moving, even if it is at a slow pace and you'll get to the good part eventually.

If it's fun......well, make sure you know where the brake pedals are (and how to use them when necessary).

Monday, September 17, 2007

WTF OJ?

Ok, this is something that is REALLY grinding my grits today. WTF is with OJ Simpson? I mean, this guy gets a get out of jail free card in the murder case years ago. We all know that even if he didn't do it, he was most likely involved and absolutely knows what happened. Now, after getting his get-out-of-jail free card, one would think that he'd go someplace and quietly live his golfing life never to be heard from again.

NOT!!!!!!

The new case.
What in the sam hill would he be thinking by bustin' up into someone's hotel room - without a mask or some kind of device to keep him incognegro, and basically holding people at gunpoint to get some CRAP back. Yes, it's crap. Piece's of cloth, paper, and plastic. What world does this guy live in? I don't know anyone that can explain this madness. Now he sits in jail awaiting yet another "trial of the century". WHATEVER!

I am sick to death of this guy AND all the media coverage surrounding him and the Goldman family (currently sinking to lows unknown by publishing the insanity written by OJ). This guy would do us all a favor if he just dug a hole (approximately 6 feet deep), jumped in, and pulled the dirt in over himself.

How bout a double favor by taking Fred Goldman with him? They can spend forever fighting each other in hell. As long as they have been removed from my television screen - I'm happy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

In Fairness To Glamour Magazine

Ok, I'm stunned. I've got to admit. Now, there's this bruhaha going on about the editor and her comments about black hair - and I was so offended, that I blogged about it. All of my friends have been threatening to boycott the magazine forever. I too was about to get on that bus when lo and behold a comment appeared on my blog. I thought it important enough (on balance) to place it front and center, as opposed to just leaving it at the bottom of the page in a link. Here's the comment left on the blog:

"I read your post about a Glamour editor’s comments on hairstyles for work, and I’d like to share with you our thoughts. First, we regret the comments were made. The employee, a junior staffer, not a beauty editor, spoke to a small group of lawyers at a private luncheon without her supervisor’s knowledge or approval, and her comment — that Afros are not work appropriate — does not represent Glamour's point of view.

Secondly, immediately upon learning of it, we sought to rectify the situation. The editor has been dealt with in a very serious manner, and the entire staff has been reminded of the magazine’s policies and procedures for making public appearances.

Glamour is proud of its diverse readership and celebrates the beauty of ALL women. We have responded directly and openly with readers to assure them of this fact. We have also apologized to the law firm, and we extend the same apology to you.

If you know others who were offended by this incident, To ask you to please pass along this letter. So they, too, know how sorry we are."

Sincerely,
Cindi Leive
Editor-in-Chief, Glamour


Seems like Glamour has an active campaign to fix this before it gets too far out of the box. And again, on balance, I cannot hold the magazine responsible for the actions of one employee. So, if the comment on the blog is authentic (me, ever the cynic), then perhaps we need to not crucify the organization. However, would someone please leak the name of the ignorant junior staffer who made this ginormous racial faux pax?

Aren't we done with this yet?!?!?!?

Someone needs to tell me why we are still in the dark ages in Corporate America with Black hair. People, it's 2007. Don't we have bigger fish to fry? Why in the sam hell is this still a big enough issue to be talked about in the corporate hallways and ballroom meetings of America. Good Grief! The following article is taken from The National Law Journal.

Cleary Gottlieb has a bad hair day

Talk about a Glamour don't.

Vivia Chen/The American Lawyer
August 27, 2007

It seemed like a nice frothy summer treat for some hardworking gals at a hard-driving law firm. Instead of hosting another earnest discussion about client cultivation and leadership, the women lawyers group at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton invited an editor from Glamour magazine. The topic: the dos and don'ts of corporate fashion.

First slide up: an African-American woman sporting an Afro. A real no-no, announced the Glamour editor to the 40 or so lawyers in the room. As for dreadlocks: How truly dreadful! The style maven said it was "shocking" that some people still think it "appropriate" to wear those hairstyles at the office. "No offense," she sniffed, but those "political" hairstyles really have to go.

By the time the lights flicked back on, some Cleary lawyers -- particularly the 10 or so African-American women in attendance -- were in a state of disbelief. "It was like she was saying you shouldn't go out with your natural hair, and if you do, you're making a political statement," says one African-American associate. "It showed a general cluelessness about black women and their hair."

The episode also produced a "mixed reaction" along racial lines, says this associate. "Some [whites] didn't understand what the big deal was ... but all the black associates saw the controversy."

Cleary Gottlieb's managing partner, Mark Walker, who heard about the incident from some of the attendees, also saw trouble. Soon after the event, Walker issued an e-mail that denounced the hair commentary as "racially insensitive, inappropriate, and wrong." Calling the beauty advice "appalling," Walker says, "You don't tell people that their physical appearance is unacceptable, when certain characteristics are associated with a racial group." He asks, "What's the alternative? Straighten or bleach your hair?"

As for the identity of the editor, neither Cleary Gottlieb nor Condé Nast Publications Inc. (publisher of Glamour) would say. Indeed, almost all of the half-dozen Glamour editors contacted for this story professed not to have ever set foot in a law firm. "Cleary what?" asked several.

And Walker says he has no idea whether the editor who sparked all this controversy is a well-known fashionista. Not that Walker would know, even if Anna Wintour herself crossed his path. "Who is she?" Walker asks. "I really don't know people in the fashion industry." (If you have to ask, she's the editor of Vogue.)

So did the Glamour editor realize how many feathers she ruffled? Walker says that the speaker was "spoken to by one of the women partners" and that she sent an e-mail apology. "I assume she was oblivious; I doubt she's racist," says Walker. "She wasn't thinking and said something hare-brained."

Or is that hair-brained?

You can find more interesting commentary/discussion about this on Jezebel

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Posh "Infusion" = Neither/Nor

This week, I got an email from a friend about an upcoming event in Washington, DC at a supper club called Posh. The place promised an upscale "Caribbean Night" called Infusion. Infusion promised to be "A Caribbean Affair" – spirited cooking by Paul Yellin. It was sponsored by Mount Gay Rum and Featuring Special Dinner Menu Created by Paul Yellin, a chef "raised and educated in Barbados". It also promised "Special Cocktail Rum Recipes Created by Mount Gay Distilleries Local Brand Specialist Chesterfield Browne", and a Steel Band.

Now, I'm thinking...."this should be a good night out". So I go with a couple of my girls to sample what promises to be yummy, spicy caribbean fare, and listen to some good music. As a Bajan - I'm psyched up that the fellow is a countryman and thinking that he should have some very interesting items on the menu. What a freaking disappointment!

The menu was price fixe. We began with a watermelon gazpacho shot - that pretended to be an amuse bouche. You know, that small wonder of a one bite that sets the tone for the evening...well, it was strange. Not bad, but not great either. One thing was right tho - it was the tone for the entire meal. The appetizer hurricane rolls of shrimp wrapped in a red snapper filet the covered with phyllo dough and fried with a side of scotch bonnet sauce was a poor beginning. The shrimp overcooked, the snapper fish, the phyllo dough soggy - with a sauce that MUST have come straight from a bottle purchased at local west indian market had me in the land of second thoughts before the main dish arrived. My companions fared no better with the pumpkin and lobster bisque. WHERE WAS THE LOBSTER?!?!?! I never saw one single piece. It appeared as if someone made a pumpkin soup and decided that seafood seasoning, would be enough. Even to call this thing a bisque was an insult to the word.

By now, I'm internally nervous about what is coming next from my Bajan brother - and surely, the dinner continued to plow down the same, bland badly cooked road on which it had begun. Hanger steak - completely unseasoned and tasteless. Rice with Mahi Mahi that had to be returned to the kitchen because it was so badly undercooked. Mashed sweet potato with no flavor whatsover. All this for $45 A PLATE?!?!?!? I felt taken advantage of and confused. This from a Bajan chef who has written a recipie book and traveled around the world cooking for dignitaries etc?

For me, there was no saving grace at that table in terms of food. However, I can say that my service was impeccable and that the restaurant itself appealed to the eye. I'd really recommend that the menus that they gave us (which could double as weapons, they are so heavy) be revamped, and that the management at Posh seriously consider their own reputations before hyping up such a non event from a non chef like Paul Yellin. Obviously, this fellow has lost touch with reality and his roots - in forgetting that the food of that region has FLAVOR that is not to be forgotten. If my own Mother does better caribbean food every day than Mr Yellins fine dining experience.....where's Gordon Ramsey when you really need him?

I think I'll avoid all things "Posh" for the forseeable future. I'm willing to give this place one more try for their regular menu. However, I can promise that it won't be on my own dime. As this night added up it was neither "posh" nor "infused" with anything it promised.