We Live in One World

“The maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.”  That is how Webster defines the word justice for us in his dictionary, but what does it really mean?  It is the basic idea that our legal system is based on, but seemingly few understand it.  The recent acquittal of George Zimmerman in the high-profile murder trial and the massive outpouring of social response opened my eyes to this idea even more.  Many seemed stunned by the not guilty verdict and looked to any social media outlet they could to express their displeasure.  I too was disheartened by the trial, but perhaps not for the same reasons as many of those I saw on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Ask.fm, Mobli, etc.

The trial was to be a difficult one from the start.  The fact is, there was no key witness to the incident.  No one to put a face to words.  No one to put a timeline to actions.  No one to tie up the loose ends.  So it was up to the state prosecution team to use the circumstantial evidence they had to piece together a case.  In the opinion of many (to include my own) they fell short of the type of job they should have done, but let me be clear in saying that our judicial system places a standard on them that is difficult at best.  The idea of “beyond a reasonable doubt” causes havoc when it is tied into what justice is.  Justice demands that we maintain or administer what is reasonable by impartially finding truth in conflicting stories or passing out due judgments.  In retrospect, the jury had to be convinced by the state that murder or manslaughter was a reasonable conclusion beyond the doubt of any reasonable human being.  I bet many thought it wasn’t that difficult of a decision, but when you look at it that way, one can understand the challenge the prosecution had to prove that in this and many other situations.

People will not like this blog, I get that, especially when I say that this jury’s decision and the crux of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman situation was not racially based.  The system places strict guidelines on what must be proven and anyone that was paying any attention to the case at all knew that it was at least questionable if that was satisfied.  Yet, any reacted with shock and awe, choosing to categorize this as a racially charged offense.  Self-proclaimed leader Al Sharpton announced a 100-city “Justice for Trayvon” day and a “social movement for justice.”  Jesse Jackson categorized Florida as an “apartheid state” and blamed the jurors own “cultural biases” for their decision.  He used this case to argue for the freedom of Marissa Alexander, who was jailed when she fell on the other side of the “stand your ground” law in Florida than Zimmerman did for firing a warning shot near an abusive husband.  The idea of using this to declare and apartheid in Florida is ridiculous at best.  Apartheid was a set of components of segregation that involved the systematic discrimination of people of color in terms of economics, law, and politics.  This was not…

Trayvon Martin’s death was a travesty, there is no doubt.  I even took a picture of myself in a hoodie when it happened.  I am not Trayvon, but I very well could have been.  My appearance has more than one time been misinterpreted to be something it was not.  As recently as two weeks ago, I was branded a “thug” simply because of my hat being turned to the side and having not shaved in a week.  In all of our hearts, we know that Zimmerman was guilty of something, whether it could be proven or not.  A not guilty verdict, contrary to popular belief, does not proclaim innocence, but rather not “proven” to be guilty of a certain crime.  Florida’s law regarding standing your ground leaves far too much leeway.  For once here in Michigan, we got the law right (to a degree) with guns making it necessary that we retreat unless it is unsafe to do so when outside the home.  The Michigan law provides legal protection to people who use deadly force when then they “honestly and reasonably” believe they or another person are being threatened with death, severe injury or rape only.  It affirms, however; the fact that we should not be looking for confrontation with guns, using them as weapons, but rather using them only as tools of last resort (or for hunting animals of course).

I wonder as a people why we see only certain things as travesties or things worth marching in protest about.  In this city of Flint, we just had two triple homicides in recent weeks.  No marches.  In Chicago, youth are being killed at an alarming rate.  No marches.  We proclaim the plight of the Americans of African descent, but seemingly not when they are killing themselves.  The saddest thing about Trayvon’s death to me is the loss of his potential.  We have no idea what he could have grown up to be.  Maybe he would have been a doctor, lawyer, inventor, president, athlete, entertainer, minister, teacher, or any other productive profession you can think of.  However, as a person who works with inner city youth as a coach and minister, I see this same loss of potential everyday with no one screaming about apartheid.  Parents are abandoning kids and leaving them to raise themselves.  I cannot tell you how many kids I take all over the state and other nearby states that parents never even take the time to find out who I am.  They are more than happy with having these boys out of their hair for a while.  What happens when they leave the confines and structure of practices and games, well too often they find it in the cold hierarchy of the street.

Further, how many future members of society have we loss in choosing to kill them before they ever had a chance?  Pro-choice vs. Pro-life is a pseudo argument.  The fact is that there is always a choice.  God designed it that way.  Adam and Eve had a choice to choose life as do we.  But so often we have chosen to terminate.  We blame others, when we do a far better job of taking ourselves out by comparison.  In 2007 alone, the rate of abortions among American women of African descent ages 15-44 was 3.5 times more than their European counterparts despite accounting for 5 times less of the population of women in that same age bracket.  4.8% of all babies conceived in that age group and cultural class were aborted.  How many of them were doctors, lawyers, inventors, etc.?  This is not apartheid, not at all, but rather genocide.  No marches.  What about Tonya Reaves, who was killed by a botched abortion in Chicago on July 20, 2012 at a Planned Parenthood clinic.  Not even a mention from presidential candidates during the election process that year, despite it being from the incumbent’s home town.  No marches for the thousands that go unreported.  No 100-day themes or fancy catch phrases for them, no marches….none.

Let me be clear here, the killing of Trayvon Martin was a huge problem in this country.  An even bigger problem is our reluctance to get out and do something about the problems in this country BEFORE they become high-profile.  How many are working with at-risk youth?  How many are investing their time in the educational process of our young people?  How many are volunteering to mentor and guide?  Or does volunteering not pay enough?  Does it not bring enough media attention?  I posted a picture of a pro-Zimmerman sign at a local business and my Twitter page blew up.  I post pictures, videos, stories, etc. of my non-profit basketball club that helps many kids and I get a few responses.  Another club named after a famous basketball player that may do less will get national attention because of the high-profile of the player.  Point is, as a people we largely gravitate to what brings the most pats on the back, high fives, or “at-a-boys.”  Do we really want to affect change or just be a part of the next movement to “turn up” society?  How about we turn up at church, school, and home?

Ironically, I found inspiration from the strangest of sources.  The day of the Martin/Zimmerman verdict I was watching an episode of “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” circa 1974.  I realized that whatever people think of Bill Cosby now, he was way ahead of his time in trying to foster education, understanding, and peace.  At the end of each episode at that time, the guys performed a song as the junkyard band based on the theme of the show.  This one just happened to be on race relations as they learned to depend on each other during the episode at a boys’ summer camp.  The song is what got my attention though.  It is the thought that if we could just grasp to it could change the world.  The song said, “…we live in one world, and this is the place.  We are one people, the human race…”  This came in a time where this country was embroiled in racial confrontation, but yet these thoughts emerged.  How much more now should we be able to embrace the idea?  We continue to let melanin in only the top layer of our skin determine our thoughts.  We continue to think of ourselves as polar opposites.  Until we don’t, it will only get worse.

I See Your True Colors Shining Through

The wonderful thing about being the author of a personal blog is that there are very few restrictions to what you can comment about.  On the other hand, that is what also makes them have the potential to be dangerous as well.  What I am about to talk about may be a controversial subject to some, offensive to others, and maybe even thought-provoking to even more (that would certainly be most ideal).  In any case, I have carefully taken the time to not rush into these thoughts during a highly sensitive time we are in.  However, I feel I would be remiss if I do not share what is on my heart to.  So, without further delay, here we go.

As somewhat of a social media savant, I saw many things over the course of what can be described as a political battle for the presidency of the United States.  Some of these things chased me away from what I consider to be the two main forms of social media, Twitter and Facebook, for days at a time.  I had to remember that I am also a leader of young people so I needed to pay attention to the gist of what was going on, despite my disdain for it.  The more I thought about it as the weeks went by, the more I realized that the lack of depth in many people’s consideration of things is the very thing that has plagued this country for hundreds of years.  What I mean is if you break down the significant battles over religion, race, gender valuation, freedom, etc., they can be traced to the root cause of what I term “shallow-end thinking.” 

A swimming pool that has both a deep and shallow end is still but one pool, but has very different connotations.  Those that spend most of their time in the deep end are thought to be more skilled, experienced, and trained.  Consequently, they are more prepared for the depth of the water that particular end of the pool presents.  In opposing fashion, those that cannot dive into the deep end for fear of drowning are thought to be less skilled than their counterparts.  They look to the shallow end as a place of comfort; if they get scared for one reason or another, all they have to do is stand to recover.  People will drown in the shallow end (heck or even in a few inches of water in a bathtub) because carelessness often accompanies comfort.

In the months and weeks leading up to and even to this day, I see and hear many drawing the presidential race as one of black versus white, good versus evil, or rich versus poor.  All of those may describe in some aspect the race, but alone are far less than adequate to capture its entirety.  It was and is not as simple as black and white, but rather there is a broad spectrum of gray area covering this time.  I saw what I believe to be many people’s true colors, hence the title of this piece, and there were several other hues than the two.

I saw more red than ever before.  In fact, red used to be my favorite color until this time frame.  This red was one wrought with anger and wrath.  A crimson that made me ashamed of some of the things I heard and read.  There were those bold enough to recklessly use the n-word to describe the elected leader of this nation.  Many demonized, demeaned, and dishonored this man based solely on the perceived color of his skin.  Conversely, many American people of African descent took to the World Wide Web to declare their love for “our” president, with a great number reaching that conclusion based on the fact his skin tone was closer to their own.  I saw many posts like this one, “my president is BLACK.”  Or, “a black president is the fulfillment of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream.”  “My” president?  As only about 13% of the population, clearly he had to be more than one ethnicity’s president to win.  I could go on and on, but they are generally variations of the same theme, that is, proclamations of a person’s ability to relate to another because of their pigmentation.  I find both sides of this to be dead wrong.  We know that it is wrong to refer to anyone as the “n-word” and were mad when Americans of European descent did so in total disrespect, but then some so-called black people used it as a term of endearment for “our” guy.  We spoofed the president as 2 Chainz, a secret agent, the next MLK Jr. or Malcolm X etc., the whole time having a total disregard for his mother’s heritage as an American with primarily English descent.  Does she not count?  Considering he has hailed her as the primary influence of his foundational upbringing, shouldn’t she be more prominent?  I guess saying “my president is half black” didn’t have the same ring to it.  The fact is that none of us are black or white.  We have taken these terms meant to demean and adapted them as proper terms.  The skin has 3 main layers; the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous tissue.  Even further, the epidermis has 5 layers and the dermis 2 of its own.  The element of the skin that causes pigment, melanin, is ONLY found in the basal layer of the epidermis.  So, out of those potential 8 layers, only one has the chemical that creates skin tone, but that is what so many spend so much time focused on.  47% became a theme of the election, but no one talked about the 12.5% (pigment layers to non-pigment layers of skin) that much of the attention was given to.

Do not misunderstand me here; I understand that culture is important, but I contend skin tone does not govern culture.  There are those that will argue that the American of European descent did not believe that way when they enslaved so many over the years and I would certainly agree, but then those wronged then cannot perpetuate the same shallow-end thinking that caused their heritage so much grief can they?  Think about it this way, if a large number of people had risen up if Romney had won and said, “My president is white!”  Or, “I voted for Romney because he was white!”  People of African descent everywhere would have been calling them racists and bigots, but yet that is exactly what I saw in reverse.  There can be justifications of being proud made, but they don’t hold water to me.  Where is the celebration of a man having the wherewithal to win such a huge race regardless of what he looks like?  MLK Jr.’s dream was not fulfilled in President Obama winning in 2008 or again in 2012, his dream was fulfilled in that he had an equivalent opportunity to do so.  He certainly would not have wanted it to cause divides between friends, fights among co-workers, and verbal spats on a computer.  That is directly against what he stood for as he marched and taught.  That red anger displayed from both sides during and after the race was not initiated by the principle of what is right, but rather an engrained shallow-end thought process.

That leads right into the envious green that was clearly evident.  Envy is simply a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.  There are those people whose very countenance shifted just because they couldn’t have “their” way without realizing the obvious point that the two main political parties that have been forced on us are much more alike than different.  We are duped into believing that there is a real true choice in the matter and that creates animosity toward others.  Think about this, there are approx. 312,000,000 people in this great nation, yet you had only two legitimate choices to run it (sorry, Roseanne was not going to win).  That is .00000064% of the country having a chance to be its leader.  That’s a choice?  I hardly think so.  The political process has been tailored from its inception and has narrowed to the two parties it is today.  Instead of looking just beneath the surface of something, we again show the fear of the deep end and stick to what we know for comfort.  There is no reason for anyone to be envious of having to make that “choice.”  Wait a minute; did I mention that the popular vote does not determine the winner so the misnomer that every vote counts is just that, a misnomer?  In fact, at the time when the election was called by pundits on the various news channels, the winner was trailing in the popular vote.  What if you voted for the Tea Party or cast a write in vote?  Did it count as well?  Sure it counted in that you exercised your right, but to think it made a difference in the grand scheme of things is steeped in fantasy.

The final color I saw was the cowardice of yellow.  People running to hide behind internet posts, usernames, pictures, and pseudonyms as they spewed at best ignorant rhetoric and at worst hate.  There were those feigning some greater good message in order to simply get out lingering feelings kept inside.  I saw those professing to be of faith afraid to confront issues directly related to faith by trying to separate something that was not ever meant to be separate.  Trust me, I get that the vote was for a president and not a religious leader, but we all have to realize that the leader of every country sets the political and religious tone for that country.  Also, if it were the case that the two should not be intertwined, why were there local and national religious leaders using their influence among people to try to affect the direction of the vote? 

The fact is that the church as we know it is in some trouble.  Look beyond the surface my good people.  Soon it will likely be illegal for churches to speak out against behaviors they do not endorse or believe in.  Many are already in big financial strains as banks are telling them “the president” is requiring re-submitting of mortgage loan paperwork as they gouge churches for 2-3 times what their property is worth.  That can and will cause the leaders of those churches to seek more money from its people to survive, which in turn will cause the people to feel the strain in tune with their own economic struggles.  They will likely feel guilt for being unable to help or turned off as the idea of churches leeching from the people is perpetuated even more across the country.  It is feasible that a church’s non-profit status will be used against them for governmental control.  They may be forced to support financially things that violate their very principles of belief or risk governmental intervention.  President Obama was correct when he said America is no longer “a Christian nation.”

Under the surface, what are some things that we can also look at?  Well, I will offer them in the form of rhetorical questions.  What if the regime of President Obama is the fulfillment of the dream of one Margaret Sanger, who vowed to use the most educated and beautiful people of color to further belief in eugenics as stated in the infamous Jaffe memo and various other words she spoke?  What if our fascination with black and white causes a repeat of the racial wars that existed in the past?  What if the promise of increased taxes causes business owners to sacrifice people in preparation?  What if the promise of reduced insurance costs causes companies to raise it in the interim so that those rates can be grandfathered in?  What if we realize God told us to pray, but didn’t say that was all he told us?  What if the church actually left the upper room and got out into the world and realized its collective power?  What if we realize that although times have changed, principles don’t?  What if we comparatively looked at the past 20 years and realized we were better as a society then?

I could go on, but the point is simple; shallow-end thinking leads to more trouble and hostility than just taking some time to look at the bigger picture through the eyes of faith…try it, I dare you.

Evidence to the Contrary

It has been a while since I last entered words into the forum, but I determined when I started it that I would only do so when I really had something to say…now I believe that I do.

For those who don’t know, I have been coaching basketball on some level since I was 14-years-old.  That in and of itself brings with it a certain level of scrutiny that I have grown accustomed to.  I was a kid (albeit a mature one) coaching kids.  As I have grown into the man I am today, I have learned that being involved in the coaching arena still brings about a certain degree of opinions from people, good and bad.  As much as I believe things have changed in this country and more specifically in this great state of Michigan, I seemingly often find myself face-to-face with evidence to the contrary.  Here is the latest of such evidence…

Last year I took my team to a tournament in Bel Air, MI (aka WAAAYYYY up north) and felt like we got mistreated pretty badly.  This year, the tournament was moved to Mt. Pleasant and so we went again trusting that things would be different.  Well, it certainly was…to a point.  Before I get too far into it though let me tell you the make up of my team.  I am an American male of African descent (AA), while my assistant is an American male of European descent (AE).  The team is composed of a ratio of 6:8 (AA:AE), and also one young American of Asian descent (AAS).  I know that some of you are wondering why I used those terms.  Well, mostly because they are far more accurate than the more common terms used today.

Anyway, we won our first two contests and were moving to play for the top seed in the pool.  We were up against a team we had lost to a couple of times the prior year (TEAM Basketball Red), so we knew that they were pretty good.  The game was intense from the start and not 2 minutes into it, there were some hard fouls from both teams.  It’s basketball, it happens.  But a couple of minutes later, things became too rough.  My best player drove to the basket, jumped to fake the shot, then passed the ball out to the wing where another player shot a 3-pointer and scored.  I was pumped about the shot (those who knew my team from last summer would know that we had no pure shooters) and my fist pump told that well.  Then my attention was trained back under the basket where the passer was now being pushed back down to the floor.  The officials saw this and blew their whistles, but made little other response to stop an escalating situation.  So, I sprinted from my bench and grabbed my player by his shoulders to escort him off  of the court.  That should have ended everything, right?

Nope…on my way to the bench with my guy, the opposing coach turned and yelled out to me to “go and sit my a** down!”  What?  Yes, I stopped dead in my tracks, spun around and yelled, “what did you say?”  Of course I knew exactly what he said, but I was wondering why he said it to me.  So, since now all of a sudden he couldn’t speak, I moved closer to him to say my question again and get an answer of why he thought he could talk me like that.  The next action then told me exactly why…

A parent of a member of their team (who later was discovered to be a police officer in the city of Holly and was wearing a Holly basketball sweatshirt) jumped up out of his seat in the stands and came onto the floor saying, “yeah, go sit down boy!”  Boy?  Did he have any idea who he was talking to?  So I asked him exactly that as I now turned my attention, my glare, and my stride toward him.  It was about then I felt two arms wrap around me and push me backward.  One of my kids’ parents had intervened on his behalf stopping me short of reaching him as my final destination.  I could not even believe I would be called that by an older AE in 2011.  Surely by this year, he should know what negative connotations that has.  Even further, he was talking to a grown man, so that shouldn’t have even been a thought….but it was.

So, they went and got another official, called technicals on both initial kids that faced off and the game continued.  I of course emphasized to my players to only use what happened as fuel and they did just that.  We scored several consecutive baskets, prompting a time out from the other team.  But just like most sophomores do, my boys let the other team back in the game.  They also complained to me of being tripped by the opposition purposely.  As I paid more attention, I saw the joy from the bench whenever it did happen and it was quite often.  I mean this is not soccer where you use your feet to kick the ball so clipping is a natural occurrence.  This is basketball and it happened way more than it should’ve.  But as a coach I told my guys to play through it.

That was all well and good until with right about 6 minutes left to play, the same player that was pushed down before got clipped and hit in the face on his way to the basket.  This time, however, not only was a foul not called, but he also now had blood rushing from his lip.  He had to sit out until it could be stopped.  In the meantime the opposing team came back and closed the gap to one point and it stayed that way until there were 7.7 seconds left.  We were taking the ball out and they were trying to get a steal or foul.  As one of my guys broke for the ball (right in front of the official), the guy guarding him grabbed his jersey, pulling it out from his shorts and pulling him down in the process.  No call as the pass was made and the ball bounced helplessly out-of-bounds.  now in shock, my boys let them get off a wide open jumper at the buzzer to win.  By then the tournament director was there and I walked up to him and said you need to do something about this coach and parent.

He didn’t…and we would meet again.  4 hours later that same team lost by 1 at the buzzer to a different team (poetic justice).  We were up next and were slated to take that same bench.  Their players decided not to leave the bench when my guys arrived.  Two of the players went toe-to-toe and one of my parents (a mom) jumped in to stop it.  She proceeded to get cursed out by this kid and then the same terrible example of a police officer from before.  That is when I saw the group forming and arrived on the scene.  the coach of the team we were slated to play then got my attention and said please put a stop to this before I jump in.  He couldn’t stand for a woman to be disrespected like that.  I asked what was going on and as I did one of their players again flew off in a profanity-laced tirade. No parent/coach said anything to him from their side.  One of my parents asked their coach “is this not one of your players?  Are you not going to say anything to him?”  he got no answer from the coach at all.  As I am being told the whole story by the parents I ask was it that same parent from before that almost got jumped on while I was pointing directly at him.  He said, “You wanna take this outside?”  I said, “Ok,” and headed for the door.  Once again, my parents reminded me that I had a game to coach and would need to do that, so I did.  But the challenge was amazing to me.  Where do they still challenge people to go outside at?  Clearly in Mt, Pleasant via Holly. 

We won that game and my boys played great.  I have never been so proud of a team’s ability to focus as I was of theirs.  Unfortunately, during practice the next week I had to sit them down and explain the whole scenario to them and what being called a “boy” means in the grand scheme of things.  Some had no idea of these things so it needed to be taught.  I let them know that I certainly could have shown more restraint, but showed much by not jumping down this man’s throat.  I am a proud man.  I am also a Christian.  But I was a man first and sometimes he jumps out ahead of the Christian in instances like this.  That shouldn’t happen, but it did.  They needed to know why and more importantly, they needed to know that we may see the same type of taunting again. 

If you have read my previous posts, you will know that this is not the first time a discriminatory term has been used toward me.  It almost seems like God is placing these tests there for me to show everyone that, as my dad reminded me, it is not what people call you that defines who you are, but rather what you answer to.  I responded to the term “boy”, but will never answer to it.   It is the furthest thing from a definition of me.  As I turn a year older in a matter of hours, I realize even still that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I start to believe things are different, and then I see evidence to the contrary…

But then I also realize that I have a major role in escorting change in…God let me know that and it continues with my book, “Four Seasons of Verse” and even further with the book signing at my”Chance of a Lifetime” showcase and program on June 12.  It will be a call for community activism in our area.  I will post more detail soon, but get ready. That is, if you want change….

Change? Yeah Right…

Wow…life is truly amazing. 

I know some are wondering what in the world that I am talking about, but “wow” was truly the thought that I have had all day.  I will explain…

After a long 12 hour day at work on 3rd shift last night, I was headed home the same way I have done for the last 4+ years on eastbound I-69 from Lansing to Flint.  The route is so mundane that I was in somewhat of a daze and driving mostly on pure habit.  About 3/4 of the way home in the area of the city of Durand, 2 state trooper cars were in the median.  When I passed them, both pulled out behind me.  They weren’t following too closely, but rather just hanging back.

After about a 1/2 mile,  one of them sped up to get close to me and flipped the lights.  The other seemed to pull up on the side and saw I was alone and went on about his way.  I knew I had not been speeding because I was watching them the whole time and I am not an idiot, so I was quite befuddled.  As I watch through the rearview, the officer gets out and walks toward my passenger side window (which I already had down) with his hand on his gun. 

He said, “can I see your license, registration, and proof of insurance?’  No problem I thought as I slowly (I told you I’m no idiot) reached in my pocket for my wallet, then to the glove box for the registration and insurance papers.  While I was doing that he proceeded to ask me where I was coming from.  I told him that I was returning home from work.  He said, “from the Delta (GM) plant?”  What?  Out of all the businesses that I passed from Lansing to Durand, why would he think I was working there?  Are manual labor jobs in the factory all an American man of African descent can get?  Please don’t misunderstand me, I love GM.  Without that plant, I wouldn’t even have my current job.  My grandfather, father, uncles, cousins, etc. all worked and retired from GM.  So, frankly I may not be here without GM.  But, why would he pick the plant as my place of employment?  I guess I don’t look corporate enough or like management material.  Perhaps it was the fact my hat was tilted to the side.  Or maybe it was just the fact that I was a few shades darker than him…

About that same time he told me that he had pulled me over because of my tint on my windows.  He must have seen the look on my face as I smirked knowing that I have NO tint on my front windows at all.  And the rear windows only have the factory tint on them.  Again, what?  I didn’t even utter a word to him at the time.  But I guess he figured something was up and asked me to roll up my passenger window two inches.  When I did, he saw that there was no tint at all.  Oops…

So, he then decided that he also pulled me over for what he said was a “left lane violation.”  He told me that on a two-lane highway that one must drive in the right lane unless there is someone over there.  I guess he did not see the semi truck that I had just passed, or the car behind me that had to get out-of-the-way for him to even pull me over.  Weren’t they also in the left lane then?  Furthermore, wouldn’t you have to be following someone for miles to know how long they drove in each lane? 

Come on officer, you can do better than that.  He asked about my driving history, ran my license, and said you’re free to go because HE HAD NO REASON TO STOP ME IN THE FIRST PLACE!!  This is so distressing to me because if you read my other posts you will see that I have gone through similar garbage at work and I didn’t even blog about the stuff I went through in college in Ann Arbor (KKK rally, thrown off a bus, etc.).  Here we are in 2010 still bound by many of the chains that have caused this society to slip behind many others in terms of growth socially, technically, economically, etc.  Instead of gleaning from one another and realizing that American is what we all are we still want to operate under the stigmata of colors that define us.  Is that the best we can do?  It has been almost 17 hours since this occurred and I am still bothered as you can tell.  What do we tell the kids?  Is it true to tell them that they can do whatever anyone else can?  Unlike Martin Luther King Jr., I have a nightmare today…one in which no matter what degrees I obtain, no matter how high I sit at the top of my class, no matter how many kids that I help, no matter how much better I do my job, no matter how much respect I treat everyone else with, no matter what books I write, and no matter whatever else I do to assist in making society a better place, that I will still be looked at by many as second tier…

Now that is sad…

Company Man…

Here is a little something to express what has been going on lately.  I know that I have been gone for a while, but now I have a lot to say and most importantly, a platform to say it…

 

Company Man

 

Change?

Yeah, things are way different these days,

But these times for many are still not nearly

What they say.

Even in 2010, “nigger” is still a common theme and

Ropes tied as nooses with it on the same team, as inside

My heart screams while dreams of equality constantly

Lose steam…

The American ideal of getting a degree, finding a

Fortune 500 job, and being placed on a salary, may

Really be just a fallacy.

With my promotion within three months and raise to boot,

All the time my respect they were trying to loot

And make all the success moot by putting my voice on mute.

Could I, Marcellus, be the token one?  The one put

Out front so an ethics review can be done with their name

Under the gun?

I know I’ve earned what I got, right?

It makes you under if out-of-sight, what’s done in the dark,

Will come to the light?

Promises of bonuses not kept, profit goals unmet, but you can bet

The company pet has all she’s supposed to get.

But I have to trust God to clear my path and keep me from

Revenge and wrath, as that is His job alone;

He will repay and atone for opportunities unfairly now gone.

Until then my patience can’t wane and I will refrain from

Taking things into my own hands and dealing with the pain

As I stay sane and win this game.

No one said it would be easy…

I suppose that only time will tell in the end, but the questions yet still remain.

2010 or 1950?

Strange title, huh?  I know but it was the best one for the issue.  As we enter into this new year, one can only wonder what it has in store.  There is still a serious economic recession,  a president who has gained a lot of popularity while yet having a ton of promises to still keep, unemployment is at an all time high, real estate is in the worst shape since the depression, and we have still not solved this country’s most fundamental problem.  The problem, u ask?  Racism…

I know that there are people who will read this and think I am crazy.  They will say that we have come a long way in this country in that area.  They will point out that there are more minorities than ever in the workplace.  This is all very true, but the battle is not complete.  Let me give you three examples from the last three months of 2009 to illustrate my point.

First, I am talking with 3 of my co-workers about the job.  I will point out for the purpose of this discussion that I am the only “black” member of management in my office.  That said, it was me, my boss, the equipment manager, and another logistics manager such as myself.  Everyone but me will remain nameless as I do not think it wise to divulge names.  Anyway, we were discussing the trucks and how the mechanics we have fix the clutches in them.  The log manager says, “I was out there one day and saw him nigger-rig it.”  Can you believe it?  Well, I couldn’t.  I just put my head down and shook it.  It seemed like time stopped.  The conversation certainly did.  My boss then says to me, “did he just say what I think he did?”  I just continue to shake my head…

Second, same place but this time the incident was amongst the drivers.  Again, one black driver amongst the rest on this particular dock on this shift.  There is a traditional water cooler next to the dock door where the black driver delivers and picks up his load.  The doors at the docks that they deliver to are roll-up doors so there is a rope tied to each so that they will be able to pull them back down once opened.  Anther driver, decided to tie that rope around one of the empty water bottles while it was on the ground and the door was closed, knowing that the black driver would be next to deliver.  What happens?  The black drivers comes in and opens the door only to find the bottle now strung up and hanging from the door.  Does that put anyone else in mind of a hanging?

Third scenario…same job, drivers again.  A white driver sitting among other white drivers decides to go on a tirade about his black neighbor at home.  “Nigger” was used by him several times and he thought it was funny.  When one of the other drivers voiced their displeasure with what he said, he grabbed her shoulders and basically told her that it was no big deal.  She thought it was and decided to report it.  When he came in to be interviewed by HR, my desk was outside the office where he sat behind closed-door.  I could hear everything he said.  And he was shocked that someone told on him for saying it in the first place.  What?

Now I am not going to get into all of the details that followed each situation, but rather just give you the results.  The first one ended with the company asking me what they should do.  They wanted to know if I could continue to work with him or should he be terminated.  I told them that they are in that position to make those decisions, but I just wanted the best for the company and could handle whatever choice they made.  Well, he is still employed there.  In the second, the driver made a complaint to HR and the investigation they did said that they couldn’t find “intent” in what he did, so they only wrote him up for what amounts to a slap on the hand for “horseplay.”  Was that driver’s complaint a joke?  Horseplay?  Wow.  The third situation did end up in a termination for the driver, but it wasn’t for the racial terms.  Rather he was termed for rubbing the lady’s shoulders as a violation of the harassment policy.  I know you’re thinking that you must be kidding…but I’m not.

I wrote all of that to say that we still have such a long way to go.  Trust me people, this is clearly a battle that has not ended like many believe.  I can tell u firsthand that it hurts to be in a position that you have to deal with it firsthand, but I have to continue to let God shine throughout and humble myself to understand that I am placed there for a reason.  That reason being to show people that there is someone who will not back down, but will also not engage in childish behavior either.  You tell me, what do you think?