Really America, WTF

Soapbox LogoI simply can’t imagine how we got to this place in time. I know, I have watched it all and often railed against it all; yet still I simply am unable to wrap my head or heart around why we are here, at this place as a nation, as a people. My only real and heartfelt reaction to it all is, REALLY JUST WHAT THE FUCK.

I am struggling to make sense of it all. Trying to understand the definitions and terminology. What we say and believe and just how quickly we erase history so we can pretend something new is the only thing that is true. My heart weeps for Orlando. There are no words to express the tragic and terrible of what has happened, for those gone and for those left behind who must now pick up the pieces of and move forward.


CNN: Mourners at one of many makeshift memorials in Orlando

The human lives lost, the human lives changed forever these are what our focus should be. It didn’t take long though for our focus to change to labels and politics. It wasn’t but mere minutes before we discovered and begin to shift through the blood and anguish, searching for the agenda to latch onto; depending on our own deep-seated and personal design. Never mind, the humanity and need of those in the center of this terrible tragedy, those ‘who knew best’ saw the opportunity and like leeches they attached and attacked.

There are those who see this as an opportunity to raise the flag on gun control. Well yes, there is a need to have this discussion. Most reasonable, thinking people agree. But did you need to flood social media and my inbox with reminders within 3 hours, before bodies were removed from the streets? Before loved ones were informed of their loss? I am on your side, truly I am but I would prefer if you would show some empathy and compassion. I would also prefer it if you would stop using the same tactics as the opposition, stop using fear. Get your facts straight, start calling things what they are rather than what suits your agenda, stop using hyperbole, please. Don’t misinform, inform.

imagesThen there are those who want to raise the flag of Islamophobia (Donald). This really is a red herring and thinking people know it is. We know there is an element of violent and radical Muslims in the world, just as with any religion there is an extreme element and they commit terrible acts. We see their horror stories and hear their latest atrocities screamed at us, constantly. We need only turn on our television to hear about their latest acts of violence against those of their own faith (their primary victims) or be reminded how they hate us by the talking heads of the Right. We need only listen long enough to hear commentators tell us how they are representative of the entire Islamic faith, all 1.6 billion of them. In our minds, we know this is a lie. We know, yet we are afraid because we listen and we can’t help ourselves.

The reality is each and every single time another tragedy happens we look for a reason, beyond the obvious. Another asshole, another disenfranchised, miserable human being murdered innocent people. Maybe they were Christian (Dylan Roof, Timothy McVeigh) Extremist who wanted to strike a blow for their religion or race or gender or maybe all three or any combination. Maybe they were Radicalized Muslims (Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook) who wanted to show their loyalty to their religious ideology. It doesn’t really matter, does it? Terrorism is exactly what it is, no matter where it comes from. We shouldn’t apply a different standard when it is committed by Christians versus Muslims, it is one and the same thing ultimately; it is a violent act against Americans, against America. It is a tragedy costing life and freedom.


What I know is the person who shot up Pulse was sick, a lost soul and we as a nation shouldn’t focus on him, shouldn’t give him status in our dialog. He wasn’t a terrorist rather he was a single human being, he hated himself and sought to murder what he hated most in himself. He attacked those he feared and hated; murdering what he hated. He claimed allegiance to a terrorist group in his final hours, he self-radicalized over the months prior to his terrible and tragic act, yet in truth by all the accounts of those who knew him he wasn’t religious. He was, simply self-hating, racist, closeted and lost. He struck out and destroyed lives in his self-hatred. Remember though, he wasn’t an immigrant, he was an American he was one of us.

What I know, there are forty-nine innocent Americans dead. There are fifty-three innocent Americans wounded. There are one hundred and three families who will have to figure out how to put their lives back together, how to get up out of bed every day, make it through the day and live with the horror of lost lives, lost loved ones, lost futures and what ifs.

I weep for Orlando. One more community that must pick up the pieces. I weep for America, once again we must look at ourselves and it seems we will turn our backs on what is so obvious. Our refusal to fix what is so terribly broken. The great divide and our failure to act, to stem the tide of hate and fear and the violence it invokes.

We must ask ourselves, are we one people or many small communities?

Do we come together, working for common cause and finding compromise or do we continue to dig the trench wider and deeper?

Are we Americans or do we continue to place the hyphen in front to create the definition of who we are, separate and apart from each other; always. Do we stand up together and build one America for all of us, no matter our differences. Do we search for ways to come together or do we finally fail as a nation. Do we allow the hate-mongers, the monsters to win, to finally draw the lines of segregation back into place, build the walls so high we never see over them again or do we stand up, as a single people in solidarity and say no more, never again and stop what is causing us to fail.

I weep for America, I weep us all.


Retrospective, Damn

Well it has been another year, we have all gotten through it despite the idiocy of the nation and constant upheaval to our peace. I wanted to wait before I said anything, before I looked backwards or forwards, you know dip my toes in the waters of 2016 before washing away 2015. So now I have waited, based on the first two weeks of the new year, well it doesn’t seem it will get better. Here is my quick look and thoughts on what was and what will be.

Politics, Damn

It does not seem that we are in for a civil debate leading up to the election of a new POTUS to bring our nation together. Indeed not, instead no matter who the two leading parties nominate I think we can look forward to a nasty year of sniping, pettiness and below the belt ugliness. Never mind, the world and the nation are burning like Rome and our political discourse has descended into the outhouse. An interesting view of all the current candidates was provided by the New York Times.

The GOP has brought to the table their ‘Best and Brightest’, if this is the truth we are in terrible trouble. This is what left swimming in their pool, it is a terrible thing the American people have done raising up the Id of the GOP to become the nominee for their party. I foresee a split in the ‘Grand Old Party’ coming soon. Truly, the sane ones (yes, there are still a few) remaining within the GOP are beginning to speak out, against the insanity that is Trump and Cruz, never mind the rest who are simply sideshows at this point.

The ratings are from the Conservative Review

The ratings are from the Conservative Review

The Democrats are not offering much better though, don’t hate. Where is the young blood we need for new ideas? What do we have leading the charge, a woman with questionable ethics who considers herself having the ‘right’ to be POTUS, that she is ‘inevitable’. A man who has some great ideas that are not sustainable and who frankly is 74 years old, yes I know ageism on my part but I think we need to consider the consequences of the office of President when we vote, the health and age of our nominee’s is an issue. I couldn’t find a similar map and rating for the two viable Democrats, but go here to Inside Gov, you can play beat the contender to your hearts content.


Violence, Guns and Damn

We can’t look back without considering the violence, our addiction to it as a nation. Start with police violence, last year there were twelve hundred and two (1,202) American citizens killed by police. Do any of us wonder what is wrong with this? I certainly do. When do we start to demand a change in the behavior of those who are hired and paid by us to protect and serve us? At what point do we start to question the legitimacy of ‘internal’ investigations into police involved shootings? When do we demand all police involved shootings, especially those that end in the death of a citizen be reported to the FBI, just like all other murders; today the only way we know is private organizations such as Killed by Police who do painstaking data collection.

We had some terrible and tragic examples of what wholesale availability of guns, combined with ideological hate can do. Despite our blood soaked streets and churches, we continue the battle with little success to close the loopholes. We are a nation that loves our guns, loves our ‘right’ to own them, shoot them, carry them openly (unless you aren’t Caucasian). We are a nation that will make excuses for every Son-of-a-Bitch that shoots up a neighborhood, a theater, a church taking innocent lives in the process; well that is so long as the shooter is Caucasian. The Gun Violence Archives provide the clearest view of just how bad it is out there.

The President took action, too little too late in my humble opinion. The problem with Executive Actions? The next POTUS can, with the flourish of a pen undo each and every one.

Weather, Damn

We took it hard last year, or should I say Gaia put it to us. Between Earthquakes, Volcanos, Tornados and just plain old weather to kill we got hit hard across the world. Yet still there are those who would deny there is something wrong, something changing that perhaps we should be listening to what the earth and Climate Scientist are telling us.

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Refugee Migration, Damn

The politicians would have us believe there is one answer, most of us with even a single brain cell know there is more to it. We are a polyglot nation, it has always been our strength yet it has also been a source of struggle as new immigrant communities attempt to integrate. Now we have refugees from nations we broke, who are not like us and who we have painted as the enemy. The thousand year old war between Christianity and Islam continues, this shit isn’t new we just have better and more destructive weapons.

Can we deny we disrupted the peace? Can we deny we created much of the problem with our ‘Nation Building’, our ‘Manifest Destiny’ attitudes and our belief we have the ‘right’ to stomp into any nation and do as we wish. Now, we have created a problem for the world. On the other hand, shouldn’t we be asking the question; ‘Why are so many young men coming, without women and children?’ I think about this one, let the women, the children, the aged come let’s get them out of harm’s way but let their men fight for their independence and their safety. Is this harsh? Maybe it is, but in all honesty I don’t want our young men and women fighting for a nation or a people that will not fight for themselves.

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Some Things That Didn’t Suck

The Stars and Bars came down over the State House of South Carolina, finally. This was a hard fought battle but it happened and it was in my opinion epic.

Marriage was made legal nationally, the Supreme Court ruled that all people could legally marry and have their marriages recognized. It was another hard fought battle, it was an epic win and many of my friends rushed to make their long standing partnerships ‘legal’.

This year saw the proliferation of transparency, technology in the hands of everyday citizens is adding to our discourse. We are using the tools we have for more than selfies and pictures of breakfast, instead stopping to film what might be critical to stopping racism, police violence and other acts that have always been part of society, but never part of our dialog.

Closing, Damn

There are other notable things, good and bad. I simply picked a few. I could go on and on and on. Do I think 2016 will be significantly better? Truthfully? No, I think we are scraping the bottom of the barrel right now, I think Presidential politics will see us with the tragic and terrible before November. I think the inbred idiots in Oregon with their guns and chest beating are the tip of the iceberg. I think those who hate government but desire to be part of it are the problem and we, the people get the government we deserve.


American Taliban and All

soapboxpileThe new order of the GOP has truly and entirely lost what little mind they had remaining. I say this without tongue in cheek but in all seriousness and with not some little fear for the safety of anyone ‘not like them’. Like so many others I use to sit back and shake my head in wonderment and not some small amount of amusement at the foolishness of those who would follow these ignorant and arrogant little men through the gates of hell.

Yes, I said it and I do not consider it hyperbole. These preachers and their minions in the GOP, the ones who suck up to them for votes, who seek their endorsement, who slide through the muck bobbing their heads at the most outrageous vitriol; they are our worst nightmare. We should be pointing our fingers and screaming from the highest mountaintops, ‘Terrorist’. Instead, we point from the sidelines and laugh, ‘Clown’ or ‘sideshow freak’. We fail to understand these ‘sideshow freaks’ have a following, their words have power, elected members of Congress agree with them, candidates for President line up for their endorsement.

Why aren’t we afraid? Why aren’t we scared to death when preachers call for the death of citizens of this nation whose only fault is to be born with a different sexual orientation from the majority, from what is considered ‘normal’.

Why are we not afraid when elected officials and those who would be President pander to these delusional and angry Biblical literalist, scream ‘Death to the homosexuals’ and are followed on the stage by Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz? Oddly, most of the videos for National Religious Liberty Conference in which Pastor Kevin Swanson suggests killing all Homosexuals, have disappeared. I found a snippet of one though, this one is the only one I could find after searching hard and having to listening to manic ravings.

We giggle behind our hands when one of the front runners of the GOP presidential primaries writes he stabbed a classmate, beat another with a lock and lifted a hammer against his own mother; but it is all okay now because he was saved by God. Of course, all this is likely a lie written to make his story more compelling, more readable and more sellable. We, the malleable and forgiving Left, we shake our heads and say, ‘well he was a child, he was redeemed’, on the Right of course, it is ‘God saved him, we love him’. Now, that he wants to be President and his story is being vetted and none of it is true, not one word, he is crying foul, his pathology is being discovered but according to him the ‘liberal media’ is out to get him and no candidate in history has ever been more vetted than him. In the meantime, we simply sit back and giggle at the sideshow.

Another front runner is a bully, a narcissist, a xenophobe and an outright racist. What do we do? We create humorous memes about his hair, we protest his appearance on SNL. We speak in whispers about his bad behavior, but secretly we cheer him on, hoping he will be the GOP nominee because in our asinine thinking we can beat him Donald Trumphands down. He has no real experience, who would elect him, right? Yet history tells another story, we sit on our asses at election time, we turn away and fail to go to the polls. Our nation has been on a downward spiral to hell since 1981, because we were taken in by celebrity, despite a lack of experience, fundamental knowledge or an understanding of economics or international geopolitical influences or even the basics of diplomacy, we have gone from a first nation to tipping into third nation. Yet, here we are again thirty-five years later another ‘celebrity’ in the running this one full of ignorance and bluster and the party of know-not-a-fucking-thing is touting him as the Ronald Reagannext best thing.

The rest of the clown car, help me please to not lean to heavily on my cornucopia of foul language to describe this horrifying group of baseless cowards. Yes, cowards. They will say anything and do anything to rile up those who don’t know they are being flim-flamed. Tragedy? We got that covered, just look what the lovelies on the right are doing with Paris, if those victims had guns they wouldn’t be dead, here for your viewing pleasure just a few of the many quotes from the Right side of Hell in America;

Imagine a theater with 10 or 15 citizens with concealed carry permits. We live in an age when evil men have to be killed by good people

— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) November 13, 2015

They can wait if they like until next November for the actual balloting, but Donald Trump was elected president tonight.

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) November 14, 2015

“I want to tell you something else – it is what goes through my mind,” he continued. “I bet it goes through your mind – thank God for the Second Amendment. Thank God for the Second Amendment or we’d be Europe. We would all be disarmed. You know Obama and Hillary, all of the Democrats, most of the Republicans. There would be no NRA. There would be no groups trying to protect us. Thank God for the Founding Fathers, the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Thanks God because you see this going on – these poor people who were slaughtered going to a sporting event or a restaurant or a concert or potentially a shopping mall — slaughtered as they stand there by these animals, by these barbarians – and none of them are armed, none of them.”

— Mark Levin, Radio Show November 13, 2015

They will say and do anything to stoke the fires of hate and fear, in a population who are certain their life is worse today than it was yesterday and simply need a target to blame it on. Well hell, why not blame it on ……

  • Homosexuals (they’re all child molesters and Gawd hates them ya know)
  • Blacks (they’re all lazy and on welfare sucking up our taxes ya know)
  • Muslims (they’re all terrorists ya know)
  • Illegals (they’re all rapists and murders ya know)
  • Planned Parenthood (Abortion Factories ya know)
  • Women (should be home making babies ya know)
  • Liberals (cause you know, usins are terrible Gawd hatin’ folks)
  • President Obama (he’s a Muslim, Communist, Socialist, wants to take their guns, ruined the economy, lily livered, weak, non-patriotic, non-American don’t ya know)

That is just the smallest of lists of who the GOP points to when they want to get the base jumped up. It is good enough though, isn’t it? The GOP moves further and further to the right. Never mind talking policy that matters. Never mind talking about the Economy and how we are going to fix what remains broken, let’s instead talk about fantasy football and fantastical new tax policies, everything from Biblical based tithing systems to tax forms that will fit on the back of a post card and eliminating the IRS. Never mind, we have a nation to run and infrastructure to fix, which is just the tip of the iceberg.

Haven’t we been here before? Haven’t we seen this before?

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I can only say, we should be afraid. We should in fact be scared to death. We should be fighting mad. We should be standing up, pointing our fingers and demanding better of both our elected officials and those who would be the President of the United States of America. That we are not doing so says we simply don’t give a damn, this saddens me more than I can possibly measure.

Juxtaposition Shots Fired

OpEdThe State of Texas informed me a few days ago one of my shooters was re-entering the Parole system, no he hasn’t been granted parole he is simply being considered. I don’t know how I feel about this, I am processing my reaction. I know how people think I should feel, hell I know how I think I should feel, but I have changed, my heart is heavy as I consider my response.

Then, a few days ago, I read this, by Jeff Winbush who I greatly admire. I realized while reading this piece about the mistrial of Randall Kerrick, just how truly great the chasm sometimes is.

When I was carjacked, shot three times and left in the street for dead I was scared. There is no other way to describe my feelings, I was afraid. I did not know how I was going to survive what could have been fatal wounds. I did the best I could; I staggered to the nearest home late at night and pounded on their front door. The couple was older, they didn’t open the door, they told me to go away. There was nowhere for me to go, I couldn’t go further, I slid down their wall and in tears begged them to call 911. Nothing more, just call 911. Once again, they told me to go away; they didn’t want to be involved. At that point, I was so afraid but I was angry too how could anyone turn his or her backs on another human being in need? I didn’t understand, my only response too what seemed a terrible cruelty, ‘I am not going anywhere, you will have to explain a dead woman on your front porch tomorrow if you don’t call 911 now.’

I sat, waiting to die. I didn’t know if they were going to call. Holding the tourniquet, I had made and wrapped around my neck, feeling my warm blood as it dripped through my fingers, I talked to the universe. The one thing I was not afraid of was the police, I knew if they appeared I was not in danger, I knew if they were called and saw me sitting on the porch of these strangers home their instinct would be to help me, they would not see me as a threat.  I knew, if they rolled up on me they would not do so with guns drawn, screaming for me to get on the ground. I knew if the police were called they would help me, it would be foremost on their mind, to save my life.images (8)

My unwilling hosts must have weighted their options, they made the call. I heard the sirens in the distance and shortly thereafter, the blue lights of police and rescue cars rolled up the street. I was surrounded by men in blue whose first concern was my life and well-being. Could I talk, could I tell them what happened came after. How I got to that house, that porch came as I was laying on the gurney. I told them only part of the truth, not that I had to ask more than once for them to be called, only that I had been shot elsewhere and how far I thought I had walked. I didn’t understand until weeks later why they didn’t want to be involved, why they wanted me to ‘go away’. Even with my intellectual understanding, it would be years before I let go of my fury at their disregard for my life.

This brings me to the juxtaposition of my experience and the mis-trial of Randall Kerrick. If you don’t know who Randall Kerrick is, or why he is on trial I would suggest reading Jeff’s piece that I linked above, or this piece also by Jeff, but in short.

Jonathan Ferrell_zps6diudjvmOn September 14, 2013 Johnathan Ferrell, 24, had a car accident in the middle of the night. He crawled out of his car and made his way to a home where he tried to ask for help. The homeowner, after seeing a disheveled and bloody young black man on her porch immediately calls 911 and asks for assistance. When the police arrive things go from bad to worse, there doesn’t seem to be a point in time where the police attempt to discern if Johnathan is a threat, instead there is simply an assumption he is. First, as he runs toward them, likely because he is injured and needs help there is an attempt to Taser him when the Taser fails to discharge, Randall Kerrick fires his weapon, not once, not twice but ten times. Excessive? Absolutely.

Does anyone but me see the difference in response? I don’t believe it is getting worse, I believe it has always been this way, the difference is we are seeing it more now, hearing about it more now. We are becoming more aware and having to face just how truly unequal our entire system is. The push back on the demand for equality is both fascinating and heartbreaking. The fear that if we acknowledge indeed Black Lives Matter, we somehow are saying other lives do not yet for centuries we have said through our actions Black Lives Matter Less. How can we now demand inclusion in a movement of recognition?

The other day I saw this and thought it a perfect explanation of what is happening to the conversation, yet was saddened it had to be said.


The last question is important, why are we having these misunderstandings? Why aren’t we able to reach common ground, accept there is a problem and begin to work toward solutions together? What is it about our national psyche that forces us to demand there be winners and losers, rather than all of us working toward common good. Why do we continue to hate ‘other’?

I do not ask these questions rhetorically; rather I ask them because they deserve answers. I look at the very real difference I as a white woman am treated by the police and the way in which Sandra Bland, a black woman was recently treated by the police leading to her death in custody, these questions demand answers. I consider the ‘arrest’ and death of Walter Scott in South Carolina in comparison to the extraordinary protections taken in the arrest of Dylann Roof, these questions demand answers. I watch the press and many others with voices smooth over the actions of Dylann Roof, calling him a troubled youth, but jumping on the horrific actions of Vester Flanagan as a Racist Hate Crime, I wonder why do we allow these definitions to stand.11951145_476709872503362_4356076426194746518_n

When do we all start to truly question the systems that keep us apart, keep us from building the necessary bridges toward true freedom and real power. When will we realize it is time for us to find common cause, common ground.

I stare at the letter from the State of Texas, I have the right to respond. I have the right to speak to the Parole Board, through a letter, on the phone or in person. I have done so every time one of my shooters has been up for parole. Three years ago, both of them made parole and both of them were back inside within 120 days. My heart has changed a great deal in twenty-three years, my understanding of the world changed too. I don’t know how I feel anymore, I don’t know if I want to demand more of my pound of flesh in retribution for my pain. I don’t know anymore if I am being vengeful or if my heart simply won’t let go.

I do know my experience is a very different one than that of Sandra Bland, Johnathan Ferrell, Walter Scott and the thousands of others. I also know there is something inherently wrong that needs to be corrected.

Be Damned

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church sits at 110 Calhoun St. in Charleston, S.C.

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church sits at 110 Calhoun St. in Charleston, S.C.

I am incapable of words to express my sorrow or my fury. I am at a loss where to begin to express my deep empathy for the families of those who were lost, the survivors, all victims of a terrible hate crime, a horrifying act of violence. I find I am at a loss at how to express my compassion for those left behind to survive the terrible repercussions of violence.

Where do you even begin?

Do we start with the grief that we have not risen from the past but instead nurture hate so closely it drives some among us to walk into places of worship and indiscriminately murder innocent people. How do we battle this cultural nightmare, this disease that continues to feast on heart, decimate soul and destroy future?

We did this, yes when I say we I am specific in my calling out. We, White Folks, those of us with the privilege of being born with skin the color of moonlight. Those of us who check the box, ‘Caucasian’,  or ‘White’ on the Census and all the other forms through our lives, we did this. It is ours, we own it and we have owned it from the first slave sold in this nation. From the Three-fifths Compromise to Dredd Scott, from Jim Crow to Separate but Equal and everything before, after and in between. Every step along the way, White People in power worked to keep those they considered ‘different’ and ‘less than’ powerless. Through economic, educational and justice policies, we have divided this nation’s people into cultural classes that not coincidently aligned along racial-color lines, keeping Black, Brown, White in their separate and unequal lanes.

Now, in this century, in this decade and after the election of the first Black President the hate and fear, the true ugliness of racism has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of political correctness and the result has been truly terrible to witness. Fear and fury rose up from the White community, from the dirt floor of the poorest house in the Appalachians to the polished marble floors of Congress, White Men rose up in protest at the Black Man in the White House. It was terrible to see, but we turned away. We shrugged our shoulders and said, ‘these are not the norm, these are the minority’. We did nothing, said nothing, demanded nothing be changed nothing be confronted.

Worse than the rising up has been our acceptance of this ‘new normal’. We see it, we witness the horror of violence, we turn away. We justify our apathy with, ‘but it isn’t me, I am not a racist’. We11164745_892454580813961_4783942740135091392_n watch in horror as another act of violence is carried out, another unarmed black man, woman or child is beaten or killed by police or civilians but we do nothing except perhaps wring our hands and pretend we don’t understand why. We listen to the nuanced language, the media spin trying to justify the horror show of murderous rampages by white thugs, whether cops or civilians, against those they deem unworthy of life, liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness in the land their ancestors helped to build in chains. We pretend we don’t see it, we forget within the next news cycle.

The state of South Carolina flies the Confederate flag, a symbol of all that is wrong, a symbol of traitors who fought to maintain the status quo of enslaving human beings. The Sons of the Confederacy can whitewash and bullshit all they like, can cry their tears of states’ rights, liberty and freedom as the driving factors of their ancestor’s reasons for secession from the lawful government and their own reason for continuing to worship the Stars & Bars. We should pull that scab off the wound that was the Civil War, demand the history books be revised to tell the truth and call those who would say otherwise damned liars. The war of secession was fought  to keep human beings enslaved and preserve a way of life for wealthy White men and women who did not wish to give up their privilege. The majority who died fighting in that war were poor, ignorant and fearful, they were convinced if the slaves were freed they would be displaced, their women would be raped and their jobs taken. The language of the traitors was eerily similar to those of the Tea Party today, hauntingly analogous to many of those who would be President.

“Government Overreach”

10407515_10203057948409525_2425821899359663210_n“Preservation of Constitutional Values”

“Preserving Liberty and Freedom”

Yes, familiar rhetoric isn’t it. The hubris of those who would preserve a way of life built upon the blood and misery of others is exceeded only by the ignorance necessary to believe the lies. The amount of money spent to divide us, keep us separate, maintain the horror of racism and ignorance exceeds the budgets of some nations, yet we allow it to continue without rising up. We, owe ourselves better than this, better than more blood, more hate, more division based on ignorance. We must demand a change, an accounting; we must say no more.

We, each of us with the privilege of our Whiteness intact must stand up and demand the same privilege for those not born with skin the color of moonlight. We must demand history books tell the truth of America, of slavery, of Jim Crow, of enslavement through poverty, miseducation, unequal justice and incarceration; we must demand an accounting and we must apologize for our own ignorance and blind acceptance of the lies we have told to preserve our own power. We must rise up and against hate and hate groups, we must stop turning away and instead call them what they are, Domestic Terrorists. We must demand an accounting of media that uses their power to criminalize Black victims while whitewashing even celebrating White murderers. We must begin to call things and people what they are, we must hold accountable those who refuse to do so.

We must stop giving a pass to any person who refuses to stand up and call out Hate Crimes and Racism for what they are. We must hold those who would lead to the highest standard and demand they call the nation towards healing, towards justice, towards equality and fairness. Those who will not stand up and call racism what it is, who will not call out their followers for their racist remarks and acts, they do not deserve leadership roles, certainly don’t deserve to be President.

Dead at the hands of a terrorist, racist thug.

Dead at the hands of a terrorist, racist thug.

We all need to start demanding better, doing better, teaching our children better and demanding of our leaders better than they are today. For the lives that have been lost, we need to give them names and bear witness to their tragedy. For those who took their lives, we need to give them no name but murderer, thug, terrorist we need to give them no excuse for their act but the one they gave, racism and hate.

Cynthia Hurd, 54

Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49 Myra Thompson, 59
Clementa Pinckney, 41 Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45 Susie Jackson, 87
Ethel Lee Lance, 70 Daniel L. Simmons Sr., 74

Tywanza Sanders, 26

The Mirror

There are times in all our lives each of us wonder, what does the world see when they see me. When I look in the mirror, I see all of my flaws, real and perceived I count them off one by one. Staring in the eyes of my harshest critic, I see each year stamped across my face telling a story I might rather forget, or wish was never written at all. So I stare, I run fingers through hair sprinkled with silver, I count the furrows across my brow, the lines surrounding my mouth and eyes; then I wonder where the time escaped to and what others see.

Does the world see my flaws in the same way I see them? Can a stranger read my pain, my triumphs, my  history as if it was a roadmap written on my face, across my skin and over the angles, plains and curves of my body, or do they only see slight imperfections where I see something altogether different, something damaged, unworthy of a second glance, unlovable in the harsh light of day.

Cool wind dances across heated skin

Leaving memory of other breath

Fingers trace the water’s edge

Sending ripples across a reflection

Unrecognized in the moonlit glow

Coalesced I come together, softer

In the silence memories pull nearer

The ethereal me beckons, closer

Remember, beauty under stars

Shredded without thought, nor care

For youth, innocence or hope

Lost in a scream for mercy

Tracing the water’s edge once more

Reflection lost to harder currents

Merged again, harder and more true

In the moonlit garden of memory

Does the world see my flaws? Does the world see the scars of my history? I don’t know, some of them are obvious, they are badges of honor I can’t help but wear them on my skin every single OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAblessed day of my life. I wish this were not the case, but it is the skin I live in the only skin I have so it is the skin I will have to walk this world in and the skin I will leave this world in. My problem? Truly, my problem is so many people over the years have left their calling card, announced their presence and left me something to remember them by; I can’t seem to step away far enough to start over again without carrying them along with me.

So, when I look in the mirror, I see my history. Some days I see myself victorious, but other days I see myself vulnerable and hurt, stupid for all the times I have laid myself open. When I look in the mirror, what I see is someone unloved and unlovable, someone who is not worthy of honest straightforward love, who must pay for any affection with something, either straightforward with my money or something else of value, including pain, because this is how it has always been.

Every single day I work toward changing my vision and work toward demanding more. But some days like today, this is what I feel.

Blues, Funk and Aniversaries

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday I was blue, truly and honestly blue. I couldn’t put my finger on it, couldn’t identify the source but yesterday I was blue.

Yesterday, my energy levels were low and I was inspired to do nothing. Absolutely nothing inspired me, with the exception of finding a cave, crawling into it and pulling a rock over the entrance.

I could not find a reason for my ennui; thinking it was just the past three hard weeks at work. The long drive back and forth from Dallas to Houston was wearing me down. The twelve hour days resulting only in, ‘not good enough, not what I want’ feedback from leadership that seemed to have a constantly shifting agenda. Still through all of this, yesterday I was blue and I could not focus on the cause.


It came to me, this morning, as I was checking the date or simply looking at a calendar for some reason or maybe trying to prove it was past now. Yesterday was a red-letter day and I ignored it, did not give yesterday its due. Ignored the date, did not sit down and allow my heart to wash over me with all the feelings I was having, instead I attempted to pretend there was nothing special and I was simply blue.

The truth is, yesterday wasn’t special, not in the way, most of us think of ‘special’. Yesterday did mark for me a day of transition, change or transformation. Yesterday did mark the anniversary of the day that set my feet on a different path and made changes to my body, my spirit even my brain there would be no turning back from, no matter how I might wish this to be different.

Yesterday I was blue and rather than acknowledge why I blamed it on everything, including:

  • My current job, client and bosses
  • The fact my house is a mess
  • My finances after a six month hiatus from work, but which are not as bad as they were or as I think they are or as bad as some people who are truly suffering
  • My loneliness, that is somewhat self-imposed
  • The lack of physical touch in my life, that I find I miss a great deal but which has also been self-imposed

Yesterday I was blue and what I didn’t blame it on was the date, the anniversary, the three bullets and the three young men that changed me forever and sent my life on a different and unlooked for trajectory. Yesterday, I was in a deep funk with tears settled right on the edge waiting to spill at slightest hint I would allow blue to turn into a crying jag (I didn’t) and I wouldn’t look at a calendar because instinctively I knew what day it was and simply didn’t want to say it out

So, I distracted myself with walks in the park, which honestly I needed anyway. I distracted myself with talking to people who love me, but I didn’t tell them I was hurting and why. Then when the sun was down and the house was dark again, with sitting quietly staring at a blank page in my journal unable to pick up my pen, because I was blue and I was in a deep funk. When the bedroom was dimly lit with the nightlight I never turn off,  I rocked myself to sleep finally because I was lonely and I miss physical touch, I was hurting and I simply refused to acknowledge it was an anniversary of sorts, one that had changed me in fundamental ways and at my core.

Now, today, this morning I acknowledge I was blue because it is hard not to remember, it is impossible not to be triggered no matter how hard I try to avoid calendars and other reminders. It is hard not to remember and be angry. It is hard not to remember and be sad. It is hard not to remember and then wonder sometimes, what would life be like if I hadn’t have stopped for gas, if I hadn’t have stopped for cigarettes. What would life be like if I had just been five minutes earlier or later, just five minutes that is all. Sometimes I can’t help myself, I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better if I hadn’t survived, hadn’t have been quite so strong. It isn’t that I am not happy to be alive 97% of the time, but I can’t help but wonder sometimes if it wouldn’t have been better, when I am blue like yesterday or when I am hurting or when I have a seizure.

Yesterday I was blue, I know why. Yesterday was the twenty-third anniversary of my carjacking / kidnapping and shooting; where I nearly lost my life and most certainly lost my belief I was invincible.

There, I said it.

Today, I start the first day of my personal new year. I am determined to get back in the swing of things.

I Don’t Believe You, I Do

OpEdSince the beginning of the Bill Cosby fiasco, I have remained silent; I have chosen not to speak. I did this for a reason, not because I had nothing to say or because I believed one side or the other; no that wasn’t it. It also wasn’t out of respect for Bill Cosby or the women who were coming forward, this wasn’t in my mind, as I watched all the media, social and regular rip both sides of this story to shreds.

Everyone taking sides, everyone with an opinion, everyone prepared to judge, everyone no matter their knowledge or qualifications prepared to render a decision.

I watched and I listened. I read the comments on the various stories. Some of the comments caused my heart to shrivel, others made me want to jump into cyberspace and hunt down the anonymous person without a soul who felt a need to spew their bile. Mostly though, I watched and I listened; to friends, family and complete strangers as they dissected the story of Bill Cosby the public persona and Bill Cosby the man and his legacy. On the other hand and from the other side of the debate I watched friends, family and strangers discount, disregard and disparage the twenty-four women who have come forward to accuse Bill Cosby, not Cliff Huxtable but Bill Cosby the man of drugging, assaulting and raping them.

hero to zero

I do not know the truth. The only ones in this entire tragedy who know 100% of the truth are Bill Cosby and the twenty-four women who have accused him of horrific acts of violation.

As I listened and I read, I struggled with my feelings. When Phylicia Rashād said, ‘forget those women’, I became enraged, I could only think to myself, ‘how could any woman say this about victims of sexual assault?’ Is it possible for anyone to be this free of empathy, this lacking in compassion?

Forget those women.

Then my friend and hero, Deborah at The Monster in Your Closet wrote this, encapsulating so much of what I wanted to say but didn’t have the words.

Victims of sexual assault do not report, all too often we do not report. There are many reasons for this, but the sad truth is the number one reason is how a victim of sexual assault is treated by the system that is supposed to protect them. Every single person, with rare exception, from first responders, to hospital personnel, police, DA’s and yes sadly, family members and loved ones tend to blame the victim, fall into the trap of wondering what the victim did to create, invite or otherwise cause herself to be raped.

I do not believe you.

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When society plays the blame game, protecting the rapist no matter what the reason; high school football star, politician or beloved television star every excuse is trotted out for why they could not have possibly done what they are accused of doing. The ultimate result of this cover-up is, their bad acts were caused by the victim, it was the fault of the victim for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, wearing the wrong clothing, accepting a drink from them and tempting them to bad behavior. We don’t report because we already know the outcome, there are names for women (girls) like us and none of them are kind.

I could not understand, truly my heart and mind simply stuttered. How can any of us sit back and cast aspersions on victims brave enough to step forward into the light of day, allow their names and faces to be seen knowing what they would they would face; Golddigger was the kindest appellation I heard applied.

Then as if reading my heart and mind, again Deborah at Monster in Your Closet wrote another stunning analysis, this time her words brought me to my knees.

I believe you.

What all of us, every victim of sexual assault needs to hear.

I believe you. I trust you. I love you. I will protect you.

That is what most of us never hear. Never, not from our parents, not from our friends or loved ones, not from first responders or doctors, not from the police or DA’s; we just want to be heard and believed, protected.

Why don’t we report? Can you imagine having to tell the story of your sexual assault to one stranger? How about ten strangers? How about a room full of strangers? How about a room full of strangers who don’t believe you, who don’t want to believe while your rapist sits staring at you with a smirk on his face knowing he will be free soon while your heart and soul is being destroyed, your reputation shredded.

Why does our story change? We don’t remember. It is nearly impossible for us to remember ever detail in what for most of us was the most traumatic event in our lives. We don’t want to remember, for most of us we spend a lifetime trying to forget.

Effects of Rape

Am I taking sides? No, but I have a tendency to believe the victim especially where there are twenty-four. What people fail to realize, Bill Cosby isn’t going to be arrested and thrown in jail most of these accusations are over a decade old. Might there be some Civil Suits, sure but even they may get thrown out or settled so we never hear about them. In the meantime, Bill Cosby is still doing his stand-up act and making jokes to women about not drinking around him. He doesn’t appear to care to much about the gravity of the situation or his legacy, why should we?

Ham Sandwich and the Zimmerman Defense

screen-shot-2014-11-25-at-4-34-05-pmThere is now a process for how it is done, a script to follow, a recipe to mix from that insures a free pass for the right kind of killing. Everyone knows it, in fact, I am going to guess there is a super-secret class taught and only some of the good ole boys are invited to attend. Maybe it is part of the graduation ceremony, or perhaps they wait a little while suss out what kind of good ole boy you are going to be before issuing the invitation, but chances are eventually if you have feelings of superiority combined with a powerful need to kill, you will get invited.

Let’s call it the Zimmerman Defense.

The terrible thing about the Zimmerman Defense, if you are a cop the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will aid and abet you presenting your defense in the media and to the Grand Jury, thus you will never be indicted for your heinous acts of murder. It is damned near the perfect murder. If you are a sociopath, in need of a bit of blood, simply join your local police force. If you are a racist asshat, in need of a bit of mayhem, have at it put on the uniform; you know the one with the patch that says ‘To Serve and Protect’.

Join the local police force and prepare your Zimmerman Defense, you will have friends in high places jumpstarting your road to freedom, your opportunity to continue your life of violent crime sanctioned by the uniform you wear. Not only will the Chief of Police be on your side making public statements about your sanctioned murder, the Police Union will stand behind you, the Prosecutors Office will lie for you, Governors will protect you, the media will work hard to show your ‘side’ of the story, no matter how insane it is. Finally, if you are truly the type of person everyone loves to whimper over as if your murderous actions were somehow heroic, they will raise money for you and you will become rich and famous; not infamous as you should, not a convict downloadas you deserve, but rich and famous.

The most ludicrous part of this entire situation is we the people pay for this. We the people, pay the cops who kill. We the people, we pay the District Attorney to lie and warp the justice system in favor of Killer Cops. We the people, we pay the salaries of the Governors who call out the National Guard to ‘control’ peaceful demonstrators exercising their Constitutional Rights at Free Speech, or maybe in at least one case (Ferguson) Jay Nixon knew the fix was in and he wanted to avert riots from overflowing into White parts of town (yeah, I am suspecting this was likely it). The fact is, we the people pay for all of this, we pay for Apartheid, we pay for Genocide and we turn our backs, failing to acknowledge these acts for what they are. Making excuses for the murderers in our midst wearing the uniforms we pay for, with those patches that clearly say, ‘To Serve and Protect’. Obviously, they were not intended To Serve and Protect the communities or the people they are with abandon murdering in cold blood.

Do I sound bitter? Do I appear to be one sided in my views? I was told, as recently as yesterday my credibility on this subject was lost for several reasons:

  • My views are too far left to allow me to see things with any degree of reasonableness
  • Despite the obvious lack of melanin in my skin, I am more Black than White
  • Given my past associations, marriages and otherwise my opinions are not credible

Those are just the highlights; some of the others were even more insulting to my intelligence. I let them slide, I didn’t respond to the person saying them instead taking a page from someone I care for deeply, blocking them and ending the conversation. Am I bitter? Why yes I am, I find this nation growing worse rather than better, I find this nation instituting laws to disenfranchise communities of people, stop their voices and strip them of their rights and those of us who could do something instead do nothing. I watch as voices are silenced, men and women are slaughtered in our streets, prisons are filled, schools are emptied and we do nothing. I listen to those who should be our leaders as they say the most blatantly racist and sexist things in public forums and are re-elected to high office; we sit back and do nothing. I watch as our justice system is corrupted to serve the few, we do nothing. In fact, we do worse than nothing; we nod our heads and remain silent.

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We watch as an 18 year old is gunned down and left to lie in the street for four hours, we say nothing instead allowing his name to be tarnished. We listen as they call him Thug, Thief, Demon and MB1we nod our head and accept this as maybe truthful, maybe Michael Brown did ‘puff up as the bullets entered his body’ as that murderer Darren Wilson claimed in his Grand Jury testimony. No, No it didn’t happen that way. No, Michael didn’t punch him on the right side of his face while he was still in the car, no he didn’t go after his holstered gun either. The murder, Darren Wilson lied he applied the Zimmerman Defense and was aided and abetted in doing so. The murder, Darren Wilson is lower than a ham sandwich and anyone with an ounce of common sense knows it. The problem is we watch then hang our head, refusing to do more.

tamir riceWe watch as police roll up on Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old child and shoot him dead in an empty park. We see it all on video, we see they make no attempt to talk to him, no attempt to determine whether his ‘gun’ is real or a toy, despite the 911 caller said he thought it was a toy. They just roll up and before the car stops moving they shoot to kill, not wound but kill. Will they be indicted? Likely no, the DA in Cleveland is planning the Grand Jury route on this one also.

We watched as Eric Garner is taken down in a chokehold, as he says eleven times while face down on the sidewalk of New York, “I can’t breathe”, we watched cops pile on him, we watched knees eric garnerplaced on his head forcing his face further into the concrete. We listened and learned that chokehold had been banned, made illegal twenty-years earlier and then we watched as the Grand Jury came back with a No Bill against the cop who killed Mr. Garner with that chokehold. That cope, Daniel Pantaleo is another who is lower than a Ham Sandwich.


How dare we condemn other nations for their civil rights violations when we think it is perfectly acceptable to gun down unarmed Black and Brown men and women in the streets of our cities, or choke them to death, or beat them on the side of the road, or perform no-knock warrants and kill infants in the process. How dare we even consider condemning other nations for their records when we have undeclared Apartheid in our own nation, with each whittling away at Voting Rights it becomes more declared and more obvious. How dare we look outside of our borders to point fingers at the bad behavior of any other nation when we are incapable of living up to our own declared standards of behavior, even the basics of ‘All Men are Created Equal’.

Bitter, hell yes I am bitter and I am ashamed of this nation and its people.

Bow Your Head and Weep

harriet tubman“If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If there’s shouting after you, keep going.
Don’t ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
― Harriet Tubman

Today across this nation in Cleveland, Ferguson, St. Louis, New York, Beavercreek, Salt Lake City and countless other cities families will sit down to dinner with less to be thankful for, with an empty chair at their table and it is likely mothers and fathers will weep at the loss of their child to violence. Parents, spouses and children will bow their heads and instead of thanking whatever god they pray to, they will ask “Why”. They will weep as they find themselves bereft of their loved one and struggling to understand why the system they were told to trust did not work, why the life of their husband, father or child did not matter. Today across this nation, families will weep as they mourn the loss of their beloved and lost members to police violence.

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We are a terrible nation, a nation that turns away from entire communities, blaming them for their failure to thrive within a greater society determined to see them as always ‘less than’ and undeserving of the rights and privileges embodied by this nation’s founding documents and ‘moral’ standard. We are a tragic nation, built upon theft of land and resources, blood of innocents, indentured servitude, forced labor, rape and violence; yet we have the unmitigated gall to hold ourselves, as a nation, up as a standard of excellence. We dare to act as police and moral arbitrators, condemning violence and human rights violations across the world while within our own nation we fail to uphold the Rights and even Humanity of our own citizens.

Today, families weep and we should all be weeping with them. Those of us who do not send our children out into the world with fear in our hearts each time they leave our side, we should hang our heads that we do nothing, say nothing and enable this genocide within our borders to continue. Yes, I said it, We Enable. By our silence, through our failure to stand up and say,  ‘no more’, each timescreen-shot-2014-11-25-at-4-33-18-pm we fail to demand answers for the depraved acts of murder by those tasked with defending the law and protecting citizens, WE ENABLE and WE AGREE they are in the RIGHT. Each and every time we listen to media pundits, elected officials, journalists, has been’s and never were’s such as Rudy Giuliani disparage entire communities WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE along with them for enabling the horror story of structural and institutionalized racism that has destroyed the soul of this nation and its people. It is us, as much as them that allow and enable Genocide to escalate unencumbered by Law or Justice.

I am saddened there are those in this nation who refuse to face up to the fact there truly are two nations, truly two systems of justice, two systems of opportunity, two systems for damned near everything. It is not about ‘responsibility’ and ‘accountability’ as some would have us to believe. It is not about pulling your pants up, speaking better English, getting a job or any of the other idiotic and ignorant bile that spews forth from the lips of those who have never been at risk a day in their life simply for the skin they were born in.

Any one of us can say all day long, “I personally am not a racist”. However, the problem with that statement, so long as ‘I personally’ do nothing to actively fight against the institutionalization of racism within this country I am passively agreeing to its continuation, I am by my refusal to stand up and speak out, by my refusal to put myself in harm’s way agreeing my life, my way of life matters more.

screen-shot-2014-11-25-at-4-34-05-pmTime and again, the President of this nation has been called divisive by those who hate him for only one reason, who fear him for only one reason. Time and again, the Attorney General has been called divisive for speaking out on issues of race and violence. We have had for nearly six years our first Black President, our first Black Attorney General; this combination scares the hell out of those who see their power base slipping and they are fighting hard, with ugly tactics to convince this nation these two men are the cause for the rise in violence, the rise in racist language and attitudes. Those who see these two men of calm as divisive have deceived their base and even many of us into believing a story, a fable of Black and Brown rage and danger, one that is escalating and must be controlled by occupation forces and murder. The truth is, this President and this AG have spoken infrequently and with cautious language on issues of race, they have used the Bully Pulpit rarely and with great restraint so as not to offend those who would use their words to stir the already boiling caldron of White Rage and Fear.

We are not divisive because we point out racism, whether it is police murdering or the KKK marching with police escorts while peaceful protesters are tear gassed and shot with wooden bullets. We are not divisive because we identify the documented fact a Black Man is 4 times more likely to die in custody than a White Man, a Hispanic Man is 2 times more likely to die in custody than a White Man. We are not divisive because we find it disturbing when mass killers are taken into custody alive if they are White, but Black Men and Black Children with toy guns are killed by cops. We are not divisive when we identify the difference between media coverage of college students rioting during a sporting event or festival for squash and communities rioting in response to police murdering their children without fear of reprisal. We are not divisive when we point out a wealthy White teenager walking out of a courtroom with a new syndrome, Affluenza (he is to wealthy to go to jail it might harm his delicate sensibilities or future) preventing him from going to prison after killing four people in a drunk driving joy ride, but a Black teenager is killed for jaywalking.

We must begin to stand up, to point out what is wrong with this nation and the leadership of this nation that we do not demand better. We are not divisive, what we are is challenging a system that has consistently shown itself to be Racist, unjust and weighted towards one group in this country. Either we are one nation, with one rule of law, one set of values and principles, striving toward the betterment of all citizens … lifting all boats in a rising tide; or we are a Slave State, intent on the debasement of an entire group of our citizens, the death of their next generation.


Today, families gather to give thanks far too many of those families will instead shed tears of anger even fury at the loss of a loved one to violence at the hands of police.

Where does it end?

We must begin to stand up, to scream our demands for change. We must begin to silence those who turn away and refuse to see what is before them; we must demand those who are tasked with protecting our citizens; we must demand those who are elected to office high or low, perform their tasks to the benefit of all citizens not just those who can pay for their services; we must stand up and demand journalists, pundits and others tasked with delivering information become fair, balanced and perform their tasks with integrity and ethical standards or be taken off the air, a return to the standards of old is necessary to raise this nation out of the mire of ignorance we have fallen into.

It is time to rise up out of our apathy. It is time for us to bow our heads and weep with the families who will gather today with an empty chair at their tables. It is past time for us to demand a change to this failed experiment that is the two-nation system of have and have not, divided by the color of our skin and the privilege those of us born with the fortune circumstance of White skin have not earned.


It is time to acknowledge we have a problem and it is not the criminality of the Black Community it is the Criminality of a nation built on privilege, brutality, greed, violence and a desire to retain what was never earned but stolen.

It is about fixing what is broken in this nation no matter the cost.

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