Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where Will You Be, When They Come

Where Will You Be, When They Come

Boots are being polished
Trumperters clean their horns
Chains and locks forged
The crusade has begun.

Once again flags of Christ are unfurled in the dawn
and cries of soul saviors sing apocalyptic on air waves.

Citizens, good citizens all parade into voting booths
and in self-righteous sanctity X away our right to life.

I do not believe as some that the vote is an end,
I fear even more
It is just a beginning.

So I must make assessment
Look to you and ask:
Where will you be when they come?

They will not come a mob rolling through the streets,
but quickly and quietly move into our homes and remove the evil,
the queerness,the faggotry,the perverseness from their midst.
They will not come clothed in brown, and swastikas, or
bearing chest heavy with gleaming crosses.
The time and need for ruses are over.
They will come in business suits to buy your homes
and bring bodies to fill your jobs.
They will come in robes to rehabilitate
and white coats to subjugate and where will you be
when they come?

Where will we *all be* when they come?
And they will come --

they will come because we are defined as opposite --
perverse and we are perverse.

Every time we watched a queer hassled in the streets and said nothing --
It was an act of perversion.

Everytime we lied about the boyfriend or girlfriend at coffee break --
It was an act of perversion.

Everytime we heard, "I don't mind gays
but why must they be blatent?" and said nothing --
It was an act of perversion.

Everytime we let a lesbian mother lose her child and did not fill the courtroom --
It was an act of perversion.

Everytime we let straights make out in our bars while
we couldn't touch because of laws --
It was an act of perversion.

Everytime we put on the proper clothes to go to a family
wedding and left our lovers at home --
It was an act of perversion.

Everytime we heard
"Who I go to bed with is my personal choice --
It's personal not political" and said nothing --
It was an act of perversion.

Everytime we let straight relatives bury our dead and push our lovers away --
It was an act of perversion.

And they will come.
They will come for the perverts

& it won't matter if you're
homosexual, not a faggot
lesbian, not a dyke
gay, not queer
It won't matter
if you
own your business
have a good job
or are on S.S.I.
It won't matter
if you're
Native American
or White
It won't matter
if you're from
New York
or Los Angeles
or Sioux Falls
It won't matter
if you're
Butch, or Fem
Not into roles
Non Monogamous
It won't matter
if you're
or M.C.C.

They will come
They will come
to the cities and to the land
to your front rooms and in *your* closets.

They will come for the perverts and where will you be
When they come?
-- Pat Parker
Copyright 1978

Monday, October 5, 2009

Living Authentically

Authentic…Webster defines it as: worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact; not false or imitation: Real, Actual

October 4th – 12th is National Coming Out week. It is a very significant week in the life of those individuals that have had to live a in a less than authentic manner. The discomfort of talking to co-workers or family members and attempting to appear “normal” as society has defined can be crippling at best. Some are so good at it until we convince ourselves that it is perfectly fine with juggling pronouns and showing up at family functions alone or with your “best friend”. Society has pushed many of us into the closet to the extent that we even take on the language and characteristics of those that have chosen to oppress us. Many have even chosen to move to other states away from family in an effort to live an authentic life.

Over the past few years, it has become very “fashionable” in some circles of the same gender loving (SGL) community to consider onesself down-low. A down-low individual is one that has same gender sex but live his/her public life as a heterosexual individual. Society has fashioned this term to only men of color. However, many Caucasian men also live their lives in the same manner. Some of them have appeared more recently on the public stage (i.e Former NY Governor, Eliot Spitzer, evangelical preacher Ted Haggard, etc). While these men have lived the same types of lives as their African-American and Latin counterparts, they have never been referred to as down-low men simply based on their skin color. Some as those individuals look at the down-low persona with machismo dispelling their internalized issues of being consider less than a “MAN”; thereby making them very attractive by some individuals. This method of thinking can lead to all types of psychosis and adversely affect everyone that he meets.

Now for people of color the ability to live an authentic life has a different set of challenges than those of our Caucasian counterparts. Men and women of color already have a difficult time just living as people of color in a very racist society and to add another reason to be hated or disliked is a lot to ask of many individuals. Therefore the closet seems to be the only obvious choice. While I know that living authentically is a difficult process I do not think that it is a reason to allow the closet to consume you. For many people of color, living authentically, involves many cultural factors that make to process more challenging and really scary. It will make you weigh the options of being alienated by a strong family nucleus, condemned by a homophobic church and community as well as dealing with heterosexism. You also face the challenge of dating. Some people will not date you because they say you are “too out”. Therefore dating you would make their lives a little for obvious.

Speaking from personal experience, I have been living authentically for approximately 14 years now. While my sibling and father knew of my life in its authentic nature since 1980 others in my extended family gradually found out in years to come. It was not something I hid; however, I did not feel the need to make a major announcement. I chose not to be authentic to non-family members for some time. I got comfortable with never disclosing my personal life, however, it got very old for me one day. I had the script memorized without a problem and could spit it out without blinking. However, for some odd reason I got comfortable with who I was at the time and basically started using my partners name at the time in conversations with co-workers. Doing so probably just confirmed what some of them had already thought but never had the nerve to ask me directly. I will say to you that it has been the most liberating experience in my life. Now I work for a very large company and this information became common place throughout the company. I would say that 90% of the people I work with in the Chicago and DC offices are aware that I am a same-gender loving (SGL) man. Initially I may have had second thoughts about doing the “full disclosure” thing. Making this step allowed me to make additional steps outside of the work environment along the way. However, there has NEVER been any regret. I have taken some serious hits and lost some people in my life that were very comfortable with me being in that closet. While their decisions hurt at the time I can say I do not miss them at all. My "coming out" process years ago is still on going for I decide when to take a stand not hide behind what society has decided as the norm. The process is not a one time thing. For example when the Nordstrom’s salesperson states to you how good that suit looks and how your wife/girlfriend would love it this is your moment to say no my husband/partner.

The entire Living Authentically process takes much courage but the reward is indescribable. I know that many live a less than authentic life to shield themselves from hurt and disappointment that others throw at us. However, the closet is a dark and lonely place and once you step into the light and allow yourself to be loved for who you are totally you will begin to see the true beauty of life and people and humanity. The biggest benefit of living authentically is not being apologetic for which you are on this earth to anyone.

If you have not taken that step to live your life fully as an authentic person I ask you to give it serious consideration. You will be surprised at the support you will garner.

Friday, October 2, 2009

At the hands of a loved one!!

There is this dirty little secret that many of us keep to ourselves because of the shame that we feel surrounding a very personal issue; the issue of domestic violence. Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. Please note that domestic violence does not have to be physical in many cases it is verbal and just as damaging.

Approximately 10 years ago I found myself in a domestic violence relationship. The abuse reared its head several months after we began dating. It did not become physical until the last few months of the relationship. It took me a few months to get the courage to leave. Prior to entering into this relationship which approximately 2 years I would ask how anyone could stay with a person that was abusive. Today I no longer ask that question for I know from my own experience that loving someone can be an intoxicating feeling and coupled with the fear and shame of having to admit to friends and loved ones that you were a victim keeps many people in the relationship and/or very silent about the abuse. While this is not the only reason some stay it is one of the reasons. After walking away I decided not to date for the next 4 years because I walked away feeling I was the inadequate one. This person who said he loved me was able on one very memorable occasion pick me up and throw me against the wall in the blink of an eye. That moment to this day is so surreal. I will forever be scarred by the emotional damage that the abusive situations left on my spirit. I am not the same Ronald that entered that relationship and that saddens me because through it all I loved him with all my heart. However, our definitions of love were polar opposites. I have since had to counsel friends and family that find themselves in similar situations and yes for many it is very hard to leave but for personal health and wealth you must leave. I have never worn the badge of victim because that is not who I am. I did wear the badge of shame however I have removed that badge and have had the courage of telling my story for my story is like many others that find themselves in unhealthy relationships. I initially spent the years trying to reclaim the me that was lost due to that relationship but I have realized that the innocence that I carried at the time is now gone forever.

We the public have make it very hard for the abused to leave for we saddle them with so much shame by saying “I would never allow anyone to abuse me” or “Why didn’t you just leave?” or “Anyone who allows a man or woman to physically or verbally abuse them is deficient in some manner”. These statements invoke within the victim a sense of shame and degradation that is incorrectly placed at their feet and actually works in the favor of the abuser. It either keeps the abused person silent and/or feel as if there is no place to turn for help. I remember not telling my family of my abuse until maybe 2 years after the relationship ended for I was so ashamed and feared how they would view me.

The next time you hear of an abusive situation please do not pass judgment but give a word of encouragement and assistance to be there. You may be their only way out.

Here are some unsettling statistics:

  • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • An estimated 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • Of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds were killed by their intimate partners.

  • In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims.
  • Black females experienced intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 22 times the rate of women of other races. Black males experienced intimate partner violence at a rate about 62% higher than that of white males and about 22 times the rate of men of other races.
  • Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence. African-American women experience significantly more domestic violence than White women in the age group of 20-24. Generally, Black women experience similar levels of intimate partner victimization in all other age categories as compared to White women, but experience slightly more domestic violence. The number one killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 is homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.

Same-gender statistics:

  • 11% of lesbians reported violence by their female partner and 15% of gay men who had lived with a male partner reported being victimized by a male partner. Each year, between 50,000 and 100,000 Lesbian women and as many as 500,000 Gay men are battered.
  • 15.4% of same-sex cohabiting men reported being raped, physically assaulted and/or stalked by a male partner, but 10.8% reported such violence by a female partner.
    The prevalence of domestic violence among Gay and Lesbian couples is approximately 25 - 33%. It is as common as it is in heterosexual relationships.
  • Seven states define domestic violence in a way that excludes same-sex victims; 21 states have sodomy laws that may require same-sex victims to confess to a crime in order to prove they are in a domestic relationship. Therefore, the violence may never be reported.
    Same-sex batterers use forms of abuse similar to those of heterosexual batterers. They have an additional weapon in the threat of "outing" their partner to family, friends, employers or community.
  • By 1994, there were over 1,500 shelters and safe houses for battered women. Many of these shelters routinely deny their services to victims of same-sex battering.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Call Me Hopeless

I have often wondered how one can continue to remain hopeful when so many hopeless situations seem to occur. Hopelessness when it comes to love…being in love, being loved and falling in love. Every time the horizon seemed to have that glow and the butterflies and anxiousness and enthusiasm would occur they seem to never the less be followed by uncertainty, doubt and fear. When this happens, it appears as if life has played a serious and awful trick on you. There comes a time when you simply say to yourself after love has been lost that you will never try again because the pain from the loss is so difficult to deal with. An internal decision is made where you say there is no way I am going to put myself through that again. However, life (God) drops someone in your life that helps you realize that your decision not to love again was unrealistic and selfish. It is at this point, where you just give yourself over to that feeling again and before you know it, you are walking on air and relishing the possibility of loving unconditionally again.

You see I know about this personally, for this has been my life and experience. Regardless of how many times I tell myself that I want to build this wall around my heart I cannot even lift the first brick. You see I was born to love and be loved. Noncommittal connections (i.e. booty calls) are fun because you do not have to answer to anyone and do as you please with whom you please NSA (no strings attached). However, the emotional price that you pay for an NSA life is expensive. You miss the richness of connecting with another human being on a very personal and intimate level that moves beyond that carnal nature but on a high emotional one. I love going down the difficult rode of love that is filled with disagreements, misunderstandings, words unspoken, etc. It is a difficult rode to travel but one I would give up for what is on the other side of all this is true vulnerable love. I want that experience again…am I scare and fearful…yes, but my heart races with anticipation thinking that this could possibly be the one that God has sent just for me. I am truly a hopeless romantic...always wanting my heart to be stolen and cherished. I still believe!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Yesterday, I began to think about love and the love in my life after receiving a couple of text messages from a friend. You see his son (15 years old) expressed how much he loved him for what he does acknowledging that it can't be easy to raise a child these days. This expression of love took my friend by surprise pleasantly and overwhelmingly.

I began thinking about love and how we all, whether we admit it or not, desire to love and be loved. It is the core of our existence here on earth. God has given us all many gifts, however, I think that the most important and undervalued is the capacity to love.
Love takes many shapes and forms in various degrees. There is platonic love, brotherly and sisterly love as well as intimate love. All love involves the desires of the heart. Intimate love seems to be the most passionate love the causes many of us ultimate joy or severe disappointment and pain.

We walk through life daily searching for love like a buried treasure. From the moment we take our first breath as we exit our mother’s womb we are in search of love. As we continue on this path called life we continue to search. Once we have found love we tend to either smother ourselves in it or cherish and nurture it so that it can grow. This love thing, the intimate kind, happens when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Love affects each of us differently and will have many of us acting in ways that we simply could not have ever fathomed. Love is one intangible gift that we all wish to possess and give in return. While there are various degrees of intimate love some either find it and not know what to do with it or never find it and blindly trip over ourselves in an attempt to acquire it. Searching for love can have us doing some things with people we would have never given the time of day if we were not in such a mode of desire.
We show our love for one another in many ways (Hallmark card, favorite meal, flowers, non-reciprocal kindness, etc) and there are times when this love is returned and others when it is taken for granted. I use to say the person who wrote “it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all” was crazy at best. To have lost in love is devastating at best and very painful. However, as I looked over my life and the love I have had, lost and even some I have never returned when received I do not regret any of my love experiences.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. (1 Corinthians 13:1-10)

Imagine what the world would be like if we allowed ourselves to give love and receive love without our misplaced conditions or limitations. Have you ever asked yourself, Could I have loved him or her more? Did I receive the love that was given to me freely? All love is not given unconditionally; however, true love is unconditional. Take inventory of your love. Allow yourself to be love and give love for it is truly a gift from God. I guarantee you that you will not regret it.

Silence is not always...Golden

When I was growing up there was a phrase that many people lived by or should I say hung there hat on for convenience…”Silence is Golden”. I even remember as a child that there were signs in my grammar school class rooms that espoused this credo. Many of us as children were told “children should be seen and not heard”. Of course as adults we then repeated what we were raised to believe. In the European culture children were allowed to speak their minds and say what they wanted to adults. Of course that was not the same in the culture of people of color. The minute you tried to immolate what Bobby or Susie said to their parents to any adult in your family or extended family (and that was anyone) you quickly learned that this was not allowed by getting a swift butt whoopin.
Now as an adult I feel that we should not have been told to be silent but to speak our minds in the appropriate setting. We should not have been disrespectful by any means. By instilling these lessons as children we have taken these lessons on to adulthood and remained silent when we really should be speaking with a loud voice. The only way to make a change is to speak up and do so boldly to allow yourself a voice in that particular space. It may not bring about the change that you may want but when you show up the people in the room will know that they can count on you to speak from your heart and mind. This in no uncertain terms keeps people in check for at times that is what is needed. You have to know when to speak and to do so from a basis of fact and not just conjecture.
I have stood on the sidelines many times and not spoken up and walked away kicking myself for allowing things to be said in my presence that I totally disagreed with. This silence thing takes over ever part of your life. Back in the mid to late 80’s HIV/AIDS began to ravage the LGBT community and yet the government was not speaking on it to any major degree. A group of activist began a campaign to ensure that the government noticed the community and those impacted by this virus. They came up with a very cleaver campaign entitled “Silence = Death”. It is a short statement but the impact was accurate and totally to the point meaning that the longer we put our heads in the sand the more people are going to die. This statement can be and should be applied to any area of your life where you have been content to stay silent for your own comfort.
Recently I have had to apply this very statement to my life. I typically try not to cause any uprising and want to keep things quiet and cordial especially when it comes to my relationship. However, I have learned that I had to speak up and make things a bit uncomfortable at times to get noticed and for the situation to change. There are those in life that love to argue, however, that is not part of my character. I did not grow up surrounded by those that argue so I do not like hearing it or being involved in it. Therefore, there are times when I just remain silent. Silence in not always golden for doing so lead to the death of my relationship. There were things affecting the relationship that WE avoided discussing in an effort to keep the peace. Not discussing them did not make them go away. When the time came to really discuss these issues it was a bit too late the relationship had already started to decay (i.e. Silence = Death). The death was not a physical one but death none-the-less. Our silence equaled the death of our relationship. Allow your presence to be acknowledged for the moment you do not do so death will be imminent.

Speak boldly and with authority for Silence is not always Golden!!!



I had the pleasure of hearing a good friend of mine tell her story and share her journey as a black lesbian mother and pastor. In reciting the accounts of her life and the journey she quoted several lines from a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem entitled "We Wear the Mask".
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
As my sister/friend finished just the first few lines of this very revealing poem I began to think on my life and how I have worn a mask for some time. I even thought about how the mask has changed as I have gotten older. The words of this poem seemed to resonate within me. The words and the meaning hit me like a ton of bricks. I can't say that my mask has been completely removed to reveal the real me. I once wore it to hide the ridicule that comes from being Black man in a society that neither loves my existence nor uphold my life as valuable. I once wore a mask to hide the discomfort of not accepting the gift the God gave ability to love other men intimately. I once wore the mask of being the strong one in the family. The one that everyone knew would be successful. As I listened to her story and pondered over it I had to consistently ask myself..."What mask are you wearing now?!!!" I have been wearing the mask of total happiness for I am one that rarely complains about the difficulties that I am facing as I struggle daily; always trying to hold it together. I have yet to allow my daily worries spill over into my personal life. I am always giving and never asking for anything in return when at times I just want someone to be there for me every once in while. A hug, a sympathetic ear, a shoulder, a laugh…but I look around and I can’t see any avenue for that outlet. Most would be totally amazed/astonished to hear my worries. I have chosen to put that mask on as I leave the house in the morning for I have to keep up the appearance of having it all together. There is much pain and self doubt behind this mask. Just as I have been able to remove those masks of the past I must begin to remove this one. However this time it must be different I can't exchange it for a new one. Today is the beginning of my life as I slowly remove my ole friend to reveal the person most people do not know.
What mask have you had to wear to simply survive?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Marriage Equality in Black & White...or just White!

Recently, I was enroute to my office. While riding the train into the city I pulled my recent copy (August 2009) of The Advocate from my brief case and began reading an article on page 50 entitled “What Gives in Washington?” The article was basically noting the frustration the LGBT community has with the Obama administrations slow movement of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law the defines marriage as being between and a man and woman. The article notes the there is rage in the community when it refers to the president’s progress. To be specific the article says “our rage”. When I read this I wondered what “our” they were refering to. For individuals that are not LGBT it is thought that we are one large group. However, there are several subgroups within the LGBT community. There is the community of color and the white community. When I read articles such as the one noted above the communities of color are not even a consideration.

If we look back to the initial Proposition 8 battle ground it has been successfully documented that while it was initially convenient to blame LGBT people of color, expressly the African American community, for the failure of successfully voting NO to Proposition 8. Based on the initial statistics many white LGBT men and women began blaming black and brown men and women for the passing of Proposition 8. When research was done beyond the statistics it was discovered that the “community” failed to look closely at all of the communities of color (LGBT and heterosexual) and attempt to educate them on the need to vote NO. Once again, the white LGBT community had taken communities of color for granted. To any LGBT person of color in any city this is nothing new at all. We have always been made to feel unwanted from north Halsted Street (Boystown) in Chicago with the new Center on Halsted to the Castro District in San Francisco.

In the overall landscape of the marriage equality struggle, the communities of color have been all but absent. When I see an LGBT man or woman getting married their partner does not look like me and therefore, there is a since of extreme disconnect because it does not affirm my relationship with my partner who happens to be African American. The white community does not understand that dynamic in the debate of marriage equality nor have many of them tried to ascertain why the issue of marriage equality does not seem to be anywhere on our radar screen.

It would benefit those that in the marriage equality fight to review the 2000 census, which states that more than half of the populations of Black same-sex couples in the U.S., are raising children.

· Black female same sex couples are as likely as Black married opposite sex couples to live with a nonbiological (foster or adopted) child (14%) while Black male same-sex couples are slightly less likely than Black married opposite-sex couples to live with a nonbiological child (10% v 13%).
· Black women in same-sex households parent at almost the same rate as Black married opposite-sex couples (61% v 69%), while Black men in same-sex relationships parent at about two-thirds the rate of married opposite-sex couples (46% v 69%)

Black women are discharged from the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell at rates far exceeding their representation among service members; although they make up less than one percent of the military, they represent three percent of those discharged.

When it comes to the progress or what is defined as the slow movement of the president’s progress we as African Americans look at it very differently. The LGBT communities of color see the steps that Obama has taken in his short 6 month term in a manner that is less about his progress on LGBT matters but his progress a the President of the United States. It must clearly be understood that the agenda of the LGBT community of color and that of the white LGBT community is different. It has been stated to me and the basic sentiment in the Black LGBT community that if DADT and DOMA were repealed tomorrow the white community would not be on the battlefield for issues that matter in our community (i.e. HIV/AIDS prevention, joblessness, homeless teens, etc). We have not even tackled the issue of racism within the LGBT community.

It is my hope that the DADT and DOMA are repealed and I will do what I can to see that it happens, however, the advocates that are in the forefront must reach out to people of color for it is important for us all to cross the finish line together.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson...Forgiveness

There is one thing that we all have in common and that is the fact that we were all put on this earth for a limited time. I was reminded of that with the recent death of Michael Jackson. Hearing of his passing saddened me for I truly was looking forward to him performing those 50 concert dates and silencing his critics. It is a shame that in his death we have decided to embrace him and give him the love he so desired from us as his fans while he was living. The press found it financially rewarding to chisel away at the pedestal that they placed him on only to see that he was human and had feelings. While it was widely reported that he did some things that most of us would consider strange or awkward what was never reported was his brilliance as a business man. He was not just a great performer but an excellent business man. To have purchased a huge publishing catalog (unheard of in the music industry for that is where the wealth is built) spoke volumes for just how intelligent he was in business. I do feel that finally Michael Jackson can truly rest for he did not have the peace on earth that he deserved.

Growing up I never wanted to be Michael Jackson or emulated his moves on the stage. However, I did marvel at his talents and tried never to miss any of his television performances. His death left me with a sad feeling for from where I sat I felt he only wanted the world to embrace him, however, all that we did in North America was celebrate his reported strange behavior. Death can be unexpected or should I say untimely as we see it. However, I submit to you that you should not allow any harsh feelings to make their home in your heart for in the blink of an eye you or that person whom you have not forgiven will be gone. You will look back and think of how small the issue was that caused the harsh feelings.

As I close I will share this personal experience with you. One year my then partner and I were having a rough time in our relationship. His niece was graduating from Xavier University in New Orleans so we along with his sister and nephew got in the truck and started our drive from Chicago (approximately 14 hours). Well, I was still a bit bitter about something that had been done to me and while I loved him I was rather salty and unforgiving. If any of you have driven to NO you will know that there is this long bridge that goes over a body of water that you have to go over as you approach the city. Prior to approaching the bridge I turned the driving over to my partner. Well, as I set in the back seat behind him as he drove us in I was looking out of the window into a clear but dark sky. Everyone was quiet and clearly the voice of God spoke to me and said “You should forgive him for I have forgiven you”. I immediately sat up and was struck with an overwhelming feeling that has stayed with me now some 12 years later. I have never forgotten the message or the lesson. I am never too big or bold to admit my humanness and mistakes. Do not allow time to catch you in an unforgiving moment. God is watching.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Alive and Well

It has been almost 30 days since the 44th President of the United States took the oath of office. It is a day that I like most every other American especially those of color will remember for a life time. While we, the American people have decided to vote a man of African heritage into the highest most powerful office on this planet we as a country still battle with the issue of racism in varying degrees. Racism is a noun and defined on as “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others”.

As I watched the news reporters interview various African-American citizens they all seemed to have the same response of exuberance and comments of “now we have arrived”. While I too am overjoyed and very proud of the fact that we now have an African-American President I do not believe we are close to overcoming. Racism is woven into the fiber of this country and we will only do ourselves severe harm by thinking that all of that has changed at this point and time. This is the same country that tortured my ancestors making them “strange fruit” hanging from 100 year old magnolia trees. As a country we do not have to look back to far to see that racism is not on life support but whose heart is beating with the vigor of a marathon runner. On June 7, 1998, James Byrd of Jasper, Texas accepted a ride from three white men one of which he knew. They took a chain wrapped it around his ankles stripped him naked and pulled him behind their fast moving pickup truck until he was decapitated. Police found 75 pieces of his body over the road. Okay maybe you are thinking that was over 10 years ago. In January 2009, a bakery in the Greenwich neighborhood in New York City was selling “Drunken Negro” cookies. The bake shop owner even had the audacity to say that he was doing this in honor of the 44th President of this country. In his response during an interview with a report he felt there was nothing wrong with this item being sold in his store.

Harrison, Arkansas is a town where some whites have decided to retire particularly because there are no blacks. Harrison is just an example of white a few cities in this country where the Klan flourishes because the racist attitudes have allowed then to exist comfortably. The Blacks that once lived there were run out of town.

We must not allow ourselves get so overwhelmed with the pride we feel in regard to the election that we forget about the history of this country and the hundreds of people of color that are behind bars because of the color of their skin. Racial profiling all over this country did not cease at 11:59 p.m. on January 19th. While progress has been made we must continue to fight until every brick to that proverbial wall of racism has been torn down. It is incumbent upon each of us to make this country a better place by having open and honest dialogue about race and recognizing our own racial bigotry. The conversation will bring about education and awareness for all of us. If nothing else we have the power to make a difference and we must seize that power to make it a reality.